Terminal Evaluation for Biodiversity Conservation in Multiple-use Forest Landscapes in Sabah

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Evaluation Plan:
2016-2021, Malaysia
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
06/2020
Completion Date:
04/2020
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
85,000

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Title Terminal Evaluation for Biodiversity Conservation in Multiple-use Forest Landscapes in Sabah
Atlas Project Number: 00063217
Evaluation Plan: 2016-2021, Malaysia
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 04/2020
Planned End Date: 06/2020
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Sustainable
  • 2. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 1.4.1 Solutions scaled up for sustainable management of natural resources, including sustainable commodities and green and inclusive value chains
SDG Goal
  • Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
SDG Target
  • 15.1 By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements
  • 15.2 By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally
Evaluation Budget(US $): 85,000
Source of Funding:
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 85,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Nationality
James Berdach Lead
Yeo Bee Hong Environmental Economist
Tong Pei Sin Biodiversity Specialist
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title: Biodiversity Conservation in Multiple-use Forest Landscapes in Sabah
Evaluation Type: Terminal Evaluation
Focal Area: Biodiversity
Project Type: FSP
GEF Phase: GEF-4
GEF Project ID: 4182
PIMS Number: 4186
Key Stakeholders: Sabah Forestry Department
Countries: MALAYSIA
Lessons
1.

Proper planning and preparation for the utilization of research data is essential. A considerable proportion of the project budget was invested into generating research data, which provided an opportunity to establish a rigorous, science-based foundation for decision- making. However, equally important as the production of accurate and reliable data, is consideration of how the information will be applied and communicated, by whom and for whom. Adequate preparation needs to be made, to ensure that the intended users are properly prepared to understand, manage, and apply the data. This requires careful consideration and planning, and should be accompanied by appropriate training with counterparts at the outset of any such data-gathering effort.


2.

An initial period of socialization may help to reduce delays later on, and make project start-up processes smoother. An introductory preparatory period of socialization is being considered as standard practice for future GEF projects to afford sufficient time to enable 58 project personnel to familiarize themselves with project administrative, financial and monitoring requirements.30 As the Sabah MFL project involved different types of reporting at various levels, for both administrative and financial functions, socialization would be important to ensure an efficient and smooth start-up. This might include, for example, detailed briefings and guidance by the Executing Agency on standard administrative and financial reporting procedures and requirements for GEF projects. Providing additional training on standard tools used by GEF in designing and monitoring projects (e.g., SRF, METT, theory of change) to ensure good understanding among project personnel, would also be important. Administratively, recruitment of key personnel can often result in prolonged delays at project startup. The socialization phase would provide time for these processes to proceed more smoothly. In addition, a socialization period would enable greater communication, coordination and strategic planning with stakeholders concerning the most effective mechanisms and approaches to be applied for project implementation.


3.

An initial period of socialization may help to reduce delays later on, and make project start-up processes smoother. An introductory preparatory period of socialization is being considered as standard practice for future GEF projects to afford sufficient time to enable 58 project personnel to familiarize themselves with project administrative, financial and monitoring requirements.30 As the Sabah MFL project involved different types of reporting at various levels, for both administrative and financial functions, socialization would be important to ensure an efficient and smooth start-up. This might include, for example, detailed briefings and guidance by the Executing Agency on standard administrative and financial reporting procedures and requirements for GEF projects. Providing additional training on standard tools used by GEF in designing and monitoring projects (e.g., SRF, METT, theory of change) to ensure good understanding among project personnel, would also be important. Administratively, recruitment of key personnel can often result in prolonged delays at project startup. The socialization phase would provide time for these processes to proceed more smoothly. In addition, a socialization period would enable greater communication, coordination and strategic planning with stakeholders concerning the most effective mechanisms and approaches to be applied for project implementation.


4.

A high level of commitment and engagement from concerned agencies (and other stakeholders) is essential for project success. The project benefitted from the high level of commitment and engagement from key agencies and organizations (including government agencies, private sector and NGOs) to ensure the smooth implementation of the project at the project management and implementation levels.


5.

The private sector can play an important role in biodiversity conservation, especially in a multiple-use landscape setting. Because of the stress placed on the “multiple-use” nature of forest management in the project, the private sector (specifically, Rakyat Berjaya as the concession holder under YS, and other private contractors) were closely involved in implementation. This provided a mechanism for collaboration and engagement with the private sector, for assessing ways to mainstream biodiversity into management practices on the ground. Through their involvement in the project, managers in the private sector became more attuned and sensitized to the critical need for strengthening biodiversity conservation interventions in the context of a multiple-use forest landscape.


