Adaptive governance of mountain ecosystem services for poverty alleviation enabled by environmental virtual observatories (MOUNTAIN-EVO)

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Civil & Environmental Engineering

Abstract

The world's mountains host some of the most complex, dynamic, and diverse ecosystems. But these environments are under severe threats, ranging from local deforestation and soil degradation to global climate change. Global climate models project stronger warming at high elevations, with potentially disastrous consequences for its ecosystems services (ESS). For instance, melting glaciers alone will affect the water supply of millions people, while soil degradation and erosion put local agricultural practices in danger, but also cause water quality degradation and siltation of downstream reservoirs.

At the same time, the complexity of mountains also makes predicting the direction of future changes in ecosystem services extremely difficult. For instance, global climate models do not capture the local weather patterns, and traditional models of the natural and physical processes may not represent the extreme and region specific behaviour. This leads to large uncertainties in future predictions about mountain ESS.

Under such conditions, the value of day-to-day information about how local ecosystems behave increases sharply. Continuous monitoring of crucial ecosystem processes becomes paramount. It allows local decision-makers to flexibly change course in response to unexpected behaviour and large uncertainties. However, because of their remote location and difficult access, monitoring ESS in mountain regions tends the lag behind the rest of the world. The same remoteness and lack of access are also responsible for the propensity of mountain regions to host poor and underdeveloped communities compared to the surrounding lowlands. Lastly, mountain regions tend to be more prone to conflict, which further inhibits human development.

This project will analyse how monitoring and knowledge generation of ESS in mountain regions can be improved, and used to support a process of adaptive, polycentric governance focused on poverty alleviation. For this, we will blend cutting-edge concepts of adaptive governance with technological breakthroughs. The availability of cheap and robust sensors and communication technologies provides great opportunities for citizen science: bottom-up, user oriented data collection focused on local concerns. We will take citizen science to a next level, by integrating it in a broader framework of participatory data processing, knowledge generation and sharing. We do this by adopting the concept of Environmental Virtual Observatories (EVOs) and leverage it for poverty alleviation. We see the potential of EVOs to be decentralised and open technology platforms for knowledge generation and exchange that enable participation of marginalised and vulnerable communities bypassed by the traditional mechanisms.

Therefore, in this project we will analyse how EVOs can be used to generate knowledge and to alleviate poverty in 4 remote and poor mountain regions: the Ethiopian highlands around lake Tana, the Central Tien Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan, the Kaligandaki watershed in Northern Nepal, and the Andes of central Peru. In each location, we will collect evidence on the local decision-making processes on ESS and their local socio-economic context. At the same time, we will develop a technology toolset to enable EVO development for each case. Subsequently, the results of both processes will be brought together to implement tailored EVOs to support citizen science and local knowledge generation. We will create novel ways to interact with EVOs beyond the traditional Internet focussing on leaflets in the national language, community radios, and mobile phone applications. We will evaluate how the improved access to local observations fosters cross-scale linkages between the poor and external actors, as well as linkages between communities and marginal groups. Lastly, we will investigate how this can lead to better community awareness of environmental change and identification of pathways for poverty alleviation.

Planned Impact

Our project is designed to maximise local impact. We have a well-balanced research team, with the majority of research occurring in situ in the 4 locations. This will enable us to generate direct and locally relevant impact while minimising the required resources. Our impact strategy is based on 3 pillars of activity:

* Capacity building

The project will employ 6 local researchers (Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Peru) and enable 1 Ethiopian student to pursue a PhD at a top UK University. They will have the opportunity to work for 3 years in a global, diverse and academically excelling research team including research visits to relevant consortium institutes. This will strongly benefit their research capacity. At the same time, they will be working on very local research questions with a high potential for improving local quality of life. These are optimal conditions to create a generation of researchers that will contribute actively to the local research and development landscape, instead of moving abroad and contributing to the local brain drain.
A second target group for capacity building are local NGOs, government agencies, and communities. Our main vehicle for impact creation is the organisation of two series of workshops, near the beginning and the end of the project, respectively. These workshops will include hands-on sessions with local technicians from the project partners. The local researchers will follow up on these sessions, providing further support and capacity building throughout the project.
Lastly, all the technologies developed in WP 3.1. (Facilitating access to EVOs) will generate capacity building opportunities that will extend well beyond the lifetime of the project (see technology transfer).

