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Bicycle made from amazonian vegetable leather
Botanical museum opens “the gift of the nile” exhibition
Forestry compendium 2003 edition
Global forum calls to curb illegal logging and promote responsible forest investment
International fellowship opportunity
Neem tree extracts to kill vegetable pests
Ntfps revisited
Sustainable development of rattan in asean countries
The southern african natural products trade association
Use of an essential oil against dengue
Which biodiversity?
Wildlife and poverty study
Women play a central conservation role in africa

 “Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFP) consist of goods of biological origin other than wood, derived from forests, other wooded land and trees outside forests.”

«Les produits forestiers non ligneux sont des biens d’origine biologique autres que le bois, dérivés des forêts, des autres terres boisées, et des arbres hors forêts.»

«Productos forestales no madereros son los bienes de origen biológico distintos de la madera derivados de los bosques, de otras tierras boscosas y de los árboles fuera de los bosques.»

(FAO’s working definition)

Bicycle made from amazonian vegetable leather

The Giant bicycle, made using vegetable leather, is a success for the “Business for a Sustainable Amazonia” partnership. The bicycles come equipped with bags made from vegetable leather, stamped with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) logo. The range was launched at the Botanical Garden in Rio de Janeiro during the opening of a new exhibition from Business for a Sustainable Amazonia, a partnership between the Ministry of the Environment, AmazonLife and WWF-Brazil.

The vegetable leather, known as Treetap®, is made from natural rubber and was produced by three rubber-tapping communities in Amazonia, with support from the Rio-based company Amazon Life, WWF-Brazil and the Nawa Institute.

The aim of the vegetable leather project is to develop new products made using natural rubber which guarantee the sustainable use of forest resources and increase the income of the local population.

The bicycles have already attracted great interest from consumers in Holland. (Source: Amazon News, 20 June 2003.)

Botanical museum opens “the gift of the nile” exhibition

The botanical museum at the Instituto Politécnico de Beja, Portugal (Beja Polytechnic Institute) has recently opened a new exhibition named “The Gift of the Nile or the Uses of Plants in Ancient Egypt”. The exhibition displays 216 items, including plants, plant products and Egyptian art reproductions brought to the workshops of the major world museums that have Egyptian collections.

The exhibition covers the period between 3100 and 30 BC and is divided into major themes: food plants, medicinal and aromatic plants, clothing plants, plants used in the mummification processes, spices, etc.

Some of the plants included in the exhibition are native of Egypt (papyrus, blue water lily) but others were imported through legendary commercial routes (spices, resins).

Among the many plants and plant products displayed are: papyrus (Cyperus papyrus L.), doum palm (Hyphaene thebaica [L.] C. Mart.), flax (Linum usitatissimum L.), henna (Lawsonia inermis L.), pomegranate (Punica granatum L.), ebony (Dalbergia melanoxylon Guill. & Perr.), frankincense (Boswellia sacra Flueck.), myrrh (Commiphora myrrha [Nees] Engl.), mastic (Pistacia lentiscus L.), coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.), garlic (Allium sativum L.) and onions (Allium cepa L.).

A catalogue of the exhibition has been published (in Portuguese and English).

For more information, please visit the museum’s Web page ( ). (Contributed by: Luís Mendonça de Carvalho and Francisca Maria Fernandes , Portugal.)


Beyond timber: certification of non-timber forest products

Certification is part of a growing trend with regard to defining standards for social and environmental performance in natural resource management. Started in response to consumer demand for sustainably sourced products, the concept has taken hold in a number of sectors including the food, health care and forest product industries. In forestry, certification began in the wood products industry, only recently including non-timber forest products. Because the term non-timber forest products (NTFPs) encompasses such a vast array of goods, various certification schemes are being applied, with varied success and relevance. This review positions NTFPs within the context of sustainable forest product certification and within the development of broader standards and certification for NTFPs and related products (organics, authentication and quality control). There are broader implications of standards, for example as a tool to influence consumer choice, to form the basis of industry association standards (of collecting and management), corporate policies, and/or legislation.

There are 36 products that have standards established within the forest certification standards, 32 of them in Brazil. Certification has focused on products with commercial relevance but for which there is a good information base of management concerns and a known set of collectors whose activities can be monitored and confirmed. They are also products with a marketing chain to a product for which the NTFP is the main or primary ingredient.

Recent efforts to certify NTFPs raise questions about the impact of this market-based tool on local producers and communities. Drawing from case studies in Latin America, we find that there are many impediments to the successful implementation of NTFP certification. These impediments range from unorganized and powerless labourers to basic difficulties in commercializing NTFPs in the face of an undeveloped demand for certified products among businesses and consumers. The next generation of NTFP certification will be more complex owing to faulty information on management and biological characteristics of the species, multiple chains of collectors, managers and processors, the volatility of NTFP markets and the importance of many NTFPs which are only a small part of the final product to be marketed.