6.

“Analysis paralysis” can prevent progress from being made, while adopting the Nike “Just Do It” approach may help to overcome barriers and lead to successful testing of innovative methods. Sometimes, situations arise in which it is necessary to take action in a timely manner so that a project or activity can move forward—even if the proposed methodology has not been fully proven.31 In such cases, delaying the action so that further fine-tuning can be done in greater detail, may be counter-productive. As long as the proponent has a reasonable level of confidence that a particular method will not have adverse environmental consequences, “just doing it” may enable the methods to be tested, proven, and adapted or adjusted as needed—this can lead to new insights and innovative solutions. This approach is very much in line with the GEF focus on testing and developing new and innovative methodologies which can be more widely applied through replication


7.

To ensure success in carrying out complex multi-dimensional projects, experienced leadership is required. The Sabah MFL project was a complex, multi-dimensional endeavor, involving a wide range of stakeholders, and requiring a good technical understanding of the issues concerning multiple use forest landscape management. Good leadership skills that are needed to ensure successful performance in such a project would include (among others): good social and communications skills, tolerance, and patience, and a good understanding of the scientific method, and the ability to design, manage and implement appropriate scientific field research activities


8.

To develop appropriate management mechanisms, it is important that preparatory steps are carried out in a logical sequence. For example, to prepare for formulation of an environmental management policy, the first step would be data gathering. After necessary information is obtained, a feasibility analysis would be conducted. Only after these steps have been completed would it be appropriate to formulate the policy. Formulating the policy without having gone through the proper preparatory steps would result in having a policy with inherent weaknesses.


Findings
Recommendations
1

Undertake measures to replicate better ecological connectivity, as demonstrated in the project area (collaborating with various partners, identify replication sites for re-establishing stronger ecological connectivity).

2

Take steps to ensure that research data is given relevance through continuing application and dissemination (promote closer engagement between international experts/researchers and local counterparts, with appropriate training provided).

3

Uphold the ban on oil palm plantations in permanent forest reserves; confine plantations to previous agricultural or degraded lands (provide advocacy).

4

Strengthen the role of the private sector in biodiversity conservation, within multiple-use forest landscapes (Foster networking among the plantation community; Conduct relevant training and capacity building; promote Information sharing).

5

Take action to promote the institutionalization of sustainable financing mechanisms for biodiversity conservation in Sabah State (formalize Conservation Finance Committee; integrate collection of ecosystem conservation fee; clarify management of the Ecosystem Conservation Fee Trust Fund; clarify definition of sustainable finance mechanisms, and explore a range of sustainable finance mechanisms; build capacity for sustainable financing).

6

Adopt measures to improve the efficiency of project design, implementation, and management functions (employ lessons learned from TERs; provide socialization period at project start-up; use project performance canvas; allocate sufficient time for consultant procurement; give adequate attention to communications strategies, knowledge management and capacity building).

7

Link lessons learned from the Sabah MFL project with other related initiatives (e.g., implementation of the Sabah Biodiversity Strategy 2012-2022, proposed GEF-7 FOLUR project; proposed listing of the DaMaI area as UNESCO World Heritage Site).

1. Recommendation:

Undertake measures to replicate better ecological connectivity, as demonstrated in the project area (collaborating with various partners, identify replication sites for re-establishing stronger ecological connectivity).

Management Response: [Added: 2020/05/12] [Last Updated: 2021/01/25]

Yes, measures will be taken to replicate ecological connectivity.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
• Discussions and collaboration with relevant partners are to be pursued to identify promising areas to replicate ecological connectivity.
[Added: 2020/05/12] [Last Updated: 2021/02/28]
SFD 2022/07 Initiated History
• State-wide forest management plan (FMP) is currently under preparation; and sites for ecological connectivity will be explicitly prescribed in the FMP and to be implemented under the 12th Malaysia Plan (RMK-12).
[Added: 2020/05/12] [Last Updated: 2021/02/28]
Sabah Forestry Department (SFD) 2022/07 Initiated History
• Rainforest Trust to identify remaining areas for protection to meet the Sabah’s target of 30% Totally Protected Area.
[Added: 2020/05/12] [Last Updated: 2021/02/28]
SFD 2025/12 Initiated History
• Review and improve connectivity in Heart of Borneo.
[Added: 2020/05/12]
SFD 2025/12 Initiated
2. Recommendation:

Take steps to ensure that research data is given relevance through continuing application and dissemination (promote closer engagement between international experts/researchers and local counterparts, with appropriate training provided).

