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PROPOSAL FOR REVIEW


Project Title:


Honduras Biodiversity Project

GEF Focal Area:


Biodiversity

Country Eligibility:


Convention ratified July 31, 1995

Total Project Costs:


US$ 49 million

GEF Financing:


US$ 7.3 million

Counterpart Financing:


US$ 9.7 million

IDA Credit:


US$ 32.0 million

Associated IDA Project:


Natural Resource Management and Land Administration Project

GEF Implementing Agencies:

World Bank and United Nations Development Programme

(UNDP)


Local Counterpart Agency:

Department of Protected Areas and Wildlife (DAPVS), Forestry Administration Corporation of the Agriculture Ministry (AFE-COHDEFOR); Sub-secretariat of Environment

Estimated Starting Date:


September 1997

Project Duration:


Six years

GEF Preparation Costs:


US$ 300,000 (PDF Block B Grant)



HONDURAS BIODIVERSITY PROJECT

COUNTRY AND SECTOR CONTEXT
1. Honduras is a country of rich biological diversity that, except for some pine savannas, originally was almost entirely covered by various types of dense forest ranging from dry forests of the Pacific slope to lowland rain forests of the Atlantic slope. The country contains major portions of five terrestrial ecoregions, as defined in a recent World Bank/World Wildlife Fund study on terrestrial ecoregions of Latin America and the Caribbean. They are: Central American Pacific dry forests, Central American pine-oak forests, Central American montane forests at higher altitudes, Central American Atlantic moist forests, and the Miskito pine forests of eastern Honduras. The montane forests have complex and discontinuous distributions and may be pockets of endemism. Both coasts of Honduras are also characterized by diverse mangrove and coastal wetland ecosystems.
2. While biodiversity in Honduras is among the least inventoried in Central America, the few available figures illustrate that there should be no doubt as to its significance nor to the degree of threat it faces. The number of species of vascular plants has been estimated at 5,000, of which 148 are either endemic or whose range is restricted to northern Central America. The conservation status of 35 of these latter species is considered as “threatened”. The bird list for the country includes 710 species, 59 of which are threatened on a national level and 5 of which are in danger of extinction. The mammal list numbers 195 species, including 19 threatened species and 8 in danger of extinction. Some 170 species of reptiles are listed for the country, 15 of which are threatened and 4 in danger of extinction. The amphibians list includes 75 species with 12 threatened species. The coral reefs surrounding the three Bay Islands and the numerous keys off the Atlantic cost are also of high biological significance. The biodiversity richness of Honduras is more than comparable with that of Costa Rica, with which country it shares many species.
3. Honduras’ 107 protected areas (PAs) represent 14% of the national territory and are organized in a national system called the SINAPH. In total, the SINAPH covers some 1.6 million ha but probably as much as half of this area has already been converted from natural forest to agricultural uses. There are eight management categories or administrative designations within the protected area system. Very few of these protected areas benefit from adequate management or real protection against changes in land use. The geographic distribution of the protected areas and the patterns of management resource allocation are not consistent with an overall goal of maximizing biodiversity conservation within the protected area system. Many of the remaining high value areas in the SINAPH are located in zones which are sparsely populated relative to the rest of the country (i.e., the Departments of Colón, Gracias a Dios, and Olancho) but are the homes of a significant percentage of the country’s indigenous peoples, such as the Garifunas, Miskitos, Sumos, and Payas. The Miskitos are considered as highly endangered according to Cultural Survival International criteria. These areas are now under increasing pressure from encroachment by poor and landless peoples from other parts of the country, fuelled by land tenure insecurity.
4. Institutionally, the SINAPH’s management and protection is the responsibility of the Department of Protected Areas and Wildlife (DAPVS) in the National Forest Agency (AFE-COHDEFOR). The total staff of DAPVS is about 60 persons—which includes all staff in the protected areas themselves, the regional AFE-COHDEFOR offices, and at headquarters. Very few protected areas have any permanent field staff. Three of the protected areas are administered by skeleton field staffs supported by NGOs and one area is administered by the Municipal Water Utility of San Pedro Sula. Very few of the protected areas could be considered as being adequately managed.
5. More than half of Honduras’ forests have already been converted to other uses, with more than three quarters of the loss occurring only in the last thirty years. Policy and legislation prior to the 1990s in the area of land and forest management encouraged deforestation and poor soil and water management. Inconsistently applied land reform programs, combined with poor land registration systems, have led to tenure insecurity and contributed to uncontrolled occupation of national and municipal forest lands for pasture and cultivation. More recently, the government has established policies to implement a more balanced natural resource management strategy, embodied in the 1992 Agricultural Modernization Law which reduced agriculture and livestock subsidies; rationalized the agencies responsible for the sector; created positive incentives for forest management on private, municipal, and public lands; and changed the regulatory framework for management plans. The principles of the law are essential to foster socially and environmentally sound growth in rural areas and realize potential returns from the forest sector. While these efforts to address the underlying threats to sustainable resource management represent positive progress, Honduras’ high population growth rate places constant pressure on remaining areas of forest, particularly as Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. While urbanization provides a non-rural alternative for the poor population, and urban areas show lowering fertility rates, there is still a significant portion of the eastern and southern rural poor who migrate to the northwestern frontier in search of land and employment. The greatest force for controlling this migration are the already settled communities in this region, including indigenous societies.