There are strong interests in developing standards from industry associations interested in the sustainability of the supply of threatened species and in preventing competition from lower-quality products. Health organizations and governments are increasingly concerned with standards, while producers seek clear guidelines for harvesting and management that can be communicated clearly and successfully applied to ensure their own income streams. In most cases there is a lot of conflicting information: a plethora of guidelines, the weakness and inconsistency of standards and a lack of integration into market chains or other trade labelling initiatives (organic or fair trade, for example).

Apart from a limited set of products, NTFP certification can be extremely costly as regards standards development and application to varied ecological settings. Even within a given region in a given country, standards can be impossible to apply where there are multiple types of collectors over dispersed areas with public tenure. Small producers may be unable to apply these standards owing to a lack of information or lack of market return for their application. Particularly in the cosmetic industry, where individual NTFPs are only a small portion of the final product, there is little market incentive to certify. In addition, some products can be quite vulnerable to product substitution or fashion and expensive processes of certification should only be applied to those NTFPs likely to maintain a reasonable market share over time.

A number of successful experiences can be expanded to other products – rattan, maple syrup, chicle, palm heart and wood carvings. For species which are difficult to certify there are a number of alternatives which could be more systematically applied to new countries and new markets, including ethical standards for collectors’ associations, permit systems which coincide with collection options and requirements, fair trade models and the provision of greater tenure security to specific sets of collectors and producers. Parallel to this, government regulations often need modifying in order to remove market barriers for small-scale producers and to eliminate counterproductive permitting and taxation systems that reduce the returns available to the producer.

It appears that the process of creating NTFP certification standards may create positive ripple effects among producers, traders, companies and policy-makers by planting the seeds for a vision of more socially and environmentally responsible management of NTFP resources. We conclude that the ability of certification to bring about wider social change indirectly may prove to be of greater lasting impact to rural livelihoods and NTFP management than labelling and marketing. (Source: ETFRN News, 39/40.)

For more information, please contact the author:
Patricia Shanley, CIFOR, PO Box 6596, JKPWB, Jakarta 10065, Indonesia.
E-mail: (general inquiries);;  or

Benefit-sharing using certification

Fair trade certification of non-wood forest products (NWFPs) is an example of benefit-sharing that is being developed. Typically, collectors of NWFPs receive only small payments for the products that they collect. These products may eventually be sold at prices that are many times higher, particularly if they are exported from developing to developed countries. Fair trade certification and other types of certification have been used to try to redistribute some of these benefits back down the production chain, to increase the profitability of NWFP collection, raise the incomes of local people and help to protect forest areas. As with wood certification, such arrangements may have the potential to increase the profitability of forestry for local people, but they currently account for only a small share of total NWFP production. (Source: Extracted from an article in Unasylva, 212 by A. Whiteman “Money doesn’t grow on trees: a perspective on prospects for making forestry pay”.)

First FSC-certified non-timber forest products from the Brazilian Amazon

The fruits and palm hearts of Euterpe oleracea are non-timber forest products of major economical importance in the Brazilian Amazon. This multistemmed palm is widely distributed in the swamplands of northern South America and the greatest concentrations are in the Amazon estuary. People harvest the fruits by climbing the palms, cutting the inflorescence and extracting the fruit pulp mechanically or by hand. A highly nutritious liquid, locally known as açai, is processed into beverages, ice-cream and pastries and is sold at local or regional markets. Mixed with cassava flour or rice, it is consumed in huge quantities by the poor section of the Amazonian population. Palm hearts consist of the young, undeveloped leaves in the crown shaft of the Euterpe palm and can be consumed raw or cooked. To harvest a palm heart, the entire stem is cut down and its crown shaft removed. Palm hearts are processed and canned in factories on the banks of the Amazon and are worth some US$120 million annually in domestic consumption and export value.

Repeated harvesting with short rotation periods leads to the weakening of individual palm clumps and a slower regeneration. Ecological research on Euterpe populations has pointed out that harvesting at short intervals (one to two years), as is mostly the case in Brazil, causes clump mortality and a steady decline in production. Overharvesting and low-quality (immature) palm hearts have already weakened Brazil’s position on the world market. Obviously, the indiscriminate felling of Euterpe palms also has a negative effect on the availability of açai resources.

Fortunately, alternative land-use practices permitting both fruit harvest and palm heart extraction are being increasingly implemented by the rural Amazonian population. Harvesting palm hearts after longer intervals (four to five years) causes less damage to the natural stands and produces a higher palm heart yield. Leaving one mature stem per cluster intact increases the vitality of the clump and supplies the extractor with fruits. Because of its frequency and clonal, self-regenerative habit, Euterpe oleracea is able to sustain a viable industry, as long as rotation periods are long enough and producers strictly follow their management plans. As long as people climb the trees to collect the fruit, instead of cutting all mature stems, açai production can be considered sustainable. Other sustainable management practices are the selective thinning of forest competitors (lianas) and pruning to increase production.

