Final Evaluation for Wetlands Portfolio - Daxing'anling

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Evaluation Plan:
2016-2020, China
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
01/2019
Completion Date:
01/2019
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
35,500

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Title Final Evaluation for Wetlands Portfolio - Daxing'anling
Atlas Project Number: 00070975
Evaluation Plan: 2016-2020, China
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 01/2019
Planned End Date: 01/2019
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
Evaluation Budget(US $): 35,500
Source of Funding:
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 27,080
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Nationality
Alan Ferguson Mr
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title: CBPF-MSL: Strengthening the Management Effectiveness of the Protected Area Network in the Daxing'anling Landscape
Evaluation Type: Terminal Evaluation
Focal Area: Biodiversity
Project Type: FSP
GEF Phase: GEF-5
GEF Project ID: 4868
PIMS Number: 4824
Key Stakeholders: Ministry of Environment
Countries: CHINA, PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC
Lessons
Findings
1.

3.1Project Formulation

3.1.1Country ownership

The commitment to the project and the level of integration into national and subnational policies and institutions is very high. There has been extensive involvement of the relevant agencies in Heilongjiang Province and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and outreach to community participants. The project is even more relevant to the country now than at the design stage due to the recent reforms in national policies on eco-civilization and wetland conservation and wise use as a basis for sustainable development.


Tag: Programme/Project Design Country Government

2.

3.1.2 Analysis of the Results Framework

The Results Framework has provided an adequate level of results-chain logic, clarity of expected results (but with indicator issues), and coherence between Objective, Outcomes and Outputs. Comments on the relevance of some activities are discussed in Section 3.3.1. More emphasis would have been useful on the strategy for biodiversity conservation mainstreaming under Outcome 1. The UNDP/GEF approach in similar landscape conservation projects involve embedding biodiversity conservation measures in the management of wider production landscapes. This typically includes:


Tag: Biodiversity Natural Resouce management Programme/Project Design

3.

3.1.3 Assumptions and Risks

The project design assumed that: “if (1) biodiversity and protected areas are mainstreamed into the development and sector planning frameworks, and the system of protected areas is expanded; and (2) if the management effectiveness of, and funding for, the PA system across the Daxing’anling Landscape is greatly strengthened, and (3) if effective management is demonstrated at the two demonstration sites for replication across the PA network; then the ability of protected areas to respond to threats to the globally significant biodiversity in the Daxing’anling Landscape will be greatly enhanced.”

 


Tag: Biodiversity Wildlife Conservation Programme/Project Design

4.

3.1.4 Management structure and implementation strategy

The project organization is outlined on Figure 2.It shows a complex set of partners and reporting relationships. The capacity building tasks involved 8 selected PAs (of the 72) in DXAL region with different types of reserves and parks in the region. The Project governance elements between PSC, DBCC and Project Coordination Groups played a limited role. The NPMO and PMOs and the Service Providers were the lead players, with a focus on the two demonstration sites. The overall organization appears to have been effective but there were communication issues and the links between the other 6 PAs and the 2 demonstration sites, not apparent in the organization diagram or the interviews, were weak.

 


Tag: Local Governance Communication Project and Programme management

5.

3.1.5 Stakeholder participation

The design strategy for stakeholder participation focussed on two levels of intervention: “(i) working with public sector institutions and agencies (primarily the FMAs and their Bureaus, as well as provincial government) in order to strengthen their capacity to consolidate, expand and effectively manage the PA network and to align project activities with government’s strategic priorities; and (ii) working directly with local communities and their representatives, formal and informal resource users (rights holders), and individuals to mitigate impacts and optimise benefits of project activities.”12Stakeholder participation included:

(a)Project Steering Committee (PSC, established in 2014):

(b)Daxing’anling Biodiversity Conservation Committee (DBCC, at landscape level, established in 2015) and two Project Coordination Groups (PCG at province level, established in 2015).

(c)Project Management Office (based in Beijing) and two Project Management Units (at the provincial level) established and put into operation since the project inception.

(d)Community Fora set up.

The principal basis for stakeholder engagement was participation of government agencies and collaboration across the provincial/region boundaries, and consultations with local community and indigenous tribes on co-management inputs, capacity building for alternative livelihoods and raising of environmental awareness. A broad effort at stakeholder involvement was made by the project.


Tag: Local Governance Civil Societies and NGOs Country Government Indigenous people

6.

3.1.6 Replication approach

The project design included:“best practice participatory approaches to conserving biodiversity, managing human activities and PA management will be introduced at two demonstration sites, the Duobuku’er NNR and the Genheyuan NWP for replication throughout the PA network.”The project carried out various activities primarily in these 2 demonstration sites, for example, trainings, eco-tourism, alternative livelihood, research. The knowledge and experiences obtained from these activities were summarized and published as technical guidelines and books, which were later distributed to other PAsin the region. As a lot of the PAs in the region were newly established, they were expected to pick up the best practice from these 2 demonstration sites with the help of the publications. There was some involvement of other PA staff in training sessions under Outcome 3, but the TE discussions also noted a general lack of sharing of the experiences from the demonstration projects with many other PA staff who were not aware of any of the activities and results from these demonstration components. An explicit replication approach would have been useful.


