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Setting up PES in the Lower Danube basin

Rooster's peak in Maramures - one of the pilot areas © WWF

30 January 2015

Since 2009, the Danube Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) team has been testing PES schemes in four pilot areas in the Lower Danube Basin -- in Bulgaria and Romania.
We established four sustainable financing schemes to enhance and protect the benefits we all get from nature. The schemes are tailor-made for each specific case and link the economic benefits from the pilot sites to their users.
Throughout the project, we worked in close collaboration with local partners and national institutions and acknowledge with gratitude their support.
We are now happy to share with you our experience. We developed a report for each scheme to show each step of our work. We hope they will be of relevance to practicioners and decision-makers who want to explore sustainable financing and PES.

Final project Steering Group meeting takes place in Maramures

11 June 2014

Project team, Steering Group members and stakeholders in Maramures. © WWF
The final Steering Group and Project Team meeting took place in Maramures 10-11 June 2014. The group, chaired by Mr Lubomir Vassilev, heard the report for the entire project period, and discussed the outcome of the project together with representatives of project stakeholders. You can read about the assessment of the project in the interviews to the side. 

Julio Tresierra: Good lessons have been learnt, now they must be applied

10 June 2014

Julio Tresierra, WWF. © WWF
Julio Tresierra is a Canadian citizen, born in Peru, living in the Netherlands and working on three continents. He worked as a professor at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada and was also involved with different NGOs and international organizations, mostly United Nations, in many places around the world. He coordinated the Equitable Payments for Watershed Services programme for WWF Netherlands. Read about Julios's involvment in the project and his assessment of the project success. Full interview

Lubomir Vassilev: Danube PES schemes are the foundations of green economy in the region

10 June 2014

Lubomir Vassilev, Capital Foundation. © WWF
Lubomir Vassilev was the editor in chief of Capital Weekly, one of the most prominent newspapers in Bulgaria. After 5 years in this position, he became business development manager for Capital Foundation. He was approached by WWF to be part of the Danube PES project as a member of the Steering Group. Read about Lubomir's involvment in the project and his assessment of the project success. Full interview 

Anton Georgiev: I believe in what I do

10 June 2014

Anton Georgiev, WWF partner. © WWF
Anton Georgiev is the manager of ST Eko Den. The company is based in the village of Ovcha Mogila, close to the Danube River in Northern Bulgaria. After graduating in environmental management, he started a project for biomass energy from reeds and agricultural waste. Anton now partners WWF as part of the Danube PES project. Read about Anton's involvment in the Danube PES project and his assessment of the project success. Full interview 

Rusenski Lom responsible tourism initiative celebrates first anniversary

27 January 2014

Responsible tourism initiative for Rusenski Lom, Bulgaria turns one. © WWF
The initiative for responsible tourism in Rusenski Lom Nature Park, initiated by WWF in Bulgaria, is celebrating its first year anniversary today. The initiative has brought together representatives of the tourist sector operating in the area. Over the past year, the members of the club “Friends of Rusenski Lom Nature Park” have been the main driving force behind measures to minimize the impact of tourism in an effort to protect and maintain the benefits that come from nature in the protected area. Through their activities they managed to collect the sum of 350 Euro, which will be invested in the protection of local habitats and species. During an anniversary meeting, the partners agreed that the ground squirrel should be the flagship species of the initiative and voted to invest the money in creating a trail dedicated to the ground squirrel in the grounds of Straklevo village. The trail will include signposts, viewing shelters, maintenance of the pastures as well as a small hall for tasting local products. The partners will apply for more funds from environment protection programmes in order to collect more funding for the works. The partners also vowed to raise more money in the new year, following the example of Family Hotel “Kladenets” whose owners managed to collect 200 out of the 350 Euro.

My experience with PES has pushed me to further search for answers and ideas

22 January 2014

Mara Cazacu, WWF Romania. © WWF
With the Danube Payments for Ecosystem Services project coming to an end in 2014, we ask Mara Cazacu from the Romanian team about her experience with the project. Mara joined the project team in the summer of 2012 with the responsibility of handling the communications activities in Romania, under the supervision of WWF Romania’s communications coordinator.  Full interview

Happy birthday to the Rusenski Lom payments scheme for cultural ecosystem services

11 December 2013

Rusenski Lom Nature Park, Bulgaria. © WWF
One year ago on this day, tourism entrepreneurs, NGOs and the Rusenski Lom Nature Park Directorate signed the first partnership agreement on ecosystem services in Bulgaria. During the course of the year, beautiful post-cards “with a mission” were produced and promoted to support the scheme, the first donation was made, the marketing of the scheme was planned as an integral element of Rusenski Lom Nature Park, new partners among tourism and non-tourism businesses were attracted. In this period, the Danube PES team could see improved coordination and communication between the Nature Park Directorate and all stakeholders. The popularity of Rusenski Lom has grown among the conservation, business community and tourists.

Public authorities benefit from expert training on payments for ecosystem services

7 November 2013

PES training. © WWF
 A training on ecosystem services and PES addressed to public institutions was organised by the project team in Bucharest, on the 5th and 6th of November. The training was held by Julio Tresierra, PES expert with more than 10 years of experience in South America, Asia and Africa and coordinator of the global programme „Equitable Payments for Watershed Services (EPWS)” implemented by WWF Netherlands. Tresierra has also been involved in the PES Danube project as a consultant. Designing, implementing and monitoring PES schemes require the active involvement of a large array of stakeholders, including suppliers and beneficiaries of ecosystem services, scientists and experts. These activities can be significantly improved if local, regional and national level decision makers and policy makers are engaged. Full story

Project Steering Committee analyses the evolution of PES mechanisms in Romania

29 October 2013

PES Steering Committee meeting. © WWF
The annual meeting for the Romanian members of the Steering Committee took place today. In contrast to past meetings which gathered partners and collaborators from all the countries involved in the project - Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine, this time the meeting was confined only to Romanian participants. With this formula it was possible to analyse in detail the evolution of the project in the Romanian pilot areas (Ciocanesti and Maramures) and to identify solutions to difficulties or obstacles experienced during the past year. Full story

PSC meetings in Bulgaria and Romania

29 October 2013

PSC meetings in Bulgaria and Romania. © WWF
This year the Danube PES team took a different approach to the Project Steering Committee meetings. Instead of having one common meeting, the team decided to have separate national meetings, in each Bulgaria and Romania. This provided the opportunity to focus more at national-specific issues and challenges. The meetings allowed to report on the technical and financial progress, approved by PSC members.

Romania’s ecotourism potential can benefit both conservation and local development

25 October 2013

Transylvania, Carpathian Mountains-Romania © WWF
WWF presented innovative financing mechanisms at the European Ecotourism Conference in Poiana Brasov 23 – 25 October. These provide the blueprint for nature conservation and local sustainable development implementations in Romania and have the potential to greatly benefit both nature and local communities. Full story

Presenting the Danube PES project at FAO event

13 September 2013

Maya Todorova is the Project Manager of the Danube PES project. © WWF
The multi-stakeholder dialogue was organised by FAO in Rome with the aim to discuss lessons learnt from RPE/PES projects around the world. The Project Manager was invited to present the Danube PES project. Maya Todorova focused on one of the pilots, the payment scheme for cultural ecosystem services in Rusenski Lom. This pilot was among the few originating from Europe. Questions raised to the Project Manager related to the legal framework and its development, as well as communications. Some of the most important lessons for the Danube PES team from this workshop were: involvement of institutions from the start of PES design is crucial for its success; communications of ES and PES is challenging; it is necessary to bundle ecosystem services to ensure sustainable funding for their management and restoration (especially the case of carbon-related PES schemes); ecosystem services restoration and maintenance require more than just voluntary involvement of buyers - this involvement should be probably mandatory. A link to the Danube PES pilot presentation and brochure can be found here.

