In-Situ Conservation of Mountain Agrobiodiversity in Kazakhstan

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Evaluation Plan:
2010-2015, Kazakhstan
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
06/2012
Completion Date:
06/2012
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
28,699

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Title In-Situ Conservation of Mountain Agrobiodiversity in Kazakhstan
Atlas Project Number: 00049805
Evaluation Plan: 2010-2015, Kazakhstan
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 06/2012
Planned End Date: 06/2012
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Environment & Sustainable Development
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
  • 1. Local and national authorities have the capacities to access and integrate multiple sources of public and private environmental financing in support of sustainable human development, including gender equality and poverty reduction
Evaluation Budget(US $): 28,699
Source of Funding:
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Michael J.B. Green Team Leader
Natalya Panchenko
GEF Evaluation: Yes
Evaluation Type:
Focal Area: Biodiversity
Project Type: EA
GEF Phase: GEF-1
PIMS Number: 1278
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: KAZAKHSTAN
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1 Dissemination of current knowledge of wild fruit forests and best practice in their management for conserva-tion. PIU has acquired much knowledge about the distribution and status of wild fruit forests, and provided technical assistance to PA administrations in the target areas regarding the development of policies for the conservation of these forests within core areas, such as genetic reserves. Detailed prescriptions were prepared for the conservation of mountain agrobiodiversity Trans-Ili Alatau and Dzhungar Alatau project sites, in which lie the three demonstration PAs (Ile Alatau National Park, Almaty State Nature Reserve and Dzhungar Alatau National Park), They include information on the distribution, status (age and condition in terms of impacts from disease and human/livestock disturbance) and composition of forests (inventories), as well as proposed actions for their planting, regeneration and protection from livestock grazing, disturbance from tourists and fire. These plans were approved and made binding the FHC (Order No. 304, dated 25 October 2011). This knowledge and existing best practice, currently available only in Russian for the benefit of those manag-ing the Project sites, should be distilled and clearly articulated in bilingual guidelines (Russian and English) for much wider dissemination among other protected area managers in Kazakhstan and elsewhere, including Central Asia. Furthermore, particular guidance should be given to management of a range of scenarios, in-cluding: wild fruit forests that show little or no signs of regeneration; minimising risks of genetic contamina-tion from nearby landraces and modern cultivated varieties of fruit trees; establishment of genetic reserves for in situ conservation in perpetuity; and ex situ conservation of living collections and seed banks. There is also a considerable amount of useful guidance on the establishment of genetic reserves that can be incorporated from the Mission Report of the agrobiodiversity consultant. The manual should be concise, writ-ten in non-technical language, officially endorsed with a covering letter and distributed by FHC to all PAs featuring mountain agrobiodiversity for immediate action, as well as made available to ongoing UNDP-GEF and other agrobiodiversity initiatives in the region.
2 Training in agrobiodiversity conservation and PAs management needs to be institutionalized. The training in agrobiodiversity conservation delivered by the Project should be mainstreamed within FHC. This is best achieved through the Environmental Education Centre (Tabigat Alemi) that delivered much of the training for the Project. The Project has already shared its training materials with this Centre, assuring a certain level of sustainability post-Project.
3 Legislative framework for and rational use of agrobiodiversity resources. Major progress has been made with the drafting of a new Flora Law, which introduces the concept of agrobiodiversity and genetic reserves for its conservation. This needs to be taken to its final stage of approval as soon as practicable [FHC]. Meanwhile, FHC and UNDP should consider facilitating wider public discussions of this draft law to identify outstanding unregulated issues and elaborate the draft law accordingly. There is also a potential opportunity to pilot some of the provisions of this Law, once adopted, within UNDP-GEF biodiversity projects and, as necessary, pro-pose further refinements.
