Sector: Forestry (75%);General agriculture, fishing and forestry sector (25%)
Theme: Other environment and natural resources management (P);Other rural development (P);Participation and civic engagement (P)
IBRD Amount (US$m.): 0.00
IDA Amount (US$m.): 0.00
GEF Amount (US$m.): 7.00
PCF Amount (US$m.): 0.00
Other financing amounts by source:
GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT - Associated IBRD Fund 25.00
Environmental Category: B - Partial Assessment
Is this project processed under OP 8.50 (Emergency Recovery)
Yes [ ]
No [ ]
2. Project Objectives
The project?s Development Objective is to mainstream biodiversity conservation into plantation forestry practices, which is consistent with the Global Environment Objective of conserving globally and regionally significant biodiversity in production landscapes located in critical Argentine ecosystems.
3. Project Description
The project consists of four components that support the objective of mainstreaming biodiversity into the plantation forestry sector. These components are: (1) Institutional capacities strengthened (2) Development and dissemination of biodiversity-responsible plantation practices and technology transfer (3) Support for the adoption of biodiversity-responsible plantation practices, and (4) Project Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation.
Institutional capacities strengthened: This component aims to create the required capacity at federal and provincial levels of government within environmental and forestry agencies to spearhead the biodiversity mainstreaming process. Specialized in-depth training on biodiversity and ecosystem integrity and management, enrichment planting, environmental impact assessments and strategic environmental assessments, and best practices for forest plantations will be provided for senior federal and provincial officials, as well as for researchers and extension agents. Financing will support the development and extension of biodiversity-conservation techniques to be integrated into production practices. The component will also seek to improve and update the legal and policy frameworks needed to improve sustainable plantation planning and establishment, and invest in tools critical to biodiversity-responsible plantation location and design. This includes contributing to the dialog on the legislation which will replace Law 25.080, which expires in 2009. Through broad stakeholder participation and technical analysis, maps and ecoregional planning tools will be produced and disseminated for guiding government plantation promotion, as well as for orienting ongoing private sector investments. Strategic Environmental Impact Assessments also will be carried out in the project ecoregions to ascertain the broader impacts of forestry activities on the ecosystem.
Development and dissemination of biodiversity-responsible plantation practices and technology transfer: This component will document and disseminate improved forestry practices that integrate conservation with production. A special focus will be placed on practices for establishing native and mixed species plantations (within forest ecosystem settings), opening up the understory to the surrounding ecosystem, and creating set asides among approaches that maintain or enhance native ecosystem biodiversity. The economic and biodiversity conservation implications of these practices will be monitored through Component 4. Native seed banks and nurseries will be supported, and field trials carried out to analyze different management approaches. Workshops will be held to bring together the private sector (small, medium, and large-scale producers) and public (provincial and federal) sector, as well as academia and NGOs, to discuss the establishment of standards for biodiversity-responsible practices in the forestry sector and to disseminate best practices drawn from studies and field trials. The dialog on best practices will be continued and expanded at a major international workshop linked to the World Forestry Congress to be held in Argentina in 2009, which will disseminate the mainstreaming approaches advanced with the GEF supported project.
Support for the adoption of biodiversity-responsible plantation practices: Under this subcomponent, SAGPyA and its counterpart institutions will undertake activities designed to identify and test biodiversity-responsible land use practices in high priority areas, or targeting threatened biodiversity, in the production landscape. Specifically, resources will be made available to support activities intended to promote changes in the production landscape in target areas, leading to maintenance or enhancing biodiversity of global importance and sustained economic development that is compatible with conservation objectives. The subcomponent will support improved community and land-holder practices through targeted interventions that revolve around plantation forestry concerns, and will seek to ameliorate threats to globally important biodiversity through environmental education and field extension. As the project will engage small-, medium- and large-scale producers, each of which has very different needs and resources, the project includes two sets of complementary approaches. For small- and medium-scale producers, a demand-driven program of grant-supported subprojects will be included, complemented by environmental education and monitoring of the biodiversity impacts of the subprojects and generating lessons-learned from the approaches taken. The objective of these subprojects is support owners who are piloting the inclusion of biodiversity-responsible practices in production landscapes. The component will also facilitate dialog with large producers on conservation practices, standards, and certification, and provide technical assistance (though not financing) needed to promote the inclusion of biodiversity-responsible techniques.
