News and notes

International Neem Network
Global Initiative for Traditional Systems (GIFTS) of Health
Andean Network of Sustainable Alternative Products
Diversity of microfungi
Ford Foundation grants for ANSAB biodiversity and NWFP research
Mycorrhization with reforestation
Centre for Forest Mycology Research
Prodigious biodiversity
Chemical treasure in the forest
Dollars for diversity
USAID microenterprise initiative
Asian Network on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
Traditional medicines in South Asia
Medicinal Plants Network
Turkey: Anadolu University Medicinal Plants Research Centre (TBAM)
INBAR's first year
Malaysia-UK Cooperative Programme on Forest Resources
PROSEA handbook
TROPAG AND RURAL bibliographic information
African Forest Action Network
Ethics of ethnobiological research
IUCN Medicinal Plant Specialist Group
Versatile figs
Sugar from Nypa palm
Underutilized Tropical Fruit Trees in Asia Network (UTFANET)
Nutritional value of wild fruits
Activities of ClRAD-Forêt on sandalwood in New Caledonia
Non-timber value of northern Swedish forests
South Pacific biodiversity conservation


Neem, Azadirachta indica, has attained pride of place in international scientific research. Apart from being used for wood, its twigs, leaves, seeds and bark are also highly valued. Today several countries are in pursuit of technologies for growing neem and utilizing neem products, because of its acceptability by both humans and their environment. Some of the countries where neem is important are Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ghana, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, Senegal, the United Republic of Tanzania and Thailand.

In order to provide the required impetus to the hitherto unattended aspects of neem research and development, the International Neem Network was started during 1993. In the first Consultation on Neem Improvement, Bangkok, from 18 to 22 January 1993, participants from 20 countries, including the main countries with the natural range of the species, agreed to initiate an international neem improvement programme coordinated by a panel formed by the International Cooperation Centre on Agrarian Research for Development (CIRAD-Forêt - France), DANIDA Forest Seed Centre (DFSC, Denmark), Forestry/Fuelwood Research and Development Project (F/FRED, Bangkok) and FAO. The broad areas of activity of the network can be grouped under phenology, seed physiology/technology, genetic diversity/reproductive biology, and variation of chemical compounds.

The second international consultation on neem was held at the Arid Forest Research Institute, Jodhpur, from 28 February to 4 March 1994. At this meeting it was decided that a full-scale neem improvement programme will be initiated by the International Neem Network with the long-term objective of improving the genetic quality and adaptability of neem and its utilization. The network activities are coordinated at the national level by national focal institutions. Responsibility for global coordination has been entrusted to FAO since the Organization is in the best position to facilitate interregional cooperation and exchange.

A quarterly newsletter, NEEM, is issued for the diffusion of useful information by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, under the auspices of the network.

For more information, please contact O.K. Souvannavong, Forest Resources Division, FORM/FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy. Fax: +39 6 52256661.


The Initiative is a multi-agency project supported by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, DC. GIFTS of Health is sponsored by the World Council of Indigenous Peoples (WCIP). Other organizations participating financially and organizationally include the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Nature, the World Bank, the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, and Green College, Oxford University, United Kingdom.

The goal of the Initiative is to promote research into and inclusion of traditional systems of health as significant components of accessible, affordable and sustainable health care, particularly in developing countries. This includes an emphasis on biodiversity conservation and on the sustainable production of medicinal plants for domestic and export purposes.

The Initiative, which was inaugurated at a symposium organized at IDRC headquarters in Ottawa in March 1994, will hold a series of workshops in different regions to raise policy awareness regarding the role of traditional systems of health in providing basic health care in developing countries.

For more information, please contact Gerard Bodeker, Chairman, GIFTS of Health, National Museum of Health and Medicine, PO Box 59748, Washington, DC, USA 20012-9748. Fax: +1 202 5763573.


Red del PAS was created in April 1993 with the participation of grassroots groups from four countries, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, and with Conservation International (CI) regional offices. These groups (Fundación Inguedé, Fundación Cidesa and Candela Peru) have been working together with CI on ecosystem programmes that include the management, use and commercialization of sustainable alternative products. Successful programmes include work with tagua and essential oils, as well as with Brazil nuts and their end-products. There is much in common, as well as differences, in the work of these groups, and much to learn from each other. For that reason, Red del PAS can be considered as a model, to be later expanded, of cooperation and exchange of expertise on the several components involved in such projects, including social, ecological and economic aspects. CI has been a catalyst in the process by providing support in opening marketing channels; in the design and application of research projects for sustainability, monitoring and evaluation; in community organization aspects; and in social and economic assessments in these areas.

