A landmark project seeking to develop and share experience of the role and contribution of Payments for Ecosystem Services to rural development and conservation began in June 2010 in Ruse, Bulgaria.
The project, which will last for four years, will promote Payments for Ecosystem Services and Related Sustainable Financing Schemes in the Lower Danube. During the course of the project national and local-level PES/SF schemes will be developed and demonstrated, focusing on Romania and Bulgaria. Another aim of the project is to integrate this approach into the River Basin Management Plans for the River Danube and its sub-basins. A major focus for the project is on sharing this experience with other Danube countries, especially Serbia and Ukraine, as well as with other major river basins and the international community.
Payments for Ecosystem Services are the multiple benefits that people receive from nature, such as water purification and flood control by wetlands. The Payments for Ecosystem Services schemes reward those whose lands provide these services, with subsidies or market payments from those who benefit.
According to WWF (2010), the concept of Payments for Ecosystem Services and Sustainable Financing schemes are attracting growing attention in conservation and development circles as promising solutions to improve rural conservation and rural livelihoods as well as to transform harmful production subsidies into helpful payments for ecosystem services.
Arranging payments for the benefits provided by forests and other natural ecosystems is a way to recognize their value and ensure that these benefits continue well beyond present generations. It encourages landowners to manage resources in a manner that ensures they continue to generate the environmental services. In addition to benefiting biodiversity, such schemes also have a potential to benefit poor landowners who manage these environmental services.
This project is implemented by WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme with the financial support of the UNEP GEF and the European Commission
WWF, 2010. http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/where_we_work/black_sea_basin/danube_carpathian/?193440/Promoting-Payments-for-Ecosystem-Services-in-the-Danube-Basin