Some 4 000 ha of Euterpe forest on Marajó Island (Amazon estuary) were recently certified by the Smartwood Programme, according to the sustainability guidelines of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The canning company, Muaná Alimentos, buys palm hearts and açai from forest-dwelling communities. In 2000, the company produced 540 tonnes of palm heart with a value of US$4 million. In the same year, seven tonnes of pure and sweetened açai pulp were exported to the United States.

Muaná employees are hired and organized through a labour cooperative and training courses in responsible forest management are held periodically. Other technical training courses are made available to the community as a whole. New harvesting methods have been developed that enable adults to gather the fruits and the children now go to school. The newly founded producers’ association provides boats and fuel for school transportation. The state government continues to provide support as well since eradication of child labour is high on their agenda. The school curriculum includes forest management and the basic concepts of nature conservation. (Source: ETFRN News, 39/40.)

For more information, please contact:

Dr Tinde van Andel, Leiden University branch of the National Herbarium of the Netherlands, Postbus 9514, 2300 RA Leiden, the Netherlands.

This study was carried out for the Guiana Shield Initiative, which is an ambitious ecoregional project, coordinated by the NC-IUCN with the aim of setting up sustainable financial mechanisms to conserve the unique intact ecosystems of the Guiana Shield. The development of commercial non-timber forest products is often one of the ways by which local communities generate income from their surrounding biodiversity.

(Full reference: van Andel, T.R., Bánki, O.S. & MacKinven, A. 2003. Commercial non-timber forest products of the Guiana Shield: an inventory of commercial NTFP extraction and possibilities for sustainable harvesting. Amsterdam, Netherlands Committee for IUCN.)

Commercializing nwfps

Identifying the “winners & losers”

The commercialization of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) has an impact on many groups of people, from poor farmers to small-scale entrepreneurs, and on the resource base.

Examining different NTFP market chains can help to identify suitable development paths, so that commercial returns are not achieved at the expense of ecological sustainability and other social, cultural and environmental benefits.

Over the past three years, our group at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) Wallingford has been leading an international multidisciplinary team examining the distribution, use and marketing of NTFPs from two species, marula (Sclerocarya birrea) in South Africa and Namibia, and crabwood (Carapa guianensis) in Guyana, to assess the economic and ecological impacts of their commercialization on the forest resource base and people’s livelihoods.

Our research has shown that NTFP use can provide important income for poorer households, especially for women, diversify their livelihood options, and at the same time lead to improved management and conservation of the resource. We have also highlighted the fact that the potential economic benefits of NTFP commercialization must be weighed against social, cultural and ecological costs that may arise, particularly when products become the focus of large-scale enterprises.

The marula tree and its fruit are well known across southern Africa, thanks to its widespread distribution, its common use among rural communities (especially for brewing beer), and its popularization through the advertising efforts of the producers of Amarula Cream liqueur. The marula tree has many uses and it is an example of an NTFP with considerable commercialization potential. Its bark provides medicine, its wood is used for carving, its fruits for the preparation of juice, beer and jams, and its kernels provide a wholesome snack and high-quality oil.

Crabwood is a tree found across Amazonia and Central America and is a much sought-after hardwood. But the benefits of the oil derived from its seeds are also known throughout the region. In Guyana, crabwood oil is a highly prized household item among Amerindian peoples, having multiple uses, especially for the treatment of common ailments. Its other properties and uses have important potential, and have been examined so that appropriate management regimes can be developed.

The “Winners & Losers” project team includes specialists in environmental economics, ecology, natural resource management, community development, marketing, and intellectual property rights. We set out to identify the winners and losers in forest product commercialization to help establish methods of sustainable harvest of resources, benefit local producers, and resolve conflicts. This knowledge can help forest-dependent communities worldwide to profit from their natural resources in an equitable and sustainable way. The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) is funding the research as part of their Forestry Research Programme, and will use the results to inform local communities as well as national and international forest policies.

The research has shown that in identifying the winners and losers in forest product commercialization we can conclude that an enterprise, community, or individual household may experience both winning and losing situations and that they may win and lose at different times of the year or season depending on certain circumstances. The lesson that has emerged is that there are winners’ and losers’ qualities or behaviour that influence the distribution of benefits in commercialization.

Outputs from the Winners & Losers project are extensive and diverse, ranging from scientific papers to educational materials. One such output is a half-hour professional quality video film, Trees of Life: 10 lessons from the marula and crabwood trees, due to be shown on national television in the study countries and available on VHS for wider educational dissemination.

More information about the project and (coming soon) downloadable reports and other outputs can be found at the Winners & Losers Web site ( ).

For more information, please contact:
Dermot O’Regan, Water Policy & Management, CEH Wallingford, Maclean Building, Crowmarsh Gifford, Oxfordshire OX10 8BB, UK.
Fax: +44 1491 692338;
or Sheona Shackleton, Marula Commercialization Project, Environmental Science
Department, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa.
Fax: +27 46 6038616;

Commercialization of NTFPs in the Amazon

The Rainforest Alliance has awarded the 2003-2005 Kleinhans Fellowship for study of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) to Carla Morsello, Ph.D. Carla will examine how the commercialization of NTFPs in the Brazilian Amazon is affecting local indigenous communities and forest conservation. The NTFPs in the study will include local oils, nuts, flowers and herbs used by the cosmetics and medicinal industries. (For the full story, please see the press release at: ) (Source: Rainforest Alliance , 5 August 2003.)