During its first meeting in Peru (at the site where Candela and CI are working on Brazil nuts), Red del PAS defined common objectives and placed its expectations on solid ground. As a result, a realistic work plan was designed and is currently under way.

For more information, please contact Enrique G. Ortiz, Coordinator, Andes Program, c/o Conservation International, 1015 18th Street, NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20036. Fax: +1 202 8875188.


The number of fungal species estimated to exist on earth is approximately 1.5 million. Yet little is known about the relative abundance of the species or whether they are endangered. The following is abstracted from an article in Mycologia, 86(2), 1994 by Gerald F. Bills and John D. Polishook: "Abundance and diversity of microfungi in leaf litter of a lowland rain forest in Costa Rica":

"Most investigations of tropical litter microfungi have concentrated on description and inventory of new or interesting taxa, generally in geographically restricted areas. Such floristic studies continue to yield descriptions of dozens of new fungal genera and new species at a rapid rate, therefore attesting to the biological complexity of these substrata. However, relatively few descriptions of new taxa of litter fungi are based on species obtained in culture, the majority being only known from sporulating structures formed on plant material.

Figure 4

An efficient method by which to bring tropical leaf-litter fungi into culture was sought by the authors in order to survey these organisms for pharmacologically useful metabolites. A simplified particle-filtration procedure, based on the method of soil washing, was tested to determine if the characteristic fungal genera of leaf litter could be preferentially isolated while minimizing recovery of soil and common saprobic fungi. At the same time, some preliminary measurements were made of the magnitude of fungal species richness in tropical forest litter. Litter from four sites in a primary rain forest of the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica was examined. The number of species/samples ranged from 78 to 134. Many uncommon genera of litter fungi were recovered as well as coelomycetes, sterile strains, endophytes and phytopathogens. Species-abundance distributions showed that there were few abundant species and a high proportion of rare species. In no sample did the single most abundant species account for more than 23 percent of the total isolates."

For more information, please contact Gerald F. Bills, Microbial Bio-Chemistry and Process Research, Merck Research Laboratories, PO Box 2000, Rahway, New Jersey 07065, USA. Fax: +1 908 5945468.


A Biodiversity Unit has recently been established under the Asia Network for Small-Scale Agricultural Biotechnologies (ANSAB) that will promote a systematic approach, and will address biodiversity conservation and non-wood forest product issues through a variety of activities including research, field applications, networking and policy analysis. The Biodiversity Unit will also take responsibility for coordinating and promoting applied field research on biodiversity conservation and sustainable resource management.. Financial support for the establishment of the unit has been provided by the Ford Foundation.

For more information, please contact Nirmal K. Bhattarai, Research Director, Biodiversity Unit, ANSAB, PO Box 16, Lazimpat, Kathmandu, Nepal. Fax: +9771411964.


Reforestation using mycorrhized plants with symbiotic mushrooms for the production of wood and mushrooms is now possible, thanks to progress made in the field of mycorrhization.

Estimates indicate that the economic value of harvested edible mushrooms that can be easily mycorrhized (Boletus edulis, Tricholoma matsutake and Cantharellus cibarius, just to name the well-known ones) is about the same as the value obtained from woodcutting. This is not a cultivation with an end in itself but something that is closely connected to reforestation, the protection of soil and nature, and the increase in the local farming population's income. Income from export of dried or fresh edible wild mushrooms has been important for eastern European countries (Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, etc.) as well as for the Republic of Korea and China. This might also be a good opportunity for countries such as Bhutan which could enhance the existing small agrifood industry. Well-planned cultivation of ectomycorrhized mushrooms could directly help solve the forest management problems and indirectly solve farmers' economic problems. A symbiosis between the mushroom and the root makes it possible for the plant to receive nutritive elements that are made available by the mushroom, and for the mushroom to receive carbohydrates, vitamins and hormones that are developed by the plant - which the mushroom is not able to synthesize itself but which are essential for its growth. The mycorrhized roots turn out to be much more developed and ramified compared with the roots that have not been mycorrhized. The mycorrhized roots can thus explore a wider soil surface, thanks to the presence of thin fungus hypha that can penetrate the soil microcavities more easily. The mycorrhized roots are also more resistant to soil pH variations, temperature variations, dry weather and above all to radical pathogenic attacks. Under appropriate physiological and environmental conditions, after an initial development period, the mushroom carpophores develop from mycorrhized roots each year. Mycorrhization is particularly important in reforestation with conifers. It has been observed that mycorrhized conifers, of the same age after transplantation, grew eight times as much as the non-mycorrhized ones. Experience in Austria has also shown that mycorrhized forest plants have been successfully used for reforestation at higher than normal altitudes, thus reinforcing mountain slopes against erosion. These factors would justify investment in the mycorrhization of forest plants.