4 Alternative (sustainable) livelihoods. Further opportunities need to be explored in the Project?s target sites (and other mountain agrobiodiversity sites) to secure funds from the Small Grants Programmes of GEF and the World Bank for local enterprises and community initiatives. UNDP is in a strong position is facilitate and precipitate action on this front, with PA administrations in support. The micro-credit scheme, which proved unsuccessful, needs to be thoroughly reviewed to identify constraints and learn lessons. Ideally, this should be done alongside a survey of those who benefited from the GEF Small Grants Programme in order to assess the relative merits and appropriateness of the two funding mechanisms. UNDP COs have had considerable success with micro-credit schemes for other GEF projects recently completed in Central Asia, notably a wetlands project in Kazakhstan and a PAs project in Tajikistan, so some sharing of information is likely to prove instructive.
5 Replication. Tarbagatai, lying in the Tien Shan of north-eastern Kazakhstan, is currently scheduled for establishment as a national park in late 2012. It is an agrobiodiversity stronghold, with wild fruit forests that have not been subject to genetic ingression from modern cultivated varieties of fruit trees. It is an obvious priority PA for replication of the experience gained and lessons learned from the present Project, including: genetic reserves of wild fruit forests; consultative mechanism (Local Consultative Committee) for engaging stakeholders in PA management, as successfully achieved in Dzhungar Alatau National Park; and financial catalysts to facilitate adoption more sustainable or alternative livelihoods. Tarbagatai?s ?Outstanding Universal Values? should also be determined in the management planning process, with a view to its potential candidature for inclusion in a World Heritage serial nomination.
6 Tourism development is somewhat constrained at present by security zones within PAs bordering internation-al boundaries. This will need to be addressed in the near future if tourism is to financially benefit PAs and their local communities.
7 Develop a National CWR Strategy for Kazakhstan, building on the work of the Project on Malus sieversii and Armeniaca vulgaris and its contribution to a regional strategy for the conservation and use of plant genetic resources. This would also provide a sound basis for the development of a World Heritage nomination of a serial agrobiodiversity property.
8 Continue to inform and develop the in situ conservation of wild fruit forests in the Project target sites, comprising the three PAs, and elsewhere as appropriate . Priorities include the following:  Implement the three-year research study (2012-2015) funded by FHC on natural regeneration of wild apricot and apple forests.  Depending on the precise nature of the above research, it may be necessary to complement it with an adaptive management experimental approach to understanding why there is no natural regeneration taking place in many wild fruit forests.  Identify agrobiodiversity species most likely to be threatened by climate change in semi-arid regions, assess the risks and undertake and monitor short-term conservation measures.
9 World Heritage serial nomination for agrobiodiversity hotspot. Among the four areas of legislative develop-ment under Outcome 3 was the designation of Ile Alatau as a World Heritage site to increase its conservation priority through provision of an additional level of legal protection. This was not addressed for reasons un-known to the Evaluators but merits re-visiting from a more strategic perspective, as already raised by the Evaluators and met with considerable interest at meetings with the Ministry of Environment Protection and FHC. Given the global importance of Kazakhstan?s mountain agrobiodiversity, its remaining disparate distri-bution in different parts of the country, and that Central Asia is a global hotspot for agrobiodiversity within which Kazakhstan is one of several epicentres, there is very strong potential for a serial nomination, compris-ing several sites of ?Outstanding Universal Value?. Kazakhstan currently has 12 properties tentatively listed for World Heritage nomination, including Ile Alatau, Altyn Emel, Aksu Zhabaagly and the Western Tien-Shan (natural properties). Several of these and other sites may be on ?Outstanding Universal