Forestry compendium 2003 edition

The Forestry Compendium is an encyclopaedic, mixed media tool, available on CD-ROM and the Internet. It has a user-friendly interface so it can present text, pictures, maps and abstracts together, without the user having to search numerous sources.

For more information, please contact:
CAB International, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8DE, UK.
Fax: +44 1491 829292;

Global forum calls to curb illegal logging and promote responsible forest investment

With a call to curb illegal logging – which today represents worldwide annual losses in revenues and assets in excess of US$10 billion – and to increase responsible forest investments in developing countries and economies-in-transition, a two-day multistakeholder Forest Investment Forum ended today in Washington.

A statement issued by the sponsoring organizations – the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Forest Trends, Program on Forests (PROFOR), the World Bank, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – emphasized that this gathering, which included leaders of multinational forest companies, governments, ministries, international development and financial institutions, and environmental and civil society organizations was a crucial platform to move ahead a sustainability agenda for the forest sector.

According to Ian Johnson, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development, it is important to act now to implement sustainable forest management, as forests are fundamental in the fight against poverty and the maintenance of biodiversity.

It is estimated that some 1.6 billion people worldwide depend on forests for their livelihoods. Sixty million indigenous peoples depend on forests for their subsistence. Forest resources also represent a survival base for as many as 200 to 300 million small farmers around the world.

Forests worldwide harbour 90 percent of land-based biodiversity, including numerous threatened and endangered plant and animal species. Forests provide valuable goods such as timber and medicines, and important services such as regulating climate change by storing carbon and filtering drinking-water. Despite their importance, many of the world’s richest forests are rapidly disappearing. (Source: Extracted from a World Bank [Washington, DC], Press Release, 24 October 2003.)

International fellowship opportunity

The World Forest Institute (WFI) is seeking individuals working in forestry and natural resources to apply for their International Fellowship Program. WFI is a division of the World Forestry Center, which is a small, private non-profit educational organization based in Portland, Oregon, United States. The Forestry Center promotes education and information exchange regarding forests and forestry.

The Fellowship Program brings natural resources professionals from around the world to work at the World Forest Institute for six to 12 months.

More than 50 Fellows from 17 countries have participated in the programme. Fellows staff country desks at WFI and work with colleagues from around the world. They work on a primary research project developed in cooperation with their sponsors, and also participate in group activities which include site visits to forestry agencies, universities, companies and mills.

WFI seeks individuals with initiative, interest in international forestry issues, and a good command of English.

For more information, please contact:
Angie DiSalvo, International
Fellowship Program Manager,
World Forest Institute,
World Forestry Center,
4033 SW Canyon Road,
Portland, OR 97221, USA.


Journal of Tropical Medicinal Plants

Medicinal plants in the tropics are integral to health care and constitute one of the richest forms of tropical forest biodiversity. There is a need for scientific information on utilization, conservation, safety, efficacy and quality control to match the rapidly growing demand in this field. The Journal of Tropical Medicinal Plants has been established to provide a forum for sound science and education of medicinal plant species from the Tropics that are of benefit to humanity.

For more information, please contact:
Prof. A.N. Rao, Editor-in-Chief,
Journal of Tropical Medicinal Plants, Level 2, Wisma Zuellig,
9 Jalan Bersatu (13/4),
Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

World Bamboo and Rattan

World Bamboo and Rattan is a new quarterly journal.
For more information, please contact:
Fu Jinhe, Ph.D., Program Officer, International Network for Bamboo and Rattan, Beijing 100101-80, People’s Republic of China.
Fax: +86 10 64956983;
e-mail:; or

Nature and Environment Law Times

Print World (Nature Book Shop) has announced the publication of a quarterly journal Nature and Environment Law Times to cater to the intellectual and professional requirements of foresters, environmentalists, lawyers, social activists, academicians and nature lovers. (For information regarding subscription and pre-publication offers please contact: )

Neem tree extracts to kill vegetable pests

Farmers could use extracts of the neem tree to control pests that attack vegetables, research done in Makerere University, Uganda, has revealed. Dr Anne Akol, a lecturer at the Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, found that neem tree extracts could kill several cabbage pests. She said only low doses of the extract were needed to kill the insects, and that farmers in Kenya were already using the neem extracts to control pests. Neem doesn’t kill the insects immediately, but it causes their abnormal growth.

She advised farmers not to collect extracts from different neem trees as trees vary in the concentration of the natural pesticide. Some trees have higher concentrations than others.

Dr Akol completed her research in 2001. By setting up experiments in a laboratory, she established that the neem extract could kill such cabbage pests as aphids and caterpillars. However, she did not establish how many other pests could be killed using neem. (Source: New Vision [Kampala], Uganda, 26 March 2003.)

