Andean landscapes – promoting integrated landscape management for sustainable livelihoods in the Ecuadorian Andes
Partners: Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations; Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Ecuador; Ministry of the Environment, Water and Ecological Transition, Ecuador.
Key thematic areas
Improve livelihoods, governance mechanisms, and capacity building with gender sensitive and culturally relevant approaches as well as the adoption of best practices for integrated landscape-based territorial management to increase productivity sustainably while addressing climate change and environmental degradation in agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
From 2008 to 2014, more than 250 square kilometers of forest was lost in the project intervention area. The main challenge facing the project is the strengthening of territorial governance platforms and the implementation of an integrated landscape management approach to articulate the needs of sustainable production with those of conservation and restoration of ecosystem services to improve the livelihoods of the populations.
Implement an Integrated Landscape Management (ILM) approach to strengthen sustainable livelihoods and conserve ecosystem services in the Andean Mountains in Ecuador, particularly in the western foothills of the provinces of Imbabura, Pichincha, Cotopaxi and Bolivar.
Extending over 6,700 square kilometers, the project area encompasses both protected and non-protected zones in three different landscapes in the western foothills of the Andes. The project intervention areas contain important global ecosystems, such as tropical mountain forests, high Andean moorlands and inter-Andean dry forests. These ecosystems, which are rich in biodiversity but highly pressured by anthropic activities, cover significant river basins and provide essential water services for Ecuador’s agriculture. Subsistence agriculture and extensive livestock farming accounts for 38% of the land surface, while forest and natural vegetation covers 50%. Smallholder farms are characterized by low agricultural productivity, high poverty levels and limited access to financial resources, such as credit. This encouraging the spread of agriculture to forested areas. Land tenure is highly fragmented, principally in the high Andean zone, with most farmers owning less than 2 hectares of land and farming under traditional systems. However, in the foothills, land tenure is different, with farms averaging between 20 and 70 hectares, characteristics that give the landscape climatic, biological, economic, and socio-cultural diversity.
The project brings together local smallholder farmers and local/national governments to facilitate joint decision making on the use and management of land. In collaboration they will develop and implement conservation mechanisms for the provision of ecosystem services and the restoration of productive forest and paramo landscapes. They will also develop and implement practices for sustainable land management of the agricultural areas. The project aims to increase the productivity of sustainable value chains for prioritized products through access to rural extension, and market and financial services.
Developing and implementing a capacity-building program for local authorities, technicians and female and male community leaders in the Andean region on sustainable land and water management as well as promoting information exchange. The project will support the protection of forests and water sources on 25,000 hectares land and promote forest and moorland restoration on 5,000 hectares. This will help ensure the maintenance of the hydrological cycle for better use and provision of water.
The implementation of sustainable land-management measures in smallholder agricultural systems across 8,000 hectares will be supported through innovative agriculture practices, such as agroecology, agroforestry, and sustainable forest management. Sustainable livestock-management practices will be implemented on a further 9,700 hectares. Sustainable land-management measures help increase the carbon reservoir, which is essential for climate regulation. Monitoring the implementation of plans at the farm level is one of the activities carried out by the project in order to measure the positive impact on climate change. Due to sustainable soil management, as much as 528,360 tons of CO2 will have been captured at the end of the project’s implementation.
To ensure long-term sustainability, financial incentives that can be anchored in the national financial system and that promote the use of sustainable land management will be developed. The project aims to strengthen the modern agricultural cooperativism of producer organizations by supporting local business ventures.
Progress: Since the project began implementation in May 2021, the technical team has carried out 30 workshops of participatory rural appraisal (PRA) for diagnostic analysis, where 699 agricultural producers (48% of them women) participated. This methodology has allowed the prioritization of productive chains as well as potential conservation and restoration areas, while identifying problems and possible solutions. In addition, PRA is the first step to consolidating an implementation plan at the community and farm level.
In addition, PRA is the first step to consolidating an implementation plan at the community and farm level.
Among the fundamental processes in the Andean landscape project, several stand out. A pillar for dialogue between the communities and the project has been the signing of Free, Prior and Informed Consent agreements with 43 participating organizations, which will allow for the long-term sustainability of the integrated landscape management approach in the community territories and family lands. Capacity building at the institutional level is another pillar that will increase understanding, adoption and management of the landscape approach. Six workshops on the integrated landscape management approach have been held with 58 female and male technicians from the provinces of Cotopaxi and Bolivar.
The project aims to promote sustainable production systems as well as conservation and restoration mechanisms jointly with MAG, MAATE and GAD. To that end, 240 pilot farms were identified (68 in Bolivar, 80 in Imbabura, 55 in Cotopaxi, and 37 in Pichincha), as were 85 rural promoters (47% women). The promoters support the execution of activities at the community and farm level demonstrating great leadership in the implementation of integrated landscape management actions. In addition, the pilot farms will be used to build the capacity of producers with a “learning by doing” approach that will also allow the dissemination of sustainable practices.
In addition, strategic actors have been identified to strengthen project implementation and complement actions. In this sense, cooperation agreements have been signed in the provinces of Bolivar, Cotopaxi, Pichincha and Imbabura.
Specific actions include developing and implementing a capacity-building programme for local authorities in the Andean region on project interventions focused on sustainable land and water management as well as the promotion information exchange. The project will promote the protection of forests and water sources in 25,000 hectares and forest and moorland restoration in 5,000 hectares, which will ensure the maintenance of the hydrological cycle for a better use and provision of water.
The implementation of conservation, restoration and sustainable land management measures in smallholder agricultural systems across 8,000 hectares will be supported through innovative agricultural practices such as agroecology, agroforestry and sustainable forest management. Improved livestock management will be implemented on a further 9,700 hectares. To ensure long-term sustainability, financial incentives that can be anchored in the national financial system and promote the use of sustainable land management will be developed. The project aims for at least one financial institution to offer a ‘green’ credit line to smallholder farmers as an incentive to undertake sustainable land management.
To ensure long-term sustainability, financial incentives that can be anchored in the national financial system and promote the use of sustainable land management will be developed. This will include the strengthening of territorial governance with local policies and regulations associated with conservation and sustainable production in compliance with participatory monitoring and evaluation protocols of community organizations within the framework of FPIC so that indigenous peoples and collectives exercise this right.
The project aims for at least one financial institution to offer a ‘green’ credit line to smallholder farmers as an incentive to undertake sustainable land management. This initiative will give special attention to female heads of households, single mothers, and those who lead conservation and sustainable production actions, as an affirmative action to achieve gender equality and economic empowerment.
Javier M. Jiménez Project coordinator
Paisajes Andinos : Promoviendo el manejo integrado de paisaje para el fomento de medios de vida sostenibles en los Andes Ecuatorianos
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Amazonas y Eloy Alfaro, 17-21-0190 Quito, Ecuador
Telephone: +593 (02) 2905923 (ext. 157)
Mobile: +593 995663476