PES training for key experts from Bulgarian national institutions

8 August 2013

PES training for key experts from Bulgaria national institutions. © WWF
12 key experts from the Ministry of Environment, Executive Environment Agency and the National Statistics Institute in Bulgaria were trained on ways to develop payments for ecosystem services (PES), an innovative finance mechanism for the restoration, protection and sustainable management of ecosystems. The training was carried out by Dr Julio Tresierra, Coordinator of the global programme for the payment for watershed services (EPWS) which is headquartered at WWF Netherlands. Full story

Ecosystem services reach people

9 July 2013

Ecosystem services reach people. © WWF
During the course of the project, the Danube PES team has dealt with hundreds of people, who are directly or indirectly related to ecosystems and their services. However, ecosystem services deserve mainstreaming and recognition by all Bulgarians. Media is the shortest way to people’s hearts, so that ecosystems and their services are better understood and supported. Recognizing the role of the media, WWF conducted a training for Bulgarian media in green economy and ecosystem services, part of a series of events dedicated to media capacity building for environmental issues. This training presented the importance of assessing and valuing ecosystem services, of their integration into policies and of the payments for ecosystem services. Media representatives raised reasonable questions related to pressures on our nature by infrastructure development, correctly noting that knowing values of ecosystem services would change the ordinary cost and benefit analysis of infrastructural projects in favour of nature.

The Mara-Cosau-Rooster’s Peak area begins evaluation process as an ecotourism destination

5 July 2013

PES ecotourism meeting. © WWF
Local partners in Maramures: mayors, local guides, representatives of the county tourism bureau, environmental and cultural heritage associations, custodians of local protected areas, guesthouse owners who contribute to the Conservation and Sustainable Development Fund were invited by the project team to assess the area as an ecotourism destination. This self-assessment is the first step which needs to be taken by a given area (or micro-region) in the evaluation process coordinated by the National Tourism Authority with the aim of creating a national network of ecotourism destinations which will support the country brand. Full story

Danube PES schemes and lessons learnt presented at Round Table on Ecosystem Services

17 June 2013

Danube PES schemes and lessons learnt presented at Round Table on Ecosystem Services. © WWF
WWF organised a Round Table on ecosystem services in Bulgaria. The purpose of the workshop was to gather actors from NGOs and the Bulgarian government to discuss the integration of ecosystem services into national policies. The first step involves their identification, mapping and assessment. The Danube PES team presented the concept of ecosystem services, the schemes developed in Bulgaria and lessons learnt. Our pilots provide the very first assessment of ecosystem services conducted at a national level. Full story


25 June 2013

15th anniversary of the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme. © WWF
European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik, President of Bulgaria Rosen Plevneliev, and Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director, Conservation of WWF International delivered the keynote speeches at the 'Saving resources: Moving towards a resource-efficient, green economy in the Danube Region' conference, organized by WWF in Sofia today. The conference focused on the future of Bulgaria and the broader Danube region, which will very much depend on creating more value with fewer resources, while preserving natural wealth and “green infrastructure” that is essential to human wellbeing. Read more

Danube PES case studies explained

20 June 2013

Danube PES project case studies brochure cover. © WWF
The Danube PES project team has produced a brochure with the case studies from the project. The payment for ecosystem services schemes in Russenski Lom Nature Park, Persina Nature Park, Ciocanesti and Maramures are explained and put in context. The case studies demonstrate in a clear way how the schemes work. In addition, the team produced separate publications featuring each of the model schemes. 

Biodiversity Days in Bucharest

25 April 2013

Magor Csibi, Director of WWF Romania at the PES seminar in Bucharest. © WWF
During “Biodiversity Days in Bucharest”, an event hosted by WWF Romania 23-25 April, members of the Danube PES project team shared their experience from Bulgaria and Romania with other WWF teams working on PES in Europe - Germany, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain. The discussion flagged once again that WWF is a global leader in the development of this type of innovative financing schemes. It also confirmed that the Danube PES project team is very advanced in terms of model scheme design and know-how gained so far. The discussion focused on the idea that there is a difference between putting a price on nature ("selling nature") and giving a value (economic and social) to goods and services provided by nature. Public authorities and companies should be aware of this difference if they are to ensure sustainable management of natural resources, according to nature's capacity to regenerate. WWF’s work in this area focuses on correct evaluation of goods and services delivered by ecosystems and on creating the necessary links between the public and the private sectors, so that the costs of the responsible use of natural resources are covered in a fair way.
Download seminar presentations

Water stress is becoming a serious issue

5 April 2013

Julio Tresierra, EPWS © WWF
As part of the Danube PES project Julio Tresierra, coordinator of the global programme for the Payment for watershed services (EPWS) headquartered in the Netherlands, visited Bulgaria. We caught up with him and asked him how he sees the PES schemes in the Danube Basin, which WWF is developing, as well as about the importance of watershed services. Read the full interview

Cards with a mission for Russenski Lom Nature Park

1 February 2013

Russenski Lom card, Danube PES project. © WWF
The Danube PES project team in Bulgaria has created cards, the proceeds from which will be used for target conservation activities in Russenski Lom Nature Park. Russenski Lom is among four model sites under the Danube PES project. The cards were created as entry tickets to the park and by buying them, visitors will support the conservation of the park’s endangered animal and plant species. The proceeds from the sale of each card go towards specific activities designed to protect the habitats of four flagship species for Russenski Lom. The four species are the Ground squirrel, the Corncrake, the Black stork and the Egyptian vulture. The cards are sold by representatives of the tourist sector operating in the area who are also members of the club “Friends of Rusenski Lom Nature Park”. The club is the main driving force behind measures to minimize the impact of tourism in the park in an effort to protect and maintain the benefits that come from nature in the protected area.


15 December 2012

Yulia Grigorova, WWF Bulgaria © WWF
WWF’s Yulia Grigorova is the Project Manager for Bulgaria of the Danube PES project. In 2012 she joined another PES project in Bulgaria. “Linking Nature Protection and Sustainable Rural Development” will be implemented by a consortium of six Bulgarian NGOs – among which WWF, four Swiss NGOs and the Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture and Food. In an interview, Yulia explains how her experience from the Danube PES project is already benefiting her work on the second PES project. Read more

Responsible tourism in sight for Bulgarian protected area

11 December 2012

Rusenski Lom Nature Park, Bulgaria. © WWF
An initiative for responsible tourism in Rusenski Lom Nature Park, initiated by the team behind the Danube PES project, has brought together representatives of the tourist sector operating in the area. Members of the club “Friends of Rusenski Lom Nature Park” will be the main driving force behind measures to minimize the impact of tourism in an effort to protect and maintain the benefits that come from nature in the protected area. Read more

Payments for ecosystem services feasible for Serbia

9 December 2012

Nacionalni Park Djerdap (Srbija) © WWF
According to a new report commissioned by the Danube PES project team, recent laws in Serbia have made possible the use of some basic Payments for ecosystem services mechanisms. The laws, which regulate the use of natural resources, pave the way for the innovative environmental economics concept, which WWF is pioneering in the Danube region. 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. Read more

