Terminal Evaluation of Caspian Project

Report Cover Image
Evaluation Plan:
2017-2023, Iran
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
05/2019
Completion Date:
04/2019
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
35,000

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Title Terminal Evaluation of Caspian Project
Atlas Project Number: 00071681
Evaluation Plan: 2017-2023, Iran
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 04/2019
Planned End Date: 05/2019
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. 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 $): 35,000
Source of Funding:
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 35,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Nationality
Brent Tegler Environmental Consultant
Seyed Abolfazl Mirghasemi National Consultant
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title: Building a Multiple-Use Forest Management Framework to Conserve Biodiversity in the Caspian Hyrcanian Forest Landscape
Evaluation Type: Terminal Evaluation
Focal Area: Biodiversity
Project Type: FSP
GEF Phase: GEF-5
GEF Project ID: 4470
PIMS Number: 4078
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: IRAN (ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF)
Lessons
Findings
1.

3.1Project Design / Formulation

The project was designed to develop and test a new and innovative multi-sectoral, multi-purpose, collaborative planning framework to achieve enhanced sustainable livelihoods and enhanced protection of the CHF and the habitats it provides to sustain native biodiversity. The project was not intended to go beyond the development and testing phase of the new planning framework. The intent of the CHFP was that the planning framework developed should be fully endorsed, approved and ready for implementation to cover all areas of the CHF. Recognizing the capacity development needs for implementation of the new planning framework, the project design included both “learning by doing” capacity development for those participating in the pilot landscapes, and capacity development through the development and testing of supporting guidelines and training materials. The latter intended to support implementation of the new planning framework after the CHFP was completed. Outcomes 1 and 3 reflect the development and testing of the new planning framework, outcome 2 capacity development.

Some of the feedback obtained during the TE field mission is relevant in the context of what the project hoped to achieve and how the project design intended to achieve outcomes and outputs.


Tag: Biodiversity Human and Financial resources Programme/Project Design Results-Based Management

2.

The project design included the formation of a Regional Coordination Committee (RCC), to engage provinces in the testing undertaken in the pilot landscapes. The provinces are important stakeholders, particularly in the context of the planning and budget allocation role of the Provincial Planning and Development Council (PPDC). The CHFP encountered difficulties forming an RCC and engaging provincial governors and the PPDC. In part the design of the project contributed to this, given the NPD, was not in a position to request provincial engagement in the CHFP. Had the Head of FRWO held the role of NPD, direct requests for engagement of provinces may have been more successful. In 2015 and 2016, CHFP did hold several meetings of the RCC for the formulation of the Green Development Strategy (GDS), including one hosted by the Governor General of Gilan, and others hosted by Deputy Governors. The challenges identified in securing greater engagement of the RCC were: a) there was a 2 year delay in obtaining approval of the GDS by the Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Management High Council (FHC); and b) due to the large distances between the provinces, it was very challenging to organize RCC meetings.

An important role of the RCC is to assist in providing support for the Local Coordination Committees (LCC). It was difficult for FRWO at the County level to support the LCC because of limitations of staff and budget. As such the LCC could have benefited from additional supportfrom FRWO at provincial and national levels, which a strong and active RCC could have facilitated.


Tag: Forestry Challenges Oversight Programme/Project Design Results-Based Management

3.

At some level this can be taken as a sign the project was successful. The statement suggests the CHFP has created a multi-sectoral, multi-purpose collaborative planning framework that works to improve community livelihoods and better protect the CHF. The individuals who make the statement indicate they are ready and willing to move on to wider implementation. The issue in regard to project design is, has the CHFP put in place what is needed for FRWO implementation of the new planning framework? Have all the approvals been obtained, is there a plan for next steps and has budget been allocated to implement next steps? These issues are discussed in detail in the detailed evaluation presented below.

Consideration should be given to what elements should be included in a project that develops and tests a new framework, and builds a limited amount of capacity to implement the new framework. The most successful approach would be to have in place a project design that includes a second “implementation” phase of the project. The second phase could potentially involve a much smaller project team with roles of mentoring, supporting, facilitating and capacity development, with government staff and other stakeholders having a larger role as the lead implementing the new framework.

At a minimum the CHFP should be able to report at the end of the project that the FRWO had Terminal Evaluation of the CHFP Project page 10 developed a viable strategy providing assurance the new planning framework will be implemented, including commitments from key stakeholders, an action plan with a timeline identifying activities and responsibilities supported by confirmed budget commitments. Without these commitments from FRWO in place, the benefits which are to be derived from the outputs of the CHFP may not be sustainable.


Tag: Forestry Water resources Programme/Project Design Results-Based Management

4.

3.2Project Implementation

The project office located in Chalus was well situated being co-located with the office of FRWO responsible for management of the CHF and it includes the office of the NPD. Chalus is also centrally located in the CHF, reducing the time required to travel to pilot landscapes. The PCO included a strong team of up to 14 individuals including the NPM. Communication and coordination of work with each of the pilot landscapes was assured by the presence of local teams that included a coordinator, technical expert and a local coordinator. The CHFP engaged up to 30 national consultants and 3 international consultants. There was also a LCMC team that included 6 individuals (one facilitator for each pilot landscape and two supporting team members).

The UNDP and CHFP teams worked hard to achieve all expected outcomes and outputs on time. This was challenged, in part, by high turnover and changes in government staff, including having  NPDs over the 5-year duration of the project and some changes in UNDP program officers leading to negative impacts on project progress.


Tag: Human and Financial resources Project and Programme management Private Sector

5.

There was a delay in starting the formal capacity development component of CHFP due to an inability of the first national consultant engaged to complete their report, fortunately a replacement was found who made a very strong contribution to the project in what the TE has determined is one of the key aspects of the CHFP.

It is unclear how much work was directly carried out by the project team, national consultants, and the LCMC without the presence of FRWO or other government staff or members of the LCC. While including non-project staff in project activities requires more time and may require more budget, there are long term benefits derived through a mentoring approach. These include capacity development of staff who are expected to sustain project activities and the development of project advocates and “champions” that will maintain the momentum of CHFP after project closure.

The only issues regarding project support from UNDP identified, was the pause in the delivery of UNDP project co-financing that occurred while attempting to address the issue of government co-financing. This was considered a constraint on project implementation by the PCO.


Tag: Project and Programme management Capacity Building

6.

3.2.1 Adaptive Management of Project Design

The budget for the CHFP in the Project Document was US$7,125,000. US$3M of this amount was to be contributed as a co-financing grant from the IRI. Only 3.4% of the US$3M was made available and the project was forced to adapt and work within the more limited budget that was available. Scaling back on the number of communities in the pilot landscapes that participated in the project was one of the key strategies to manage the budget. This adaptive management approach was effective in that other important project outputs could still be worked on and there was still some level of testing within each of the pilot landscapes. An alternative adaption strategy of working with reduced available funding could have been a reduction in the total number of pilot landscapes from four to three or two. This may have permitted a more comprehensive testing by allowing more communities to be involved within a single pilot landscape, providing a more complete picture of the results of community based, multi-sectoral, multi-use forest management (Outcome 3).


Tag: Forestry Human and Financial resources Policies & Procedures

7.

The project design included an RCC working group that included representation from each of the provinces, which the CHFP was unable to sustain for reasons discussed above. The NPM reported the CHFP adapted by working directly with individual provinces. The TE field mission did not discover significant interaction of the project with provincial governors or the PPDC. This did not appear to negatively impact the success work in the pilot landscapes. Nonetheless, greater engagement of the provinces may have strengthened the apparent low level of commitment and activity in the LCC observed during the TE.


Tag: Regional Oversight

8.

3.2.2 Project Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) was recognized as an integral component of the implementation of CHFP. A comprehensive table of M&E activities is outlined in the Inception report, and they begin with the inception workshop and end with the TE, Terminal Report, a final audit and field visits to project sites with UNDP staff and government representatives. M&E design at project entry is considered “highly satisfactory”. Key elements of the M&E conducted throughout the course of the project include the following: (Table)

CHFP completed PIRs annually and the TE reviewed reports provided from 2014 to 2018. The TE review determined PIR reports comprehensively tracked progress against project indicators, providing year to year updates and thorough overall assessment and accurate ratings of project results. The only criticism of PIR would be in relation to critical risk management regarding government co-financing.

 


Tag: Efficiency Human and Financial resources Monitoring and Evaluation Risk Management

9.

