Component One: Sustainable Management of the Paramo and its Areas of Influence. In collaboration with all important project stakeholders, a series of nine representative and critical Paramo areas were selected during PDF-B, two of which were in trans-boundary areas within the designated ZIF: Loja-Piura (Ecuador- Peru) and Chiles (Ecuador-Colombia)3. Other sites are: Tuñame and Gavidia (Venezuela), Rabanal and Belmira (Colombia), Zuleta-Mojanda and LLangahua (Ecuador) and Cajamarca (Perú). A pristine area in Colombia (El Duende) will be included as a reference site for research and comparison. In Annex 4 a complete description of the sites and the selection process is presented.
In cooperation with local stakeholders’ alliances, the project will design and implement Paramo conservation and sustainable land use plans with strong community leadership and representation from public and private stakeholders such as farmer communities, local governments and NGOs. These Participatory Management Plans (PMP) build upon baseline information (diagnosis, participatory mapping, and financial baseline) and will be constructed according to the Action Plan that was developed for each site during the PDF-B phase of the project. These Action Plans include a common vision, a stakeholder analysis, identification of major threats and a proposal to face the threats, including a budget and monitoring plans (See http://www.condesan.org/ppa/doc_dis.htm). The local stakeholders' alliance that elaborated the Action Plans will be strengthened for developing and overseeing the implementation of PMP for each of the sites and to assure collaborative action. These alliances consist of representatives of the community, local government, environmental and social NGOs, education and research institutes, economic productive groups (mining, forestry, agriculture), water boards and national government agencies with authority in the area (national park service, defense, land tenure, etc.). The PMP will include zoning, protection of key Paramo sites, managing and restoration, contamination control mechanisms, and the technical and institutional capacity development necessary to obtain sustainability. The PMP will typically include conservation and natural sustainable resource management projects, sustainable production, projects for improving living conditions and social organization strengthening projects.
According to the preliminary Action Plans presented during PDF B, the conservation and natural resource management projects in the PMP include the identification of well-conserved and critical areas for biodiversity and water regulation, about which common conservation agreements will be designed and initiated. This may result in no-use agreements, community reserves, inter-sectoral agreements for protection or extensions of or new protected areas or biosphere reserves. It is expected that critically degraded areas will be subjected to restoration (revegetation and soil reclamation). The PMP will build on the best practices case studies conducted during the PDF B phase and will address the land use problems common throughout the Andean Paramo including but not limited to agricultural production, grazing, mining, forestry, biodiversity and use of water resources. A total of 49 productive practices with low impact on Paramo were analyzed in all countries with Paramo, and a catalogue was produced in which the lessons of all these practices are included (Annex 5). This catalogue will be used as a reference for the sustainable production projects of the PMP, hereby introducing or strengthening existing sustainable income generating projects. Applied investigation activities will be undertaken for the development of Paramo friendly activities in areas where information is lacking (particulary Gavidia, Rabanal, El Duende, Chiles, Tungurahua and Cajamarca). The general information gaps and research questions and methods were identified during the PDF-B phase of the project by an international team of Paramo specialists (http://www.condesan.org/ppa/doc_dis.htm).
Component Two: Policy4 Development and Advocacy. This component will identify and promote formal and informal policy options5 at local, regional, national and ecoregional level, which will support Paramo conservation and sustainable use, considering social and cultural aspects of Paramo inhabitants. One of the main barriers for the conservation of Paramo is the lack of coordination among sectors for mountain ecosystem management. Therefore, an ecoregional policy strategy, with an ecosystem approach for Paramo should build upon the coordination of existing policy options of different sectors and, if necessary, include the development and adoption of new policy options that assure a better legal, economic and regulative framework for the ecosystem approach of Paramo conservation.
During the PDF-B phase of the project, different stakeholders at local and national level identified major threats for Paramo conservation originating from the present policy framework and developed a joint proposal to construct an ecoregional policy strategy (http://www.condesan.org/ppa/doc_dis.htm). At local scale, this strategy consists of activities, to be implemented jointly by different, multi sectoral governmental agencies, assisted by representatives of civil society and local stakeholders. First, the project will support local stakeholders' alliances, especially including local governmental agencies, to develop and implement a policy framework in all project intervention sites (PIS). It will initially concentrate on the PIS, but a policy framework that supports the implementation of PMP has to be developed at different governmental levels (local, subnational, national) as well. This will be achieved through the involvement of stakeholders with wider levels of action (provincial and national governments, regional and national NGO, watershed authorities, etc.).
In order to successfully apply the policy frameworks at local and subnational scales, policy instruments (economic, legal, regulative) have to be developed and promoted. Possible instruments already being implemented in other areas include, among others, market development for sustainable production and tourism, subsidies and levies, environmental service payment schemes and conservation easements. Together with local stakeholders, selected economical instruments that respond to local conditions will be promoted at local governmental and private sector circuits. Finally, to support the inter-sectoral coordination in the political framework, codes of conduct for other sectors (mainly agriculture, but also mining, forestry, tourism and infrastructure) will be developed by local Paramo specialists of the different sectors and their adoption by these sectors will be supported technically and strategically by the local stakeholder alliances..
