In October 2009, USAID approved a three-year work plan for the USAID Sustainable Forests and Coasts project, which contained a detailed description of the activities and key actions planned for Fiscal Year 2010 (FY10) and a general overview of the activities for FY11 and FY12. Subsequently USAID executed the first option year, which goes through June 15, 2013. The present detailed work plan presents specific strategies, activities and key actions for implementation from October 2012 through September 2013, which corresponds to FY13, assuming that USAID will execute the project´s second option year and the project period of performance will extend through June 2014.
In FY13, the Project will continue to consolidate its initiatives from previous years, together with the Ministry of the Environment (MAE) and USAID Ecuador. Project technical assistance will continue to focus on the following four geographic areas from previous years, which were selected based on their importance for biodiversity:
- Gran Reserva Chachi and its buffer zone
- Reserva Marina (RM) Galera San Francisco and related watersheds
- Parque Nacional Machalilla (PNM) and the Ayampe River watershed
- Gulf of Guayaquil (including the Reserva Ecológica Manglares Churute, the Reserva de Producción de Fauna Manglares El Salado and mangrove concessions) In addition, activities will continue in the following two important areas that were added in FY12:
- Bosque Protector (BP) Chongón Colonche: the mountain range that extends 95km east to west inland from the coast. Chongón Colonche was declared a protection forest in 1994.
- Guayas Province, with a climate change strategy to support the provincial government.
The project developed this work plan using a participatory approach, gathering information on needs and priorities through strategic consultations with a wide range of stakeholders in each geographic area. Stakeholders consulted included local government authorities, MAE and MAGAP authorities, USAID, and NGOs, among others.
Key to developing this work plan was the close partnership the Project has developed with the MAE from the outset. The Project has worked with MAE authorities from the provincial offices for Manabí, Esmeraldas, Guayas, and Santa Elena, as well as from the Sub-secretariats for Coastal and Marine Management and Natural Patrimony, and protected area directors from the Galera San Francisco Marine Reserve, Machalilla National Park, Churute Mangroves Ecological Reserve, and El Salado Mangroves Wildlife Production Reserve. To this end and since the project´s inception, the Project has continuously supported the MAE´s conservation activities, particularly the National System of Protected Areas (SNAP for its Spanish acronym) and technical assistance for the government’s programs and policies for protected area management.
The Project’s implementation strategy is based on providing the technical assistance needed to reduce threats to biodiversity conservation in these priority areas, and particularly in protected areas. Just as in past years, in FY13, these threats, and the strategies designed to minimize them, are presented in alignment with the Project’s Intermediate Results (PIRs)
In response to PIR 1 (improve biodiversity conservation in critical habitats), in FY13, the Project will implement activities under the strategy for minimizing the loss and/or alteration of habitats, including remnants of high biodiversity areas, through improved management and rehabilitation of critical terrestrial and coastal marine areas (especially in habitats located in government protected areas), public policy advocacy, and climate change adaptation measures.
In response to PIR 2 (improved local livelihoods), the project’s principal mandate is biodiversity conservation in critical coastal marine areas. The ecosystems in these areas are fragile and constantly threatened by expanding agricultural and livestock frontiers. The project is careful not to promote economic activities that, while they might boost incomes in the short term, contribute to the destruction of the resource base in the medium and long terms. From this standpoint, the project will prioritize activities that ensure the sustainable use of the resource base for commodities in the value chain. In FY13 the project aims at consolidating three or four value chains: a) red crabs, whose value chain moves $64 million a year and involves over 2200 crabbers, by providing mechanisms for sustainable collection and for protecting mangroves; b) improved forestry harvesting, as an alternative for reducing illegal logging in the Ayampe River watershed; c) tagua harvesting and sales, which is the main non-timber forest product and primary source of income in the rainforest section of the Chongón Colonche Protected Forest and the Ayampe River Watershed; and d) cacao production and sales with Ecocacao in Galera San Francisco.
The main strategy in response to PIR 3 (partnerships formed for ongoing support for biodiversity conservation) will center on strengthening the MAE, local governments, grassroots organizations (such as Ecocacao), and other institutions (such as the National Fishery Institute) to play a leadership role in conservation coalitions promoted by the Project, and establishing/improving relations with other donors and USAID projects with a view to ensuring synergies and maximizing impacts.
Lastly, as requested by the MAE, the project will continue providing technical inputs for authorities to develop policies on harvesting, conserving and regulating natural resources, such as tagua, crabs, wood, and others related to climate change.
In FY13, the Project will continue to adhere to USAID’s environmental regulations through the procedures set out in the Environmental Review Worksheets.