Sustainable Forests and Coasts Semi-Annual Progress Report: April – September 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). For the FY12 period the project has met or exceeded all targets. This report complements the first semi-annual report as well as 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 builds local capacity to manage Protected Areas, implement climate change adaptation measures, and manage integrated farms. In addition, the project has provides 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. Lastly, the project continues to work in close partnership with the MAE and provide high level forestry policy guidance.

To date, the Project has trained 3,657 people, promoted 16 new commercial linkages, and helped individuals and communities access $9.1M in cash-for conservation payments for protecting 38,745 hectares. As a result of project technical assistance, over 11,120 people are benefiting economically and 426,133 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 $14.3 million. For a more detailed summary of results to date please see Section 1.

Especially noteworthy achievements this reporting period include (1) launching red crab stock analysis results with the National Fishery Institute, (2) conducting an assessment of tagua palm populations within Machalilla National Park and then developing guidance on how tagua harvesting could be manageed within Protected Areas (3) helping establish three tagua collection centers and drying racks and linking their value added products (dried tagua) with new markets at higher prices (4) developing a Manual Protected Area Operational Management and developing a pilot annual operations plan for Machalilla National Park and Antisana Ecological Reserve based on the manual (5) helping communities (Puerto Roma, Mondragón, etc) apply for and obtain a new mangrove concessions, (6) supporting the Galera San Francisco Marine Reserve promote sustainable fishing practices (7) supporting Ecocacao become technical advisors for the Caja Campesina Agro-Ecológica Muisne (CCAM) (8) continuing technical assistance for integrated farm management (9) publishing a Comparative Study on Development of Climate Change Adaptation Measures for Machalilla National Park and El Salado Wildlife Production Reserve (10) holding a series of community workshops to improve fishery management in Churute (11) working with the Guayas provincial government to prepare the Guayas Climate Change Adaptation Strategy,(13) continuing to support Machalilla National Park to improve protected area management, including tourism and fishery management and strengthening surveillance and monitoring systems (14) helping communities develop new applications to protect over 7,000 hectares under Socio Bosque, and (15) helping the Río Blanco community obtain its land title. This period the project has also expanded communications materials, launching the second project video regarding its work to protect Machalilla National Park. The project recognizes the role, the guidance and continual support the COR, Rocío Cedeño, has played in meeting its FY12 targets. Key to the project´s ability to complete the FY12 work plan activities and meet its goals is the MAE´s collaboration and recognition of project technical assistance, which is also an integral part of their internal work plans and goals.