Western Balkans countries to get joint guideline on ecosystem services assessment and valuation

ecosystem services

Photo: BGEN


November 6, 2019






November 6, 2019





Institutions dealing with the establishment and management of protected areas in the Western Balkans will apply the same approach and guideline on ecosystem services assessment and valuation (ESAV) in establishing and managing protected areas as well as in the development and planning activities of the related institutions.

The guideline will be prepared by an expert group supported within the Ecosystem Services Assessment and Valuation (ESAV) project. The expert group is comprised of experts from the Western Balkans – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia, who are competent in ecosystem services and their integration into development policies.

Institute for Nature Conservation of Vojvodina Province coordinates guideline’s development

The guideline to be developed by the expert group and coordinated by the Institute for Nature Conservation of  Vojvodina Province (Serbia) will become a useful tool for ESAV for experts from agencies and institutes dealing with nature protection and the management of national parks, ministries, etc., says Nikola Stojnić, project manager at the Institute for Nature Conservation of Vojvodina Province on behalf of the expert group.

The need for such a guideline came up as a result of case studies on ESAV carried out during 2017-2018, supported by the ORF Biodiversity project. The cases studies were on Neretva and Trebišnjica River Basin in BiH and Bosut Forest in Serbia. This was also highlighted during an expert symposium and roundtable on “Valuing and Investing in Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Sustainable Development,” held in Novi Sad, Serbia in April 2018. One of the most important recommendations from the symposium was to develop procedures and guidelines on ESAV for the Southeast European context and incorporate them into the planning and decision-making processes and cross-sectoral dialogue.

The Bosut Forest case study has shown that, if properly managed, the private sector and, in particular, traditional pig-farming can contribute to biodiversity conservation in protected areas by preventing shrub encroachment and overgrowing wetlands, said Stojnić.

Assessment to be undertaken across Western Balkans region

A meeting of the eleven ESAV experts took place this October at Srebrno Jezero in Serbia. The main topics of the meeting were to precisely define the focus, purpose, and topics of the guideline and also to agree on the next steps for guideline development.

Having in mind that almost the entire region shares a similar framework in terms of biodiversity, challenges in  nature conservation, and orientation towards the EU integration, it was agreed that an assessment process has to be undertaken. For this purpose, the method and the guiding questions were identified for or by the institutions of the countries to be interviewed. In addition, the final content of the guideline and its implementation in real-world conditions in one of the protected areas were discussed.

The guideline, as a final product, shall be introduced to the line ministries, agencies and managing authorities via the Biodiversity Task Force (BDTF), a regional technical and advisory body working under the auspices of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) – Regional Working Group on Environment (RWGE) and also directly via or by the experts and institutions involved in the assessment process.

The Ecosystem Services Assessment and Valuation (ESAV) project is a component of the Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Implementation of Biodiversity Agreements (ORF-BDU) project, commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ).

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/99 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
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