* Technology transfer

Given the substantial technological component of the research, we have specific mechanisms in place for technology transfer during the project (see also Data Management):
- Monitoring equipment will be administered and taken over by the local partners. Active capacity building (see above) and educational tools based on EVO technologies will be used to improve long-term sustainability.
- EVO technologies: In each of our study regions, we have identified a local actor with an existing web-platform for data management and dissemination interested in incorporating the newly developed technologies in their system (see their respective letters of support). (1) the Tana Subbasin office of the Abbay Basin authority in Ethiopia; (2) the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology of the Government of Nepal; (3) CEDEPA Norte, CONDESAN, and the National Water Authority in Peru; and (4) the Aga Khan Development Network.
Our setup will use standards-based cloud services, thus facilitating the adoption of the new technologies and services, and minimising incompatibilities with existing infrastructure.

* Internationalisation and South - South exchange

The international setup of the project provides excellent opportunities for international impact creation and South-South exchange. As explained in the case for support, we have planned several South-South exchange activities, including an active programme for virtual exchange and workshops. CONDESAN in particular has good experience with South-South exchange, for instance through their active role in the Mountain Partnership, which is a United Nations voluntary alliance of partners dedicated to improving the lives of mountain people.
Lastly, several of the project partners are actively involved in the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) based at the University of Berne. MRI will provide linkages to several international programmes on the development of mountain regions, including their Integrated Analysis and Modeling Concerted Effort, Integrated Monitoring Concerted Effort, the alpine Long-Term Ecological Research Network, and the Research Coordination Network proposal.

Publications

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Alemie T (2019) Predicting Shallow Groundwater Tables for Sloping Highland Aquifers in Water Resources Research

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Ayele G.K. (2014) Biophysical and Financial Impacts of Community-Based Gully Rehabilitation in the Birr Watershed, Upper Blue Nile Basin, Ethiopia in 2nd International Conference on the Advancement of Science and Technology, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

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Bhusal J Evaluating the potential of ecosystem services management to alleviate poverty in the upper Mustang region, Nepal in International Conference on Climate Change Innovation and Resilience for Sustainable Livelihood, 12-14 January, Kathmandu, Nepal

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Blair P (2016) Socio-hydrological modelling: a review asking "why, what and how?" in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences

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Blair P (2015) Modelling socio-hydrological systems: a review of concepts, approaches and applications in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions

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Buytaert W (2016) Citizen Science for Water Resources Management: Toward Polycentric Monitoring and Governance? in Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management

 
Description Policy makers are increasingly aware that decision-making in the context of ecosystem services management and development can benefit from collaborative and inclusive approaches to knowledge generation and the design of intervention strategies. Examples of this include calls for a more prominent role for indigenous knowledge in decision-making, the use of participatory methods for data collection and knowledge generation, and the use of citizen science for sustainable development. New technologies play a prominent role in this evolution. We developed tools and technologies such as low-cost and robust sensors to support participatory monitoring as a means to generate actionable knowledge that can help support evidence-based decision-makin on water resources management. We show how such technologies can be leveraged as a source of information, but also to extract new types of knowledge, and disseminate it between stakeholders can have a very positive impact on the knowledge creation process. But more importantly, we show that it can be used to promote stakeholder involvement in the knowledge generation process and to make it more inclusive and participatory. Inevitably, there are potential risks related to the use of new technologies, such as exploitation by specific stakeholders, or supporting specific agendas or interests. Yet overall, we identify a strong opportunity for an increasing diversification and tailoring of knowledge creation, moving away from a top-down process dominated by scientists, and toward more decentralized, bottom-up, and iterative approaches. This evolution can have a transformative impact on local ecosystem services management, making it more inclusive, polycentric, evidence-based, and robust.
Exploitation Route Our project developed specific tools and methods, including new sensing technologies, and computational algorithms to process and visualize environmental information. All of these products are made available in the public domain.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

