Project Description Summary
- Key policy and institutional reforms supported
by the project
- Benefits and target population
- Institutional and implementation arrangements
- Project components (see Annex 2 for a detailed description and Annex 3 for a detailed cost breakdown):
% of GEF
- Strengthen the National Framework for Biodiversity Conservation
- Strengthen DNBC
- Legal Framework
- PA Replication
Policy, Institution Building, Training
2. Develop Models for Protected Area and Forest Park Management
- Planning and management systems
- Sustainable Resource Management
- Eco-tourism strategy
- Bison reintroduce
- Sustainable forest management
Institution Building, Physical, Financial Mechanism, Learning and Adaptation
|3. Build Public Support for Biodiversity Conservation
||Learning and Adaptation
|4. Project Management and Monitoring
The project will establish effective participatory systems for sustainable conservation at three demonstration sites in the Romanian Carpathian range, and will build national capacity and public support for replicating this best practice to develop an integrated nationwide system of protected areas and conservation management. It will also explore and develop opportunities for mainstreaming biodiversity conservation in forest planning and management throughout the Carpathian chain.
Different conservation strategies will be tested at each of the three project sites. These include national park, natural park (protected landscape), and biodiversity-friendly sustainable forest management (forest park). These models will address priority conservation planning and management problems common to many threatened biodiversity sites throughout Romania, and will provide practical experience to support implementation of the national biodiversity conservation strategy.
The project includes the following four components:
- Component 1: Strengthen the National Framework for Biodiversity Conservation (US$1.1 million) will be achieved through participatory review and revision of the legal and regulatory framework for protected area management. This will entail review of existing draft legislation, preparation of a national law for protected areas, and development of site specific regulations for the project demonstration sites. The project will build DNBC's capacity to plan and lead biodiversity conservation at the national level. This will include developing and operationalizing a prioritized national strategy for establishing an effective system of protected areas, building public support for biodiversity conservation, establishing a national biodiversity monitoring system, and strengthening regional initiatives to conserve Carpathian ecosystems. In addition, a strategy will be developed to mainstream biodiversity conservation in forest management planning at the level of the ecosystem, rather than the smaller "forest production units".
- Component 2: Develop Models for Protected Areas and Forest Park Management (US$6.2 million) will entail establishing systems for planning and management of biodiversity at the three demonstration sites. The project will develop conservation management planing systems, and provide equipment, training and facilities, including visitor centers at all three sites. It will undertaken baseline ecological surveys and put in place biodiversity monitoring systems to provide periodic feedback on the status of ecosystems and their biodiversity, particularly as they relate to known threats such as over grazing, tourism impacts, hunting, and other forms of resource use. In addition it will establish mechanisms to reduce unsustainable use of shared resources such as grazing and forest products, and will develop a strategy for eco-tourism, which will focus on demonstrating links between conservation and economic benefits for local communities. This component will also develop and show-case forest management practices that address biodiversity concerns, including incorporating biodiversity in the NFA forest management planning system, and exploring and disseminating the economic rationale for independent certification of forest products. In addition a European bison reintroduction program will be implemented at the Vanatori-Neamt Forest Park, which is part of the former natural range of this native animal. The bison population will provide a "flagship" for public awareness of forest ecosystems, and also a mechanism for ecological reconstruction and maintenance of the natural diversity of this areas mixed forest and meadow ecosystems.
- Component 3: Build Public Support for Biodiversity Conservation (US$0.7 million) will be achieved through preparation and implementation of both national and park level strategies and targeted action plans for raising the awareness of specific stakeholder groups and the general public about the importance of, and opportunities for, biodiversity conservation. Action plans will target priority groups such as national policy makers, protected area site visitors and primary school children. Possible delivery mechanisms for the public awareness program include mass media, formal and informal education, and networking and the development of linkages with related conservation initiatives in Romania and elsewhere. The component will incorporate and encourage commercially sustainable options such as private sector development of publications, eco-tourism, and the use of eco-labeling in marketing products that are linked with conservation needs and opportunities.
