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Study on Bosut Forests’ ecosystem services: How to achieve better flood protection, income from wood production, traditional animal husbandry

June 25, 2018

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If environmental flooding of the forest complex of the Bosut Forests and an increase of traditional animal husbandry are implemented along with the joint management and establishment of a protected area, the value of four ecosystem services selected as the most important for the area, which lays between Serbia, BiH, and Croatia – wood production, flood prevention, meat production and biodiversity, is expected to rise, according to conclusions of the Case Study: Advocating Ecosystem Services Assessment and Valuation (ESAV) in Bosut Forests area – integrating biodiversity and ecosystem services in natural resource uses and management.

The Institute for Nature Conservation of the Province of Vojvodina has prepared the case study in partnership with, and support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) – Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Biodiversity (ORF BD) project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The case study of Bosut Forests deals with four ecosystem services or “benefits from nature” provided by this area that are crucial for flood protection, steady profits, nature conservation, and the local population’s welfare.

The objective of the project was defined so as to present possibilities for an increase in benefits, both quantitative and qualitative, by introducing integrated planning and multipurpose utilization of the area.

Traditional pig farming income could be multiplied 10-14 times

The study results show that with integrated management, wood production would benefit in 30-50% less forest dieback and salvage cuttings related to water depletion, with a proportionally higher quality yield in timber.

The forest retention area will be able to store 100 – 200 million cubic meters of water, which would be of extraordinary importance for flood management. This area was severely affected by floods in 2014, which caused significant material losses and damage.

An increased number of pigs grazed in Bosut Forests (5-7 times) together with a better fodder availability will result in a 10 -14 times multiplied income from traditional farming. Moreover, there will be an additional benefit from a better meat taste and quality when compared to conventional pig farm production.

In the surroundings of Bosut Forests animal husbandry was once the predominant activity. At the end of the 19th century, there were as many as 100,000 pigs, but following the Second World War, the number was reduced to 30 to 50 thousand, and today there are less than a thousand (video: TV Aljazeera Balkans – Pig farming is disappearing in Bosut Forest).

For 6 habitat types, plankton communities and 9 plant and 11 animal species selected as the most important, there will be improvements in their ecological status, number, population, and area of occupancy. Since they are indicators and umbrella species, improvements are expected to take place not only for them but for most of other species present in the area as well.

For many other ecosystem services (water and air purification, game management, mitigation of climate extremes, tourism, aesthetics, pollination, pest control), improvements are also expected, but will not be quantified.

The largest complex of common oak forests in Serbia

Forests in the alluvial plain of the rivers Sava, Bosut, and Studva, surrounded by the villages of Jamena, Morović, Višnjićevo, Bosut, and Sremska Rača, make the largest complex of common oak forests in Serbia. Together with Spačva Forests in the Republic of Croatia, they comprise the largest spatial and functional zone of common oak forests in Europe and the Pannonian Basin.

Changes in the hydrological system have contributed to an increase in forest dieback, followed by frequent sanitation cutting, while the groundwater level in the woods is much lower than the optimum.

Unfavourable status of wildlife species in lowland forests endangered by dieback, declining profits in forestry industry, and floods threatening settlements and arable land, call for a united approach to solving these problems. At the same time, opportunities for maximizing ecosystem services provided by Bosut Forests should be recognized.

Three recommendations

Since proposed measures predict general benefits for the area, study findings led to recommendations addressed to the policymakers, with the aim of supporting further integrated management and multifunctional use of Bosut Forests area.

The  main two recommendations of this study is that Bosut Forests should be used for water retention in up to 10,000 ha of their area, and that the number of pigs traditionally pasturing there should increase from 1,000 up to 5,000-7,000 heads, which could give a significant contribution to the sustainable development of the area and a more responsible use of natural resources.

The study also recommends intersectoral and cross-border cooperation and the establishment of a protected area (Nature park Bosut Forests).