The project is needed because of the ecosystem services (ES) benefits for the public and the ecology conservation. At local level, ES are often the basis for people's livelihood, especially in poorer areas. At global, national and regional level, ES have indirect impact on human welfare through improving climate, air cleanness, water regime, soil forming processes and sustainable functioning of ecosystems. As per the Report for assessment of the Millennium Ecosystems (2005) the majority of the world's ecosystems are violated. Within the international initiative "The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity" a series of reports was published, stating that many ES are so damaged, that reached critical levels and increasing costs for the global economy of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation were highlighted. The expected outcomes are determining the capacity of each sub-type, assessment of the ES's demand and consumption and maps visualizing sub-types potential to provide ES.
Summary of project results
Ecosystem Services (ES) are the contributions which ecosystems make to human well-being. ES can be mapped and assessed, building on the understanding of the link between protection of ecosystem biodiversity and human well-being. The project was implemented in accordance with the Objective 2, Action 5 of the European Biodiversity Strategy 2020, and it was supported from the Ministry of Environment and Water through the financial instruments of the European Economic Area. The project working team consists of the members of the Ecology department of SU “St. Kl. Ohridski”, KARTGEO Ltd. and ABERON Ltd. The aim of the project was to evaluate heathland and shrub ecosystems (HSE), and Agroecosystems (AE), addressing to the following three main activities: Mapping the HSE and AE ecosystem conditions; Assessing the range and rateэof ES provided by HSE and AE; Studies on the socio-economic benefits of ES provided by the two types of ecosystems. During the implementation of the project, 88 161 (401567 ha) SHE and 213 851 (3 516 342 ha) AE were mapped and assessed. The HSE and AE were assessed as ecosystems in good ecosystem conditions, providing ES in a range of low (cultural ES), through moderate (provisioning ES) to high (regulating and maintaining ES) relevant capacities. The studies on the socio-economic benefits of ES provided by the two types of ecosystems were carried out on the territories of 25 municipalities. The results were disseminated during the meetings with stakeholders, where the gaps in their knowledge were identified and the sustainable use of ES was encourage. The outputs of the project provide a thorough view of the extent and impact of the ES to the welfare, to the possible reducing of the socio-economic disparities at regional and national level, as well as to achieving national and European targets for Nature and biodiversity protection. The project activity outputs also serve as an information source and reference for future implementation of projects related to priority axis 2 "Rural Development Program 2014-2020" and the OPE. Planned and organized is an opening conference for informing the public and the target groups for the project. The same conference aims at strengthening the bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Norway as well as the exchange of experience and good practices. Two experts from Norwegian Institute for Nature Studies (NINA) took participation and present Norwegian experience in mapping and assessing ecosystem services. During the discussion, topics of interest to both sides were discussed.
Summary of bilateral results