Project Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation: The incremental costs associated with the project implementation, as well as with setting up a system of monitoring and evaluation of outcomes, will be supported through this component. The GEF will also provide support to SAGPyA these incremental costs. This component will also cover baseline information collection, mid-term evaluation, and final evaluation under the Monitoring and Evaluation program for the project (see also annex 3 Results Framework and Monitoring). With regard to globally significant biodiversity and benefits from the project, several components of the monitoring program included in annex 3 will support this effort and designed to support the tracking process of the GEF at a global level. The indicators include hectares under biodiversity-responsible or mainstreamed management, increase in protected areas in the production landscape, while the demand-driven projects and best practices may look at specific globally important species or taxa to monitor biodiversity effects at a smaller scale.
4. Project Location and salient physical characteristics relevant to the safeguard analysis
Several of the mainstreaming components of the project are institutional in nature or regulatory and policy related, and therefore may have national as well as more regional level implications, with globally positive impacts on biodiversity expected as outcomes. The ground-level activities in the ecorregions that are of primary interest for mainstreaming include the provinces of Misiones, Corrientes, Entre Rios, and parts of Buenos Aires in the northeastern quadrant of Argentina (see maps in attached annexes) while the Patagonian provinces of Chubut, Rio Negro, and Neuquen in the Southwest will be a second focal area.
Baseline biodiversity studies have been prepared by the proponent of the GEF alternative. These analyses have shown the relevance of the biodiversity in these ecorregions based on the number and distribution of endangered, threatened, and endemic species as well as landscape analyses that demonstrate some of the best opportunities for mainstreaming and conservation of biodiversity in target ecosystems such as the Alto Parana Atlantic Forest, Mesopotamian Grasslands, and parts of the Valdivian Forest and Patagonian Steppe.
Argentina has advantages for piloting mainstreaming activities in the plantation sector given that the coverage of remaining ecosystems (particularly the Alto Parana Atlantic Forest and the Valdivian Forest) is greater in this country than in the surrounding countries that share its ecosystems such as Chile, Brazil, and Paraguay. The important network of core protected areas (strengthened in part by GEF incremental investments) also permits greater effectiveness in establishing corridors for biodiversity within the plantation landscape.
5. Environmental and Social Safeguards Specialists
Mr George Campos Ledec (LCSEN)
Mr Jorge E. Uquillas Rodas (AFTS1)
Mr Francis V. Fragano (LCSAR)
6. Safeguard Policies Triggered
Environmental Assessment (OP/BP 4.01)
Natural Habitats (OP/BP 4.04)
Forests (OP/BP 4.36)
Pest Management (OP 4.09)
Physical Cultural Resources (OP/BP 4.11)
Indigenous Peoples (OP/BP 4.10)
Involuntary Resettlement (OP/BP 4.12)
Safety of Dams (OP/BP 4.37)
Projects on International Waterways (OP/BP7.50)
Projects in Disputed Areas (OP/BP 7.60)
II. Key Safeguard Policy Issues and Their Management
A. Summary of Key Safeguard Issues
1. Describe any safeguard issues and impacts associated with the proposed project. Identify and describe any potential large scale, significant and/or irreversible impacts:
The project is designed as an environmentally beneficial project that seeks to pilot and promote practices for biodiversity conservation, while reversing negative trends in human productive activities in the production landscape associated with certain plantation forestry practices. Mainstreaming biodiversity into the production landscape is a strategic priority of the Global Environment Facility under the Biodiversity Focal Area and is a key aspect for implementation of the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The project has selected strategic interventions based on an in-depth threat analysis from both a macro level context and a more regional local analysis within the targeted globally important ecosystems.
