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Czech republic
Democratic republic of the congo
Islamic republic of iran
Papua new guinea
Russian federation
United republic of tanzania
United states of america
Viet Nam


Forests play key role in country’s development

Angola’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development said that forests and fauna play an important role in the country’s development, as they are the sources of goods and services of economic, social and environmental character. According to the deputy minister, who was speaking at today’s opening session of a seminar on regional public consultation for the participative drafting of policy and legislation on forests, fauna and forests play an important role in the poverty reduction and food security of rural communities.

Angola has enormous potential in forests, wild fauna and huge protected areas, a fact that gives the southern African country a valuable basis for its economic, environmental and social development.

Acknowledging the importance of these resources, the deputy minister said that forests are the sources of subsistence and income for the majority of the rural population, as they contribute to the substantial reduction of poverty in the country. (Source: Angola Press Agency, 6 December 2005.)


Greenridge Health and Herb Festival

This Festival is held in August each year in the northern New South Wales city of Lismore. The area is subtropical, with an annual rainfall of about 1 400 mm and the volcanic soils are krasnozems. In pre-European times, the area supported the largest subtropical rain forest in Australia but most has been cleared for agricultural purposes.

The festival is a no-profit, signature event that showcases the use of herbs in complementary medicines and regional cuisine and promotes healthy lifestyles, a healthy natural environment and community participation. It provides a means to stimulate, network and learn new techniques and build expertise in the use of herbs and complementary medicine through a close link with and involvement of the School of Natural and Complementary Medicine of Southern Cross University.

This year’s festival featured a herb garden area, a bush food cooking area, woodworking demonstrations and quality cabinet work display, a bush food farm tour and demonstrations on the use of herbs in natural medicine treatments.

Indigenous non-wood forest crops grown in this region are lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora), tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) and macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia).

Lemon myrtle is in increasing use as a food additive and as a flavouring (in confectionery, tea, etc.) and the citral-type oils are similar to those found in lemon grass. There is some evidence of insecticidal properties but there are indications that some skins are sensitive to its use.

Tea trees are planted extensively on moister, lower-lying soil types. The trees are harvested periodically and the oils extracted. These are used in creams and have antifungal and antimicrobial properties. Plantations are now based on highly selected genotypes with very large yields of sought-after oils.

Macadamia is also planted extensively in this region, mainly for nuts for the food industry. However, the oil is valuable and the chippings left from kernel extraction are used for the production of macadamia oil that is used in cosmetics as well as in cooking.

Work on these products and other potential products is being carried out by the Centre for Phytochemistry and Pharmacology at Southern Cross University. (Contributed by: David Cameron, PO Box 5237, East Lismore, Wollongbar, New South Wales 2480, Australia. Fax: +61 2 6621 2917; e-mail:

Leatherwood honey under threat by logging

Leatherwood honey is highly prized all over the world. But beekeepers in southern Tasmania are sounding a warning about their unique local product, saying logging of the leatherwood trees that give the honey its distinctive taste is threatening their industry. A new report is calling for changes to timber harvesting in southern Tasmanian forests to ensure the survival of the state’s unique leatherwood honey industry. Beekeepers have welcomed the Forests and Forest Industry Council study that has looked at how much leatherwood is needed to sustain their hives. The forestry industry says that it is working to preserve the trees and there is no cause for alarm. (Source: ABC online [Australia], 28 November and 19 December 2005.)

Fungi and mosses in Australia’s forests

Tasmania’s native forests could be a gold mine for new human medicines, says a leading mushroom expert. They may even hold the key to a breakthrough cancer treatment.

University of Tasmania fungi researcher Sapphire McMullan-Fisher said the island’s native forests were an untapped resource for new drugs. She said that Tasmania’s forests were full of fungi and mosses with active ingredients that could be useful for medicine.

Ms McMullan-Fisher estimates that only 40 percent of Tasmania’s native mushrooms have been scientifically named. The other 60 percent remain a mystery to science. There is a major lack of research into Tasmania’s native fungi and in Australian fungi as a whole. “There are about 10 to 15 people Australia-wide studying fungi but there are 2 000 Australian scientists investigating plants,” she said. The lack of information about the native fungi has also seen bioprospectors all but ignore them.

Ms McMullan-Fisher said interest in fungi and mosses had waned particularly in the past 30 years. The lack of understanding had serious consequences. She said most forest reserves in Tasmania were based on large plant types and did not take into account fungi and mosses, which may be becoming extinct without our even knowing it.

Ms McMullan-Fisher said the Tasmanian Aborigines probably had a far more in-depth understanding of the island’s fungi and which varieties were edible, poisonous or beneficial in medical treatments. “Unfortunately not much remains of what the Tasmanian Aborigines knew because we came in and didn’t bother to learn.” (Source: Hobart Mercury [Australia], 2 October 2005.)


Forest policy and income opportunities from NTFP commercialization in Bhutan

The forests in Bhutan, as in much of the developing world, are state owned. Forests are seen today as central to sustainable development, but the forest bureaucracy, by mandate and institutional culture, is control-oriented and not predisposed to promote rural people’s income opportunities. The overall aim of this research study is broadly to assess the policy context for NTFP commercialization in Bhutan. The documentary analysis shows that forests in the country are a source of conflict of interest between the state and the rural people. Exports of NTFPs can take place only with the express approval of the government. A permit application can take as little as one day or as long as 128 days to process. There is an apparent move towards incorporating NTFPs in forest policy. The three case studies from different regions and altitudes show that there is no uniform forest policy on NTFPs.

The first case study was on Cordyceps sinensis, a high-altitude valued medicinal plant and a restricted species as of 2003. The policy restriction and the high value of the product resulted in revenue loss and was a source of “park-people” conflict.

There is however no such policy restriction for Tricholoma matsutake, a high-value mushroom in the temperate region. The government instead is fully supportive of this industry. The regular income from the mushroom has brought economic prosperity to the local community and much-needed foreign exchange to the country.

The third case concerns Piper pedicellatum, a low-altitude medicinal plant, which has a very low cash value compared with Cordyceps and Tricholoma, but is still a major source of cash for people in remote poor rural districts.

The future of NTFP commercialization in Bhutan looks promising, particularly after the lifting of the ban on Cordyceps collection in 2004. This opens up a brave new world for forest policy development for NTFPs in the country. (Source: abstract of Ph.D. thesis of Namgyel, P. 2005. Forest policy and income opportunities from NTFP commercialization in Bhutan. International and Rural Development Department, University of Reading, United Kingdom. Contributed by: Phuntsho Namgyel, Ph.D., Council for RNR Research for Bhutan, Ministry of Agriculture, Royal Government of Bhutan, PO Box 119, Thimphu, Bhutan. E-mail:


Felling trees is prohibited – and the Para nut tree dies standing

The legal prohibition against felling Para nut (Bertholletia excelsa) trees, a symbol of Amazonia, creates cemeteries of dead standing trees that cover the Maraba region in the southeastern Para state: all the result of the deforestation of the surroundings. The majority of the trees are those that have survived both legal and illegal felling.

The Para nut tree, under normal conditions, produces fruit continuously and can live for up to 500 or 600 years. The surrounding forest is essential for its survival, as it offers protection from the wind, nourishment from the ground and a route for the pollen-making bees to do their job. The progressive removal of forest from around the Para nut leaves it isolated as its genetic flow is interrupted when pollination does not occur.

Reforestation does not work if other forestry species native to the area are not planted as well. The Para nut tree is a forest tree. It is useless to protect one without the other. (Source: O Estado de S. Paulo, 25 September 2005.)


Improvement of the sustainable management and utilization of NTFPs in Cambodia

This 36-month project (PD 275/04 Rev. 3 [I]) will promote the sustainable management of NTFP resources by improving social, economic and legal aspects of NTFP production and trade. Specifically, the project will help strengthen the local management of NTFPs in four provinces (Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Thom, Mondulkiri and Rattanakiri) through the development of villagers’ associations in collaboration with local communities and NGOS; and build local capacity to integrate local villagers better with NTFP markets by addressing the socio-economic and legal aspects of existing market channels. (Source: ITTO Tropical Forest Update, 15[1], 2005.)


Boosting NTFPs

Actors in the NTFP subsector want activities in the area organized. Meeting in Yaoundé for two days, experts – most of them from the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife – discussed ways and means of rendering the subsector more organized by adopting a legal framework that will regulate it, reinforcing research and putting in place a perfect national management synergy. All these are being developed within the framework of the Project for Institutional Support and Sustainable Management of Non-timber Forest Products in Cameroon, for which the Yaoundé workshop was organized.

Speaking at the workshop, the project’s coordinator, Jeanne Balomog stated that NTFPs are diverse and include all forest resources besides wood. She said the non-timber forest sector faces problems because it is not well known and mastered, whereas the products that range from fruits, vegetables, medicinal plants, and building and furniture material such as rattan constitute a source of livelihood for millions of people. Mrs Balomog said that almost everyone exploits or uses NTFPs in one way or another. She added that because of the vast nature of the subsector, it is difficult to quantify what it contributes to the national economy but disclosed that, from statistics, it injects more than
CFAF300 million into the economy yearly.