Bulgarian nature park contributes to climate change mitigation

7 December 2012

Rusenski Lom Nature Park, Bulgaria. © WWF
A new study conducted by environmental consultancy Denkstatt as part of the Danube PES project has calculated the carbon stored in the forests of Bulgaria’s Rusenski Lom Nature Park and assigned an economic value to the saved carbon emissions. The report is a demonstration of the strategic and valuable economic resources that Bulgarian nature provides, and in particular of its contribution to climate change mitigation. At an average price of carbon emissions equivalent of 8 EUR/t, the total value of the emission savings for a period of 10 years was calculated to be 134,854 EUR. Read more

Environmental needs to be integrated in rural development policy in Romania

23 November 2012

European black pine (Pinus nigra) forest in mist. This tree is endemic to the Domogled National Park, Romania. © WWF
The WWF Romania team met with experts from the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry to discuss opportunities for a better integration of environmental needs with the National Programme for Rural Development for the period 2014-2020. The discussions were based on the recommendations elaborated within the Environment and Green Infrastructure Thematic Work Group under the National Network for Rural Development, coordinated by WWF Romania. It was agreed that the team will present the Maramures PES scheme to answer the question how the economic value of the benefits offered by protected areas can contribute to rural development. Unlike other positive examples from around the country, the Maramures model explores the methods of quantifying, in economic terms, the benefits offered by protected areas, so that nature gains concrete value for the local communities.

Criteria for designation of ecotourism destinations launched in Romania

2 November 2012

WWF is working with government, businesses, farmers, shepherds and other local stakeholders to implement a sustainable development plan for the Oas-Gautai plateau in northern Romania. © WWF
The Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism and the Romanian Ecotourism Association have launched the criteria for designation of ecotourism destinations in Romania. The criteria have been elaborated with support from WWF Romania. This will make Romania the first European country to adapt and introduce the European ecotourism standards. This is also good news for the viability of the PES scheme in Maramures. The Danube PES project team will apply for the title of ecotourism destination for the Maramures pilot site, joining other destinations such as Tarnava Mare and Tara Branului-Piatra Craiului in a potential national ecotourism network. This process will help the team implement their vision of sustainability with the active participation of the local communities. It will also help create a coherent image for the area. The Maramures PES scheme will function as a financial mechanism which will ensure the preservation and championing of the natural and cultural heritage of the area.

Impact of aquaculture measures tested at Ciocanesti

25 October 2012

 © WWF
Testing has started of the impact of aquaculture measures on water quality at the Ciocanesti pilot site. The measures were elaborated during the feasibility study stage. A consultant was hired to monitor water quality over a one year period. The consultant will take into consideration the technological processes at the pilot site, the flow of water and the proposed aquaculture measures. Once this activity has been completed, we will publish a monitoring and evaluation plan to facilitate the replication of such aquaculture measures in other fish farms.

Romanian team contributes to rural development

20 October 2012

Agricultura traditionala, Muntii Carpati, Romania © WWF
WWF Romania's participation in the Environment and Green Infrastructure Thematic Work Group, functioning under the National Network for Rural Development and coordinated by WWF Romania, has resulted in a solid set of recommendations which will be sent to all relevant public institutions in order to contribute to a better integration of the “environment” component within the next Rural Development National Programme in Romania (2014-2020). The aim is to achieve a better connection between environment policies and rural and regional development policies. Among the recommendations is the need to promote and capitalise on the benefits nature provides to local communities through rural development policy. This could be done by prioritising the development of ecotourism and rural tourism destinations. The recommendations will also be presented in the next brochure by the National Network for Rural Development, which has a circulation of 4,000 and will be sent to members of the Network, local authorities and local action groups.

Stakeholders meet in Maramures to discuss ecotourism destination

15 October 2012

 © WWF
In a meeting with local stakeholders involved in the PES scheme in Maramures, the team discussed the opportunity of turning the area into an ecotourism destination. The participants agreed that this is the best way to meet the needs of both conserving nature and fostering economic activities. A potential local partnership was discussed which will comprise representatives of the local protected areas, the tourism sector (guesthouses, guides and tour-operators) and other local NGOs. A workshop will be held in near future to develop the idea of turning Maramures into an ecotourism destination, and clarify the mandate of the partnership.

WWF’s Water Truck benefits PES

15 July 2012

 © WWF
A WWF-branded truck has toured Romania, raising awareness of water-related ecosystem services and the ways to protect them. Danube PES project staff, traveling with the Water Tour, met with visitors in the towns of Bucharest, Galati, Tulcea, Mahmudia, Corabia, Craiova and Drobeta Turnu Severin and presented information materials on the PES schemes that WWF is developing in the Lower Danube. Visitors, including many students with their teachers, could find interesting facts about the Danube and the services it provides.

Leading companies discuss strategies to protect freshwater resources

10 July 2012

Business, Water and Wetlands © WWF
The role of the private sector in managing water resources and reducing the negative impact on wetlands was at the centre of a debate during the “Business, Water and Wetlands” forum, organized in parallel to the Ramsar Conference of the Parties in Bucharest as part of the Danube PES project. Companies increasingly find that there is a crisis over water resources, both in quality and quantity, something that directly affects their operations. Consequently, companies from various sectors - from retail to clothing and from food to the extractive industries - are beginning to take steps to protect water. Read the full story

Visit the Business, Water and Wetlands website

The Ecosystem Promise

22 June 2012

The Ecosystem Promise book cover © WWF
Launched at the Rio + 20 summit, the book The Ecosystem Promise by author Meidert Brouwer features the Danube PES project among other successful PES schemes around the globe. The book explains the new trend of assigning financial value to nature and payment for the services that nature offers. PES is presented as an opportunity for companies to invest in nature conservation and nature restoration and shows that making use of the services of nature in a responsible way is often much cheaper than building and maintaining installations. The Ecosystem Promise explains how nature conservation and restoration contribute to water supply - as in the Danube PES project - food security, poverty alleviation and new jobs. It shows that investing in nature restoration pays off and that consumers and companies can become allies on the pathway to sustainability.

Analysis of PES potential in Ukraine

4 June 2012

“Economic and institutional analysis of the feasibility of Payments for ecosystem services in Ukraine” book cover. © WWF
The booklet “Economic and institutional analysis of the feasibility of Payments for ecosystem services in Ukraine” has been published in both English and Russian. The study is by Ukrainian expert Oleg Rubel and represents the most in-depth study of the basis and the potential for introducing PES mechanisms in Ukraine.

Members of the project Steering Group debate project progress in Nikopol

31 May 2012

The third meeting of the Steering Group of the project Promoting Payments for Ecosystem Services and Related Sustainable Financing Schemes in the Danube Basin, 28-30 May in Nikopol, Bulgaria © WWF
"Being able to focus on and debate pilot schemes that were developed in Bulgaria and Romania as part of the project, was one of the most helpful results of the third steering committee meeting of the Danube PES project", said Project Manager Maya Todorova. "The schemes that we developed for public payments for sustainable fisheries, nature-friendly agriculture and aquaculture, as well as schemes for biodiversity conservation were under the spotlight over the three days of the meeting". The third meeting of the Steering Group of the project Promoting Payments for Ecosystem Services and Related Sustainable Financing Schemes in the Danube Basin took place 28-30 May in Nikopol, Bulgaria. During the meeting, Steering Group members heard about project issues and the project's progress. Participants in the meeting also took part in a moderated panel discussion on major findings on PES in Ukraine and Serbia. The meeting took place half way through the project, at a crucial time for the team to get valuable feedback on its work. 

