Background/ Project Description
Climate Change Adaptation Idea Note Development
The UNDP Mauritius Country Office, in discussion with the Government of Mauritius, is exploring the viability of developing one selected project idea in the Climate Change Adaptation sector, in relation to one of the following subjects: 1) Coastal Zone Management, 2) Integrated Watershed Management and Ecosystem based Adaptation 3) Climate Smart Agriculture including the improvement of water use efficiency in agriculture, development of new varieties of cane for high biomass and increased resistance to prolonged drought. It is to be noted that concurrently there are other donor funded projects being developed by the Indian Ocean Commission and the Agence Francaise de Developpement. Hence duplication of project ideas should be avoided. The aim of this consultancy is to assist UNDP Mauritius CO in selecting one appropriate project idea for further development at scale, with the Government of Mauritius agreement.
The basis for the development of the Coastal Zone Management project will be an islandwide feasibility study conducted by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency as well as ongoing work by the AF funded project Climate Change Adaptation in the Coastal Zones in the Republic of Mauritius.
In terms of Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Climate Smart Agriculture, climate change is causing intermittently longer droughts and the increasing demand in water for socio economic activities exerts great pressure on the water resources of the island.
The main catchment areas of Mauritius are located on the central plateau (the Mare aux Vacaos, Mare Long region) and at la Nicoliere (central-north) and are mostly planted with exotic pine trees which are known to use far more water through evapotranspiration than indigenous trees (Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security, 2017). In addition, a diverse suite of invasive alien weeds is threatening the remaining native forests and contributes in increasing the evapotranspiration rates thereby potentially affecting water availability in the reservoirs. Other contentious land management issues in the catchments include the clearance of vegetation for agriculture and unsustainable management of forests for deer and pig hunting. These activities can also have direct and indirect impacts on water availability and biodiversity within the catchment (Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security, 2017).
As part of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2017-2025 for the Republic of Mauritius, an Ecosystem services valuation study provided by Mare Longue and Mare aux Vacoas catchments was conducted. The analysis required valuation of various alternative land and water catchment management options in the upper rainfall catchments of the reservoirs. Four different land use management scenarios are considered for each reservoir upper catchment. The scenarios are:
- Do nothing – what might may happen if there is no management at all in the catchments;
- Basic management (business as usual);
- Proposed improved management – how things are likely to look in the coming years;
- Ideal balanced management –where money is no constraint. This would involve converting much of the pine tree cover to native vegetation, as well as intensive invasive weed control.
Results for both Mare Longue and Mare aux Vacoas, aggregated over a 25-year period and discounted at 3%, indicate that Scenario 4 would generate most benefits with benefits diminishing to Scenario 2 which generated the least value. Principal sources of increased value were water saved, conservation and recreation. The results suggest that significant economic, and environmental benefits can be gained through improved catchment management. In addition, a significant number of jobs for local people to help clear the invasive species and plant native species and to manage ecotourism activities in these areas will be created.
On top of having clear climate change adaptation and socio-economic benefits, some of the invasives to be cleared like the Chinese guava (Psidium cattleainum) can be used as biomass for electricity generation (co-generation with coal and bagasse). This represents potential climate change mitigation solutions for Mauritius. The government of Mauritius has already endorsed the Protected Area Network Expansion Strategy 2017-2026 with the aim of increasing the coverage of formally protected areas from the 4.4% (currently) to 16% or more over the next 10 years. The areas concerned by the expansion include state and private lands. However, there is a significant shortfall of resource and technical expertise for using a systemic and holistic ecosystem based adaptation approach for the conversion of these degraded catchment areas into protected areas and ensure their effective management over the long run.
The situation with regard to catchment management in Rodrigues is, if anything, more extreme than Mauritius. As early as the nineteenth century, deforestation was affecting water availability and since 1970 the island’s rivers have only flowed after heavy rains. In the meantime the degraded land was losing its ability to absorb heavy rainfall with heavy runoff and soil erosion accompanying the intense rain associated with cyclonic weather systems. Reafforestation efforts since the 1970s have almost exclusively used water-demanding alien species, many of which, notably Acacia nilotica, have become highly invasive. Small scale forest restoration efforts in Rodrigues, initiated in the 1990s, have shown that it is feasible to use native species for the restoration of watersheds on the island. The restoration process in Rodrigues has a great deal of local support and has attracted a great deal of local community participation because of the perceived conservation and socio-economic benefits. A great opportunity exists to implement a watershed rehabilitation in Rodrigues for multiple benefits.
It is envisaged that the eventual project will be financed from a variety of sources including domestic resources, bilateral support and vertical funds such as the GEF, AFB or the Green Climate Fund (GCF). With this overall background, UNDP is seeking a specialist to work with in-house staff on the development of an idea note and an action plan that will be necessary to take project ideas to full bankability.