An external mid-term evaluation on the APFNet funded project “Sustainable Forest Management Rehabilitation and Management for the Conservation of Trans-boundary Ecological Security in Montane Mainland Southeast Asia project (“SFR-MMSEA project” for short)” was conducted during September 19-26, 2014 on project sites in China, Laos and Myanmar to check project performance for the first half implementation period from January 2013 to July 2014.
(upper-left) Group photo of user group members at the project signboard in Shan state, Myanmar
With the principle of producing user-friendly evaluation results to benefit remaining project operation, the APFNet evaluation team visited three demonstration sites, where more than 30 forest officials, community forest members and village households were met with and intensively interviewed. A community-based participatory approach was adopted to check project progress on ground and project impacts of benefiting communities and improving local forest conditions.
Via the field check, 100 ha have been established to demonstrate conservation of natural forests (such as water source conservation forests and sacred forests), enrichment planting and assisted natural regeneration within secondary forests. Varied agroforestry models have also been set up bearing the goal to balance economic, ecological and social benefits both in the long run and short term. By interplanting endangered rare species, tropical rainforest species, greening species and high-value timber species with rubber, the concept of eco-friendly rubber plantation was piloted in Yunnan to address current eco-issues such as biodiversity loss, soil degradation.
Communities interviewed expressed appreciation and satisfaction for the economic and ecological changes that the APFNet project intervention has brought. Most villagers have benefited from such as receiving skills-intensive training on forest management, taking for free efficiency stoves and most importantly, raising awareness on SFM and ecological protection by setting up social fencing rules. For example, any disobedience to community rules at different types of forest will receive punishments in Laos. Similarly, in Yunnan, a 5-year agreement has been signed with village committee, detailing forbidden actions that may be taken by villagers and bring damage to forest resources, and possible supports at many aspects from YAF to livelihood-based forest management in this village.
Dr. Hu huabin, a senior researcher in Xishuangbanna Botanical Garden and the chief evaluator invited by APFNet shared his preliminary observation, concluding that the SFR-MMSEA project has been on track in implementation and achieved good outputs as planned. In particular, following points were highlighted.
Common but differentiated site design is a project shining point. Sharing a common goal to create new knowledge for community-based SFM&R in order to curb increasingly severe forest degradation and deforestation (2Ds), the project has site-specific design to solve the very typical issue in each site that is considered as important driver to cause 2Ds and of high demonstrative potential.
Establishment of the network of professional individuals is prioritized as an important determinant to constantly benefit the project. Yunnan Academy of Forestry (YAF), Forest Research Institute Myanmar (FRI), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment(MoNRE) and Department of Agriculture Land Management (DoALM), Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry(MAF), Laos all have years of experiences in piloting rehabilitation practices. Information exchange among them has been and will be a pushing driver to SFM&R in the three economies and economies around.
Suggestions were also provided on such as how to fully utilize established platforms to upscale project outputs, strengthen project impact assessment by adopting both qualitative and quantitative methods and maintain project sustainability.
Building on the achievements, project implementing partners are planning cross-site study tours to exchange views on best practices at each site. For the 3rd year, the project will focus on recording success stories, combing policy summary at various levels and considering the ultimate benefit to communities, to a community-based SFM&R strategy that might be replicated and scaled up to a larger region.
Planted high-productivity Simao Pine in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China
Understory vegetation regeneration in Teak plantation in Luang Prabang, Laos
APFNet evaluation team interviewing villagers in Yunnan, China