ACHIEVEMENT OF PROJECT OBJECTIVES COMPARED TO THE ORIGINAL OBJECTIVES OF THE PROJECT
The project is well on target for the achievement of the overall objective to support improved and sustainable livelihoods of people living in the buffer zone of Hustai National Park and thereby to contribute to the sustainable management of biodiversity in Hustai National Park.
The project objectives formulated in the project document continue to be relevant. They do require to be adapted to the fast changing conditions due to the impacts of climate change during the proposed new project phase. The main enabling conditions have been created by the activities aiming at the seven outputs of the Buffer Zone Project:
1. Institutional development: The identification, selection and establishment of important development organisations is well under way for community groups and has already been finalised for BZ Council and Committees. These organisations must be strengthened further to achieve sustainability. In successful co-operation, the different institutions (Soum administrations, khurals, police officers, prosecutor’s office, Buffer Zone Council/Committees, park administration) discussed and adjusted their planning concerning the conservation of the park and the development of the three soums. The basic regulations and bylaws guiding the management of BZ Funds are being elaborated. Depending on the experience made, regular updates will be required.
2. Natural resources management planning: The registration of leaseholds agreements for community groups continues satisfactorily. 34 herder groups consisting of 5-20 herder households and 3 felt-making groups have started to cooperate with each other. First successful attempts were made to extend leaseholds and ownership rights to the management of wells, which had the positive effect that the number of conflicts over water decreased. In addition, for the first time joint decisions on the use of summer pastures were made. Conflicts in the use of pasture in the Tuul River area could be solved during the BZC meeting.
Carrying capacity maps are being drawn up for herder groups’ winter and spring areas and the results are appreciated by the herders. This work is recognised as an important basis for further discussions of the reduction of livestock numbers to avoid overgrazing and ecological damage to the pasture areas. However, the adjustment of livestock numbers, especially those of goats, depends on the successful establishment of alternative income activities. Over the last years, only the number of goats increased in the three BZ soums; the numbers of other livestock have been stable or decreasing slightly. The reason for this is that the goats’ cashmere wool has a particularly high economical value.
3. Buffer Zone Management Plan: The Buffer Zone Management Plan has been drawn up and includes the opinions of all stakeholders. The Buffer Zone Management Plan was approved by the Board of Citizens Khural of Tuv Aimag. The Buffer Zone Management Plan is in line with the soum and aimag development plans and takes the government policies in the different sectors into consideration. The objectives of the BZ Project are fully integrated in the BZ Management Plan and the implementation of planned activities has started. Attempts to establish economic units in the BZ not in line with the Buffer Zone Management Plan, such as new tourist camps, could be prevented.
4. Natural resources management implementation: Pilot activities proved to be successful; in the coming years they must be extended (protection and generation of water and forest resources, rehabilitation of abandoned croplands, fodder cultivation, improved breeds and improved veterinary services). The idea that pasture land can and must be improved is increasingly accepted by the herder groups. Activities concerning this Output will become more important in future. On the base of sound research relating to the changing ecological conditions, corresponding activities need to be implemented.
5. Income-generating activities: The herder communities’ desire to diversify their income is growing. The micro-credit facilities are very much in demand; the repayment rate is well over 90%. More than 850 loans (337 BZDF, 530 BZCom) have been agreed, if four people (average family size) profit from one loan, already more than 3,400 people have been reached. This represents a very significant figure, more than 50% percent of all soum residents (around 6,000) and there is no doubt that the numbers will grow further in future.
The Hustai shop has proved to be an important venue for the marketing of tourist products made by the BZ communities. The Hustai restaurant has purchased a significant quantity of meat from local herders. The local soum markets are becoming more relevant for dairy products and for vegetables. The uptake of the local felt-products by the international market has been slow; but it seems that this will develop further. More and more tourists want to experience community-based tourism. With the creation of the CBT NGO and the joint support of this CBT-initiative between Dutch co-funded projects, we are optimistic for the future.
Poor and very poor people were especially targeted; however, this is only the beginning and the process will have to be intensified in the coming years.
6. Soum Assistance: Support was provided to social institutions such as schools and kindergartens. The decision-making power to award these grants to the soum administrations has been handed over to the Buffer Zone Council. The established procedure is as follows: several alternative proposals for soum support are prepared by the soum khurals; they are discussed during BZC meetings and then joint decisions are made. As this process is in line with the decision-making process for loans and grants in the Buffer Zone Council, the BZ Project team decided with approval of the RNE to follow the same approach of joint decision-making for the soum grants.
Contributions to the ecological education of children have started with the establishment of a nature club in Argalant Soum school (50 members). More has to be done in the future.
Policy recommendations: The Hustai staff takes a leading role in important discussions concerning amendments to the Land Law, Buffer Zone Law and to the law of Special Protected Areas. Seminars on these issues were organised in Hustai. The Hustai team participates in developing new policy recommendations and the BZ Project is already pointing the way to the future in different sectors, such as:
- The exhaustive use of leasehold agreements for winter/spring pastures, the first agreements for summer/autumn pastures, and the management of wells.
- The strengthening of the Buffer Zone Councils as an important institution to discuss and to decide on major questions relating to conservation as well as the sustainable development of the soums concerned.
- The development and implementation of an integrated BZ Management Plan.
- The elaboration of a successful and widely demanded micro-credit system for soums residents including the poor and very poor.
- The community-based tourism approach will be established in Mongolia at the national level. For the first time standards and regulations for this type of tourism have been developed.
The activities and innovative approaches supported by the BZ Project have been presented regularly in “Unuudur”, the most popular newspaper of Ulaanbaatar, on at least two partly coloured pages. In addition, the Mongolian National TV gave presentations on the BZ activities and several foreign video productions included the Hustai National Park as well as the activities in the buffer zone. In August 2008, a small newspaper, the ’Hustai News’, was published for the first time. Since then it is foreseen to produce four issues of the newspaper per year to report on project activities and publish suggestions and recommendations for farming and pasture management. Information about Buffer Zone Council and Committees, the loan system and training opportunities are also included.
To date, innovative features have guided the project and resulted in a remarkable level of success. In particular, the constant, close cooperation between all main stakeholder groups must be emphasized. As a result of the local election conducted in October 2008, khural speakers and governors of the Soums have changed, except for Argalant Soum. Promising discussions and meetings have been organized to engage the new authorities in the project implementation process from the beginning, ensuring their understanding and involvement in the future.