The Danube PES project at the Convention on Biological Diversity

29 May 2012

CBD meeting in Georgia. © WWF
The Danube PES project team was invited to present their work and know-how during a sub-regional workshop in Tbilisi, Georgia, on "Valuation and Incentive Measures for Eastern Europe and Central Asia", part of the preparation for the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Hyderabad in October 2012. The team participated with two detailed presentations - a general update on the PES work in the Lower Danube and the PES schemes developed, as well as a separate presentation on the analysis of the potential of PES schemes in Ukraine. Both presentations were well received and gave us the chance to reach out to a high-level expert audience. 

Maramures Belgian journalists trip

15 May 2012

Belgian journalists visit Maramures, Romania. © WWF
The Romanian comms team behind the Danube PES project welcomed a crew of Belgian journalists to Maramures, one of the Danube PES project’s pilot sites. The journalists were put up at one of the guest houses included in the PES scheme and followed the Green Way. WWF Danube PES project staff told the story of the PES scheme and were available to answer further questions about the goals of the project and PES in general.


10 May 2012

Maya Todorova, Project Manager, Danube PES project © WWF
The third meeting of the Steering Group of the project Promoting Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) and Related Sustainable Financing Schemes in the Danube Basin will take place 28-30 May in Nikopol, Bulgaria. The purpose of this year’s Steering Group meeting will be to provide a general overview of the project issues and the project progress. Participants in the meeting will focus on pilot schemes that have been developed in Bulgaria and Romania as part of the project. These include schemes for public payments for sustainable fisheries, nature-friendly agriculture and aquaculture, as well as schemes for biodiversity conservation. Participants in the third Steering Group meeting will also take part in a moderated panel discussion on major findings on PES in Ukraine and Serbia. “This Steering Group meeting is taking place half way through the project and this is an important time for the team to get valuable feedback on its work”, said Maya Todorova, Project Manager of the Danube PES project. “This is the reason we plan to have several moderated discussions – we want to have a real discussion, to get the most out of the project in its second half”.

PES Expert Workshop takes place in Nisovo, Bulgaria

5 April 2012

PES experts workshop, Danube PES project, Nisovo, Bulgaria © WWF
An expert workshop on payments for ecosystem services in international river basins, organized as part of the Danube PES project, took place in Nisovo, Bulgaria from 1-4 April 2012. The purpose of the workshop was to gather PES experts and practitioners from Asia, Africa, Latin America as well as the Danube region to share their experience in designing, communicating, implementing and adapting active PES schemes. The workshop was an unique opportunity for WWF experts from across the network to meet and talk about economic instruments for nature conservation such as PES. They visited several of the Danube PES project pilot sites and heard about the PES schemes that are being implemented there. Among the speakers were Csaba Vaszkó from WWF Hungary, Julio Tresierra from WWF Netherlands, Andre Costa Nahur from WWF Brazil, Christian Mesmer from University of Giessen in Germany and Chillasse Lahcen from Institute Marocaine de l'Information Technique et Scientifique. Read the full story

Green Way map ready for Maramures

3 March 2012

Green Way map, Maramures. © WWF
The Green Way map has just been released as part of the Danube PES project. This nice and easy to handle touristic instrument is also a fundraising instrument. It is distributed to all guest houses included in the PES Maramures scheme and will be sold in order to fundraise. In a further attempt to help marketing the region, the Danube PES project team initiated research among guest house owners to identify the advertising mechanisms the pensions are using at present. The results will serve as the basis of a communications strategy for all the pensions, based mostly on the nature conservation approach. 

PES and World Wetlands Day in Calarasi

2 February 2012

WWF meeting. © WWF
The Danube PES project team in collaboration with the Calarasi Agency for Environmental Protection organized a conference on the occasion of World Wetlands Day. On the agenda of the conference were presentations of the Natura 2000 sites in Calarasi County, the 8 national Ramsar sites, the Danube PES project and its pilot sites – the Calarasi and Iezer fish farms. The conference was attended by representatives of the Calarasi County Council and local stakeholders, as well as by highschool students from Calarasi. 

Ciocanesti PES scheme presented at fishing conference

27 January 2012

Ciocanesti pilot site map. © WWF
The Danube PES project team was invited to participate in the Fishing and Angling Farmer’s Day in Gödöllő, near Budapest, organised by the Uszent István University, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The aim of the conference was to present the results of recent research conducted by the University and other researchers to experts and representatives from the fishing sector. Cristina Munteanu's presentation was named ”The connection of nature conservation and fish farming in Romania”, and contained an outline of the fishing sector in Romania, the relationship with nature conservation and Natura 2000 sites, as well as our solutions implemented through the Danube PES project. The presentation, which was well received, contained detailed description of the measure which the administrator of Ciocanesti Fish Farm, our model site, applied for within the Fishing Operational Programme.


11 January 2012

Training de silvicultură în Maramureş © WWF
The Maramures PES scheme is soon to be tested. 11 representatives of small local tourism related businesses signed a Memorandum of Understanding which commits them as members of a local association that will focus on sustainable development programmes at local and national level, promotion and tourism development in Maramures, conservations of the environment, biodiversity, fauna and protected areas. The association "Maramures Impact" will manage the Biodiversity Conservation Fund, which will be created in due course in order to mobilise the resources necessary for the conservation of the natural systems that lie behind the Maramures greenway (Drumul Mostenirii Maramuresene) and the benefits it offers. The project team met with the custodians of the 7 protected areas surrounding the greenway area and discussed their primary conservation needs as well as other important aspects of the allocation procedure for PES funds.

Application process open for PES experts workshop in the Danube area

21 December 2011

The Danube river basin. © WWF
A group of 30 experts working on PES in the Yangtze, Mekong, Amazon/Orinoco, Congo and Danube river basins will debate how payments for ecosystem services can mitigate threats to the values big river basins provide us with. The experts will seek answers to the following questions: what environmental benefits are international river basins providing and what are the major threats; how can payments for ecosystem services and innovative financing schemes contribute to mitigating these threats; can PES experience from small watersheds be upscaled to the larger river basin; can one PES or sustainable financing approach fit all? The workshop is scheduled for April 2012. Experts are invited to apply. Please see information link to the right. 

Progress review of a tool for economic assessment of conservation measures in Natura 2000 sites

2 December 2011

European Union © WWF
The tool was elaborated by several consultancies that concluded a contract with the European Commission. 15 European cases were selected among the 27 member states, Rusenski Lom pilot being one of them. The tool comprises 9 steps leading to a full economic assessment of Natura 2000 areas. At an international workshop the results from the first 3 steps were shown. Apart from the people directly involved in the tool testing, there were 4 reps of DG ENVIRONMENT, EC. This international workshop showed once again the need for better communication on several levels: policy-makers – executors of the policies; executors of the policy – local level stakeholders; economists – environmentalists.

Romanian PES team meets UNDP GEF reps

30 November 2011

Monia Martini, WWF DCPO, Romania. © WWF
The Romanian team met representatives of UNDP GEF and exchanged information and lessons learnt on sustainable financing for protected areas, accumulated under the Danube PES project. The PES team presented the pilot tourism PES scheme in Maramures, focusing especially on the business approach applied for this private-funded scheme. The UNDP GEF team presented the Financial mechanisms for Protected Areas project acting in Romania. Cross-cutting issues were discussed and potential for partnerships was identified in an awareness raising campaign on securing funding for protected areas. The UNDP GEF has invited 4 ambassadors to present the issue in a TV format, where the PES project could be presented as a tested option. Forthcoming discussion with the team is expected on how to proceed.