Tag: Biodiversity Integration Programme/Project Design

7.

3.1.7 Cost-effectiveness

The quality, timeliness and value for money of the project outputs are factors that affect cost-effectiveness. A positive aspect has been the high ratio of co-financing leveraged by GEF and UNDP funding. Completion of activities has generally been consistent with schedules and budgets and disbursement efficiency has been acceptable (Section 3.2.5). Significant results have been generated from the international funding relative to the indicators and targets (See Annex 6).

Although there was good coordination of stakeholders, the lack of a lead contractor and overall strategy for the many service providers, and the relatively high costs for the capacity development results (the main purpose of the project), presents some questions about cost-effectiveness. For example, the benefits of the valuation study for awareness-raising benefits, and the climate change research studies had little effect on the core results of the project. These aspects are further discussed under Relevance in Section 3.3.1.


Tag: Effectiveness Global Environment Facility fund UNDP Management

8.

3.1.8 UNDP comparative advantage

UNDP has had a long history of supporting protected area systems worldwide.13UNDP has been operating in China for over 37 years, and engaged in GEF projects since 1991, including assistance with the 1994 Biodiversity Conservation Action Plan and the 2005 China Biodiversity Partnership Framework.14Project participants described the advantages of UNDP and GEF support in terms of leveraging government funding through co-financing approval, increased national profile which gets the attention of government, exposure to international practices and training of staff (many of whom have low skills) which is given limited priority under regular government programs. Exposure to the international practices introduced PA staff to both governance (e.g., co-management) and technical innovations (e.g. drone surveys). Advice from the CTOs was greatly appreciated by project staff.


Tag: Global Environment Facility fund Country Government UNDP Management UNDP management

9.

3.1.9 Linkages between project and other interventions

There are few other related projects in the region, except for promotion of the “Cold Pole” tourism development in Inner Mongolia. Activities under the three project outcomes are aligned with activities of the other projects of the national CBPF-MSL “Wetland PA System Strengthening for Biodiversity Conservation” Programme. Close linkages and cross-fertilization including the participation of the project team in CBPF-MSL national programme training was described.

UNDP collaborated with the Coca-Cola Foundation and WWF China on wetland projects. The UNDP/Coca Cola programme wetland conservation and restoration initiatives in the Haihe River were implemented on behalf of the Chinese Government as part of Government of China’s overall work on wetland conservation, in a similar way that the MSL programme supported this work. Where one programme focused on protected areas management, the other focused on restoration of ecological functions and ecosystem services. As part of this, the two initiatives shared lessons learned and best practices where possible –through the UNDP and the Chinese Government participation in workshops and events as well as in the programmes steering committees.


Tag: Site Conservation / Preservation Country Government Private Sector UNDP management

10.

3.2 Project Implementation

3.2.1 Executing agencies and implementation modalities

The procurement and administrative processes were effectively managed by the PMOs within the forestry management authorities of Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang, the National PMO and UNDP China.The NPMO and PMOs are all from State Forestry Authority(SFA,now NFGA), with the two PMOs directly managed by the SFA. This madeit easier for vertical information transfer.

These agencies were responsible for contracting and supervising 21 major contracts (Table 2). The project implementation modalities were dominated by outputs and activities delivered by contracted service providers. Major disbursements were made to the various contractors; e.g., about $560,000 was budgeted in 2018 for contracted service companies and consultants. The approach to project execution placed a great deal of responsibility on the contracted partner institutes/companies to deliver outputs. While there was direct collaboration with PA authorities and contractor staff, the approach may have reduced the role of the generally under-staffedand under-qualified local PA authorities to have built internal project management and program development capacity.


Tag: Communication Implementation Modality Procurement Project and Programme management

11.

3.2.2 Coordination and operational issues

The low baseline capacity of the different PA and regional authorities across two state jurisdictions,and the large number of delivery partners, presented a relatively complex setting for project implementation. The MTR noted that “the national project has initiated some effective collaborative approaches, including organizing regular Internet-based meetings among the 6 PMOs, rotating the location where the Program Steering Committee meetings are convened, sponsoring exchange visits among the individual projects, etc. The coordination role of the national project should be further strengthened.”