The Yaoundé workshop was therefore aimed at helping the government to maximize the contribution of NTFPs to the socio-economic development of the country through sustainable management and promotion. Research has been carried out on ways to boost the subsector and the workshop was a forum to share the findings with other partners.

The major concern was about the state of NTFPs in Cameroon, the criteria of identifying the diverse activities to ensure proper promotion, mastery of the areas to be promoted, priorities in capacity building and instruments to be used that will cater for problems arising.

The workshop took place with the help of FAO; the outcome was a harmonized national strategy to boost the contribution of NTFPs to the national economy. (Source: Cameroon Tribune, 5 December 2005.)

Non-timber/special forest products in Ndian division

A study carried out by the World Resource Institute (WRI, 2000) concludes that it is extremely difficult to quantify the economic importance of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) because of lack of statistics.

In Ndian division in the Southwest Province of Cameroon, many studies on NTFPs have been carried out by the Korup Project. These studies were based essentially on a description of harvesting and processing techniques and not on economic importance.

However, it is important to note that NTFPs play an important role in improving the living standards of the Ndian rural population.

NTFPs currently harvested in the area include the following.

1. Chewing stick (Garcinia manii and Masscularia acuminata) and hausa stick (Carpolobia lutea).
The woody parts of these plants are harvested and while chewing sticks are predominantly used for personal dental hygiene, hausa sticks are used mostly by cattle rearers to facilitate the management of cattle herd displacements. These products are the most exploited NTFPs in the area. After harvesting, the villagers arrange them in bundles of 40–50 sticks of about 1 m long, which they sell at CFAF2 000 per bundle to intermediaries who come and buy in the villages. Nigeria serves as the principal market for these products. Chewing sticks are sold throughout Nigeria while hausa sticks are limited to the northern states of Nigeria and sometimes find their way to customers in Chad, the Niger and northern Cameroon.
Intermediaries are predominantly Nigerian traders who are not only well organized but also have preferential access to other players along the product chain once it gets to Nigeria. Attempts by Cameroonians to access the Nigerian market have been unsuccessful because of their lack of understanding of the market structure. For example, some Cameroonians have had bitter experiences when they decided to transport chewing sticks to Nigeria. They were obliged to abandon the products there and return penniless as no one was willing to buy at the price the sellers could offer.
Because of the poor road network in Ndian, the preferred period to exploit is the rainy season (April–November) when rivers leading to the creeks are full, enabling the easy evacuation of the products to Nigeria by boat.

2. Bush mango (Irvingia gabonensis and I. wombulu).
This NTFP is highly consumed in Ndian and is used for preparing soup. Bush mango is sold at the local markets as well as exported to neighbouring Nigeria. The price varies depending on the harvesting period and ranges between CFAF7 500 and 14 000 per bucket of 15 litres.

3. Njansang (Rhicinodendron heudolotii).
Njansang seed is a very popular condiment used in Cameroonian dishes. It is mostly collected by women and sold at local markets. A glass of about 0.2 litres costs between CFAF150 and 200.

4. Bitter kola (Garcinia manii).
Bitter kola is a fruit used both as a stimulant and as a medicine. Production varies according to the season. When production is high, the price varies between CFAF8 000 and 15 000 for a 15 kg bag and between CFAF18 000 and 30 000 per bag during periods of low production.

Forestry controls. The local forestry service controls trade in NTFPs using two main instruments:

Sensitization. With the assistance of the administrative authorities the forestry service has so far organized numerous working sessions with traditional village authorities during which they are educated and encouraged not to allow any harvested NTFPs to leave the village without relevant documents from the service.

Exploitation control. This involves carrying out spontaneous checks in forests and transport services to ensure that harvesting and marketing are carried out as required by the law.

Nevertheless, the results obtained to date have been far from satisfactory, because most transportation of the products takes place during the night.

It is forestry policy in Cameroon to generate revenue for its activities through auction sales of illegally harvested forest products. However, when the local forestry service succeeds in confiscating large amounts of illegally harvested chewing sticks, for example, it is difficult to sell as there is no buyer. This is because trade is dominated by Nigerian business men who show a great deal of solidarity among themselves and would boycott the auction of a fellow member’s confiscated merchandise. Furthermore, anyone who dares purchase auctioned chewing sticks would find their goods confiscated once they enter the Nigerian market by members of the chewing stick union.

Nonetheless, from January to June 2003, the Delegation of Environment and Forestry for Ndian division realized a revenue of CFAF117 100 from the auction sales of seized NTFPs.

Therefore, as can be seen, the export of NTFPs is complex and almost totally escapes control of the forestry service. Only the local populations, and especially the Nigerian buyers, reap benefits, leaving the state with practically nothing.

We think that for this activity to be beneficial to all stakeholders involved, certain actions have to be taken. These include:

• the creation of one or two sale points with the institution of a sales or market day and a day for loading to Nigeria;

• the regulation of this activity by the attribution of community forest and issue of exploitation permits for special forest products in the case of chewing sticks; and

• providing the local forestry service with a motorized boat for efficient control in the maritime area, which is the principal outlet of the product.

(Contributed by: Liyong Emmanuel Sama, Divisional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife, Mezam, PO Box 4081, Bamenda, Cameroon. E-mail: )


Quebec creates first boreal forest park

The Government of Quebec is taking steps to protect a huge swath of its boreal forest. It announced that it was teaming up with the Cree nation of Mistissini to create the 11 000 km2 Albanel-Témiscamie-Otish Park, the first boreal forest park in the province and the first park inhabited by a First Nation that continues to practise its traditional way of life. Mistissini is a Cree community of 3 460 on an arm of Lake Mistissini, the largest freshwater lake in Quebec. The park will include Lake Mistissini, Lake Albanel and surrounding lands.

The park contains three distinct ecosystems, including boreal forest, taïga and subarctic vegetation at the foot of the Otish Mountains, and patches of tundra that cover their peaks.

The First Nation will continue to have its rights to fish, hunt and trap in the area as well as other rights specified under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. The park’s creation will also ensure protection of sites within it that are sacred to Mistissini elders. “One of the main reasons we want to make this park is to allow the Cree hunters to continue the traditional way of life and by that I mean hunting and getting food from the land,” said Kathleen Wootton, the deputy chief of Mistissini. “There are also ancient trees in that area that are tall and very thick and we want to preserve those as well. Once this park is all set up and ready, no mining and no forestry or any other development can ever happen on that land.”

The government says tallymen will continue to play a role after the park is created. Tallymen, or traditional grassroots resource managers, are custodians of a community’s land base in the region. (Source: CBC Montreal, 16 November 2005.)

On estime que, dans l’ensemble du Canada. 2,5 millions de Canadiens vivent dans les 522 communautés dépendant de la forêt boréale.

Source: Point de vue, Automne 2005, No 03.

Aboriginal ecotourism

Rose and Ric Richardson are a Métis couple living and working in Saskatchewan ( At their business, they promote the pride and dignity of Métis people and work on ensuring that cultural knowledge is shared with their own people and others. They work with traditional medicines found in the northern boreal forest and teach some uses of these in the “medicine walk” part of their ecotourism business. They also lobby the governments of Saskatchewan and Canada to promote sustainable practices in the use of the resources of the boreal forest, as well as to gain support for aboriginal ecotourism.

They believe ecotourism can help to preserve the traditional knowledge of native people, as well as provide an economic basis from which they can offer opportunities based on the sustainable use of natural forests. (Source: Taiga News, Issue 50, spring 2005.)


Towards development of the Chilean basket willow sector

About 300 species of Salix trees and shrubs, as well as many other varieties and hybrids, are distributed at various latitudes in Europe, Asia, North America, and northern and southern Africa. The only species native to South America is Salix humboldtiana (Chilean willow), which grows wild along watercourses in Argentina, southern Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.

Many shrub forms of Salix species – including Salix viminalis, S. purpurea, S. cinerea, S. caprea, S. triandra, S. alba var. vitellina and S. fragilis – are used in wickerwork and basketry. Chile has an optimal climate and soils for growing S. viminalis, which is well known for its qualities in the production of baskets, packaging and furniture. Introduced into the country in colonial times, S. viminalis, also known as basket willow, now grows wild, often along watercourses and around springs, and has spread from the centre of the country to the south.

The suitability of flexible shoots or switches of S. viminalis for making handicraft items was discovered in the small town of Chimbarongo, 200 km from Santiago, in the early twentieth century. People began to cultivate the species and artisans were trained to produce furniture that reached the capital and elsewhere in the country. In Chile, activities related to the cultivation and manufacture of basket willow products have remained concentrated in the Chimbarongo area.