The mid-term review of CHFP provided 15 constructive recommendations for the CHFP. In response the PCO prepared a comprehensive table outlining management response, key action, time frame, responsible unit and these were tracked with comments to ensure all recommendations were addressed.

National Implementation Audit Action Plans were to be completed annually, the TE team was provided files for 2015 (dated December 2016) and 2017 (dated July 2018). The audits provided very limited assessment of project budgets, project expenditure, and progress of project delivery with few or no recommended planned actions. A more comprehensive review was expected, particularly in regard to the implications of CHFP operating without national co-financing.

AWP were provided in Excel spreadsheets for the years 2014 to 2019. AWP for 2014 to 2017 continued to show national co-financing supporting activities in the annual work plans. The mid-year progress reports for 2014 to 2017 provide no information in regard to how project funding was adjusted to support some activities (i.e. presumably with GEF funding) and limited response in regard to project adaptation for activities that were scaled back or cancelled due to a lack of co-financing.


Tag: Human and Financial resources Monitoring and Evaluation

10.

3.2.3 Project Coordination and Operation

Locating the PCO in Chalus city with the Department of Forest Affairs of FRWO provided for excellent ongoing communication with FRWO and access to the CHF. In consultation with FRWO, CHFP selected four pilot landscapes in four bureaus of Natural Resource Management (NRM) based in the cities of Rasht, Noshahr, Sari and Gorgan cities which are located in threedifferent provinces (Gilan, Mazandaran and Golestan) of the CHF ecoregion. The pilot landscapes chosen were considered to include representation of the CHF and as suggested by the PCO, they represented included areas and communities with substantial challenges to be addressed by the CHFP (e.g. severely degraded landscapes and communities with a poor relationship with FRWO).

In each of the pilot landscapes, a small number of villages (two or three) were selected as the key communities that would be involved in CHFP capacity building and testing and introducing of CF-FMP and alternative livelihood activities. In each pilot landscape CHFP has a local FRWO coordinator in the bureau of NRM, this person is also active in and has FRWO contacts with the county and province NRM. CHFP also established a contact person within each local community(village), and CHFP hired a local coordinator for each pilot landscape.

To facilitate IMP CHFP established a LCC in the county associated with each of the pilot landscapes. With each LCC the County Governor acts as the chairperson and the head of the NRM office (i.e. FRWO at county level) is the LCC secretariat. The LCC also has representation from DoE, ICHTO, the Water Board and representatives from the local community and local NGOs.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Project and Programme management Capacity Building Coordination

11.

CHFP also established a RCC for the CHF ecoregion. There were difficulties coordinating meetings with all three Province Governors and Director Generals (DGs) representing key stakeholders. It was decided therefore that CHFP would work individually with the provinces through the existing PPDC.

The CHFP has held five RCC meetings held to assist in the formulation of the GDS (two in Golestan, two in Mazandaran and one in Gilan). Provincial Governors have not attended these meetings, instead Deputy Governors, who has less power and authority, have attended. Also, DGs, have not attended these meetings, sending deputy DGs in their place. Due to delays in approval of the GDS by the FHC, no additional RCC meetings have been held since 2017.

There were also meetings with PPDC in two provinces; three meetings in Gilan province and two meetings in Mazandaran province. No meeting has been with PPDC in Golestan province.

One of the challenges facing CHFP is coordinating effective project meetings within government agencies where there is high staff turnover. Each meeting is often faced with briefing new members, including new NPDs, Province Governor, Deputy of Province Governor, DGs or Deputy DGs, County governors, and District governors) There was also some staff turnover within CHFP, including new consultants and local facilitators. Continued strong support for the CHFP is best achieved when there is continuity among key stakeholders participating in the project.

Since 2016, there have been 13 consultation meetings with FRWO at the provincial level, sixmeetings of the Forest Advisory Council (FAC), and two meetings of the FHC. There were tenmeetings with the technical committee of the Afforestation bureau, six regarding SABs and the SAB Guideline and four regarding the CF guideline and the Biodiversity guideline and checklist.


Tag: Oversight Coordination

12.

3.2.3 Project Finance

The CHFP project was provided with a $1.9M grant from the GEF, $150,000 from UNDP and was to receive a $3M co-financing grant from the IRI. The CHFP project summary and co-financing tables are provided below.

The project design was very ambitious and would be challenging to complete within five years with the proposed funding from GEF and co-financing the IRI. Particularly the target of achieving 30,000 ha of community forestry . The lack of co-financing from IRI required the project to scale back substantially, particularly in regard to capacity development and the engagement of villages in the pilot watersheds.


Tag: Efficiency Human and Financial resources

13.

Financial Report for the Terminal Evaluation (prepared by CHFP)

This section has been prepared for the CHFP Terminal Evaluation, and describes the project financing from the inception phase in 2013 until the 4th May 2019 when the project will end following a 12 month extension. It covers GEF, national (cash and in-kind) and UNDP financial contributions and expenditures.

A. Report on GEF costs

The approved GEF budget for CHFP was 1,900,000.00 USD. The percentage of cost has been forecasted in the annual budgets according to the projects' activity since 2013. Overall expenditure at the end of 2018 was 1,764,024.36 USD, or 93% of the total budget and is therefore broadly on target. The following table shows the expenditure of GEF funds per Outcome to the end of 2018.

Regarding to the budget for 2019 activities, the entire remaining GEF budget will be used by the end of the project on 4th May 2019.


Tag: Global Environment Facility fund Human and Financial resources

14.

B. Report on governments' cash co-financing

The approved national government cash co-financing budget for CHFP was 3,000,000.00 USD. The percentage of cost has been forecasted in the annual budgets according to the projects' activity since 2013. Overall expenditure at the end of 2018 is 100,431.80 USD, or 3.35% of the expected total budget.

At the start of the project, an agreement was made to enable payments of national co-financing contribution for the project via Direct Payment Modality of UNDP. Although the agreement was clear, details of administrative operations of FRWO were not adequately addressed, and the accountants of the provincial FRWO expressed concern that they would not be able to respond to the Supreme Audit Court regarding expenditures of the funds.

Then in 2015, the cost-sharing term was added to the agreement on the basis of articles in the CHFP project document. However, because of decreasing dedicated credits, just 50,694.26 USD were paid into the joint account. (This was paid in the form of 1,004.26 USD from provincial FRWO and 49,690.00 USD from the Forest Affairs Deputy of FRWO). Since then, due to legal obstacles, FRWO has failed to pay the project, and according to the law it was stipulated that all payments should be made by provincial FRWO.

Due to challenges, such as the return of funds to the provincial FRWO after UNDP deducting 3% of the share for General Management Service charges (included in the cost sharing agreement) and problems from the accountants of the provincial FRWO to respond to the Supreme Audit Court, there were no payments in 2016, and in 2017 only 53,751.25 USD was paid by provincial FRWO.


Tag: Efficiency Government Cost-sharing Human and Financial resources

15.

C: Report on government in-kind cost

The planned budget for in-kind costs of government was 1,925,000.00 USD according to the project document. Expenditures have been monitored by the project office and are divided into five categories: a) salaries of government experts, b) central and provincial project offices, c) government transport, d) meeting hall costs, e) meeting catering costs. Total expenditure to the end of 2018 is 565,000.00 USD, which is 29.35% of the total budget. This is expected to increase slightly in 2019.


Tag: Efficiency Human and Financial resources

16.

D: Report on UNDP costs

The approved UNDP cash co-financing budget for CHFP is 150,000.00 USD. Total expenditure to date is 108,725.24 USD (72.48%).According to the project document, a further cash-parallel co-financing of 200,000.00 USD was considered for UNDP. No financial reports have been submitted to the project office so far regarding to this amount.


Tag: Efficiency Human and Financial resources UNDP management

17.

3.3 Project Results

3.3.2 Relevance

The CHFP introduced and successfully piloted two important concepts that are highly relevant to supporting enhanced sustainable livelihoods in the CHF region and enhanced protection and restoration of the forest and the native biodiversity they sustain. The two concepts are:1. A multi-sectoral and multi-purpose forest management approach that was not present in the traditional approach FRWO used for forest management in the CHF.2. Community engagement in decision making and in the implementation of activities related to management of the CHF region.

