Gef medium-size proposal in

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According to a study of fauna (AEDES, 1998) there are 14 endemic species and 15 national protected species (Decreto Supremo No. 013-99-AG)2 in the lower zone of the basin. One mammal species (Thylamis elegans) and one bird species (Xenospingus concolor) among the fifteen that are protected by Peruvian law are not present in any other conservation area in the country; they are, however, abundant in the Cotahuasi Basin. According to a list issued at the national level by the FANPE3 project, six species -- Andean condor (Vultur gryphus), Andean deer or huemul (Hippocamelus antisensis), Vicuna (Vicugna vicugna), Guanaco (Lama guanicoe), Andean cat (Oreailurus jacobita) and Andean flamingos (Phoenicoparrus spp.) -- are threatened or in danger of extinction (Annex 3) and are listed as globally endangered by IUCN-Red Data Book and CITES. Finally, the river otter (Lutra annectens, Lontra longicaudis)4, listed in Appendix I of CITES, is a highly endangered species that has its habitat in a remote area of the Cotahuasi river.

Initial floral studies (AEDES, 1997 and 19985), identified 430 species in the Cotahuasi basin. Of these, approximately 160 species have some identified medicinal or aromatic use, including arrayan (Luma chequen), muna (Minthostachys mollis), qerqo (Carica agusti), eucalipto (Eucalipus globulost) and anis (Anisum pimpinella).

