Guidelines on ecosystem services, their assessment and evaluation in Western Balkans
Author: Nikola Stojnić, Institute for Nature Conservation of Vojvodina Province, Serbia
On the occasion of International Day for Biological Diversity 2020, Nikola Stojnić from the Institute for Nature Conservation of Vojvodina Province, Serbia, reminds us of a concept of ecosystem services, which as a link between biodiversity and human wellbeing, should be included in decision-making processes on the establishment and management of protected areas.
Throughout the globe, humanity is re-examining own relationship to nature and re-calling its dependence on healthy and vibrant ecosystems. Modern attention to this topic is brought as a concept of ecosystem services, as all material and non-material benefits such as oxygen and soil formation, food, water, and raw materials, pollination, water purification, tourism, and spiritual experiences are extracted from nature.
The Western Balkans (WB) is a region with exceptional natural values, rich biodiversity, and conserved natural areas, providing a wide range of ecosystem services.
Along with on-going activities in the nature conservation sector, regular threats and over-use demands in the region are getting new forms, induced by new socio-economic changes in past decades. So, this is the moment where the concept of ecosystem services, as a link between biodiversity and human wellbeing, should be included as a part of the decision-making processes.
The project “Regional guidelines on ecosystem services assessment and valuation (ESAV) in processes of establishing and managing of protected areas in Western Balkans” funded by the German Government and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) through the Institute for Nature Conservation of Vojvodina Province, Serbia, strongly matches with this approach.
The Guidelines shall support responsible entities in the nature conservation sector to integrate ESAV in the process of establishment of protected areas and their management. This will enable wider recognition and use the ESAV concept as an important and useful tool in the nature conservation area in the WB.
In order to create synergies and added values from the specific competencies within the WB region, the project team gathered to jointly develop the Guidelines, consisting of experts from the Western Balkans holding various expertise. This goes along the slogan “Our solutions are in nature”, which emphasizes hope, solidarity, and the importance of working together at all levels to build a future of life in harmony with nature.