Management Response: [Added: 2020/05/12] [Last Updated: 2021/02/28]

Steps will be taken to ensure that research data is given relevance.

 

Meanwhile, on-going activities in Sabah are as follows:

  • Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) – continuous working with Malaysia Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA) on forest cover, forest aerial survey, remote sensing, carbon stock, etc.
  • CAO base map has been used by researchers in pursuing specific researches in the state.
  • National Forest Inventory (NFI) – on-going under RMK-11 and to be extended to RMK-12.
  • iForSabah – a web Geographic Information System (GIS) application that comprises of Geospatial information of Sabah’s forest.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
• Enhance capacity of remote sensing/GIS unit – provide trainings.
[Added: 2020/05/12] [Last Updated: 2021/02/28]
SFD 2025/12 Initiated History
• NFI – need to upgrade system to keep large data.
[Added: 2020/05/12] [Last Updated: 2021/02/28]
SFD 2025/12 Initiated History
• Forest Research Centre of the Sabah Forestry Department will incorporate lessons learned from the research under MFL Project, including to simplify the research methodology to be practical and replicate in other areas such as in the Forest Management Unit (FMU) 25. Key actions are as follows: 1. To ensure in research planning and design, local counterpart researchers and managers should work closely with experts such as: - Discussion and meeting - Letter of acceptance - Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) (if applicable) 2. To conduct capacity building and ensure technological transfer for all involve in the research, the following actions are to be taken: - Field training - Courses - Workshop 3. To ensure dissemination research findings to relevant stakeholders: - Seminar - Publication - Conferences - Multimedia 4. To ensure the relevant output of the research is applied in forest policy and management planning, stakeholder consultation to be carried out.
[Added: 2020/05/12] [Last Updated: 2021/02/28]
SFD 2025/12 Initiated
3. Recommendation:

Uphold the ban on oil palm plantations in permanent forest reserves; confine plantations to previous agricultural or degraded lands (provide advocacy).

Management Response: [Added: 2020/05/12] [Last Updated: 2021/02/28]

Action to ban on oil palm plantations in permanent forest reserves was done in accordance with State Government policy and Sabah Forest Policy 2018.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
• Jurisdictional Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (JCSPO) initiative – to achieve no loss of high conservation value and high carbon stock forests, to enable zero-conflict and to strengthen smallholder sustainability.
[Added: 2020/05/12]
JCS Committee 2025/12 Initiated
• Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration (FOLUR) Project – to promote responsible value chains for palm oil and smallholder support.
[Added: 2020/05/12] [Last Updated: 2021/02/28]
Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC) 2027/12 Initiated History
• No new permit for oil palm within forest reserves are issued.
[Added: 2020/05/12] [Last Updated: 2021/02/28]
SFD 2020/12 Completed No new permit for oil palm within forest reserves, as accordance with State Government policy and Sabah Forest Policy 2018. History
4. Recommendation:

Strengthen the role of the private sector in biodiversity conservation, within multiple-use forest landscapes (Foster networking among the plantation community; Conduct relevant training and capacity building; promote Information sharing).

Management Response: [Added: 2020/05/12] [Last Updated: 2021/02/28]

Steps are be taken to promote greater engagement with the private sector in biodiversity conservation efforts.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
• Networking and information sharing to promote mutual benefits are to be promoted and explored (e.g. JCSPO and FOLUR).
[Added: 2020/05/12]
SFD 2025/12 Initiated
• More training will be given/conducted to private sector on awareness, capacity building, good practices and roles on biodiversity conservation.
[Added: 2020/05/12] [Last Updated: 2021/02/28]
SFD 2020/12 Completed A series of webinars on research findings, best practices and initiatives on biodiversity conservation were held by SFD in 2020. History
• Encourage the private sectors to get their respective Sustainable Forest Management Licence Agreement (SFMLA) Area certified.
[Added: 2020/05/12] [Last Updated: 2022/01/23]
SFD 2021/12 Completed SFD through its Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) Division provides guidance and consultation to SFMLA holders. History
• Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) Auditing and Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) by external auditors to be continued.
[Added: 2020/05/12] [Last Updated: 2021/02/28]
SFD 2020/12 Completed The SFM Auditing and voluntary TLAS audits for 2020 were completed. History
• Compliance Reporting and issuance of Annual Compliance Certificate for contractors who performed to be continued.
[Added: 2020/05/12] [Last Updated: 2022/01/23]
SFD 2021/12 Completed The Compliance Reporting and issuance of Annual Compliance Certificate for 2020 were completed by 30 November 2021. History
5. Recommendation:

Take action to promote the institutionalization of sustainable financing mechanisms for biodiversity conservation in Sabah State (formalize Conservation Finance Committee; integrate collection of ecosystem conservation fee; clarify management of the Ecosystem Conservation Fee Trust Fund; clarify definition of sustainable finance mechanisms, and explore a range of sustainable finance mechanisms; build capacity for sustainable financing).

Management Response: [Added: 2020/05/12] [Last Updated: 2021/02/28]

Actions will be aggressively taken to ensure the continuity of progress made on sustainable financing mechanisms for biodiversity conservation in Sabah.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
• Finalise Ecosystem Conservation Fee/Board enactment and table to State Cabinet for approval.
[Added: 2021/02/28] [Last Updated: 2022/01/23]
SFD 2025/12 Initiated History
• Formalize and strengthen the Interim Committee on Conservation Finance.
[Added: 2021/02/28] [Last Updated: 2022/01/23]
SFD 2025/12 Not Initiated History
• Explore ways to integrate the collection of the ecosystem conservation fee within the existing system for collection of departure tax.
[Added: 2021/02/28] [Last Updated: 2022/01/23]
SFD 2025/12 Not Initiated History
• To clarify further on the issue of Ecosystem Conservation Fee Trust Fund management.
[Added: 2021/02/28] [Last Updated: 2022/01/23]
SFD 2025/12 Not Initiated History
6. Recommendation:

Adopt measures to improve the efficiency of project design, implementation, and management functions (employ lessons learned from TERs; provide socialization period at project start-up; use project performance canvas; allocate sufficient time for consultant procurement; give adequate attention to communications strategies, knowledge management and capacity building).

Management Response: [Added: 2021/02/28] [Last Updated: 2021/02/28]

Best practices are adopted in order to improve performance in project design, project management, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
• Prepare a “Standard Operating Procedure” (SOP) guidance document for “socialization period” for FOLUR Project.
[Added: 2021/02/28] [Last Updated: 2022/01/23]
SFD 2021/12 Completed A guidance SOP has been drafted. History
• Conduct workshop to come up with specific requirement for review of relevant Terminal Evaluations that can be included in the Terms of References for specialists tasked to prepare GEF project documents, e.g. FOLUR Project.
[Added: 2021/02/28]
SFD 2022/12 Not Initiated
• Prepare “Guideline” for procurement of consultants for new projects (e.g. FOLUR Project) so that average time involved in the engagement of a consultant will be four months.
[Added: 2021/02/28] [Last Updated: 2022/01/23]
SFD 2022/12 Not Initiated History
• To conduct at least three programs /year for communications, knowledge management, and capacity building (e.g. FOLUR Project).
[Added: 2021/02/28]
SFD 2027/12 Not Initiated
7. Recommendation:

Link lessons learned from the Sabah MFL project with other related initiatives (e.g., implementation of the Sabah Biodiversity Strategy 2012-2022, proposed GEF-7 FOLUR project; proposed listing of the DaMaI area as UNESCO World Heritage Site).

Management Response: [Added: 2021/02/28] [Last Updated: 2021/02/28]

Lessons learned from the MFL Project are to be linked with on-going or new initiatives e.g. FOLUR Project.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
• Lessons learned from the MFL Project will be shared to Sabah Biodiversity Council; the proposed GEF-7 FOLUR Project; and the proposed listing of the DaMaI.
[Added: 2021/02/28]
SFD 2021/12 Completed The Terminal Evaluation findings, recommendations, as well as lessons learned from the project were presented to the stakeholders in 2019. The final TE report is available for sharing. The proposed GEF-7 FOLUR project preparation phase has incorporated lesson learned from the MFL project, in particular a period of socialization.

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