Improving sustainability of PA system in desert ecosystems through promotion of biodiversity-compatible livelihoods in and around PA

Report Cover Image
Evaluation Plan:
2016-2020, Kazakhstan
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
11/2018
Completion Date:
12/2018
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
30,000

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Title Improving sustainability of PA system in desert ecosystems through promotion of biodiversity-compatible livelihoods in and around PA
Atlas Project Number: 00073767
Evaluation Plan: 2016-2020, Kazakhstan
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 12/2018
Planned End Date: 11/2018
Management Response: Yes
UNDP Signature Solution:
  • 1. Sustainable
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 1.1.1 Capacities developed across the whole of government to integrate the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement and other international agreements in development plans and budgets, and to analyse progress towards the SDGs, using innovative and data-driven solutions
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
  • 15.3 By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world
  • 15.9 By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts
Evaluation Budget(US $): 30,000
Source of Funding:
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 18,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
James Lenoci
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title: Improving sustainability of PA system in desert ecosystems through promotion of biodiversity-compatible livelihoods in and around PA
Evaluation Type: Terminal Evaluation
Focal Area: Biodiversity
Project Type: FSP
GEF Phase: GEF-5
GEF Project ID: 4584
PIMS Number: 4855
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: KAZAKHSTAN
Lessons
Findings
1.

3 Assessment of Project Design
3.1 Analysis of project results framework

The multi-focal area project was approved under the GEF-5 replenishment cycle and aligned to the GEF-5 Biodiversity Strategy, specifically Objective 1, “Improve Sustainability of Protected Area Systems”, Outcome 1.1, “Improved management effectiveness of existing and new protected areas”, and GEF-5 Land Degradation Strategy, specifically
Objective LD-3, “Integrated Landscapes: Reduce pressures on natural resources from competing land use in the wider landscape”, Outcome 3.2, “Good management practices in the wider landscape demonstrated and adopted by relevant economic sectors”.


The project design addresses the key barriers identified as hindering implementation the long-term solution of protecting biodiversity and ecosystem services in desert landscapes. However, the project document makes no mention to the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) or the National Action Program (NAP) on Combating
Desertification in the Republic of Kazakhstan (2005-2015). The NBSAP is dated (the most recent version dates to 1999) but it would have been advisable to describe the project outcomes with respect to the strategic directions considered at the time when the NBSAP was prepared and provide guidance moving forward. The NAP was under implementation at the time when the project was prepared, and it contains complementary outputs, e.g., design and implementation of pilot projects on land rehabilitation and inventory of degraded lands.
The three project outcomes were designed to be mutually supportive in achieving the project objective “to enhance the sustainability of protected areas in globally important desert and semi-desert ecosystems by expanding their geographic coverage, promoting a landscape approach, and supporting biodiversity-compatible livelihoods in and around PAs”:
Outcome 1: PA system of Kazakhstan contains representative samples of desert and semi-desert ecosystems under various conservation regimes and is effective in protecting ecosystems and ecological processes;
Outcome 2: Landscape-level conservation planning and management are developed and implemented in target desert and semi-desert environments; and
Outcome 3: Community involvement in conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in and around PAs is enhanced.
As part of this terminal evaluation, the project results framework for the project was assessed against “SMART” criteria, to evaluate whether the indicators and targets were sufficiently specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound.
With respect to the time-bound criterion, all targets are assumed compliant, as they are set as end-of-projectperformance metrics.


Tag: Biodiversity Ecosystem based adaption Natural Resouce management Results-Based Management

2.

3 Assessment of Project Design
3.1 Analysis of project results framework

Project Objective:
There are three indicators at the project objective level, with the two indicators aimed at increasing coverage of underrepresented desert ecosystems into the national PA system representing changes in the area under the national protected system, and the third one focusing on maintain stable populations of flagship species in protected areas situated within the three target landscapes: (1) Ile Balkhash, (2) Aral Syrdarya and (3) Ustyurt Plateau. The performance indicators at the objective level did not address supporting biodiversity-compatible livelihoods, which is included in the phrasing of the project objective and title. The three objective level indicators and end of project targets were found to be mostly SMART compliant (see Table 7).


Tag: Protected Areas Wildlife Conservation Relevance Results-Based Management

3.

3 Assessment of Project Design
3.1 Analysis of project results framework

Outcome 1:
There are two indicators under Outcome 1 are focused on improving PA management effectiveness, as measured by the GEF-5 adapted version of the management effectiveness tracking tool (METT). The SMART analysis of Outcome 1 indicators included in the project results framework is presented below in Table 8.

Under Indicator No. 4, the METT scores of three existing PAs in the target landscapes are slated to increase by approximately 50% from baseline figures. These targets are considered generally reasonable, although the 75% end target for Altyn Yemel seems a bit high. For reference purposes, a global study in 2010 concluded that a score of >67%
infers sound management3.


The end of project targets (METT) for three new PAs in Indicator No. 5 range from 44% for Ile-Balkhash to 32% for Mangystau. The end targets for Mangystau and Arganaty are consistent with the threshold of 33% defined as “basic management” in the same global study mentioned above. With regard to the Ile-Balkhash, existing capacity of the nearby Nearbalkhash (Pribalkhasskii) reserve and Bakanask state forest management authorities contribute to the higher end target for this PA.


Tag: Effectiveness Data and Statistics

4.

3 Assessment of Project Design
3.1 Analysis of project results framework

Outcome 2:
The seven indicators established for Outcome 2 are associated with facilitating landscape management approaches among territorial development plans in the target landscapes and supporting implementing of sustainable management practices that result in improved ecosystem and livelihood outcomes. The SMART analysis of the Outcome 2 indicators
included in the project results framework is presented below in Table 9.


Tag: Ecosystem based adaption Natural Resouce management Data and Statistics

5.

3 Assessment of Project Design
3.1 Analysis of project results framework

Outcome 3:
There are four indicators under Outcome 3 of the project, focusing on reducing threats associated with illegal logging and poaching, and increasing participation of local communities through representation on PA public committees, involvement in payment for ecosystem services (PES) schemes and benefitting from microcredit financing. The SMART analysis of the Outcome 3 indicators included in the project results framework is presented below in Table 10.


Tag: Ecosystem services Natural Resouce management Wildlife Conservation Gender Mainstreaming Micro-credit

6.

3 Assessment of Project Design
3.2 Assumptions and risks

A risk analysis was included in Annex 1 to the project document. Among the identified eight (8) risks, seven (7) were rated as having medium; one of the risks was rated as uncertain-low. The risks are listed below in Table 11, along with an assessment of whether the risks materialized during implementation and if they remain valid at project closure.

One risk that was not assessed as part of the social and environmental screening procedure was the implementation of the microcredit program. As indicated in a note included in the project document in the monitoring and evaluation section: Note that for UNDP GEF projects, all financial risks associated with financial instruments such as revolving funds, microfinance schemes, or capitalization of ESCOs are automatically classified as critical on the basis of their innovative nature (high impact and uncertainty due to no previous experience justifies classification as critical).


Tag: Risk Management Micro-credit

7.

3.3 Lessons learned and linkages with other projects


In the years prior to preparation of the project, UNDP had supported Government of Kazakhstan in developing and implementing several GEF-financed biodiversity and land management projects aimed at strengthening mountain and wetland protected area systems, demonstrating in situ conservation of agrobiodiversity, good practice in livestock management, and landscape approaches to steppe conservation and management that promote both the ecological integrity of ecosystems and enhanced rural livelihoods.

The project design drew upon the knowledge gained on the Steppe Conservation and Management project (GEF ID 3293), which was completed in March 2014. The steppe conservation project generated considerable knowledge on migrating ungulates, including setting up effective PAs, buffer zones and ecological corridors, also in desert ecosystems.


The project also utilized the experiences and practices of the UNDP-GEF and GIZ project on sustainable rangeland management for rural livelihood and environmental integrity including identification and selection of pilot sites, functional zoning of pastures, reconstruction of water points at distant pastures, and participatory approaches to
herder engagement.


 


Tag: Livestock Biodiversity Environmental impact assessment Effectiveness Global Environment Facility fund Capacity Building Technical Support

8.

3.3 Lessons learned and linkages with other projects

Some examples of lessons drawn upon and linkages with other projects and initiatives outlined in the project document include the following.

