The project "Developing a National Ecological Network in Moldova" is implemented (2009-2012) by IUCN and BIOTICA Ecological Society, an IUCN Member, in coordination with the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Moldova and supported by the Norwegian Government. The long-term goal of the project is biological and landscape diversity conservation in Moldova through the creation of the National Ecological Network (NEN).
On the background of heavily transformed landscapes due to agricultural expansion and dense rural population, the physical creation of the NEN is crucially important for biodiversity and landscape conservation, soil and water protection, as well as for the improvement of the agri-environment and adaptation to climate change.
One of the international biodiversity agreements that the Moldovan Government signed is the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) with its European element – the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy. The CBD requires the development of national strategies and plans for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. Consequently the Parliament of Moldova adopted a “National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan”. The plan includes the creation of a National Ecological Network, part of the Pan-European Ecological Network.
As a result of the project, 151 sites have been studied. For a major part of them this is the first time. A Geographic Information System (GIS) of the National Ecological Network has been created, and a Directory of the Key Elements of the NEN has been published. This Directory comprises of descriptions of 9 NEN Core Areas of international importance, 13 – of national and 91 – of local importance. In addition, descriptions of 13 Core Areas of Ukraine in a cross-boundary zone were also included. The Directory describes in detail the natural and nature-historical values of the Core Areas and makes these values "visible" for local actors, the conservation community, scientists and others.
A monetary assessment of ecosystem services of the NEN was carried out and it showed that the total monetary value generated by these services for 10 years would be three times more than the total cost of the physical creation of the NEN covering many expensive civil works (creation/improvement of corridors, ecological reconstruction of grazing lands, etc.). Among other project results are a Guide on management planning for Core Areas, an Info-set for decision-makers, and 9 indicative maps including a cross-boundary zone with Ukraine.
The project has made the first big contribution towards implementation of NATURA 2000 (the country plans official steps in 2016). The project results have also created a firm basis for the development of ecological and rural tourism. It is also considered to be an important step towards the implementation of the CBD, as well as the Bonn, Bern and Ramsar Conventions. The project follows the Concept of the National Ecological Network of the Republic of Moldova (BIOTICA, 2001), the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2001) and the Law on Ecological Networks (2007), and contributes to the implementation of the newly adopted National Program for establishing the NEN (2011).