Given the semi-blended nature of the GEF investment with an IBRD sectoral loan and Government of Argentina co-financing, the proponent has prepared environmental and social assessments contemplating both the IBRD-funded as well as GEF-funded investments in the scope of analysis even though the GEF-funded investments are all environmentally positive and some cases even restorative of the landscape. A summary analysis of expected environmental and social issues related to the project components and expected activities are attached to the present document.
Components 2 (Technology Transfer) and 3 (Biodiversity Friendly Production) of the present project have components that pilot interventions in the plantation landscape that are designed to be beneficial to biodiversity, however in order to ensure that the practices use are in-line both with best environmental practices and are socially acceptable in light of the Bank safeguards, an Operational Manual is to be prepared for guidance of the Project Implementation Unit of the proponent. The guidance will incorporate the Natural Habitats directives for location of the projects while referring to the Pest Management directives should they be required. In regard to potential participation by indigenous groups in pilot activities, the Operational Manual will also ensure that their participation is framed within the context of the Bank safeguards on Indigenous Peoples.
2. Describe any potential indirect and/or long term impacts due to anticipated future activities in the project area:
The potential indirect and long-term impacts are designed to be positive. The focus on capacity-building along with substantial investments in environmental education and demonstration projects, allows for long-term subsistence of the effects of the investment with potential for replication at national and regional levels given the geographic scope of the interventions.
In regard to the pilot projects with small and medium producers it is expected that social and environmental impacts will be positive given that the project design seeks investment to generate global biodiversity benefits with positive local level impacts on economic wellbeing and income generation. The projects are to be demand driven so as to maximize the relevance and priority for the beneficiaries improving the possibility of positive outcomes.
In regard to large-scale commercial plantation forestry, a controversial activity from a social and environmental standpoint in this part of the world, the project does not engage in the promotion of plantation forestry. In order to improve and ensure environmental sustainability as well as ensure mainstreaming is maximally incorporated into the landscape, the project has components that will engage the private sector in dialogue and planning that is beneficial to biodiversity and ensures the maintenance of ecosystems. The planning processes as well as the capacity building components provide decision-makers at national and provincial levels with tools that will allow the greatest balance between economic growth and environmental and social sustainability of the plantation forestry sector.
An Environmental Management Plan has been prepared by the proponent for those few areas that have been noted to have potential impacts. The areas include: (i). Policy studies and proposals that may not benefit biodiversity if improperly designed and executed, or due to a deficient consultation process. (ii) Extension programs to benefit biodiversity may be poorly designed and implemented or may generate expected positive effects on biodiversity but be socially, economically, or culturally rejected. (iii) These same issues might also arise with the Pilot Projects for Mainstreaming in component 3, as well as the potential to use pesticides in the projects as mentioned previously. An Environmental Management Plan (EMP) has been prepared by SAGPyA to address these issues and the measures therein will be incorporated into the pertinent Operational Manuals for use in implementation and supervision.
Following is a summary of the key provisions included within the EMP of the EA document:
? Selection of locations for intervention by the project will be guided by Strategic Environmental Assessment that will guide sub-components to have maximum positive impacts for biodiversity, avoiding transformation of habitat and greates potential for restoration of ecosystems where possible.
? Individual projects will be designed to support adoption of best practices by producers and criteria have been developed for selection of these projects to benefit biodiversity.
? Measures have been established to ensure quality of the projects, participation, ownership and inclusion of producers, local governments and organizations, and good oversight, monitoring and evaluation during implementation.
? Pesticide use is expected to be limited to the few field components of the project, however Annex 1 of the EA includes policies, measures, and guidelines in this respect. The Annex serves as the Pest Management Plan (PMP) for the project and will be included in the Operational Manual for implementation and supervision. The PMP emphasizes Integrated Pest Management, includes a list of prohibited and restricted pesticides for Argentina, and incorporates the guidelines of the Bank OP 4.09.