Output 2.1: Territorial development plans employ the landscape management approach to inform and plan conservation and restoration of key ecological functions and processes of natural and productive desert and semidesert landscapes in pilot rayons around target PAs in Ile Balkhash and Aral-Syrdarya region
• The activities planned under this output included sharing experiences and lessons learned through workshops, seminars and exchange tours, with respect to application of landscape planning and management for the Korgalzhyn and Alakol State Nature Reserves (completed UNDP-GEF wetlands project) and the newly created Altyn Dala Rezervat (UNDP-GEF steppe conservation project).


Output 2.4: Ecological monitoring and decision support system to inform desert and semi-desert conservation and land use planning in the Ile-Balkhash pilot area
• Implementation of this output was designed to be linked to activities of governmental and NGO enabling partners, including oblast and rayon level local government offices, ACBK and WWF.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Site Conservation / Preservation Partnership Capacity Building

9.

3.3 Lessons learned and linkages with other projects

Some examples of lessons drawn upon and linkages with other projects and initiatives outlined in the project document include the following.

Output 3.1: PA Public Committees, acting as a stakeholder engagement mechanism for transparency in PA planning and management, piloted at target PAs in Ile-Balkhash and Aral-Syrdarya
• Establishing PA public committees was envisaged to draw upon experience gained in the context of setting up river basin councils in the country, in the context of watershed management.


Output 3.2: Compensation or reward schemes for long-term sustainable biodiversity use in and around target PAs piloted among PA management, local communities, conservationists, hunting/fishing areas, tourism operators and other non-PA actors
• A partnership arrangement was proposed with the Central Asia Regional Environmental Center (CAREC) in implementing this output. CAREC had completed an analysis of the opportunities for reward schemes, including payment for ecosystem services (PES) in Kazakhstan.


Output 3.3: Biodiversity microcredit line under the Fund for Financial Support of Agriculture (FFSA) specifically to support sustainable livelihoods of rural communities in and around PAs
• Under this output, the project partnered with the FFSA in launching and implementing a biodiversity microcredit line. The FFSA had been running microcredit programs, including experience in working with communitieslocated in and around 25 protected areas throughout the country.


Tag: Biodiversity River basin management Civic Engagement Partnership Micro-credit

10.

3.4 Planned stakeholder participation
The project document includes a tabulated stakeholder analysis, which outlines the general roles and responsibilities of the listed stakeholders, broken down into the following categories: Government, NGOs, Private Sector and Academic/Research. The list is extensive and provides a reasonable level of detail regarding the expected role each stakeholder was expected to have in the project. There was no stakeholder involvement plan included in the project document. The cofinancing partners were included in the stakeholder analysis table, but this analysis only provides general indications of the roles of these organizations. Some information regarding stakeholder engagement at the local level was included in Annex 6 to the project document (Demonstration of Restoration and Sustainable Use in the Wider Landscape), which indicates the key stakeholders associated with the Component 2 activities described in this
annex. Considering the large number of cofinancing partners, it would have been helpful to describe how the project was expected to coordinate with each of them.


Stakeholder engagement at the local level was planned to be facilitated through establishment of PA public committees, described in Output 3.1, “PA Public Committees, acting as a stakeholder engagement mechanism for transparency in PA planning and management, piloted at target PAs in Ile-Balkhash and Aral-Syrdarya”. The PA public committees were
envisaged to be modeled on the experience gained with respect to river basin councils.


The project design was primarily oriented towards activities at the subnational level, but in terms of replication and strengthening the enabling environment at the national level, a higher-level stakeholder engagement plan might have facilitated broader participation (lesson learned) by some of the key national stakeholders.


Tag: Anti-corruption Civic Engagement Civil Societies and NGOs Country Government Private Sector

11.

3.5 Replication approach
The project design does not include a comprehensive replication approach. Under the presentation of global benefits, replication potential was identified for certain activities, including the following:
• Improved rangeland management over 84,000 ha (Replication potential 0.5 million ha)
• Restored water-table at 2,202 ha of degraded wetlands. (Replication potential 12,000 ha)
• Restoration and sustainable management of 18,048 ha of riparian forest curbs soil erosion of the river channel and prevents excess deposition of sediment to the Ile River and the Balkhash Lake. (Replication potential 100,000 ha).


There were limited specific mechanisms described for facilitating these and other replication opportunities. One of the activities under Output 2.1 included developing a “how-to” guide for territorial planning. And, reference was made regarding using the knowledge platform developed under the Central Asian Countries Initiative for Land Management (CACILM) program6 for dissemination of knowledge and replication outside the immediate project areas.


Tag: Communication Country Support Platform Programme/Project Design Data and Statistics

12.


3.6 UNDP comparative advantage


The UNDP comparative advantage as the GEF agency was based on their extensive experience working in Kazakhstan, with in-country operations in Astana, their favorable standing among national stakeholders, including the FWC, and their institutional expertise in supporting biodiversity conservation projects; protected areas remains one of the key focal areas of UNDP’s Ecosystems and Biodiversity team. UNDP has delivered extensive and continuous in-country support to the Kazakh government and other partners in strengthening institutional and individual capacities with respect to biodiversity conservation, and the multitude of aspects centered on human development, including gender and social inclusion.

UNDP has adapted to progress and pressing issues in Kazakhstan, relocating the country office to Astana in 2007-2008 and aligning development assistance programs to the priorities of the country. The in-house specialists within the Energy and Environment team at the UNDP Country Office supported the project during the preparation and implementation phase, and senior management in the CO provided strategic guidance. The UNDP Regional Technical Advisor provided high level advisory services, e.g., through sharing best practices and lessons learned from the large portfolio of GEF biodiversity projects supported by UNDP.


Tag: Biodiversity Ecosystem services Global Environment Facility fund Strategic Positioning UNDP Regional Bureaux Technical Support

13.

3.7 Management arrangements
The project was designed under a national execution modality (NEX), with the Committee for Forestry and Hunting (FWC) acting both as the implementing partner and beneficiary of the project, and UNDP operating at the GEF agency. The FWC was responsible for overall project management and the Deputy Chairperson of the committee was appointed National Director. Like other GEF-financed projects implemented earlier in Kazakhstan, the UNDP supported the execution through providing support services including procurement, contracting, human resources management and financial administration in accordance with relevant UNDP rules and procedures and results-based management guidelines.
 


Tag: Human and Financial resources Policies & Procedures Procurement Project and Programme management Results-Based Management

14.

4.2 Outcomes
4.2.1 Effectiveness

Effectiveness was evaluated by assessing achievement of the project objective and outcomes according to the agreed performance metrics included in the project results framework and the GEF-5 BD-1 and LD-3 targets. With respect to targets relevant to the GEF-5 focal area outputs, overall achievement is rated as mostly achieved.

Biodiversity focal area:
A cumulative total of 851,161 ha of new and expanded protected areas was achieved under the project, including a 146,500-ha expansion of the Altyn Yemel National Park and establishment of the Ile-Balkhash Reservat and the Mangystau and Arganaty wildlife sanctuaries (see Table 12).

Land Degradation focal area:
Land use plans were developed for three rayons: Aral and Kazaly in the Kyzylorda oblast and Balkhash rayon in the Almaty region, covering a cumulative area of 13 million ha. And, improved pasture management approaches were demonstrated at 6 distant pasture sites covering a cumulative area of 32,000 ha.
Objective: To enhance the sustainability of protected areas in globally important desert and semi-desert ecosystems by expanding their geographic coverage, promoting a landscape approach, and supporting biodiversity-compatible livelihoods in and around PAs.


Tag: Biodiversity Ecosystem services Natural Resouce management Protected Areas Wildlife Conservation Effectiveness Data and Statistics

15.

4.2 Outcomes
4.2.1 Effectiveness

Outcome 1: PA system of Kazakhstan contains representative samples of desert and semi-desert ecosystems under various conservation regimes and is effective in protecting ecosystems and ecological processes Achievement of Outcome 1 is rated as: Moderately Satisfactory
The two indicators under Outcome 1 represent progress towards improvements in the management effectiveness, measured by using the GEF-5 adapted version of the management effectiveness tracking tool (METT); Indicator No. 4 includes METT scores and targets for the three existing PAs among the three target landscapes, and Indicator No. 5 indicates METT scores for three PAs that were envisaged to be established.


Tag: Ecosystem services Site Conservation / Preservation Effectiveness Project and Programme management Data and Statistics

16.

Cont.