Natural Resources Strategies Of The Government Of Honduras
6. The Government of Honduras (GOH) is addressing problems of natural resource use and biodiversity conservation at various levels. At an institutional and strategic level, the Government is signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity and a number of regional conventions and initiatives. Nationally, a draft Biodiversity Conservation Strategy has been prepared and would be developed in more operational detail through a consultative process with support under the proposed project. Particular issues being discussed are how to achieve a well conceived network of appropriately sized and located PAs which optimize the conservation of as much biodiversity as possible given existing resource constraints. Recent legislation (General Environmental Law, Municipalities Law and draft Water Law), delegating more authority for watershed and resource management decisions to the municipalities, has raised the issue of which protected areas are of national importance and which should be managed by regional or municipal authorities. A tourism strategy that includes ecotourism opportunities is also in preparation.
7. A number of consultative bodies have been formed for Biodiversity Conservation. The Environment Sub-Secretariat within the new Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (formerly SEDA) has formed a consultative body for biodiversity strategy decisions that is part of the National Environment Commission (COCONA) and which includes the Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat, the parks agency (DAPVS) from the Secretariat of Agriculture (formerly SRN), other government agencies, NGOs, and the private sector. The Sub-Secretariat is actively developing more comprehensive and consistent environmental regulations as part of a overall regulatory strengthening program, including those related to biodiversity conservation. In 1996 GOH developed PLANFOR, a national forest action plan.
8. Complementing these initiatives, the GOH is financing many important conservation programs with assistance from donors and international development organizations. Some examples are the PROARCA project supporting protected areas in Honduras and throughout Central America (US Agency for International Development), the Conservation and Forest Development Project of the Río Plátano (German Technical Assistance), the Broadleaf Forest Management Project (Canadian assistance), and the Environment Management Project for the Bay Islands (Inter-American Development Bank). A number of NGOs are also implementing programs which promote technologies of sustainable resource use for upland farmers. The World Bank has recently approved an Institutional Development Facility (IDF) grant to indigenous organizations for capacity building. Together with the IDA/GEF program, these projects address the most pressing issues facing the conservation of biodiversity in Honduras: institutional capacity, land security, enhanced protection of key protected areas, long-term financing of the protected areas system, development aspirations of upland and indigenous peoples, and sustainable use of biodiversity in buffer zones.

Regional Context and Strategy
9. Honduras’ national efforts fit within the context of the Mesoamerican region’s biodiversity initiatives to reduce threats to conservation. The Central American governments have established institutional mechanisms over the past decade to promote coherent biodiversity protection programs. These include the Central American Commission on Environment and Development (CCAD) formed in 1989, the Central American Convention of Conservation of Biodiversity and Protection of Priority Protected Areas (1992), and the Central American Alliance for Sustainable Development (1994). The agenda for the November 1996 Central American Presidential Summit included establishment of the Central American Fund for Environment and Development (FOCADES) to support objectives of the Alliance. A GEF grant was approved by the GEF Council in October 1996 to support FOCADES activities that meet GEF operational program eligibility criteria.
10. The regional initiatives acknowledge the importance of coordinated initiatives to maintain and restore ecological integrity in the region, explicitly endorsing the establishment of a regional biological corridor. CCAD, representing its member governments, requested GEF assistance through UNDP to prepare the regional framework for the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (MBC). This was followed by requests from Nicaragua and Honduras for GEF assistance for the preparation of national projects within the context of the Mesoamerican Corridor; a similar request from Panama is in process. The World Bank and UNDP have been coordinating closely to ensure consistency among these initiatives and to avoid duplication of efforts. The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor Regional Project is expected to focus on coordination, capacity-building, harmonization of legal and regulatory frameworks, and monitoring activities at the regional level, while individual national projects would focus on investments and institution building activities at the local level required to establish and protect the Corridor. The proposed Honduras Biodiversity Project is the second (after Nicaragua) of the national interventions to be submitted to the GEF Council; it is a joint WB-UNDP submission.