By the end of the 1990s, 223 ha were under S. viminalis cultivation in Chimbarongo, divided among 88 plantations, most of them belonging to small-scale producers. About 1 200 workshops were producing a wide range of willow articles, most of which were sold on the local market. However, producers and intermediaries had begun to export a large amount of basket willow (800 tonnes of dry material per year, valued at US$750 000), so that the local artisans lacked the raw material needed for their products. (Source: extracted from Towards development of the Chilean basket willow sector by M.I. Abalos Romero [in Unasylva, 221(56), 2005/2].)


Promotion of NTFPs in Guangxi Autonomous Region, China based on sustainable community development

This three-year project (PD 73/01 Rev. 5 [I,M]) aims to promote the sustainable use and management of promising NTFPs in order to contribute to the social and economic development of the project sites in Fangcheng district, Shansi and Ninming counties, Guangxi region. The project will conduct field surveys of the three promising NTFPs to determine their distribution, production, processing and markets and establish three demonstration plots of 100 ha each to enhance the participation of local communities in managing and utilizing the selected NTFPs on a sustainable basis. Training courses will be organized for key stakeholders involved in promoting NTFPs and the project will also establish three community-based cooperatives to promote selected NTFPs at the project sites. (Source: ITTO Tropical Forest Update, 15[1], 2005.)


Developing bamboo

A project to develop bamboo in Cuba aims to obtain and multiply in vitro four species useable as lumber in order to expand the use of bamboo throughout this Caribbean island. The result will be “the production of laminate wood, artisanal items and the use of its waste as an energy source,” said Fernando Martirena, deputy director of the structures and materials research and development centre at the Central University de las Villas.

Some 1 200 ha will be planted with the support of the Swiss agency for Development and Cooperation. The plantations are in addition to another
1 000 ha already developed in eastern Cuba.

Bamboo grows in the temperate zones of Asia and the Americas, and is known for its structural resistance, lightness and perennial growth. Until now, its utilization in Cuba has been very limited. (Source: Tierramérica [in CFRC weekly summary], 29 September 2005.)

Czech republic

Bumper mushroom crop

Millions of Czechs are taking to the countryside after record rainfall in July and August produced a bumper mushroom crop. This year’s Czech mushroom season started three months earlier than usual and the crop may be more than double the average of 20 000 tonnes, according to the Prague-based Czech Mycological Society. About 2 billion koruna (US$86.5 million) of mushrooms are gathered annually, says the group, which estimates that as many as six million people, or two-thirds of the population, are gathering the plants.

The mushroom-picking season in the Czech Republic normally begins in late September and continues through October. This year, gatherers say they are already collecting as much as 60 kg of mushrooms in a few hours in the dense forests that cover about a third of the country. In July, rainfall in the Czech Republic was triple the average from 1961 through 1990.

Measures to protect the environment have helped to improve the quality of the mushrooms. Sulphur dioxide emissions have fallen 90 percent and traces of nitrogen oxide dropped more than 40 percent between 1990 and 2003, according to the Czech Environment Ministry, helping to reduce acid in the soil and allowing certain types of mushrooms including chanterelles to re-emerge after a 30-year hiatus. (Source: Bloomberg [United States], 14 September 2005.)

Democratic republic of the congo

Beekeeping in Bas-Congo

Bas-Congo Province lies between the coast and Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It covers an area of nearly 55 000 km2 and has an estimated population of 3.9 million. Soils are either deep sand or clay in the districts of Cataractes and Lukaya where beekeeping is practised and a system of shifting cultivation is used to produce crops.

Traditionally, areas of the bush/savannah have been protected from fire which has led to the establishment of forest reserves (called nkuunku in Kikongo). After a certain number of years decided by the village chief, they are allocated to families for growing their field crops. These areas of forest were normally left for between 15 and 20 years but are now more likely to be cut down after five or six years or less, because of the shortage of good fallow land. This has led to the invasion of coarse grass species and Chromolaena odorata (Siam weed) which are generally burnt during the dry season, resulting in a further loss of forest species.

The forest fallow is the only practical method of maintaining soil fertility and providing the range of NTFPs that maintain rural life in Bas-Congo. Unless land is returned to forest fallow after cropping it becomes virtually useless after a relatively short time and considerable effort is then needed to rehabilitate it.

Hunting for honey has been a traditional activity in Bas-Congo, as in much of Africa, but beekeeping has only been practised in the area since the early 1980s. The beehive in common use is the top bar hive introduced from Kenya. Beehives are always sited in areas of fairly thick bush or forest and therefore usually in the nkuunku. Beekeepers choose these areas to provide shade and seclusion and to enable them to get away from the hive without being followed by the bees after inspecting or harvesting the honey. (Source: Some honeybee plants of Bas-Congo Province, Democratic Republic of Congo by P. Latham, 2005.)


El Ecuador posee una valiosa diversidad de ecosistemas que albergan una multiplicidad de especies de flora y fauna, así como un variado paisaje. La rica biodiversidad está entre las más abundantes del planeta por unidad de superficie territorial. Los bosques, con aproximadamente 11,45 millones de hectáreas ofertan a las comunidades locales y a la población en general una amplia gama de recursos maderables, no maderables y paisajísticos, además de otros valiosos servicios ambientales.

Las acciones de forestación y reforestación impulsadas históricamente no aportaron significativamente a la conservación de los bosques. El limitado alcance de esas acciones, favoreció el incremento de la presión extractiva de los productos forestales maderables, contribuyendo al deterioro del importante patrimonio genético contenido en la rica biodiversidad forestal.

El Ministerio de Ambiente, ante la importancia de proteger el patrimonio genético forestal y su apropiada administración, impulsa la valoración de los productos que ofertan los bosques, apoya la iniciativa de forestación, la de reforestación y promueve el establecimiento de plantaciones forestales.

En este contexto, con el propósito de favorecer la conservación de los bosques y por ende, el de las fuentes semilleras de las especies forestales nativas, promulgó la presente publicación sobre la norma de semillas forestales, instrumento que fomenta la producción, la investigación, la comercialización, la promoción y el uso de semillas forestales de procedencia y calidad conocida. Con ésta aspiramos mantener la reserva genética del país e impulsar el incremento de la cobertura boscosa, en especial con las especies forestales nativas. (Fuente: Fabián Valdivieso Eguiguren, Ministro del Ambiente. Norma de semillas forestales. Ministerio del Ambiente, República del Ecuador. Sitio web:


Bark paper

Bark paper is ecologically sound, perfect for rural dwellers and sustainable. It is no wonder that handmade paper production has taken off in some parts of rural Fiji.

For centuries, Fijians have made a bark cloth (masi) from the bark of the mulberry tree that serves a multitude of traditional purposes from clothing to ceremonial decoration and offerings. Therefore, papermaking was a logical adjunct to this existing skill. The handmade paper project in Fiji was initiated by Pure Fiji.

Paper is made from the cellulose found in plant fibres, which are literally beaten to a pulp and dispersed in water. Cellulose fibre, the main ingredient of paper, is available in a number of different forms, e.g. bast, leaf and grass fibres. All living plants contain cellulose, but some yield a higher percentage of useable fibre than others. Fibre from ginger, selected grasses, bamboo, sugar cane, banana stalks, pineapple leaves and hibiscus bark can all be used.

Realizing a golden opportunity, the Wainimakutu Mothers’ Club was determined to make a success of the project. And they did. Particular attention was given to the use of the outer bark (kulina) from the paper mulberry tree, which is normally discarded in the
-making process.

The papermaking project was almost entirely run by the women of these rural communities, empowering them in ways they had never experienced before. Together with training in papermaking, Pure Fiji provided the women with some basic, simple business skills.

Today, papermaking is the major income earner for the village and brings in between US$1 000 and $3 000 a week. With this money the women of Wainimakutu have been able to expand their papermaking facilities with a new drying hut and generator, and create an ongoing fund for improving health care and schooling.

In recognition of these village women’s business acumen and vigilance, they were given a Special Recognition Award and $2 000 cash, prizes donated by the Australian High Commission. The award was a surprise inclusion in the Westpac 2005 Businesswoman of the Year Awards. (Source: Fiji Times, 22 October 2005.)


Bamboo, a good substitute for wood timber

Ghanaians should embrace bamboo and rattan as substitutes for timber since the nation’s forest resources continue to diminish at an alarming rate. Mrs Gifty Ohui Allotey, Programme Administrator, Bamboo and Rattan Development Programme said bamboo could effectively replace wood since it had been found to be the fastest-growing plant that could be a substitute for timber. “It could be used for almost all the wood needs of the nation including furniture, construction work, furnishings for buildings such as flooring and ceilings as well as handicrafts and household items,” she said. (Source: GhanaWeb, 13 September 2005.)


Mizoram to give thrust to minor forest products

In a bid to promote the export of minor forest products (MFPs) in Mizoram, the government has worked out a strategy for tapping virgin markets with the help of the Ministry of Commerce and several major companies.

The project aims to set up manufacturing units wherever it can, to use the resources, backing the existing ones and bringing in new ventures from outside, in order to encourage various minor forest producers across the state.

The industry department officials stated that bamboo and cane would be used as the core raw material to increase the production of MFPs in the region.