PES Project Director promotes tourism PES schemes of Maramures and Rusenski Lom

18 November 2011

Irene Lucius, WWF DCPO © WWF
Irene Lucius met with Herbert Hamele, ECOTRANS president. They discussed his “atlas of excellence” for Rio 2012 on the best sustainable tourism examples from around the globe (eventually the PES scheme for tourism to be published there). Herbert Hamele was also interested in working with WWF on the nature tourism component of the Danube Strategy. Another topic was the concept “visitors pay-back”, another word for PES, meaning that visitors should pay for the maintenance of natural values they are enjoying. It became clear that big tour operators have an interest in deals with tourism providers on e.g. local sourcing of food in hotels.

New NEPA representative from Romania

17 November 2011

Danube PES project, Second Project Steering Group meeting, 2011. © WWF
Mr Ciprian Ghioc has been appointed as the new NEPA (National Environmental Protection Agency) representative within the Danube PES project in the place of Ms Madalina Cozma. Mr Ghioc who is Councilor in Programmes, Projects, International Relations and Communication Department at NEPA has been introduced to the Danube PES project objectives, the type of work done with institutional actors, and demonstration activities in the pilot sites. Further meetings are to take place in 2012.

Farmers from Bulgarian PES pilot sites build their capacity for agri-environment

15 November 2011

Danube PES project, Borovets workshop, 2011. © WWF
Between June and November of 2011, farmers from Persina and Rusenski Lom pilot sites took part in a series of workshops on agri-environment and organic farming. The workshops were of high importance to our stakeholders whose practices impact ecosystems and their functions. Persina farmers are directly involved with the Danube PES project scheme, ensuring better care for farmlands, reduction of chemical inputs and cessation of slash-and-burn practices. Rusenski Lom farmers are inderectly invloved with the PES scheme, as it focuses on tourism, but still their grassland management practices can improve or worsen the range of ecosystem services of the set – recreational value, biodiversity regulation, carbon sequestration. Topics of discussion were the problems and policies in the sector and prospects for organic farming in the new programming period of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Participants also discussed developments in the agri-environmental legislation, as well as Natura 2000. The series included also capacity building for agromarketing and promotion, accentuating on the competitive advantage of nature-friendly agriculture and branding of products from Natura 2000 areas.

Ukrainian experts get up to date on Payments for Ecosystem Services schemes

8 November 2011

PES workshop in Ukraine, 2011. © WWF
Experts working on land and water management in the Donetsk region of Ukraine learned about the concept of Payments for Ecosystem Services and heard examples of working PES schemes in the Lower Danube region at a workshop in Donetsk, organized as part of the project “Promoting Payments for Ecosystem Services & Related Sustainable Financing Schemes in the Danube Basin”. During the workshop participants also learnt about ways to incorporate PES into policies. Part of the workshop covered the political context of PES, including the EU’s Water Framework Directive, the Danube Strategy as well as land use policies in Ukraine.

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Maramures pilot site gathers local tourism businesses

5 November 2011

The Danube PES project, Maramures meeting, 2011. © WWF
Further to single and group discussions with tourism businesses in Maramures pilot area, on 5 November the Romanian PES team presented the PES schemes and listed the options and benefits for participants in PES schemes, as well as conditions for success of the financial mechanism in the area. All participants expressed their readiness to support the PES fund by re-allocating part of their profits to its establishment. Participants were able to identify themselves the potentials behind a successful tourism PES scheme in the area for the entire Maramures area. Administrative justifications are still taking place but it is clear that businesses are pro-PES oriented and look forward to the start of the scheme.

The Romanian team already prepared the design of the main promotional tool of the scheme – a specially designed map, that is a kind of a voluntary ticket to the 7 protected areas in Maramures. Purchasing the map, tourists will support the conservation activities in these protected areas, including measures for visitor control.

WWF DCPO member of the Danube Competence Centre

1 November 2011

White water lily (Nymphaea alba); Danube-Carpathian
Lake inside reeds, with White waterlily, Nymphaea alba. Ismail Islands, Ukraine © WWF
The Danube Competence Center (DCC) is a regional tourism cooperation platform, and it is managed by the GIZ with German government funds. It aims to build and support networks of tourism stakeholders from the Danube region. As an association of members from the public, private and non-government sectors, the DCC contributes to the development, implementation and marketing of sustainable tourism products through conducting relevant projects and establishing new quality standards for tourism services. Most members are dealing with nature tourism to various degrees. One of the services they offer to their members is getting them to tourism fairs. With a regional and cross-border focus on Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine, the DCC aims to create a single tourism brand for the Middle and Lower Danube region.

The benefits of being a member of DCC: being part of a sustainable tourism network, providing a platform to showcase the project work and gain support, access to funding. Bulgaria and Romania are PACs 2 for tourism of the Danube Strategy and DCC is permanent observer and in constant contact with the PACs.

In the future we can think for cooperation with DCC with the promotion of our PES schemes and we can use their experience with business to shape our strategy on how to approach our potential business partners. Some interesting meetings are expected in the near future and they will be a good opportunity to promote not only the tourist PES scheme but the whole project.

Bulgarian pilot schemes finalized

30 October 2011

The Danube PES project, Rusenski Lom nature park. © WWF
The development of PES schemes in Persina and Rusenski Lom pilot sites in Bulgaria has been finalized.

The Persina pilot scheme provides the framework and feasibility of biomass management on agricultural lands and wetlands in the area, contributing to improving soil formation, water quality, biodiversity and carbon fixation in lands. Calculations show the opportunity cost of using farmlands residues and wetland vegetation for production of pellets and briquettes. A business partner to carry out the scheme is already defined and a partnership agreement has been signed. The Persina scheme is set on a private basis, where local businesses agree on the sustainable management of biomass on farm and wetlands in the area, creating the above-mentioned benefits.

The Rusenski Lom scheme is public-private, where businesses operating in the area contribute directly or through their customers to the protection of the values that Rusenski Lom provides. The scheme primarily focuses on the cultural values of the site but its implementation will contribute to improving water quality, soil erosion control, biodiversity protection and carbon sequestration, which are all assets attracting visitors to the area but also benefiting local urban and rural communities.

Farmers from PES pilot sites promoted by Economedia as “best practices” in rural development

26 October 2011

The Danube PES project, Bulgarian farmers © WWF
Economedia, the largest Bulgarian media also prsented in the Danube PES Project Steering Committee (by Mr Lyubomir Vassilev, chairman of the second Project Steering Committee meeting) interviewed two farmers from Rusenski Lom and Persina pilot sites, as part of a project presenting best practices in using rural development funds in Bulgaria. 24 environment-friendly projects were presented in total. Showing the link between rural and urban areas encourages tax-payers and their elected officials to continue funding these programms in the future.

Read the article about Stefan Petrov's horse farm (in Bulgarian)
Read the article about Sevdalina Kachamachkova's farm (in Bulgarian)

Stakeholders from Bulgaria and Romania learn about nature protection in Fisheries

20 October 2011

PES trip to Hungary, 2011. © WWF
During a three-day capacity building trip to Hungary national experts on fisheries and aquaculture as well as fishpond managers from Bulgaria and Romania were able to learn about sustainable fishery and aquaculture practices as part of the Danube PES project. The study tour benefited those working on designing and applying funding mechanisms for the aqua-environment sector. During the trip they could see a variety of economic activities that worked hand in hand with nature protection.

