The “Conservation arrangements for Lesser Spotted Eagle in Latvia” (LIFE AQPOM) project has focused on the complex conservation of the bird’s alarmingly declining population. The project created new habitats for the eagle and for his preys and ensured safe pylons around the habitats of the bird. In our socio-economic impact and ecosystem services assessment we analysed how the project contributed to the well-being of impacted stakeholders (grassland and forest owners) and revealed how different ecosystem services (biomass and carbon sequestration of project sites) were changed due to project interventions.
In regard to the evaluation of these two essential forest related ecosystem services, we found that the protected nesting sites not only served the purpose of preserving the Lesser spotted eagle but also improved the condition of the biomass and the carbon sequestration ecosystem services and indirectly, other ecosystem services. Therefore, due to the fact that relevant forest owners do not extract their trees, their property can continue to provide essential forest related ecosystem services (on top of biomass and carbon sequestration also e.g. deadwood, which can be used for firewood).
In terms of socio-economic impacts, we found that the project has contributed to the socio-economic development of grassland owners, not only from an economic perspective via increasing their income, but also through providing them social benefits such as increasing sustainable land management practices, reviving agricultural traditions and the personal satisfaction of the opportunity to conserve nature.
Regarding forest owners, we found that the project has enhanced their livelihood via increased ecosystem services delivering different social benefits, but also also from an economic perspective considering state support for Natura 2000 sites and other benefits (e.g. firewood).
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