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Biodiversity Conservation in the Russian Portion of the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion
Commissioning Unit: Russian Federation
Evaluation Plan: 2011-2017
Evaluation Type: Project
Completion Date: 03/2012
Unit Responsible for providing Management Response: Russian Federation
Documents Related to overall Management Response:
 
1. Recommendation: Concentrate on upscaling of alternative livelihood activities rather than testing
Management Response: [Added: 2012/06/21] [Last Updated: 2012/06/21]

The Project Team shares the general opinion that sometimes simple testing-by-doing provides much better background and a clearer justification for further interventions than a feasibility study for an intervention which has never been applied to this particular area. Also, the rationale behind inclusion of the alternative component was not to generate as much and stable income as possible but to pilot different activities to demonstrate benefits from PA presence to local communities and reduce current and possible conflicts between two parties. That is why, the logframe indicators for these activities are not financial figures such as reduction of unemployment or growth of per capita income, but the number of agreements between PAs, local administrations and communities, which regulate sustainable use of NTFP and ecological tourism and the percentage of local population, supporting PAs. The last indicator shows critical improvement (74% at the end of the project in comparison with 40% at the project start) of local people attitude to PAs. This is much more important result of the Project in comparison with economical benefits. It was too naïve to wait any tangible economical results from such tiny money intervention while the only Altai Republic, which is one of the poorest territories allocate annually for similar activity USD$35. million. Besides, as reasonably was justified by TE evaluator project initially was designed to be implemented in two phases. The first one was focused on project focal areas and testing of different approaches and mechanisms including alternative livelihood activities while the second phase suppose more focusing on dissemination results and findings from the 1st phase. Unfortunately 2nd phase was not realised and that is a reason for limited upscaling of 1st phase?s results, including achievements in alternative livelihood interventions.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
n/a
[Added: 2012/06/21]
n/a 2011/01 Completed
2. Recommendation: Replace population level indicators with indicators measuring impacts on pressures and behaviour
Management Response: [Added: 2012/06/21]

The indicators proposed by the TE would not have been fully applicable for the entire Ecoregion since reliable data on human-wildlife conflicts, number of poaching violations of the law, level of disturbance doesn?t exist there. Also, not all the indicators would have been representative: for instance, the analysis of poaching violations revealed that in 99% of cases the violations do not bring immediate threat to the rare and endangered species as the registered poaching more focus in on game animals. Also, values and trends for such indicators as number of human-wildlife conflicts, number of poaching violations of the law, level of disturbance, ranger patrol intensity etc. may be interpreted in two different ways: on the one hand, the increase in the indicator value may show the growth of poaching, conflicts and etc., but on the another hand it could be explained by increased capacity and scope of work of the law enforcement agencies. So in the end one would have to come up with a more complicated indicator taking into account both factors. However, generally the observation regarding the biodiversity indicators (in the first part of the TE observation) is very relevant not only to this project but to a broader portfolio of BD projects.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
n/a
[Added: 2012/06/21]
n/a 2011/01 Completed
3. Recommendation: Define the specific objectives of transboundary cooperation in the project context.
Management Response: [Added: 2012/06/21]

The studies mentioned in the TE observation were performed during development of the management plan for the Reserve Unsunurskaya Kotlovina, supported by the Project and development of joined management plan for the WHS ?Ubsunur? including the territory of Russian Reserve and adjacent Mongolian PAs, supported by the Mongolian UNDP/GEF Project. Also all these issues were taken into consideration during the development of the joined Russian-Mongolian conservation programme for Argali sheep, which was identified as the most critical species for transboundary conservation developed under the Project?s activities. Establishing Sailugem National Park in Russia adjacent to cognominal NP in Mongolia was a real contribution to the conservation programme. Also WWF contributing to the Project funded development of management plan for Katunskiy Reserve, which with the Katon-Karagai NP (MP development funded by Kazakhstan UNDP/GEF) combined transboundary reserve on the border of Russia and Kazakhstan.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
n/a
[Added: 2012/06/21]
n/a 2011/01 Completed
4. Recommendation: Don?t take responsibility for something which is beyond your direct sphere of influence
Management Response: [Added: 2012/06/21]

The observation is highly relevant and is duly appreciated. This generally applies not only to this particular project but to the entire portfolio of the GEF BD projects implemented in Russia. The Altai-Sayan Project Team would like to comment that the establishment of new protected areas within the Project lifespan is indeed the most evident indication of commitment from project partners and stakeholders, and the project should not be considered as a stand-alone effort of the project team but a part of a bigger picture where various stakeholders and endeavors are synergistically implemented towards achievement of a mutual goal.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
n/a
[Added: 2012/06/21]
n/a 2011/01 Completed
5. Recommendation: The table of co-financing gives an additional amount of approximately US$6.0 million from regional governments. 90% of this financial support was invested in the establishment of Ergaki Nature Park. The actual amount of co-financing by the end of the project is expected to become US$ 11.8 million. This is a similar situation as for co-funding from the Federal Government: it is not clear on what basis this amount has been calculated
Management Response: [Added: 2012/06/21]

Project Team disagrees with qualification of the mentioned contribution as a baseline financing, since most of the financial support to the Ergaki nature park in Krasnoyarsk Kray was stimulated and operationalized in the region due to the UNDP/GEF Project support; and vice versa, the project?s funding was pledged to the park only on the assumption of a real co-financing from the region, and implemented only when the latter had materialised.