Currently each sector of government tends to work independently, each sector trying to justify the importance of their work and then competing for the budgets which are available. Inter-sectoral working groups, addressing complex multi-dimensional development issues through comprehensive analysis of benefits, impacts, mitigation, tradeoffs, and net benefit strategies has not been the traditional approach. When sectors such as forestry, mining, transportation, water management, agriculture, and tourism work independently there are many lost opportunities to maximize benefits, reduce impacts and more efficiently and effectively work towards sustainable development. The GDS Integrated Management Plan (IMP) process developed by the CHFP, implemented through multi-stakeholder working groups (RCC and LCC) includes representation Terminal Evaluation of the CHFP Project page from relevant government sectors as well as representation of the private and public sector. Planning and monitoring at the provincial (landscape) and county (basin) scales contributes to an examination and integration of local and regional issues such as, road infrastructure, forest protection and use, mining needs, agricultural development for food security, expanding conventional and eco-tourism development, water security, and climate change risk reduction and adaptation


Tag: Forestry Rural development Biodiversity Relevance Operational Efficiency

18.

The traditional governance model in Iran has also been a top down approach, without much community engagement. At the community level this has resulted in FRWO having a “policing” role that has led to an adversarial relationship and a lack of trust on both the community and FRWO sides. Other government departments such as mining or watershed development have not undertaken consultative processes that respect local communities. These approaches preclude the adoption of development strategies which introduce unforeseen opportunities that may be realized through good communication and mutually agreed upon goals, particularly the protection of the CHF. The integrated management planning approach delivered through the GDS IMPs is an inclusive planning process that includes stakeholder analysis and the engagement of local communities. Local development planning undertaken through the LCCs in each pilot landscape proceeded through an assessment of land capability analysis and capacity development needs to facilitate sustainable development targeting economic development opportunities for local communities that support and enhance environment protection needs.


Tag: Relevance Operational Efficiency Capacity Building

19.

3.3.3 Effectiveness

The CHFP design included one objective and three outcomes, together with their associated outputs, which are presented in a strategic results framework with baselines, indicators and targets.

The overall objective “to put in place a collaborative governance system and know-how for managing a mosaic of land uses in the Caspian Hyrcanian forest that provides habitat integrity and helps maintain landscape level ecosystem functions and resilience” has effectively been completed through the development and approval by the FHC of the GDS. The sets out an operational governance system that includes direction from the national government (FRWO and DoE) to provinces of the CHF which through the provincial PPDC will plan and budget activities that are introduced through bottom up planning of county government (i.e. LCC) which are working with communities at a local watershed (basin) scale. Through the national government the GDS will have the necessary authority through the Head of FRWO and the required technical expertise through the FHC and FAC of the Forest Affairs Deputy, to provide provincial governors and DGs with the direction needed to oversee the collaborative governance system outlined in the GDS. The provincial planning body, the PPDC, and its working groups provide an inter-sectoral forum to review, approve and provide budget for IMPs and their associated activities which are produced through bottom up planning of the LCC operating at the county level and submitted to the province.


Tag: River basin management Water resources Effectiveness

20.

The CHFP could have benefited from additional testing of inter-sectoral coordination, community participation and mobilization, and alternative livelihoods activities within the pilot landscapes. Due to a lack of co-financing, scaling back of the project limited the number and diversity of multi-purpose activities that were tested. In addition, the CHFP has not fully tested CF-FMP such as the forest parks and nursery as these are awaiting direct allocation and CF-FMPs involving timber harvesting have not been tested due to the Forest Retreat Policy that led to a ban on tree cutting.

Objective level indicators include a target for the identification and protection of 100,000 ha of forest to contribute to the biodiversity conservation. Through CHFPs establishment of a set-aside program for Special Areas for Biodiversity (SAB), the development of a SAB Guideline documentand the identification of 400,734 ha of SAB candidate areas, the project has very effectively achieved this target and put in place a mechanism to further increase the area of forest protected for biodiversity conservation.


Tag: Forestry Rural development Biodiversity Effectiveness Human and Financial resources Policies & Procedures

21.

Outcome 1 which is “An enabling policy and regulatory framework for multiple use forest management is developed” has four outputs with measurable targets. Output 1.1 has been achieved in large measure through the completion of an evaluation of key ecosystem services, water provisioning, tourism, timber and carbon sequestration, in each of the four pilot landscapes. Project reports outline the methodology used for the assessment, mapping and valuation of these selected ecosystem services, to permit the replication required for work in new CHF basins. An FRWO Guideline for “Integrating Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services into Multi-Purpose Forestry in the Caspian Hyrcanian Forests” has been developed, tested, approved, published and widely distributed to promote future consideration of the value of ecosystem services in GDS IMP processes. Options for the Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) for tourism and water were detailed in brochures and a booklet. The possible implementation of PES was explored with water companies in Gilan and Golestan provinces, though no agreements were made. A concrete example of PES from the project is the introduction of the direct allocation forest entrance fees paid by tourists to the local community who in turn ensure rubbish is collected in areas used by tourists (previously entrance fees went to the local government).

The amount of money earned from entrance fees is small, while the valuation of ecosystem services is substantial, and the cost to implement activities identified in IMPs is substantial. The value of the four main services of carbon sequestration, water production, wood production and protection value of the Baliran Basin was valued at $ 1,702,997, $ 248.2 million, $ 3.4 million, and $ 90.2 million, respectively. (Baliran IMP 2018)Given the financial needs of GDS IMP implementation and the PES options identified it is hoped the work started by CHFP will be further explored by FRWO to introduce more substantial PES financing.


Tag: Ecosystem services Tourism Water resources Effectiveness Human and Financial resources

22.

Output 1.2 requires the establishment of an inter-sectoral coordination mechanism to plan and sustainably manage the CHF. This was achieved in the pilot landscapes through the establishment of Local Coordination Committees (LCC) with membership from multiple sectors and the community. The local FRWO is appointed as the secretariat to support and organize the LCC meetings, the county governor is chair, and other members include the district governor, DoE, ICHTO, Department of Water Affairs, etc. The TE received mixed feedback on the strength of the LCC, in some cases individuals strongly supported the committee; these individuals can be very important “environmental champions” that encourage others to rally around the work of the LCC. In other cases, the apparently weak LCC members may be due to frequent changes in government staff, such that new members will not have benefited from participation in LCC training, field visits, etc. that might lead to greater engagement and enthusiasm for the work LCC is undertaking. In at least one case the LCC secretariat did not appear to have confidence in the work of the LCC, and did not support the IMP actions proposed.

In the GDS IMP process, the LCC is a critical link to local communities and is the foundation of the bottom up approach to sustainable development promoted. As such, high functioning LCC will make the most significant contribution to achieving GDS vision of “Empowered Communities, Sustainable Forests, Global Heritage”. With support from CHFP LCC have effectively prepared IMP for each of the pilot landscapes and overseen the implementation of activities in pilot landscape communities. Significant support mechanisms, including a strong secretariat, ongoing capacity development, engagement with stakeholder communities and technical and financial support from provinces will be factors that determine the continued success of LCC.


Tag: Effectiveness Human and Financial resources Oversight Capacity Building Coordination

23.

Output 1.3 has been effectively completed through the completion of the GDS as a framework for IMP within the CHF and input to a new FMP ToR that encourages an alternative approach to traditional forest management, including community forest management. With the assistance of paid consultants and in-kind support from FRWO and DoE, CHFP also completed and field tested studies within each of the pilot landscapes on land capability, SAB, socio-economic conditions, and valuation of ecosystem services needed to support the GDS IMP process. Finally, through collaborative processes and field testing CHFP produced the guidelines, training documents and a handbook on integrated management planning for FRWO staff and other stakeholders who will participate in future GDS IMP exercises throughout the CHF.


Tag: Forestry Ecosystem services Effectiveness Results-Based Management

24.

The focus of Outcome 2 is capacity development intended to create a paradigm shift from a traditional sectoral, top down management to a multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral, bottom up approach to management of the CHF. “Enhanced institutional and staff capacity for implementing a multiple use forest management plan.

”Capacity development was effectively accomplished through a “learning by doing” approach in the four pilot landscapes. The development of IMPs proceeded with stakeholders (FRWO, DoE, ICHTO, county and district governors, local community members, etc.) participating, as appropriate, in a wide variety of training workshops, which over the course of the project were translated into field tested guidelines and training manuals to support future GDS IMP. The capacity development scorecard confirms the baseline conditions characterized by: a low capacity of the government to lead and coordinate participatory, multi-sectoral planning; a lack of knowledge and motivation to undertake ecosystem-based integrated forest managementplanning; a lack of outreach skills to engage and build trust with communities; an inability to lead conflict resolution and build consensus among stakeholders; and rigid rather than reflective and adaptive, innovative management strategies.


