International Consultant to undertake activities related to the review and support of Sustainable Financing through Ecotourism Development


Location : Savannakhet, LAO PDR
Application Deadline :09-Jul-19 (Midnight New York, USA)
Additional Category :Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction
Type of Contract :Individual Contract
Post Level :International Consultant
Languages Required :
English  
Starting Date :
(date when the selected candidate is expected to start)
12-Aug-2019
Duration of Initial Contract :August 2019 - February 2020
Expected Duration of Assignment :45 working days

Background

The SAFE Ecosystems Project

The UNDP-GEF Sustainable Forest and Land Management in the Dry Dipterocarp Forest Ecosystems of Southern Lao PDR Project (SAFE Ecosystems Project) aims to support the government of Lao PDR to facilitate a transformative shift towards sustainable land and forest management in the forested landscape of Savannakhet Province. This sustainable management will help to secure critical wildlife habitats, conserve biodiversity and maintain a continuous flow of multiple services such as the provision of quality water and flood prevention. The project will be implemented over a period of six-years from May 2016 to May 2022 by the Department of Forestry (DOF) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

The Dry Dipterocarp Forest (DDF) ecosystems located in Savannakhet Province are recognized for being globally important as habitat for a number of globally significant and threatened species, and nationally important for their provision of numerous ecosystem services that benefit the people of Lao PDR. In recent decades, DDF ecosystems and the species within them have come under increasing threat from large-scale conversion of forest, degradation of forest ecosystem services, and species loss.

Recognizing their global and national importance, the Government of Lao PDR (GoL) has prioritized the conservation and sustainable management of the Dry Dipterocarp Forests landscape of Savannakhet province. As a measure of the GoL’s commitment to the DDF landscape, it has selected this area to be the site of the newest National Protected Area in the country, and as a demonstration site for testing the implementation of new national policies and processes related to Strategic Environmental Assessment, Integrated Spatial Planning, and High Conservation Value Forests. The GoL has also identified this landscape as suitable for the development and implementation of innovative financing mechanisms for sustainable forest management and protected area management, as well as community participation in protected areas management, ecotourism programs, and livelihoods programs linked to conservation outcomes through formal Conservation Agreement mechanisms.

This SAFE Ecosystems Project will seek to strengthen land and resource use planning capacities and procedures, and the policies and regulations that govern them, while simultaneously expanding and strengthening the management of resources on the ground by government agencies, local communities and private sector actors. Furthermore, the project is developing innovative financing mechanisms and programs (including ecotourism and livelihoods programs) that can ensure the sustainability of improved land use and resource management approaches.

Increased and More Strategic Funding for Sustainable Forest Management

The project will undertake a suite of activities to increase the funding amounts and sources for sustainable forest management in Savannakhet Province, and to ensure that the allocation / use of such funds is targeted towards the highest priority and cost-effective actions.  Project activities on SFM financing will encompass strategies for all forest areas in the province, including Protection and Conservation forests as well as Production Forests and village forests in unclassified lands.  As part of this, the Project will invest in ecotourism initiatives at four sites. The degree to which ecotourism can generate finance for sustainable management outside protected areas will be a function of the location of participating communities with respect to those protected areas. Communities around protected areas will be able to benefit from ecotourism activities through employment (as guides, for instance), sale of products (food, handicrafts), potentially through revenue from homestays, etc. Because community participation will be subject to Conservation Agreements that define concrete conservation commitments, revenue derived from ecotourism-linked activities will be positioned as financial incentives for sustainable resource use, including forest management.

Wildlife-related ecotourism operations are generating community benefits and producing increased support and financing for wildlife conservation

The project will undertake activities to support the development of at least four community-based ecotourism sites in the target districts of Savannakhet province.  This element of the project has several inter-related objectives: 1) to allow communities and protected areas in Savannakhet province to benefit from the Lao PDR’s continuing growth as a tourism destination, thereby strengthening the economic case for maintaining habitat for conservation rather than conversion to other uses; 2) to contribute to both community development (by providing a basis for alternative livelihoods, direct employment, and funds) and protected area financing; and 3) to link ecotourism success with local community wildlife protection support and to formalize these linkages through community conservation agreements. The ecotourism component of the project can draw on several supportive factors. The project area contains sites with credible ecotourism potential, including some that already are featured as offerings by operators. Ecotourism cantered on wildlife and wildlife habitat can also benefit from cultural and historical tourism assets in Savannakhet. Experience with ecotourism in other parts of the Lao PDR offer learning opportunities from successful enterprises, including effective arrangements with communities and protected areas.  