 
Description The findings of the award have contributed to the implementation of a framework for a payment of ecosystem services to secure the water supply of the city of Lima, implemented by the water fund of Lima, AQUAFONDO.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description UNESCO, Paris. Assessing the vulnerability of water resources to environmental change. Presentation in the Science-Policy workshop "Addressing Water Security: Climate Impacts and Adaptation responses in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe"
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Informing policy-making (formulation of policy briefs, influencing policy) at UNESCO
 
Description Green Infrastructure for Water Security
Amount $15,000,000 (USD)
Organisation United States Agency for International Development 
Sector Public
Country United States
Start 01/2018 
End 12/2022
 
Description Innovation Projects
Amount £161,827 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/P016952/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2017 
End 12/2018
 
Description Science for Humanitarian Emergencies & Resilience (SHEAR)
Amount £1,976,523 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/P000452/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 08/2020
 
Title High-resolution satellite-gauge merged precipitation climatologies of the tropical Andes 
Description A set of digital precipitation maps of the tropical Andes, covering Colombia, Ecuador and Peru at a 5km resolution. The maps represent different realizations of mean precipitation totals of the period 1981-2010 using different satellite-gauge merging methods. The work draws on a large database of 723 rain gauges and the full 5km Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Precipitation Radar (TPR) record from 1998 to 2014. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This dataset is being used by the National Service of Hydrology and Meteorology (SENAMHI), Peru 
URL https://catalogue.ceh.ac.uk/documents/74a588cc-723c-4a35-ac0c-223f5b92ee36
 
Description DDC Mustang 
Organisation Mustang District Development Committee
Country Nepal 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Information sharing
Collaborator Contribution Information sharing
Impact Information sharing and support for fieldwork activities
Start Year 2013
 
Description DHM Nepal 
Organisation Government of Nepal
Country Nepal 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Procurement of monitoring equipment through the partner has been proposed
Collaborator Contribution Commitment to maintain monitoring equipment beyond the project life
Impact No outcome yet
Start Year 2013
 
Description Forest Trends 
Organisation Forest Trends Association
Country United States 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Technical advice for assessment of green infrastructure impacts on local hydrology.
Collaborator Contribution Index analysis for Impact Assessment regarding Rewards for Ecosystem Services Projects. Documento de apoyo para la formulacion del proyecto de inversión publica de Huancayo (lógica de inversión publica verde). Interventions Catalogue for Ecosystem Services Conservation / Restoration Co-organization of the iMHEA General Assembly 2015 and 2016. iMHEA: Regional Initiative for Hydrological Monitoring of Andean Ecosystems.
Impact Four products were developed regarding Ecosystem Services Retribution Mechaniss (MRSE): - GUÍA METODOLÓGICA Para monitorear y evaluar los impactos sobre el servicio ecosistémico hídrico de Control de Sedimentos, - GUÍA METODOLÓGICA para monitorear y evaluar los impactos sobre los servicios ecosistémicos de Regulación Hidrológica y Rendimiento Hídrico, - Estudio para evaluar el impacto de la conservación de la cobertura forestal sobre el servicio ecosistémico hídrico de Control de Sedimentos en las cuencas que aportan agua para la ciudad de Tarapoto - Perú, - Guía para el "Diagnóstico Hídrico Base" aplicado a las Empresas Prestadoras de Servicios de Saneamiento en el Perú
Start Year 2014
 
Description Links with UNESCO 
Organisation Flemish Government
Country Belgium 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Invitation to project meeting
Collaborator Contribution Participation in project meeting
Impact NA
Start Year 2014
 
Description Links with UNESCO 
Organisation United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Invitation to project meeting
Collaborator Contribution Participation in project meeting
Impact NA
Start Year 2014
 
Description MEF - Ministry of Economy and Finances 
Organisation Government of Peru
Department Ministry of Economy and Finance
Country Peru 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Case study for the application of projects with public investment for green infrastructure in Peru.
Collaborator Contribution Technical advice on the development of Green Public Investment Projects.
Impact Collaborative development of the document: Index analysis for Impact Assessment regarding Rewards for Ecosystem Services Projects. Documento de apoyo para la formulacion del proyecto de inversión publica de Huancayo (lógica de inversión publica verde).
Start Year 2016
 