PROJECT OBJECTIVES AND DESCRIPTION
11. The integrated program of the Natural Resources Management and Land Administration Project/Biodiversity Project (IDA/GEF) has as an overall objective the conservation and sustainable use of Honduras’ natural resources and biodiversity. In addition to benefits for local communities and the national economy, the resource management investments are intended to protect biodiversity by slowing the advance of the agricultural frontier through stabilizing communities in buffer areas and creating incentives for protection of the resource base. To achieve these objectives, the IDA/GEF program has six components: Land Administration Modernization, Natural Resources Institutional Strengthening, Natural Resources Management, Strengthening Protected Areas, and Biological Monitoring, and Project Coordination. The IDA/GEF program is complemented by the above IDF grant of US$ 180,000 for capacity building of indigenous organizations for land and resource management.
12. Land Administration Modernization (US$ 13 million) includes activities that aim to improve the legal security of land and forest tenure and begin the process of resolving tenure conflicts on forest lands. This component, divided into Pilot Phase and Expansion Phase subcomponents, is to be entirely financed by the IDA credit and GOH funds.
13. Natural Resources Institutional Strengthening (US$ 6.5 million ) includes (a) institutional strengthening of AFE-COHDEFOR, the forest administration; (b) institutional strengthening of the parks department, DAPVS; (c) enabling activity and concensus building on the draft National Biodiversity Strategy; (d) creation of local management committees; and (e) strengthening of local communities’ capacity for management and conservation. GEF funding of US$ 1 million is proposed for the incremental costs of these activities related to protection of the MBC.
14. Natural Resource Management ( US$ 14.8 million) includes (a) management of priority public forest blocks with community involvement; (b) research and training on improved forest and resource management technologies; (c) support to upland farming systems and social forestry activities to intensify agricultural use and diversify income streams within a pattern of sustainable resource use; and (d) support to investments in productive projects in the buffer zones of selected Protected Areas. GEF funding of US 1.6 million is proposed for the incremental costs of these activities related to protection of the MBC.
15. Protected Areas Strengthening (US$ 10.4 million) includes: (a) demarcation and pre­par­a­tion of management plans for about eight PAs, at least five of which will be of global biological signi­fi­cance; (b) creation of tourism infrastructure for PAs with high economic potential; (c) support for implementation of management plans, including community-based participation in conserv­a­tion; and (d) creation of a long-term self-financing mechanism for PA management. GEF fund­ing of US$ 4.0 million is proposed for the incremental costs of these activities.

16. Biological and Impact Monitoring (US$ 0.6 million) includes: (a) biological monitoring of the integrity of the Meso-American Corridor to complement activities in the regional project; and (b) monitoring of the impact of the project on the biological values in the project area and US$ 0.9 zones of influence. GEF funding of US$ 0.4 million is proposed for the incremental costs of this activity.

17. Project Coordination (US$ 3.6 million) includes: staff, consultant and operational costs of the project coordination office in the Secretariat of Natural Resources. GEF funding of US$ 0.3 million is proposed for the incremental costs of managing MBC activities.