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EU WWF Biodiversity meeting

19 October 2011

EU WWF Biodiversity meeting, 2011. © WWF
On 18 and 19 October in Rome was held the EU WWF Biodiversity meeting in which the Danube PES project team was represented by Project Director Irene Lucius. Biodiversity is the key “business” of WWF and the WWF biodiversity team is consequently the key towards our success. The main issues discussed during the meeting were: the Green Economy angle to biodiversity conservation; the new WWF Footprint strategy; the balance between the importance of consumption, the preservation of biodiversity and the renewable energy; Natura 2000 and the review of the birds and habitats directives. The meeting concluded with a long list of issues for better cooperation in the future, including quality standards for Natura 2000 management plan and building capacity on Green Economy issues.

PES, LEADER and the future of rural areas

15 August 2011

Danube PES project, Nikopol meeting, 2011. © WWF
In August 2011, the town of Nikopol, located in Persina Pilot site, hosted the first seminar of the CEE-LEADER series aimed at establishing an international LEADER network for Central and Eastern Europe. Besides sharing views and drafting future scenarios, participants emphasised the importance of rural areas for the wellbeing of society, including urban areas, mentioning the multi aspect role of rural areas for providing food, conditions for recreation and natural capital. They identified the need to be more active disregarding policy implementation obstacles at national level, in order to safeguard rural areas and the value they create and provide to the whole society through sustainable rural development. 60 international participants attended the event.

WWF’s Water Tour teaches about the Danube and the services it provides

30 September 2011

The Danube PES project, Water Tour, 2011. © WWF
At the end of September, during the WWF Water Tour, the branded WWF truck stopped in Pleven, Ruse, Veliko Tarnovo, Belene, Sofia, Svishtov and Silistra, Bulgaria. In the information tent visitors were able to find out interesting facts about the Danube river and learn about the main threats facing it. Information was presented on PES and the need to care for the environmental services nature provides us with. The information tent was visited by many people of different ages including students with their teachers and the media. Thanks to the Water Tour the WWF team raised awarness of the people for water-related ecosystem services and the ways to protect them.

PES project with potential for international student exchange

10 July 2011

Danube PES project, teacher exchange, 2011. © WWF
In July 2011, the active work of the PES team lead two French teachers to our pilot sites to assess the opporutnities for internship of French students in the project pilot areas. The teachers, Mr Menard and Ms Timber were interested in the integrated management of protected areas. Development of PES schemes in the pilot sites was identified an innovative solution for bringing together businesses (land-users), nature conservation authorities and visitors of protected areas for the protection of the areas. First candidates interested in sustainable forest management aready submited applications for internship.

Maya Todorova, Project Manager of the Danube PES project, says that this type of exchange is important for pilot areas to promote them as natural values generator, for the development of local areas, and for increasing the interest in the protection and management of Natura 2000 sites, as areas of economic, social and environmental benefits.

PES teams advises on Romania Natura 2000 sites management plans and payments

6 June 2011

Monia Martini, WWF DCPO, Romania. © WWF
During a meeting on 6 June with representative of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in Romania, the PES team discussed Natura 2000 sites management plans and payment measures. The discussion focused on the studies of management measures for habitats and species of community interest. WWF expertise was requested because of the impending launch of the specifications for the studies. The WWF team recommended that the minimum management measures for habitats in Natura 2000 sites that have been developed by WWF should be taken and used. It was also agreed that the ministry will create a database with all Natura 2000 project results and that major threats and economic evaluation of losses will be identified to carry out measures for Natura 2000 payments. The WWF team also recommended the selection of five pilot sites for different habitats and species to analyze the restrictions and to assess losses.

Second Steering Group meeting: decisions and recommendations

2 June 2011

Danube PES project, second steering group meeting. © WWF
The Second Steering Group meeting took place in Bucharest on 1 June 2011. The group thanked last year’s chair, Mrs Madalina Cozma, and welcomed the new chair, Mr Lyubomir Vasilev. The group endorsed the report of the first project period and the work plan of the following period. Cooperation of the Project Team with the ICPDR and national governments on the issue of environmental costs was encouraged. More attention to forest and climate change related PES schemes was also welcomed. After this meeting, the Project Steering Group will meet one more time in September 2013.
Download presentations from the Second Steering Group Meeting

Second Steering Group meeting to be held in Bucharest

24 May 2011

PES Danube project, Steering Committee meeting. © WWF
The second meeting of the Steering Group of the project Promoting Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) and Related Sustainable Financing Schemes in the Danube Basin will take place 31 May – 1 June, 2011 in Bucharest, Romania. The purpose of this year´s Steering Group meeting will be to review interim project outputs and provide recommendations on further project development to the implementing organizations and partners. After this meeting, the Project Steering Group will meet one more time in September 2013.

Model site work advances

22 May 2011

WWF DCPO Green Public Funds team © WWF
The Danube PES project team is working actively on developing and adapting PES as well as sustainable financing schemes in both Bulgaria and Romania.

In Romania, the team is developing a payment for fishpond managers to protect biodiversity and improve water quality. The payment is being developed at pilot-site level but the team is looking for opportunities to scale-up the measure to national level. The sustainable financing scheme in Romania is being developed at local level – in the Maramures pilot site, where several small protected areas exist. The team is elaborating a sustainable financing scheme involving tourism businesses and contributing to the management of the protected areas.

In Bulgaria, the team is working on developing national public payments for aquaculture producers to contribute to the improvement of water quality used in their business operations. The team is working actively with the Executive Agency of Fisheries and Aquaculture on the development and adjustment of the scheme taking into consideration all national and European legislations.

The sustainable financing scheme in Bulgaria is under development in Rusenski Lom pilot site. The scheme aims at protecting biodiversity involving tourism businesses in the area, local communities and local administrators responsible for the protection of the protected area. The team has already lined up the first business operators ready to contribute to the scheme.

Rusenski Lom pilot site coordinator met with fishpond managers from the region to present and consult the proposed public payments scheme for the sector. The fishpond managers gave positive feedback that was used in the adjustment of the scheme.

River basin managers training on PES

20 May 2011

River basin managers training on PES, Romania, 2011 © WWF
Managers from river basins in Romania met to discuss PES schemes and their introduction as a financing mechanism under the RBMP PoM. The workshop organized in collaboration with national project partner ANAR - Romanian Waters National Administration - was facilitated by Pierre Strosser, ACTeon expert in the field and former consultant for the EU in the area of WFD implementation. Discussions, presentation of study cases and working group exercises gave participants further understanding and clarification about their future work on ecosystem services and PES.

EU Regional Development Commissioner Hahn briefed about PES project

16 May 2011

WWF DCPO Irene Lucius with EU Commissioner Hahn © WWF
At a meeting with EU Regional Development Commissioner Johannes Hahn, the PES Project Director Irene Lucius advocated the allocation of future Cohesion Policy funds to measures promoting ecosystem services such as wetland restoration in the Danube basin. The meeting took place in Vienna on 16 May, was initiated by WWF and involved colleagues of the European Environmental Bureau, another green NGO network. The Commissioner participated in the discussions in a very engaged manner and showed appreciation for the value of Europe's “Green Infrastructure” and interest in financing it during the upcoming budget period 2014 to 2020.