Similar to comments in the MTR report, the TE observed that there were some coordination issues that affected the implementation efficiency and that leave uncertainty about leadership for ongoing responsibilities for action plan implementation post-project. (Some of the efficiency issues are noted in Section 3.3.4)

The following observations on operational issues were noted during the TE mission:

•Significant policy change occurred in the time between project design and start-up and some re-focusing at inception should have occurred according to project staff;

The shift from extractive industries to conservation was and remains difficult because there was little understanding of biodiversity and there was a need for more discussion and orientation to the new regional economy;

•Many of the local PA staff are re-trained forestry workers without much education and it is difficult to keep qualified staff in the region;

•Based on interview responses, many project participants were not aware of activities occurring in other components, even within contractors that were delivering multiple components;

•The studies and assessments for PA and biodiversity conservation were presented by contractors in various venues but not well elaborated in terms of action for PA staff;

•PA staff were trained in collecting data (e.g., water quality)but not in analyzing or interpreting the data with regard to potential management responses;

•The role of the Enterprise Group in SFA within the emerging regional development strategy needs to be addressed in terms of their role in landscape biodiversity conservation;

•It is not clear who has overall responsibility for implementing the Landscape Action Plan(Annex 8); funding is also a primary concern in the view of participants.

•The Action Plan and integrated management plans of the two demonstration sites have not been officially approved, and SFA, as well as local FMAs, are expected to be more active in implementation.


Tag: Coordination Operational Services

12.

3.2.3 Management by UNDP Country and Regional Offices

The overall management and supervision by UNDP staff have been consistent with other GEF projects. Quarterly and annual financial and progress reporting were completed according to the requirements. The annual PIR and APR reporting benefited from active inputs from UNDP and the UNDP/GEF RTA.


Tag: Challenges Global Environment Facility fund UNDP Regional Bureaux Operational Services Technical Support

13.

3.2.4 Adaptive Management

There were changes in circumstances after project approval –major central government commitment to environmental protection that rapidly expanded the PAs and placed increased pressure to manage the new areas, and restrictions on development sectors that changed the dynamics for mainstreaming landscape biodiversity conservation. The MTR report provided opportunities for adaptive changes. For example, it stated, “The chief technical officer (CTA) is supporting all 6 projects, but his work assignments are being organized piecemeal. The terms of reference (TOR) of the CTA should be reassessed and more clearly articulating how technical advisory services will be delivered to the program.”19Changes were then made to expand the technical support. In response to MTR Recommendation 3, UNDP also introduced a more streamlined format for reporting. Other actions, such as expanding the coordination functions of the NPMO, were taken to address the MTR conclusions and recommendations. The NPMO and UNDP have been generally responsive to the MTR and other needs to adjust the project as needed.


Tag: Change Management Project and Programme management

14.

3.2.5 Financingand co-financing

Total project expenditures to June 30, 2018 were $2.945M, or 83% of the GEF $3.544 M project budget. Remaining balance was$0.599 Mas of June 30th(Table 5).

The annual project expenditures relative to budgets up to March 31, 2018 are shown on Table 5. The disbursement rate ranged from 51to 188%(2017-18)with disparities mostly occurring in Outcome 1 and project management in 2015-2017. Total annual disbursements, however, were in the range of 88-100%, generally indicating realistic budget and work planning except for Outcome 1 and 2 in the past year(188 and 51%). No significant issues were found in the annual financial audits.

Co-financing was committed at $24.5 M at approval and is estimated to now be $29.69 M including $1 M in-kind from UNDP, as shown on Table 6.20There have been substantial in-kind contributions from both the government and UNDP but it has not been possible to verify the exact amounts contributed by UNDP. Project staff consider the grant from Coca-Cola Foundation to the MSL programme as part of a UNDP cash contribution. Some of the UNDP parallel financings, through a grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation(UNDP-CICETE-Coca Cola Partnership for Water Governance Programme), has not been project-specific but committed to the MSL programme in broader terms. The Coca Cola programme on wetland related activities in the region during 2013-2018 included: Promotion of Use of Peak Flow of the Hai River for Livelihood and Wetland Rehabilitation(2013, $100,000), Demonstration of Guarantee and Management of the Eco-Flow of the Haihe River Basin (2014, $400,000; 2015, $500,000), Utilization of Flood for Maintaining the Ecosystems of the Luanhe River in the Haiher River Basin(2015, $100,000).


Tag: Global Environment Facility fund Government Cost-sharing Private Sector Financing Private Sector UNDP management UNDP Regional Bureaux

15.

3.2.6 M&E plan at entry and in implementation

a)Plan quality and use

The M&E Plan was developed on the basis of the METT tool, Financial Scorecard and Capacity Assessment Scorecard being used as instruments to monitor progress in PA management effectiveness, along with the quarterly and annual reporting systems. This is a standard approach in biodiversity conservation projects and the management team have followed this convention as prescribed in the Project Document. The main comment on the quality of the plan relates to the sole reliability onthe quantitative indicators to capture the results being generated. These are discussed below. In addition, the responsibilities for plan implementation were not specified and designated staff were not appointed.