Description MINAM - Ministry of Environment, Peru 
Organisation Ministry of Environment, Peru
Country Peru 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Partnership to enhance the knowledge about biodiversity conservation, sustainable development of natural resources, valuing of natural patrimony, water management, climate change.
Collaborator Contribution Feeding decision-making processes and policy construction using evidence-based approaches and empiric data.
Impact Index analysis for Impact Assessment regarding Rewards for Ecosystem Services Projects. Documento de apoyo para la formulacion del proyecto de inversión publica de Huancayo (lógica de inversión publica verde).
Start Year 2013
 
Description NTNC Nepal 
Organisation National Trust for Nature Conservation (Nepal)
Department Annapurna Conservation Area Project
Country Nepal 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Information sharing
Collaborator Contribution Information sharing and support for fieldwork activities
Impact Information sharing and support for fieldwork activities
Start Year 2013
 
Description SUNASS - National Regulator of Water Companies 
Organisation National Sanitation Services Supervisory
Country Peru 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Identify and regionalise indices for hydrology assessment of green interventions and watershed restoration.
Collaborator Contribution Feeding decision-making processes with the data provided from the case study in Huamantanga, Lima, Peru. Contact person: Luis Acosta Job title: Technical expert Website, email: lacosta@sunass.gob.pe Other information: Agreement Document
Impact Four products were developed regarding Ecosystem Services Retribution Mechaniss (MRSE): - GUÍA METODOLÓGICA Para monitorear y evaluar los impactos sobre el servicio ecosistémico hídrico de Control de Sedimentos, - GUÍA METODOLÓGICA para monitorear y evaluar los impactos sobre los servicios ecosistémicos de Regulación Hidrológica y Rendimiento Hídrico, - Estudio para evaluar el impacto de la conservación de la cobertura forestal sobre el servicio ecosistémico hídrico de Control de Sedimentos en las cuencas que aportan agua para la ciudad de Tarapoto - Perú, - Guía para el "Diagnóstico Hídrico Base" aplicado a las Empresas Prestadoras de Servicios de Saneamiento en el Perú
Start Year 2015
 
Description : Local stakeholder meeting of Mountain EVO, November 2014 & June 2015, Dhakarjhong, Phalyak and Chhoser, Mustang 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Main institutions that participated: Mukhiya, Users group, local people, teachers and local social/ political leaders
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
 
Description District Level workshop on Adaptive governance of mountain ecosystem services for poverty alleviation enabled by environmental virtual observatories, Jomsom, Mustang, Nepal 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Two meetings held: 3 June 2014 and 16 November 2015

District level workshop (2 days) with participation of the District Development Committee, District Agricultural Development Office, District Soil Conservation Office, District Livestock Service Office, Annapurna Conservation Area Project, DHM, Red Cross Society, School teacher, local NGOs, Users group
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
 
Description Internet videos and reports (several) about the case study in Huamantanga, Peru 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Some internet reports show how the practice of Mamanteo could have an influence on the availability of water to Lima.
Proyecto Mountain EVO
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-t-H-0WzZwM
Proyecto Mountain EVO en Weadapt
https://www.weadapt.org/knowledge-base/innovative-icts-for-communicating-climate-risk/adaptive-governance-in-mountains-mountain-evo
Agencia Andina
http://www.andina.com.pe/agencia/video-utilizan-tecnica-ancestral-para-conservar-fuentes-agua-36236.aspx
InfoAndina
http://www.infoandina.org/content/mountain-evo-adaptive-governance-mountain-ecosystem-services-poverty-alleviation-enabled
OneWorld
https://www.oneworld.nl/water/drinkwater-hygiene/dankzij-de-incas-heeft-lima-weer-water?utm_content=buffere3294&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer
InfoAndina
http://infoandina.org/infoandina/es/content/monitoreo-de-la-lluvia-el-caudal-y-el-mamanteo-en-zonas-de-monta%C3%B1a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016
URL https://www.oneworld.nl/water/drinkwater-hygiene/dankzij-de-incas-heeft-lima-weer-water?utm_content=...
 