For more information, please contact the author: Prof. Mark Chase, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, UK.

E-mail: ;

Ntfps revisited

In June 2003, the International Forestry Review published a special issue “NTFPs revisited”, guest edited by Dr Anna Lawrence of the Environmental Change Institute (ECI).

Some of the papers are available for downloading from the ECI Web site: . (Contributed by: Sarah Gillett , UK.)

Sustainable development of rattan in asean countries

Rattans belong to the palm family (Palmae or Arecaceae) and to the Calamoideae, a large subfamily. They are thorny climbing palms with around 600 species belonging to 13 genera and found in the lowland tropical forests of the Old World. Most of the species have very restricted natural ranges and grow from sea level to 3 000 m altitude.

The Southeast Asian region is endowed with diverse species of non-wood forest products (NWFPs) owing to its vast tropical forests. Of the 13 known genera of rattans, ten genera with about 574 species are found in the Southeast Asian and neighbouring regions, from Fiji to the Indian subcontinent, and from South China to Queensland in Australia. These are Calamus (400 species), Daemonorops (115 species), Korthalsia (26 species), Plectocomia (16 species), Ceratolobus (six species), Plectocomiopsis (five species), Pogonotium (three species), Myrialepis, Calospatha and Retispatha (one species each). Owing to this great number of rattan species, Southeast Asia is considered to be the centre of biodiversity of rattans. Commercial species of rattan are only approximately 10 percent of the total known species worldwide.

Rattan is an important commodity in international trade and at the local level. It was estimated that the external trade of rattan generates about US$4 billion. Southeast Asian countries are the major international traders of rattan, with local usage amounting to US$2.5 billion.

Worldwide, about 700 million people use rattans and about two million people in the Asian tropics are said to be directly dependent on rattan or connected with rattan harvesting and trade. Most local people in Southeast Asia use rattans primarily for thatching, handicrafts, food, furniture and other uses. In fact, over the years Asian artisans have perfected their skills in making attractive, distinctively styled rattan articles that are renowned and valued all over the world.

Trade in rattan products has become very profitable for many Asian countries and is a source of income for many rural inhabitants. The rattan industry also provides employment opportunities to local people and contributes to the national and international economies.

At present, rattan resources are being exploited in their natural habitat. The external trade and commercial value of rattan furniture amounts to US$7 billion to $8 billion. However, nearly 90 percent of the raw materials being used for the industry are mainly from wild forests and very few from cultivated areas. The situation is being aggravated by the losses during post harvest operations of 20 to 30 percent of the materials being gathered. Inadequate replenishment, poor forest management and loss of forest habitats also contribute to the problems regarding the depletion of rattan resources.

A limited number of rattan species are suitable for plantation establishment and plantations are found in few countries, e.g. Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. Other plantation establishments have started recently in some countries while large-scale plantations have yet to be developed and encouraged.

Thus far, the plight of rattan production and utilization cannot be ignored. It is apparent that there is a need for improved techniques in planting and management of rattan in degraded forest. Collaborative efforts and exchange of information and/or experts concerning the management of rattan to a broader perspective are imperative. This could turn to the formulation and adoption of improved technologies for sustainable development of rattan. Building a strong collaboration between governmental, international and private organizations for more information exchange and cooperation is an important undertaking.

As a first step towards this, the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau – Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ERDB-DENR) and the Forest Products Research and Development Institute – Department of Science and Technology (FPRDI-DOST) are implementing a pre-project entitled “Application of production and utilization technologies for sustainable development of rattan in the ASEAN member countries” (ITTO PPD 51/02 Rev.1 [I]) with funding support from the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). This Asia-wide endeavour will cover Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Viet Nam and the Philippines.

The development objective of the pre-project is to assess the socio-economic acceptability, the financial and market feasibility of rattan production and utilization technologies in the ASEAN member countries. Specifically it aims to: conduct a situational analysis of the rattan industry and determine the socio-economic, production, harvesting, processing, utilization and market dimensions of rattan both in plantation and community-based levels in the ASEAN member countries; and determine future actions needed to enhance ASEAN regional cooperation through collaborative research in rattan sustainable development.

This pre-project will capture the status quo of the region’s socio-economic situation in relation to the rattan industry. Other factors such as sociodemographic information, acceptability, preferences and attitude towards rattan as a raw material will also be studied. The information will provide decision-makers with bases for the rationale and viable decisions for future market-related actions.

A Regional Rattan Conference was held in January 2004 as a culmination of all the activities in the pre-project and presented papers on the status of rattan resources in participating ASEAN countries, their uses, extent and management of natural stands and appropriate silvicultural activities related to sustainable development.

Formulation of a framework for the sustainable development of rattan in the region is anticipated to be carried out by the Research Team. Indeed, through this pre-project it is foreseen that the status of the rattan industries will be improved or modified with the appropriate technologies, information, and economic and social interventions through the efficient and effective exchange of information and/or experts and the collaboration among the ASEAN member countries. (Contributed by: Jessie R. Fortus, Research Assistant, ITTO Rattan Project.)

