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Forest Restoration in Croatia Using SCO

Marija Herceg, Marin Paladin, Dragomir Pfeifer

This article describes experience with the use of the simplified cost option (SCO) in the ‘Naturavita’ project in Croatia. The project was funded under the ERDF/Cohesion Fund Competitiveness and Cohesion OP for 2014-20. The main activities of the project are demining and restoration of forest and forest land in protected and Natura 2000 areas in Croatia, in the Osijek-Baranja County. The project area covers 758 hectares of forests and forest land in the ‘Kopački rit’ nature park and 2,426 hectares in the ‘Mura-Drava’ regional park. The main objective of the project is to clear the area from mines, and to restore and protect forests and forest land. Due to the consequences of Croatia's independence war, in the early 1990s, large parts of the forests in the project area were contaminated with mines, prior to the start of the ‘Naturavita’ project. Therefore, it was not possible to manage the forests adequately, which has led to ever-increasing forest degradation, the spread of invasive foreign species and the reduction of biodiversity. The ‘Naturavita’ project is implemented by Croatian Forest Ltd together with four partners. Eligible project costs are approximately €49.8 million, and the project implementation period is over eight years, from June 2015 to September 2023. SCOs are used in funding three elements of the project: 1. Salaries for employees of the beneficiary and the partners 2. Fixed Rate of 15% of overall salary costs and 3. Forest restoration. The methodology for calculating SCO (in the form of Standard Scales of Unit Cost (SCUC) for forest restoration) is described in the article. The use of SCOs was appropriate in the case described in this article for a number of reasons. The activity was suitable, consisting of a range of activities involving a wide variety of small cost items. The beneficiary had sufficient experience and capacity to carry out the activity, and reliable and verified historical data was available. The initial analysis showed that there were enough reliable data to develop the calculation of costs per hectare of forest restoration. Using SCOs successfully transferred a significant administrative burden from the project implementation phase to the project evaluation phase, reducing the administrative burden on the project beneficiary, leaving more time and resources for other aspects of project implementation and reducing the risk of ineligible costs and irregularities.

Marija Herceg, expert in EU project preparation and implementation, Project Manager of the Naturavita project, Croatian Forests Ltd.Marin Paladin, M.Eng.C.E., Senior Project Engineer in Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund, Intermediate Body-Independent Service Dragomir Pfeifer, Senior Expert Adviser for EU project implementation, Deputy Project Manager of the Naturavita project, Croatian Forests Ltd.


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