ECO KARST - ECOSYSTEM SERVICES OF KARST PROTECTED AREAS – DRIVING FORCE OF LOCAL SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Major challenge in the Danube region is finding the right balance between conservation, protection and improvement of ecosystems, as well as their sustainable use. ECO KARST addresses 7 protected karst areas in 7 different countries with common features (e.g. special biological/hydro-morphological features, etc.) and similar problems (flawed nature and forest management, water exploitation and pollution, etc.). Limited capacity to deal with the impacts of ecosystem degradation is exacerbated by the lack of adequate knowledge and action on the tangible and intangible benefits of ecosystem services (ES). Thus, the main objective is to contribute to the protection and sustainable development of karst bio-regions in the Danube basin based on their valued ES.
ECO KARST project builds on the opportunity to use the natural heritage of 7 protected areas as an economic development factor, based on a sustainable management, which is aware of the vulnerability of karst ecosystems, the importance of their ES and real pro-biodiversity business (PBB) opportunities. ECO KARST will involve various public and private actors who will, through capacity building, networking and know-how transfer, perform local participatory ES valorisations and jointly develop 7 local action plans and 1 common strategy that will upgrade nature conservation and facilitate starting PBB in the Danube region.
Result will be improved management and sustainable development of karst bio-regions driven by raised awareness about ES and increased number of committed PBB entrepreneurs. ECO KARST will introduce PBB as realistic, promising new business model for entrepreneurs in the pilot areas (best PBB ideas will be widely promoted). PP, key stakeholders and target groups will establish/increase their cooperation and form new local and transnational networks for experience sharing and promotion. Resulting guidance on how to introduce ES and PBB will serve as a toolkit for the entire Danube and Dinaric region.