A training on Identification of ecosystem types, ecosystem services and stakeholder mapping and analysis was organized in the period from November 13 to November 16, 2017 in Samobor, Croatia. This was the first of total 4 planned trainings organized within the ECO KARST project, all with the aim to build capacities of stakeholders in 7 pilot areas and secure their networking.

A three-day long training was organized by the Centre for Ecological Research (Hungary) for representatives of park administrations from 7 pilot areas (Notranjska Regional Park, Nature Park Žumberak-Samoborsko gorje, Kalkalpen National Park, Bukk National Park, Apuseni Nature Park, Protected Landscape Bijambare and National Park Tara). Each pilot area participated with their experts in different fields of expertise: biodiversity expert, GIS expert and stakeholder manager.

CENER21 team participated at the training, closely collaborating with the representatives of the pilot area Protected Landscape Bijambare.

The training was organized based on guiding documents previously developed and using preliminary data on ecosystem types, ecosystem services and stakeholders provided by each pilot area. Participants had a chance to learn more about ecosystem mapping, ecosystem services selection and stakeholders involvement. A significant progress in Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystem services process was made. Using their preliminary data, pilot area representatives managed to identify and prioritize the most important condition aspects and services within the pilot areas.

“Main idea of this training was to provide a common understanding on ecosystem​ services (ES) assessment to all participants. Our impression is that the training was successful, conceptual and practical issues were combined. Additionally, all pilots could formulate relevant ES related challenges and opportunities. We believe that these ideas can be very useful to Action Plan development at a later stage of the project” said Réka Aszalós from Centre for Ecological Research, based in Hungary.

After the training, all participants and project partners went for a field trip in Nature park Žumberak-Samoborsko gorje. They visited the ethno house under Okić in Kleka and got an insight of rural tourism business held by family Slakoper. After examining the Okić’s heritage collection and tasting some of the traditional pastries and drinks, project group headed to educational trail Okićnica where they were able to identify ecosystem services on the field. After the traditional lunch in Poljanica hunting lodge, the group ended the field trip in Prekrižje village, making conclusions about the visible differences in privately and state owned forests in the area.

“This field trip into the Žumberak Nature park addressed important questions of current and future landscape development, i.e. which ecosystem services exist today and how they may change in future. We saw examples of degrading cultural landscapes (orchards, pastures, vineyards) where protected area managers need to reflect internally but also with relevant stakeholders the priorities for local habitat and landscape development, such as maintenance and restoration via low-intensity farming or re-wilding via natural processes. This is a typical challenge for most karst parks in South-eastern Europe”, said Alexander Zinke from Umweltbundesamt, Environment Agency Austria.