Twenty-six-year-old Ukrainian attorney Olya Melen has proved that when it comes to fighting for the environment, passion and courage are what count. Two years ago she was working at an organization called Environment-People-Law, when the Ukrainian Government planned to create a canal for large ships between the Black Sea and the Danube. It was to cut through the heart of the Danube delta – a network of lakes and rivers covering nearly half a million hectares – designated as a Ramsar wetland of international importance and a UNESCO World Heritage site and biosphere reserve. Melen challenged the Government’s attempt to reverse the area’s protected status, arguing that the canal would do major harm to the environment. The judge agreed that the project’s environmental impact assessment was inadequate. Despite this victory, the first phase of the canal’s construction was pushed ahead. A new Government administration has now taken over, bringing the project to a standstill. But the delta is not yet safe yet: President Viktor Yushchenko has said he wants the canal to be completed.