3. Past & Current Baseline Activities
The Cotahuasi Basin is one of the poorest regions in Peru. Consequently, there has been a high level of emigration for several decades from the valley to other parts of Peru, causing an actual decrease in the local population. For those who remain, poverty has prompted the adoption of exploitative natural resource use practices for short-term gain. Agricultural lands and pasturelands are managed at the individual or communal level, with little external guidance on how to incorporate “modern” agricultural practices into traditional systems. Management of water resources is limited, with scant consideration of water quality or quantity in planning or zoning strategies for the basin. Recently improved roads within and around the basin are resulting in changes to existing industries (e.g. growing of crops and raising of livestock for export), and the development of entirely new industries (e.g. mining). Finally, there are no protected areas in the Cotahuasi basin, as the Peruvian government has few resources to work with local communities in developing reserves on the communal lands that make up most of the area. Thus, even while the area’s population has decreased, deforestation, overgrazing, and pollution in the Cotahuasi basin have increased, causing erosion, habitat destruction, and a loss of biological diversity.
Despite these difficult conditions, local stakeholders have demonstrated an extraordinary interest in seeking ways to reverse what they see as the early stages of a downward spiral of poverty and environmental degradation. Perhaps because of the failure of purely localized resource management in the basin, there is a growing interest in managing the area as a single river-basin ecosystem, emphasizing its natural and cultural heritages as engines for long term sustainable development. Many of the pieces to an integrated ecosystem management regime are already in place, as noted below, and will provide the building blocks for the execution of the proposed Project.
Since 1996, the local population in the Cotahuasi basin has engaged in a process of planning and participation building to expand crop diversity and link local agricultural producers to regional, national, and international markets. In recent years, farmers in the area have relied almost entirely on just two crops, corn and potatoes, which together account for 87% of the agricultural land in the basin. AEDES (Project proponent) is providing education, training and studies to local farmers to help them reap the economic benefits gained by conservation and sustainable use of diverse food crop varieties, and the recovery of traditional knowledge, especially that of women, related to ethnobiology. Local farmer’s groups also have developed management plans for medicinal and aromatic plants for export (through which they have identified 160 potentially useful species), and are working with micro-businesses in the basin who transform some of these crops into products ready for export (e.g. aromatic plants as preservatives).
The most successful initiative has been the establishment of a nascent certified organic agriculture program in the Project area. In 2000, the fourth year of the program, 300 farmers with 150 hectares have participated in the program, selling approximately 180 tons of organically grown grains (kiwicha/amaranto, quinoa, habas, purple corn, and beans). In 2001, the program is expected to have the participation of 600 farmers and include over 300 hectares, in part because organic farming has provided higher profits to the farmers than their traditional crops. Interestingly, the entire production in 2000 was sold to a single buyer in Germany, who the project proponents found and negotiated with over the Internet.
Residents of the basin are interested in developing ecotourism, and believe that the area’s high biodiversity, unique geography, and wealth of cultural history will draw visitors to the area. Local communities have been supportive of the development of protected areas to enhance the area’s attractiveness, including one for the habitat of the area’s river otters, a relatively pristine environment in the narrowest, steepest part of the canyon. Another attraction is the many archeological artifacts, from many different periods, found in the area. The Cotahuasi basin is the home of Wari, Chankas, Incas and other indigenous groups, and in the past served as the most direct, and thus most traveled, route from the Inca capitol of Cuzco to the Pacific Ocean. Adding to the Cotahuasi basin’s appeal is the manner in which its residents, since ancient times, have transformed the nearly vertical walls of the canyon into cultivated gardens. Throughout the basin, visitors can admire the more than 10,000 hectares that have been transformed into these garden platforms, as well as the amazing crop biodiversity found there.
At the institutional level, during the past few years, the mayors of La Unión province have encouraged open debates with their colleagues from Caylloma and other High Provinces of Arequipa to exchange experiences with sustainable development models through a series of round tables, meetings and field visits. In the region around La Unión, the Association of Peruvian Town Councils (AMPE) is developing alliances between municipalities and NGOs in the area to develop new ideas in how to harness the unique agricultural potential of the area to improve economic development and reduce poverty on a sustainable basis. Stakeholder institutions have formed Committees and Development Councils at provincial and district levels such as the Cotahuasi Basin Water Authority and the Working Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment in order to imbue momentum to the sustainable conservation and development of La Unión province. Finally, during the past two years, stakeholders have begun to discuss how they might develop an integrated ecosystem management strategy for the Cotahuasi Basin ecosystem. Discussions on organic agricultural production and sustainable environmental management have taken place already among farmers, resource management organizations (Resource Users Board, Commission of Water Users) and women’s organizations.
However, several constraints have hampered the progress of these grass-roots efforts to develop ecosystem management approaches. There is limited knowledge locally on how to proceed with developing a sustainable, ecosystem-based development process, and little understanding of the potential for localized human activities to impact large areas of the basin. There is very little up-to-date and organized ecological, social and economic information, including traditional knowledge, to guide integrated management planning. There is also little documented information on local species, and even less awareness among local populations of the existence or importance of biodiversity in the area.
As a result of these constraints, there is no integrated strategy for the management of natural resources in the Cotahuasi basin, and successes in one area are frequently offset by emerging problems in another area. While the ability to develop specific conservation and development projects in the Cotahuasi basin clearly exists, the capacity and expertise to create a framework that integrates all of these initiatives is still missing. The proposed Project will address exactly these challenges of capacity building and integration of cross-sectoral initiatives.
4. Threats to Biodiversity, Agrobiodiversity and Ecosystem Integrity

  • Localized habitat destruction, fragmentation and erosion from over-exploitation of forests & grasslands;

  • Reductions in crop biodiversity and use of heirloom varieties (e.g. native crops such as amaranthus, quinoa, and potato varieties) due to adoption of new and often exotic seed varieties and decreased use of traditional strategies such as seed exchanges among local farmers;

  • Erosion and degradation of some agricultural and pasture lands as residents begin to abandon traditional Andean land management techniques in favor of more market friendly technologies and practices, such as elimination of terraces (to facilitate the planting of animal-feed crops and pasture), burning of stubble, abandonment of crop rotation, changing irrigation techniques, and more aggressive grazing practices;

  • Growing water pollution from agriculture, municipal solid/liquid waste, and mining activities, with impacts on aquatic flora & fauna and drinking water quality.