Tag: Implementation Modality Monitoring and Evaluation Jobs and Livelihoods

16.

3.2.6 M&E plan at entry and in implementation

b) Indicators quality and utilization

The indicators in the project document depend heavily on general indices (METT, EHI, Financial Scorecard) to measure progress towards outcomes (end results). Numbers dominate the progress monitoring (see Annex 6). The quantitative measures have distinct limitations. Furthermore, effects on selected indicator species are difficult to measure with no background or baseline data and no real reliably to estimate populations with small sample protocols in the short term. Other indicators simply record completion of outputs (e.g., valuation study, management plans, etc.). There is no baseline or performance data on number of trainees meeting competency standards; it’s not clear what particular sector plans are expected to incorporate conservation measures. The result of these limitations is a very approximate set of measures to gauge progress on the three outcomes.


Tag: Monitoring and Evaluation

17.

3.3 Project Results

3.3.1Project relevance

The major actions taken to expand and secure area under PAs and to contribute large national and provincial funding to compensate, relocate and retrain people and to develop the management capacity and transform the traditional economy in the region attests to the relevance of the GEF project toward national goals. The original sponsoring agency –SFA has evolved with a stronger focus on environmental responsibility under the NFGA reorganization with new budget reported to the TE team as 2 Billion RMB ($312 M) each for Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia PA management. The project has played an important role in these developments.

 


Tag: Relevance Procurement

18.

3.3.2 Effectiveness: Achievement of project objective

The project objective is to strengthen the management effectiveness of protected areas to respond to threats to the globally significant biodiversity in the Daxing’anling Landscape of Heilongjiang Province and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The achievement of this objective is summarized as follows:

  • Much higher focus and commitment on biodiversity conservation

The project has raised awareness and commitment within government and the public about the state of biodiversity and wetlands in the region, the legacy of logging and mining activity and the need to assist recovery and restoration of ecosystems and to promote alternative livelihoods.

  • Significant expansion of PA network as well as reduction of habitat loss

With the enforcement of the logging ban, river mining ban, pest control and hunting prohibition as well as wetland restoration, the degradation of local ecosystems has reduced and reversed in some areas. With the implementation of the project, the wetland and forest PA network in the region has expanded by at least 1.119million ha with increased coverage of wetland PAs by 1.064 million ha(Outcome 1). As reflected in the EHI scores, with the expansion of PAs, the number of selected species such as dragon fly and butterfly “appear to be increasing”.


Tag: Rural development Recovery Biodiversity Ecosystem based adaption Effectiveness

19.

3.3.3 Effectiveness: Achievement of project outcomes

a) Outcome 1: Development Planning Frameworks

Annex 6 summarizes the high valuation of ecosystem services in Daxing’anling landscape, the advances in intra-governmental coordination and policy planning documents and the major expansion and upgrading of PAs.


Tag: Ecosystem based adaption Natural Resouce management Site Conservation / Preservation Effectiveness

20.

Output 1.2: Inter-sectoral coordination and planning mechanisms

The Daxing’anling Biodiversity Conservation Committee is a cross provincial/region coordination body established by the Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia Forest Management Administrations (FMAs). It is expected to “champion and drive biodiversity conservation and the PA agenda as a key contribution to sustainable development for the whole of the Daxing’anling landscape”, and also to “unify methods, tools/instruments of M&E of the project all over the region.”The formal letter of agreement between the agencies is said to ensure permanent status of the committee. The creation of DBCC is a significant achievement. It is mandated with mainstreaming conservation into regional development and maintaining the momentum, particularly in follow-up implementation of the Action Plan.

 


Tag: Biodiversity Site Conservation / Preservation Effectiveness Coordination

21.

Output 1.3: Action plan for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use in the Daxing’anling Landscape

The Action Plan lists 29 priority ‘projects’ for biodiversity conservation (Annex8), although it has not yet been approved. Monitoring and support is expected to occur through the two FMAs under the direction of DBCC. Nine thematic priority areas are identified in terms of  29 proposed actions. In addition, six area ‘hotspots’ (general areas) of primary concern have also been identified with particular focus on red-listed/Class I/II species (endangered/threatened). The distribution of habitats of selected wildlife mammal species have been mapped along with preliminary climate change scenario impact assessments. (The studies by Beijing Forestry University estimated a 3-9% reduction in suitable habitats under climate change scenarios.)

The Action Plan provides an initial framework of proposed projects but there is also a need to further elaborate and prioritize the annual actions to be undertaken under the Plan along with budget and implementation requirements and responsibilities. The Action Plan readiness for implementation and implementation program under DBCC need to be clarified. The updating of the Duobuku’er and Genheyuan Master Plans and additional management plans(see Outcome 3 below) have also been completed by the project. These will need to be considered in the annual NFGA biodiversity conservation program.

