Improving the Coverage and Management Efficiency of Protected Areas in the Steppe Biome of Russia, Final Evaluation

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Evaluation Plan:
2011-2017, Russian Federation
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
11/2016
Completion Date:
12/2016
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
40,000

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Title Improving the Coverage and Management Efficiency of Protected Areas in the Steppe Biome of Russia, Final Evaluation
Atlas Project Number: 58254
Evaluation Plan: 2011-2017, Russian Federation
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 12/2016
Planned End Date: 11/2016
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Environment & Sustainable Development
  • 2. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
  • 1. Output 1.3. Solutions developed at national and sub-national levels for sustainable management of natural resources, ecosystem services, chemicals and waste
Evaluation Budget(US $): 40,000
Source of Funding: GEF
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 28,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Stuart Williams
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title: Improving the Coverage and Management Efficiency of Protected Areas in the Steppe Biome of Russia
Evaluation Type: Terminal Evaluation
Focal Area: Biodiversity
Project Type: FSP
GEF Phase: GEF-4
GEF Project ID:
PIMS Number: 4194
Key Stakeholders: Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology; Regional Administrations of Kursk oblast, Republic of Kalmykia, Orenburg oblast and Zabaikalsky Krai; Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Regional Development.
Countries: RUSSIAN FEDERATION
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1

Plans, strategies and PA establishment.  The project is coming to its logical conclusion and with the exception of the recommendation to extend the project, if at all possible, to allow the project team to spend the remaining budget, it is ready for closure.  However, there are quite a number of processes that have not come to some conclusion (e.g., species strategies, PA establishment) and the responsibility to see these through lies in the hands of the project partners. In addition, because the project team (particularly the PM and CTA) remain professionally involved in the sector and have a vested interest in seeing these things through, the TE is confident that they will be followed through.

2

Connectivity. One critical key for the future is to ensure connectivity among the protected areas and mainstreaming biodiversity within productive landscapes.  This will mean engagement with the Ministry of Agriculture but also with the relevant authorities in adjacent countries as well.

3

Alternative forms of PA governance. As discussed above, there is little appetite for changing legislation and until it is changed, there will be little space for piloting alternative forms of PA governance.  However, if regional authorities or municipalities could be persuaded to pilot such work at their level and, thereafter demonstrate successes, it would be worthwhile as this might catalyse change through the system including at a federal/national level.

1. Recommendation:

Plans, strategies and PA establishment.  The project is coming to its logical conclusion and with the exception of the recommendation to extend the project, if at all possible, to allow the project team to spend the remaining budget, it is ready for closure.  However, there are quite a number of processes that have not come to some conclusion (e.g., species strategies, PA establishment) and the responsibility to see these through lies in the hands of the project partners. In addition, because the project team (particularly the PM and CTA) remain professionally involved in the sector and have a vested interest in seeing these things through, the TE is confident that they will be followed through.

Management Response: [Added: 2017/01/12]

Some project activities couldn’t be fully completed due to the external factors outside of the project’s influence. For instance, the establishment of a Protected Area (PA) consists of 4 stages: 1) agreement with the Regional Authorities; 2) elaboration of Environmental Economical Justification; 3) passing through State Environmental Expertise; 4) issuance of the Government’s resolution on PA establishment. The first two stages, dependent upon the project’s work, have been entirely completed for the establishment 2 Nature Monuments in Kursk region, Troitsky Refuge in Orenburg region, Duldurginsky Reduge in Zabaykalsky Kray and the expansion of the Chernye Zemli Reserve in Kalmykia. In view of the various reasons, such as lack of funding in Y2016 budgets, willingness to dedicate the PA establishment to the Year of Environment in Russia (2017), anticipation of the Government’s Conference on saiga conservation in May 2017, etc., the concerned Regional Administrations have decided to carry over the completion of the third and fourth stages to Y2017.

