In October 2009, USAID approved a three-year work plan for the USAID Sustainable Forests and Coasts project, which contained a detailed description of the activities and key actions planned for Fiscal Year 2010 (FY10) and a general overview of the activities for FY11 and FY12. The present detailed work plan for FY12 presents specific strategies, activities and key actions for implementation in FY12.
In FY12, the Project will continue to consolidate its initiatives from previous years, together with the Ministry of the Environment (MAE) and USAID Ecuador. Project technical assistance will continue to focus on the following four geographic areas from previous years, which were prioritized based on their importance for biodiversity:
- Gran Reserva Chachi and its buffer zone
- Reserva Marina (RM) Galera San Francisco and related watersheds
- Parque Nacional Machalilla (PNM) and the Ayampe River watershed
- Gulf of Guayaquil (including the Reserva Ecológica Manglares Churute, the Reserva de Producción de Fauna Manglares El Salado and mangrove conessions) In addition, this year the Project plans to include the following:
- Bosque Protector (BP) Chongón Colonche: the mountain range that extends 95km east to west inland from the coast. Chongón Colonche was declared a protection forest in 1994.
- Guayas Province, with a climate change strategy to support the provincial government.
The project developed this work plan using a participatory approach, gathering information on needs and priorities through strategic consultations with a wide range of stakeholders in each geographic area. Stakeholders consulted included local government authorities, MAE and MAGAP authorities, USAID, protected area managers, community members, and NGOs, among others.
Key to developing this work plan was the close partnership the Project has developed with the MAE from the outset. This close relationship is due, in part to the project’s ongoing support for the MAE’s conservation efforts, particularly the National System of Protected Areas (SNAP for its Spanish acronym) and technical assistance for the government’s programs and policies.
The Project’s implementation strategy is based on providing the technical assistance needed to reduce threats to biodiversity conservation in these priority areas, and particularly in protected areas. Just as in past years, in FY12, these threats, and the strategies designed to minimize them, are presented in alignment with the Project’s Intermediate Results (PIRs)
In response to PIR 1 (improve biodiversity conservation in critical habitats), in FY12, the Project will implement activities under the strategy for minimizing the loss and/or alteration of habitats, including remnants of high biodiversity areas, through improved management and rehabilitation of critical terrestrial and coastal marine areas (especially in habitats located in government protected areas), public policy advocacy, and climate change adaptation measures.
In response to PIR 2 (improve local livelihoods), the project’s principal mandate is biodiversity conservation in critical coastal marine areas. The ecosystems in these areas are fragile and constantly threatened by expanding agricultural and livestock frontiers. The project has to be careful not to promote economic activities that, while they might boost incomes in the short term, contribute to the destruction of the resource base in the medium and long terms. From this standpoint, the project will prioritize activities that ensure the sustainable use of the resource base for commodities in the value chain. Some examples of this are monitoring red crab stocks to ensure their sustainable harvesting, and surveillance and control for the protection of mangroves, which are the resource base for the red crab value chain that generates some USD $65 million for over 4,000 families. Another example is improving incomes through the application of improved forest resource extraction methods, the application of best practices in natural resource management, and access to economic incentives such as Socio Bosque.
The main strategy in response to PIR 3 (partnerships formed for ongoing support for biodiversity conservation) will center on empowering the MAE, local governments, grassroots organizations (such as FECCHE), and other institutions (such as the National Institute of Fisheries) to play a leadership role in conservation coalitions promoted by the Project and establishing/improving relations with other donors and USAID projects with a view to ensuring complementarity of efforts and maximizing impacts. In order to improve an environment conducive to biodiversity conservation and the proper management of natural resources, the Project will continue to provide technical assistance on environmental policy to the MAE, following up on its support for the inclusion of the draft Forestry Law in the Environmental Code, regulatory modifications of the Biodiversity Chapter [Libro de Biodiversidad], and the reworking of key chapters on Climate Change and Environmental Services, including the rationales for them. One of these develops Article 74 of the Constitution interpreting ownership [apropriación] of environmental services, without which the whole issue of environmental services would be very difficult to set up and manage and the other is on deforestation and degradation that has been avoided, as a minimum basis for the entire REDD+ system currently being developed.
In FY12, the Project will continue to adhere to USAID’s environmental regulations through the procedures set out in the Environmental Review Worksheets and dictated by the approved Environmental Assessment. It will also submit a revised Performance Monitoring Plan by December 30th, 2011 in accordance with revisions mandated by Modification 04 of the Task Order and to include targets for FY13.