(Source: Government of Bhutan, Draft Project Proposal for Mushroom Development, 1994.)


Decay fungi destroy large volumes of standing timber in forests every year and a great deal more wood in use. The objective of the centre's research programmes is to explain the biology of forest fungi.

Researchers at the centre study pure cultures of fungi to increase knowledge about and understanding of fungi. The studies emphasize wood-rotting and secondary wood-inhabiting fungi that produce mushrooms, conks and similar structures in nature (Homobasidiomycetes). The research itself is designed to uncover new facts and ideas (basic research) or to provide names for and information about species of fungi that other government or university scientists cannot identify (service research).

The Reference Culture Collection at the Centre for Forest Mycology Research is one of the largest assemblages of primarily Basidiomycetous fungi in the world, containing approximately 12000 isolates representing about 1500 species and 3500 haploid isolates.

Studies conducted by the centre's staff scientists are an extremely valuable source of information on how fungi are involved in forest ecology and how they differ from related species in other habitats, etc. From accumulating data, scientists have improved their understanding of habitats and how habitat changes will affect both the inhabiting organisms and human beings.

The emphasis of the activities of FPL is on wood utilization. However, forest mycology research covers some aspects relevant to the use of non-wood forest products. The uses of fungi as metabolites for breaking down lignin in biological pulping (thus reducing the use of chemicals in the pulping process), for decomposing solid wastes, and for breaking down toxic pollutants and improving soils, are examples.

Wood decay fungi offer a source of possible pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical companies are screening such fungi for their ability to produce chemicals that may be of use in medicine or other processes.

By collecting and isolating these fungi and maintaining a culture collection, isolates are always available to be studied for whatever purpose that might be found to be important.

For more information, please contact Harold H. Burdsall, Research Mycologist, Centre for Forest Mycology Research, Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Fax: +16082319508.


An article by Peter H. Raven and Edward O. Wilson indicates that progress towards an overall knowledge of the earth's prodigious biodiversity over the past 250 years has been very slow.

During the last decade, botanists have discovered three new families of flowering plants in Central America and southern Mexico; one, a remarkable relict, is a forest tree that is frequent at middle elevations in Costa Rica.

The great majority of insects in the canopy of tropical rain forests, possibly in excess of 90 percent in some groups, remain unknown.

Although only 69000 species of fungi have been described so far, a leading specialist estimates that the world total is 1.5 million or more.

The number of bacterial species recognized by microbiologists is about 4000, but the huge majority in existence have not been communicated and hence are considered to be undiscovered, because their culturing requirements are unknown. Recent studies in Norway indicate the presence of 4000-5000 species in a single gram of beach forest soil and a comparably large but different array in a gram of nearby marine sediment. (Source: Raven, P.H. & Wilson, E.O. A fifty-year plan for big-diversity surveys. Science, Vol. 258, 13 November 1992.)


Chemical prospecting for developing drugs is a new back-to-nature movement. Merck & Co. have embarked on prospecting for chemicals in the forests of Costa Rica; the National Cancer Institute of the United States is looking for sources of medical plants from China, the Republic of Korea, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Samoa; Smith Kline Beecham is investigating plants from Ghana, Malaysia and Costa Rica; Shaman Pharmaceuticals Inc. is targeting ethnomedical plants used by people in tropical rain forests for the development of new drugs; Pfizer Inc. and the New York Botanical Garden are collaborating in an effort to collect and study plants from the United States as potential sources of new medicines; the British drug discovery group, Xenova, has collaborated with the FMC corporation and Purdue University, Indiana, to exploit Purdue's collection of 1500 plant species from around the world.

Several recent publications have focused on plant chemistry. Among them are: Handbook of phytochemical constituents of grass, herbs and other economic plants, and Handbook of biologically active phytochemicals and their activities by James A. Duke (1992, CRC Press, Boca Roton, Fl. 33431, USA); Phytochemical dictionary: a handbook of bioactive compounds from plants by Jeffrey B. Harbome and Herbert Baxter, eds (1993, Taylor and Frances Inc., Bristol, PA 19007, USA).

Those who advocate chemical prospecting and sustainable utilization of the phytochemical wealth of the forest consider them to be the hope for vanishing ecosystems and conservation of biodiversity. "Use it wisely or lose it", they argue. "The only way to save biodiversity in a country facing growing development pressures is to find non-destructive ways to use it."