To date, a National Ecotourism Specialist with the Project has initiated various activities within four candidate sites for investment in wildlife-based ecotourism in the project area, as follows:

  • Eld’s Deer Sanctuary: The Project will upgrade the Eld’s Deer Sanctuary (Ong Mang) to National Protected Area status. This offers an ideal opportunity to develop the ecotourism potential of the site, as the project will establish a protected area headquarters in Ong Mang and these facilities can also serve as a foundation for ecotourism infrastructure.
  • Dong Phou Vieng: The Dong Phou Vieng Protected Area is home to significant populations of gibbon, douc langur, gaur, jackal, tiger, pangolin and two vulture species.
  • Nong Luang Lake: The Nong Luang Lake and associated wetland area offers natural beauty and is a nesting site for the Siamese crocodile; other site attributes include notable scenic beauty and the presence of bird species, as well as cultural tourism cantered on the Ban Nongboua and Ban Sagnek communities living on the lake edge.
  • Phou Xang He: The Phou Xang He Protected Area has yet to be developed with respect to ecotourism. However, the presence of five species of higher primates – Francois langur, douc langur, black gibbon and two macaque species – as well as elephants, suggests that wildlife-based tourism potential may be significant.


Duties and Responsibilities

Under supervision of the UNDP Head of Natural Resources Management and Climate Change Unit and the SAFE Ecosystems Project - National Project Director, the International Consultant will be required to undertake the following duties:

  • Work with the National Ecotourism Specialist and assess the progress made to-date towards the following key activities (but not limited to) related to the Ecotourism objectives of the SAFE Ecosystems Project:
    • Confirmation and mapping the proposed sites and their potential for ecotourism development.
    • Dissemination of the results of ecotourism sector assessment with local partners and communities to raise awareness on ecotourism potential, gauge interest in participation, define roles and responsibilities, identify linked livelihood opportunities (e.g. employment as guides, maintenance of trails/infrastructure, provision of meals, handicrafts, homestays, agrotourism, village culture experiences, etc.), and discuss access and benefit sharing strategies and mechanisms.
    • Working with PA management and communities to decide on enterprise development strategy (as a PA-led initiative, a community-based enterprise, a partnership with a private sector operator, or some combination)
    • For wildlife-based component of ecotourism venture, completion of behavioural studies as needed to understand how best to structure the visitor experience to maximize the likelihood of satisfactory viewing of the focal species.
    • Convening of enterprise partners/stakeholders to develop management plans and investment plans; based on these, develop action plans in terms of training, construction, and marketing activities. Management plans to include safeguards to ensure that enterprises do not undermine conservation values (e.g. excess visitor numbers adversely impacting species habitat) and that necessary access and benefit sharing mechanisms are included. 
    • Provision of vocational training and workshops for villagers to provide support for the operations of community enterprises (hospitality, tourism enhancement, marketing and sales, handicraft, etc.).
    • Initiation of action plans, including design and deployment of fee collection system, visitor tracking system, and monitoring system (linked to safeguards); development of infrastructure to link ecotourism with community wildlife protection (e.g. camp sites, tourist information sites, facilities for home stays, tourism trails, wildlife observation towers, handicraft centres, etc.).  Standard mitigation measures will be applied to construction activities such as dust and noise abatement, protection of existing forest\tree cover, utilization of environmentally friendly designs\concepts, etc.
  • In addition to the above key activities related to Ecotourism, review other activities towards developing Village Handicrafts, as well as the outputs of a recent Handicraft Feasibility study completed through the SAFE Ecosystems Project.
  • The initial assessment should include a visit to each of the four candidate Ecotourism sites listed within Section 1 of this TOR.
  • Based upon the initial assessment, develop a gap analysis reporting the activities already completed and make recommendations on key actions that need to be completed to ensure the Project objectives related to Ecotourism are on track by December 2019.
  • Provide clear recommendations on how to market and attract tourists to visit the candidate Ecotourism sites.
  • Work directly with the National Ecotourism Specialist and the Savannakhet Province Department of Information, Culture and Tourism to develop an Action Plan to ensure key actions are completed by December 2019.
  • On a part-time basis, provide on-site coaching and advisory role for the National Ecotourism Specialist and the Savannakhet Province Department of Information, Culture and Tourism to ensure key actions are completed by December 2019.
  • Perform other tasks that relevant to this consultancy services as required by the project management and UNDP.


Competencies

·         Expert knowledge and experience with ecotourism and wildlife-based projects, as well as implementation by rural communities within protected areas.

·         Excellent communication and consultation skills to liaise with a range of stakeholders including district and provincial authorities, local communities, etc. and ability and experience to conduct training.

·         Ability to lead and work with teams and to achieve quality outputs under tight timelines.

·         Ability and willingness to travel within Lao PDR.

·         Expert knowledge and experience of ecotourism within Lao PDR or similar countries is highly desirable.

·         Experience working within Lao PDR (or similar countries) government counterparts and local rural communities is highly desirable.

·         Excellent working knowledge of written and spoken English is required; ability to write or speak Lao is highly desirable.

·         Knowledge of UNDP and the UN system is an advantage.


Required Skills and Experience

A.       Academic Qualifications:

·         Holds a PhD, Master’s Degree related to ecotourism, tourism, conservation biology, environment, natural resource management, sustainable community development or relevant fields.

B.       Years of experience:

·         At least 7-years working experience in ecotourism, tourism, conservation biology, environment, natural resource management, sustainable community development or relevant fields.


UNDP is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence.

UNDP does not tolerate sexual exploitation and abuse, any kind of harassment, including sexual harassment, and discrimination. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks.


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