Final Evaluation: Maximizing carbon sink capacity and concerving biodiversity through sustainable conservation, restoration, and management of peat swamp ecosystems.

Report Cover Image
Evaluation Plan:
2017-2021, Thailand
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
01/2021
Status:
Planned
Management Response:
No
Evaluation Budget(US $):
35,000
Document Type Language Size Status Downloads
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Title Final Evaluation: Maximizing carbon sink capacity and concerving biodiversity through sustainable conservation, restoration, and management of peat swamp ecosystems.
Atlas Project Number: 00075449
Evaluation Plan: 2017-2021, Thailand
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Planned
Planned End Date: 01/2021
Management Response: No
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 $): 35,000
Source of Funding: GEF
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title: Maximizing carbon sink capacity and concerving biodiversity through sustainable conservation, restoration, and management of peat swamp ecosystems.
Evaluation Type: Terminal Evaluation
Focal Area: Multifocal Areas
Project Type: FSP
GEF Phase: GEF-5
GEF Project ID:
PIMS Number: 4951
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: THAILAND
Lessons
1.

The project identified three major threats to the KKL and its associated peat swamp carbon sink and biodiversity: (i) encroachment of peat swamps by oil palm plantations; (ii) fires; and (ii) unsustainable use of peat swamps by local communities. Underpinning the impacts of these threats is the critical role of hydrology in the ecology and sustainable use of peat swamps: wet peat swamps are in better ecological condition, provide their ecosystem services more effectively, and have lower GHG emissions than swamps that have dried out.

The project identified a need to shift from unsustainable land-use policies and practices to sustainable land and forest management that could be enforced and adopted at a landscape level. The project document identified three main barriers to this shift, as outlined below.

Barrier 1: Inadequate protection of primary and secondary natural peat swamps

Although peat swamps are well represented in Thailand’s protected area system, many of these protected areas are not receiving effective protection due to poor patrolling and low conservation capacities of the administrators of protected areas and forests. Importantly, the management of these protected areas is typically not integrated with land-use management in the surrounding landscape. Further, engagement of communities in co-management of peatlands has not been systematic. The project identified a need to find a balance between protection of healthy peat swamps, rehabilitation of degraded areas, improvements in the water regime, and better land-use management to enhance sustainable utilization. The situation in the KKL mirrors this national situation, therefore the KKL was chosen as a pilot for developing such an integrated, landscape-scale model that balances protection and sustainable use.

Barrier 2: Technologies to avoid peatland degradation are not available and there are major gaps in knowledge of carbon value of peatlands

The project document noted that international research on the coexistence of peatlands with economic use areas has demonstrated the importance of hydrotechnical measures to separate areas where drainage occurs from the surrounding landscape, thus eliminating or minimizing the cycle of draining effects and resulting fires. A lack of knowledge of hydrological processes in the KKL was identified, which means that the management of water levels at project sites is based on limited understanding of the underlying processes. Many small-scale swamp restoration projects had been ad hoc, without underpinning hydrological understanding.

Further, a significant global knowledge gap on carbon fluxes from tropical peatlands was identified, which hinders effective discussions on the importance of peatlands in climate change mitigation.

Barrier 3: Inadequate and unclear land-use standards and policies specifically related to peat swamps

Thailand has a National Wetlands Action Plan, but this does not include specific standards and enforcement mechanisms for sustainable use of peat swamps. The project document identified that this lack of clear standards on sustainable peat swamp use has led to a number of problems, including the expansion of oil palm plantations, inconsistencies in policies on community forest management, and misunderstandings between local communities and state officials regarding the use of peat swamps by communities that were already residing within areas that are now declared as conservation zones. The project document also noted that there were many overlapping and conflicting rules, regulations and policies for the different land and forest classifications in the KKL.


Findings
1.

Because the project has only been in full implementation for a little over a year, the three barriers identified in the project document still remain. The MTR team provides the following observations on progress towards addressing these barriers.

Barrier 1: Inadequate protection of primary and secondary natural peat swamps

There has been no increase in the formal level of protection of KKL peat swamps in the protected area system and, although there has been some improvement from this project in the conservation capacities of the protected area and forest administrators, this barrier largely remains. Progress has been made on developing a model for a landscape approach to peat swamp management that balances protection and sustainable use. To address this barrier, it is important that explicit consideration is given during the remainder of the project to the role of protected areas (of various types and IUCN categories) in this landscape model.

Barrier 2: Technologies to avoid peatland degradation are not available and there are major gaps in knowledge of carbon value of peatlands

The investigations and modelling in Outcome 2 are in their early stages, so the identified gaps still exist. Nevertheless, the work being undertaken should make a significant contribution to filling these gaps and addressing this barrier if seen through to completion.

Barrier 3: Inadequate and unclear land-use standards and policies specifically related to peat swamps

Again, the work being undertaken in Outcome 3 is in the early stages, however it is well targeted and should address this barrier.


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