5. Constraints to Addressing Threats and Implementing Integrated Ecosystem Management

  • Inappropriate policies, regulations, and subsidies supporting unsustainable natural resource management practices, including agrochemical use, introduction of exotic crop varieties, reforestation using exotic species, poorly planned road-building, commercial mining development, and increased intensity grazing practices;

  • Insufficient ecological information, including information on local biodiversity and the carrying capacities of different landscapes, for formulating resource management strategies;

  • Insufficient social and economic information to guide integrated ecosystem management planning;

  • Lack of knowledge in how to apply ecological information in formulating resource management strategies;

  • Insufficient organizational and technical capacity among local authorities to control and enforce existing laws and policies concerning mining, grazing, and use of forest resources, resulting in resource extraction activities with no environmental management programs, and an absence of specific officials or institutions with responsibility for monitoring and regulating these industries;

  • Insufficient capacity among local authorities to facilitate integrated and cross-sectoral management strategies, and lack of a basin wide management plan or authority to coordinate conservation planning across landscapes and local jurisdictions.

  • Inadequate mechanisms for preserving traditional knowledge and sharing information, including knowledge of biodiversity and local crop varieties, among farmers themselves;

  • Inadequate understanding among local communities and authorities of the advantages of conservation of biodiversity and its sustainable management, including agro-biodiversity; and unawareness of existing laws and regulations for biodiversity protection;

  • Unawareness among local populations of watershed management principles, of integrated ecosystem management concepts, and of specific strategies that should be applied to different landscapes to protect fragile ecosystems;

  • Insufficient economic alternatives for growing local communities, resulting in the increasing exploitation of the natural landscape (e.g. agriculture and pasture lands, forests) for basic necessities (e.g. food, wood for fuel and construction);

10. Objectives and Expected Outcomes:

Project Objective
To catalyze the adoption of comprehensive ecosystem management interventions that integrate ecological, economic, and social goals to achieve the conservation and sustainable use of globally significant biodiversity and land and water resources of the Cotahuasi River Basin.

Project Purpose
By the end of the project, stakeholders will be adopting a comprehensive range of interventions to conserve and sustainably utilize biodiversity, reduce land degradation and desertification, and manage mining, timber, tourism, and other economic activities in the Cotahuasi Basin for long-term sustainability.
Expected Outcomes

  1. The enabling environment (appropriate policies, regulations, incentive structures) for integrated ecosystem management is created;

  1. Detailed information on local environmental, social, and economic conditions is available to decision makers and resource users;

  1. The capacity of institutions (local, regional, and community-based) to implement integrated ecosystem management approaches is strengthened;

  1. Community-based in-situ conservation of biodiversity and agrobiodiversity is secured in priority areas within the basin;

  1. A strong constituency is established in the Basin for ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation;

  1. Investments are made in sustainable development of the Cotahuasi Basin, including alternative livelihood sectors, based upon ecosystem approaches and stakeholder partnerships.

11. Planned activities to achieve outcomes:

  1. Modify appropriate policies, regulations, incentives and markets to support integrated ecosystem management. (Outcome 1)

  1. Develop a community-led integrated ecosystem management program for the Project area based on a mosaic of conservation-compatible and economic development land uses including: 1) biodiversity conservation; 2) reforestation using native species for fuel, lumber, fodder, watershed protection and soil conservation, and; 3) sustainable farming and pastoral systems. (Outcome 1)

  1. Conduct ecological, economic, and sociological surveys to provide information, including indigenous knowledge, to guide integrated ecosystem management. Identify different ecological zones in the Basin and establish priorities in management and protection of fragile ecosystems. (Outcome 2)

  1. Create a stakeholder committee to formulate and implement the ecosystem management strategy for the Project area. Strengthen local institutions to implement the strategy, and develop policy reforms to support the strategy. (Outcome 3)

  1. Provide technical and policy training to strengthen local capacity, (government officials, NGO staff and local community leaders) to oversee, implement and monitor the integration of ecosystem management in provincial and district plans. (Outcome 3)

  1. Provide technical training to land use managers and local producers in how to integrate biodiversity conservation and traditional knowledge thereof into sustainable productive activities (Outcome 3)

  1. Identify priority globally significant habitat types and species in the Cotahuasi Basin and develop community-based conservation practice for each. (Outcome 4)