Financial assistance would be provided to young entrepreneurs to set up their own units in their respective areas, where they would also be given training and marketing assistance. (Source: Webindia123, 18 November 2005.)

The Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill, 2005

The Bill lays down a simple procedure for recognition and vesting of forest rights in the forest-dwelling scheduled tribes so that rights, which stand vested in forest dwelling tribal communities, become legally enforceable through corrective measures in the formal recording system of the executive machinery. It also reinforces and utilizes the rich conservation ethos that tribal communities have traditionally shown and cautions against any form of unsustainable or destructive practices.

The Bill includes the right to hold and live on forest land, under individual or common occupation, for habitation or for livelihood. It also provides the right of ownership access to use or dispose of MFPs. It provides for adequate safeguards to avoid any further encroachment of forests and seeks to involve democratic institutions at the grassroots level in the process of recognition and vesting of forest rights.

This Bill is a logical culmination of the process of recognition of forest rights enjoyed by the forest-dwelling Scheduled Tribes on all kinds of forest lands for generations. (Source: Press Information Bureau, Government of India, 13 December 2005.)

Working with the real health experts: the traditional healers of Chhattisgarh

Over 17 percent of the population of the Indian state of Chhattisgarh is affected with sickle cell anaemia. It is at present incurable and modern medical systems are searching for a cure. Patients approach the traditional healers of Chhattisgarh as a last hope and with the help of traditional medicinal knowledge these healers give immense relief to such patients. Healers consider it a curable disease if diagnosed at an early stage; they use medicinal herbs such as indra jau in their treatment.

Many patients with different types of cancer come from different parts of India to the capital of Chhattisgarh. When modern science surrenders, the treatment of traditional healers begins. In addition, although the healers are not aware of the word “AIDS”, they use traditional medicine to treat HIV-positive patients. There are many success stories.

Chhattisgarh is rich in biodiversity. Native and traditional healers have immense traditional medicinal knowledge of herbs and insects. Surprisingly, healers do not charge for treatment: they were told by their ancestors that earning through knowledge would result in loss of knowledge. Instead, they earn their livelihood from forest products and cultivation of agricultural crops.

Healers use traditional diagnosis methods, e.g. the healers of southern Chhattisgarh use red ants to diagnose diabetes. Besides herbs and insects, the healers also use medicinal soils and excreta of wild animals, and over 500 types of herbal glasses and bowls. The use of wooden glasses prepared from koha wood for heart patients is popular among the traditional healers of Chhattisgarh plains. Traditional allelopathic knowledge is used to enrich herbs with medicinal properties: there is a specific time and collection method for each herb.

Although I do not have a formal education in ethnobotany, as an agronomist my interest in weeds and homeopathy motivated me to document this traditional medicinal knowledge – without waiting for financial help. Initially I published the results in national and international science journals, but later found this publication procedure costly, lengthy and time consuming. After publishing over 100 research papers and attending over 70 conferences I decided to disseminate this knowledge through the Internet.

Many years of extensive surveys have resulted in a huge amount of information: over 13 000 research documents are now available at I am also documenting this information in Hindi through regional magazines, as well as contributing articles and photographs to Ecoport (, where over 10 000 photographs based on my surveys can be found.

All this work is purely an individual attempt, without any financial assistance, and is really only a drop in the knowledge ocean. I trust that my ongoing work will motivate young researchers worldwide to document the traditional knowledge present in their areas. Through my work one can imagine the quantum of knowledge present in other parts of the earth.

The traditional healers, herb collectors and natives of Chhattisgarh have rich knowledge that is time tested and has no side effects. Unfortunately these traditional healers are still waiting for recognition and honour from civil society. They are not legally allowed to practise their knowledge; my dream is to provide them with a legal licence to practise. I believe that with the combination of knowledge and experience of these healers, as well as of modern medical practitioners and researchers, we can achieve a disease-free world.

(Contributed by: Pankaj Oudhia, SOPAM, 28-A, College Road, Geeta Nagar, Raipur – 492001 Chhattisgarh, India. E-mail:

Revival of the silk industry in Jharkhand

Once a hub for tasar silk, Jharkhand is looking for central assistance for revival of its famous product. Before the state’s creation, the region used to play a major role in enabling undivided Bihar to contribute 50 percent of the nation’s total raw silk production.

Mostly the tribals were the rearers of silkworms, producing about 438 tonnes of tasar silk and about 8 tonnes of mulberry silk every year, benefiting from natural races such as laria, modia and sarihan in the suitable agroclimatic conditions of southern Bihar, now Jharkhand. This was largely because a total of 2 325 km2 in the region is covered by tasar food plants, 90 percent of which are saal trees, with the rest arjuna and asan trees that attract silkworms – although far behind southern states such as Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

The story has been different since Jharkhand’s emergence as a separate state, with the production of cocoons coming down to 9 tonnes and that of mulberry to 2 tonnes per year, according to a report by the state sericulture directorate.

The state, however, recently received some hope when the Central Silk Board promised to increase silk production in Jharkhand by 640 tonnes, funding Rs383 crore over a period of ten years. (Source: Express Textile [India], 1–15 November 2005.)

Sericulturists go natural, experiment with lac and neem

With an annual silk production of about 15 000 tonnes, India trails behind China as the major producer of silk with an output exceeding 55 000 tonnes. India may be lagging behind China in silk production but that does not seem to deter the country in undertaking research and development to add value to this sector. Both China and Japan are already developing newer value-added products made from silk derivatives. The Bangalore-based Central Sericulture Technological Research Institute (CSTRI) has experimented with natural dyes and is looking at the prospect of commercializing this product.

“We have been experimenting with lac. Natural products including natural dyes are gaining ground globally. There is good potential to commercialize this kind of product,” sources said. Lac is produced by the insect Coccus lacca and has application in numerous products such as paint. CSTRI officials said that the real challenge lay in identifying and developing more natural dyes.

The challenge stems from the fact that there are not enough safe mardents (binding agents that are used for fixing the colour on the fabric). Typical mardents such as dichromates are strictly prohibited because of rising concern about environmental pollution. Interestingly, besides lac, natural dyes have been produced using a whole range of materials such as neem and even gooseberry (amla).

In the interim, both Japan and China have already diversified into manufacturing quality products using silk derivatives. One such product is fairness cream, which has cericin as a raw material, derived by degumming silk yarn. The process of degumming, which helps to add lustre to the yarn, subjects the yarn to high pressure and temperature. Cericin is also used to manufacture toilet soap. (Source: Economic Times [India], 20 December 2005.)


Promoting selected NTFPs based on a community participation approach to support sustainable forest management in East Kalimantan

The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) has recently approved a 36-month project (PD 277/04 Rev. 3 [I]) that aims to increase the contribution of NTFPs to forest sector earnings in East Kalimantan through the establishment of small-scale NTFP industries focusing on medicinal plants from the forests and an NTFP marketing system. Project activities will focus on the establishment of plantations for selected NTFPs on both state and private lands, as well as on the development of technical guidelines for the sustainable management of NTFP resources, the establishment of appropriate NTFP processing techniques and the development of small-scale NTFP industries and business plans. (Source: ITTO Tropical Forest Update, 15[1], 2005.)

Islamic republic of iran

Destruction rate of Iran’s forests worries experts

With some 142 000 ha of forest land destroyed annually, the Islamic Republic of Iran is considered to be among the top countries not properly safeguarding its natural heritage. Forests are considered an important factor in the ecotourism industry. Based on the latest statistics, 12.48 million ha of land in Iran are forests.

A report by Iran’s Department of the Environment does not present a hopeful future for forests. For example, Arasbaran forests, designated a reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) were some 250 000 to 300 000 ha in 1976 but today destruction has left no more than 164 000 ha of these forests.

Iran’s official body in charge of the preservation of forests has announced that annually 100 000 ha of forests are restored; nevertheless, as experts note, this is a very low number considering the area destroyed. (Source: IranMania News, 2 December 2005.)


Game park wildlife at risk as farmers turn poacher

Poachers are once again stalking Kenya’s game parks, 30 years after the slaughter of whole herds in supposedly protected reserves.

Four years of drought are driving Kenya’s rural poor to switch from subsistence farming to animal trapping, in order to supply a booming underground trade in bushmeat. An estimated 20 000 wild animals, including antelopes, zebras, buffaloes and giraffes, are dying each year around Tsavo National Park, the largest park in Kenya.

A report for the Born Free Foundation found that more than half the meat on sale in some Nairobi butchers’ shops was not beef or mutton, as advertised, but game meat. The quality and taste of legal or illegal meat vary little. (Source: [United Kingdom], 15 July 2005.)

Kenya launches new poaching crackdown to protect its wildlife

The Kenya Wildlife Service is launching a US$1.25 million (£700 000) scheme to bolster its wardens’ fight against poachers in the savannah land of Tsavo, where lions, elephants, rhinoceros and deer are still falling to hunters. Some killers are ivory traders, seeking a quick profit selling elephant tusks, but others are poor villagers, searching for meat to add to the cooking pot. (Source: The Independent [United Kingdom], 23 September 2005.)