Biodiversity research activities are also ad hoc and it would be useful to have a coordinated, pro-active approach to a set of research priorities, inviting national and international scholars to take up these priorities.

The overall approach to biodiversity conservation in Daxing’anling landscape can be described as major expansion of the area covered by PAs, initial efforts at promoting connectivity between these PAs, conceptual outline of six landscape biodiversity ‘hotspots’ (areas), and annual meetings of the DBCC to discuss landscape-wide biodiversity conservation issues. Although the landscape approach is in evolution, to date there is no distinct and operational landscape35conservation strategy beyond the logging ban, the creation and upgrading of PAs and an action plan with 29 priority actions. There are major challenges to integrating conservation into other sectors and across institutional boundaries between government departments. Despite the landscape strategy limitations, the major support for PA expansion by Government of China and the establishment of a cross-province/region coordination mechanism is significant and will provide a strong foundation for further progress.


Tag: Biodiversity Wildlife Conservation Effectiveness Results-Based Management

22.

Output 1.4: Wetland and forest PA network in the Daxing’anling Landscape expanded

Table 7 summarizes the major expansion and upgrading of PAs. A “systematic review of PA coverage” was reported as the basis for providing more effective and representative conservation threatened habitats and species”.31It has been concluded that “a majority of habitat and ecosystem types that are of ecological representativeness are in the Region’s protected area network” but the basic data to substantiate this are weak. Mapping of the representative ecosystem sub-types would further help to ensure effective landscape conservation.


Tag: Biodiversity Ecosystem based adaption Effectiveness

23.

b) Outcome 2: Landscape Biodiversity Conservation Effectiveness

Annex 6 summarizes generally modest improvements in management capacities at the PA system level and the significant increase in trained PA staff along with reductions in environment crimes that have been generated by the project.

Output 2.1: PA institutional strengthening plan adopted and operationalised

An institutional strengthening plan was developed, drawing upon gaps and weaknesses identified from the METT and Capacity scorecards. This broad approach to capacity assessment (enabling policy/regulations, organisational development, and human resources development) should be congratulated. It reportedly included reviews of competency standards for PA jobs in discussion with the National PMO although action results from the review were not apparent to the TE team. This capacity development plan has been integrated into the overall Action Plan but details on necessary action are not provided.


Tag: Effectiveness Human and Financial resources

24.

Output 2.2: Systemic capacity strengthened for effective PA system management through regionally specific regulations and guidelines

The project has made a major contribution to developing the regulatory structure and technical advice for PA management. PA Management Regulations, circulars and wildlife and wetland resources management and other legal and advisory documents have been produced. Various activities have been implemented related to strengthening enforcement processes and development of new regulations. The project staff have also identified needs for further relations related to management and restoration of important habitats and threatened species, addressing Invasive Alien Species, pests and diseases, biodiversity monitoring and reporting regime, climate change adaptation, human uses in PAs, community participation and co-management, sustainable financing mechanisms and EIA/SEA processes.


Tag: Effectiveness Natural Resouce management Wildlife Conservation

25.

Output 2.3: Improved business planning and resource allocation for PAs to directly address threats

Financing PA management has been a key issue that the project has attempted to address through business plans and review of financing options. The main deliverables included: a) a 5-year Business Plan for the PA systems in each province section; b) model business plans for individual PAs developed for the Duobuku’er NNR and Genheyuan NWP; c) a report recommending options for strengthening both traditional and novel sources of PA financing, including in particular eco-compensation funds; d) demonstration of the implementation of recommended options for the two demonstration sites. A wide range of options are still under consideration but progress will depend upon active pursuit of these options within the business plans for the two demonstration sites.


Tag: Effectiveness Resource mobilization Business Model

26.

Output 2.4: PA staff skills enhanced with over 300 trainees meeting occupational competency standards

Annex 7 summarizes the training sessions involving more than 122 days of training. The total number of trainees has been estimated by the project at 1500, exceeding the 300 targeted. The main PMO-organized training sessions involved 224 persons according to records. Project partners greatly appreciated the training, equipment and technical support provided by the project. The weaknesses in capacity have been thoughtfully recognized, which provides a basis for ongoing institutional and human resources development.

In May 2017, a training programme entitled “Come into wetlands” was launched by the Genheyuan NWP supported by the Capital Normal University by interacting with pupils from local primary and secondary schools enabling the pupils to learn knowledge of wetland biodiversity. The training was characterized by localization, thanks to the technical support of the University. In November 2017, the Hanma NNR was designated as one the three training bases of Chinese Biosphere Reserves Network (CBRN) by the National Committee for UNESCO’ s Man and the Biosphere Programme, Peoples’ Republic of China.