  1. Develop demonstration initiatives in priority sites for the integration of indigenous systems of soil and water conservation, the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity, including in-situ conservation of agro-biodiversity and local production and distribution of seedlings of endangered native plants for reforestation. (Outcomes 4, 5, 6)

  1. Educate and train local communities and other stakeholders on the importance of integrating agrarian activities, tourism, and mining within the framework of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and natural resources. (Outcome 5)

  1. Share information with stakeholders throughout Peru to strengthen integration and support from these constituencies for biodiversity and land & water resource conservation, sustainable resource use activities, and integrated ecosystem management strategies. (Outcome 5)

  1. Disseminate information to stakeholders on land tenure, gender issues, existing laws and regulations, and relevant institutional responsibilities related to natural resource ownership and management. (Outcome 5)

  1. Train stakeholders in alternative livelihood development in: ecotourism, organic agriculture, appropriate agricultural and pastoral practices for different landscapes, medicinal/aromatic crops and biodiversity-friendly reforestation. (Outcome 6)

  1. Facilitate investment to improve management of range and forestlands, to restore indigenous vegetation and improve water management, and to promote viable organic, medicinal and aromatic crops by working with credit agencies to provide risk guarantees, low-interest loans and other financing to support local conversion to sustainable production systems. (Outcome 6)

  1. Enable stakeholders to secure investment in economically viable ecotourism by raising awareness of opportunities among local authorities, populations, and businesses; training of guides; infrastructure development; and creating revenue-sharing mechanisms to encourage participation. (Outcome 6)

  1. Stakeholders involved in the project

In 1996, the mayor of La Union province called together public and private entities to start a planning process for the creation of an integrated management plan for the Cotahuasi basin. The result was a five-year plan for the basin (1996-2001), one that promoted the development of eco-businesses as a way of simultaneously protecting the environment and reducing poverty in the province. AEDES was appointed the Technical Secretary of this effort, and in this capacity AEDES has drafted the project brief for GEF. Stakeholders in the sustainable management and development of the Cotahuasi Basin, as identified in this participative plan, are:

  • FEMULU (Federación de Mujeres de La Unión Community Women’s & Youth Organizations): This organization, along with several youth-oriented grassroots community organizations, supports the development of eco-businesses, including organic agriculture, micro-businesses for processing organic produce, handicrafts, and ecotourism.

  • Schools & Universities: Education programs on inventories of local flora and fauna, agro-biodiversity, and natural medicines. Cotahuasi Higher Technical College (Instituto Tecnológico Superior de Cotahuasi) is training technicians to utilize medicinal herbs to be found in the Cotahuasi Basin, and the staffs of local health centers are being urged to make use of those plants for medical care.

  • APCO (Asociación de Productores de Cultivos Orgánicos -- Association of Producers of Organic Crops): This organization is working on the implementation of a program for the Production of Organic Crops for Export.

  • Working Committee on Agrarian Aspects, Natural Resources and Environment: The committee, made up of leading development and conservation associations in the Project area, including AEDES, APCO, PRONAMACHS, the Association of Farming Communities, and the municipal councils, is promoting organic agriculture, studying biodiversity (including phytogenetic resources and medicinal crops), and conserving indigenous knowledge of biodiversity throughout La Union province.

  • Municipal Councils: The 14 municipal councils in the Cotahuasi basin are providing investments in road and irrigation works and support for eco-businesses.

  • CTAR-OZULU (Oficina Zonal de La Unión del Consejo Transitorio de Administración Regional de Arequipa): This local agency, representing the Ministry of the Presidency, provides co-investment to district and provincial councils for their investments in roads, irrigation systems and the promotion of tourism.

  • Ministry of Agriculture: The ministry is working with PRONAMACHS (Programa Nacional de Manejo de Cuencas y Suelos -- National Program for the Management of Basins & Soils) to promote agroforestry and the management of water resources for irrigation, and is coordinating with the Japanese-funded project JBIC II.

  • FONCODES: An agency of the Ministry of the Presidency, FONCODES provides financing for roads and irrigation works.

  • PRONAMACHS (Programa Nacional de Manejo de Aguas, Cuencas Hidrográficas y Suelos -- National Program for the Management of Basins & Soils): This program will support soil conservation, reforestation, and preservation of aquatic habitat.


