Hrabrin Bachev, Bodjidar Ivanov, Dessislava Toteva
Agricultural Academy, Institute of Agricultural Economics, 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria
Bachev, H., Ivanov, B., & Toteva, T. (2019). Assessment of sustainability of agro-ecosystems in Bulgaria. Bulgarian Journal of Agricultural Science, 25(4), 607–624
Ecosystem approach has been widely incorporated in management and evaluation of sustainability levels. Despite enormous progress in this new evolving 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 no comprehensive studies on integral and socio-economic and ecological sustainability of agro-ecosystems of different type. This paper makes a first attempt to assess sustainability agro-ecosystems in Bulgaria. Initially, a holistic framework for assessing integral, economic, social and ecological sustainability of agro-ecosystems including 17 principles, 35 criteria, and 46 indicators and reference values is suggested. After that overall and aspects sustainability of 7 generic and 10 specific agro-ecosystems in Bulgaria is assessed. Estimates are based on first-hand information collected by the managers of typical farms operating in different agro-ecosystems in 4 geographical regions of the country. The study has found out that there is a substantial variation in the level of integral and aspects sustainability of agro-ecosystems of different type as well as in sustainability contribution of various sub-sectors of agriculture and farms of different juridical type and size as individual indicators with the highest and lowest values showing (critical) factors enhancing and deterring sustainability. Results on 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.