The old pattern of the large companies reaping the bounty of the tropical forests is changing. In recent years pharmaceutical companies are drafting collaborative agreements incorporating royalty arrangements to ensure that a share of any benefits goes back to the source country.

(Source: various.)


Before the active ingredient in a plant becomes a drug on the pharmacy shelf, it has to pass a multitude of scientific tests: toxicological, pharmacological and clinical. Toxicological tests aim at finding out if there are toxic effects/ingredients. The active ingredient has to go through several phases - tests for acute toxicity, subacute toxicity and chronic toxicity as well as teratogenic (effects on organ growth), carcinogenic (causing cancer) and topical (causing irritation) tests. These tests are done on animals (mammals). These are followed by pharmacological tests, also on mammals, to determine whether an effective remedy is provided as expected. Since tests on animals do not automatically apply to humans, clinical tests follow. These go through several phases to monitor therapeutic repercussions and take several years and several millions of dollars of research funds. Post-marketing drug surveillance continues to spot any unpredicted side effects.

In respect of medicinal plants, a basic requirement is phytochemical analysis to determine the different chemical elements and their levels, which will decide their importance as a source. No less important is the way medicinal plants are cultivated, harvested and packaged. Optimal climate and soil conditions are required for the best-quality materials. Processing and packaging must also be pharmacologically safe, to protect the medicine from bacteria, yeast and mould and also from malicious tampering. New diseases continuously emerge and old ones tend to resurface with greater resistance. The good news is that plants can come to the aid of humanity.

(Source: various.)


In October 1991, the National Biodiversity Institute of Costa Rica (INBio) entered into an innovative agreement with the pharmaceutical company, Merck & Co., aimed at enabling Costa Rica to obtain the money and experience necessary to protect its biodiversity effectively.

INBio's work is based on the premise that the only way to save tropical biodiversity is to learn more about it and to use it sustainably for intellectual or economic purposes. One of the cornerstones of INBio's programme lies in Costa Rica's system of conservation areas, a network of parks and protected areas that comprise nearly a quarter of the nation's territory. It is felt that most of the estimated 500000 species of plants, animals and micro-organisms thought to exist in Costa Rica are being protected through this network. Since there is still much to learn about Costa Rica's biodiversity, INBio has become involved in a ten-year-long effort to catalogue, inventory and disseminate information about the identity, distribution and possible uses of the country's biotic resources.

As part of the Merck-lNBio agreement, Merck paid US$1 million to INBio, 10 percent of which goes directly into Costa Rica's conservation programme. The remaining funds are being used partially to cover the cost of the biodiversity inventory that INBio is conducting as well as the cost of collecting, identifying and preparing the samples and chemical extracts that INBio supplies to Merck. In addition to the initial monies, INBio will receive royalties - in other words, a fair share of the profits from the commercialization of any product or information derived from the samples sent to Merck.

Besides these monetary benefits, the INBio-Merck agreement will benefit Costa Rica by providing for the transfer of important technology from Merck to Costa Rica and by building scientific and technical capacity in Costa Rica. There is also a parallel agreement between INBio and the Costa Rican Ministry of Natural Resources which stipulates that 50 percent of the royalties received by INBio will go directly to the conservation and management of the country's protected areas. The other half will go to training programmes for scientists, parataxonomists and paraecologists, and towards operations to continue the exploration and management of Costa Rica's biodiversity.

Figure 5

The benefits that Merck & Co. will derive from this agreement are obvious. It provides Merck with a limited number of extracts that can be screened for pharmaceutical or agricultural applications.

Nevertheless, a large part of the payoffs from this agreement will only come if and when a product derived from the collaboration between INBio and Merck reaches the market. From every 10000 substances examined, only ten are used in test studies on animals. Only half of these enter clinical trials and only one gains approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The cost attached to this kind of research and development is extremely high, with an average of US$231 million spent per drug.

It takes nearly ten years from the initial laboratory studies for the product finally to reach the market. (Source: Sittenfeld, A. & Gámez, R. Building partnerships to save tropical biodiversity: the INBio-Merck Agreement. Network '92.)


Parties to this unique agreement which became effective on 1 October 1991 are:

1. Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad, a non-profit organization existing under the laws of Costa Rica ("INBio")

2. Merck & Co., Inc., a corporation organized under the laws of the State of New Jersey, United States ("Merck'')

INBio is interested in collaborating with private industry to create mechanisms to help preserve Costa Rican conservation areas by making them economically viable.

Merck is interested in collaborating with INBio to obtain plant, insect and environmental samples for evaluation for pharmaceutical and agricultural applications.