Key Actions:

6. Recommendation: WWF increased its co-financing contribution by US$1.23 million, coming up to a total of US$2.43 million for the entire project period. Still in the second project year (2007), there was no input reported from WWF due to structural and staff changes in WWF?s Altai-Sayan Project team. However, WWF could secure US$1.2 million Euro for 5 years in Altai-Sayan from MAVA foundation to support activities under the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA) for strengthening of Econet system. WWF is beyond doubt a very important co-financing partner, who invests through MAVA, the Government of the Netherlands and other sources highly significant amounts in the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion. There is no information available how these US$2.43 million were calculated, however, the total sum might suggest and that some funding for the non-Russian part of the Altai-Sayan-Ecoregion and/or the period beyond 2010 is included.
Management Response: [Added: 2012/06/21]

The Project Team would like to clarify that the above mentioned contribution includes all the projects funded by the WWF in the Ecoregion during the project lifespan

Key Actions:

7. Recommendation: The project has spent a lot of efforts to assess the population of these target species, and could rely on dedicated and experienced teams of experts to carry out the field assessments. Nevertheless, the results as presented in the table of indicators are almost useless ? not because of inappropriate monitoring methodologies or insufficient skills of the surveyors, but because the Project is ?asking for the impossible?. The population of the selected indicator species is difficult to assess: The Snow Leopard, for example, is an animal which has hardly been seen by any of the surveyors, and its presence can only be assessed indirectly, i.e. through scats, tracks, with camera traps, etc. Complete surveys of the population of the Saker Falcon are extremely difficult and time-consuming, and it is often difficult to distinguish between breeding and non-breeding birds. The project team should be praised that it succeeded to get an idea on the population size of the target species in the project area. Annual counts, however, are simple impossible, and the figures presented in the monitoring tables represent at best rough interpolations based on sample counts
Management Response: [Added: 2012/06/21]

The Project Team agrees that indeed it is extremely difficult to count each animal, especially for Snow Leopard sometimes never seen by investigators, or Musk Deer, but the only way to get data is to conduct census because official estimation outside of federal PAs are too far from real situation and actually focused on game species and do not cover rare and endangered animals. For each species listed in the project logframe the situation is absolutely different. Undoubtedly the most reliable data exist for Argali, Sheep that occupies comparatively small territory in transboundary zone of Russia and Mongolia and where actually individual census was conducted two times during project simultaneously on Mongolian and Russian territories. In 2011 similar census conducted by WWF proved obtained before data. For Snow Leopard baseline data was obtained from the Strategy of SL Conservation in Russia developed by WWF in 2001. Annual studies in key sites of SL population didn?t revealed any dramatic changes in population, thus the same size of total population within project pilot sites was repeated four times. Similar approach was realized for Siberian Ibex and Musk Deer. For both species the baseline data was obtained at the project start and then if no considerable fluctuation was observed, no changes appeared in final assessment. Census for Saker falcon was conducted three times and covered up to 20 - 25% of nesting plots each time. Results were interpolated the similar way as for the species listed above. Of course, all conducted censuses were not an enumeration of each animal but anyway they are statistically valid

Key Actions:

8. Recommendation: The establishment of Ergaki Nature Park and Ukok Nature Park Quiet Zone has been discussed at least since the early 2000s, and the proclamation of these PAs had been foreseen during implementation of the UNDP/GEF project. Through the active promotion and support by WWF and the upcoming UNDP/GEF project during its PDF-B phase, Russian authorities already in 2005 officially established these protected areas. Both PAs had thus already been legally gazetted, when the project started its implementation phase in mid-2006. The Project Team, however, claims that since considerable efforts were undertaken by the Project Team during the preparatory stages of the project to promote and facilitate the establishment of both protected areas, they should not be regarded as increased baseline but as an indirect impact from the UNDP/GEF Project. The FE believes that even in this case the project should have clarified its indicators accordingly to reflect this picture, at the FSP Project Inception stage. The remaining areas still cover a very impressive surface area of 556,446 ha, which is, however, only 62% of the target of 900,000 ha (which was defined in the assumption that Ergaki and Ukok PAs still will be established in the lifespan of the project).
Management Response: [Added: 2012/06/21]

The Project Team disagrees with the observation that the expansion of Erkaki Park and Establishment of Ukok Nature Park should not be considered among project achievements. Both WWF and UNDP/GEF promoted and facilitated the establishment of new PAs, as well as numerous stakeholders and partners (see above comments to the Issue 5) including the Ergaki Par and Ukok Park. There was a close synergy between UNDP and WWF at all the project stages, including the preparatory phases for the UNDP/GEF intervention. The joint UNDP/WWF team which actually implemented both the WWF Project and the UNDP/GEF PDF made a lot to promote and facilitate establishing of Ergaki and Quiet Zone Ukok nature parks. Support from the coming UNDP/GEF Project to both parks was a critically argument for governments of Altai Republic and Krasnoyarsk Territory to accomplish the PA establishment process. Both parks were established after the submission of Full Project proposal to GEF, where 900,000 ha of new PAs were mentioned. Of course, current situation on PA establishing could be mentioned in Inception report on the data of project start and primary 900,000 ha reduced accordingly but it just a trick, because initial obligation to expand PA system in Altai-Sayan on 900,000 ha according to Project proposal was fully completed (1,006,651ha of new PAs were established since submission of Project proposal to GEF). Thus Ergaki and Ukok parks can not be regarded as the baseline or sole support from WWF.

Key Actions:

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