4.2 Outcomes
4.2.1 Effectiveness

Outcome 2: Landscape-level conservation planning and management are developed and implemented in target desert and semi-desert environments

Achievement of Outcome 2 is rated as: Satisfactory

The project facilitated high quality land use plans for three rayons, two in the Aral-Syrdarya region and one in the Ile- Balkhash region, covering a cumulative land area of 13 million ha, exceeding the end target of 9 million ha. The land use plans are not yet operationalized within territorial development plans of the rayons, and the plans themselves do
not constitute landscape management approaches.


Tag: Livestock Energy Natural Resouce management Site Conservation / Preservation Water resources Effectiveness Communication Reconstruction Data and Statistics

17.

4.2 Outcomes
4.2.1 Effectiveness

Outcome 3: Landscape-level conservation planning and management are developed and implemented in target desert and semi-desert environments
Achievement of Outcome 3 is rated as: Satisfactory
The assessment of achievement of the four indicators established under Outcome 3 is presented below.

There have been substantive reductions in the number of violations reported at the Altyn Yemel National park and the
Barsakelmes State Nature Reserve over the period of 2013 to 2017 (see Table 16).

The incidence of poaching and illegal logging reported at the Altyn Yemel National park reduced by 92.5% and 89.9%, respectively, from the baseline figures reported for 2013 until 2017, with most of the improvements reported in 2016 and 2017. Illegal logging also significantly decreased at the Barsakelmes State Nature Reserve over in 2016 and 2017, with only one incidence reported in each of those two years. Poaching remains a concern at the Barsakelmes State Nature Reserve. In 2017 there were 144 incidents of poaching reported in that PA, down only by 8.3% from the 157 reported in 2013. In 2016, the number of poaching cases reported at Barsakelmes was 377, more than double the baseline figure. Pressures on ecosystems of the Syrdarya Delta and Aral Sea region remain significant due to low economic development, high unemployment and degraded natural resources.

 

 

 


Tag: Fishery Natural Resouce management Tourism Wildlife Conservation Effectiveness Micro-credit Data and Statistics

18.

4.2 Outcomes

4.2.2 Relevance
Efficiency is rated as: Moderately Satisfactory
The multi-focal area project was aligned to the GEF-5 Biodiversity Strategy, specifically Objective 1, “Improve Sustainability of Protected Area Systems”, Outcome 1.1, “Improved management effectiveness of existing and new protected areas”, and GEF-5 Land Degradation Strategy, specifically Objective LD-3, “Integrated Landscapes: Reduce pressures on natural resources from competing land use in the wider landscape”, Outcome 3.2, “Good management practices in the wider landscape demonstrated and adopted by relevant economic sectors”.


The project is relevant to the general strategic directions outlined in the NBSAP issue in 1999 which highlights the increasing rates of desertification and the importance of protecting fragile desert ecosystems. The NBSAP has not been updated since this first version; although a draft “concept for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use in the Republic of Kazakhstan until 2030”. This concept has not yet been approved, partly because country ownership of biodiversity conservation has been diminished since the Ministry of Environment was abolished. The Government of Kazakhstan has also not yet submitted the national action plan for implementing the Programme of Work on Protected Areas (POWPA) of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
As mentioned in Section 3 of this TE report, the project design does not make mention of the 2005-2015 National Action Program (NAP) on Combatting Desertification. The NAP has also not been updated; based on information contained in the GEF project database, there was a proposal submitted in 2013 (GEF Agency Project ID 5172) for “Mobilizing Support to the NAP Alignment and UNCCD Reporting and Review Process”, but it seems that this project was not realized. The draft concept for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in Kazakhstan reportedly includes issues associated with combating desertification; however, there is not yet an approved updated NAP in place.


The project is relevant with respect to globally significant biodiversity, based on project sites situated within key
biodiversity areas (KBAs) – see Table 17.

In summary, the TE evaluator has applied a rating of moderately satisfactory for relevance, due to relatively weak country ownership of the protected area system and the lack of an updated NBSAP or NAP.


Tag: Biodiversity Relevance Ownership Results-Based Management

19.

4.2 Outcomes
4.2.3 Efficiency
Efficiency is rated as: Satisfactory
Supporting Evidence:

+The GEF funding addressed the key barriers highlighted in the project design.

+The project has managed to satisfactorily achieve the intended project outcomes within the allocated budget and timeframe.

+Cofinancing materialized by 36 different partners, including recipient government, UNDP as the GEF agency, NGOs and private sector partners.

?Achievement of Outcome 1 diminished because of delays in approving new protected areas.

As of 18 May 2018, total project expenditures incurred were USD 4,020,814, or 92% of the USD 4,364,000 GEF grant for implementation, as broken down below in Table 18.+*


Tag: Efficiency Global Environment Facility fund Resource mobilization Data and Statistics

20.

4.3 Sustainability
Sustainability is generally considered to be the likelihood of continued benefits after the GEF funding ends. Under GEF
criteria each sustainability dimension is critical, i.e., the overall ranking cannot be higher than the lowest one.
Overall:
Likelihood that benefits will continue to be delivered after project closure: Moderately Likely
Supporting Evidence:
+ Expanded coverage of desert landscapes in national PA system increases protection of regional important ecosystem services and globally significant biodiversity.
+ Improved PA management effectiveness and increased participation of local communities.
+ Land use planning frameworks provide strategic guidance for sustainable development.
+ Materialized cofinancing exceeded confirmed amounts at project entry.
+Donor support for improving sustainability of conservation financing; e.g., through the BIOFIN11 initiative
+Scale-able frameworks for improved pasture management practices demonstrated.
+Rehabilitated water courses and water supply points increase likelihood that ecological health of wetland and delta lake ecosystems will be restored and sustained.
+Partnerships with NGOs and private sector established.
+ Legislative reforms; including PA public committees (Law on Specially Protected Areas); improved pasture management (Law on Pastures); forest ecosystem services (Forest Code), KZ-METT (FWC decree).


Tag: Livestock Ecosystem services Water resources Sustainability Resource mobilization Donor relations Civil Societies and NGOs Donor Private Sector Micro-credit

21.

4.3 Sustainability
Sustainability is generally considered to be the likelihood of continued benefits after the GEF funding ends. Under GEF
criteria each sustainability dimension is critical, i.e., the overall ranking cannot be higher than the lowest one.

Socioeconomic Dimension:
Likelihood that benefits will continue to be delivered after project closure: Moderately Likely

A rating of moderately likely has been applied to the socioeconomic dimension in the sustainability analysis.

The land use plans the project supported for the three beneficiary rayons provide important guidance for sustainable land use across a cumulative area of 13 million ha. Integrating these land use plans into territorial development plans is the next step, which requires sustained advocacy from local government leaders and key land use stakeholders. From a practical standpoint, rayon governments will require further technical assistance for maintaining and updating the land use plans.

 


Tag: Civic Engagement Communication Micro-credit

22.

4.3 Sustainability
Sustainability is generally considered to be the likelihood of continued benefits after the GEF funding ends. Under GEF
criteria each sustainability dimension is critical, i.e., the overall ranking cannot be higher than the lowest one.

Institutional Framework and Governance Dimension: Likelihood that benefits will continue to be delivered after project closure: Moderately Likely
A rating of moderately likely was applied to the institutional framework and governance dimension of the sustainability analysis.


The project was successful in facilitating substantial expansion of the PA system, including the approval of the Ile- Balkhash Reservat in June 2018. This is a notable achievement considering the increasing difficulty in establishing new PAs or expanding existing ones, partly due to land use conflicts with the oil & gas and mineral resource sector. The policy framework is in place, including a government decree issued in 2013 (Government Decree 1434, 30 December 2013) that outlines a comprehensive program for further developing the PA network in the country until 2050; execution, however, has been slow during the past few years.

 


Tag: Sustainability Rule of law Change Management Results-Based Management Sustainability Country Government

23.

4.3 Sustainability
Sustainability is generally considered to be the likelihood of continued benefits after the GEF funding ends. Under GEF
criteria each sustainability dimension is critical, i.e., the overall ranking cannot be higher than the lowest one.

Environmental Dimension:
Likelihood that benefits will continue to be delivered after project closure: Moderately Likely A rating of moderately likely was applied to the environmental dimension of the sustainability analysis.


With respect to environmental risks, the potential impacts associated with climate change pose the most significant threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services among the target desert landscapes.