For its part, INBio agrees to:

• establish facilities for the collection and processing of plant, insect and environmental samples from Costa Rica;

• hire and train an adequate staff to collect and process the samples;

• provide training to INBio staff in Merck facilities;

• supply Merck with a specified number of plant, insect and environmental samples per year over the initial two-year period of the Agreement as described in the work plan;

• maintain appropriate financial records relating to the project and to allow Merck to review such documentation;

• not to provide during an initial evaluation period of two years, to other parties for use in the field of human and animal health and agriculture, any samples that have been provided to Merck.

For its part, Merck agrees to:

• provide research funding of US$1 million during the first two years of the Agreement and to contribute to the INBio laboratory equipment and materials needed to establish the processing laboratory at the University of Costa Rica;

• evaluate the samples provided by INBio in proprietary assays for potential activity as human health, animal health and agricultural compounds; advise INBio of confirmed and reproducible activity that has been identified in any INBio samples;

• assign unique identification numbers to all INBio samples and to maintain an identification system that will allow Merck and INBio to identify all products that may be subject to royalty under the Agreement;

• pay a royalty to INBio on any human or animal pharmaceutical product or agricultural chemical compound that is isolated initially from or produced by a sample provided to Merck by INBio;

• maintain accurate records that will allow Merck and INBio to identify all products subject to royalty and to enable INBio to confirm the accuracy of Merck's royalty reports;

• indemnify INBio from any claims arising from the use of the samples, except for any claims resulting from the negligence or other wrongful act of INBio;

• comply with all regulatory and other requirements that apply to the use of the samples;

• provide additional funding in an agreed amount to support INBio's work during any extension period.

Note: This Agreement was renewed with appropriate modifications in mid-1994.

For information of a non-confidential nature relating to the working of the agreement, please contact Rodrigo Gámez, Director General, INBio, AP 22-3100, Santo Domingo de Heredia, Costa Rica. Fax: +5062362816 or Merck & Co., Inc., PO Box 2000, Rahway, NJ 07065, USA.


The US Agency for International Development (AID) formally launched its new microenterprise initiative on 22 June 1994 in an event held on Capitol Hill. The initiative - the result of years of effort by AID, Congress and the Microenterprise Coalition will make microenterprise development a key element in AlD's economic growth strategy.

The initiative increases overall AID support for microenterprise from an estimated US$80 million in fiscal year (FY) 1993 to US$140 million in FY 1995. Among specific activities are a Microenterprise Innovation Programme of US$30 million for both FY 1995 and FY 1996, including a grant programme to support NGO and PVO microenterprise programmes; and increases in the existing PVO matching grant programme and the Micro and Small Enterprise Loan Guarantee Programme.

The Microenterprise Coalition, a diverse group of 24 development organizations, microcredit specialists, church groups and relief agencies, played a central role in the design of AlD's new initiative, advising AID and working with Congress throughout its development.

Once considered a losing proposition, microenterprise lending has proved itself to be an extremely effective, relatively low-risk development tool, especially for low-income women. It is now widely recognized that access to credit is the key to expanded economic participation for millions of the world's self-employed poor. Combined with other essential development tools and activities, strong microenterprise credit programmes can improve the overall health and nutritional status of poor families in the developing world. Lending programmes such as those run by the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, a Microenterprise Coalition member, show repayment rates near 100 percent. (Source: ATI Talking Points, 1 July 1994.)

For more information, please contact Appropriate Technology International, 1828 L. Street NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20038, USA. Fax: +12022934598.


In the first issue of Non-Wood News, we provided information on two networks on medicinal plants in Asia. Another network, the Asian Network on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ANMAP), was established in 1993. The FAO Regional Office in Bangkok provides logistical support, facilities and operating funds for ANMAP while the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions provides overall direction for linkages among various concerned national and international institutions.

Membership of ANMAP is open to the national-level R&D agencies dealing with medicinal and aromatic plants (MAP). International and regional agencies as well as NGOs working on or interested in MAP are invited to join ANMAP as resource agencies. ANMAP has ten charter/founding members and several regular members.

The overall objective of ANMAP is to assist the participating institutions/departments of the cooperating countries to promote voluntary exchange of information, germplasm and planting material, experimental data and expertise, as well as to establish effective cooperation in research on mutually selected topics.

ANMAP publishes a bimonthly newsletter and a semi-annual technical periodical.

For more information, please contact Narong Chomchalow, Regional Plant Production Officer, FAO Regional Office, Phra Atit Road, Bangkok, Thailand. Fax: +66 2 2800445.