The project self-assessment report notes the current lack of qualified staff and lack of formalized training programs. Activities delivered under this output include domestic training and workshops abroad, e.g. USA, Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Maipo in Hongkong and domestic locations including the two demonstration sites. A Biodiversity Conservation and PA Management Training Programmehas been proposed for each FMAbut these remain to be formally established and funded under the Action Plan.


Tag: Jobs and Livelihoods Capacity Building Technical Support

27.

Output 2.5: PA and biodiversity information management system significantly improved

The datasets for PAs and landscape biodiversity features have been greatly expanded and consolidated into a project database with the assistance of the Institute for Automation(CAS). It consolidated biodiversity and PA data in a geo-referenced system that will be available online. The database complements the monitoring app used in the ranger patrols. This app was mentioned as an important tool for the project staff. The use of the new database and possible GIS applications were not evident in the TE discussions with PA staff but it may be too early to assess expected functions for the database. There is a danger that operation and maintenance of the database may be heavily reliant on the contractor although the project report states that the database is operating well at the PA level.


Tag: Biodiversity Effectiveness

28.

c) Outcome 3: PA Management Effectiveness and Capacity

Annex 6summarizes the substantial achievements in capacity at the two demonstration PAs according to METT and EHI ratings, and the completion of model management plans and information systems.The project design expectation was that the outputs generated in the two demonstration PA would be replicated in other PAs, although this result is less certain.

Output 3.1: Integrated management plans prepared in a participatory way, adopted and implemented

Updated Duobukuer and Genheyuan Master Plans were completed including objectives and actions related to administration and regulations/law enforcement, land use, visitor management, zoning, ecosystem protection and restoration, etc. These were supplemented by ‘integrated management plans’ that dealt with biodiversity and human management and co-management aspects. The rationale for separate plans is not completely clear, although the former is mandated by law. The project has developed integrated management plans and financing plans for Duobukuer NNR and Genheyuan NWP. These plans identify limitations and constraints related to development awareness, capacity, infrastructure, administrative-type mechanisms related to supervision, incentives and coordination. The Dubuku’er plan lays out 21 proposed projects and 39 actions while the Genheyuen plan proposes 16 projects and26 actions. The estimated budgets for these five year plans are 67.55 M RMB and 29.2 M RMB. These are ambiguous plans. TE discussions indicated that PA managers and staff have concerns about both the capacity and funding to implement the proposed projects over the next five years.If the Master Plans have not been adequately implemented (see Capacity Scorecard report), can we expect better implementation of the management plans?


Tag: Effectiveness Implementation Modality

29.

Output 3.2: Biodiversity and ecological health monitoring systems in place

Six national nature reserves, including Huzhong, Nanwenghe, Shuanghe, Duobuku’er, Cuonahe and Lingfeng conducted biodiversity monitoring with the GEF funds. Monitoring guidelines for wetland ecosystems have been produced. It was reported that the project “developed and deployed a model ecological monitoring system for the two PAs that can be replicated for the entire Daxing’anling PA network through the training activities described under Outcome 2”, including selection of indicator and flagship species (and taxonomic groups), standardised monitoring methodologies and standardised recording and reporting procedures.“This monitoring system has been designed in a participatory way with the end-users by a task force consisting of a biodiversity monitoring specialist and ecologists from the Northeast Forestry University, a specialized institution contracted under this Output.”41The monitoring systems and equipment provided by the project are a key benefit that many of the staff have acknowledged and are striving to master. Dissemination of these skills to other PAs through training and exposure were reported but not verified.


Tag: Effectiveness Monitoring and Evaluation

30.

Output 3.3: Effective and adaptive conservation of biodiversity is demonstrated through restoration of degraded habitats and recovery measures for threatened species

The project contracted the Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology in an assessment of restoration opportunities, preparation of Technical Guidelines for Wetland Restoration in Daxing’anling Landscape and Guidelines of degraded habitats (wetlands) and threatened species in the two demonstration sites of the project. Figure 3 below shows the steps involved in restoration designs.


Tag: Recovery Site Conservation / Preservation Effectiveness

31.

Output 3.4: Sustainable use of biodiversity demonstrated through high quality planning, enhanced co-management arrangements and better law enforcement

In the past it has been difficult to provide basic PA management because no budgets were provided for PA authorities until 2005 when the Central government provided $4.94 million which supported salaries and operational costs to meet the basic management of these protected areas. There are large gaps in financial resources that need to catch up with the expansion in PA areas and development of minimum management standards.


Tag: Effectiveness Inclusive economic growth

32.

Output 3.5: PA management effectiveness at the demonstration sites improved through local community participation and raised public awareness

The project reports that communication between the PAs and local communities has been supported in each demonstration PAs to strengthen community engagement and to enhance the overall governance of the PAs, including annual meetings. No proceedings of the meetings were available but discussions focussed on a Communications, Education, participation and Awareness Plan and local people are invited to become involved in park activities. According to stakeholder discussions, local awareness and appreciation of biodiversity and RA purposes remains a challenge. Special arrangements have been made with the AulugoyaEwenkitribe to facilitate cultural tourism in Genheyuan NWP. Community participation has been introduced but still lacks strong linkages with local people.


