Sustainable Land and Forest Management in the North Eastern Armenia Final Evaluation

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Evaluation Plan:
2016-2020, Armenia
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
12/2020
Completion Date:
12/2020
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
40,000

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Title Sustainable Land and Forest Management in the North Eastern Armenia Final Evaluation
Atlas Project Number: 81940
Evaluation Plan: 2016-2020, Armenia
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 12/2020
Planned End Date: 12/2020
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
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
  • 15.2 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 $): 40,000
Source of Funding: UNDP
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 13,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Jean-Joseph Bellamy Independent Evaluator jj@bellamy.net
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title: Sustainable Land and Forest Management in the North Eastern Armenia Secures Continued Flow of Multiple Ecosystem Services (such as water provision, land slide control and carbon storage and sequestration) and Ensures Conservation of Critical Wildlife Habitats Terminal Evaluation
Evaluation Type: Terminal Evaluation
Focal Area: Multifocal Areas
Project Type: FSP
GEF Phase: GEF-5
GEF Project ID: 5353
PIMS Number: 4416
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: ARMENIA
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1

It is recommended to ensure that all technical reports produced by the project be available to the public after the end of the project.  The project has produced a body of knowledge including numerous studies, assessment, recommendations, guidelines, etc. As the project is closing at the end of the year it is recommended to ensure the public availability of this body of knowledge, including a full listing in the final project report. When considering this recommendation, it is also recognized that the project team is in the process of printing and publishing a set of 20 key documents/outputs to be disseminated in the coming weeks. It is encouraged to also make these products available online.

2

It is recommended to produce roadmap detailing the way forward. The project contributed to improving the enabling environment for SFM and SLM and invested in testing and demonstrating innovative solutions for managing sustainably forests and pastures in North Eastern Armenia. As per the GEF definition of catalytic role, most results of this project are now ready for replication and scaling up. In order to facilitate and ensure the sustainability of these results, it is recommended to collate together a summary of the results achieved and identify the way forward to replicate and scale-up these results throughout the country. This “Roadmap for the Way Forward” should detail what needs to be done, when, how and who, to facilitate the transfer of project achievements to other stakeholders.  It would also contribute to ensure the long-term sustainability of project’s achievements and provide useful information for the future directions/needs of the forestry sector in Armenia.

3

It is recommended to organize a final workshop focusing on achievements of the project and the way forward. The project is ending at the end of December 2020. It has accumulated valuable experiences in formulating FMPs but also in investing in demonstrations of various innovative solutions to rehabilitate degraded forests and pastures and in supporting the implementation of small-scale initiatives to reduce pressure on the demand of forest products. It is recommended to organize a workshop showcasing project achievements but also presenting the way forward, such as a roadmap to “pass the baton”. In the meantime, it is recognized that currently, the pandemic situation in Armenia is such that a workshop cannot really take place before the end of the project. However, as much as possible it is recommended that UNDP keeps the plan to organize such workshop, once the pandemic will subside. Participants should include all project stakeholders and beneficiaries as well as other development partners. It is noted that this plan has also been discussed between the project team and UNDP Senior Management. They arrived at the same conclusion to postpone the date; given also that the option to organize such workshop online is not a valid option due to too much information to showcase and transfer.

4

It is recommended for the Ministry of Environment to explore the possibility to conduct a TSA Assessment.  Targeted Scenario Analysis (TSA) estimates the value of ecosystem services within decision making, to help make the business case for sustainable policy and investment choices. Through TSA, practitioners working with governments and private enterprises can generate and present data related to the management of ecosystems in a way that is more relevant to the choices facing a decision maker. The product of a TSA is a balanced presentation of evidence, for a decision maker, that weighs up the pros and cons of continuing with business as usual (BAU) or following a sustainable development path in which ecosystems are more effectively managed termed sustainable ecosystem management (SEM). Considering the need for reforming the forestry section in Armenia and the limited government investments in this area, it is recommended to look into the feasibility to conduct a TSA through projects or directly funded by the government. A TSA would result in demonstrating the value of forests in Armenia and provide a good “business case” for increasing the allocation of funds to this sector. The project may initiate discussions with the Ministry of Environment to explore the interest and feasibility for a TSA assessment.