As many as 75 to 90 percent of the world's rural people rely on herbal medicine for their primary health care. The role of herbal medicine is all the more crucial in the gene-rich tropical developing countries of South Asia where traditional medicine forms an important part of the health care system. For instance, it is estimated that the Indian system of medicine has about 400000 registered medical practitioners (as opposed to 332000 registered allopaths), 13770 dispensaries, 7000 licensed pharmacies and 1690 hospitals as well as 98 Ayurvedic colleges.

The rich and diverse heritage of traditional medicine systems in the subcontinent is increasingly threatened by the interplay of a number of factors.

About 80 percent of the 1400 or so species used by indigenous systems are gathered from forests. Rapid deforestation in recent years has caused large-scale loss of plant populations and reduced their distribution in known habitats. For example, medicinal plants account for as many as one-third of the species listed as facing extinction in India: 14 species are considered rare or under immediate danger of extinction while 35 others are in the vulnerable category.

Trade in this sector is secretive, unregulated and highly exploitative. Produce from over 100 species enters into world trade as well as the regular demand of some 60 native species in the indigenous medical sectors. Bulk demand in the organized manufacturing sector generates tremendous pressures on the resource leading to indiscriminate collection. Preliminary data show a high correlation between species exported and those facing extinction.

Growing pressures and scarcity also result in the marketing of cheap substitutes and spurious products undermining the health and reputation of the entire traditional medical care system. The establishment of standards and quality control is a key issue for the sector.

Little or no systematic efforts have been made to extend the availability of these plants through cultivation. The sector suffers a chronic lack of seed and planting stock. There is a paucity of research directed at the systematic introduction of medicinal plants into the prevailing agriculture and agroforestry systems, which would ease the pressure on natural forests. (Source: IDRC South Asia Regional Office, New Delhi, India.)


The IDRC-supported Medicinal Plants Network (South Asia) provides financial support for grassroots-level research. The network most commonly makes small grants (up to Can$20000) for a period of two years to initiate grassroots-level research in different agroclimatic zones. Financial support is available to both the nongovernmental sector and to public sector or teaching institutions. In addition, the network also facilitates interaction with experts and institutions and collaboration between researchers.

For more information, please contact Manjul Bajaj, Network Coordinator, International Development Research Centre, 17 Jor Bagh, New Delhi 110003, India. Fax: +91 11 4622707.


This centre, under the auspices and joint sponsorship of the Government of Turkey and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has organized a programme for Training in the Utilization of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants in Pharmaceutical and Related Industries (TRUMAP). This programme is aimed at training selected participants from developing countries on various aspects of industrial development of medicinal and aromatic plants ranging from extraction, distillation, fractional distillation at bench and pilot plant scales to formulation of pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. Modern instrumental techniques are employed for the process and quality control of intermediates and the final product. The TRUMAP newsletter is the means of communication among TRUMAP fellows and friends.

TBAM undertakes research and development work including pilot plant studies relating to the industrial processing and quality control of plant materials used by various industries in the preparation of pharmaceuticals, foods, perfumes, cosmetics, dyes, etc. Through its work in evaluating the flora of Turkey, the centre contributes to a rational exploitation of the plant resources of the country and to a healthy development of the industries that require training in processing, quality control and biological activity testing techniques.

For more information, please contact K. Husnu Can Baser, Director of Anadolu University Medicinal Plants Research Centre (TBAM), 26470-Eskisehir, Turkey. Fax: +90 222 3350127.


Readers may refer to background information provided in the last issue of Non-Wood News on the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR).

INBAR's first year of activity has been marked by a number of interesting initiatives. In December 1993, network researchers highlighted the importance of addressing two important issues: delivery systems for planting materials and sustainable management of natural stands. These became the focus of a research consultation held in May 1994 in Bangalore, India.

At the Production Research Consultation in Bangalore, there were a number of "firsts" for INBAR: the private sector (Khoday Biotek) became involved as a cosponsor and Japan was drawn to the table as a full participant. Representatives of no less than six regional and international development agencies attended the meeting, to present papers and explore how each could contribute to the network. An ambitious research agenda was identified, although much remains to be done to implement the recommendations that came in the form of strategic research planning. Two IDRC governors and a representative of IFAD attended, all reconfirming strong support for INBAR. Two research activities (bamboo provenance trials and bamboo agroforestry technology for degraded lands) were thoroughly examined in face-to-face discussions among the collaborators.

Figure 6

The Bangalore meeting represented somewhat of a microcosm of INBAR's first year, since it exemplified many of the principles that have guided INBAR's evolution to date: intercountry collaboration on identified research; in-kind country inputs to research; cooperation from international programmes; direct involvement of the private sector; research collaboration from outside the region; donor interest on research networking; monitoring and evaluation of research; and publications.