The expanded coverage of desert landscapes in the national PA system and establishment of the 973,765-ha Kapshaguy- Balkhash wildlife corridor increases the level of protection of the regionally important ecosystem services and the globally significant biodiversity they support. The project has generated adaptation benefits, e.g., through strengthening capacities of PA administration staff, increasing awareness among local communities (including primary schools), supporting rehabilitation of water courses and inactive water wells and demonstrating improved pasture management practices, reducing pressures to fragile grasslands.

Land degradation and biodiversity loss in the region is a result of decades of unsustainable land use practices and changing climatic conditions. Restoration of degraded lands and reduction to the vulnerability of biological resources will require sustained and concerted oversight and financing.


Tag: Biodiversity Environmental impact assessment Natural Resouce management Wildlife Conservation

24.

4.4 Progress towards impact
Environmental Stress Reduction:
With respect to environmental stress reduction, biophysical changes to degraded desert ecosystems, e.g., in response to improved pasture management practices will require many years to reach a healthy status. The project supported improved pasture management through facilitating enabling conditions at distant pastures for 6 herder households managing a cumulative total of 32,000 ha. Providing renewable energy sources and rehabilitating water wells allowed the herders to move their livestock from degraded grasslands located close to village centers to more distant pastures. Promoting sustainable land management practices, e.g., growing fodder crops and rotating pastures, reduces stress on these fragile desert ecosystems.


Tag: Livestock Clean Energy Environment Policy Natural Resouce management Renewable energy Water resources Wildlife Conservation Impact Sustainability

25.

4.4 Progress towards impact

Environmental Status Change:
Assessment of grassland quality among monitoring sites delineated among the distant pasture lands has indicated reductions of areas heavily affected by soil erosion reduced by 31%, 35% and 24% in the Ile-Balkhash, Aral Syrdarya and Ustyurt areas, respectively. Moreover, of the 32,000-ha total area of the distant pastures, 2,640 ha, or 8.3% were observed to be under-grazed and contained unwanted plant species in 2015-2016 (baseline conditions). By 2017, this area decreased to 1,948 ha, or 6.1% of the total.


Environmental status changes have been reported at the PA scale among the three target protected areas. The numbers of Goitered gazelle (Gazella subguttorosa) have increased from a population of 1,800 in 2013 (baseline) at the Altyn Yemel National Park (613,540 ha) to 4,718 in 2017; at the Barsakelmes State Nature Reserve (160,826 ha), the numbers in 2017 were up from 80 in 2013; and at the Ustyurt State Nature Reserve (223,342 ha), the population was 1,000 in 2017, a significant increase from the 270 observed in 2013. The populations of Koulan (Equus hemionus) have increased at the Altyn Yemel National Park and Barsakelmes State Nature Reserve; population of Ustyurt argali (Ovis orientalis) have increased by approx. 50% between 2013 and 2017; and the populations of Argali (Equus hemionus) at the Altyn Yemel National Park, Pallas’s sandgrouse (Syrrhaptes paradoxus) at Barsakelmes State Nature Reserve and Houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata) at Ustyurt State Nature Reserve have been stable over the period of 2013-2017.


Tag: Environmental impact assessment Impact Data and Statistics

26.

4.4 Progress towards impact

Contributions to Changes in Policy/Legal/Regulatory Enabling Frameworks:
The project made substantive contributions to enabling legal and regulatory frameworks, including the following:
• The Law on Specially Protected Natural Areas was amended on 15 June 2017 (Article 1, sub-paragraph 21; and Article 3, sub-paragraph 10) with the provision requiring establishment of public committees for the national categories of protected areas.
• Improved pasture management approaches have been integrated into the Law on Pastures (2017) and included in the State Program for the Development of Kazakhstan’s Agro-Industrial Complex for 2017-2021 (2017).
• Amendment to the Forest Code (No. 477, 8 July 2003). The amendment made in 2017 includes inclusion of the term “forest ecosystem service” (Article 4); allowing forest entities and users to carry out specified activities through voluntary contributions for forest ecosystem services (Article 72); and provision that expenditures for forest management within state forest estates be also covered from donations and voluntary contributions for forest ecosystem services.
• The FWC has approved the management effectiveness evaluation tool, through FWC Protocol No. 17-1-5/4 (2017). Starting in 2019, national level PAs will be obliged to apply the evaluation tool.


Tag: Impact Rule of law

27.

4.4 Progress towards impact

Arrangements to Facilitate Follow-up Actions: Improved management effectiveness of the Altyn Yemel National Park and the Barsakelmes and Ustyurt State Nature
Reserves, measured by the METT, imply strengthened capacities for achieving management objectives of these protected areas. Central government funding for these protected areas has been consistent over the duration of the project implementation timeframe and is expected to continue after project closure. The central government has allocated KZT 116.4 million (approx. USD 350,000) for the recently approved Ile-Balkhash Reservat for 2018. The BIOFIN initiative is assisting the Government of Kazakhstan in identifying sustainable financing mechanisms for biodiversity conservation in the country.

 

 


Tag: Wildlife Conservation Resource mobilization Civil Societies and NGOs Country Government Donor UN Agencies Micro-credit

28.

4.4 Progress towards impact

Replication:
The project has facilitated replication potential through strengthening enabling conditions, including improved PA management effectiveness, legislative amendment, demonstration of sustainable land management practices, initiation of payment for ecosystem services (PES) schemes, and enhanced and introduced alternative livelihoods for local beneficiaries. Several guidebooks and knowledge products have also been produced to promote replication; including but not limited to the following:
• Landscape planning methodology
• Methods identifying land-use planning
• Methodology of regulated cattle grazing in pastures
• Methods identifying rotation grazing
• Landscape planning methods
• Methods identifying functional zoning
• Methods of regulated animal grazing in pastures
• Methods identifying rotational grazing
• Methods and practices in forage crop cultivation


Tag: Ecosystem services Rule of law Communication Sustainability

29.

5 Assessment of Monitoring & Evaluation Systems
5.1 M&E Design

Monitoring and Evaluation design at entry is rated as: Satisfactory
The M&E plan was developed using the standard UNDP template for GEF-financed projects. The indicative budget for the M&E plan was USD 234,000 (excluding PIU and UNDP staff time and travel expenses), which is 5.8% of the USD 4,020,814 GEF grant for project implementation. The M&E budget included allocations of USD 45,000 (USD 15,000 for start, middle and end) for measurement of means of verification for project purpose indicators and USD 40,000 (USD 8,000 per year) for annual measurement of means of verification for project progress and performance. USD 8,000 were allocated for the project inception workshop, and USD 2,000 per year was budgeted for hosting the project steering committee meetings. The midterm and terminal evaluation were budgeted at USD 30,000 and USD 40,000, respectively, and USD 15,000 was allocated for preparation of the terminal report/publication. An additional USD 6,000
was included for technical and periodic status reports, and USD 8,000 per year was budgeted to cover the costs for financial audits.


Revisions to the project results framework are indicated in the project inception report; for example, four additional indicators were proposed under Outcome 2 and one additional indicator under Outcome 3. There is no evidence that these proposed revisions were approved; the project has reported against the version of the results framework that is included in the project document. (lesson learned)

In general, the project document includes detailed descriptions supporting some of the indicators in the results framework; e.g., regarding restoration of wetlands and delta lakes, improved management of riparian and saksaul forests, and potential beneficiaries of the microcredit scheme. Some of the information in the results framework was, however, unclear; e.g., the basis for the USD 1,600 per month household income level for Indicator No. 11.


Tag: Efficiency Monitoring and Evaluation Results-Based Management

30.

5 Assessment of Monitoring & Evaluation Systems
5.2 M&E implementation
Implementation of Monitoring and Evaluation Plan is rated as: Satisfactory


The quality of implementation of the M&E plan was found to be generally proactive and effective, facilitated by the project team and supported by contracted external consultants and other service providers. M&E results were documented in project implementation review (PIR) review reports, annual progress reports and stand-alone monitoring reports. The steering committee was an important platform for M&E, providing strategic feedback to issues raised through project reporting and discussions during the meetings. Meetings were convened generally twice per
year, providing a reasonably regular frequency for reviewing progress made.


There was room for improvement with respect to results-based management; e.g., certain indicators and baseline figures remain unclear at the time of the TE. For example, the term “landscape management approach” was not clearly defined and the details regarding the baseline household income figure is unknown. The project retained technical
specialists to prepare socio-economic studies, but there was a general lack of monitoring towards impact regarding the efforts made towards strengthening alternative livelihoods in and around the target PAs.
Tracking Tools:
The project was obliged to complete two separate sets of tracking tools, one set for the biodiversity focal area and the other for land degradation. External consultants and specialists were hired to make the baseline, midterm and terminal assessments. Some comments on the tracking tool process and results are summarized below.
 


