SOCIO-ECONOMIC EVALUATIONS OF NATURE PROTECTED AREAS: HEALTH FIRST EFFECT
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The importance of protected areas rich in forest ecosystems rapidly grows. Forests in parks become recreation centres for cities near protected areas having strong health function. Thus, also Medvednica Nature Park near Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, is frequently used as lungs of the city. The research presented in this article aims to valorise the health function of the Forest Ecosystem Service (FES) in the Nature Park and develop the Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) methodology to be used for the assessment of the introduction of the entrance fee payment for the Park. The article provides a methodological framework for validation of health function of the forest ecosystem of the Medvednica Nature Park. It also brings a socio-economic assessment of the health function of the forests in the Park. The measurement results and assessments emphasize the need to raise public awareness of health benefits of FES and FES in general.