    1. Activities to be financed, expected outputs and completion dates of the PDF A:

Output 1: Baseline assessment of existing biodiversity, assessment and definition of existing land-uses and needed changes to implement ecosystem management, analyses of current and potential threats along with related constraints to the proposed ecosystem management program.

Estimated time frame: 2 months

  • Rapid biodiversity assessments to identify “hot spots” within the project area.

  • Assessment of scale and geographical scope of threats and impacts from different sources.

  • Assessment of infrastructure needs to implement an ecosystem management program for the basin.

  • Assessment of specific interventions needed for Project to catalyze the adoption of an integrated ecosystem management approach (e.g. sustainable agriculture, community-based management of biodiversity, agro-biodiversity conservation, etc.)

  • Workshops with government officials and NGO staff on initial findings from the above activities and how these can translate into specific strategies to mitigate threats to the Project area.

Output 2: Analysis of the limitations of the existing legal and institutional framework, and investments needed to create an enabling environment (policies, regulations, incentive structures, etc.) for integrated ecosystem management.

Estimated time frame: 2 months

  • Assessment of current policies and institutions responsible for natural resource management in the Project area.

  • Review of the current legal framework (laws and decrees) supporting conservation in the project area, to identify limitations, disincentives and barriers to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, particularly among the leading productive sectors.

  • Assessment of specific policies and incentives needed for Project to catalyze the adoption of an integrated ecosystem management approach (e.g. financing for sustainable agricultural practices, revenue sharing mechanisms for ecotourism development, etc.)

Output 3: Consultations with stakeholders to achieve consensus on required measures to address existing threats and develop a sound and viable ecosystem management paradigm for the Project area.

Estimated time-frame: Throughout

  • Consultation with local communities and community-based organizations on local priorities, goals, and appropriate roles in developing and implementing an ecosystem management program.

  • Consultations with provincial government entities and other national and regional private entities to assess current conservation efforts, coordinate actions, identify gaps and establish working partnerships for developing and implementing an ecosystem management program.

Output 4: Assessment of capacity building needs of local, regional and community-based institutions, and awareness raising needs throughout the Project area.

Estimated time-frame: 4 months

  • Awareness raising, advocacy and consultations will be held to garner support of local communities and obtain their inputs into the proposed ecosystem management program.

  • Identification of target groups and key messages for a comprehensive awareness raising strategy.

  • Consultations and discussions on the capacity building needs of stakeholders to implement the proposed ecosystem management program (for instance, need for participatory decision making structures, training in various aspects of conservation management, definition of ecologically sound eco-tourism, etc).

Output 5: Recommendations on development of alternative livelihood programs

Estimated time-frame: 2 months

  • A capacity building needs assessment that will target productive sector entrepreneurs in the ranching, agricultural and forestry sectors to determine and develop best practices models and replicable guidelines for sustainable development of natural resources consistent with conservation objectives.

  • Analysis of the potential for ecotourism in specific zones within the project area and assessment of current capacities for developing an ecotourism industry.

Output 6: Formulation of medium size project brief and document, including assessment of the incremental nature of proposed project activities (i.e. complementary or substitutional), and estimation of corresponding co-financing requirements.

Estimated time-frame: 4 months

  • A GEF medium size project brief will be prepared and presented to the GEF Secretariat for approval.

  • Discussions on potential partnerships with local actors and co-financing prospects for components within the medium size project that may not be eligible for GEF funding.

15. Other possible contributors/donors and amounts:
In-kind services and funding in the amount of $4,000 will be provided by international aid agencies (the Dutch funding organization CORDAID, Lutheran World Relief, and Fondo Contravalor Perú Canadá); and another $4,000 will be provided by AEDES and local governments and communities in the Project area.

16. Total estimated project budget and information on how costs will be met at the PDF A stage:
PDF-A Budget (US$)

Budget item




Baseline environmental studies and needs assessment




Legal and institutional capacity assessment




Local consultation and workshops




Livelihood development recommendations




Preparation of project brief







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