For more information, please contact:
Dr Aida Baja-Lapis, Project Leader (Production and Management),
Project Management Office,
Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau,
College, Laguna 4031, the Philippines.
Fax: +63 049 5363481;
e-mail: or

The southern african natural products trade association

If you asked Chapeto six months ago how he saw his role in a global economy, he would have laughed at you. Chapeto lives in the remote district of Rushinga, in northeastern Zimbabwe; a hot, dry, dusty place, where the daily struggle for survival can be especially harsh. But if you ask him today, Chapeto will tell you exactly how he fits into the global economy and how he is benefiting from being linked to one of the world’s fastest growing industries.

Chapeto and his partner Kasoro, together own one of the latest businesses to benefit from a new regional trade association, SANProTA (the Southern African Natural Products Trade Association) that aims to bring people like Chapeto into the global economy. Chapeto’s company is called C&K Investments and they produce oil from the seeds of the baobab tree. They have recently invested in an oil press and established a small oil processing facility that employs five local people. At current production levels they are purchasing 6 tonnes of seed per month from rural producers throughout their district in return for much-needed cash.

The global trade in natural products is a rapidly growing market sector valued at more than US$40 billion a year worldwide. SANProTA’s goal is to unlock the market potential of natural products in southern Africa, giving global companies access to new and exciting African natural products while developing a long-term supplementary income source for poor rural people in the region, thus enabling them to improve their livelihoods from the sustainable exploitation of natural products. Established in 2001, SANProTA is a representative body for producers in Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The association provides the institutional conduit for the collection, processing, ordering and dispatching of natural products. Its membership encompasses the full range of rural producers, private sector players, NGOs and research institutions.

With their team of specialist staff in southern Africa and Europe, SANProTA provides its southern African members with technical advice on the latest product development and processing innovations, supply chain management, quality control, export procedures and sales negotiation. SANProTA represents its members at all major European natural products trade shows, feeding members with market information and contacts, and facilitating fair and environmentally sound trading partnerships between members and buyers. The association also helps members to get to grips with often complicated export procedures, while lobbying for improved trade regulations and an increased understanding of the natural products industry among governments and regulatory bodies. SANProTA therefore gives African producers like Chapeto a place at the cutting edge of the natural products industry alongside some of the leading international commercial players, enabling him to gain an equitable and profitable stake in the global marketplace.

If you would like to know more about SANProTA, or are interested in becoming a member, please contact them at the following address: Lucy Welford, Liaison and Information Officer, SANProTA, 9 Lezard Ave, PO Box BE 385, Belvedere, Harare, Zimbabwe (e-mail:; )

Use of an essential oil against dengue

The essential oil of rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora), vastly used in the perfume industry, could also be useful for public health purposes. Researchers from the Federal University of Amazonas (UFAM), Brazil, discovered that it has substances capable of exterminating the larvae of the mosquito Aedes aegypti that transmits dengue. Tests showed that linalool, the principal oil in this tree native to Amazonia, is able to eliminate 92 percent of the larvae present in a sample.

The chemist, Katiuscia de Souza, arrived at this discovery following a change of course in her investigation. The initial objective was to verify whether linalool was thrown out with the water in which it was distilled. The extraction process occurs by vaporization separation. Trunks, sticks and leaves are immersed in water which is then boiled. Because this water is very fragrant, Katiuscia imagined that it still contained a certain amount of linalool. The tests proved that she was correct. However, another factor attracted her attention: she discovered that many regions in the interior of Amazonia use this material as a disinfectant in bathrooms, toilets and even on walls and in hospital dispensaries. She thought that the linalool could be responsible for the larvicide’s activity of the waste water.

As the ideal conditions did not exist at UNAM, Katiuscia used the laboratories at the National Research Institute of Amazonia (INAP). The results were very good: in a sample where larvae were exposed to linalool for 24 hours, 88 percent of the Aedes aegypti larvae died. She extended the exposure for another 24 hours. In the final results, 92 percent of the larvae had died.

The next step is to use the essential oil to develop a product to combat the dengue mosquito larvae. According to chemist Jamal Chaar, Katiuscia’s adviser in the investigation, it is possible to exploit linalool or even the waste water to develop a larvicide. He also added that another aspect that needs to be highlighted is that the waste water cannot be dumped into the environment since it could by very toxic to micro-organisms, many of which have not yet been examined. (Source: Amazon News, 7 December 2003.)


Vasundhara is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization, working primarily in Orissa, India with natural resources management focused on sustainable rural livelihoods. Vasundhara has been extensively involved in the forestry sector, trying to improve community-state collaboration and facilitate policy changes in the direction of sustainable community-based forest management systems. The main areas of work have been policy advocacy, research and documentation, capacity building and networking. It has been instrumental in initiating coordinated action and response from the civil society on forestry issues, and contributed to the process of alliance building and networking among forest-protecting villages and forest users in various parts of Orissa.