Value? for agro-biodiversity (wild crop relatives) but it is unlikely that each would merit inscription on the World Heritage List in their own right. However, a serial nomination paves the way for several sites to be included in a single nomination, while also providing opportunities for a transnational serial property involving several countries. In the case of a transnational property, it is not necessary for the complete series to be nominated in the first instance as it may take a number of years to develop international cooperative mechanisms and agreements for managing a transnational World Heritage serial property. A more pragmatic approach is to define the sites of ?Outstanding Universal Value? within Kazakhstan that would merit a serial nomination and subse-quently develop the series with other State Parties across international borders. Thus, there is a very real op-portunity for Kazakhstan to take the initiative and lead the development of a serial nomination for Central Asian agrobiodiversity.
10 Ecotourism was originally an output under Outcome 4 but subsequently dropped, along with a plethora of other potential forms of alternative livelihoods, based on the recommendations of the MTE. However, eco-tourism was the subject of a project funded by the GEF Small Grants Programme that proved to be very suc-cessful, largely because the NGO was able to work closely and well the National Park authority. Currently, with relatively low numbers of people visiting PAs, there exists a window of opportunity to lay the foundations for appropriate forms and levels of tourism, before Kazakhstan becomes an international destination for tourism and unsustainable forms of consumerism take hold of development. Tourism development should be based on principles of responsibility and sustainability for the benefit of visitors, local communities and conservation (nature and culture). Kazakhstan needs to develop a sustainable tourism or ecotourism policy, of which agrobiodiversity are an important component, and a strategy for its delivery in the regions. Almaty Oblast is well placed to take a lead, given that it is already well known for its Apple Festival and lies in reasonably close proximity to a number of important PAs.
1. Recommendation: Dissemination of current knowledge of wild fruit forests and best practice in their management for conserva-tion. PIU has acquired much knowledge about the distribution and status of wild fruit forests, and provided technical assistance to PA administrations in the target areas regarding the development of policies for the conservation of these forests within core areas, such as genetic reserves. Detailed prescriptions were prepared for the conservation of mountain agrobiodiversity Trans-Ili Alatau and Dzhungar Alatau project sites, in which lie the three demonstration PAs (Ile Alatau National Park, Almaty State Nature Reserve and Dzhungar Alatau National Park), They include information on the distribution, status (age and condition in terms of impacts from disease and human/livestock disturbance) and composition of forests (inventories), as well as proposed actions for their planting, regeneration and protection from livestock grazing, disturbance from tourists and fire. These plans were approved and made binding the FHC (Order No. 304, dated 25 October 2011). This knowledge and existing best practice, currently available only in Russian for the benefit of those manag-ing the Project sites, should be distilled and clearly articulated in bilingual guidelines (Russian and English) for much wider dissemination among other protected area managers in Kazakhstan and elsewhere, including Central Asia. Furthermore, particular guidance should be given to management of a range of scenarios, in-cluding: wild fruit forests that show little or no signs of regeneration; minimising risks of genetic contamina-tion from nearby landraces and modern cultivated varieties of fruit trees; establishment of genetic reserves for in situ conservation in perpetuity; and ex situ conservation of living collections and seed banks. There is also a considerable amount of useful guidance on the establishment of genetic reserves that can be incorporated from the Mission Report of the agrobiodiversity consultant. The manual should be concise, writ-ten in non-technical language, officially endorsed with a covering letter and distributed by FHC to all PAs featuring mountain agrobiodiversity for immediate action, as well as made available to ongoing UNDP-GEF and other agrobiodiversity initiatives in the region.
Management Response: [Added: 2012/08/06]