18. IDA-financed investments within the integral IDA/GEF program are expected to begin in the second quarter of 1997. Disbursements under the GEF project are tentatively scheduled to com­mence in the first quarter of 1998. This phasing of respective investments is expected to be helpful to the success of the GEF project because a number of key activities, financed by the IDA credit but critical to effectiveness of the GEF project, should be well underway by mid-to-late 1997. These include: institutional strengthening of the Agricultural Secretariat, estab­lish­ing the self-financing mechanism for the SINAPH, and hiring of additional staff for streng­then­ing DAPVS. The bi-lateral donors with complementary projects within the corridor--GTZ, Canada, Government of Holland, European Community, USAID and possibly the Government of Japan--would be coordinating their activities with the consensus-building activities for the National Biodiversity Strategy. The proposed GEF project would therefore help GOH to coordinate activities and strategies in particular PAs in the MBC.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF GEF BIODIVERSITY PROJECT

19. The GEF Biodiversity Project would include those activities critical to establishing and ensuring the protection of the Honduran segment of the MBC. The project has been jointly pre­pared by the WB and UNDP and is being presented as an integrated package for review by the Council. The UNDP part of the package is expected to be approved in mid 1997 and to initiate support and institutional strengthening activities during the second half of 1997. The World Bank supported investment components expected to be approved by late 1997.

20. The activities to be financed with GEF funding include:

(a)Natural Resources Institutional Strengthening (US$ 0.95 million) would include two lines of action-- enabling activities under the CBD, including building concensus on the draft National Biodiversity Strategy, and strengthening of government and non-governmental organizations for PA management.

(i)Enabling Activity for Biodiversity Conservation (US 0.370 million) would include support to the draft National Biodiversity Strategy to finance special studies, information dissemination, consultation, national and local workshops, preparation of a country report, and possibly legal assistance for local communities for con­sen­sus building on the draft National Biodiversity Strategy and the concept of buffer zones that will be implemented within that Strategy. This will build on an ecosystems map of Honduras prepared with co-financing from the IDA project as part of the dialogue to establish national priorities for conservation.

(ii)Strengthening of DAPVS and local Institutional Capacity. (US$ 0.58 million) would support selected training and capacity building activities to orient DAPVS staff, NGOs, and communities to take on management and protec­tion responsibilities in the selected PAs. In addition to training DAPVS staff, this activity will include: (a) support to create and build capacity of local management committees, and (b) support to local communities in and around the selected PAs to better manage biodiversity resources, which will complement a World Bank-managed Institutional Development Fund (IDF) grant to indigenous organizations in Honduras for capacity-building training.

(iii)Environmental Education. (US$ 0.15 million) This activity will support small investments in environmental education programs in the buffer zones. Such programs could be designed to specifically enhance the effectiveness of other investments under the project or could be more general, such as improving the understanding at the primary school level of the importance of buffer zones and of biodiversity.

(b)Protected Areas Strengthening (US$ 4.05 million) would include financing of the management of PAs located within the MesoAmerican Biological Corridor that are priority areas for management under the SINAPH, and of high global value, but have little tourism and self-financing potential at present. Five areas have been chosen as investment foci (each including various categories of PAs): Patuca-Tawahka (mid-altitude humid forests), Warunta-Rus-Rus (lowland humid forests and pine savannas in the Mosquitia), Atlantida (north Atlantic coastal wetlands and mid-altitude humid forest on the Cordillera de Nombre de Dios), Mosquitia wetlands, and the Gulf of Fonseca (mangroves). These activities would include:

(i)Demarcation. (US$ 0.75 million) would finance surveying and placement of markers along the borders of the targeted protected areas which have been legally established but not yet demarcated. Demarcation of boundaries would be completed in consultation and cooperation with local and indigenous communities.

(ii)Management Plans. (US$ 0.2 million ) would finance studies and consultations for preparation of appropriate planning instruments for management of the selected PAs. It is not intended that the project finance detailed and costly traditional management plans but rather that the emphasis be on the production of useful annual operational plans produced within the context of guiding management principles agreed upon with local stakeholders.

(iii)Infrastructure Investments. (US$ 2.5 million) would finance, depending on the precise needs of each PA, a variety of infrastructure and equipment needs, as well as some recurrent costs on a declining basis (with the proviso that all recurrent costs are assumed by the GOH at the end of the project). Financing will include one visitor center (three others are being financed under the associated IDA project).

(iv)Personnel Costs. (US$ 0.6 million) would finance some personnel costs on a declining cost-sharing basis, including training of new recruits, required for effective management of the selected PAs. It is assumed that increasing tourism revenues will allow the government’s financing mechanism to cover these costs by the end of the project period. Under the associated IDA project, GOH has agreed to assume the incremental personnel costs of DAPVS and the PAs in the event expected resources are not forthcoming from this mechanism.