Tag: Effectiveness Capacity Building

25.

CHFP has effectively completed Outcome 3 “Community based integrated forest management piloted” through community facilitation which led to the development of CF-FMPs and other sustainable livelihood activities in the four pilot landscapes. Targets set for some of outcome 3 outputs have not been achieved, as shown in the information provided below:

  • •overall public awareness scores increased by 17% which is relatively close to the target set at 20%
  • •community based forest management plans covering 4,050 ha developed, achieving approximately 14% of the target set at 30,000 ha
  • •360 women, 511 men involved in 7 sustainable livelihood activities, far exceeding the targets of 100 women and 100 men in 4 sustainable livelihood activities•
  • US$76,400 generated from sustainable livelihood activities, approximately 38% of the target set at US$200,000

Tag: Forestry Effectiveness Human and Financial resources Policies & Procedures

26.

3.3.4 Efficiency

The CHFP is considered to have been very efficient, based on the project’s ability to achieve the intended outputs of Outcomes 1, 2 and 3 with approximately 40% of the budget originally identified for the project. There were of course consequences of a reduced budget, and these are clearly reflected in output targets that were not achieved in Outcome 3, due in part to the substantial scaling back of the project, working in a smaller number of villages in each of the pilot landscapes.

While capacity development targets of Outcome 2 were met, the feedback received during the TE suggests there remains much work to do to achieve the paradigm shift within FRWO, other national, provincial and local government organizations and the public towards multi-sectoral, multi-purpose, collaborative and community based approaches to planning for sustainable management of the CHF. It has been stated that a “critical mass” has not been reached and there are serious concerns there may not be sufficient support within FRWO to advocate for GDS IMP implementation, for the development of CF-FMP or to provide the technical support needed for these activities. In particular, the need for staff with skills in facilitation, community engagement, conflict resolution, and collaborative planning are lacking. Had the actual project budget been received and used for project implementation, a far larger number of people would have been engaged increasing the capacity development at all levels leading to an increased confidence in project results.


Tag: Efficiency Local Governance Human and Financial resources

27.

Some of the efficiency of the project may come from engagement of well qualified consultants to complete specific project tasks, such as land capability classification, valuation of ecosystem services, and community facilitation, etc. There is a concern, however, that while this approach is efficient for CHFP, it may come at the expense of reduced technical knowledge transfer to government staff who may be responsible for undertaking or overseeing replication of these activities essential to implementation of the GDS IMP. A larger budget may have permitted the hiring of more project staff who were able to work collaboratively with government of project activities.


Tag: Efficiency Oversight

28.

It is difficult to evaluate the cost effectiveness of the CHFP; however, a conservative assessment suggests there are likely considerable financial benefits to individual households and communities that participated in CHFPs sustainable livelihood activities. Eco-lodge owners reported income was generated quickly after establishment, and that the income was large by Iranian standards and it was expected to grow with continued success of the operation. Income benefits were in some cases shared among community members through cooperative ownership, and/or through the community interactions with eco-lodges with some community members providing local foodsfor consumption by tourists, guiding activities with tourists and the sale of locally made handicrafts.


Tag: Effectiveness Efficiency

29.

There are also cost benefits derived through continued protection and enhancement of ecosystem services. As shown above for the Baliran Basin, the value of ecosystem services is substantial with a total of over US$343M derived annually for the 21,550 ha basin. While the value of all ecosystem services cannot be attributed to CHFP, during the course of the project 400,734 ha of candidate SAB were identified. Given the likely long term protection of SABs, the value of ecosystem services associated with these areas far exceeds the US$1.9M GEF investment, making CHFP an extremely cost effective project. It must also be recognized that CHFP is a pilot project, which through a collaborative process has developed, piloted and obtained approval for the GDS IMP. Implementation throughout the CHF will lead to further protection and enhancement of the environment together with their associated ecosystem services and financial benefits.


Tag: Ecosystem services Efficiency

30.

3.3.5 Country ownership

The key output from the CHFP is the GDS implemented through local level IMPs with strong community participation in the pilot landscapes. Success of the GDS is entirely dependent on government ownership given the role of national, provincial and local level governments in the implementation of the GDS. Ownership by non-government stakeholders, particularly local village communities to whom greater responsibility for forest management restoration and protection will be given, is also essential to successful GDS implementation.

The CHFP was challenged by the need to initiate a paradigm shift within a government organization with a long history of responsibility for implementation of a rigid, single focus, non-consultative, forest management mandate. The organization is led and staffed by professionals, many who are engineers, who oversee implementation of traditional extractive forest management, conducted by forestry consultants and forest logging companies. Forest protection, also part of FRWO’s mandate, is the responsibility of forest guards.

 


Tag: Forestry Local Governance Ownership Project and Programme management Civil Societies and NGOs

31.

3.3.6 Mainstreaming

The CHF is an exceptional global ecological asset. In a study completed by WWF (Global 200 2002) the CHF was identified as one of 238 global ecoregions with distinct and irreplaceable biodiversity features. WWF states “effective conservation in these ecoregions would help conserve the most outstanding and representative habitats for biodiversity on this planet”. The CHF is also listed as an Important Bird Area (IBA), providing resting and breeding habitat for birds that annually migrate along a route between Russia and Africa. The CHF is composed of ancient broadleaf and mixed lowland and montane forests that form unique and diverse communities providing habitat for a number of endemic and endangered tree, mammal and bird species. Between 1955 and 2000 the CHF area was reduced from 3.4M ha to 1.85M ha, and there has been significant degradation and fragmentation of the remaining forest cover.

The GDS IMP process has the potential to mainstreaman urgently needed management strategy that recognizes the global significance of the CHF and contributes to global and national programs aimed at the protection of biodiversity. The following assessment of mainstreaming is contingent upon the successful implementation of the GDS and IMP following completion of the CHFP (see sustainability section below).


Tag: Biodiversity Ecosystem services Site Conservation / Preservation

32.

The CHFP has produced and undertaken a wide variety of awareness raising initiatives, many of which are available on the project website (http://chfp.ir/)in Farsi and English. These include videos, radio shows, brochures, newspaper and magazine articles, newsletters, posters, leaflets, calendars, and cards. The project has also supported and attended local and national events, including support for pilot landscape communities to attend events, such as: National Tourism Exhibition, National Environment Exhibition, National Entrepreneurship Awards, Livelihoods Festival Chehelchai, and the Red Deer Festival. The Chehelchai women participating in the pilot project were one of the winners presenting at the National Entrepreneurship Award.

Working with communities and government the CHFP has gathered local knowledge and completed detailed field studies to compile information on the current status of biodiversity and how it is changing over time. Reports on flora, mammals, birds, forest condition, and NTFP have been produced by the CHFP. Advances have been made in efforts to provide enhanced protection of biodiversity through the preparation of the Biodiversity Handbook, Biodiversity Guideline and Checklist, SAB, and contributions to the new Guideline for Commercial FMP. Implementation of the GDS in through the IMP, supporting target 4 of the NBSAP.


Tag: Biodiversity Communication Awareness raising

33.

The GDS contributes to UNDP’s Country Programme (2012 – 2016) including national priorities:

  1. Environmental considerations integrated into development decision-making; 
  2. Iran contributes to implementation of Multilateral Environment Agreements and internationally agreed targets. And Outcome
  3. National, subnational and local capacities enhanced to ensure:
  4. integrated management, conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems, natural resources and biodiversity;
  5. Main-streaming environmental economics into national planning and audits;

The GDS is founded on an integrated decision making process for sustainable economic development, restoration and protection of the CHF, contributing to Iran’s international agreement on the Convention on Biodiversity Aichi targets as outlined in the NBSAP.


Tag: Biodiversity Protected Areas Site Conservation / Preservation Results-Based Management

34.

Successful implementation of the GDS IMP process and CHFP’s contributions to the new sustainable commercial FMP guideline, will mainstream enhanced efforts to protect forests of the CHF and the adoption of agricultural methods that reduce soil erosion and enhance water quality. When implemented, these actions will result in environmental benefits of a more secure and sustainable water supply and reduced risk of landslides and flooding for the large population which lives in the CHF region.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Project and Programme management

35.