3. Describe any project alternatives (if relevant) considered to help avoid or minimize adverse impacts.
During project preparation, consideration was given to establishing specific areas of intervention for pilot projects under components 2 and 3. The alternative of generating a demand driven model that would begin implementation after capacity building within national and provincial level institutions and following participatory planning processes was considered the more environmentally beneficial alternative. An a priori analysis of a project area to pilot low-impact or biodiversity friendly plantation methods would not generate or replicate the level of input that a long-term participatory process would generate such as is presently proposed. The demand driven model also ensures that the communities, organizations, and local governments are committed to the outcomes of the program given that they will generate what they consider priority projects within a general framework to be established by the project in the context of mainstreaming biodiversity in plantation settings. Levels of co-financing will also be optimized in a demand-driven model whereas a ?supply-side? model may not necessarily generate the same level of interest or commitments.
4. Describe measures taken by the borrower to address safeguard policy issues. Provide an assessment of borrower capacity to plan and implement the measures described.
The borrower has a good track record for the implementation of Bank-finance projects, and a demonstrated capacity for monitoring safeguards on three projects, including the recently closed Forestry Development Project. The Terms of Reference and selection of personnel of the Project Implementation Unit will include specialists with natural resources and biodiversity conservation skills with senior-level capacity in order to ensure project implementation and outcomes are executed within the framework of the safeguards policies of the Bank. The project in itself is aimed at generating capacities for a much broader long-term and positive impact on the landscape from production activities outside the scope and control of the present GEF-funded project, and ultimately should be a catalyst for improved environmental conditions.
The Secretary of Agriculture (SAGPyA) and in particular the Forestry Directorate have incorporated into their programs and policies to a certain extent the concept of sustainable development and environmental safeguards. Given their focus on production and economic growth however, capacity within the institution is limited in regard to ?mainstreaming? of the concepts into extension programs, investments, research, and policy. INTA, the National Agricultural Technology Institute, within the realm of SAGPyA, however, has pioneered mainstreaming of biodiversity in forestry and productive activities in Argentina. They have participated extensively in the preparation of the present project and will continue to support the steering committee to be established for project implementation. There are solid capacities in Geographic Information Systems and a specialist in environmental impact on staff in the DF. One of the basic justifications for the GEF incremental investments is the need to generate the institutional capacity in this important sector of the Argentine economy for mainstreaming biodiversity into plantation forestry activities and to reduce environmental impacts in general through best practices.
Argentina is a decentralized country divided into Provinces that are autonomous, and whose governments receive and implement an important part of the national budget. In particular, they are charged with the oversight of environmental impact statements and authorizations for subsidies provided by the national government. In this respect, the institutional analyses and consultations made during preparation indicate a minimal but growing capacity to manage environmental safeguards and planning for long-term sustainable growth. The project seeks to support the planning, capacity building, extension, and project level experience necessary at the Provincial level to mainstream biodiversity and long-term protection of globally important ecosystems.
5. Identify the key stakeholders and describe the mechanisms for consultation and disclosure on safeguard policies, with an emphasis on potentially affected people.
Key stakeholders are described in the summary Social Assessment provided as an annex to the present ISDS. These include national and provincial level public servants, officials, technicians, researchers and extension agents. Other key stakeholders are academic institutions as well as NGOs involved in conservation of biodiversity and reducing the environmental impacts of productive activities. Producers involved in plantation forestry at small, medium, and large scale (ranging from tens to over 100,000 hectares) within priority ecorregions with globally important biodiversity are also important stakeholders that have been engaged during design and will continue to be involved in the implementation of the project. A steering committee will be established for the project at a national level to support and follow the implementation while specific advisory and project committees or roundtables may be established as needed for specific aspects such as policy development and dialogue, technology transfer and pilot project monitoring and evaluation.
Representatives of the stakeholders have participated and been informed during the preparation process in several settings including workshops, interviews, public presentations, mass media, and the Internet. A full list of the participants directly involved in the process of preparation and consultation to date are listed in annex 11 of the PAD.