Sustainable Forests and Coasts Semi-Annual Progress Report: April – September 2011

In the second half of FY11 the project continued developing effective mechanisms to mitigate threats to biodiversity conservation as well as providing high level technical assistance to the Ministry of Environment (MAE) for forestry policy development.

The Project´s implementation strategy remains focused on providing the technical assistance needed to reduce threats to biodiversity conservation and increase local capacity to manage natural resources in priority areas, and particularly in protected areas. In the FY11 Work Plan the threats targeted, and the strategies and activities designed to minimize them, were tailored to the project´s results framework and presented in alignment with the Project´s Intermediate Results (PIRs) and are presented in the Introduction of this report. The present Semi-Annual Progress Report provides an update on the implementation of the activities and results contemplated in the approved FY11 annual work plan.

In sum, the project continues to provide a series of incentives to conserve the remnants of high biodiversity areas along the Ecuadoran coast. These incentives include technical assistance for land titling and meeting other prerequisites for accessing the MAE´s conservation incentives (Socio Bosque), facilitating market access/linkages, and training in best practices, among others. These incentives coupled with establishing partnerships with local, regional and international organizations, and strengthening local capacities, continue to result in local stakeholders taking ownership in project activities, which is key for assuring their continuity and sustainability. Parallel to this, the Project formed key alliances to formalize collaboration with local public and private sector actors, and has leveraged over $12 million, and continues to work in close partnership with the MAE.

Especially noteworthy achievements this reporting period include (1) forming conservation coalitions in the Gulf of Guayaquil and the Gran Reserva Chachi, (2) presenting climate change adaptation measures for Parque Nacional Machalilla to local stakeholders, (3) facilitating award of over 15,000 hectares in mangrove concessions in the Gulf of Guayaquil and helping the MAE simplify concession award and reporting requirements, (4) strengthening communication and environmental education materials in protected areas, (5) making the mangrove  monitoring and enforcement system more operable in the Gulf of Guayaquil, (6) promoting implementation of priority activities in the Ayampe Environmental Land Use Plan, (7) presenting initial findings from the red crab stock analysis (8) fomenting forest regeneration/recovery (9) increasing local capacity for implementing good natural resource management practices and assuring sustainability of project initiatives (10) helping develop and present forestry law proposal to the Minister of Environment, Marcela Aguiñaga, and then incorporate it into the new Environmental Code proposal, and (11) being highlighted in the Regional Inspector General´s Audit of the USAID Environmental Program and by the USAID Mission Director as using exemplary and replicable methodologies.

Completion of FY11 indicators are presented in the results reporting tables found in Annex 2 of the report and a narrative explanation of such results is presented in Annex 3. As recommended by the USAID Environmental Program audit, the project will begin reporting on implementation of coalition activities going forward. The project recognizes the role that the guidance and continual support the Contracting Officer´s Technical Representative, Rocío Cedeño, has played in meeting its goals and implementing work plan activities to date.