The recommendation is accepted. Electronic versions of documents were submitted to the FHC and UNDP, including prepared concept of con-servation of the mountain agrobiodiversity. FHC and UNDP are considering the possibility of translating documents into English for further considerably wider dissemination of knowledge and experience.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents

[Added: 2012/08/06] [Last Updated: 2013/08/12]
FHC/UNDP CO 2012/12 Completed
2. Recommendation: Training in agrobiodiversity conservation and PAs management needs to be institutionalized. The training in agrobiodiversity conservation delivered by the Project should be mainstreamed within FHC. This is best achieved through the Environmental Education Centre (Tabigat Alemi) that delivered much of the training for the Project. The Project has already shared its training materials with this Centre, assuring a certain level of sustainability post-Project.
Management Response: [Added: 2012/08/06]

The recommendation is accepted. FHC recommended to the Environmental Education Center (Tabigat Alemi) to include into the work plan the trainings on conservation of mountain agrobiodiversity. In addition, the request will be submitted to Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakh-stan (MES) and National Agrarian University of Kazakhstan concerning to improve capacity of staff and to develop the training programme on agrobiodiversty for students of the forestry faculty.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Preparation of an official letter to MES and National Agrarian University Preparation of request to Training Center to develop the course for PA staff and students in relation to improvement of MABD skills
[Added: 2012/08/06] [Last Updated: 2013/08/12]
FHC 2012/12 Completed
3. Recommendation: Legislative framework for and rational use of agrobiodiversity resources. Major progress has been made with the drafting of a new Flora Law, which introduces the concept of agrobiodiversity and genetic reserves for its conservation. This needs to be taken to its final stage of approval as soon as practicable [FHC]. Meanwhile, FHC and UNDP should consider facilitating wider public discussions of this draft law to identify outstanding unregulated issues and elaborate the draft law accordingly. There is also a potential opportunity to pilot some of the provisions of this Law, once adopted, within UNDP-GEF biodiversity projects and, as necessary, pro-pose further refinements.
Management Response: [Added: 2012/08/06]

Development of the draft Flora Law will be included in the application for inclusion in the legislative work plan of the Government of the RK for 2014-2015. In accordance with the existing rules of preparation of laws of RK, FHC will conduct a series of round tables for discussion with stakeholders (including ongoing projects in the field of biodiversity) the concept of the Flora Law aiming to collect different opinions and sug-gestions for preparing the final version of the Law. UNDP has been supporting the Government of Kazakhstan in developing and implementing GEF-funded biodiversity project addresses the country?s need to continue to fulfill its obligations under the CBD with particular focus on the improvement of legislation. In this regard, UNDP will actively participate in the discussion and if necessary provide support for further development of the Law.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Arrangement of Round tables on discussion of the Flora law Inclusion of the Flora law into the National plan in 2013
[Added: 2012/08/06] [Last Updated: 2013/08/12]
FHC/UNDP CO 2012/12 Completed
4. Recommendation: Alternative (sustainable) livelihoods. Further opportunities need to be explored in the Project?s target sites (and other mountain agrobiodiversity sites) to secure funds from the Small Grants Programmes of GEF and the World Bank for local enterprises and community initiatives. UNDP is in a strong position is facilitate and precipitate action on this front, with PA administrations in support. The micro-credit scheme, which proved unsuccessful, needs to be thoroughly reviewed to identify constraints and learn lessons. Ideally, this should be done alongside a survey of those who benefited from the GEF Small Grants Programme in order to assess the relative merits and appropriateness of the two funding mechanisms. UNDP COs have had considerable success with micro-credit schemes for other GEF projects recently completed in Central Asia, notably a wetlands project in Kazakhstan and a PAs project in Tajikistan, so some sharing of information is likely to prove instructive.
Management Response: [Added: 2012/08/06]

The FHC will explore the experience and capabilities of integrated approach to use microcredit resources and grant programs (SGP GEF, the World Bank) to support local alternatives in the ongoing new projects in the area of biodiversity. The recommendation will be taken into account when developing a project for the conservation of desert and semi-desert ecosystems, considering the implementation of micro-credit programs. In the development of micro-credit program, UNDP and the FHC will recommend inclusion of the conservation of mountain agrobiodiversity as one of its priorities.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Development the concept of micro-credit program within the new project on biodiversity (Desert project)
[Added: 2012/08/06] [Last Updated: 2013/08/12]
FHC/UNDP CO 2012/12 Completed
5. Recommendation: Replication. Tarbagatai, lying in the Tien Shan of north-eastern Kazakhstan, is currently scheduled for establishment as a national park in late 2012. It is an agrobiodiversity stronghold, with wild fruit forests that have not been subject to genetic ingression from modern cultivated varieties of fruit trees. It is an obvious priority PA for replication of the experience gained and lessons learned from the present Project, including: genetic reserves of wild fruit forests; consultative mechanism (Local Consultative Committee) for engaging stakeholders in PA management, as successfully achieved in Dzhungar Alatau National Park; and financial catalysts to facilitate adoption more sustainable or alternative livelihoods. Tarbagatai?s ?Outstanding Universal Values? should also be determined in the management planning process, with a view to its potential candidature for inclusion in a World Heritage serial nomination.
Management Response: [Added: 2012/08/06]