Management Response Documents
1. Recommendation:

It is recommended to ensure that all technical reports produced by the project be available to the public after the end of the project.  The project has produced a body of knowledge including numerous studies, assessment, recommendations, guidelines, etc. As the project is closing at the end of the year it is recommended to ensure the public availability of this body of knowledge, including a full listing in the final project report. When considering this recommendation, it is also recognized that the project team is in the process of printing and publishing a set of 20 key documents/outputs to be disseminated in the coming weeks. It is encouraged to also make these products available online.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/17] [Last Updated: 2020/12/22]

Recommendation is accepted.  The project all technical reports, studies, guidelines, brochures and infographics are submitted to publication house. The circulation of printing materials allow to distribute materials to all relevant stakeholders, including universities and academia. At the same time all printing materials have their on-line electronic versions to be published in UNDP-GEF National Climate Change Communication team on-line portal:  http://www.nature-ic.am/  

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1.1 Project results are continuously communicated to stakeholders and large audience through meetings and training programs. Dissemination of finalized materials through hardcopies and on-line platforms (electronically) is in progress.
[Added: 2020/12/17] [Last Updated: 2021/06/15]
UNDP CO, Climate, Environment and Resilience Portfolio 2021/04 Completed The Project information products have been uploaded on the UNDP Climate Change Programme online portal: http://www.nature-ic.am/. The printed versions of the project studies and reports have been disseminated to state agencies, educational institutions, libraries, international partner organizations, and other relevant institutions History
2. Recommendation:

It is recommended to produce roadmap detailing the way forward. The project contributed to improving the enabling environment for SFM and SLM and invested in testing and demonstrating innovative solutions for managing sustainably forests and pastures in North Eastern Armenia. As per the GEF definition of catalytic role, most results of this project are now ready for replication and scaling up. In order to facilitate and ensure the sustainability of these results, it is recommended to collate together a summary of the results achieved and identify the way forward to replicate and scale-up these results throughout the country. This “Roadmap for the Way Forward” should detail what needs to be done, when, how and who, to facilitate the transfer of project achievements to other stakeholders.  It would also contribute to ensure the long-term sustainability of project’s achievements and provide useful information for the future directions/needs of the forestry sector in Armenia.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/17] [Last Updated: 2020/12/22]

The major directions of road map were identified and provided to the project Final Management Board (15.12.2020). Set of recommendations, knowledge products and guidelines were handed over to the Ministry of Environment with recommendations for follow up, including but not limited to: Conceptual study on “Sustainable development of biomass heating in Armenia” with the detailed road map that has been prepared as per request by the Prime Minister’s office as a basis for setting up biomass-based energy industry and market in Armenia. “Strategy for the management of firewood collection and distribution from the forests” with the road map that has been also presented for further policy elaboration and decision making in this sensitive area. “Forest carbon measurement guidelines” as a background for improvement of national Green House Gas inventory system, etc.  and will be widely utilised.  “The national strategy for the inventory of forests in the Republic of Armenia” with detailed steps is handed over to the Ministry of Environment. Unfortunately, the institutional drawbacks associated with current political, economic and humanitarian crises situation in Armenia are hindering elaboration of the program of follow-up measures with responsible entities and timeline at this stage.  Follow-up actions will be discussed and considered in late January and during the final workshop as discussed at the project board. 

