|Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)
1. Component 1: Watershed management. This component funded by Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) was generally successfully completed. A total of 10,090 hectare (ha) of new forestry plantations were completed, which is 85% of the total targeted area; and out of which 3,853 ha was farmland-to-forest conversion. 39,769 ha of existing young trees on existing forestry was treated and maintained, which is 91% of the total targeted area. The reason for the achievement less than the targets is the appreciation of Chinese yuan (CNY) against US dollar. Water resources management plans were incorporated in the master plans of all the six nature reserves. A water resources coordination leading group, including all stakeholders, was established at each of the six nature reserves; and functioned as a stakeholder working group for coordination for the inclusion of a water resources management plan into the nature reserves master plan. Discussions with the water authorities were conducted at an early stage, and local water allocation plan for the nature reserves and wetland protection criteria and management requirements were included in water allocation plans and/or water resources plans of relevant cities and counties. Through interagency coordination meetings organized by the Heilongjiang Provincial Water Resources Department, the Heilongjiang Provincial Forestry Department made recommendations on wetlands protection criteria, wetlands management, and water allocation; and these recommendations were reflected into two watershed-level water resources management plans: the Sanjiang Plain Water Resources Master Plan (which covers all six nature reserves) and the Songhua River Master Plan (which covers Anbanghe nature reserve). The two watershed-level water resources management plans were prepared and submitted to the Ministry of Water Resources for approval.
2. Component 2: Wetland nature reserve management. This component funded by GEF was generally successfully completed, although some performance targets and indicators were difficult to measure. Pilot farmland-to-wetland restoration was implemented in the six model nature reserves, and 3,441 ha of farmlands were restored to wetlands. Based on the pilot restoration, wetland restoration guideline manual was prepared and disseminated to all nature reserves in the Sanjiang Plain; and wetland restoration was conducted in six nature reserves other than the six model nature reserves using the manual. In the six model nature reserves, wetland restoration continued after the pilot wetland restoration; and wetland areas increased by 5%. Wild species monitoring was improved through provision of monitoring equipment and training; establishment of permanent monitoring stations, geographic information system, and database; and development of monitoring method and manual. More than 6,000 records of wild species were collected. Recovery plans for 18 water birds were prepared and provided to all nature reserves. About 220 stork nests were installed in the six nature reserves, and 57% of the nests were occupied. Based on lessons learned from this component, conservation management components of the six nature reserve master plans were improved. Based on proposals made under the project, animal grazing and fishing inside all the nature reserves in the Sanjiang Plain are prohibited. Numbers of birds monitored in the six nature reserves are 510,559 in 2008, 1,081,353 in 2009, 1,063,532 in 2010, and 683,612 in 2011. In Xingkaihu nature reserve where monitoring data allow an accurate analysis of changes of species populations because of continuous monitoring for many years, the number of stork pairs occupying nesting territories increased from 9 to 44 nests over a 6-year period from 2005 to 2011, mainly due to increased numbers in man-made nests; and the number of bird species included in the name list increased from 238 to 287. In Qixinghe and Xingkaihu nature reserves covered by Baoping, Qixinghe, and Xidapao management stations where a new artificial feeding programme was implemented, the recorded numbers of red-crowned cranes increased from 30 in 2004 to 44 in 2011; while for white-naped cranes, it increased from 17 in 2004 to 58 in 2011. No illegal international trade in animal species originating in project area has been reported.
3. Component 3: Alternative livelihoods. This component funded by ADB and GEF was generally successfully completed. Income levels of persons affected by farmland-to-forest conversion under component 1 were increased throughout the life of the project by planting 923 ha of nontimber forest produsts (24% of the lands converted from farmland to forest) and conducting 663 ha of intercropping. A water- and land-intensive eco-agriculture pilot project was conducted in the experimental zone of the Qixinghe nature reserve. The nature reserve constructed 40 greenhouses for the eco-agriculture in a 9-ha area in the experimental zone. The nature reserve leased out the greenhouses to 40 farmer households who had conducted traditional large-scale agriculture on about 400 ha of lands rented from the nature reserve in the experimental zone. The lands that had been used by the farmers were returned to the nature reserve for wetland restoration. A total of about 400 ha of farmlands were reduced, and agricultural water use will be reduced in the experimental zone by introducing the water- and land-intensive eco-agriculture without reducing income of the farmers. The nature reserve that used to collect income by renting the 400 ha of lands to the farmers can maintain its income by leasing out the greenhouses to the farmers. Ecotourism pilot projects were also implemented in the Xingkaihu and Zhenbaodao nature reserves. Discussions with the tourism authorities were conducted at an early stage, and the Heilongjiang Provincial Tourism Department adopted the proposals for the ecotourism pilot projects. Under the pilot projects, ecotourism activities such as bird watching, fishing, boating, hiking, and camping were conducted. Estimated annual net profits from the pilot projects were CNY2.73 million in the Xingkaihu nature reserve and CNY2.33 million in the Zhenbaodao nature reserve; and the nature reserves' incomes from the pilot projects are being used for wetlands protection, farmland-to-wetland conversion, improvement of facilities and equipment for ecotourism and nature reserve management, and training for the staff. In the Xingkaihu nature reserve, about 280 farmers and fishermen changed their livelihoods to ecotourism; and stopped farming on 525 ha of lands, out of which 427 ha have been converted to wetlands; and catch of fish was reduced by about 500 tons. In the Zhenbaodao nature reserve, about 50 farmers and fishermen changed their livelihoods to ecotourism; and stopped farming on 1,025 ha of lands, out of which 899 ha were converted to wetlands; and catch of fish was reduced by 5 tons. Income levels of the farmers and fishermen who changed their livelihoods to ecotourism were maintained or increased.
4. Component 4: Capacity building. This component funded by GEF was successfully completed. Wetland protection education was included in the curriculum of selected 12 schools, and teachers are giving lectures on wetland protection. A public awareness master plan was produced, and a public awareness manual was distributed to community residents and schools. Seven conservation awareness activities were conducted in more than 20 communities. In the six model nature reserves, a public awareness manual and profile of the project were printed and distributed to community residents and schools. During project implementation, 38 short- and long-term training courses, study tours, and workshops were conducted for more than 1,000 people, including government staff local forestry bureau staff and project management office (PMO) staff; most nature reserve staff directors, professional level staff, and technical staff; and community leaders and residents, for project management, financial management, project performance evaluation, forest improvement, wetland protection, wild species monitoring and recovery, wetland restoration, alternative livelihood development, public awareness raising, environmental protection, and social safeguards.
5. Component 5: Project management. For this component funded by GEF, a considerable number of capacity building activities have been conducted for project management since commencement of the project. Consultants engaged under the project drew up guidelines for project monitoring and evaluation (M&E); prepared detailed work plans identifying key activities for each component; established an M&E database, including books, maps, reports, and related documents; and built up internal M&E channel. The consultants produced monthly and semiannual M&E reports. Vehicles and equipment for project management were procured. The PMO procured civil works and equipment, and recruited international consultants fully in line with ADB and domestic requirements. The PMO submitted to ADB quarterly progress reports and a project completion report that were acceptable to ADB.