The adoption of National Strategies on conservation of 3 indicator species (steppe eagle, dzeren and saiga) consists of 2 stages: 1) elaboration of the Strategies and their submission to the Russian Ministry of Nature Resources and Environment (MNRE); 2) Formal approval of these Strategies by MNRE. All 3 Strategies have been included in the MNRE Work Plan. The first stage has been successfully completed for all of them. The completion of the second stage is pending the formal approval of the renewed Russian Red Data Book list where all 3 species have been already included, as the Strategies can’t be formally adopted prior to the formal approval of the list.                

Nevertheless, as it was rightly mentioned by the Evaluator, the Project Team, Regional Administrations and MNRE remain highly interested in the completion of the above activities and will do their best to ensure proper follow-up.    

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
The establishment of the above indicated PAs will be closely monitored and promoted.
[Added: 2017/01/12] [Last Updated: 2018/10/28]
Project Team 2017/09 Completed The project team monitored and promoted the establishment of the protected areas until the completion of the project. After that the MNRE of the RF and the regional authorities have taken over the corresponding process for the establishment of PAs. History
The adoption of the National Strategies on conservation of steppe eagle, saiga and dzeren will be closely monitored and promoted.
[Added: 2017/01/12] [Last Updated: 2018/10/28]
Project Team 2017/09 Completed The project team monitored and promoted the adoption of the species conservation strategies prepared by the project until the completion of the project. After that the MNRE of the RF and the regional authorities have taken over the corresponding national processes towards the adoption of the species' conservation strategies. History
2. Recommendation:

Connectivity. One critical key for the future is to ensure connectivity among the protected areas and mainstreaming biodiversity within productive landscapes.  This will mean engagement with the Ministry of Agriculture but also with the relevant authorities in adjacent countries as well.

Management Response: [Added: 2017/01/12]

Further cooperation among steppe PAs will be ensured through the Russian Association of PA Directors, headed by Mr. Vsevolod Stepanitsky, Steppe Project National Director and supported by Ms. Rafilya Bakirova, Director of the Orenburg State Nature Reserve and former Steppe Project Regional Coordinator, who also serves as an Executive Secretary for the Association.

Cooperation Agreement on biodiversity conservation has been signed between Orenburg Region, Russia and Aktybinsk Region, Kazakhstan. Similar Agreement has been put in place among Daursky State Nature Reserve and neighboring districts of Mongolia and China. These Agreements are no longer linked to the Steppe Project and will be implemented after the project end.

Unfortunately, the project couldn’t ensure proper engagement with the Russian Ministry of Agriculture, however, close cooperation with local farmers has been maintained by all 4 pilot PAs.  It includes joint fire-fighting activities, controlled cattle grazing and hay-making by local communities on the PA territories. These activities contribute to the improved condition of the steppe vegetation and increase forage reserve and habitat area for saiga antelope. The establishment of Public Advisory Councils ensures better anti-poaching control.

Inter-agency Agreement on fire-fighting and Cooperation Agreement on anti-poaching activities with the Regional Ministry of Interior have been enacted in Orenburg region and Kalmykia respectively.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
N/A
[Added: 2017/01/12]
N/A No due date No Longer Applicable N/A
3. Recommendation:

Alternative forms of PA governance. As discussed above, there is little appetite for changing legislation and until it is changed, there will be little space for piloting alternative forms of PA governance.  However, if regional authorities or municipalities could be persuaded to pilot such work at their level and, thereafter demonstrate successes, it would be worthwhile as this might catalyse change through the system including at a federal/national level.

Management Response: [Added: 2017/01/12]

An absolute prerequisite for piloting alternative forms of PA governance is a secured long-term financing. So far, sustainable long-term financing could be secured only from the state funds. Previous attempt on the establishment of NGO-run “Orenburgskaya Tarpaniya” PA has failed as the Foundation which leased Orlovskaya Steppe area of 16,500 ha, couldn’t ensure the required volume of financing. At the same time, there are private hunting farms in Russia, and no formal interdiction for the establishment of non-governmental PAs exists. Thus, the establishment of PAs for the development of eco-tourism instead of hunting is also possible in case if the required funding is available.

However, even the establishment of such PAs can’t be considered as equal alternative to the state PAs, which have been quite sustainable. It will simply complement the Government’s efforts.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
N/A
[Added: 2017/01/12]
N/A No due date No Longer Applicable N/A

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