Authors: H. Bachev, ORCID ID 0000000305557468, Doctor of Sciences (Economics), Professor, Institute of Agricultural Economics, Sofia, Bulgaria
G. Kharlamova, ORCID ID 000000033614712X, PhD in Economics, Associate Professor, Department of Economic Cybernetics, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.
Abstract: Ecosystem approach has been increasingly incorporated in the management and evaluation of sustainability levels in general and in agriculture in particular. Despite enormous progress in the theory an d 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 in-depth studies on sustainability level of diverse agro-eco-systems. This articles assesses the sustainability level of agro-ecosystems of different type in Bulgaria. A holistic hierarchical framework for assessing integral, economic, social and ecological sustainability of agro-ecosystems is suggested including 17 principles, 35 criteria, and 46 indicators and reference values. Assessment is made on overall and aspects sustainability of large (agro)ecosystems in four geographic regions, and particular main and specific types of agro-ecosystems of the country. 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. There are also 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 based on the micro agro-ecosystem (farm) data, are similar to the previous assessment based on the aggregate sectoral (statistical, etc.) data. 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.
Key words: agro-ecosystem, sustainability, assessment, economic, social, ecological, Bulgaria
1st Revision: 20-02-2019
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