For more information, please contact Paul Stinson, Manager, International Network for Bamboo and Rattan, 17 Jor Bagh, New Delhi 110003, India. Fax: +91 114622707.


The Governments of Malaysia and the United Kingdom signed a Memorandum of Understanding in May 1992 committing themselves to the development and implementation of a cooperative programme of applied research into the management of rain forests in Malaysia. The objective of the programme is to strengthen the capacity of collaborating institutions to develop and assess sustainable management systems for the forest estate which enhance biodiversity conservation and the provision of other forest goods and services. The costs of the programme are shared equitably by the two governments.

The programme consists of two subprogrammes that deal with ecological and economic research topics respectively. Subprogramme A is concerned with the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of forest genetic resources. Projects under this subprogramme aim to determine, in more precise terms, the means for assessing the sustainability of biodiversity resources in lowland tropical dipterocarp rain forest. There are currently 13 projects in subprogramme A, of which more than half have direct relevance to the area of non-wood forest products and cover palms including rattans, herbaceous ground flora, woody climbers, epiphytic plants, fungi, biodiversity database and so on.

Subprogramme B, which consists of ten projects, concerns the valuation of the costs and benefits of non-wood forest products and services. It covers specific aspects/topics including valuation of Non-Wood forest goods and services, economic benefits of biological diversity, forest conservation and local and global climate, forest-based recreation, economic value of pest species, medicinal plants, rattan and bamboo.

For more information on subprogramme A, please contact N. Manokaran, Forest Research Institute Malaysia, Kepong, 52109 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Fax: +603 636 7753; or Ian Gauld, Deputy Keeper of Entomology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK. Fax: +44 171 9388937. For more information on subprogramme B. please contact Director-General, Forest Department of Peninsular Malaysia, Attention Ms Dan Yit May, Forest Economics Unit, Jalan Sultan Salahuddin, 50660 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Fax: +603 292 5657; or Joshua Bishop, Director, Environmental Economics Programme, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), 3 Endsleigh Street, London WC1H ODD, UK. Fax: +44 171 3882826.


PROSEA (Plant Resources of Southeast Asia) is an international programme whose objectives are to collect, evaluate and summarize existing knowledge on about 5000 useful plants of the region, to publish this information in a multivolume handbook, and to set up a plant data bank. It is an interdisciplinary project covering the fields of agriculture, horticulture, forestry and botany. A network of offices in six Southeast

Asian countries has been established, information is gathered, and at the same time extension material for education, industry, research and interested people is being developed. The project is committed to the conservation of biodiversity and to rural development through ecologically balanced land-use systems.

One of the main objectives of the project is to publish an illustrated multivolume handbook. A large international team of experts has been invited to prepare the texts on particular species or genera, which are being published in commodity groups. This classification has the advantage of being convenient to users with specific interests, while general aspects can be dealt with in an introductory chapter for the group as a whole. Work on the handbook series is expected to be completed by the year 2000. Of the 20 volumes in the handbook series, 11 volumes have direct relevance to NWFPs:

• Edible fruits and nuts
• Dye and tannin-producing plants
• Forages
• Rattans
• Bamboos
• Medicinal and poisonous plants Spices Stimulants
• Fibre plants
• Plants producing exudates
• Essential-oil plants.

In December 1993, three new volumes of the PROSEA handbook were published and were officially presented to representatives of donor agencies and other dignitaries in a ceremony at the Wageningen Agricultural University on 6 January 1994. The new volumes were Timber trees: major commercial timbers, Rattans and Vegetables.

The preparation of the volume on Rattans was supported by a special grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada.

The above three volumes bring the total published so far to seven.

For more information, please contact J.S. Siemonsma, Head, PROSEA Publication Office, Wageningen Agricultural University, Haarweg 333, PO Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, the Netherlands. Fax: +31 8370 82206; or Junus Kartasubrata, Head of PROSEA Network Office, c/o Research and Development Centre for Biology LIPI, Jalan Ir.H. Juanda 22, PO Box 234, Bogor 16122, Indonesia. Fax: +62 251 322859.


Researchers, scientists and specialists concerned with the broad field of agriculture in tropical and subtropical regions will be interested in the TROPAG AND RURAL bibliographic database, available on compact disk (CD-ROM). This database of more than 100000 bibliographic records allows such researchers to keep up to date with the latest development in the international literature.

