2.1An Andean Regional Approach to Threats in Paramo
During an execution period of six years, the project will concentrate on removing the barriers linked to the major threats for the conservation of Paramo of the Andes, excluding those caused directly by climate change, which are beyond the project’s thematic boundary. Conservation and sustainable use of Paramo will require a diversified set of responses at different levels tailored to the differentiated threats and opportunities to be found across countries and regions both in Paramo and in its buffer zones. The project recognizes that Paramo is a trans-boundary ecosystem over four countries with a corridor function for many key elements of its biodiversity. This project provides a regional Andean response to the threats. The root causes for land degradation in the areas included in this project are similar across the political and physical borders. A regional, multi-country coordinated effort that is directed at mitigating land degradation is the only sustainable approach to addressing the problems in the area. Applying the ecosystem approach helps to integrate Paramo conservation and management efforts across national borders, ecosystems and life zones and to consider the position of Paramo as the origin of international watersheds. The cross-border and regional approach to Paramo biodiversity management is within UNEP´s mandate in the GEF, and UNEP's expertise in regional co-operation and networking will be highly valuable in this endeavor.
Working internationally, the project can connect bordercrossing natural areas and cultural groups (U´wa, Quichua and Quechua descendants) institutionally and operationally through Andean institutional collaboration. Thus the project will recognize both commonalities and differences in the type and degree of threat to the Paramo across countries and zones. For example, all countries share similar threats of the advance of the agricultural frontier towards the Paramo and ill planned animal husbandry including fire on large scale. Other threats are country specific (e.g. strip mining in Perú, political instability in Colombia and rapidly expanding tourism in Venezuela and Ecuador). Finally, in a regional approach, the project will conduct specific investigations to fill knowledge gaps and collect, integrate and analyze available information on the Paramo ecosystem at an integrated Andean scale.
2.2Objectives and results (Alternative Scenario)
The development goal of the project is to maintain globally important biodiversity of the Paramo in the Northern and Central Andes, through the support of this ecosystem’s conservation and sustainable use. This will be accomplished by linking in situ conservation of Paramo biodiversity with the sustainable use of the Paramo resources through equitable participation of those stakeholders responsible for its stewardship.
Support institutions at different governmental and non govermental levels to adopt key policies to support conservation and sustainable use of Paramo, including codes of conduct for different sectors.
Strengthen the technical capacity of Paramo inhabitants, field technicians and local governmental and non governmental organizations to sustainably use and conserve Paramo.
Increase awareness and information about the importance of the Paramo ecosystem among key decision makers and the rural and urban population directly and indirectly related to Paramo.
Generate a replication strategy for the project, to other areas and scales at Andean level.
Project interventions will have several global benefits. The project will reduce the advance of agricultural activities presently encroaching on Paramo and mitigate other threats, thus conserving biodiversity and improving water regulation by Paramo. The project will strengthen an enabling environment through improved policies that support Paramo conservation and the sustainable use of its resources, enhance farmers’ and other users' capacity for using environmental friendly productive processes, strengthen local and national governments' abilities for Paramo decision making, and raise public awareness about the importance of Paramo. The most tangible results will be obtained in a series of nine representative project sites. The best lessons thus gained will be replicated in other sites and at a larger scale, hence promoting substantial support to Paramo conservation and policy development at different levels (local, national, Andean). After the project, all stakeholders (such as executing organizations, local and national governments, local NGOs and farmer communities) will be considerably strengthened in their capacity to sustain long term Paramo management and will be working in an international exchange and coordination network for Paramo conservation.
The alternative scenario also delivers several domestic benefits. Biodiversity conservation is achieved through a combination of in-situ conservation planning and agricultural systems that have a lower environmental impact and higher economic profit. The latter helps to increase local incomes by which the project brings about an improved quality of life and social services for mountain communities. The generally improved land use (conservation areas and low impact agriculture) in the Paramo zone will result in stabilizing or even improving water availability and quality. In summary, mitigating threats to biodiversity will enhance the protection of the natural base for agricultural production and lead to conservation and sustainable use of the Paramo, all of which will contribute to strengthening local and national economies and support the eradication of poverty at the project sites. A detailed baseline and incremental cost analysis is presented in Annex 2.