Vasundhara has also played an extremely relevant role in the documentation of community forestry initiatives and in establishing the richness and diversity of their experience. This documentation has rendered visible internationally the self-initiated forest protection efforts in Orissa as important examples of sustainable resource management systems.

Research is focused on supporting Vasundhara’s efforts to improve access and control of “ecosystem people” i.e. people who depend on their immediate ecosystem for sustenance, on their natural resources, especially forests. Some of the key research issues include NTFPs, NTFP policies, institutional issues relating to community forest management (CFM), ecological and economic aspects of CFM, biodiversity conservation etc.

For more information, please contact:
Vasundhara, 14-E Gajapati Nagar,
PO Sainik School, Bhubaneswar–751005, Orissa, India.
Fax: +91 674 509237/519237;
[Please also see under Products and Markets for more information on Lac. ]

Vasundhara has produced a series profiling individual NTFPs. The first six publications in this series cover: Char seeds; Hill broom; Tamarind; Mahua; Siali leaf; and Lac.

Which biodiversity?

In February 2004 thousands of experts gathered at the Seventh Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to find ways to conserve biodiversity and to share the benefits equitably. Usually much of the attention in such discussions goes either to animals that are physically attractive or to the genetic resources used by crop breeders and drug companies. The plants and animals that villagers use for food, medicine, fuelwood, rituals, and other uses are often neglected.

That is not just simply unjust, it is downright unwise. If you don’t listen to local people’s concerns how can you expect them to support conservation?

Doug Sheil from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) leads a team that is developing new ways for conservation planners to take into account local people’s needs. The document, Local people’s priorities for biodiversity: examples from for forests of Indonesian Borneo, provides an example of this from the district of Malinau. There the team worked closely with families from seven communities to map out which species are most important to them, where they are located, and what needs to be done to protect them.

Hunting remains the main source of animal products for these villagers, particularly in remote places. The villagers prefer to hunt wild boar, but logging has driven away many of the boars, forcing people to hunt less-preferred protected species such as monkeys. While logging drives the boars away, small rice and cassava fields actually attract them. Salt springs and abandoned villages with many fruit-trees also attract a lot of the animals that people want.

Current Indonesian regulations encourage loggers to slash all the undergrowth and climbers for five years after logging to get rid of “weeds”. Unfortunately, many of those “weeds” are actually the plants that local people need. Similarly, loggers are usually told to drive their heavy machinery along the ridge tops to avoid erosion, but that is exactly where the sago palms grow that villagers eat when times are hard. Logging near rivers often kills the river carp that people are used to fishing because those carp eat the fruits of the trees that loggers harvest and can only survive in clear water.

Malinau’s villagers are particularly interested in conserving forests near gravesites and limestone formations where they harvest bird-nests. As it turns out, the latter are also rich in endemic species that interest biologists.

Focusing on these sorts of issues leads you to a partially different biodiversity agenda than just worrying about the big animals for the zoos or finding the cure for cancer.

To request a free electronic copy of this paper, contact Indah Susilanasari (; to send comments or queries to the authors, contact Doug Sheil ( A full explanation of the methodology can be downloaded at:  (Source: Polex Listserv [CIFOR], , February 2004.)

Wildlife and poverty study

International donor agencies, such as the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), are trying to figure out what to do about wild animals. People back home like them, especially the warm and fuzzy ones. But the aid agencies’ main focus is reducing poverty, and they are still not sure how fuzzy animals fit into the picture.

Some aid officials wonder whether the poor really need wild animals. Others argue that projects that combine conservation and development cost a lot for each person the project benefits and they worry that more parks might marginalize the poor.

Such concerns recently led DFID to do a “wildlife and poverty study”. This study concluded that some 150 million people still rely heavily on wildlife for meat or cash and that wildlife tourism might become an interesting option for marginal remote areas. Given that the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility spent US$7.4 billion on conservation and biodiversity projects over the last ten years, the poor could also benefit from having more of such funds contributing to meeting their needs.

DFID says most poverty reduction strategies fail to recognize that many rural people rely on bushmeat and that declining wildlife populations makes their lives more difficult. (On the other hand, wild animals also cause problems when they eat villagers’ crops or livestock, spread disease, or attack people.) Solving the bushmeat problem in countries with weak institutions will not be easy. Efforts so far to find other sources of protein to substitute for wild animals have not had much success. People need to think more about the bushmeat issue from the villagers’ perspectives, and not just in terms of conservation. Working with logging companies, traditional forest dwellers, small farmers and commercial hunters will each require separate approaches. In any case it will be a hard nut to crack.

With regards to tourism, the study finds that community-based wildlife management projects have yielded mixed results in eastern and southern Africa. Some households and districts received more money and jobs, but at a high cost to donors. To get beyond that stage requires quick and simple mechanisms for establishing resource rights, clearer and more equitable benefit-sharing arrangements, and building up local business skills.

