Ecosystem services of karst protected areas – driving force of local sustainable development

EU Territorial Cooperation Programme (Eco Karst, 2017 - 2019, running project)
Coordinator or leader of the project: 
Aleksander Golob
Coordinator or leader institution of the project: 
Slovenian Forest Service (SFS)
Responsible person at MTA ÖK: 
Short description: 

The ECO KARST project aims to contribute to the protection and sustainable development of karst bio-regions in the Danube region based on their valued Ecosystem services. The project addresses 7 nature protected karst areas in 7 different countries with common features and similar problems.
MTA ÖK contributes to the project with development of Ecosystem Mapping and Ecosystem Services Assessment methods, trainings on these methods and support to the project partners during implementation. We expect to gain a better understanding about karst Ecosystem Services, social-ecological interactions related to them and understand the effects of various different natural resource management strategies.

Project (team) members at MTA ÖK: 
Aims: 

ECO KARST builds on the opportunity to use the natural heritage of protected areas as an economic development factor. The project will support development, based on a sustainable management and awareness of the vulnerability of karst ecosystems. By doing so, the project will increase pro-biodiversity business (PBB) opportunities.
The pilot areas of the project are National Park Kalkalpen in Austria, Bükk National Park in Hungary, Apuseni National Park in Romania, Tara National Park in Serbia, Notranjska Regional Park in Slovenia, Žumberak-Samoborsko gorje Nature Park in Croatia and Bijambare Protected Landscape in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
ECO KARST will involve various public and private actors into capacity building, networking and know-how transfer. 7 local action plans and 1 common strategy for karst protected areas will be developed by local participatory Ecosystem valorisations. This will upgrade nature conservation and facilitate pro-biodiversity business in the Danube region.
Pro-biodiversity business models for entrepreneurs in the pilot areas will be developed and best PBB ideas will be widely promoted. Local and transnational networks for experience sharing and promotion will be established. Resulting guidance on how to introduce Ecosystem services and Pro-biodiversity business will serve as a toolkit for the entire Danube and Dinaric region.
ECO KARST activities will contribute to a better balance between nature conservation and local green entrepreneurship. Through the ECO KARST project, we will raise awareness of the importance of Ecosystem services and promote local entrepreneurship based on the conservation of biodiversity.