Eco Karst - Danube Region

Ecosystem Services of Karst Protected Areas – Driving Force of Local Sustainable Development


Project period:


Project countries:






Lead Partner:


Project Partners:

January 2017 - June 2019


Slovenia, Croatia, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia 


Interreg Danube Transnational Programme Vb; Programme co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI)


Slovenian Forest Service, Slovenia (Project Management)


Notranjska Regional Park (Slovenia); Public Institution „Nature Park Žumberak - Samoborsko gorje“ (Croatia); Kalkalpen National Park (Austria); Global Nature Fund – International Foundation for Environment and Nature (Germany); Bükk National Park Directorate (Hungary); Centre for Ecological Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Hungary), RNP Romsilva - Apuseni Nature Park Administration R.A. (Romania); Parks Dinarides – Network of Protected Areas of Dinarides (Montengero); Centre for Environmentally Sustainable Development (Bosnia and Herzegovina); Cantonal Public Institution for the Protected Natural Areas Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina); Public utility „National park Tara” (Serbia); Republic of Slovenia, Ministrstvo za kmetijstvo, gozdarstvo in prehrano (Solvenia); Bihor County Council (Romania); Canton Sarajevo – Ministry of Physical Planning, Constructions and Environmental Protection (Bosnia and Herzegovina); Alpine Association of Slovenia (Slovenia)


Project Summary


A major challenge in the Danube region is finding the right balance between conservation, protection and improvement of the ecosystems and – at the same tine - their sustainable use and economic development. ECOKARST addresses seven protected karst areas in seven different countries with common biological and geomorphological features and similar challenges and problems (forest management, water exploitation, pollution, etc.). The limited capacity to deal with the impacts of ecosystem degradation is exacerbated by the Iack of adequate knowledge and action on the tangible and intangible benefits of ecosystem services (ESS).


Against this background, a main objective of the project is to contribute to the protection and sustainable development of karst bio-regions in the Danube basin based on their valued ESS. The ECOKARST project builds on the opportunity to use the natural heritage of seven 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. ECOKARST will involve public and private actors who will - through capacity building, networking and know-how transfer - perform local participatory ESS valorisation and jointly develop local action plans and a 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 ESS and increased number of committed PBB entrepreneurs.


ECOKARST 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 ESS and PBB will serve as a toolkit for the entire Danube and Dinaric region.


The seven protected Project Areas

  • Notranjska Regional Park, SLOVENIA
  • Nature Park Zumberak Samoborsko gorje, CROATIA
  • Kalkalpen National Park, AUSTRIA
  • Bükk National Park, HUNGARY
  • Romsilva-Apuseni Nature Park, ROMANIA
  • Parks Dinarides, MONTENEGRO
  • National Park Tara, SERBIA


Further information is available under: 

Contacts at GNF:

Udo Gattenlöhner

Global Nature Fund - Office Radolfzell

Phone: +49 - (0) 77 32 - 99 95 - 80



Andrea Peiffer

Global Nature Fund - Office Bonn

Phone: +49 - (0) 228 - 184 86 94 - 12



Stefan Hörmann

Global Nature Fund - Office Bonn

Phone: +49 - (0) 228 - 184 86 94 - 11


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