(c)Improving Natural Resource Management in Buffer Zone Areas. (US$ 1.6 million) would finance pilot or demonstration projects that foster or extend best practices to buffer zones around the targeted Protected Areas. The importance of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor for the long-term conservation of biodiversity in Honduras depends not only on the integrity of component PAs but also on conservation of biodiversity in their buffer zones and in linking corridors. This component would complement sustainable land use and management activities being financed in the associated IDA credit as well as initiatives being financed by other donors, such as GTZ or CIDA. An Indigenous Peoples Development Plan is under pre­paration for this project, and where appropriate, activities identified as priori­ties by indigenous communities will be included for project financing. Recognizing that good management of biodiversity resources in these buffer zones generates a range of benefits and services for local communi­ties (and not just “global” benefits), the financing plan for this component in­cludes substantial counterpart funding from beneficiaries, GoH, and other devel­op­ment programs. These activities would include:

(i)Promotion of Appropriate Technologies (US $ 0.3 million) would finance a limited number of pilot projects promoting appropriate and innovative land use technologies. Detailed proposals have been developed during preparation for investments that are likely to gain local acceptance and that can be expected to have a positive benefit on the overall goal of biodiver­si­ty conservation.

(ii)Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in Forestry Activities (US$ 1 million) would finance direct grants (with a cofinancing requirement) for technical assistance, feasibility studies, and/or investment costs for a variety of ini­tia­tives in the buffer zone that aim both to enhance economic benefits and sustainability of biodiversity. Project funds will be administered and man­aged through the Upland Fund that will be created under the associated IDA Project. Projects would have to be in demand from local communi­ties and consistent with GEF eligibility criteria (to be further defined dur­ing preparation). Potential areas of investment include sustainable forest management, shade coffee, and other biodiversity-friendly agroforestry prac­tices. Proposals are being developed to fund savings societies which would be given matching funds on a 2:1 to 5:1 ratio to finance invest­ments. For larger enterprises (with profit earning proposals, eg., ecotour­ism), a revolving fund mechanism with repayment may be explored, possi­bly channeling project funds to the Program for Informal Enterprises with­in the Honduran Social Investment Fund, currently supported under World Bank Cr. 2693-HO.



(iii)Gender Issues in Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity (US$ 0.3 million) would finance investments which would enhance the role of women in biodiversity-related initiatives, primarily working through wom­en’s savings societies. Activities supported under this component would increase women’s role in biodiversity conservation, and address women’s lack of assets for productive activities. It is expected that the gender dia­logue initiated would also raise nexus issues related to poverty, population growth, poor infant and maternal health. The GEF project would seek to link communities to available sources of financing for these related issues. Direct gender-related investments will be administered and managed using the grant mechanism mentioned above.
(d)Biological Monitoring (U$ 0.4 million) would finance studies, equipment, con­sul­tants, and field surveys to monitor the impact of the project on biological resources in the selected PAs and adjacent zones of influence. These activities would complement monitoring of the whole MesoAmerican Biological Corridor under the regional GEF project. Monitoring activities will also involve and benefit local communities. This information will be valuable not only for assess­ing the effectiveness of, and providing input to, project interventions, but also as input into future planning of other biodiversity-related projects.

(e) Project coordination (US$ 0.3 million). This component project would contribute modest financing to cover the incremental costs of project coordination related to GEF financed activities.

PROJECT COSTS AND FINANCING
21. The total IDA/GEF program cost is estimated at US$ 49 million equivalent. The total cost for the associated IDA project is US$ 41.0 million of which $ 32.0 million would be fin­anced by an IDA credit, and the remainder by the Government of Honduras and beneficiaries. The incremental costs for protecting areas of global biodiversity importance, to be covered by the GEF Biodiversity Project, are conservatively estimated at US$ 7.0 million equivalent. A detailed cost table and financing plan is attached at the end of this proposal. The incremental cost analysis and justification for the GEF grant are provided in Annex 1.

