Sofproect is developing a methodology for mapping and biophysical assessment of ecosystem services and for their economic evaluation, to facilitate planning and informed management of green and blue infrastructure in Sofia Municipality.
It works on integrating the ecosystem approach and ecosystem services in the policies and tools for urban planning, aiming to include the environmental considerations while defining optimal solutions for urban planning and development and decision making. Sofproect works in collaboration with the Institute for geophysics, geodesy and geography, the Institute of biodiversity and ecosystem research and the Forestry Research Institute of Bulgarian Academy of sciences.
The methodology for mapping and biophysical assessment will be based on that adopted at national level, further elaborating the parameters and the GIS part on a larger scale. An economic assessment will rely on the identified ecosystem services in the first part of the project.
The methodologies will be tested on a selected neighborhood in Sofia and will serve the purposes of urban planning in the next phase.
The concept of ecosystem services represents the benefits that people receive from the environment. This refers to the material products and services needed to carry out economic activities - such as providing drinking water. Additional intangible services include the benefits of regulatory processes in ecosystems for the prevention and management of floods and other natural disasters, air and water treatment, regulation of the microclimate, ensuring the circulation of substances, etc. Cultural benefits that people receive from interactions with nature are also present - recreational, aesthetic, educational, spiritual, research and others.