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
2.1 Finalisation of the follow-up action plan and discussion at the final workshop
[Added: 2020/12/17] [Last Updated: 2021/06/15]
Ministry of nature protection, “Hayantar” SNCO, UNDP CO 2021/04 Completed The list of follow-up actions was presented and discussed during the two-day workshops with the state, non-state, and donor organizations conducted in May 2021. Specifically, the second day of the workshop was dedicated to the planned ongoing initiatives in the forestry sector, this list of follow-up activities to ensure the sustainability of results was presented. Ministry of Environment took forward and expressed commitment to ensure the proper follow-up History
3. Recommendation:

It is recommended to organize a final workshop focusing on achievements of the project and the way forward. The project is ending at the end of December 2020. It has accumulated valuable experiences in formulating FMPs but also in investing in demonstrations of various innovative solutions to rehabilitate degraded forests and pastures and in supporting the implementation of small-scale initiatives to reduce pressure on the demand of forest products. It is recommended to organize a workshop showcasing project achievements but also presenting the way forward, such as a roadmap to “pass the baton”. In the meantime, it is recognized that currently, the pandemic situation in Armenia is such that a workshop cannot really take place before the end of the project. However, as much as possible it is recommended that UNDP keeps the plan to organize such workshop, once the pandemic will subside. Participants should include all project stakeholders and beneficiaries as well as other development partners. It is noted that this plan has also been discussed between the project team and UNDP Senior Management. They arrived at the same conclusion to postpone the date; given also that the option to organize such workshop online is not a valid option due to too much information to showcase and transfer.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/17] [Last Updated: 2020/12/22]

Recommendation is accepted. There is a Project Board decision on the organisation of large-scale event in spring 2021 as soon as the pandemic situation in the country will allow live events. The event date, format and content will be discussed in January 2021.   

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
3.1 The event is tentatively planned (depending on pandemic situation) for March, 2021.
[Added: 2020/12/17] [Last Updated: 2021/06/15]
Ministry of Environment, UNDP CO 2021/04 Completed The large-scale final project event was organized on May 6, 2021, bringing together almost 50 participants from the public sector, NGOs and academia, international organizations in person and via zoom platform. The project objectives, main results, and achievements, main drawbacks, and steps forward were presented and discussed in detail. Project knowledge products and publications were presented and disseminated. Eight thematic video films on the project activities were broadcasted and well-accepted by participants History
4. Recommendation:

It is recommended for the Ministry of Environment to explore the possibility to conduct a TSA Assessment.  Targeted Scenario Analysis (TSA) estimates the value of ecosystem services within decision making, to help make the business case for sustainable policy and investment choices. Through TSA, practitioners working with governments and private enterprises can generate and present data related to the management of ecosystems in a way that is more relevant to the choices facing a decision maker. The product of a TSA is a balanced presentation of evidence, for a decision maker, that weighs up the pros and cons of continuing with business as usual (BAU) or following a sustainable development path in which ecosystems are more effectively managed termed sustainable ecosystem management (SEM). Considering the need for reforming the forestry section in Armenia and the limited government investments in this area, it is recommended to look into the feasibility to conduct a TSA through projects or directly funded by the government. A TSA would result in demonstrating the value of forests in Armenia and provide a good “business case” for increasing the allocation of funds to this sector. The project may initiate discussions with the Ministry of Environment to explore the interest and feasibility for a TSA assessment.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/17] [Last Updated: 2020/12/22]

Recommendation is partially accepted, as conducting TSA was out of the project scope. Perhaps, there is a range of other ecosystem service valuation-based methodologies to consider for the assessment of business alternatives. We do agree, that in addition to the study on ecosystem services and their inclusion into the forest management plans, TSA or other methodology can be applied to help make the business case for sustainable policy and investment choices in the forest sector, as well as understand benefits from the management of high-conservation value forests delineated within the scope of the project.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Introduce methodology for valuation of ecosystem services and benefits from sustainably managed high conservation value forests for evidence-based policy making and investment planning
[Added: 2020/12/17] [Last Updated: 2021/06/15]
Ministry of Environment 2021/12 Completed The responsibility of elaboration of a special methodology for valuation of ecosystem services and benefits from sustainably managed high conservation value forests for evidence-based policymaking and investment planning is assigned to the Ministry of Environment. The ministry will be in a position to follow up on the topic after the June 20 snap parliamentary elections. History

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