- Component 4: Project Management and Monitoring (US$0.8 million) will establish a Project Coordination Team (PCT) at the national level, composed of a project manager, a procurement specialist and a financial management specialist. The PCT will oversee and support implementation of all project activities in accordance with agreed monitorable indicators. It will work closely with the county level PMA staff at the three sites and with national project staff, to develop and monitor workplans on a biannual basis.
- Key policy and institutional reforms supported by the project:
In view of the current lack of clear responsibility for preparation and field implementation of management plans for biodiversity conservation, there is an urgent need to develop a unified and structured approach to the acquisition and management of protected areas, to identify lead responsibility for their management, and to further develop the field capacity to address the rapidly increasing and changing needs for protected area management and biodiversity conservation. The proposed project would address these needs, with emphasis on demonstrating best practice in decentralized land-use planning and field implementation.
While functioning protected area management systems have not yet been established, existing legal provisions provide a framework within which the project can be implemented. These include Law 26/1996 (Forest Code), which allows the NFA to manage national parks in forest lands, and the MWFEP order no 7/1990, which designates NFA to manage the declared national parks at Retezat, Bucegi and Piatra Craiului. The project will review current and proposed protected area legislation and develop specific regulations for the protected area sites.
- Benefits and target population:
Global and regional benefits: The project will result in global benefits by contributing to sustainable conservation management of some of the last remaining areas of pristine and relatively undisturbed natural mixed forests in Europe. Since approximately sixty percent of the Carpathian mountains are in Romania, the project will make a significant contribution to other regional initiatives to conserve the biodiversity of the Carpathian chain, whose contiguous forests are the focus of international conservation initiatives in all other Carpathian countries. The project will develop and help implement a strategy for the maintenance of ecological corridors throughout the Romanian Carpathians and will establish trans-border linkages and collaboration to support and benefit from conservation initiatives in adjacent Carpathian countries.
National benefits: Investments, training and decentralized institutional arrangements would address priority conservation planning and management problems common to many important and threatened biodiversity sites throughout Romania and elsewhere in Eastern Europe and would, therefore, provide models for replication in priority conservation sites in other parts of the country and region. National level beneficiaries include Government (MWFEP and NFA) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) whose institutional capacity will be strengthened to address new national needs, and the public at large whose awareness and appreciation of Romania's natural assets will be increased. The project will improve Romania's institutional arrangements and strengthen its capacity for biodiversity conservation, while raising public awareness and providing improved opportunities for environmental and conservation education.
At the local level, the project would build mechanisms and capacity to assist local stakeholders, specifically including NFA local communities, local Government, and NGOs, to participate in preparation and implementation of conservation management and development plans. Sustainable management of the project sites will benefit poor rural communities and local economies adjacent to the sites through simulation of economic development, including tourism, which is based on the sustainable management of protected areas and natural resources.
- Institutional and implementation arrangements:
Implementation period: 5 years.
- Project Oversight Committee consisting of experts from the MWFEP, Ministry of Finance (MoF), the Commission of Natural Monuments of the Romanian Academy, and NFA will be established by MWFEP. The committee will be responsible for providing project oversight advice and assistance in resolving issues associated with project implementation. The Secretary of State of MWFEP will be the chairman of the committee.
- Project Management at the National Level: The MWFEP will have overall responsibility for the project, including procurement, disbursement, maintenance of project accounts and coordination of implementation. For this purpose, the MWFEP will establish a Project Coordination Team (PCT). The project will staff, fund and equip the PCT, which will consist of a project coordinator, a procurement officer, and a financial manager. In addition to responsibility for overall management of project activities, the PCT will also supervise Park Management Authorities (PMAs) at the three project sites, and the two Government agencies (DNBC and the NFA Service for Protected Areas) responsible for undertaking project activities at the national level. The staff of the PCT will be appointed on a contractual basis through advertisements and competitive selection. A team of experienced external technical and management consultants will assist both PCT and PMAs in their technical work.