Tag: Effectiveness Communication

33.

3.3.4 Project Efficiency

Efficiencies related to project delivery and timeliness of implementation were affected in a minor way by slow recruitment processes in the early stages of the project, overheads in managing and supervising a large number of service providers, and the geographic spread of the project activities. Improvements were made to financial management and reporting systems to improve efficiencies. The lack of an overall capacity development plan might have also increased costs in the array of separate capacity development activities.‘Value for money’ cost-effectiveness is discussed in Section 3.1.7.


Tag: Human and Financial resources Implementation Modality

34.

3.3.5 Programme mainstreaming and gender equity

The UNDP’s poverty reduction, good governance and sustainable development priorities have been integrated into the project design and implementation to a limited extent as part of the PA and landscape conservation focus of the project. Livelihoods development has played a very minor role, although there have been job creation efforts. Governance reform has been addressed by new cross-border committees and efforts at community engagement. Sustainable development has been introduced through a conservation landscape approach. The project has no specific gender equality strategy but the 2017 annual APR report noted that many women were trained (accounting for at least 25% of the total numbers of the trainees) and recruited by PAs or by the project, women play a big role in alternative livelihoods supported by the project, e.g. bee farming, reindeer raising, Chinese herb plantation, tour guiding in PAs, etc. The PMO paid deliberate attention to the gender issue, and priority was given to female candidates with equal professional credentials.


Tag: Gender Equality Gender Mainstreaming Jobs and Livelihoods

35.

3.3.7 Sustainability of project results

Financial risks: The National Natural Forest Protection Programme (NFPP) and the proposed scheme for co-financing wetlands may provide the main sources of supplementing funding if the PA Action Plan programs are well organized, effectively presented and ready for implementation. However, TE discussions indicated that PA managers and staff have concerns about both the capacity and funding to implement the proposed projects over the next five years.


Tag: Biodiversity Environmental impact assessment Site Conservation / Preservation Sustainability Human and Financial resources

36.

3.3.8 Catalytic effect and impacts

The logging ban and PA expansion associated with the GEF project have stimulated a search for a new conservation-oriented regional economy. The future of landscape conservation in the region and impact of the project are tied to this transition. Elements of this include “(i) developing new livelihoods to reduce dependence on forestry, (ii) supporting economic transition, and (iii) providing income to retired foresters.”47The changes in the shift to regional sustainable development have been directly related to the project.

The many studies, regulations, awareness-raising and capacity development have set the foundation for more professional PA management and biodiversity conservation that is having an impact on the future eco-development status of the region. The project has played an important role in catalyzing change compared to five years ago and in accelerating progress on conservation at a critical time in China’ssustainable development trajectory.


Tag: Impact

Recommendations
1

The PMO and service providers should consolidate, update and distribute the ‘PA institutional strengthening plan’ as a guide for ongoing capacity development.

2

The Daxing’anling Biodiversity Conservation Committee (DBCC) should prepare a multi-year implementation program for the DXAL Landscape Biodiversity Conservation Action Plan, and NFGA should support the relevant forestry management bureaus to continue actively participating in implementing the program.

3

NFGA should undertake further classification and mapping of the Daxing’anling taiga ecosystems and ensure that representative ecosystem types in the landscape are protected by the PA system in coordination with habitats for key species of concern.

4

The Daxing’anling Biodiversity Conservation Committee (DBCC) should develop a landscape biodiversity conservation strategy as input for land use and redline consultations with other sectors and regional sustainable development initiatives.

5

NFGA should develop a process for follow-up monitoring and reporting on ecosystem restoration project sites by the responsible authorities and formulate lessons learned and guidelines for future rehabilitation, restoration and enhancement projects.

6

DBCC should take steps to broaden the co-management relationships with local communities and Evenki tribes, for example by including representatives as designated members or observers in annual meetings and ongoing work of DBCC.

7

DBCC should develop a long-term reindeer management strategy for Daxing’anling landscape in consultation with the local people and technical experts facing similar issues in Russia and elsewhere.

8

DBCC should undertake a consultation program with the over 200 households living in Daxing’anling PAs with the aim of engaging local residents as partners in conservation of the biodiversity and proponents of alternative livelihoods, including modified, conservation-friendly agriculture where appropriate.

9

Chinese Academy of Sciences should be invited to assist in research on managing wildfire due to the build-up of fuel in the landscape and the changing climate, and the implications for fire and pest risk management as part of the biodiversity conservation action plan and national climate change adaptation plans.

