Sustainable Forests and Coasts Semi-Annual Progress Report: October 2011 – March 2012

The present Semi-Annual Progress Report provides an update on implementation of FY12 annual work plan activities and progress made towards FY12 targets established in the updated Performance Monitoring Plan (PMP) . It complements the weekly and monthly reports that are submitted to the Contracting Officer´s Representative (COR).

The Project´s implementation strategy remains focused on reducing the following four main threats to biodiversity conservation in six priority sites along the coast of Ecuador: (1) Loss and/or alteration of critical habitats, (2) Climate change, (3) Lack of economic alternatives, and (4) Insufficient institutional capacity for biodiversity conservation. To this end, the project has built local capacity to manage Protected Areas, implement climate change adaptation measures, and manage integrated farms. In addition, the project has provided tools for communities and local governments to mitigate and respond to climate risks and is helping develop a climate change strategy for the entire Guayas province. It is also promoting market access for products that support conservation (such as red crab, which depend on protecting mangroves; tagua, which depends on forest conservation; and organic cacao produced using environmentally safe practices). To improve livelihoods it also helps people access cash-for-conservation payments for protecting natural forests under the Ministry of Environment´s (MAE) Socio Bosque Program. The project continues to work in close partnership with the MAE and provide high level policy guidance, which this semester included helping guide integration of the national biodiversity and climate change programs into the new Environmental Code proposal.

To date, the Project has trained 3,399 people, promoted 14 new commercial linkages, and helped individuals and communities access $7.7M in cash-for conservation payments for protecting 33,285 hectares. As a result of project technical assistance, over 10,135 people are benefiting economically and 362,575 hectares are under improved management. Parallel to this, the Project strengthened conservation coalitions that serve as platforms for coordinating natural resource management with local public and private sector actors, and has leveraged over $13.7 million. For a more detailed summary of results to date please see Section 1.

Especially noteworthy achievements this reporting period include (1) expanding the conservation coalition in the Gulf of Guayaquil and concluding one year of data collection for the red crab stock analysis, (2) implementing climate change adaptation measures in El Salado and initiating them for Parque Nacional Machalilla, (3) supporting tagua collectors in adding value to their harvests, (4) developing a Manual on Best Practices for Developing Climate Change Adaptation Measures in Coastal Regions (5) strengthening mangrove concession management, helping new groups apply for concessions and helping the 6 de Julio Crabber´s Association renew its concession, (6) incorporating activities from the Ayampe Environmental Land Use Plan into the Territorial Land Use Plan (Plan de Ordenamiento Territorial – POT) for the municipality on Jipijapa and presenting the respective municipal ordinance for approval, (7) facilitating reforestation to protect water sources (8) providing technical assistance for integrated farm management (10) presenting an assessment regarding small producer´s perceptions of profitability for timber products in Ecuador (“Sondeo sobre la percepción de la rentabilidad del aprovechamiento de madera por parte de pequeños productores en Ecuador” to high level MAE authorities (11) continuing to support the MAE to improve protected area management, including tourism and fishery management and strengthening surveillance and monitoring systems (12) initiated participatory process for developing a Protected Area Management Manual that will be used across Ecuador, and (13) supporting new applications to protect over 7,000 hectares under Socio Bosque and helping communities already in Socio Bosque increase their payments by over $2.6M per the updated rates approved in 2011. This period the project has also expanded communications materials, launching the first project video regarding its work to strengthen livelihoods and protect mangroves in the Gulf of Guayaquil, and initiating monthly newsletters in English. The project recognizes the role that the guidance and continual support the COR, Rocío Cedeño, has played in meeting its goals and implementing work plan activities to date.