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Promoting Payments for Ecosystem Services and related sustainable financing schemes in the Danube Basin. Wetlands – modern problem or forgotten old solution ? Examples of usage and developing of market mechanisms from wetlands restoration Georgi Stefanov

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Promoting Payments

for Ecosystem Services and related sustainable financing schemes

in the Danube Basin

Wetlands – modern problem or forgotten old solution ?

Examples of usage and developing of market mechanisms from wetlands restoration


Policy and Climate change expert

WWF - Bulgaria

Workshop Nisovo, 03.04.2012


Brief info about Persina nature park

Nature park "Persina" was created in late 2000 by the Minister of Environment and Water and is one of the youngest parks in Bulgaria. Situated within three Danube municipalities Nikopol, Belene and Svishtov, with a total area of 21 762,2 ha and approximately 27 000 inhabitants.

"Persina" is unique for Bulgaria and is the only park along the Bulgarian part of Danube. Declaring its objectives with conservation and restoration of Danube wetlands, with particular emphasis on preserving the natural state of numerous islands falling within the park - the islands are 24 in number, of which 5 are Romanian. There are 3 reserves, 2 natural landmarks and 1 protected area. The territory in 2007 became also a Natura 2000 site under the two directives (Habitats and Birds). In the park you can find more than 170 bird species and 450 plants species 1/3 of them directly related to the water ecosystems.

The most important type of ecosystems in the park are flooded Danube forests (the Bulgarian jungles) and inland marshes. WWF has assisted the process of developing the park, and the last 10 years work in the all of it’s programs and implementing many different projects in the park area.


Wetlands and marshes - what we know and what we don’t know about them ?

  • Breading mosquitoes? (breeding fish)
  • Breeding diseases? (used in medicine)
  • Smell very bad? (methane production and use of biomass)
  • Occupy unnecessary space for farmland? (minimum area, maximum benefits) (help for water balance, high value biodiversity, flood regulation)
  • Other? (the highest productive ecosystems worldwide)

Nature Park – “Persina” and surrounding agricultural areas - creation of market scheme “biomass from wetlands” - maximum benefits for everybody

A) Environmental Benefits

• Sustainable management and use of biomass from wetlands and farmlands area of ​​5400 hectares (240 hectares are protected areas – “Kaikusha” marsh).

• Reduce the unsustainable agricultural practice of burning stubble in agricultural land and conservation of the biodiversity.

• Reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere associated with stubble burning and decompose of biomass in the fields / wetlands.

• Improve water regime of the marsh “Kaikusha” and recovery of its regulatory functions with respect to water, maintenance of fish stocks, absorption and fixation of CO2, maintaining biological diversity.

• Improvement of soil fertility on more than 5,000 ha of agricultural land.

• Improve water quality in the area of ​​150 ha.

B) Economic benefits

• Creation of a business interest in the use of biomass by generating revenue from the sale of pellets and briquettes

• Creation of economic opportunities for users of land utilization of residues in the land as an additional source of income and the costs of collection and transmission (transport).

• Offering an alternative to the local population to shift from fossil fuels as coal and firewood consumption to pallets and briquettes and reduce the energy costs by an average of 30%.

C) Social benefits

• Creation of employment among the local population by engaging them in processes of extraction and processing of biomass.

• Creation of jobs indirectly as an additional source of revenue for collection and transportation of raw materials.


The scheme …

Providers of ES:


Buyers of ES:

Companies for production of





Why we choose to focused on biomass from wetlands and unused agriculture waste ?

  • Easy for connection with the other WWF programs, projects and activities in the region; High value and available area; Climate change orientated solution. Big potential for growing.
  • Feasibilities studies show that in Bulgaria about 30% straw, 65% of cornstalks and 80% of other solid agricultural waste can be taken into account for energy production, an estimated 800,000 tons annually.
  • Economical solution to find enough political support for wetland management and wetland restoration paid by itself. Approximately biomass production from the existing protected wetlands (40 000 hectares) by keeping nature condition (cut only 20% per year) an estimated 80,000 tons annually in production to pallets and briquettes.
New renewable energy sources (RES).

Jobs, business, cheap heating for local people.

Wetlands as a "reservoir" of carbon

Biomass, in all its aspects, energy, construction, customs, traditions and culture

Explore the possibilities of voluntary trading markets

Energy use of biomass and Ideas for implementation in

coming years

amount of carbon sequestration by the most typical species plants of kaikusha marsh 150 ha
Amount of carbon sequestration by the most typical species (plants) of “Kaikusha” marsh (150 ha)

Production (P);decomposition, absorption (D);carbon accumulation (R)

Total average of 2 tones / ha / year = 600 tons Kaikusha marsh > Euro 6000


Comparison table of prices of heat from different fuel types allows

automation of the heating process


Economical conclusion based on the analysis and calculated potential, says that the indicators for evaluating the effectiveness of the investment and financial indicators give reason to believe that the investment is effective and the idea could be realized

  • Net Present Value – by 33% for 10 years
  • Internal Rate of Return – approximately by 68%
  • Profitability Index – 6,3%
  • Payback period – 2 years

And more benefits…: constructed wetlands as a wastewater treatment system – very suitable for small villages

Indicators of treated water, meeting the required values ​​for the discharge of treated wastewater in accordance with national legislation in this area.

Two to three times lower financial costs for construction and maintenance of such equipment compared with conventional treatment plants.

Cover within the European requirements concerning the construction of treatment facilities in small settlements less than 10 000 people.

Possibilities for utilization of biomass from these wetlands, such as renewable

Creation of semi-natural habitats suitable for a significant part of the flora and fauna that inhabit these types of habitats.

Create additional opportunities for tourism and recreation around those areas adjacent to settlements.


Conclusion for wetlands

  • The highest - productivity ecosystems
  • Opportunities for additional income for local people
  • Diverse benefits, including all
  • Local energy source
  • Decision to costly problems such as floods and construction of treatment plants for domestic wastewater in in small settlements
  • Highest absorbability of C02

‘It takes a new way of thinking to solve the problems that we created by the old way of thinking’

"Трябва нов начин на мислене за решаване на проблемите, които ние сме създали поради стария модел на мислене"


Thank you!

Georgi Stefanov

[email protected]