The recommendation is accepted. Creation of Tarbagatai National Park was postponed to 2014. Experience and achievements of the project will be considered during formation of Tarbagatai National Park (the structure, controls, subjects of the works and research). It will also be proposed as its potential candidature for inclusion in the List of World Heritage serial nomination.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Creation of Tarbagatai National Park
[Added: 2012/08/06] [Last Updated: 2016/10/06]
FHC 2014/12 Completed History
6. Recommendation: Tourism development is somewhat constrained at present by security zones within PAs bordering internation-al boundaries. This will need to be addressed in the near future if tourism is to financially benefit PAs and their local communities.
Management Response: [Added: 2012/08/06]

The recommendation is accepted. Development of tourism - one of the priorities of the Republic of Kazakhstan and one of the main activities of PAs. The location of some protected areas in the border area, certainly, complicates the implementation of these activities. In this regard, FHC will look for appropriate ways to address issues of facilitation of registra-tion documents for entry of tourists (domestic and foreign) in these areas.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
FHC will look for appropriate ways to address issues of facilitation of registra-tion documents for entry of tourists (domestic and foreign) in these areas.
[Added: 2012/08/06] [Last Updated: 2017/09/17]
FHC 2013/08 Completed History
7. Recommendation: Develop a National CWR Strategy for Kazakhstan, building on the work of the Project on Malus sieversii and Armeniaca vulgaris and its contribution to a regional strategy for the conservation and use of plant genetic resources. This would also provide a sound basis for the development of a World Heritage nomination of a serial agrobiodiversity property.
Management Response: [Added: 2012/08/06]

The recommendation is accepted. FHC will consider the opportunities and consult with the top management of the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Environmental Protection to include long-term vision / program of the conservation and restora-tion of mountain agrobiodiversity in Kazakhstan based on prepared documents by the project into national strategies. Moreover, this work will be thought as part of an overall strategy on biodiversity within the project aims to develop a national strategy on biodiversity

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
FHC will consider the opportunities and consult with the top management of the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Environmental Protection to include long-term vision / program of the conservation and restora-tion of mountain agrobiodiversity in Kazakhstan based on prepared documents by the project into national strategies
[Added: 2017/09/17]
Programme and project staff 2015/12 Completed
8. Recommendation: Continue to inform and develop the in situ conservation of wild fruit forests in the Project target sites, comprising the three PAs, and elsewhere as appropriate . Priorities include the following:  Implement the three-year research study (2012-2015) funded by FHC on natural regeneration of wild apricot and apple forests.  Depending on the precise nature of the above research, it may be necessary to complement it with an adaptive management experimental approach to understanding why there is no natural regeneration taking place in many wild fruit forests.  Identify agrobiodiversity species most likely to be threatened by climate change in semi-arid regions, assess the risks and undertake and monitor short-term conservation measures.
Management Response: [Added: 2012/08/06]