Community forestry practicable in Liberia?

In an effort to include the respective communities in the governance and management of forest resources for commercial and non-commercial purposes, an international workshop on community forestry aimed at sharing vision and an action frame for community forestry in Liberia is taking place in Monrovia.

While the Environmental Desk (EnDe) welcomes the Unity Party’s platform declaration on natural resource management as positive, EnDe considers that the development of a community forestry policy document aimed at including rural people in the management of the nation’s rich forest resources is imperative. In the absence of a present well-defined and workable framework for community forestry, the incoming government might not address the question of subsistence; livelihood improvement and poverty reduction; the social, cultural and religious significance of timber and non-timber products; wildlife management; the conservation of biodiversity; and maintaining the quality of the environment in a short period of time.

Community forestry is one aspect of the New Forestry Law of Liberia. The other two aspects for which a policy or framework has been developed are commercial forestry and conservation.

The idea of community forestry would be workable in Liberia only if we are prepared literally to kick inequities out of natural resource management. The In-Country Coordinator of the Liberia Forest Initiative, John Woods, observed that generally, communities have claims to land but they do not own it. He added that if community forestry is to be established in Liberia, the participants must review the land tenure system and recommend how forest landownership can be conferred on communities.

He challenged the workshop also to consider capacity building facilities for communities to build up sociocapital and skills to control and manage their own forests. This would curtail uncontrolled access to forest resources, which has led to the loss of an estimated average of 1–2 percent of the forest every year. “Similarly, an estimated US$60 million is traded in bushmeat each year without taxes or fees.” (Source: The Inquirer [Monrovia], 13 December 2005.)


Rare find in newly gazetted forest

The gazetting of 7 504 ha of forest at Bukit Bauk, Dungun as a recreational area has led to an unexpected find – rare camphor trees (Dryobalanops aromatica) and the Livistonia endauensis fan palm. Researchers have also found 89 species of trees and plants endemic to Bukit Bauk. Most Dryobalanops species of camphor trees in the country were the result of more than 40 years of replanting in logged-over forests but those found in Bukit Bauk were endemic. The aromatic resins from these species are highly sought after by producers of camphor and camphor oil. (Source: New Straits Times [Malaysia], 13 July and 7 August 2005.)

Orang Asli and gaharu (species of the genus Aquilaria)

The Orang Asli community needs to find an alternative source of income in future because of the depletion in resources and the need to practise sustainable non-timber forest resource management. Dr Lim Hin Fui of the Forest Research Institute Malaysia said that most gaharu harvesters in Peninsular Malaysia were Orang Asli and a good grade of gaharu could fetch RM5 000–6 000/kg while lower grades fetch RM4/kg. He said that international trade in gaharu was now regulated and, as such, a permit was needed to harvest it but the community hardly ever applies for such a permit.

Speaking at the International Conference on Indigenous People 2005, Dr Lim noted that, since 1985, encroachment by Thais on Malaysian forests to search for gaharu had also resulted in depletion of the resource. “The Orang Asli’s continued dependence on gaharu remains doubtful; they need to find alternative sources of income.”

Gaharu, one of a few NTFP products well known internationally (e.g. in the Middle East for wealth, hospitality and medicinal purposes), is produced from the resinous, fragrant and highly prized heartwood of the Aquilaria species of the family Thymelaeaceae.

Dr Lim said that their study in 2003 in Hulu Perak showed that of the 71 households surveyed in seven Orang Asli villages, 57 households (80 percent) generated a cash income from gaharu harvesting. The average monthly income derived from the sale of gaharu was RM69 or 20 percent of the monthly household cash income. (Source: Bernama [Malaysia], 4 July 2005.)


Alungdaw Kathapa National Park

Alungdaw Kathapa National Park is located in a mountainous area approximately 100 miles (160 km) west of Mandalay. It was classified as a reserved forest as early as 1893 and, although it was logged selectively for teak in the past, it remains mainly undisturbed. Large mammals living in the park include elephants, gaur, banteng, sambar and a relatively large population of tigers. The exceptional management features include the conservation of natural forests and wildlife, including tigers; ongoing research; environmental education; and the development of ecotourism.

(Source: In search of excellence, exemplary forest management in Asia and the Pacific, ed. P.B. Durst, et al.)


The humble mushroom turns money-spinner

Mushrooms are said to be an ideal substitute for meat and could provide relief for meat lovers who live with the painful condition of gout as a result of eating beef. A handful of oyster mushrooms could replace a chunk of meat, while at the same time reducing cholesterol because of the vitamins and proteins that they contain. Because mushrooms represent a highly nutritious food that is good for one’s health, a new trend has now begun where these umbrella-shaped vegetables are being farmed commercially in different parts of the country.

The University of Namibia (Unam)’s new mushroom production house and Marine and Coastal Resources Research Centre assist communities through viable mushroom cultivation projects in order to improve their living standards. These initiatives are seen as a mechanism by which Namibians could tackle poverty and unemployment and ensure food security. Experts and agronomists say that not only is mushroom farming an easy and quick way of farming, compared with beef production, but people can also turn mushrooms into a money-spinner as well as a food source.

Researcher and mushroom scientist at the University of Namibia Pauline Kadhila-Muandingi said that awareness campaigns are being conducted to mobilize the community on growing mushrooms as a cash crop. Traditionally, many Namibians know and eat mushrooms, especially in the villages where they are picked from the wild, but much needs to be done to turn mushroom cultivation into an agricultural business for the benefit of all the people.

While most locals know what a mushroom tastes like, many of them find it strange that such a vegetable can be cultivated. Unlike other crops, mushrooms can grow all year round and can be cultivated to fruition in a short span of four to six months, while impressive results can be achieved in the first nine weeks under humid conditions.

Muandingi said that the mushroom is a medicinal relish that helps boost the body’s immune system, while at the same time it acts as a defence against various types of cancer.

The production of oyster mushrooms, which could easily be cultivated from grains of wheat, is easy to maintain with the right type of humidity at a temperature of 22°C.

Project manager at the Centre, Flip van Vuuren said the projects are geared towards assisting the poorest of the poor to feed themselves and earn some money. During the first few months, the coastal community members at Henties Bay will earn N$300 a month and once this initiative becomes fully operational, the cooperative would pay each of its 15 members a salary of between N$1 500 and N$2 000 a month.

Unam said the greatest danger of poverty is when Namibians overlook the fact that sustainable solutions to poverty and unemployment should come from within the country. This statement strongly echoes President Pohamba’s comment that solutions to Namibia’s challenges must be “home-grown”. It is in view of this that taking science to the people, like the commercialization of mushroom production, and translating these technologies into innovative income-generating enterprises would pave the way for socio-economic development for many Namibians. (Source: New Era [Windhoek], 26 October 2005.)


Certification of NTFPs

The demand for environmentally friendly products in Europe and America and awareness among consumers there to buy these products has created an opportunity for Nepali NTFPs to gain a foothold in international markets through the certification of forests.

According to the Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources (ANSAB), about 602 865 kg of raw and processed NTFPs worth about
US$500 000 (Rs35.1 million) were exported in 2004.

Forest certification is carried out by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) with certification responsibility being given to the Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN). According to FECOFUN, 23 species of NTFPs have been certified by the FSC and Nepal is the first country in Asia and fifth in the world to obtain an FSC certificate.

Lack of proper management and manufacturing companies in the country is the major drawback. However, in a one-year period ten Nepalese companies and Aveda Corporation, a United States-based manufacturer of NTFPs, have joined ANSAB to manufacture the certified products.

According to the Community Forest Division, the concept of the certification of forests is evolving – an outcome of the decline of the tropical rain forests. (Source: Gorkhapatra [Nepal], 16 September 2005.)

Every year villagers in Nepal gather some 15 000 tonnes of medicinal plants from the wild, pack and dry them and sell them to traders for export. The sale of these plants, oils and resins provides most of their income, while they also rely on the plants for food, medicines and fuel.
(Source: Rainforest Alliance, 2004 Annual Report.)


Beekeeping as a sustainable use of the rain forest

For the last three years, the Danish NGO Nepenthes ( in cooperation with the Nicaraguan NGO Fundación del Rio (FdR), has been working with a DANIDA-supported project on environmental awareness among young local people.

FdR owns part of one of the rain forest-covered Solitiname Islands. A main activity has been the construction of El Quebrachio Rain Forest Centre, 50 km east of San Juan. The centre is situated in the forest buffer zone of the Indio Maiz Forest Reserve, part of the Central American forest corridor. Here classes of children and teachers from 48 schools spend a few days learning about the forest and how it can be used in sustainable ways. There are footpaths through the forest where medicinal plants, spices and other useful forest products are demonstrated.

Beekeeping is a small part of the project, but there has been great interest in learning the business. A Nicaraguan professional beekeeper has been engaged to give regular training at the centre. (Source: Extracted from an article by Ole Hertz in Bees for Development Journal, 76, September 2005.)