Following the example of the CHFP, GDS IMP implementation will also mainstream the process of engaging women in sustainable livelihood activities leading to greater economic and social empowerment of rural women in the CHF region. The GDS IMP process also includes facilitation techniques that encourage the formation of community groups and cooperatives, and the adoption of a greater range of both, new alternative and revived traditional, livelihood activities leading to enhanced social, food and economic security for rural communities living in the CHF.

With a focus on rural communities living within the CHF, GDS IMP implementation will also mainstream a planning and economic development approach that targets more disadvantaged communities, including ethnic minorities, living in the CHF region.


Tag: Women's Empowerment Poverty Alleviation Vulnerable

36.

3.3.7 Sustainability

Sustainability of the CHFP is evaluated below at the following three geographic / socio-political scales:

•the local village communities directly involved in project activities within the pilot landscapes, i.e. Youj, Baliran, Chehelchai, and Feriroud/Zilakiroud;

•the IMP teams represented by the LCCs operating at the county level which were established to work in each of the pilot landscapes, i.e. basin 22/23; basin 33/34; basin 53; and basin 93; and

•the GDS which is a national initiative which, based on the vision and strategy of the GDS, is intended to cover the entire CHF by the year 2035.


Tag: Sustainability

37.

Financial resources

Through the efforts of the LCMC, local communities have created revolving community funds and cooperatives to support self-sustaining activities. With technical assistance and training from the project local communities developed locally appropriate initiatives, including: handicrafts;ecotourism (eco-lodges); production and processing of saffron, verbena, borage and non-timber forest products; and IPM in rice fields. Over the course of the project, in large measure, these activities have proved successful and they have generated significant financial benefits. The sustainability of these local community activities and the associated financial benefits is considered “likely”.


Tag: Efficiency Sustainability Human and Financial resources Capacity Building Technical Support

38.

Financial resources

Within each pilot landscape due to the large area of the watershed (e.g. Baliran 21,550 ha) and the wide dispersion of the communities, target villages for community-based activities were selected at the start of the project, with the list of villages being adaptively managed throughout the project period. There remain many villages that have not participated in IMP. LCC established by the CHFP is responsible for IMP within the entire basin. When the project closes May 4th2019 the expectation is the established LCCs will upscale the current initiative, to eventually reach all villages within the basin. For each pilot landscape the project has worked with, the LCC has produced an IMP that includes tables providing comprehensive and detailed implementation plans with a long list of activities with associated annual budgets to be implemented within the basin over the next five years. Implementation activities are categorized in tables under the following thematic areas:

  • •Sustainable Forest Economy & Jobs•
  • Biodiversity Enhancement•
  • Climate Change Adaptation /Global Threats•
  • Resilient & Empowered Forest Communities•
  • Recreation and Low Impact Ecotourism

Tag: Forestry Climate Change Adaptation Biodiversity Tourism Water resources Sustainability

39.

The sustainability of LCCs and their ability to replicate IMP within all villages of the pilot is dependent, in part, on the LCC’s commitment, advocacy and networking capability. The LCCs needs strong leadership from the LCC chair (county governor) and organizational support from the LCC secretariat (local FRWO) to empower the LCCs as an agent of change that is acknowledged at the provincial level, particularly by the PPDC where LCC IMP proposals will be reviewed, approved and funding allocated. While the production of detailed IMPs for each of the pilot landscapes and the success of activities in pilot landscapes suggests strong and active LCCs, these outputs demonstrate what can be accomplished with excellent work conducted by an LCMC, CHFP staff and appropriate financial support. Financial support came both from the communities which, in large measure, self-funded their activities and the CHFP which funded the background studies supporting the IMPs and the LCMC team.

The TE field mission interviewed members of various LCCs, including district governors, FRWO, and DoE. Most of those interviewed did not show a strong understanding of the IMP process or a knowledge of future commitments to implement the IMPs. Additionally, the CHFP did not have significant engagement with the provincial PPDC and at this time there is a need to establish a mechanism for LCC to submit IMP proposals to the PPDC for approval and funding. The sustainability of LCC in the pilot landscapes will be highly dependent on continued support from the GDS IMP secretariat which FRWO has committed to sustaining headed by the NPM following the closure of the CHFP. With ongoing support from a GDS IMP secretariat headed by the NPM (who has a full understanding LCC responsibilities and needs) the financial and socio-political sustainability of LCC in the pilot landscapes is considered “moderately likely”.


Tag: Sustainability Human and Financial resources Oversight Results-Based Management

40.

The GDS provides a new integrated multi-sectoral, collaborative framework for planning which, in theory, should improve the current planning model and to some extent work within the existing budget allocations. There were activities undertaken in the CHFP supporting the IMP testing in the pilot landscapes that would need to be undertaken and would require funding as part of the implementation of the GDS IMP process. For example, land capability mapping of basins and the vital work of the LCMC team. LCC collaboration with other government departments could seek support from existing government extension and training programs that are currently funded to support IMP activities. Due to the re-imposition of sanctions by the United States in 2017, Iran is currently experiencing financial difficulties, inflation in 2018 was over 35% and this is increasing monthly. During the TE field mission individuals noted rising prices of products and expressed concern about the government’s ability to fund existing work let alone new initiatives. Given the fact that the GDS does not yet have full political support at the national level, the uncertainty of provinces embracing the implementation of the GDS and instituting the establishment of LCC and the development of IMPs for CHF watersheds, and the financial difficulties currently facing Iran, the sustainability of the GDS is considered “moderately unlikely”.


Tag: Efficiency Sustainability Human and Financial resources

41.

Socio-political

At the community level despite initial challenges of mistrust and a lack of respect on both sides, government and community members, facilitation was able to form new community groups and the building of trustful working relationships with government that contributed to the success of IMP activities in the pilot landscape villages. There remains the possibility that new issues and/or individuals could undermine and breakdown the important relationships formed by CHFP which are needed to sustain community activities. For example, CHFP has developed CF-FMPs with communities (three forest parks and one nursery) that have not yet been allocated to the communities which developed the plans and there has been some discussion of the CF-FMPS going to an open bidding process. Some community members have stated if their CF-FMP is allocated to someone else they will physically block implementation suggesting a significant breakdown in the trust relationships established. A second example noted was, some FRWO staff stated they do not support the allocation of CF-FMPs to communities, because they do not feel communities will successfully implement the forest management plans and protect the forests. These are two examples where there would be a complete lack of socio-political support and sustainability would be considered “unlikely”. For the pilot landscape communities engaged in eco-tourism, handicrafts, and alternative agriculture, community support will continue and there is less reliance on government and sustainability would be considered “likely”. As eco-tourism, local handicrafts and alternative agriculture continue to develop and expand in the CHF, there will be a need to monitor these activities to ensure their long term sustainability.


Tag: Sustainability Operational Efficiency Policies & Procedures

42.

At the LCC pilot landscape level, as discussed above socio-political support is weak and sustainability will be reliant on substantial ongoing support from the GDS secretariat which FRWO has committed to sustaining. With continued support from the GDS secretariat it is likely the LCC will continue to meet regularly, functioning as the socio-political agent for IMP implementation. Sustainability of the pilot landscape LCCs is considered “moderately likely”

The GDS has strong socio-political support from some individuals, but there are others who expressed skepticism that the GDS could be implemented, citing reasons of political barriers and competition among government programs and departments, a personal or institutional lack of support for multi-sectoral planning, a lack of trust in community forest management and protection and/or a lack of available funding. Until there is strong support from FRWO to implement the GDS the sustainability based on socio-political considerations is “moderately unlikely”.


Tag: Sustainability Human and Financial resources Oversight

43.

Institutional framework and governance

The mobilization of communities was identified as one of the most challenging tasks of the project. The excellent work of the LCMC was, however successful, and lead to the establishment of working groups, cooperatives, and revolving funds that constitute strong local governance structures. Once these have been established as part of the IMP process and new community activities are being implemented successfully their sustainability is considered “likely”. In the pilot landscape communities pursuing CF-FMPs, the sustainability of the community institutions will in large measure be dependent on the direct allocation of these plans.

