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Bosnia & Herzegovina's Scoping Study Success

13 August 2020
Gornji Orahovac  Bosnia Y Herzegovina  2014 04 14  Dd 10 13 Pan

Bosnia & Herzegovina has made crucial progress towards safeguarding ecosystems and their benefits to society.

The UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and its partners are building capacity around the world to implement National Ecosystem Assessments (NEAs), delivering evidence that meets the needs of decision-makers across sectors.

Bosnia & Herzegovina has completed the first step of this process: agreeing on the scope of their Assessment and highlighting linkages between science, policy and nature’s contributions to people.

Ecosystems and society

Human life is dependent on the health of ecosystems and the services they provide, from pollination and water purification to disease and climate control. Threats to nature and its contributions to people are a threat to human wellbeing, while healthy and diverse ecosystems bring benefits both to people and the economy.

Safeguarding and restoring healthy ecosystems relies on understanding the origins, trends and drivers of their change, such as climate change and over-exploitation. However, whilst a wealth of information on ecosystem status and trends is available, it is generally not accessible nor tailored to policymaking. Valuable knowledge needs to be translated into effective materials and tools to support decision-makers.

Bridging the gap

National Ecosystem Assessments (NEAs) aim to change this by creating an evidence base of nature’s contributions to people that is useful to policymakers and supports their knowledge needs.

These assessments provide governments with an up-to-date and robust evidence base about the true value and benefits of biodiversity and ecosystem services and identify gaps in knowledge and understanding. They gather the information that meets the needs of different sectors and encourage integration by ensuring the engagement of key stakeholders throughout.

UNEP-WCMC is supporting 12 countries around the world to build their capacity to undertake ecosystem assessments on a national scale. This work is carried out under the umbrella of the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Network (BES-Net) hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with support from the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Nature’s national value in Bosnia & Herzegovina

The first step to compile the evidence base is to define the scope of the assessment. The assessment team in Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH) identified the country’s key natural features as part of their scoping study, a critical step towards understanding how they contribute to people’s wellbeing.

The country stretches across three geological and climatic regions: Continental, Alpine, and the Mediterranean. As a result, BiH has one of Europe’s highest levels of biodiversity. It is home to many endemic species, including Freyn’s carnation (Dianthus freynii Vandas) and the Adriatic trout (Salmo obtusirostris), as well as the remnant populations of species that were once widespread across the continent.

Its varied geology also provides a good environment for a flourishing forestry sector. From its coniferous forests of spruce, fir and pine in the mountains to the broadleaved woodland in the coastal Mediterranean regions, forestry remains one of the country’s major natural resources, along with its abundant and clean water supply.

BiH also explored different factors driving national biodiversity loss, both directly, for example through pollution and invasive species, and indirectly.

In BiH, indirect drivers include:

Next steps: meeting policy needs

The scoping study enabled BiH’s assessment team to outline their plan to investigate these drivers and to develop approaches for managing ecosystems and their services. Next, they will present their informed guidance to decision-makers to feed into their future research priorities.

Focussing on the next 30 years, BiH’s National Ecosystem Assessment will address key policy questions, including:

The impact of a National Ecosystem Assessment depends on the cooperation and regular communication with stakeholders across all major sectors, including agriculture, forestry, water management, tourism, electricity, and transport. The assessment team in BiH have developed strong partnerships with key stakeholders which will be carried forward to the next stage of the process. 

In the coming six months, BiH, as well as Azerbaijan, Cambodia, and Grenada, will convene teams of authors to write each country’s NEA reports. The selected authors will reflect a range of knowledge systems and expertise, as well as each country’s cultural and geographical diversity.