Tag: Biodiversity Natural Resouce management Effectiveness Communication Monitoring and Evaluation Data and Statistics

31.

6 Assessment of Implementation and Execution
6.1 Quality of implementation

Quality of Implementation (UNDP) is rated as: Satisfactory
The quality of implementation by UNDP as the GEF agency on this project is rated as satisfactory. UNDP supported the Government of Kazakhstan throughout the project life cycle, from conceptualization to project development and throughout implementation. Based on the lack of integration of the NBSAP and the National Action Program on Combating Desertification into the project document, the UNDP could have done a better job advocating for inclusion of these strategic guidance tools into the project design.


The UNDP Country Office (CO) provided strategic guidance to the project, and the Deputy Resident Representative was a member of the project steering committee. The CO also provided extensive implementation support to the implementing partner; including procurement, contracting, human resource management and financial administration.
The TE evaluator understands that this supported national implementation modality arrangement is a long-standing practice in Kazakhstan. There are certainly efficiency advantages; however, there are also certain downsides, including the potential for lower levels of country ownership and reduced likelihood that GEF-financed projects are integrated into the operational framework of the government partners.


The USD 700,000 in cofinancing materialized in full, according to cofinancing details provided by the project team. The cofinancing contributions included USD 600,000 in grant financing and USD 100,000 of in-kind support. There was no indication of what the cofinancing covered in the December 2012 cofinancing letter, and project progress reports do not include information on cofinancing details. Cofinancing tracking, in general, was not regularly made.

The UNDP regional technical advisor (RTA) has also been actively involved, providing overall guidance during the project preparation phase, liaising with the Ecosystems and Biodiversity team at UNDP headquarters and with the GEF Secretariat. Project progress reports provided candor accounts of issues, and these were followed up during project steering committee meetings. Internal ratings were reasonable and project risks were monitored. Progress reports also contained constructive recommendations. There is a question of whether the Eco-Damu microcredit program should have been elevated to a critical risk, as indicated as GEF policy in the project document for such financial instruments.


Tag: Small Grants Programme Operational Efficiency Coordination Operational Services

32.

6 Assessment of Implementation and Execution

6.2 Quality of execution
Quality of Execution (Forestry and Wildlife Committee) is rated as: Satisfactory
The quality of execution by the Forestry and Wildlife Committee (FWC) is rated as satisfactory. During the early phase of project implementation, the FWC was transferred from the Ministry of Agriculture to the Ministry of Environment and then returned to the Ministry of Agriculture at the end of the inception phase when the Ministry of Environment was abolished. These institutional restructurings contributed to some delays in initiating the project; the Government of Kazakhstan signed the project document in September 2013, the inception workshop was held shortly thereafter in November 2013, but the project effectively started in February 2014 when the National Biodiversity Coordinator hired.

Recruitment of the National Biodiversity Coordinator was part of a new approach institutionalized by the FWC for managing donor funded biodiversity projects. The National Biodiversity Coordinator has a coordination role for each of the projects in the portfolio, there are no separate project managers, rather thematic managers have been hired to support the technical aspects of project implementation. Similarly, a National Project Steering Committee was established to provide oversight for all biodiversity projects. These arrangements provide a higher level of continuity, saves considerable time for recruiting a separate project team for each new project, and facilitates synergies across projects in the portfolio. There are also challenges to consider, including the lack of a project manager to devote fulltime effort in facilitating project implementation, particularly for full-size projects. And, whether sufficient time is available in a steering committee meeting that covers multiple projects.

There was institutional capacity in place, as the FWC had executed UNDP supported, GEF-financed projects earlier. The Deputy Chair of the FWC serves as chair of the steering committee, providing high level involvement. The steering committee has a good mix of national and subnational governmental partners, NGOs, private sector (a representative
from one joint-stock company) and the UNDP.


The project benefited from effective and consistent project coordination, led by the National Biodiversity Coordinator and the team of qualified thematic managers. Project activities were procured through competitive bidding, and several different service providers were contracted. The members of the project coordination team are contracted through the
UNDP and procurements were made under the UNDP procurement system. As mentioned above under the assessment of project implementation, these arrangements probably provide increased levels of efficiency, compared to public procurement and contracting. But, there is a risk that country ownership is diminished over time.


Tag: Challenges Ownership Quality Assurance Coordination

33.

7 Other Assessments
7.1 Need for follow-up

There are a few key issues that should be followed up after project closure, including but not limited to:
a. Management of the second phase of the Eco-Damu microcredit program;
b. Operationalization of the wildlife corridor;
c. Advocacy for upscaling pilot interventions and PES schemes;
d. Operationalization of the KZ-METT;
e. Expanding coverage and continued management of the biodata.kz and geomonitoring.kz information management systems; and
f. Advocacy for the finalization of the approval for the expansion of the Barsakelmes State Nature Reserve, the proposed expansion of the Ustyurt State Nature Reserve, and the establishment of the State Reserved Zone in Mangystau Oblast.
 


Tag: Operational Efficiency Oversight

34.

7 Other Assessments

7.2 Materialization of cofinancing
The amount of cofinancing that materialized during project implementation was USD 35,505,025, which is nearly double the amount confirmed at project endorsement (USD 19,179,293). The largest cofinancing contribution was from the recipient government, specifically the FWC, which provided USD 26,839,316 of grant cofinancing – significantly more than the USD 10,000,000 confirmed at project entry.

Impressively, there were 36 separate cofinancing partners, up from 15 at project endorsement, and financing from 25 of those materialized during project implementation. Among the 36 cofinancing partners, 11 were from nongovernmental organizations and 13 from the private sector (see Table 20). A detailed summary of cofinancing contributions is presented in Annex 6.
The actual cofinancing is likely greater than reported, as some of the partners had not reported their final contributions by the time the TE report was submitted, including the multilateral agency The Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (carec) and academic/research institutes. The lack of cofinancing information from these partners is reflective of shortcomings with respect to tracking cofinancing contributions during project implementation (lesson learned). It would have been advisable to have developed and implemented cofinancing tracking procedures and regularly report the results, e.g., as part of the annual progress reports.


The limited tracking of cofinancing contributions also indicates that there was limited direct synergies discussed and coordinated with the cofinancing partners.

 


Tag: Private Sector Financing Resource mobilization Multilateral Partners Policies & Procedures

35.

7 Other Assessments

7.3 Environmental and social safeguards
Environmental and social risks were screened at the project preparation phase; the results of the screening were included as Annex 11 to the project document. No risks were identified in the screening process.


The first part of Question No. 2 in the screening template is: Procurement (in which UNDP’s Procurement Ethics and Environmental Procurement Guide need to be complied with). The agreement between FFSA and UNDP regarding the Eco-Damu microcredit program does not make any reference to these UNDP procurement requirements. For that
reason, the “procurement” box in Question No. 2 should not have been checked, in the opinion of the TE evaluator, and upstream and downstream risks should have been evaluated.
One example of an upstream planning process with potential downstream environmental and social impacts is the land use plans developed for the three target rayons. Land use planning involves resolving potential conflicts associated with unsustainable resource use, which often result in temporary or long-term access restrictions. Such restrictions could be
particularly detrimental to the well-being of vulnerable groups.


Considering the project objective had a specific emphasis on promoting biodiversity-compatible livelihoods, environmental and social safeguard plans should have been developed during the project preparation phase and monitored throughout the implementation phase. (lesson learned)


Tag: Procurement Programme/Project Design

36.

7 Other Assessments

7.4 Gender concerns
In general, gender mainstreaming has been insubstantial on the project. A gender analysis was not carried out during the project preparation phase, but Annex 9 to the project document
presents an “Action plan for incorporation of gender aspects in the project, with quantifiable baseline and target indicators, as per GEF and UNDP guidance”. The 2017 PIR report indicates that the project does not specifically target women or girls as direct beneficiaries; however, the action plan outlined in Annex 9 to the project document includes specific targets for women beneficiaries, including 55% of the estimated 400 beneficiaries of the Eco-Damu microcredit scheme. Among the 89 beneficiaries of the first phase of the Eco-Damu program, 30% were women.
Women are also represented on the three PA public committees established; there are no monitoring data available regarding the specific number of women representatives. The gender action plan also called for women participation in rural coordination councils on joint management of natural resources in the target rayons; there is also no monitoring data available regarding women representation on such councils. Gender aspects were envisaged to be integrated into territorial development planning; there is no evidence indicating that this was realized. Gender mainstreaming targets were also not integrated into the project results framework.
Women are well represented on the project team and the UNDP CO, and several of the contracted external consultants and other specialists were women.