Nigeria to earn US$6 billion from neem tree

Nigeria may earn US$6 billion from the neem tree, popularly called dogonrayo, in a fresh push by the federal government to expand the nation’s foreign exchange earnings through a consistent diversification of the economy.

The Director-General of the National Research Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT) Zaria, Dr Ebenezer Okonkwo, said that the production of a wide range of products from the neem tree has commenced under a public-private partnership.

Annually, India exports as much as
$2 billion worth of neem tree products, ranging from pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, germicidal bathing soap, antifungal creams, toothpaste and oil. Nigeria’s neem potential has been put at three times more than India’s capacity.

Two plants are being established in Kastina and Kebbi to mass produce a range of products from the tree. The “immediate task is the development of a biopesticide plant from the neem and implementation of the establishment of biopesticide manufacturing plants in Kastina and Kebbi states by NARICT”.

In addition to biopesticides, three other products containing neem oil will be produced for exports: for the production of soap (neem oil has the added advantage of being germicidal); as an alternative to palm kernel oil; fertilizers; and powdered grade azadirachtin.

Okonkwo said that each of the two plants would be built in India at a cost of N$50 million and that with successful model projects in the two states, the plants would be extended to other states of the federation.

Already 2 000 youths have found gainful employment in the collection of neem seeds for the institute and, given the fact that neem is readily available throughout Nigeria, the income-generating benefits of the tree should soon spread across the nation.

Neem, which is known for its potency in the treatment of malaria, was said to have been introduced to the country’s flora in 1928 when it was established in Borno Province.

Until the partnership was set up, the economic uses of neem seeds were not known to Nigerians and the seeds were therefore left to waste; this initiative should turn neem into a huge foreign exchange earner for the nation. (Source: Vanguard [Nigeria], 16 September 2005.)

Omo Forest Reserve: another opportunity for ecotourism

In the southwestern part of Ogun state lies the 1 305 km2 Omo Forest Reserve. Many animals that are being threatened by the activities of loggers and tree takers can be found here.

A recent paper by Dr (Otunba) S. Kehinde Sanwo examines the attraction of the Omo forests for casual visitors and tourists and the possibilities of upgrading the forest reserve to a wildlife park in order to promote ecotourism within it and save the rich biodiversity of this tropical rain forest. The paper recognizes the saving grace (i.e. from total destruction), resulting from the participatory management of part (142 km2) of the Forest Reserve for elephants by the Ogun State Ministry of Agriculture (Forestry Division) and the Omo Forest Conservation Foundation (OFCF), a community-based organization. The need to encourage further OFCF and similar private initiatives to complement the work of the Government in environmental conservation and utilization through sustainable ecotourism is highlighted.

In the Omo Forest Reserve, other attractive ventures can also be incorporated to generate funds and attract tourists, such as mushroom growing, apiary sciences, sericulture, wild rat domestication, crocodile breeding, reptile housing, a bird sanctuary and a snailery. In fact, it would be most desirable to designate the entire Omo Forest Reserve as a wildlife park. The Ogun State Government has already indicated that it intends to start profitable sustainable sericulture at the reserve in early 2006.

By investing in its conservation of the gene pool, its wild forests, animals and environment, a viable sustainable ecotourism business will soon evolve that should bring in millions of dollars for the Ogun State Government. In this way, the Omo Forest will regain its lost glory.

This paper therefore recommends that OFCF be assisted in order to encourage further private participation and save the last frontier of wild forests in Ogun state for the future of our children and for revenue generation from ecotourism.

Papua new guinea

Agarwood and the perfumed forests of Papua New Guinea

Worldwide sources of agarwood (Aquilaria malaccensis, also referred to as eaglewood and aloeswood, and more locally as gaharu) are dwindling, so that its discovery in Papua New Guinea in 1997 provoked intense harvesting.

To curb the rate of destruction, the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) has been working with local communities in the country, who own about 97 percent of the land, offering workshops to help them map their land, predict the location of the agarwood trees and develop ways of managing their resources sustainably. WWF is teaching them how to extract agarwood resin without killing the trees and is ensuring that the local communities know its real value, so they are not fooled by traders. WWF is also helping communities designate certain regions as official wildlife management areas, which will help to protect them from being handed over as concessions to loggers and mining companies.

Agarwood could provide a long-term sustainable livelihood for some of the poorest people in the country and also boost the survival prospects of the world’s third largest remaining rain forest and all the wonders it contains. (Source: WWF, 21 October 2005.)


Palmito (NWFP)

El palmito, Euterpe edulis Mart., es la única especie de palmera productora de palmito comestible a nivel comercial del Paraguay. Es endémica en el Brasil, el Paraguay y la Argentina y se desarrolla en el estrato medio del Bosque Atlántico. Forma agrupaciones florísticas conocidas como palmitales, en sitios con características particulares que aún necesitan ser mejor estudiadas desde el punto de vista ecológico y medioambiental. Se localiza únicamente en los suelos arcillosos de la cuenca de Río Paraná y es muy exigente en cuanto a condiciones ecológicas. Habita en suelos arcillosos y húmedos, y crece mejor cuando está protegido de la luz excesiva por doseles altos de copas de árboles tropicales.

Familia: Arecaceae
Genero: Euterpe
Especie: Euterpe Edulis
Nombre común: Palmito

Su desmedida explotación comercial va acabando con las reservas en el Paraguay, ya que cada árbol tarda de 10 a 15 años en estar apto para el consumo. Presenta un tallo único, por esta razón la extracción de la yema apical significa su muerte. La explotación netamente extractiva y el reemplazo del bosque nativo, principalmente por especies exóticas de rápido crecimiento, ha reducido drásticamente su área de distribución.

La mayor parte de las especies alimentarias de la familia de las Palmáceas son apreciadas por sus frutos. Sin embargo, existe aproximadamente un centenar de palmeras que dan lugar a un palmito suficientemente grande como para su comercialización y consumo humano. Los palmitos son los brotes terminales tiernos que según el país de origen presentan características diferentes, por ejemplo variando el sabor desde dulce hasta amargo.

En Europa, únicamente se obtiene el palmito de la «palmera enana» o «palmito» (Chamaerops humilis), que no se encuentra cultivada, sino que crece de forma espontánea en el área mediterránea, de donde es originaria. En la actualidad, la mayor parte del palmito comercializado como brotes comestibles en los mercados europeos proviene de especies afines cultivadas en América latina, como por ejemplo el (Euterpe edulis) que producen un delicado, tierno y blanco manjar. Sin embargo, su uso resulta poco ecológico, pues la obtención de los palmitos supone la muerte de la palmera. De ahí que se le conozca también como corazón de palmera. Su rendimiento es muy bajo y para obtener un kilo de palmitos se requieren una o dos palmeras de 10 años. Debido a que su consumo va en aumento es urgente mejorar el conocimiento de las técnicas que puedan asegurar su regeneración y utilización de una forma sostenible, principalmente en los países tropicales, incluido el Paraguay. (Contribuido por: Díaz Lezcano, Maura y de Pedro, J.L. (E.T.S. de Ingenieros de Montes, Madrid, España.)


Wildcrafting rhatany (Krameria lappacea)

Rhatany (Krameria lappacea) is a medicinal and dye plant native to Ecuador, Peru, Argentina and Chile. The roots are traditionally used against inflammation and minor injuries, and in dental care. The red root extracts contain mainly tannins (catechins and proanthocyanidins). Recently more attention has been given to the occurrence of neolignans and to antioxidant and antimicrobial activities.

Despite its traditional use over the entire distributional range, commercial sourcing mainly takes place in Peru. According to figures facilitated by PROMPEX (Comisión para la Promoción de Exportaciones, April 2005) Peru exported an average of 33 tonnes of rhatany per year between 2000 and 2004 (see Table). Total exports amounted to about 180 tonnes of dried rhatany since 2000. Some 96 percent of this amount (approximately 170 tonnes) was exported to Germany; the remaining 4 percent largely went to France, Spain and the United States. The plant is also widely sold on local markets but no data are available on the total harvest of rhatany in Peru. All rhatany is collected from natural populations and no cultivation of the species has been attempted.

(Source: Towards a standardization of biological sustainability: wildcrafting rhatany (Krameria lappacea) in Peru by M. Weigend and N. Dostert [in Medicinal Plant Conservation, 11].)



Other countries



36 000


36 299


29 000

3 655

32 655


41 500

2 907

44 407


24 000

1 292

25 292


24 000

3 020

27 020

2005 (March)

14 985


15 185

2000–2005 (March)

169 485

11 373

180 858

Average annual
exports 2000–2004

30 900

2 234.6

33 135

Brazil nut concessions

One hundred and thirty pioneering Brazil nut producers in the Amazonian region of Madre de Dios, Peru recently won formal Brazil nut concessions from the Peruvian National Institute for Natural Resources (INRENA). The establishment of these concessions effectively ensures legal protection for 225 000 ha of primary tropical forest in the path of a planned highway connecting Brazil to the Pacific.