The recommendation is accepted. FHC has prepared the request to the state budget for attract Kazakh Research Institute of Forestry (the Almaty branch) for the implementation of a 3-year scientific research program on wild fruit forests. In addition, the FHC will ensure participation in these studies the scientific units of the relevant PAs.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1. Development of artificial methods of recovery of natural populations of wild fruit forests, and the best ways to promote natural regeneration of apple and apricot in the wild fruit plantations. 2. Implementation of systematic monitoring of the research and work, review and evaluation of the results of these studies and their implementation in practice management of MABD
[Added: 2012/08/06] [Last Updated: 2016/10/06]
FHC/KazNIILKH/PAs 2015/12 Completed History
FHC has prepared the request to the state budget for attract Kazakh Research Institute of Forestry (the Almaty branch) for the implementation of a 3-year scientific research program on wild fruit forests. In addition, the FHC will ensure participation in these studies the scientific units of the relevant PAs.
[Added: 2017/09/17]
Programme and project staff 2015/12 Completed
9. Recommendation: World Heritage serial nomination for agrobiodiversity hotspot. Among the four areas of legislative develop-ment under Outcome 3 was the designation of Ile Alatau as a World Heritage site to increase its conservation priority through provision of an additional level of legal protection. This was not addressed for reasons un-known to the Evaluators but merits re-visiting from a more strategic perspective, as already raised by the Evaluators and met with considerable interest at meetings with the Ministry of Environment Protection and FHC. Given the global importance of Kazakhstan?s mountain agrobiodiversity, its remaining disparate distri-bution in different parts of the country, and that Central Asia is a global hotspot for agrobiodiversity within which Kazakhstan is one of several epicentres, there is very strong potential for a serial nomination, compris-ing several sites of ?Outstanding Universal Value?. Kazakhstan currently has 12 properties tentatively listed for World Heritage nomination, including Ile Alatau, Altyn Emel, Aksu Zhabaagly and the Western Tien-Shan (natural properties). Several of these and other sites may be on ?Outstanding Universal Value? for agro-biodiversity (wild crop relatives) but it is unlikely that each would merit inscription on the World Heritage List in their own right. However, a serial nomination paves the way for several sites to be included in a single nomination, while also providing opportunities for a transnational serial property involving several countries. In the case of a transnational property, it is not necessary for the complete series to be nominated in the first instance as it may take a number of years to develop international cooperative mechanisms and agreements for managing a transnational World Heritage serial property. A more pragmatic approach is to define the sites of ?Outstanding Universal Value? within Kazakhstan that would merit a serial nomination and subse-quently develop the series with other State Parties across international borders. Thus, there is a very real op-portunity for Kazakhstan to take the initiative and lead the development of a serial nomination for Central Asian agrobiodiversity.
Management Response: [Added: 2012/08/06]

The recommendation will be taken into account when developing documents for inclusion in the list of World Heritage.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
The recommendation will be taken into account when developing documents for inclusion in the list of World Heritage.
[Added: 2017/09/17]
CO staff 2015/12 Completed
10. Recommendation: Ecotourism was originally an output under Outcome 4 but subsequently dropped, along with a plethora of other potential forms of alternative livelihoods, based on the recommendations of the MTE. However, eco-tourism was the subject of a project funded by the GEF Small Grants Programme that proved to be very suc-cessful, largely because the NGO was able to work closely and well the National Park authority. Currently, with relatively low numbers of people visiting PAs, there exists a window of opportunity to lay the foundations for appropriate forms and levels of tourism, before Kazakhstan becomes an international destination for tourism and unsustainable forms of consumerism take hold of development. Tourism development should be based on principles of responsibility and sustainability for the benefit of visitors, local communities and conservation (nature and culture). Kazakhstan needs to develop a sustainable tourism or ecotourism policy, of which agrobiodiversity are an important component, and a strategy for its delivery in the regions. Almaty Oblast is well placed to take a lead, given that it is already well known for its Apple Festival and lies in reasonably close proximity to a number of important PAs.
Management Response: [Added: 2012/08/06]

The recommendation is accepted. Ministry of Industry and New Technologies (MINT) developed and approved program for the development of eco-tourism, which is implemented from 2012. UNDP has been supporting the Government of Kazakhstan in developing and promoting sustainable forms of eco-tourism. In this regard, UNDP will support cooperation between МINТ and FHC within implementation of the program on eco-tourism development.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Ministry of Industry and New Technologies (MINT) developed and approved program for the development of eco-tourism, which is implemented from 2012. UNDP has been supporting the Government of Kazakhstan in developing and promoting sustainable forms of eco-tourism. In this regard, UNDP will support cooperation between ?IN? and FHC within implementation of the program on eco-tourism development.
[Added: 2012/08/06] [Last Updated: 2016/10/06]
MINT/FHC/UNDP CO 2013/12 Completed History

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