In 1998, tourism was one of the five leading export sectors in two thirds of the world’s 49 least developed countries. But the tourism business is risky and outsiders usually get most of the benefits. Still, serious attempts to promote “pro-poor” wildlife tourism through community enterprises, serious partnerships between companies and communities, and efforts to upgrade the skills of local workers have just begun. No one knows if they will succeed.

The study points out many times that we still know surprisingly little about these issues from a livelihood perspective, much less what to do about them. And financing research is not as popular as it once was. But this is one case where it might just make sense.

To request a free electronic copy of this paper you can write to the DFID public enquiry point (; to send comments or queries or if you have any problems you can write to the authors, Joanna Elliott and the Livestock and Wildlife Advisory Group ( ). (Source: CIFOR-Polex Listserve, 4 March 2003.)

[Please see under Products and Markets for more information on Bushmeat.]

Women play a central conservation role in africa

“Women in Africa are the most culturally, economically, and politically disadvantaged,” said Dr Helen Gichohi of the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), but “they are also the most dependent on the wildlife and forests for food, water and fuelwood for their families.” Dr Gichohi stated this basic fact of life in Africa during a breakfast sponsored by the AWF at the National Press Club in Washington that highlighted the progress being made in the field of conservation in Africa and, specifically, the role of women in that process.

“Women in Conservation” was the topic for a panel discussion that featured Dr Gichohi, AWF’s vice-president for programming; Faida Mitifu, the ambassador from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Katie Frohardt, executive director of Fauna & Flora International; and Kim Sams, manager of conservation initiatives for Walt Disney World. All pointed out the central function of women in the entire conservation movement since they are the front line in the process in Africa.

Gichohi noted that when the political or economic decision is made to build in a forested area, it is the women – who had been excluded from the decision entirely – who have to walk farther for their water, search longer for their food and make more trips to carry their fuelwood. They are the ones most closely connected to the environment and when the environment is degraded, women suffer the brunt of the effects.

In that context, she stated, it is essential that women living in forested areas develop income-generating activities that take advantage of the natural resources around them.

Ambassador Faida Mitifu of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said that her country’s history of civil war had resulted in an unusually large number of female-headed households that depend on the forest for “sustainable life”. Mitifu said that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will work with AWF to develop projects that focus on conserving wildlife and on increasing women’s involvement in that effort.

Mitifu observed that there was a continuing contradiction between the traditional roles of women in Africa and the requirements of modern life. While there had been progress towards engaging women in politics and conservation, she said, there was still room for improvement. “In a male-dominated world, the policies are made by men, and the women and their plight are forgotten,” explained Mitifu. She encouraged non-governmental organizations with a strong female influence to continue to advance the role of women in conservation projects.

Sams, in applauding the work of women in this vital field, noted that there were few men in attendance. (Source: United States Department of State (Washington, DC), 17 November 2003.)

World Customs Organization approves new bamboo and rattan customs codes on the basis of FAO/INBAR proposal

The World Customs Organization (WCO) has approved a series of new Harmonized System customs codes (see details at: ) for bamboo and rattan commodities based on an FAO/INBAR proposal.

This historic event will have profound, deep and long-term effects on the global bamboo and rattan production and trade.

Thirteen new six-digit codes were introduced to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) in addition to or for clarification of the existing 12 bamboo and rattan customs codes. The codes represent a wide range of commodities including bamboo shoots, charcoal, plywood, plaiting materials, basketwork, pulp and paper, furniture and furniture parts. It is expected that codes for bamboo flooring – one of the leading items of bamboo and rattan global trade – are to be introduced during the coming 2004 WCO HS Committee meeting in Brussels in March in the context of the European Commission parquet floor proposal.

The significance of the new customs codes for the dynamically growing bamboo and rattan sector is difficult to overestimate. The new codes will allow the levying of more preferential tariffs and taxes on bamboo and rattan commodities for the benefit of developing nations and fair trade. They will also significantly improve collection of trade statistics, which is important for economic analysis and policy-making. Harmonized System customs codes are revised only once every four to six years. The next revision will only start in 2008. The newly introduced codes will take effect in 2007.

INBAR highly appreciates the overall support of its member countries and contributions of all individuals and organizations which for a few years were working together and contributed to the proposal, including FAO (particularly Messrs Wulf Killmann and Paul Vantomme), the European Forest Institute (particularly Messrs Philip Wardle and Bruce Michie), the International Tropical Timber Organization (particularly Messrs Manoel Sobral Filho and Steve Johnson), the Chinese Customs (particularly Ms Jin Hongman), customs organizations of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines (which provided their comments, statistical data and suggestions), participants of two joint FAO/INBAR Expert Consultations on bamboo and rattan in 2000 and 2002, as well as WCO representatives who were very constructive and cooperative.

For more information, please contact:
Dr Maxim Lobovikov, Program Manager, International Network for Bamboo
and Rattan (INBAR), Director of the International Commodity Body
of the Common Fund for Commodities,
POB 100102-86, Beijing 100102,
People’s Republic of China.
Fax: +86 10 6470 2166/3166;

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