Linking nature protection and sustainable rural development
The project “Linking Nature Protection and Sustainable Rural Development” has been designed to contribute to the sustainable development of areas with high ecological value in Bulgaria. WWF is one of six partners in Bulgaria and we will be responsible for the Payments for ecosystem services component. We will be promoting the ecosystem services approach within the project as well as valuing the ecosystem services of the pilot areas and proposing PES schemes.
Our experience gained so far with the Danube PES project has been invaluable. It’s thanks to this experience that we have been able to develop guidelines for valuation of ecosystem services in Bulgaria. Also, we have so much experience of developing the PES schemes in Rusenski Lom and Persina Nature Park, as well as much experience in working and communicating PES to local people.
Working directly with the farmers, micro and small and medium size enterprises that depend on natural resources for their income generation, we will establish self-sustaining models for sustainable, economically and socially balanced development.
The project as a whole aims to mainstream nature protection objectives into the political, economical and social agenda of the society in Bulgaria. We want to show how the underdeveloped rural regions can enhance their status by boosting sustainable development. We also want to provide effective tools and mechanisms to manage potential conflicts between the ecological and economic factors.
WWF will be looking for sustainable solutions for funding of biodiversity management through valuing of ecosystem services, testing models to introduce voluntary contributions for use of protected areas, and providing capacity among park administrations to implement the new models through training and motivating park administrations to encourage and facilitate the development of pro-biodiversity businesses.
Last but not least, this project will contribute to resolving the challenges of the 21st century, concerned with the growing population and the increased demand for use of nature resources. The tools and mechanisms that will be developed will guarantee the long term protection of vital ecosystems, such as open grasslands and forests and will make an important contribution to the global effort in climate change mitigation, watershed protection, preserving landscapes and biodiversity conservation.
The first steps for the WWF project team will be to select and value suitable ecosystem services. We envisage to have three pilot sites – Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park, Bulgarka Nature Park and Western Stara Planina protected area. We will develop a report on all sites. We will also identify all PES schemes in Bulgaria and develop criteria for selection of a minimum of five PES core schemes. We will also develop a methodology for calculation of the selected PES schemes.