Supported by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, the Amazon Conservation Association worked with its Peruvian counterpart, the Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica and INRENA to establish formal, long-term contracts with local producers. Under these contracts, Brazil nuts are harvested from mapped areas, according to management plans that incorporate the highest standards of sustainable forest management.

Brazil nuts are harvested from natural stands, not plantations, because the trees depend intimately on a complex web of pollinators, seed dispersers and abiotic conditions. Even short-term productivity therefore depends on managing these natural stands in an ecologically sustainable fashion.

Most of the Brazil nut harvesters in this region are small-scale producers, with stands that are seldom larger than 1 000 ha. The project has successfully stabilized land tenure in collaboration with other land titling initiatives in the area, while also providing an economically viable and sustainable alternative to logging.

Of the total area, 27 000 ha of Brazil nut concessions have also been certified – for the first time anywhere – by the Forest Stewardship Council in recognition of producers’ adherence to the strictest international standards for forest management. The result is a benefit for growers, the forests and consumers seeking to use their purchasing power to support conservation. (Source: CEPF E-News, September 2005.)

Russian federation

Oran – traditions and the nature of Kamchatka

From 18 to 29 July 2005, the first international ethno-ecological youth summer camp “Oran – traditions and the nature of Kamchatka” took place in the Menedek settlement close to Anavgaj native village, Bystrinsky district, deep inside the Kamchatka Oblast.

The peninsula, located in the Russian Far East and composed of the Kamchatka region and the Koriakia autonomous district is home to almost
12 300 indigenous people (Itelmen, Koriak, Eveni and Chukcha) with 42 percent of its territory covered by forests.

The camp was organized under the aegis of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)-World Conservation Union (IUCN) project “Building Partnerships for Forest Conservation and Management in Russia”, by a partnership between IUCN, ProSibiria E.V., administration of the Bystrinsky district, Bystrinsky Information Centre, Dulipki Native People’s Community, Kamchatka Herbal Tea NGO, Menedek NGO and many other volunteers and organizations. A large number of local people from the villages of Anavgai and Esso took an active part in achieving such a unique project.

Participants were selected from both local and international youth, with participants from Canada (including a young First Nation man), France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the United States, as well as from other Russian regions. Some members of the native traditional dance group Nurgenek joined the camp – as teachers of dances and songs, and as participants to learn native crafting skills.

One of the purposes of the summer camp was to share traditional knowledge, beliefs and ceremonies “through a coeducation of Russian youth and people from other countries”. Coeducation started by living under the same roof as village elders and the master crafters. For native participants, the camp provided a possibility to strengthen the awareness of their traditions; for international participants, it was an occasion to learn about native culture by living it, as well as playing an active role in its preservation.

At the same time, native cooperatives and associations, together with organizers from the CIDA-IUCN project, provided information on their current projects and results, enabling them to expand their knowledge of NTFPs and traditional handicrafts.

During those ten days we lived together, cooking local meals, dancing and joining forces to help in the organization of the camp, while simultaneously learning the life of the indigenous people through the many master classes and field trips organized to show sustainable resources and production skills.

Examples of master classes included birch bark weaving, wood and bone carving, fur and skin traditional treatment and beadwork and ornaments, which covered the manufacturing of different pendants and ornaments made with stones from the river, leather and wild salmon skin discarded from lunch. Every class was given the possibility to practise skills learned.

A field trip organized by the Kamchatka Herbal Tea NGO demonstrated the harvesting and preparation of herbal tea, showing how harvesting continues in the same naturally sustainable and forest-caring way, and introducing the role of cooperatives and projects inside the life and economy of today’s communities. Visiting the Sleeping Beauty Hill played a key role in expanding the participants’ knowledge about the traditional natural resource use that generations of Itelmen, Koriak and Eveni indigenous people harvest for mushrooms, roots, herbs, berries and nuts as food and for medicinal and cultural uses.

Personally, I joined the camp to learn about the traditional way of life of the indigenous people and to propose possibilities to local cooperatives as to how to export their products in a fair trade.

Every one of my expectations was fulfilled thanks to the immensely warm and hospitable native people. The camp was a unique source of knowledge – of nature and of NTFP resources and the important economic role they play in local communities. (Contributed by: Alessandro Toffoli, Via Bartolomeo Eustachio 4, 00161 Rome, Italy. E-mail:


Ugandan farmers take on mulberry cultivation to produce silk

The cultivation of mulberry plants (enkenene), used for rearing silkworms (Bombyx mori L.), is becoming a new income venture worthy of serious investment. Sericulture is the feeding of silkworms on the leaves of mulberry plants to produce silk cocoons from which raw silk or silk yarn is produced. Silk is a high-value natural fibre for making precious textiles, carpets and other products that are in great demand on the international market.

According to the agriculture minister, “Silk production in Uganda is a promising agro-enterprise aimed at increasing household incomes, reducing poverty in rural areas and diversifying sources of the country’s foreign exchange earnings”.

In the late 1990s, a number of farmers took on the cultivation of mulberry plants and later embarked on the rearing of silkworms but failed to exploit their potential. As a result, the Mobwe Factory, now farmer-owned, has been established by a group of various farmers engaged in the sericulture business, funded by the African Development Foundation and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).

With the acquisition of the factory, a number of farmers from Bushenyi, Kanungu, Mbarara, Kashongi, Isingiro and Wakiso districts have now been trained on how to plant their mulberry gardens and on the techniques of rearing silkworms for cocoon production. However, a total of 15 000 farmers are still needed to supply cocoons to the already established factories in Kawanda, Wakiso and Bushenyi districts.

The rearing of silkworms requires at least 1 acre (0.405 ha) for mulberry establishment and a rearing house of 30 x 20 ft (9.1 x 6.1 m) fitted with rearing beds, silkworm eggs, spinning frames, spray pumps, disinfectants, herbicides, fertilizers/manure, polythene sheets, secateurs and pruning saws. In order to become a regular supplier of cocoons, sufficient land for the mulberry plants should be prepared by removing perennial weeds such as couch grass (lumbugu) and planting at the onset of the rains, with cuttings taken from mature sections of the mulberry stem (8–10 months old). After 21 days, farmers harvest the cocoons and sort them before selling them to rearing units. At the units, the cocoons are categoized into grades A, B and C. One kg of grade A sells for USh28 000, B for USh1 200 and for C USh800. The cocoons are later boiled for 15 to 30 minutes before being brushed in cold water. This eases the removal of the thread from the cocoons.

The reelers dry or stifle the cocoons and reel them into silk threads, which are used for weaving. The factory capacity is 1 tonne per day but because of the limited number of farmers supplying cocoons, the factory is unable to operate every day.

China has placed an order of 6 tonnes of threads per month. India requires 8 tonnes and Japan 100 tonnes per year; Egypt 200 tonnes per month and Zimbabwe and South Africa 100 kg. Despite these requirements, Uganda only produces 20 tonnes annually. (Source: New Vision [Kampala), 30 November 2005.)

United republic of tanzania

United Republic of Tanzania bans export of unprocessed sandalwood

The United Republic of Tanzania has banned the export of unprocessed sandalwood trees. This action followed press reports in recent months that the highly priced tree was being harvested indiscriminately and exported to Europe, the Middle East and Asia, especially to India where sandalwood is widely used to manufacture expensive perfumes.

All institutions charged with protecting Tanzania’s natural resources, including the Tanzania National Parks Authority (Tanapa), were directed to intensify anti-poaching patrols in national parks where the tree is illegally harvested. Stricter laws would be introduced to regulate trade in the tree and ensure that only crude oil extracted from the tree is exported.

The tree fetches up to US$5 000 per tonne. Hundreds of containers of all sizes are believed to have been shipped out in recent years.

Poaching of the tree in national parks follows its depletion in areas where harvesting is allowed by the Ministry of Natural Resources. However, the ministry only permits the cutting of the tree trunk from selected forests and not the uprooting of the entire stem. The ministry’s guidelines have been largely ignored. Several cubic metres of the tree, worth millions of Tanzanian shillings, were intercepted last year.

The Arusha Regional Forestry Secretariat confirmed that sandalwood is one of the 12 nationally protected trees. It was upgraded to the class A level of highly valued tree species last year to protect it from extinction.

Apart from making perfumes, sandalwood is also an ingredient in lotions, soap and candles. Mashed into a paste, it is used in folk medicine and spread on the skin to purify the complexion and heal rashes. (Source: East African [Kenya], 10 October 2005.)

Bamboo trade and poverty alleviation in Ileje district

A study was carried out recently to investigate the impact of the bamboo economy on poverty alleviation in the Ileje district, Mbeya region of the United Republic of Tanzania. The study, by Milline Mbonile on behalf of Research on Poverty Alleviation (REPOA), investigated among other things, the relationship between the bamboo trade and sustainable resource management in the district, which is one of the leading districts in the bamboo trade in the Mbeya region and probably in the whole country. The most popular bamboo product marketed all over the country and abroad is the winnowing basket. Recently, however, some bamboo weavers have been producing special decorated bamboo goods.

There are two major sources of bamboo in the Ileje district: forest reserves in the highlands and along river valleys; and small plots, where most bamboo is grown very close to households, particularly near river valleys.