Tag: Gender Equality Gender Mainstreaming Women's Empowerment

37.

7 Other Assessments

7.5 Stakeholder engagement
The project did a good job in facilitating stakeholder engagement at the local level, where most of the project activities were carried out. The established PA public committees provide stakeholder engagement platforms for years to come. Inclusion of these committees into the legal framework increase the likelihood they will continue to be maintained after project closure.


The high number of cofinancing partners among NGOs and the private sector further demonstrates the high level of stakeholder involvement. Working in three different regions of the country also resulted in broadened stakeholder engagement.


The steering committee meetings provided opportunities for cross-sectoral stakeholder engagement, between local and national government agencies, as well as interaction of governmental and non-governmental actors. Some of the staff at the FWC and other entities of the Ministry of Agriculture were actively involved on the project, e.g., with respect to the databases, legislative reform and communications. The project design did not include too many activities that involved national level stakeholders and, consequently, apart from the steering committee meetings, there was limited involvement with national governmental stakeholders beyond the Ministry of Agriculture. The project also actively promoted the establishment of the Ile-Balkhash Reservat through advocacy with the national parliament, the presidential administration and the government. Moreover, there was some involvement, for example, with the Ministry of Energy regarding the proposed expansion of the Ustyurt PA.


Tag: Parliament Partnership Civil Societies and NGOs Country Government Private Sector

Recommendations
1

Preparing an exit plan that describes actions that require follow-up measures after the project is closed, including time frames and responsibilities. Several issues that should be monitored after the closure of the project include, but are not limited to, the following: (a) the management of the second stage of the Eco-Damu microcredit scheme; b) introduction into action of a wildlife corridor; (c) outreach efforts for scale expansion of experimental interventions and payments pattern for ecosystem services (PES); (d) putting into service of KZ-METT; (e) expanding the scope and further management of the information management systems biodata.kz and geomonitoring.kz; and (f) outreach efforts to complete the approval of the issue of expanding the Barsakelmes State Natural Reserve, proposed expansion of the Ustyurt State Natural Reserve and creation of a state reserve zone in the Mangistau region (PIU).

2

Preparing instructions for updating the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAP) and National Action Plan (NAP) on desertification control, contributing to the project results in desert ecosystems. Prepare a guide containing the recommended strategic directions for including into the updated versions of the NBSAP and the NAP on desertification control (PIU, Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK).

3

Revising the agreement with the Fund for Financial Support of Agriculture concerning the use of the GEF funds after the second stage of the Eco-Damu microcredit scheme. Revising the agreement with the FFSA on the continuation (or completion) of the Eco-Damu microcredit scheme. If the parties agree to continue this program beyond the second stage of loan repayment, it is important, for example, to ensure a reserve of the provided GEF funds for the conservation of biodiversity or restoration of degraded lands, preference should be given to women and other vulnerable groups (PIU, Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK, FFSA).

4

Full collection of information on the received co-financing and identification of ongoing governmental and non-governmental initiatives in the three targeted landscapes as a guide for scale expansion. It would be advisable to complete the co-financing analysis, documenting the contributions made by all co-financing partners, and outline current and planned initiatives in the three target landscapes; it would be a useful tool to facilitate the scaling.

5

Conducting a comparative assessment of the management efficiency of the Altyn-Emel National Park, Barsakelmes and Ustyurt state nature reserves using the KZ-METT tool and the METT version GEF-5. Conducting a parallel assessment of the management efficiency of the three existing PAs using the METT version adapted for Kazakhstan; no proof of trial application. This would provide useful guidance for checking and updating the KZ-METT (PIU, Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK).

6

Ensuring the transfer of equipment, completed infrastructure and other assets financed by the project to the specified owners. Project assets financed under service contracts and subsidy agreements are not included into the asset register; it would be advisable to ensure that all project assets are properly transferred before the project closure (PIU, Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK).

7

Scaling up the joint PA management activities with local communities. It would be advisable to expand the scope of joint agreements of PAs with local communities, for example, including joint monitoring and patrolling, concession agreements on tourism, etc. (PA Authority, Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK).

8

Strengthening the microcredit scheme by providing an integrated package of services. Considering an integrated package of services, rather than just giving out microcredits; for example, offering insurance, enterprise development (in terms of management training, marketing support), and social welfare services (for example, gender training). (Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK, Fund for Financial Support of Agriculture).

9

Developing an additional project focused on the adaptation of desert-based ecosystems. Strengthening the supportive environment associated with biodiversity conservation and sustainable land management provides a strong core capacity for ecosystem-based adaptation in the target desert ecosystems. (Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK, UNDP).

10

The project completed an economic assessment of the feasibility of allocating the Mangystau nature reserve a wildlife sanctuary of 2,676,262 hectares in the Mangystau region, but the development of this specially protected natural area has not been implemented

11

Expansion of the Barsakelmes State Nature Reserve by 2,300 hectares was approved by the resolution of the Akimat of the Aral region dated June 22, 2017, and on October 10, 2017 - by the akimat of the Kyzylorda region. Approval at the national level is pending. Another feasibility study might be needed.

12

Kazakhstan continues to implement the PA rating system developed several years ago. Based on the observations during the mission on the final assessment, PA administrations were familiar with the earlier rating system, but were somewhat confused about the recently developed management effectiveness assessment tool. It will take some time to implement these two systems concurrently, or perhaps to decide on the termination of one of them, if this requires an unnecessarily large amount of time or excessively high costs from PA administrations.

13

The ecological corridor "Kapshagay-Balkhash" is located on the territory of 5 administrative districts. It is very important that local authorities and land-use stakeholders coordinate and cooperate in the operation process of the corridor. There is no data on the corridor management plan, including specific objectives, management problems, roles and responsibilities.

14

It will be necessary to conduct regular training, stay on top of technological advances and take into account the staff turnover. Data on all PAs at the national level will need to be introduced into the information management systems, and the management and update of the systems will require the necessary funding.

1. Recommendation:

Preparing an exit plan that describes actions that require follow-up measures after the project is closed, including time frames and responsibilities. Several issues that should be monitored after the closure of the project include, but are not limited to, the following: (a) the management of the second stage of the Eco-Damu microcredit scheme; b) introduction into action of a wildlife corridor; (c) outreach efforts for scale expansion of experimental interventions and payments pattern for ecosystem services (PES); (d) putting into service of KZ-METT; (e) expanding the scope and further management of the information management systems biodata.kz and geomonitoring.kz; and (f) outreach efforts to complete the approval of the issue of expanding the Barsakelmes State Natural Reserve, proposed expansion of the Ustyurt State Natural Reserve and creation of a state reserve zone in the Mangistau region (PIU).

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2020/12/03]

The project manager prepared the exit (closure) strategy of the project. In order to finalize the project results in June-July 2018, the project conducted a series of final events for the closure of the project in 3 pilot regions with the participation of key partners at the local level. The project, together with partners and beneficiaries, developed key measures to ensure the sustainability of the project results after its closure. In addition to it, in July present year a final meeting of the PMU was held, at which the project presented a number of recommendations to national partners (Committee for Forestry and Wildlife of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan (CFW MOA RK), akimats of the Kyzylorda, Almaty and Mangystau regions, the Fund of Financial Support of Agriculture (FFSA), etc.) to ensure the sustainability of the project results. These recommendations were sent to all national partners.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Preparation of the Project Exit Strategy, which includes recommendations for national partners on taking further practical measures and actions to ensure the sustainability of the project results after the closure of the project.
[Added: 2018/12/20]
Project manager, project experts 2018/08 Completed
2. Recommendation:

Preparing instructions for updating the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAP) and National Action Plan (NAP) on desertification control, contributing to the project results in desert ecosystems. Prepare a guide containing the recommended strategic directions for including into the updated versions of the NBSAP and the NAP on desertification control (PIU, Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK).

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2020/12/03]

In order to assist the Republic of Kazakhstan in updating the NBSAP for the conservation of biodiversity in 2012-2014. The UNDP project “Planning the conservation of biological diversity at the national level to support the implementation of the CBD strategic plan in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011–2020” was implemented, which was directly aimed at updating and developing the National Strategy on the Biodiversity in accordance with the goals and objectives of Aichi 2010.

