People’s Republic of China: Sanjiang Plain Wetlands Protection Project
sector: Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development | country: China, People’s Republic of
This validation concurs with the lessons highlighted in the project completion report (PCR), particularly on the need for similar projects to better define the monitoring method on biodiversity indicators, and for a policy brief to be prepared to disseminate more widely the lessons learned and to help in high- level decision making. In this project, it becomes clear that the most successful elements of the project were those that could feed into the government plan at early project preparation phase, so these could be incorporated into the government development plan. The project steering committee (PSC) effectively acted as an interagency working committee, and further validates the lesson that such a committee should be established early before project start-up. Other lessons identified, however, were not particularly insightful, such as the call for a realistic setting of performance targets, and the need for a strong political support to sustain improvement in nature reserves.
On the resettlement aspect, this validation concurs with the lessons highlighted in the PCR, where successful resettlement was realized due to good planning, government support, extensive consultation with affected communities, and close supervision. The project was able to transform the livelihood of the affected people from activities that caused environmental degradation to those that support nature conservation, through greater income reliance on non-timber forest products (NTFPs), use of intensive farming practices to reduce water use, and availability of ecotourism as a source of income. The experience showed that resettlement can be done properly without serious conflicts, as long as beneficiaries are involved in all stages of planning and implementation. Changing of livelihoods, which is usually considered as difficult particularly from farm to nonfarm (ecotourism), were properly implemented in this project, while maintaining or even increasing income levels. The PCR highlighted three key lessons in which this validation concurs: (i) the policy support lasts longer than one-time cash compensation; (ii)thecombination of proper restoration sites and the proper development of alternative livelihoods can ensure watershed and wetland protection, while maintaining livelihoods and incomes; and (iii) non-cash compensation for eco-resettlement sometimes achieve better results than cash compensation.