The Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area

The project is part of the implementation of the program BG03 Biodiversity and ecosystem services co-financed with the funds of the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area (85%) and Bulgarian state budget (15%). The aim of this financial instrument is to reduce the economic and social disparities in the European Economic Area and strengthen the bilateral relations between donor countries - Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway and Bulgaria.

Within the framework of the EEA Financial Mechanism Bulgaria will have access to a total of € 78.6 mln. to be disburse through projects in sectors of highest priority for our country: environmental management and protection, climate change and renewable energy sources, civil society, protection of the cultural heritage, public health initiatives, children and youth at risk, green industry innovation, justice and home affairs.

More information about the EEA financial mechanism is available at: www.eeagrants.org, www.eeagrants.bg, while more information about the specific programme is available at: www.moew.government.bg and www.BG03.moew.government.bg.

Programme BG03.02: Ecosystem services mapping and assessment

The project will contribute to the implementation of the programme BG03 biodiversity and ecosystems, in particular by assessing the status of and benefits arising from the ecosystems, constituting part of the amazing Bulgarian biodiversity. It is the national contribution to achieving the goals of Тhe EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. It explores ecosystems in their unity, and is consistent with the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 of the Convention on Biodiversity. Leading policy in this regard is the assessment of ecosystem services, which in short constitute all possible benefits for humans, summarized in a few main groups:

  • Provisioning services – all products from ecosystems such as food, fiber, fuel, herbs and medicinal plants
  • Regulating services – benefits arising from the ability of ecosystems to regulate important natural processes, such as purification of air, water and soil, climate regulation, erosion, diseases and pests, reduce damage from natural disasters and others
  • Cultural services – intangible benefits from ecosystems associated with their aesthetic and recreational value, their spiritual features, educational value, and create an environment for the development of the spirit
  • Supporting services – those benefits of ecosystem functioning, creating the necessary conditions for ensuring all other such soil formation.

Scope of the Programme BG03.02: Ecosystem services mapping and assessment

As part of efforts to establish a priority action framework for Natura 2000 mapping and statistical analysis of ecosystem preserved within this network was carried out. Comparisons to previous information indicates that there are a number of inconsistencies and ambiguity or gaps in knowledge. The assessment of ecosystems and the services offered by them require additional and extensive fieldwork. It is noteworthy that similar large-scale studies outside Natura 2000 is not financed by the European Commission. BG03 program will provide the opportunity for a concise review and synchronization of information about them, as this will enable generating unified contemporary map of ecosystems. In the course of the work the opportunity will be provided to build national capacity for describing and assessing ecosystem services among the administration, the scientific community and NGOs.

The Project: Assessment and mapping of GRASSLAND ecosystems condition and their services in Bulgaria (D-33-90 / 03.09.2015)

The project will contribute to the overall objectives of the programme for concise inventory of ecosystem services in the implementation of the Biodiversity Strategy of the EU. Our task is to describe and evaluate the grasslands in Bulgaria or, more popularly all pastures, meadows and other grasslands, which by preliminary estimates represent about 30% of the country. Relying on the accumulated massive amounts of information on the grasslands and the various animal species associated with them we hope that we will be able to deliver our objectives within the next 13 months - starting in September 2014 all tasks should be completed by November 2016.

The main objectives of the project:

The project aims to ensure an opportunity to explore various issues related to the availability of grassland ecosystems, combined with the long-term preservation of their potential. The project will contribute original information about the grasslands outside the Natura 2000 network, about their distribution, biophysical parameters and capacity for commercial use. Hence we will directly contribute to the sustainable management of grasslands in Bulgaria. The collected and processed information will be fed into the National Information System on Biodiversity to establish a reliable source for monitoring changes and implement adequate conservation measures.

An important part of our work will be related to raising public awareness about the benefits of ecosystem services and their importance for the economy of the country. We will organize seminars on the main users of open grasslands - farmers and representatives of medium and small hotel and tourism business. We envisage to work with the institutions responsible for the protection of Bulgarian nature to introduce them in detail to the methodology applied for Ecosystem Assessment, which will allow systematic monitoring of their status in the future.