The project was a part of the UNDP biodiversity project portfolio. The result of this project was the preparation of a concept (strategy) for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in Kazakhstan until 2030 and an action plan for it.

The work on the promotion of the approval of the biodiversity Strategy at the national level was continued within the framework of the UNDP portfolio of projects on biodiversity, as well as within the framework of the Desert Project. The project team together with the UNDP and the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan worked at all levels on the approval of the NBSAP, which included a number of events on the matter with the participation of the Parliament of the country.

Currently, within the framework of the BIOFIN regional project, the activities carry on for the renewal as well as approval of the NBSAP until 2030.

At the same time, the delay in approval of the NBSAP is associated with several factors, such as the reorganization of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the country's policy on crisis recovery, etc. Despite this, the main activities and strategic actions to preserve the biodiversity of Kazakhstan in whole were included in the Agro-Industrial Complex Development State Program for 2017-2021. The subprogram of investment (resource) programs includes the sections on forestry and development of PAs, as well as on the development of hunting and fisheries.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Work on updating the draft Strategy (Concept) and the Action Plan for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity until 2030.
[Added: 2018/12/20]
Committee for Forestry and Wildlife of the MOA RK, UNDP, BIOFIN project 2018/12 Completed
3. Recommendation:

Revising the agreement with the Fund for Financial Support of Agriculture concerning the use of the GEF funds after the second stage of the Eco-Damu microcredit scheme. Revising the agreement with the FFSA on the continuation (or completion) of the Eco-Damu microcredit scheme. If the parties agree to continue this program beyond the second stage of loan repayment, it is important, for example, to ensure a reserve of the provided GEF funds for the conservation of biodiversity or restoration of degraded lands, preference should be given to women and other vulnerable groups (PIU, Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK, FFSA).

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2020/12/03]

The first stage of the Eco-Damu program was implemented in 3 project areas and the allocated program fund (0.5 million - GEF, 1.0 million – FFSA) was implemented in a short span of time. The results of the implementation of the first stage made positive changes in both ecological and economic situation of the three project areas. At the same time, there are no other similar programs in Kazakhstan for financing and supporting the initiatives of the local population living around the PAs. The implementation of the 2nd phase of the Eco-Damu program will make it possible to create a sustainable basis for supporting alternative activities, which will make a tangible contribution to the development of 28 PAs and the population living around them.

It is expected that the Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK will conduct negotiations with the management of the KazAgro JSC and the FFSA on collaborative planning and budget financing of the 2nd stage of the Eco-Damu microcredit scheme in the amount of 2.7 billion tenge.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Conducting negotiations by the Forestry and Wildlife Committee MOA RK with the management of of KazAgro JSC and the Fund for Financial Support of Agriculture on collaborative planning and budget financing of the second stage of the Eco-Damu microcredit scheme (2020-2024) in accordance with the terms of the Agreement between the CFW MOA RK and FFSA as of October 27, 2014.
[Added: 2018/12/20]
Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK 2018/12 Completed
4. Recommendation:

Full collection of information on the received co-financing and identification of ongoing governmental and non-governmental initiatives in the three targeted landscapes as a guide for scale expansion. It would be advisable to complete the co-financing analysis, documenting the contributions made by all co-financing partners, and outline current and planned initiatives in the three target landscapes; it would be a useful tool to facilitate the scaling.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2020/12/03]

The project team took into account this recommendation and completed the collection of information on the co-financing received from all national key partners. The project team will take into account for future reference as a lesson learned the implementation of regular monitoring of co-financing within the framework of new project initiatives

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Completing the collection of the received co-financing with documentary evidence of contributions made by all co-financing partners
[Added: 2018/12/20]
Project Manager, project experts 2018/08 Completed
5. Recommendation:

Conducting a comparative assessment of the management efficiency of the Altyn-Emel National Park, Barsakelmes and Ustyurt state nature reserves using the KZ-METT tool and the METT version GEF-5. Conducting a parallel assessment of the management efficiency of the three existing PAs using the METT version adapted for Kazakhstan; no proof of trial application. This would provide useful guidance for checking and updating the KZ-METT (PIU, Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK).

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2020/12/03]

The project carried out work on the analysis of existing METT techniques and international practice. The METT methodology developed by the project was tested on the example of the Altyn-Emel National Park. In July 2018, the project assessed the management effectiveness of 15 PAs, including the pilot PAs in accordance with the Kazakhstani METT methodology. The work on the further implementation of the Kazakhstani METT methodology will continue under the new Forest Project based on the new 10 PAs.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Completing assessment of the management efficiency of 3 pilot PAs (Barsakelmes and Ustyurt reserves, Altyn Emel National Park) in accordance with the METT methodology with the provision of assessment tables to the Committee for Forestry and Wildlife.
[Added: 2018/12/20]
Project manager, PA expert 2018/08 Completed
6. Recommendation:

Ensuring the transfer of equipment, completed infrastructure and other assets financed by the project to the specified owners. Project assets financed under service contracts and subsidy agreements are not included into the asset register; it would be advisable to ensure that all project assets are properly transferred before the project closure (PIU, Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK).

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2020/12/03]

The project took into account this recommendation. The project carried out measures for the transfer of project equipment prior to the closure of the project in accordance with the decision of the final meeting of the PMC as of July 04, 2018. At the same time, we explain that, in accordance with the UNDP rules, the services provided or supported by the project were not included into the project assets register. In addition, the equipment purchased by NGOs under the Grant Agreements was not included into the project’s assets, since the equipment was purchased by the NGO itself in accordance with the requirements of the national procurement legislation. Alongside this the project kept records of the equipment purchased by NGOs under the grant agreement on the ongoing basis and the PMC provided for the subsequent transfer of this equipment to the beneficiaries of the pilot projects.

As of August 30, 2018, all assets were transferred to the pilot PAs and partners according to the decision of the PMC dated July 04, 2017.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Performing arrangements for the transfer of project equipment and project assets to the beneficiaries and project partners.
[Added: 2018/12/20]
Project manager, project team 2018/08 Completed
7. Recommendation:

Scaling up the joint PA management activities with local communities. It would be advisable to expand the scope of joint agreements of PAs with local communities, for example, including joint monitoring and patrolling, concession agreements on tourism, etc. (PA Authority, Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK).

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2020/12/03]

The project and the Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK agree with this proposal. CFW will take into account the experience, approaches of the project in the creation of Public Councils at the pilot PAs (Barsakelmes State Nature Reserve, Ustyurt State Nature Reserve and Altyn Emel National Park), and include in the work plan arrangements aimed at ensuring the effectiveness and sustainability of the activities of the Public (Coordination) Councils affiliated with PAs.

Besides, within the framework of a new project on the conservation of forest ecosystems, it is planned to introduce the mechanisms for joint management and monitoring of forest resources and components of biodiversity, as well as the prevention of forest fires.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Inclusion into the work plan of the Committee for Forestry and Wildlife of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan of arrangements aimed at ensuring the effectiveness and sustainability of the activities of the Public Councils under Pas.
[Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2019/09/15]
Committee for Forestry and Wildlife of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of KAZ 2019/06 Completed The 2019 plan of the Forestry and Wildlife Committee includes measures to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of the activities of the Public Councils created under all 28 protected areas. Currently, work is underway to update the composition of the Public Councils and implement work plans. History
8. Recommendation:

Strengthening the microcredit scheme by providing an integrated package of services. Considering an integrated package of services, rather than just giving out microcredits; for example, offering insurance, enterprise development (in terms of management training, marketing support), and social welfare services (for example, gender training). (Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK, Fund for Financial Support of Agriculture).

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2020/12/03]

The project thanks for the recommendation. The project, together with Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK, developed guidelines for the preparation of applications in accordance with the priorities of the Eco-Damu microcredit scheme.

CFW takes into account this proposal, and as a part of the implementation of the second stage of the Eco-Damu, together with the FFSA, the issues of training, business planning and marketing support for applicants will be more widely considered.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Development of an integrated package of services for microcrediting, including issues of training, monitoring, marketing support, business planning, etc.
[Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2019/09/15]
Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK, FFSA 2019/06 Completed Currently, through the Forestry and Wildlife Committee, together with the Fund of Financial Support for Agriculture, the issue of launching the 2nd stage of the Microcredit Program for the period of 2020-2024 is being worked out, in which the issue of presenting a comprehensive package of services by the Fund to microcredit the rural population, including training, marketing support and business planning, financial literacy, etc. will be taken into account. History
9. Recommendation:

Developing an additional project focused on the adaptation of desert-based ecosystems. Strengthening the supportive environment associated with biodiversity conservation and sustainable land management provides a strong core capacity for ecosystem-based adaptation in the target desert ecosystems. (Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK, UNDP).