The institutional framework and governance for multi-sectoral, multi-purpose planning at the local level is the LCC. The LCC leads the development and implementation of the IMP. The chair, secretariat and stakeholders identified creates a strong governance structure for the LCC. Operating at the county and district level puts the LCC in direct communication with village communities. The intent to link LCC reporting upwards to the provincial PPDC where IMP prepared by the LCC will be reviewed and approved and budgets for activities allocated appears to fit well within the existing institutional framework. There was little active participation of the provincial government in the development and approval of pilot landscape IMPs and as of yet there has been no confirmation of PPDC support and approval of budget allocation for IMP activities. When the CHFP closes there will be a need for the GDS secretariat to work on the establishment of a more formal link between the LCC and the province and to ensure the work of the LCC is validated and financially supported by the province. Without validation and financial support, the LCC will not be sustainable. Based on the above analysis the sustainability of institutional framework and governance of the LCC is considered “moderately likely”.


Tag: Challenges Sustainability Oversight Country Government National Institutions

44.

Environmental

At the community level there are a number of environmental benefits derived from the CHFP, many as a result of the livelihood activities. They include:•improved water quality as a result of IPM and cropping patterns changing from annual crops (wheat) to perennial crops (saffron, borage);•enhanced soil conditions associated with perennial crops;•reduced impact of livestock on forests through shifting livelihoods from livestock rearing to ecotourism and a local PES initiative where a community is using a portion of livelihood profits to purchase fodder for livestock; •reduced impact on wildlife from hunting through changing attitudes towards the environment and increased advocacy such as the Red Deer Campaign, and •forest restoration within areas previously cropped or used as pasture.As the livelihood activities provide substantial benefits to the communities the sustainability the associated environmental benefits are considered “likely”


45.

There are already concerns regarding the impact of tourism and ecotourism in the CHF and these impacts are likely to increase given the trend of increasing tourism in the region. It was reported that over 5000 tourists visit Baliran each day during peak holiday periods. The CHFP saw significant replication of eco-lodges in the pilot landscape communities where they were established, potentially contributing to an increase in the number of tourists visiting the CHF. A general lack of infrastructure for tourism was noted during the TE field mission. Implementation of the GDS IMP process as well as application of the ecotourism guidelines and distribution of ecotourism handbook and advocacy materials for biodiversity conservation produced by the CHFP has the potential of reversing tourism impacts on the environment. Left unchecked and unmanaged, increasing tourism impacts will constitute a serious threat to the environment of the CHF.


Tag: Ecosystem services Tourism Sustainability

46.

At a basin scale and at a national scale implementation of the GDS has the potential to make a significant contribution to the restoration, enhancement and protection of the CHF. The CHFP has already shown significant success through the identification of 400,474 ha of candidate SAB. The integrated multi-sectoral, multi-purpose planning process is focused on sustainability and protection of the CHF. The CHFP has tested and approved guideline documents and training manuals directed at environmental protection associated with IMP, forest management, tourism and awareness raising. Implementation of the GDS would contribute to the achievement of environmental benefits which in terms of sustainability are considered “likely”.


Tag: Site Conservation / Preservation Sustainability Reconstruction Awareness raising Capacity Building

47.

Overall likelihood of sustainability

The overall likelihood of sustainability is best assessed at the scale of the GDS as this is the outcome capable of achieving the project long term goal.

“The long-term goal to which the project will contribute is “an effective multiple use forest governance system is in operation resulting in enhanced biodiversity and maintained landscape level ecosystem functions, integrity and resilience for the Caspian Hyrcanian Forests of Iran”. (Strategic Results Framework)

The evaluation of sustainability of the GDS based on what has been tested by the CHFP provides insight into the potential sustainability of the GDS should it be implemented. Based solely on the evaluation of sustainability of the pilot landscape communities, the sustainability of the GDS would be considered “likely”. Based on the evaluation of the sustainability of the LCC working in the pilot landscapes the sustainability of the GDS would be considered “moderately likely”.


Tag: Resilience building Ecosystem services Sustainability Human and Financial resources Capacity Building

48.

Based on the Strategic Framework for the CHFP the following table outlines a Theory of Change(TOC) developed by the TE team used to undertake an analysis of project impacts (ROtI Handbook 2009). The impact noted in the table is based on the project goal and objective and is considered equivalent to the Global Environmental Benefit which may be derived from the project.

Following guidance provided in the ROtI Handbook (2009) a qualitative assessment of CHFP’s TOC is presented in the table below along with the following ratings which are based on desktop and field investigations of the TE:

Not achieved (0) - the TOC component was not explicitly or implicitly identified by the project, and/ or very little progress has been made towards achieving the TOC component, and the conditions are not in place for future progress

Poorly achieved (1) there are no appropriate mechanisms set out to achieve the TOC component after CHFP’s UNDP GEF funding has ended, and/ or very little progress has been made towards achieving the TOC component, but the conditions are in place for future progress should new support be provided to complete this component.

Partially achieved (2) the TOC component is explicitly recognized and the mechanisms set out to achieve it are appropriate but insufficient (e.g. there is no clear allocation of responsibilities for implementing the mechanisms after CHFP UNDP GEF funding ends). Moderate and continuing progress was and is being made towards achieving the TOCcomponent, although there is not yet a strong basis assuring the eventual delivery of the intended impact (Global Environmental Benefits).

Fully achieved (3) the TOC component is explicitly recognized and appropriate and sufficient mechanisms to achieve it are apparent (e.g. specific allocation of responsibilities and financial and staff support is available after CHFP UNDP GEF funding ends), and/ or substantial progress has been made towards achieving the TOC component and there is strong assurance of eventual delivery of the intended impact (Global Environment Benefits).


Tag: Impact Results-Based Management Theory of Change

49.

3.3.8 Impact

The CHFP project has also demonstrated improvements in the ecological status of the environment and reductions in stress on ecological systems. Most notable of the positive environmental impacts of the project are:

  1. The adoption of IPM in rice farming reducing the amount of pesticides and chemical fertilizer used.
  2. The replacement of annual wheat crops in some areas with perennial native species such as saffron and borage that reduce soil erosion.
  3. The use of profits from handicraft sales to purchase fodder for livestock to reduce livestock pressure on native forest ecosystems.
  4. CHFP support of the Red Deer Campaign protecting forest habitats, increasing and sharing knowledge of large mammal populations, and campaigning to reduce illegal hunting.
  5. Supporting campaign for controlling Boxwood leaf blight by collecting saplings from healthy trees and planting them in the safe place.
  6. Alternative ecotourism livelihoods lead to a shift away from forest livestock rearing improving forest habitats and reducing hunting pressure on large carnivores that are considered a threat to livestock. 
  7. The IMP process has led to the identification of linkage areas where forest restorationhas been implemented to enhance forest connectivity.
  8. Working with communities has led to changing attitudes of the local community in regard to controlling wildlife hunting and showing more respect for biodiversity conservation.

Tag: Forestry Livestock Rural development Environmental impact assessment Impact

50.

The CHFP project has not comprehensively documented or established monitoring mechanisms to track potential negative environmental impacts which may be associated with some project activities. It would be useful for the following project activities to include monitoring and adaptive management mechanisms to address potential negative environmental impacts which may occur over time:

  1. There is a large body of literature on negative impacts of tourism and associated monitoring and mitigation measures that could inform CHFP ecotourism activities. Much of this information will be included in the ecotourism guideline currently being developed in direct consultation with BEPP and FHC by CHFP. FRWO should finalize and provide final approval of the sustainable tourism guideline. Once approved there will be a need to initiate monitoring to understand current baseline conditions and to begin monitoring of existing and future impacts of tourism.
  2. A reduction of livestock herding within forests and successful protection of red deer may, over the long term, lead to hyper-abundant deer populations in some areas, with resulting negative impacts of deer browsing and grazing on native forest vegetation. Understanding the concepts of ecosystem carrying capacity and monitoring changes in deer population size over time is one of the important elements of a long term management strategy forred deer.