RATIONALE FOR GEF FINANCING
22. Honduras ratified the Convention for Biological Diversity on July 31, 1995. The proposed project is consistent with the operational programs of the GEF Operational Strategy for Biodiversity since it focuses on a range of ecosystems from mountains and forests to coastal wetlands and marine ecosystems within the MesoAmerican region. The project is consistent with guidance from the Conferences of the Parties as it addresses in situ conservation and will include capacity building; strengthen conservation, management, and sustainable use of ecosystems and habitats, including coastal and marine ecosystems and mountain regions; strengthen the involvement of local and indigenous peoples; and integrate social dimensions, including those related to poverty. The Honduran GEF focal point endorsement letter is attached as Annex 2.
23. GEF financing provides a special opportunity to help GOH coordinate the activities of various donors and agencies in biodiversity. With the joint initiative of the World Bank and UNDP in GEF preparation, the GOH has been able to develop a broad consultative forum for refining the draft National Biodiversity Strategy. This has captured the attention of the President, who is requesting that the self-financing mechanism for PA financing be incorporated into the country’s tourism strategy as well. The proposed GEF project is also part of a larger GEF-supported strategy for an integrated Mesoamerican Biodiversity Corridor. The UNDP-managed Mesoamerican Biological Corridor Project is quite advanced in preparation and is providing the framework under which the Honduras Biodiversity Project is being developed. An additional important rationale for GEF funding is the leverage of biodiversity conservation funds from bilateral and multilateral donors that can be expected to occur within the next year (discussions are currently underway with most key donors).

PARTICIPATION AND SUSTAINABILITY

Participation
24. A social assessment was carried out as part of project preparation with the following objectives: (a) to evaluate the existing patterns of resource ownership, management, and use among different groups and institutions in the protected areas; (b) to identify stakeholders who should be involved in preparation, implementation, and evaluation and to obtain their inputs on project scope and design; (c) to identify potentially negative impacts of proposed activities on vulnerable groups in the population, including indigenous groups and women and to design measures to prevent or mitigate these impacts; (d) to identify opportunities to build local capacity of local governments, indigenous organizations, producers, and NGOs; and (e) to prepare a development plan for indigenous people (Miskitos, Garifunas, Tawahkas, and Pech) based on consideration of the development needs of the indigenous groups potentially affected by the project.
25. The Social Assessment Process has included: (a) analysis of the stakeholders; (b) participatory consultation workshops in three different regions with representative stakeholders in the GEF project area; (c) analysis of an extensive secondary literature on social impacts of natural resource management projects; and (d) field visits and meetings with local authorities, women, indigenous representatives, producers, and NGOs. An Indigenous Peoples Development Plan (IPDP) is currently under preparation and will be ready before project appraisal.

Sustainability
26. Project sustainability would be assured through a combination of measures. Firstly, the associated IDA project would improve the ability of local and national institutions to address land tenure issues and to provide technical assistance on sustainable land use. The GEF activities would build on that foundation and assist GoH and local communities to establish consultation and conflict resolution mechanisms within the MBC. The Upland Producers Fund would be a major tool for promoting more sustainable forms of land-use and biodiversity-related benefits in the buffer zones (as would the buffer zone component under the project itself). Activities financed through the GEF would be screened to ensure that they are “biodiversity friendly” within the Corridor and PA management plans. Secondly, a self-financing mechanism to be created in the IDA project would gradually generate income for the maintenance of infrastructure, equipment, and the staff of protected areas of national and international significance. Thirdly, by working closely with a variety of stakeholders, and promoting environmental education, as well as by effectively opening up a number of protected areas to the Honduran public, the project should benefit from increasing public support for the protected areas.
27. The financial sustainability of the Honduran PA system is in part dependent on generating a nature-based industry in the country. Such a goal is the focus of several components of the IDA/GEF Program. As noted in the GEF project description, GOH has agreed to assume the recurrent costs of the incremental DAPVS staff in the event that the self-financing mechanism is less successful than expected.

LESSONS LEARNED AND TECHNICAL REVIEW
28. The design and preparation of the proposed project has drawn on lessons derived from World Bank experience in implementing biodiversity projects. A recent World Bank report, Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Development: A World Bank Assistance Strategy for Implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity, highlights some of the key factors contributing to successful project implementation. These include: institutional strengthening, participation of local stakeholders, financial sustainability, flexible and iterative processes, and decentralized management of protected areas. All of these lessons are specifically reflected in the various components of the GEF project.