Description Lima and Huamantanga stakeholders in Peru 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Meetings with different groups of stakeholders for a user testing of the web platform proposed for the project.
Main institutions that participated: SUNASS, MINAM, Volunteer students of La Molina's University (GAV), REDAR and Huamantanga's Community, and CONDESAN
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Macro-Regional Workshops for Hydrologic Ecosystem Services Management, Tarapoto and Huancayo, Peru 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Macro-regional workshops have been a space for Payment for Ecosystem Services initiatives to get to know other initiatives in their region and to share experiences. This has not only strengthen local knowledge about Ecosystem Service Payment Mechanisms implementation, but has also helped to analyse how to overcome the challenges that each mechanism can encounter.
Main institutions that participated in Tarapoto, Peru: In collaboration with SUNASS and MINAM. These events were directed to Regional Governments, ANA, water user committees and others, according to the particularities of each case. Each Clinic counted with participants from different initiatives, such as Cumbaza, Piura, Jequetepeque, Moyobamba in Tarapoto.
Main institutions that participated in Huancayo, Peru: In collaboration with SUNASS and MINAM two Macro-regional Clinics (Tarapoto and Huancayo) of the MRSE were realized. These events were directed to Regional Governments, ANA, water user committees and others, according to the particularities of each case. Each Clinic counted with participants from different initiatives, such as Cachi; Mariño, Huaytapallana, Piuray among others in Huancayo.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://condesan.org/mtnforum/es/content/talleres-macro-regionales-en-per%C3%BA-sobre-mecanismos-de-r...
 
Description National workshop on Adaptive governance of mountain ecosystem services for poverty alleviation enabled by environmental virtual observatories, Kathmandu, Nepal 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact National level workshop. Main participants: Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, National Planning Commission, Nepal Agricultural Research Council, Department of Forest, Nepal Academy of Science and Technology, International Center for Integrated Mountain Development, Tribhuvan University, National Trust for Nature Conservation, Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, International Hydrological Program, District Development Committee Mustang, Annapurna Conservation Area Project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Public meetings in Jomsom and Lomanthang, Mustang, Nepal 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Representatives from 30 different organisations as well as the general public are informed about the objectives of the project and have given the commitment to support research activities in the locality.

NA
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description TV reports (several) about the case study in Huamantanga, Peru 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Local, national and international TV reports showed how the hydrological ancestral practice of Mamanteo could have an influence on the availability of water to Lima, and how the project is researching on this matter.
TV Peru
http://www.tvperu.gob.pe/informa/nacional/t-cnica-preinca-mamanteo-podr-convertirse-en-fuente-de-agua
AlJazeera: Programa Earthrise
http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/earthrise/2015/05/peru-ancient-stone-canals-150525084924631.html
AlJazeera: Mariana Sanchez Aizcorbe
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/05/peruvian-farmers-restoring-7th-century-canals-150503084636928.html
America TV:
http://www.americatv.com.pe/noticias/actualidad/mamanteo-sistema-pre-inca-que-permite-sembrar-y-cosechar-agua-lluvia-n179611
CCTV
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CT2zmu_uW2E&feature=youtu.be
FranceTV
http://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/environnement/perou-lima-reactive-des-vieux-canaux-pre-inca-pour-lutter-contre-la-secheresse_1129741.html
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016
URL http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/earthrise/2015/05/peru-ancient-stone-canals-150525084924631.html
 
Description iMHEA General Assemblies, Quito and Cuenca, Ecuador, and Lima, Peru 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Support for the co-organization of the Annual General Assemblies of iMHEA (Regional Initiative for Hydrological Monitoring of Andean Ecosystems).
IMHEA Partners meet once a year to update studies, share experiences, identify new needs and to plan new research activities.
The Assemblies took place in Quito, Ecuador, in 2014; in Lima, Peru, in 2015, with a visit to the Huamantanga study site of the project; and, in Cuenca, Ecuador, in 2016, compatible with the (American Geophysical Union) AGU Chapman Conference: Emergent Issues in Tropical Ecohydrology.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016
URL http://condesan.org/mtnforum/fr/node/65077