Tag: Livestock Tourism Impact Monitoring and Evaluation Policies & Procedures

Recommendations
1

Terminal Evaluation recommendation 1: Scaling up CHFP

  • there is a need for UNDP and FRWO to urgently work together to plan a five year scale-up phase to ensure that the momentum created by CHFP is not lost
  • FRWO to consider allocating the unspent national co-financing to support scaling-up over the five-year period, thereby allowing a proportion of the existing project staff and their associated capacity to be retained

UNDP and FRWO work together to seek additional sources of international funding to continue to bring international best practices and support to help FRWO achieve the paradigm shift to multi-purpose, community based forestry

2

Terminal Evaluation recommendation 2.: FRWO support of pilot landscape communities, particularly those communities which have not received direct allocation of CF-FMP

  • the CHFP should provide guidance to FRWO in regard to the importance of supporting pilot landscape communities that have participated in the project, particularly those which are awaiting approval of CF-FMP, to mitigate potential negative social, economic or ecological impacts on communities and the pilot landscapes
  • the FRWO should acknowledge the fact that those communities awaiting approval and allocation of CF-FMPs have made a significant investment in the CHFP
  • there is a need to maintain the trust and participation of these communities to allow them the opportunity to engage in better management, protection and restoration of the CHF
  • continued visits to these communities should be made to communicate the status of their CF-FMP
  • FRWO should encourage quick resolution of the issue of direct allocation to community groups
  • when allocation is approved, ongoing support of these communities will be needed to assist them in their efforts to implement their CF-FMP (e.g. forest park and/or nursery establishment and operation), including:
    • ongoing support may include liaison with appropriate government experts or hiring consultants to provide technical advice
    • ongoing support may also include assistance in securing the required financing and capacity development to manage financial aspects of the CF-FMP

ongoing support may include addressing issues of marketing, including market chain analysis to ensure sustainability of expanding alternative livelihood activities. Where possible, marketing should avoid “middle men”, to maximize the benefits which go to local communities.  There are some CHFP examples which show the success of local packaging, branding and direct selling products to enhance the marketing community based enterprises.

3

Terminal Evaluation recommendation 3: Support of GDS sign off and implementation initiation

  • sign off of the GDS by the Head of FRWO with a formal letter to the Governor Generals is an essential step towards implementation
  • with sign off of the GDS has identified several tasks to be completed by the FRWO and the provinces to initiate implementation
  • financing will be required to assist the GDS secretariat’s support of GDS initiation
  • while the GDS provides broad goals and strategies there is need to develop a detailed action plan for GDS initiation, such as has been recommended for each CHF province
  • GDS initiation will include project launches that advocate the GDS, and high level meetings to provide capacity building of key GDS stakeholders and to establish roles, responsibilities, tasks, timelines and funding mechanisms
  • it is recommended to develop a strong supervision and oversight mechanism to ensure quality assurance, transparency and auditing of the activities of the GDS. 
  • a strategy is needed to encourage the many government staff who may be involved in the implementation of the GDS to participate in capacity development using training materials developed by the CHFP to achieve the paradigm needed to support the GDS
  • There is a need to move forward with the agreement between the former Head of FRWO and the three Provincial Governors committing to better protection of the CHF
  • While sign off of the GDS document by the current head of FRWO is important there is also a need to establish a coordination structure which has the authority to advocate for it.  Including engagement of the High Council of Environment (HCE), Chaired by President or Vice President, with members representing Ministers and deputy president, to agree on the establishment of a National Forest Committee or a Special Working Group for Hyrcanian Forest. Two possible options are:
  1. FRWO sign off of the GDS and using the existing agreement, request the Provincial Governors to establish Regional Coordinating Committee (RCC).  Under guidance of the RCC, the PPDC will review and follow up on plans and required budgets thereby providing support for the LCC operating at the county level to implement the GDS IMP.  This strategy is in line with the existing GDS structure.
  2. FRWO sign off of the GDS and it is sent to the MoJA Minister to request Ministry of Jihad Agriculture (MoJA) send the GDS document to the HCE for approval and endorsement. With HCE approval of the GDS then it would be possible to establish a National Forest Committee and Hyrcanian Forest Working Group to coordinate implementation of GDS IMP.
  • Allocate national funding to form a permanent "National Expert Group on Community Forestry" that will engage all key CHFP staff and consultants, as well as selected FRWO experts who among them share the expertise available on community forestry in Iran.  Under the purview of FRWO, this expert group shall be continuously engaged to provide support to finalizing the approvals for the pending CF-FMPs, provide on-going capacity building on-the-job or through BEPP, and support the implementation of CF-FMPs.

FRWO may be required to take charge of the finalization and approval of the guideline for sustainable tourism currently being developed in direct consultation with Bureau of Education and Public Participation (BEPP) and Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Management High Council (FHC) by CHFP.  CHFP should ensure this matter is stressed in Project Steering Committee (PSC), with Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) and Department of Environment (DOE) representatives present.

4

Terminal Evaluation recommendation 4.: Support of Local Coordination Committees (LCCs) in Pilot Landscapes

  • the CHFP established LCCs to implement IMP within the entire area of each pilot landscape
  • to date LCCs have successfully worked with a limited number of pilot landscape communities that represent only a part of the total pilot landscape area
  • it is recommended the GDS secretariat continue to provide targeted support to LCCs, particularly to LCC Secretariats, in the pilot landscapes to build on the capacity development and positive results seen so far
  • the GDS secretariat can assist LCCs in prioritizing the extensive lists of detailed activities provided in the IMPs, including assistance making proposals to the provincial government to support IMPsco-mentoring approaches should be used to work towards the development of local capacity in government who are capable of implementing all IMP tasks with limited support from the GDS secretariat
5

Terminal Evaluation recommendation 5: Addressing the issue of national co-financing

  • national co-financing was to contribute approximately 42% of the CHFP budget
  • the CHFP terminal report should provide a comprehensive assessment of the implications of the lack of co-financing, including the adaptive management strategy used by the project and the impact of a reduced budget on project outcomes
  • the CHFP terminal report should also provide recommendations in regard to actions required following project closure needed to address the impact of CHFP operating with a reduced budget
1. Recommendation:

Terminal Evaluation recommendation 1: Scaling up CHFP

  • there is a need for UNDP and FRWO to urgently work together to plan a five year scale-up phase to ensure that the momentum created by CHFP is not lost
  • FRWO to consider allocating the unspent national co-financing to support scaling-up over the five-year period, thereby allowing a proportion of the existing project staff and their associated capacity to be retained

UNDP and FRWO work together to seek additional sources of international funding to continue to bring international best practices and support to help FRWO achieve the paradigm shift to multi-purpose, community based forestry

Management Response: [Added: 2019/12/14] [Last Updated: 2020/12/18]

Management response: Project management team fully accepts this recommendation, five year period is too little for planning and implementation of CF-FMP and for completion of this process and use of achieved lessons learned, it should be extended and scaled up for another five years.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1.1 Financial support of FRWO (from the remained co-financing part) for scaling-up over the five-year period
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
NPD 2019/07 No Longer Applicable [Justification: The Government has allocated financial resources to continue the work in forest ecosystems but there has been no agreement with UNDP over the matter.]
History
1.2 Preparing of new project document for the scale-up phase
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
project Team 2019/06 No Longer Applicable [Justification: An initial proposal for a new phase of the project was prepared. The Government has allocated financial resources to continue the work in forest ecosystems but there has been no agreement with UNDP over the matter.]
History
1.3 signing of a new project document for the scale -up phase
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
NPD and UNDP 2019/07 No Longer Applicable [Justification: The Government has allocated financial resources to continue the work in forest ecosystems but there has been no agreement with UNDP over the matter.]
History
1.4 Seeking of new international funding
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
Project team and UNDP 2019/07 No Longer Applicable [Justification: Since no joint project started, no international funding is required. ]
History
2. Recommendation:

Terminal Evaluation recommendation 2.: FRWO support of pilot landscape communities, particularly those communities which have not received direct allocation of CF-FMP

  • the CHFP should provide guidance to FRWO in regard to the importance of supporting pilot landscape communities that have participated in the project, particularly those which are awaiting approval of CF-FMP, to mitigate potential negative social, economic or ecological impacts on communities and the pilot landscapes
  • the FRWO should acknowledge the fact that those communities awaiting approval and allocation of CF-FMPs have made a significant investment in the CHFP
  • there is a need to maintain the trust and participation of these communities to allow them the opportunity to engage in better management, protection and restoration of the CHF
  • continued visits to these communities should be made to communicate the status of their CF-FMP
  • FRWO should encourage quick resolution of the issue of direct allocation to community groups
  • when allocation is approved, ongoing support of these communities will be needed to assist them in their efforts to implement their CF-FMP (e.g. forest park and/or nursery establishment and operation), including:
    • ongoing support may include liaison with appropriate government experts or hiring consultants to provide technical advice
    • ongoing support may also include assistance in securing the required financing and capacity development to manage financial aspects of the CF-FMP

ongoing support may include addressing issues of marketing, including market chain analysis to ensure sustainability of expanding alternative livelihood activities. Where possible, marketing should avoid “middle men”, to maximize the benefits which go to local communities.  There are some CHFP examples which show the success of local packaging, branding and direct selling products to enhance the marketing community based enterprises.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/12/14] [Last Updated: 2020/12/18]