The project will support the environmental authorities in all four countries to identify policy alternatives that support Paramo conservation and to develop projects to implement these policies at national level. The project will support a Paramo expert within the environmental authority who will be continuously coordinating with Paramo stakeholders. Together with the Secretary General of the Andean Community (CAN) the project will develop and implement a Plan of Action for the conservation of Paramo at Andean level. This Plan of Action will implement D523 in the Paramo ecoregion, it will lobby among the different sectoral interests within CAN to coordinate between environmental, economic and social policies at Andean level, and it will search for synergy between the different international environmental conventions affecting Paramo, including OTCA. For the supervision and monitoring of the policy strategy at national and international level, the project will create a Paramo observatory, consisting of representatives of the four national environmental authorities.
Component Three: Training and Capacity Building The national biodiversity strategy of all four countries as well as the regional biodiversity strategy have identified training of staff as well as community leaders and organizations as a high priority for biodiversity conservation. The project will implement an Andean regional training program to improve technical capacities in conservation and sustainable use of the Paramo among farmers, field practitioners and local decision makers. Ancestral and traditional knowledge will be transversally integrated into this program. During the PDF-B phase, together with stakeholders at Andean and national level, the project identified five main target groups for practical training: (1) Paramo inhabitants (i.e.: farmers, cattle rangers, land owners, mine workers), (2) field technicians, park rangers, trainers, community leaders, (3) authorities, politicians and government functionaries at different levels, but especially local, (iv) Paramo experts and researchers, and (v) public defense forces in Colombia and Peru (Batallón de Alta Montaña6 and Rondas Campesinas7, respectively). The project has developed its training and capacity building program based on an analysis of the present training offer in themes related to Paramo management, and after ample consultation with the target groups (principally at the PIS) to define the training demand (http://www.condesan.org/ppa/doc_dis.htm).
The training and capacity program consists of a series of short courses directed at the main and complementary target groups of the project. The themes and approach of the courses were defined during PDF-B and will be fine-tuned during execution in cooperation with the participants. Also, as an integral part of the training and capacity building program, and to strengthen the farmer-to-farmer approach, the project will execute an experience exchange plan. This plan consists of observation tours between farmer communities within and between countries, and of internships of park rangers, community leaders, municipality personnel at other communities, municipalities and parks, to gain experience in another setting. The project will also identify and compile experiences in Paramo management, including the analysis, application and publication of ancestral and traditional knowledge, as well as the identification and diffusion of demonstration experiences in the field.
Component Four: Information and Communication. This component will inform key decision makers and the general public about the biodiversity and economic value of the Paramo in order to overcome the barrier of lack of knowledge and public awareness about this ecosystem. Environmental education and communication (awareness raising) programs will be executed following different strategies. Formal education (continuous programs at schools, leading towards degrees or certificates), extracurricular education (discontinuous programs -workshops, short events- directed towards specific groups with specific messages) and supplementary education (awareness raising with messages through mass-media) are the main strategies of the education component. These communication activities will be supported by a Paramo Information Mechanism (PIM).
During the PDF-B phase, the project and its stakeholders at Andean and national level identified the target groups for the education component, according to the education strategies. Formal education: (1) students, their parents and teachers at formal institutions, (2) the educational community in general. Extracurricular education: (3) community leaders, (4) NGO and social organizations, (5) members of productive sectors, (6) governmental organizations and authorities. Supplementary education: (7) politicians, donors and decision makers at national and international level (8) urban and rural population related (indirectly) to Paramo. The project developed the education and communication program based on an analysis of the present educational offer and ample consultation with the target groups, in order to define the education and information demand (http://www.condesan.org/ppa/doc_dis.htm). All target groups will be mainly at the PIS but also at other selected Paramo sites.
The project will support the reorientation of a series of education institutes at the PIS towards EcoSchools (Escuelas Sustentables de Paramo: ESPA): schools that not only include environmental themes transversally in their curriculum, but also maintain an environmentally friendly character within their teaching philosophy and execute off-campus activities and projects related to, in this case, Paramo and Paramo inhabitants. For educational institutes at other, selected Paramo and related areas, curricular environmental education projects around Paramo conservation (Proyectos Educativos sobre Paramo; PREPA)8, will be developed and implemented through the preparation and guidance of a group of teachers of these schools and the development of adequate materials and tools. Parents and teachers will be actively involved in both ESPA and PREPA. Coalition building between the different ESPA and PREPA schools, at national and Andean level, is important for the long term sustainability of project outputs. Extracurricular environmental education activities, directed at the population in Paramo areas of the PIS, will be included in this coalition. In the supplementary education program, farmer communities and selected groups of communicators participate in a series of short events about the importance of Paramo and its conservation, involving traditional knowledge and experiences. Special care will be taken that this becomes a dynamic process, including field activities, exposition events, 'Paramo fairs', etc.
