Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Sustainability of agro-ecosystems in Bulgaria

Bachev, Hrabrin and Ivanov, Bodjidar and Toteva, Dessislava (2019): Sustainability of agro-ecosystems in Bulgaria.

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Abstract

Ecosystem approach has been increasingly incorporated in the management and evaluation of sustainability levels. Despite huge progress in the theory and practice of this new area, still there is no consensus on how to assess the sustainability of agro-ecosystems due to diverse understandings, approaches, methods, employed data, etc. In Bulgaria there are practically no deep studies on sustainability level of diverse agro-eco-systems. This paper tries to fill the blank and assesses the sustainability level of agro-ecosystems of different type in Bulgaria. First a holistic hierarchical framework for assessing integral, economic, social and ecological sustainability of agro-ecosystems in Bulgaria is suggested including 17 principles, 35 criteria, and 46 indicators and reference values. After that, an assessment is made on overall and aspects sustainability of large (agro)ecosystems in North-Central, South-Eastern, South-Central and South-Western geographic regions, and particular main and specific types of agro-ecosystems of the country - mountainous, plain-mountainous, plain, riparian (Struma, Maritza, Yantra), southern Black Sea, mountainous area with natural constraints, non-mountainous area with natural constraints, protected areas and reserves, Western Thracian Plain, Middle Danube Plain, Dupnitsa and Sandansko-Petrich Valley, Sredna Gora Mountains and Western Rila Mountains. The assessment is based on first-hand information collected though in-depth interviews with the managers of “typical” farms in the respective ago-ecosystems. The study has found out that there is a considerable differentiation in the level of integral sustainability in agricultural ecosystems of different types. Furthermore, there are substantial variations in the levels of economic, social and ecological sustainability of agro-ecosystems of different type, and the critical indicators enhancing or deterring overall and particular sustainability of individual agro-ecosystems. Results of the integral agrarian sustainability level of this study, based on the micro agro-ecosystem (farm) data, are similar to the previous assessment based on the aggregate sectoral (statistical, etc.) data. There are large differences in the impact of socio-economic, institutional, behavioral, international, natural, etc. factors and individual public policy instruments on the sustainability of farming enterprises of different types and agro-ecosystems. Having in mind the importance of holistic assessments of this kind for improving agrarian sustainability, farm management and agrarian policies, they are to be expended and their precision and representation increased.

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