Management response: Project management team fully accepts this recommendation that along with FRWO's new approach for forest management with participation of key stakeholders.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
2.1 Finalization of Youj CF-FMP
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
Project team 2019/06 Completed The CF-FMP was completed but the implementation will happen trough government mechanisms. History
2.2 Obtaining of FRWO and General governors acceptance for allocation of CF plans (Youj, Baliran and Zilakirud) with canceling of open bidding process.
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
NPD and NPM 2019/06 Completed A few CF plans received approval. The remaining cases handed over to the Government for further follow up and implementation. History
2.3 Training and capacity development of local communities, FRWO staff and other key stakeholders
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
LCC secretariat with support of FRWO (especially BEPP) 2019/07 Completed Project training courses and modules were completed. Further training and capacity building activities handed over to the Government related office in FRWO. History
2.4 Holding of Forestry Advisory Council meeting to support and supervision of implementation of community forestry
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
GDS secretariat & FRWO 2019/12 Completed A meeting was held. Further follow up on community forestry was handed over to FRWO. History
2.5 Financial support of FRWO (from the remained co-financing part) for capacity building and helping local communities in implementation of CF
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
NPD 2019/07 No Longer Applicable [Justification: The Government is handling the issue standalone as no new phase of the project started jointly with UNDP. ]
History
3. Recommendation:

Terminal Evaluation recommendation 3: Support of GDS sign off and implementation initiation

  • sign off of the GDS by the Head of FRWO with a formal letter to the Governor Generals is an essential step towards implementation
  • with sign off of the GDS has identified several tasks to be completed by the FRWO and the provinces to initiate implementation
  • financing will be required to assist the GDS secretariat’s support of GDS initiation
  • while the GDS provides broad goals and strategies there is need to develop a detailed action plan for GDS initiation, such as has been recommended for each CHF province
  • GDS initiation will include project launches that advocate the GDS, and high level meetings to provide capacity building of key GDS stakeholders and to establish roles, responsibilities, tasks, timelines and funding mechanisms
  • it is recommended to develop a strong supervision and oversight mechanism to ensure quality assurance, transparency and auditing of the activities of the GDS. 
  • a strategy is needed to encourage the many government staff who may be involved in the implementation of the GDS to participate in capacity development using training materials developed by the CHFP to achieve the paradigm needed to support the GDS
  • There is a need to move forward with the agreement between the former Head of FRWO and the three Provincial Governors committing to better protection of the CHF
  • While sign off of the GDS document by the current head of FRWO is important there is also a need to establish a coordination structure which has the authority to advocate for it.  Including engagement of the High Council of Environment (HCE), Chaired by President or Vice President, with members representing Ministers and deputy president, to agree on the establishment of a National Forest Committee or a Special Working Group for Hyrcanian Forest. Two possible options are:
  1. FRWO sign off of the GDS and using the existing agreement, request the Provincial Governors to establish Regional Coordinating Committee (RCC).  Under guidance of the RCC, the PPDC will review and follow up on plans and required budgets thereby providing support for the LCC operating at the county level to implement the GDS IMP.  This strategy is in line with the existing GDS structure.
  2. FRWO sign off of the GDS and it is sent to the MoJA Minister to request Ministry of Jihad Agriculture (MoJA) send the GDS document to the HCE for approval and endorsement. With HCE approval of the GDS then it would be possible to establish a National Forest Committee and Hyrcanian Forest Working Group to coordinate implementation of GDS IMP.
  • Allocate national funding to form a permanent "National Expert Group on Community Forestry" that will engage all key CHFP staff and consultants, as well as selected FRWO experts who among them share the expertise available on community forestry in Iran.  Under the purview of FRWO, this expert group shall be continuously engaged to provide support to finalizing the approvals for the pending CF-FMPs, provide on-going capacity building on-the-job or through BEPP, and support the implementation of CF-FMPs.

FRWO may be required to take charge of the finalization and approval of the guideline for sustainable tourism currently being developed in direct consultation with Bureau of Education and Public Participation (BEPP) and Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Management High Council (FHC) by CHFP.  CHFP should ensure this matter is stressed in Project Steering Committee (PSC), with Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) and Department of Environment (DOE) representatives present.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/12/14] [Last Updated: 2020/12/18]

Management response: The project team accepts this recommendation

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
3.1 Establishment of GDS secretariat in FRWO
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
NPD 2019/07 No Longer Applicable [Justification: The project ended. GDS related matters are being handled by FRWO.]
History
3.2 Signing off GDS and sending formal letter to General Governors
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
NPD, UNDP, NPM 2019/06 No Longer Applicable [Justification: The project ended. GDS related matters are being handled by FRWO.]
History
3.3 Holding meeting with Provincial authorities
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
NPD, GDS secretariat 2019/08 No Longer Applicable [Justification: The project ended. GDS related matters are being handled by FRWO.]
History
3.4 Establishment of coordination structure for GDS
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
NPD, GDS secretariat 2019/12 No Longer Applicable [Justification: The project ended. GDS related matters are being handled by FRWO.]
History
3.5 FRWO takes charge of the finalization and approval of the guideline for sustainable ecotourism
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
NPD, GDS secretariat and FHC 2019/08 No Longer Applicable [Justification: The project ended. GDS related matters are being handled by FRWO.]
History
4. Recommendation:

Terminal Evaluation recommendation 4.: Support of Local Coordination Committees (LCCs) in Pilot Landscapes

  • the CHFP established LCCs to implement IMP within the entire area of each pilot landscape
  • to date LCCs have successfully worked with a limited number of pilot landscape communities that represent only a part of the total pilot landscape area
  • it is recommended the GDS secretariat continue to provide targeted support to LCCs, particularly to LCC Secretariats, in the pilot landscapes to build on the capacity development and positive results seen so far
  • the GDS secretariat can assist LCCs in prioritizing the extensive lists of detailed activities provided in the IMPs, including assistance making proposals to the provincial government to support IMPsco-mentoring approaches should be used to work towards the development of local capacity in government who are capable of implementing all IMP tasks with limited support from the GDS secretariat
Management Response: [Added: 2019/12/14] [Last Updated: 2020/12/18]

Management response: Project team fully accepts this recommendation, all LCC's members at the last meeting announced their acceptance for holding LCC meeting for coordination and collaboration for implementing of IMPs.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
4.1 Holding LCC meetings 3 times per year
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
LCC secretariats 2019/12 Completed LCC meetings were held during the course of the project. Holding LCC meetings is a recurring issue to be handled by FRWO after the project lifetime. History
4.2 LCCs discuss and identify priority actions from the extensive list of detailed activities provided in the IMPs
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
LCC secretariats with support of FRWO 2019/12 Completed LCC meetings were held during the course of the project. Holding LCC meetings is a recurring issue to be handled by FRWO after the project lifetime. History
4.3 LCCs will request PPDC for allocating the required budget for implementation of the activities
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
LCC secretariats with support of FRWO 2019/12 Completed LCC meetings were held during the course of the project. Holding LCC meetings is a recurring issue to be handled by FRWO after the project lifetime. History
5. Recommendation:

Terminal Evaluation recommendation 5: Addressing the issue of national co-financing

  • national co-financing was to contribute approximately 42% of the CHFP budget
  • the CHFP terminal report should provide a comprehensive assessment of the implications of the lack of co-financing, including the adaptive management strategy used by the project and the impact of a reduced budget on project outcomes
  • the CHFP terminal report should also provide recommendations in regard to actions required following project closure needed to address the impact of CHFP operating with a reduced budget
Management Response: [Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/12/18]

Management response: Project team accepts this recommendation, but due to some restrictions for allocation of government cost sharing during at last two years- payment has been changed from cash to treasury documents for any contracts- the payment modality should be changed from co-finance to parallel.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
5.1 Preparing a report for Head of FRWO in regards to impact of lack of co-finance on project activities
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
Project Team 2019/06 Completed The report was prepared and submitted to Head of FRWO. History
5.2 Obtaining acceptance of Head of FRWO for payment of co-finance
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
NPD, NPM 2019/07 No Longer Applicable [Justification: Project ended and FRWO decided to follow up scale up on its own]
History
5.3 Considering remaining co-finance for scale up phase plan
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/14]
NPD, NPM 2019/07 No Longer Applicable [Justification: Project ended and FRWO decided to follow up scale up on its own]
History

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