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2020/12/03]

The project team together with UNDP and the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan will conduct negotiations on the preparation of a similar application and the introduction of the mechanisms of adaptation to climate change and desertification.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Negotiations with the Ministry of Energy and Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the development of a new project to demonstrate the mechanisms of adaptation to climate change on the example of the desert regions of the country.
[Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2019/09/15]
UNDP, Committee for Forestry and Wildlife of the MOA RK 2019/06 Completed UNDP carried out a series of negotiations with the Ministry of Energy and Ministry of Agriculture on possible project initiatives covering climate change issues. UNDP is currently assisting in the preparation of an application to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) for the implementation of a full-scale project aimed at introducing measures for adaptation to climate change in agriculture. In addition, the Government of Kazakhstan plans to take a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to introduce adaptation mechanisms. History
10. Recommendation:

The project completed an economic assessment of the feasibility of allocating the Mangystau nature reserve a wildlife sanctuary of 2,676,262 hectares in the Mangystau region, but the development of this specially protected natural area has not been implemented

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2020/12/03]

This project initiative has been completed; the delay in the creation of the Mangystau nature reserve was due to the lack of funding from the Government. The corresponding technical documentation has been prepared (ENO and feasibility studies). At the same time, the Committee for Forestry and Wildlife of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan included the costs of creating the Mangystau nature reserve in the Work Plan for 2019-2020.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Completion of the creation of the Mangystau State Nature Reserve
[Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2020/07/04]
Committee for Forestry and Wildlife of the MOA RK 2020/06 Completed According to the developed documentation and recommendation, the meeting of the Scientific and Technical Council of the Forestry and Wildlife Committee approved the projects of the scientific rationale and feasibility studies for the creation of the Mangystau Conservation Area. At the same time, in connection with the introduction of the Government’s moratorium on the creation of new jobs and the limited funding of the Committee (staffing of 187 inspectors, material and technical base, etc.), the issue of creating this protected area was postponed to a later date. At this stage, passive protection of ecosystems is carried out by other environmental organizations in the territories adjacent to other protected areas and the protection is strengthened during the migration period by the territorial units of the Committee and the RSE “Okhotzooprom”. History
11. Recommendation:

Expansion of the Barsakelmes State Nature Reserve by 2,300 hectares was approved by the resolution of the Akimat of the Aral region dated June 22, 2017, and on October 10, 2017 - by the akimat of the Kyzylorda region. Approval at the national level is pending. Another feasibility study might be needed.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2020/12/03]

The project team explains that the following land management project for the expansion of the territory of the Barsakelmes State Natural Reserve was agreed and approved at all levels. Plots of land for the expansion of the reserve were allocated locally. Currently, the Committee for Forestry and Wildlife of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan is working on the preparation and launch of a draft decree of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the expansion of the Barsakelmes Nature Reserve. The completion of work by the Expansion Committee is expected by the end of this year

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Completing the measures to expand the territory of the Barsakelmes State Natural Reserve, in particular, works on the preparation and approval of a draft resolution of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the expansion of the reserve in accordance with the procedure established by law.
[Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2019/09/15]
Committee for Forestry and Wildlife of the MOA RK 2019/06 Completed The Forestry and Wildlife Committee completed the work on coordination with the central state bodies of the draft resolution of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan regarding the expansion of the territory of the Barsakelmes reserve. Currently, the draft resolution has been submitted to the Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan. History
12. Recommendation:

Kazakhstan continues to implement the PA rating system developed several years ago. Based on the observations during the mission on the final assessment, PA administrations were familiar with the earlier rating system, but were somewhat confused about the recently developed management effectiveness assessment tool. It will take some time to implement these two systems concurrently, or perhaps to decide on the termination of one of them, if this requires an unnecessarily large amount of time or excessively high costs from PA administrations.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2020/12/03]

The project team is grateful for the comments and explains that the Committee for Forestry and Wildlife of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan has decided to implement the Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) by including it as a section of the PA Management Plan. At the stage of preparation / revision of PAs' management plans, this will allow an impartial assessment of the effectiveness of PAs management, identify weaknesses and strengths, gaps in the activities and management of PAs, develop appropriate actions or measures to reduce them in the framework of PAs management plans. Approval of the changes and additions to the existing Rules for the Development of Management Plans for PAs is expected until the end of 2018.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Making amendments to the Rules for the Development of PAs Management Plans on the inclusion of the assessment of the effectiveness of PAs management into the PAs Management Plan
[Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2019/09/15]
Committee for Forestry and Wildlife of the MOA RK 2019/06 Completed On the part of the UNDP project, proposals have been made to update the Rules and Methodology for the development of protected areas’ Management Plans, taking into account the inclusion of a section on Assessing Management Effectiveness of Protected Areas (METT) and strengthening the budget part of the Management Plans. In June-August, together with the Committee, within the framework of the UNDP biodiversity project portfolio, training workshops were held on the development of Management Plans according to the new structure. 29 protected areas were covered; the level of knowledge of more than 200 protected areas employees was increased. History
13. Recommendation:

The ecological corridor "Kapshagay-Balkhash" is located on the territory of 5 administrative districts. It is very important that local authorities and land-use stakeholders coordinate and cooperate in the operation process of the corridor. There is no data on the corridor management plan, including specific objectives, management problems, roles and responsibilities.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2020/12/03]

The project thanks for the comments and just would like to add that the Project developed the Regulation on the management of the eco-corridor "Kapshagay-Balkhash". In August 2018, the Project held discussions on the Regulation on the eco-corridor with the participation of the Committee for Forestry and Wildlife MOA RK, local authorities of 5 administrative districts, the Institute of Zoology, the Altyn Emel National Park and the Ile-Balkhashs nature reserve. The finalized Regulation was by sent standard operation procedure to the Akimat of the Almaty Region for approval. The provision was taken into account by local akimats, the executive agency and other concerned parties.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Development and approval of the Regulation on the ecological corridor "Kapshagay-Balkhash". Development and approval of the Passport of the ecological corridor "Kapshagay-Balkhash"
[Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2019/09/15]
Committee for Forestry and Wildlife of the MOA RK, the akimat of the Almaty Region 2019/06 Completed Within the framework of the UNDP project, work was done to develop the Regulations and Passport on the Kapshagay-Balkhash ecological corridor, which were submitted to the Forestry and Wildlife Committee and the akimat of the Almaty region. Currently, the passport of the eco-corridor has been approved by the authorized body. The regulation on the ecological corridor was approved by the akimat of the Almaty region. History
14. Recommendation:

It will be necessary to conduct regular training, stay on top of technological advances and take into account the staff turnover. Data on all PAs at the national level will need to be introduced into the information management systems, and the management and update of the systems will require the necessary funding.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2020/12/03]

The project notes that the introduction of sustainable use of informational technologies in the field of ecosystems and biodiversity monitoring requires continuous training and capacity building. The project paid great attention to the issue of enhancing the capacity of pilot PAs and other partners in this area; in total, more than 10 training sessions were conducted, where more than 100 employees of pilot PAs and other organizations were trained. Currently, the Biodiversity Monitoring Information System covers 7 national PAs. The Committee for Forestry and Wildlife is highly interested in expanding the Information the Biodiversity Monitoring System and including all PAs of Kazakhstan in it.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Consideration and inclusion of measures to expand the Information System for monitoring the biodiversity of Kazakhstan into the budget plan of the Committee for Forestry and Wildlife of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2019-2021
[Added: 2018/12/20] [Last Updated: 2020/12/27]
Committee for Forestry and Wildlife of the MOA RK 2020/12 Completed After the transition of the Forestry and Wildlife Committee to the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources, the Committee began work on the systematization of monitoring in protected areas. The implementation of the SMART system has begun on the basis of 8 protected areas of Kazakhstan, methods of monitoring biodiversity using drones, camera traps and other modern technologies are being introduced. The development of a methodological basis for the inclusion of 10 forest protected areas in the biodiversity monitoring system has begun. In the budget of the Committee for 2020-2022 is envisaged the improvement of the material and technical base of the protected areas, which will improve the quality of monitoring work in the protected areas. History

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