EU Climate Commissioner Hedegaard introduced to PES project

15 May 2011

WWF DCPO, Georgi Stefanov © WWF
On 15 May, during a working lunch with EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard – on her first visit to Bulgaria – Georgi Stefanov, Climate expert on the Danube PES project, introduced the goals of the Payments for Ecosystem Services project in the light of Climate Change. He demonstrated how PES schemes can be implemented in the Danube River Basin, contributing to reducing green house gas emissions. He told Commissioner Hedegaard that as a first step, the business in the region is being introduced to the concept of ecosystem services and carbon sequestration opportunities related to restoration and protection of ecosystems. Commissioner Hedegaard also heard that ecosystems provide a variety of benefits some of which related to climate regulation and carbon sequestration. Allocating funds to build up the resilience of ecosystems can support efforts to ensure climate change adaptation and mitigation.

PES and biomass from wetlands

12 May 2011

PES project, journalists visit biomass instalation, Persina Nature Park, Bulgaria © WWF
The Bulgarian team presented “Management of wetland biomass” – economic opportunities for local communities to Persina pilot site stakeholders on 12 May 2011. Danube PES project climate change expert Georgi Stefanov and Lora Zhebreel presented to local farmers and companies climate change issues and opportunities to use biomass from wetlands. Lora Zhebreel presented examples of successful private-funded PES scheme in Europe related to biomass from wetlands. The event was used to collect information from the participants on their willingness to participate in a local PES scheme related to climate change mitigation through restoration and maintenance of wetlands in Persina Nature Park.

PES and EU CAP reform

10 May 2011

CAP meeting Donana, Spain, 2011 © WWF
In Doñana, Spain representatives of the Danube PES project team participated in discussions regarding WWF policy work for the CAP reform process and its integration into WWF´s global work on land use. Integration of the WFD in the CAP was also discussed with colleagues from the WWF Mediterranean Program. Ecosystem Services and relative sustainable financing mechanisms under the EU CAP were a big part of the debate. In particular, experience on PES was shared with colleagues involved in PES projects in Portugal and Morocco.

PES journalistic trip

29 April 2011

PES journalistic trip, May 2011 © WWF
On 28-29 April the Danube PES project team organized a journalistic trip to Persina and Rusenski Lom Nature Parks. 15 journalists from leading Bulgarian media were introduced to WWF’s work in the region and found out about the proposed PES schemes for tourism the project team is developing under the PES project.

Bulgarian team promotes PES through food

14 April 2011

Fiesta TV, partner for the Danube PES project © WWF
The Bulgarian Danube PES project team started working with a national culinary television, Fiesta TV, to promote foods from sustainable fisheries and agriculture. Looking for market opportunities and promotion are some of the ways to encourage nature-friendly practices and to attract more suppliers of ecosystem services in rural areas to support the proposed PES schemes. The TV crew had the first visit to the pilot site of Rusenski Lom and drafted the script which links PES and economic activities in an attractive way, adapted to the needs of a wider audience. Working with the TV channel helped the team further communicate the project goals to end consumers.

“Business and Climate” workshop

5 April 2011

WWF DCPO, PES, Business and Climate meeting, 2011 © WWF
The Danube PES project team, together with the Climate coalition in Bulgaria of which WWF is a founding member, took part in the “Business and Climate” workshop, held in Sofia on 5 April 2011. PES opportunities for the business were actively promoted to Bulgarian companies during the event. PES schemes were presented as an opportunity to solve environmental problems at a local level and also to ensure additional financing and added value for humans and the environment alike.

The Danube PES project further promoted in Serbia

2 April 2011

WWF DCPO, Duska Dimovic © WWF
In April 2011, Duska Dimovic, Serbia coordinator for the Danube PES project presented the concept and the project in eight Serbian cities during a series of consultation meetings on the implementation of the Water Framework Directive and the related Danube River Basin Management Plan for Serbia. The PES concept and the Danube PES project were presented during the panel “Reaching good water status through integrated management”. The information and our PES experience reached around 200 stakeholders during the consultation meetings.

Capacity building for local stakeholders for Natura 2000 payments

26 March 2011

PES project, farmers training © WWF
In March 2011, two workshops were held in Rusenski Lom and Persina Nature Parks in Bulgaria. The focus was on payments for farmlands within Natura 2000 sites under the EU’s Birds Directive. The measure was recently enforced under the Axis II Environment of the National Rural Development Programme 2007-2013. More than 60 farmers and experts of local institutions were trained in both sites.

Support for payments for Natura 2000 sites

25 March 2011

WWF DCPO Green Public Funds team © WWF
During March 2011, the Danube PES project team actively supported the campaign of the Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture to promote the new payments for managers of farmlands within Natura 2000 sites under the EU's Birds Directive. Together with key speakers from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Paying Agency, Bulgaria Project Coordinator Yulia Grigorova presented the new measure before national media representatives. The event was followed by two local level trainings for farmers from the Danube PES pilot sites in Bulgaria – Rusesnki Lom and Persina Nature parks.

Policy developments in Romania

22 March 2011

WWF DCPO, Danube PES project, Monia Martini and Raluca © WWF
PES related needs for the OP Fishery have been identified during meetings between the Danube PES team and MA Director Gheorghe Vacaru, opening discussions for further development and implementation of public support measures (the so called aqua-environmental measures) aimed at improving the environment in fish farms outside Natura 2000 sites.

Furthermore, the Danube PES team met with Axis II expert from MARD (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) in order to discuss possibilities to make further use of agro-environment payments to the benefit of ecosystem services. MARD interest in developing new measures focused on biodiversity was identified.

Policy developments in Bulgaria

20 March 2011

WWF DCPO, Yulia Grigorova © WWF
Active cooperation with the Bulgarian Executive Agency of Fisheries and Aquaculture has been a major development under the Danube PES project in Bulgaria. National Coordinator Yulia Grigorova set up monthly meetings with the Agency to coordinate the elaboration of the public payments for aquaculture producers. Yulia Grigorova also met with representatives of the Direct Payments Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food to coordinate the proposed measures.

Furthermore, Yulia Grigorova discussed with the Ministry of Finance the financial framework of the sustainable financing scheme in Rusenski Lom. The coordination and consultation was necessary to ensure that the public administration of the Directorate of Rusenski Lom Nature Park would be able to allocate the money collected from tourism for conservation measures as part of the scheme. Currently, the Directorate is obliged to transfer these funds to the state budget.

Workshop „Good practices in fish farms”

5 March 2011

Ciocanesti fish farm © WWF
In March 2011, in Cetate, Romania, the Romanian Danube PES project team discussed with fishpond managers, biodiversity experts, and representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency and of the Management Authority of the Fisheries Operational Programme, biodiversity and water related aquaculture practices leading to sustainable fish farm management both from an economic and ecologic perspective. PES related needs identified for the OP Fishery and their links with the proposed model PES scheme in Ciocanesti under the Danube PES project were presented by National Project Coordinator Monia Martini in a session dedicated to financing opportunities for fishery. After the workshop the team accompanied by a representative of MA OP Fishery visited Cornesti fish farm near Bucharest, identified as potential pilot site for testing aqua-environmental measures aimed at improving the environment in fish farms outside Natura 2000 sites.

Bulgaria can leapfrog EU countries in innovative fisheries payments

28 February 2011

Fisherman in the Danube River. © WWF
Fisheries and aquaculture stakeholders in Bulgaria gathered today at a national conference to discuss new ways to sustainably manage the water ecosystems of the country in an effort to introduce various Payments for Ecosystem Services schemes, an innovative approach to nature conservation that has yet to be widely introduced in Europe. The conference organized by WWF and the State Fisheries Agency was attended by Mr Tsvetan Dimitrov, deputy minister at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, representatives from the private sector and NGOs.