- Project Implementation at the National Level: The DNBC and the NFA Service for Protected Areas (SPA) will be responsible for carrying out project activities at the national level, under the supervision of the PCT. The project will strengthen the capacity of DNBC to plan and lead biodiversity conservation in Romania, through provision of equipment and training in technical, legal and regulatory aspects of protected area management, and implementation of an effective public awareness strategy. The project will also strengthen the capacity of the NFA SPA in management planning for forest protected areas, and incorporating biodiversity conservation in forest management planing.
- Project Implementation (County Level): PMAs will be established within NFA at each of the three project sites (Retezat, Neamt and Piatra Craiului - Bucegi) and will be responsible for implementation project activities at the field level. The PMAs at Retezat and Piatra Craiului - Bucegi will consist of a park manager, an accountant, an ecologist/biodiversity specialist, a chief ranger, a community outreach and tourism specialist, a public awareness specialist and information specialist. At Neamt, the Park Management Unit will consist of a Forest Park manager, an information specialist, a public awareness specialist and an accountant. All PMA staff will be hired and paid by the NFA. The project will provide computers and necessary office equipment for the PMAs. The NFA, through its territorial units in Deva, Brasov and Neamt, will implement ranger services and monitoring activities at the local level and, with the assistance of the project, incorporate biodiversity concerns in forest management planning.
Accounting, financial reporting and auditing arrangements
Accounting: Romania has launched a major reform of the country's accounting and auditing systems. A concerted effort is currently underway to upgrade the quality of accounting and audit profession. A Law on Accounting (No. 82/1991), which came into force in January 1992, provides for a statutory system of recording economic entities' financial position and financial results, substantially reducing the gap between the traditional Romanian Accounting Standards (RAS) and International Accounting Standards (IAS).
In 1994, Romania implemented a new of system of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), more closely based on the French system of GAAP. However, there still remain major differences between RAS and the western and/or international accounting systems. Disclosure standards under RAS are substantially lower. There is no provision for inflation accounting and revaluation of assets (except to the extent allowed by government regulations). RAS, as it stands today, are used by economic entities primarily for purposes of tax liability assessment by the MoF and for statistical record, rather than to assess and present a true and fair statement of financial condition and performance.
The accounting for this project would be maintained in accordance with International Accounting Standards.
Audit Arrangements: Steps would be taken to select auditors for the Project by effectiveness. This would include
An auditor acceptable to the Bank would be appointed within the first four months of effectiveness of the project. The audit of the project would be undertaken in accordance with International Auditing Standards. Audited financial statements for the project would be sent to the Bank within six months after the end of every fiscal year.
- advertising in the local newspapers to invite "expressions of interest" from local audit firms;
- short-listing at least five audit firms;
- having the Bank clear the shortlist;
- selecting one of the auditors from the short-list.
Financial Reporting Arrangements: In addition to submission of annual audited financial statements, unaudited financial statements would be submitted to the Bank within three months after the end of every fiscal year. The MWFEP would also be required to submit to the Bank quarterly project management reports per guidelines issued by the Bank under (OP/BP 10.02).
Financial Management: A Financial Management Assessment has been undertaken as part of project preparation (see Annex 12). All necessary steps will be taken to ensure that the project complies with the relevant Bank policies (OP/BP 10.02) and that a financial management system is established by effectiveness. Disbursements under the project will be based on traditional disbursement procedures and will be converted to disbursements under the LACI framework based on quarterly project management reports (PMRs) at a later stage of the project if the project management reporting is successfully implemented. A project financial management system, conforming to the LACI guidelines, will be completed during the first year of implementation. The financial management reports will be generated from the financial management system.
Monitoring and evaluation arrangements:
Monitoring and evaluation of project activities will be undertaken by the PCT, and will be subject to periodic review by the Bank. The PCT will establish project monitoring and evaluation procedures acceptable to the Bank, and will furnish the Bank with biannual project progress reports, together with work programs inclusive of detailed monitoring indicators for the following six month period. Key performance indicators proposed for monitoring are in Annex 1. Arrangement for monitoring will be detailed and agreed upon during appraisal and recorded in the minutes of negotiation. In addition, a mid term evaluation would be prepared during the third year of the project. Lessons learned from implementation of project activities will be recorded in a report prepared by the borrower with the assistance of the PCT.