The extracurricular education program aims at information provision and awareness raising in urban and rural population related to Paramo. Through this strategy the project will identify mass media at local, national and Andean level that effectively reach the target groups. Together with these media and representatives of the target groups, the project will select messages and elaborate materials that will be distributed among the target groups. Different types of materials will be elaborated for different target groups, such as leaflets and posters, videos, television spots, radio programs and newspaper articles. For more in-depth communication, round table discussions and teleconferences among selected target groups (decision makers, donors, community leaders) will be organized and conferences (social, political, scientific, economic) will be assisted to deliver the messages for Paramo to different levels in society.
A main barrier for effective management of Paramo is the lack of information and its provision to support decision making for key stakeholders. A considerable amount of information is available in different Andean, North American and European universities and research institutes, but it is scattered, difficult to access and an integrated analysis of the information and its implications for sustainable Paramo management and policy design is lacking. Moreover, there are substantial gaps in the available baseline information on key themes such as: the regional distribution of biodiversity; the role of the Paramo on the regulation of the hydrological cycle; the quantification of other goods and services provided by the Paramo; the impact of different land use techniques and of policy decisions on the capability of Paramo to provide these goods and services; and the technical basis for sustainable land use practices. This information demand has already been identified during the PDF-B phase by a multinational group of Paramo specialists and verified at national level in all four countries (http://www.condesan.org/ppa/doc_dis.htm). Therefore, to support the communication component, the project will create a Paramo Information Mechanism (PIM) that will draw from applied investigation at different scales, collect available information and store it in a central, easily accessible database at Andean level for further analysis. Information management will build on existing databases constructed during earlier initiatives in Paramo (Ecuador Paramo project, Colombian Andes project, Paramo Atlas project, ULA and CONDESAN initiatives, among others) and during the PDF-B phase. The database will be continuously updated by project partners. The PIM will be linked with the national Clearing House Mechanisms. Herewith, the project will profit from the experiences of the CHM that are in full operation (Colombia) and the CHM which are still under construction will profit from the experience of the project. Furthermore, a direct connection will be sought with the Andean Institute for Biodiversity (IAB) which will be established by the Andean Parliament. The PIM also constitutes an excellent opportunity to maintain contact and interchange of information between scholars and decision makers of the participating countries and other parts of the world.
Component Five: Replication Through different mechanisms, the lessons of the project will be replicated to other areas and other levels. A replication strategy will be created through the involvement of the local stakeholders of Component 1 and of members of Paramo Working Groups at regional and national level. The latter are platforms of environmental NGOs working in Paramo that meet regularly to interchange experiences and information. By creating more of these working groups and by strengthening the existing ones, they become an informal replication platform of the project. Local actors from other Paramo areas, other organizations and institutes and from other levels (provincial, national, watershed) will be invited to participate in project activities (particularly components three and four) and vice versa. Institutional alliances will be built with key organizations that support Paramo conservation in other areas to support the implementation of best practices and lessons learned in their areas of influence and vice versa.
The replication strategy, executed by the working groups, will consist of the identification and documentation of the best lessons of the project and the selection of other sites and scales where these lessons can be replicated. In respective agreements with key stakeholders, the execution of the replication component (methods, time table, responsibilities, financing) will be agreed upon. During replication, continuous monitoring and evaluation will take place by the working groups. This replication strategy will support the environmental authorities in inter institutional and inter sectoral coordination, particularly in matters related to the decentralization processes of environmental responsibilities. Special attention will be given to assure that through local and regional government involvement, lessons learnt at PIS will be included in environmental and development planning at higher levels (watershed, municipality, protected area). The formal replication strategy will be supported by policy strategies at national and Andean level developed in component 2.
The different project components are complementary and mutually dependent. The central activities of the project will be in Component 1 where actual management and conservation activities will be developed and implemented at the PIS. All other components of the project will support and strengthen the implementation of the PMP, and assure its sustainability and replicability. In Component 2, it will be necessary to work with governments at different levels to construct an adequate policy, legislative, and regulatory framework that assures the implementation of the PMP, their replicability and the expansion of its impacts. In components 3 and 4, the participation of different groups at the PIS and other Paramo sites (farmers, students, investigators) constitute the main target groups. These two components are coordinated closely to share materials, tools and information on ancestral and traditional knowledge. Through component five the impact of experiences at the PIS and the developed policy will be broadened to other sites and levels while stakeholder platforms will be strengthened. Similarly, Component 2 will be coordinated with the other components, since capacity building and information provision to local decision makers is essential so assure the technical and social effectiveness of the policy framework. Finally, Component 5 is specifically focused on replication; the lessons that will be replicated originate from all other components. Therefore, replication is a transversal activity as well as a component.