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Danube PES project is only European project debated at meeting of economics experts

15 December 2010

PES meeting, island of Vilm, Germany © WWF

The Danube PES project was the only European project presented at the international workshop on Payments for Ecosystem Services “Towards an Implementation Strategy” held on Vilm island, Germany in December 2010. The workshop was organised by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), the Institute for Environmental Economics and World Trade (IUW) at the University of Hanover and the Helmholtz Centre of Environmental Research (UFZ). 24 international experts in the economic assessment of ecosystem services from Africa, Asia and America shared their views on PES and its role for the global economic and sustainable development.

Serbian public enterprise Water of Vojvodine to cooperate with WWF in water management

13 November 2010

'Ajmo ljudi, još malo pa nestalo!
Karavan klimatskih promena 2009 - Serbia © WWF

The public company VODE VOJVODINE (Water of Vojvodine) has expressed their wish to sign a memorandum of understanding with WWF DCPO for cooperation in water management and to build the capacity of its employees on water management and PES. This announcment came after the project team conducted its first two meetings in Serbia. During the meetings in Belgrade, the concept and practices of PES around the world were discussed with officials in Serbia. Through an elaborate questionnaire to be distributed to experts and representatives from ministries and institutions, the project team will identify the needs for PES in Serbia.The questionnaire will also be distributed in Ukraine in the near future.

Seven case studies demonstrate benefits from ecosystem restoration

30 September 2010

For centuries, Danube fish and other wildlife have been a source of food and livelihoods. © WWF

A set of seven case studies prepared by the project team shows best European practices in the use of EU funds for protection of ecosystem services. The seven real-life cases use either public or private money and show the involvement of different stakeholders in the restoration of ecosystems and the range of benefits they get, resulting in win-win-win solutions for nature, local people and businesses as well as the state.

PES team report gives recommendations on investment of EU public money

20 August 2010

Publications of the Danube-Carpathian Programme in Bulgarian © WWF

The report “Use of EU Funds for Ecosystems Services and Potential Public Funding for PES schemes” focuses on  three key environmental issues: water, biodiversity and climate change. It presents the main EU goals for each with a view on their potential for Danube PES scheme development. The report advises on how public EU money could be invested in safeguarding natural capital, and provides a framework for a PES scheme.

Active communication and capacity building for local stakeholders

15 August 2010

More than ten meetings took place in model sites in Bulgaria and Romania since the inception of the project. © WWF
More than ten meetings have taken place in model sites in Bulgaria and Romania since the inception of the project.

In Maramures in northern Romania, meetings took place with high level representatives from the Association of Ecotourism. The overall conclusion was that what was needed in Maramures was a development fund, where conservation and local development needs could be addressed at one and the same time

Also in Romania, the project team met with fish basin administrators and representatives of the National agency for fishery and aquaculture. The team had the opportunity to introduce the PES project to local and national stakeholders and to further engage fish basin administrators in the model area. Some administrators may apply for aquaculture measures under EU’s Operation Programme Fishery.

In August, the project team in Bulgaria organized four meetings in each of the major settlements of Persina Nature Park, a model site for the PES project, to share the vision of the team for the area.

Furthermore, stakeholders from model sites in Bulgaria were trained on PES. Participants in the training had the chance to learn about the PES concept, as well as other economic tools for nature conservation such as green and organic labeling.

The Danube PES project site and logo are launched

10 July 2010

Danube PES project logo © WWF

The Danube PES project website and logo were launched today by the project team. The website of the Danube PES project went live in English, Bulgarian and Romanian.The website was conceived as a key communications tool for the project. It contains a comprehensive section on how Payments for Ecosystem Services schemes work, a good start to learn about this innovative approach to nature conservation.

Landmark project rewards care for the Danube

28 June 2010

Maya Todorova is the Project Manager of the Danube PES project. © WWF
Maya Todorova is the Project Manager of the Danube PES project.

Everything started from the moment I decided to swim in the Danube… I was a student at the Academy of Economics in Svishtov, a small Bulgarian town on the Danube. My local friends told me that there was a saying, if somebody dipped into the river they would always stay along it. It came true in my case, today my family is in the town of Ruse and my job with WWF covers the entire basin of the Lower Danube.

I used to work in the field of pure economics, dealing with profit and loss, business plans and forecasts. In 2006 WWF asked me to support the logistics of a big international event in Ruse in connection with the Lower Danube Green Corridor. I started researching the topic and read very different things from what I used to know as an economist.

Read the full interview

National coordinators provide PES analyses

1 July 2010

Peisaj montan, Maramures, Romania © WWF
Feasibility studies of demonstration sites have been finalized, including the socio-economic and environmental analyses of pilot areas in Bulgaria, as well as ecosystem and economic analyses of pilot areas in Romania. The following studies have been finalized:
  • "Socio-economic analysis of Persina pilot site", in Bulgarian
  • "Analysis of traditional practices for use of wetland products (biomass, grazing, etc) in Persina pilot site", in Bulgarian
  • "Socio-economic analysis of Rusenski Lom pilot site", in Bulgarian
  • "Questionnaire to identify the needs for PES in Persina and Rusenski Lom pilot sites", in Bulgarian
  • "Analysis of the accumulation and distribution of national funds related to the use of state natural resources", in Bulgarian
  • "Laboratory analysis of the energy qualities of 3 species of wetland vegetation", in Bulgarian
  • "Analysis and evaluation of ecosystem services standing behind The Maramures Heritage Trail", in Romanian
  • "The Maramures Heritage Trail and its Local Pensions: A Tourism Perspective", in Romanian
  • "Water price policy analysis", in Romanian
The analyses are free to access by contacting the national coordinators Yulia Grigorova and Monia Martini.

Promoting Payments for Ecosystem Services in the Danube Basin

25 May 2010

Kalimok marsh, Bulgaria. This Danube River Basin marsh has been reconnected with the river, creating spawning places in the once cut off wetlands. © WWF
The landmark project that seeks to develop and share experience of the role and contribution of Payments for Ecosystem Services to rural development and conservation, was kick-started in Ruse, Bulgaria today.

The project, which will last for four years, will promote Payments for Ecosystem Services and Related Sustainable Financing Schemes in the Lower Danube.

“WWF is leading the development and implementation of this innovative approach to conservation”, said Maya Todorova, Project Manager of the PES project. “We want to promote the PES concept along the Lower Danube. To this end we will set up model projects to demonstrate how national and local-level PES schemes can work both in the public and private sector”.

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Pablo Gutman: Markets and ecosystem services

26 May 2010

Pablo Gutman speaks about Payments for Ecosystem Services in Bulgaria. © WWF
What PES schemes would work well in the Danube basin? Both in Bulgaria and Romania?

I would suggest that PES schemes in the Danube basin should try to match a variety of demands and supplies for ecosystem services, including directing EU rural payments to support PES schemes and focusing on ecosystem services for markets that have capacity to pay for them.

How do you price an ecosystem service?

As in any other case, the price of an ecosystem service is somewhere between what the demand is willing to pay - the ceiling - and the supplier costs (or opportunity costs) the floor. Let me add that a large part of WWF and the conservation movement work could be understood as an effort to “pushup” the ceiling, that is to convince society that it is in our own interest to pay for the protection of nature.

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