Based on this study, recommendations have been made to both the local and central governments. The research showed that the bamboo trade employs a reasonable proportion of the population in Ileje district and is a good source of income. (Source: IPPMEDIA-Guardian [United Republic of Tanzania], 21 May 2005.)

United states of america

Acorn abundance could significantly reduce this year’s deer harvest

Biologists cannot predict when bumper crops of acorns will appear, but they do know that hunters kill fewer deer in years of acorn abundance. Each year the Missouri Department of Conservation conducts a survey to determine the abundance or scarcity of acorns. This knowledge is important because a wide array of wildlife relies heavily on the fruit of oak trees for food. Acorn counts from thousands of trees give biologists valuable information about how ducks, squirrels, deer and turkeys will fare in the coming year.

The annual survey covers the portion of the state where forest dominates the landscape, approximately half the state. The result is a series of acorn production indices broken down by region and oak tree type – red or white. Over the past 46 years, the overall index for all oak trees throughout the survey area has been 133. Last year, the number was 116. This year’s overall index is 152 – producing a bumper acorn crop.

The news is similar throughout most of the survey area. The only exceptions are white oaks in the west Ozark and the Ozark border at the western edge of the survey area. Even in these areas, the overall acorn crop is above average. In the eastern Ozark, white oak acorn production is up 55 percent compared with the average of the last 46 years.

All this would be little more than scientific trivia except for one thing – the upcoming firearms deer season. In autumn, deer gorge on high-energy foods in preparation for winter. In forested areas, this means acorns. When acorns are scarce, deer flock to trees that did produce acorns. This simplifies hunters’ work. If they can find acorns, they will find deer.

Hunting is much tougher in years of acorn abundance. Deer do not have to travel far to find their favourite food, so they spend less time on the move and they are scattered unpredictably throughout the forest.

This effect is already showing up in early deer harvest statistics. A Conservation Department’s deer management expert said he expects this year’s deer harvest to be low because of the superabundance of acorns.

The Conservation Department experts do not know all the factors that have led to this year’s acorn bounty. Annual data point to some correlations between weather and acorn production. The number of red oak acorns seems to be higher two years after abundant spring rainfall, and white oaks are more productive in years with mild spring weather.

Oak trees are divided into white and red families. Acorns on white oaks mature in one year, so unfavourable conditions during the flowering or growing season affect that year’s crop. Red oak acorns take two years to mature, so the results of bad conditions are not apparent until the following year. (Source: Jim Low, Kansas City infoZine [United States], 21 November 2005.)

Evaluating the role of forest management in huckleberries

Understorey species such as huckleberries (species in the genus Vaccinium) are important ecosystem components of forest communities in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Washington in the United States and British Columbia in Canada). Forest understorey species contribute to biological diversity and long-term ecosystem productivity, are well correlated with mammalian and avian abundance and are important for wildlife since they contribute browse, berries and cover.

Often overlooked, however, in the long-standing and human extensive use of NTFPs, huckleberries are currently used in the Pacific Northwest in the floral market, as wild food and as medicinals and for landscaping. (Source: Kerns, B.K., Alexander, S.J. and Bailey, J. D. 2004. Evaluating the role of forest management in huckleberries. Economic Botany, 58(4): 668–678.)

Medicinal plants in the United States

In the United States alone, medicinal and nutritional herbs are a US$4 billion-plus industry and worldwide the figure is at least $20 billion annually. The Appalachian Mountains in western Maryland and West Virginia support a unique and exceptionally diverse flora, including many plants that have a long history of medicinal use. In recognition of the need to conserve wild native plants, to explore scientifically and understand their true medical efficacy, and to generate economic benefit for the people of the Appalachian region, the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (UMBI) and Frostburg State University, in collaboration with West Virginia University, have established the Appalachian Center for Ethnobotanical Studies (ACES).

The centre’s goal is to conduct multidisciplinary research and education programmes on native plants with potential medicinal properties, conservation of these plants and Appalachian ecosystems as a whole, preservation of Appalachian culture as it relates to the harvesting and traditional use of medicinal plants, and the exploration of economic benefit to the region that may be derived from the managed development of botanical resources.

(Source: Newswise, 5 October 2005.)

Oregon’s chanterelles

Oregon’s chanterelle harvest is big – 500 000 pounds (227 000 kg) were collected in 1999, the year that the Pacific golden chanterelle was made the state’s official mushroom. Accurate statistics are hard to come by, because chanterelles grow only in the wild, brought to market by independent foragers and dealers who operate on a cash basis. No one has found a way to cultivate them, even though they sprout up abundantly in many parts of the world.

The chanterelle season in the northwest lasts throughout autumn and may run into December, depending on the rainfall. Unlike most mushrooms, chanterelles are bright in colour. The caps and stems are burnished orange, so they match the hue of autumn leaves. Lighter-coloured and slightly meatier white chanterelles also grow in Oregon.

Chanterelles picked from Oregon’s coniferous forests are actually a distinct species from the chanterelles that grow in eastern Canada and Europe. Scientists made this discovery only recently, which created the impetus for the official state mushroom designation.

Worthy as the chanterelle is, having an official state mushroom at all may seem silly. It does, however, bring public awareness to the unusual challenges of the foraging economy. Much collecting takes place on federal and state lands that are in the tug-of-war zone over where and how much timber should be harvested. Suffice it to say, fewer trees equal fewer mushrooms. (Source: Portland Tribune [United States, 23 September 2005.)

Viet Nam

NTFPs and biodiversity conservation

Viet Nam is endowed with rich fauna and flora: 11 400 vascular plants, about 700 sea and freshwater grasses, 826 large-size mushroom species, 310 animals, 840 birds, 260 reptiles, 120 amphibians, 2 038 sea fish, over 700 freshwater fish, 7 750 species of insect and thousands of non-vertebrates. It is for this reason that the country is recognized as one of those with the highest biodiversity in the world, constituting an important basis to discover, select and develop its NTFPs of high and distinctive economic values.

Up to now, Viet Nam has possessed a group of traditional NTFPs, such as cinnamon, anise, cardamom Amomum aromaticum Roxb., pines, eaglewood, Monrinda officinalis, shellac and many other prospective NTFPs such as Panax vietnamensis, Scaphium macropodium, Canarium album, Ganoderma lucidum, Calamus tetradactylus and C. platyacanthus.

It is a great pity, however, that Viet Nam’s resource of precious NTFPs is now on the verge of depletion in view of prolonged poor management and excessive harvesting and exploitation, specifically of Panax vietnamensis, eaglewood and Cupressus torulosus driven to near extinction, Monrinda officinalis, Anoetochilus setaceus and Coscinium fenestratum seriously on the decline, which cannot meet domestic consumption and export demands.

At this point, it is essential to find necessary solutions to the rehabilitation of NTFPs currently on the decline, and simultaneously develop prospective ones for domestic consumption and export, for hunger alleviation and poverty reduction, and for the improvement of people’s living conditions, particularly those in mountains.


An initiative to form a working group on NTFPs was raised during a recent NTFP network workshop. This working group will consist of key institutions and organizations active in the field of NTFP conservation and development, both national and international, and act as a core group for facilitating cooperation and information sharing among NTFP actors in Viet Nam. A tentative overall goal is “to support the NTFP network to initiate and implement networking activities more effectively and more sustainably”.

A recent issue of the NTFP newsletter focused on “NTFPs and biodiversity conservation” with the aim of helping to conserve the biodiversity of Viet Nam’s forests. (Source: NTFP newsletter (Viet Nam NTFP Network,) 2(4), October 2005.)

Bamboo coal and essence for export

The Da Lat Urban Management Company has succeeded in producing bamboo coal and essence for export after one year of experiments with Japanese experts’ guidance. The products are made from locally available materials with Japan technology.

Bamboo coal is used as activated charcoal for the medical sector and to grow clean vegetables in greenhouses, while bamboo essence is a biological product used in organic vegetable and pesticide production.

The company will export one 8-tonne container of bamboo coal and essence to Japan per month and will gradually increase its exports based on the Japanese partners’ demand. (Source: Viet Nam Economic Times, 20 September 2005.)

Pine resin: first Vietnamese ink factory creates local market

The first-ever offset printing ink factory in Viet Nam, Pacific Ink, opened recently in Bac Ninh Province. Currently in its first phase of production, the US$ million facility will produce 3 000 tonnes of ink per year.

Pacific Ink said that previously the local market has had to import 90 percent of its ink supply and the factory will now reduce cost and time. Pine resin, the main ingredient in printer’s ink, is abundant in Viet Nam and the factory makes use of this natural resource. Pacific would also cooperate with Hanoi Polytechnics University to train students in the factory’s laboratory.

Pacific Ink is the first company in Viet Nam to join a newly formed National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM). Pacific stressed that prices would be much lower than those of imported products. (Source: VietNamNet, 25 October 2005.)

An optimist takes the risk of losing.
A pessimist misses the chance of winning.

Hazrat Inayat Khan

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