29. To date, the World Bank has managed no biodiversity conservation projects in Honduras, apart from protected areas management plans included as part of the Agricultural Sector Adjustment Credit (Cr. 2540-HO). Most protected area projects implemented by DAPVS have focused on rural development in buffer zones around protected areas. The Ministry of Agriculture has supported a number of upland farmer support programs with donor or NGO assistance. In these experiences, the lesson has been that projects must not create incentives that make communities dependent on outside resources for continuity. Another lesson is that buffer-zone activities must be well-linked with PA management plans. A USAID-financed project built community capacity around La Muralla National Park by working with patronatos (small community-based organizations). They effectively contributed to acceptance and management of this national park. This project will employ similar approaches.
30. Experience in Honduras and other Central American countries has shown that promoting more intensification of upland farming can, in addition to generating immediate benefits for local communities, stabilize communities in buffer zones and slow the expansion of the agricultural frontier into adjacent protected areas. Social forestry also has potential as an income stream and to create a disincentive for deforestation. Many projects in Honduras have concentrated on promoting more sustainable use of natural resources in buffer zones. Lessons learned have included: (a) the benefits of using NGOs to provide extension services; (b) the effectiveness of encouraging gradual innovation by farmers accompanied by well-designed pilot projects; and (c) the need to focus on training and capacity strengthening at the local level.

31. Of particular interest is the experience accumulated by NGOs such as CARE and World Neighbors in changing agricultural subsistence practices to more sustainable ones through farmer-driven extension efforts, incorporation of women’s groups, and linking agricultural development support to conservation initiatives for high-value protected areas. Other lessons learned from working with NGOs in Honduras is the importance of capacity building for local NGOs playing a role in PA management. This was particularly evident in the experience of the USAID-funded support to Fundación Vida. Also important are the experiences of FINNIDA and Canada in supporting community forest utilization, respectively in pine-oak and broadleaf forests.
32. STAP Technical Review. The Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) reviewer noted the global relevance of this project and that the objectives and activities of the project are appropriate within the framework of the overall Central American program. It was also observed that the selection of areas is appropriate methodologically. The most important recommendations were that: (a) an explicit plan for involvement of donors and civil society in the biodiversity dialogue be included; (b) land tenure issues be addressed; and (c) buffer zone activities be screens for “biodiversity friendly” landscapes/waterscapes, and realistic to maintain the Corridor; (d) any co-management of local populations in protected areas management be consistent with IUCN management categories and foster genuine participation; (e) a clear finance plan be developed for the PAs; (f) infrastructure be developed in the context of the management plans; and (g) institutional arrangements and absorptive capacity be well analyzed. The STAP Reviewer’s technical comments are attached as Annex 3.

ISSUES, ACTIONS, AND RISKS
33. The single greatest risk facing the project is that, despite interventions of this and other projects, advances of the agricultural frontier will continue to fragment the remaining patches and corridors of natural habitat in Honduras. The IDA/GEF program attempts to tackle some of the driving factors. Unless overall economic strategies of Honduras are implemented and address root causes of poverty and lack of economic opportunity, the effects of the high national population growth rate may within one or two generations render ineffective some of the investments protecting extant areas of natural habitat. The project is addressing this risk by promoting policies designed to fuel economic growth in the rural sector, thereby creating incentives at the local and regional level to reduce or check migration to the agricultural frontier. The key policies/interventions being used are: (a) modernizing the land information base and registry system; and (b) involving local populations in buffer zone investments and PA protection.
34. While the project will improve the system of land administration and registration, there are complex land tenure issues, particularly with regard to indigenous communities in the Mosquitia, that are outside the scope of this project. To reduce the risk that tenure insecurity will undermine indigenous involvement in the project, DAPVS will work closely with local committees and community organizations in participatory PA management and the identification and implementation of buffer zone investments. The World Bank IDF grant for indigenous training will also provide support to indigenous communities on land tenure rights and options.