1. Recommendation:

The PMO and service providers should consolidate, update and distribute the ‘PA institutional strengthening plan’ as a guide for ongoing capacity development.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/01/14] [Last Updated: 2020/11/27]

Accepted.  The main reports of the service providers have been revised and edited as two books, “Innovative Management for Wetland PAs in Daxing’anling—Highlights of GEF project” and Good Practices for Managing DXAL Wetlands—Highlights of GEF Project”. These two books will be published by Science Press by the end of 2018. And the books will be distributed to the related departments of NGFA, FMAs in HLJ and IM, PAs and other stakeholders for future decision making reference and training purpose as well.

Key Actions:

2. Recommendation:

The Daxing’anling Biodiversity Conservation Committee (DBCC) should prepare a multi-year implementation program for the DXAL Landscape Biodiversity Conservation Action Plan, and NFGA should support the relevant forestry management bureaus to continue actively participating in implementing the program.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/01/14] [Last Updated: 2020/11/27]

Accepted. Part of the contents of the Biodiversity Conservation Action Plan for DXAL landscape are quite new and challenging for the local management agencies and PAs, especially the 29 items of priorities for Biodiversity Conservation in DXAL region are advanced for their management, is the direction that guides their work in short future, DBCC said that they will work out a plan and   combined with their actual work, and gradually implement the contents of the action plan.

Key Actions:

3. Recommendation:

NFGA should undertake further classification and mapping of the Daxing’anling taiga ecosystems and ensure that representative ecosystem types in the landscape are protected by the PA system in coordination with habitats for key species of concern.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/01/14] [Last Updated: 2020/11/27]

Accepted. DXAL region has an important significance of biodiversity of global significance and plays the crucial role of maintaining regional ecological security. The conservation and management of the ecosystems in DXAL   will be more refined, professional and scientific.

Key Actions:

4. Recommendation:

The Daxing’anling Biodiversity Conservation Committee (DBCC) should develop a landscape biodiversity conservation strategy as input for land use and redline consultations with other sectors and regional sustainable development initiatives.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/01/14] [Last Updated: 2020/11/27]

DBCC would like to have further consultation with other relevant sectors on the field in related with conservation, management and PA system improvement, including the land use and redline delimit.

Key Actions:

5. Recommendation:

NFGA should develop a process for follow-up monitoring and reporting on ecosystem restoration project sites by the responsible authorities and formulate lessons learned and guidelines for future rehabilitation, restoration and enhancement projects.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/01/14] [Last Updated: 2020/11/27]

Accepted. Monitoring and reporting on ecosystem restoration is one of the important work of the conservation and management agencies, DBCC would like to share the experiences and lessons learnt achieved in project sites to other PAs in DXAL region

Key Actions:

6. Recommendation:

DBCC should take steps to broaden the co-management relationships with local communities and Evenki tribes, for example by including representatives as designated members or observers in annual meetings and ongoing work of DBCC.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/01/14] [Last Updated: 2020/11/27]

Accepted. Community co-management and alternative livelihoods have always been the important concerns for PAs and local management agencies. DBCC will take this as one of the priority mission in short future and also will urge relative PAs to merge local communities and Evenki tribes play more important roles for wetland conservation.

Key Actions:

7. Recommendation:

DBCC should develop a long-term reindeer management strategy for Daxing’anling landscape in consultation with the local people and technical experts facing similar issues in Russia and elsewhere.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/01/14] [Last Updated: 2020/11/27]

Accepted. DBCC expressed that they will organize all relevant PAs to discuss the issue of reindeer management, a strategy for the whole DXAL landscape also will be prepared in short future, and DBCC will provide support at both policy and technical level for relevant PAs to establish contact with other related organizations or countries.

Key Actions:

8. Recommendation:

DBCC should undertake a consultation program with the over 200 households living in Daxing’anling PAs with the aim of engaging local residents as partners in conservation of the biodiversity and proponents of alternative livelihoods, including modified, conservation-friendly agriculture where appropriate.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/01/14] [Last Updated: 2020/11/27]

Accepted. Community co-management and alternative livelihoods have always been the important concerns for PAs and local management agencies, DBCC has expressed its willingness to take this as priority mission in the relevant PA for further piloting and improvement, and to gradually resolve the problem of over 200 households living in Duobukuer NNR.

Key Actions:

9. Recommendation:

Chinese Academy of Sciences should be invited to assist in research on managing wildfire due to the build-up of fuel in the landscape and the changing climate, and the implications for fire and pest risk management as part of the biodiversity conservation action plan and national climate change adaptation plans.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/01/14] [Last Updated: 2020/11/27]

Accepted. The Chinese Academy of Sciences is an important service provider with multiple tasks during the project implementation. The CAS are also one of the important technical support organization for NGFA in many subjects. FMAs in IM and HLJ and related PAs have established contact and cooperation with CAS through our project, and all parties concerned indicated that they are willing to continue to further cooperate after the project.

Key Actions:

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