Payments for ecosystem services feasible for Serbia
The current Environmental Protection Act in Serbia adopted the “user pays” principle and introduced fees for the use of natural resources and some ecological services. Other laws, such as the Water Act and the Forest Act, also regulate payments for the use of natural resources. The 2010 Forest Act goes as far as introducing a fee for forest services of public interest.
“The goal of the report was to analyse the needs for PES and the feasibility of implementing such mechanisms in Serbia”, said Maya Todorova, Project Manager of WWF’s Danube Payments for ecosystem services project. “Unfortunately the report found that although legislation is favourable, the current laws do not regulate the investment of the collected fees. What this means is that the money is not invested back into the conservation of ecosystems and the improvement of ecosystem services”.
According to the report, existing environmental economics mechanisms in Serbia cannot be fully acknowledged as PES mechanisms, even though certain elements are in place.
“Additionally, the existing financial mechanisms are focused on provisioning services such as timber, water, flora and fauna, which leaves out other ecological services of great importance, such as natural flood protection and water purification, for example”, Todorova said.
The report offers a detailed review of existing financial schemes related to natural resources and nature conservation. It also gives general recommendations for PES schemes in Serbia as well as suggests potential case studies for PES schemes.
The Danube is the largest river in Serbia. Its basin covers almost the entire territory of the country, save for small areas in southern Serbia, which belong to the Adriatic and Aegean Sea basins. In the eastern part of the country, the river enters Djerdap gorge (Iron Gate), one of the largest gorges in Europe.
The report “Analysis of PES needs and feasibility in Serbia” was prepared as part of the project Promoting payments for ecosystem services and related sustainable financing schemes in the Danube basin. This project promotes and supports land managers who help us sustain the benefits that we all get from nature. The project is implemented by the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme with the financial support of the GEF through UNEP and the European Commission.