Sustainable Forests and Coasts Semi-Annual Progress Report: October 2012 – March 2013

The present Semi-Annual Progress Report provides an update on implementation of FY13 annual work plan activities and progress made towards FY13 targets established in the updated Performance Monitoring Plan (PMP) approved on May 2, 2012. The progress made this semester has the project on track to meet or exceed all FY13 targets. This report complements the weekly and monthly reports that are submitted to the Contracting Officer´s Representative (COR).

In FY13 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 continues to build local capacity to manage Protected Areas, implement climate change adaptation measures, and manage integrated farms. In addition, the project is providing tools for communities and local governments to mitigate and respond to climate risks and has helped 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; organic cacao produced using environmentally safe practices; and ecotourism). To improve livelihoods it also continues to help people access cash-for-conservation payments for protecting natural forests under the Ministry of Environment´s (MAE) Socio Bosque Program. Lastly, the project continues to work in close partnership with the MAE and provide technical inputs for policy making.

To date, the Project has trained 4,185 people, promoted 17 new commercial linkages, and helped communities and families access over $11.1M in cash-for conservation payments for protecting 50,718 hectares. As a result of project technical assistance, over 15,375 people are benefiting economically and over 614,000 hectares of critical habitats are under improved management. Parallel to this, the Project is strengthening seven conservation coalitions that serve as platforms for coordinating natural resource management with local public and private sector actors, and has leveraged over $16.3 million. For a more detailed summary of results to date please see Section 1.

Especially noteworthy achievements this reporting period include:

  1. expanding red crab stock analysis to El Oro province with the National Fishery Institute (INP for its Spanish acronym)
  2. developing a policy proposal for managing tagua palm commercialization within Machalilla National Park (PNM for its Spanish acronym), which resulted in the MAE signing a cooperative agreement with the Matapalo Association
  3. helping establish two hybrid tagua drying racks and linking their value added products (dried tagua) with new markets at higher prices
  4. designing a Manual for Protected Area Operational Management and developing a pilot annual operations plan for Yasuni National Park, Machalilla National Park and Antisana Ecological Reserve based on the manual
  5. helping crabbing organizations (Mondragón and APAREBAFIE/Isla Escalante) apply for new mangrove concessions
  6. supporting the Galera San Francisco Marine Reserve in promoting sustainable fishing practices among local fishermen (contributing to the Reserve´s workshops with fishermen)
  7. supporting grantee Ecocacao to provide technical assistance to beneficiaries of the Caja Campesina Agro-Ecológica Muisne (CCAM) for implementing sustainable farming practices
  8. providing technical assistance for integrated farm management
  9. publishing the red crab value chain study, the study on tagua harvesting and management, the survey on profitability of timber harvesting, and a guide on best tagua management practices
  10. concluding proposal to improve fishery management in Churute
  11. working with the Guayas provincial government to finalize the Guayas Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and share it with stakeholders,
  12. providing PNM with technical guidelines and recommendations for regulating fishery activities
  13. holding an in-country study tour to help communities that participate in the Socio Bosque Program exchange lessons learned and experiences with investing their incentives and monitoring forest conservation
  14. conducting a national level assessment of protected forests as well as a more detailed assessment for the province of Guayas.

This period the project also updated its communications materials (one page descriptions), was evaluated by SETECI, and hosted a by the US Ambassador and Consul to a project activity site in Guayas Province. Key to the project´s ability to complete the FY13 work plan activities and meet its goals is the MAE´s ownership of project technical assistance, which is also an integral part of its internal work plans and goals.