35. Finally, the risks of weak institutional capacity or institutional instability and the risks of failing to create a viable financing mechanism for the SINAPH are also important. During project preparation, Ministerial restructuring changes were proposed as part of public sector reform in Honduras which would involve the protected areas agency and creation of a new environmental ministry. Independent of this issue is the concern that DAPVS may not be effective in scaling up its responsibilities. The project’s strategy to address this concern is to work through existing institutions; rely increasingly on NGO and local community capacity; coordinate with other initiatives, such as the Upland Fund; and foster a smooth transition, should DAPVS be transferred to a new Ministry. Project preparation activities include an institutional absorptive capacity analysis. For the self-financing mechanism, the strategy is to start at a pilot level to reduce risks, should the expected revenues be delayed or fail to emerge. Many of the infrastructure investments are ones that have been previously identified as useful for the selected PAs. In addition, GOH has agreed to assume the incremental recurrent costs, in the event that the self-financing mechanism is not as successful as anticipated.

INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK AND PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION
36. The project will be coordinated and administered by the Department of Protected Areas and Wildlife (DAPVS), presently located in the Forestry Administration Corporation (AFE-COHDEFOR). The same staff will be assigned within DAPVS to coordinate biodiversity conservation activities financed both under the GEF and the associated IDA project. The enabling activity and consensus-building on the National Biodiversity Strategy would be implemented by the Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat. In addition to a center of operations in Tegucigalpa, regional operational centers will be located in Morocón for the Mosquitia region, La Ceiba for the Atlantic region, and Catacamas for the region of Olancho. It is expected that, other than direct interventions in the PAs, most investments under the project will be coordinated and implemented by regional entities such as municipalities, NGOs, indigenous organizations, and local communities. The Director of DAPVS will closely liaise with the Natural Resource Specialist of the Natural Resource Management Project Coordinating Unit that will be established in the Ministry of Agriculture to coordinate the associated loan. The Upland Fund, established for chan­nel­ing technical assistance grants under the associated project and under the GEF project, will be used as a conduit for financing to residents of the buffer zones. If there is interest and capacity, NGOs and/or local communities may undertake all or a part of management and protection responsibilities in a given protected area.

37. UNDP and World Bank will be joint implementing agencies for the GEF project. UNDP will be the lead agency for technical assistance and training activities, including consultations, work­shops, and environmental education. World Bank will be the lead agency for PA manage­ment activities, and buffer-zone technical assistance and investments.TINA HERE The exact mechanism for cooperation and future processing prior to final CEO endorsement will be determined at appraisal. The focus on local man­age­ment arrangements and involvement of non-governmental institutions will also help ensure coor­dination at the beneficiary level of UNDP and World Bank financed activities.

Honduras: Natural Resource Management and Land Administration Project/
Biodiversity Project (IDA/GEF Program)


Project Costs ($US ‘000) and Financing Plan


Component (Subtotal)
Subcomponent

IDA

GEF

GOH

BENEFI-

CIARIES


TOTAL



















A. Land Administration Modernization

(11,213)

(0)

(1,778)




(12,991)

1. Pilot Phase

2,154

0

45




2,199

2. Expansion Phase

9,059

0

1,733




10,792



















B. Institutional Strengthening

(3,745)

(650)

(1,780)

(30)

(6,205)

1. Strengthening of COHDEFOR

3,210

130

1385




4,725

2. Consensus Building on Biodiversity Strategy

75

370

270




715

3. Support to Local Management Committees

0

200

10

20

230

4. Capacity-building for Community-based NRM

460

250

115

10

835



















C. Improving Natural Resource Management

(9,426)

(1,600)

(3,164)

(610)

(14,800)

1. Promotion of Appropriate Technologies

5,000

300

325

80

5,705

2. Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in Forest

Management



3,855

1,000

2,579

450

7,884

3. Gender Issues and Investments

571

300

260

80

1,211



















D. Strengthening Protected Areas

(4,402)

(4,050)

(1,938)

(50)

(10,440)

1. Demarcation and Management Plans

269

950

260

50

1,529

2. Investments in Protected Areas

2,448

2,500

1223




6,171

3. Community-based PA Management

260

600

120




980

4. Creation of Long-term Financing Mechanism

1,425

0

335




1,760



















E. Biological Monitoring

(200)

(400)

(20)




(620)

1. Monitoring of Corridor Integrity

0

300

15




315

2. Monitoring of Project Impact

200

100

5




305



















F. Project Coordination

3,014

300

320




3,634



















TOTAL

32,000

7,000

9,000

690

48,990






















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