The bibliographic database covers the latest advances in theoretical and applied agricultural research regarding tropical crops and livestock. Subjects covered include the cultivation of food and industrial crops, animal husbandry, forage and pastures, aquaculture, forestry, agroforestry, post-harvest operations, farming systems, socio-economic development, and environmental management. Some thousands of relevant journals, books and monographs are scanned. From these publications, a selection of 7000 to 8000 are abstracted each year and added to the database. Each record comprises full bibliographic details and an informative lengthy abstract.

The TROPAG AND RURAL CD-ROM is produced at the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) in the Netherlands and is published by SilverPlatter Information, Inc.

For more information, please contact Information, Library and Documentation, Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Mauritskade 63,1092 AD Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Fax: +31 20 6654423.


A new body, the African Forest Action Network (AFAN) was created in Bangui, Central African Republic, in June 1994. This was the outcome of a six-day seminar organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in collaboration with the Netherlands Committee for the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and Both ENDS - an international NGO based in the Netherlands. Funding for the seminar was provided by both the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), through Luzo Consult, and the European Union.

The network is an informal group of African non-governmental organizations, democratic and dynamic, with a common interest in the field of conservation and sustainable use of forest resources in Africa and worldwide, always bearing in mind the needs of the people for sustainable development. (Source: IUCN Forest Conservation Programme Newsletter, No. 19, 1994.)


Ethnobiologists are often the link between local communities and scientific or commercial institutions researching new natural products.

How can research be organized as an equitable partnership that balances research and commercial, national and local interests? What should the role of ethnobiologists be?

In response to these questions, guidelines have been developed as part of the WWF-Unesco-Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) Kew "People and plants initiative". Written by A.B. (Tony) Cunningham, the guidelines have been developed through consultation with ethnobiologists and interested organizations, and have been endorsed by the International Society of Ethnobiology.

A strict code of professional ethics that forms part of the guidelines would ensure that:

• research participants (e.g. traditional specialists) and members of relevant local organizations (e.g. herbaria) are fully informed of the objectives, commercial aspects, and possible results of research;

• confidential information and research participants' requests for anonymity are respected;

• equitable compensation is made for assistance by individuals;

• the relevant national or regional organization receives fair royalty payments;

• national requirements for plant collecting, including collection with local counterparts, are observed.

(Source: INFOMAB 21, January-June 1994.)

For more information, please contact A.B. Cunningham, 84 Watkins Street, White Gum Valley, 6162 Fremantle, Western Australia. Fax: +9 430 8007.


Medicinal plants are a major but neglected group of plants for which conservation is a priority. So far, however, there has been little coordinated action on an international scale to ensure the sustainable utilization and conservation of medicinal plants. To remedy the situation, the IUCN Species Survival Commission has established a Medicinal Plant Specialist Group (MPSG), with the following general objectives in the field of medicinal plant conservation:

• help to preserve genetic resources of medicinal plants worldwide;
• identify problem taxa and problem regions;
• promote the rational and sustainable utilization of medicinal plants;
• assist other groups and authorities to design and implement their own programmes;
• raise awareness in the public especially in source countries for the need of medicinal plant conservation.

For more information, please contact Uwe Schippmann, Co-Chairman, IUCN/SSC Medicinal Plant Specialist Group, Bundesamt für Naturschutz, Konstantinstrasse 110, D-5317s Bonn, Germany. Fax: +49 228 9543470.


Ficus - more commonly, the fig - is a large genus of 800 species frequently found in tropical and subtropical climates. Growth habits vary from free-standing shrubs to large trees, although many are climbers and twiners.

Apart from food for humans, fig trees are used for the production of fodder, latex, bird lime and wax, medicines for both humans and animals, fibres for ropes and cloth, wood for internal construction, packing, small tools and fuel, and shade for crops and settlements.

Figs are important providers of browse and fodder for cattle and buffaloes, small ruminants and camelids. The foliage contains high levels of total digestible nutrients and is rich in calcium; it has reasonably high levels of crude protein and moderate amounts of crude fibre.

Many species are attracting attention, particularly in India and Nepal, as multipurpose trees in reforestation projects. (Source: NRI press release, 3 May 1994.)


To date, sustainable management of mangroves for forest products has been directed mainly towards the production of fuels for domestic cooking and heating, and of poles for buildings and other constructions. Recently, a pilot scheme for the production of sugar from Nypa palm was established in West Kalimantan. The initial trial involves some 1000 ha of Nypa palm, with plans to expand the area to about 10000 ha. (Source: Clough, B. The harvesting of products from mangrove ecosystems. ITTO Tropical Forest Update, Vol. 2, April 1994.)


UTFANET is in the process of being formally established. A network support group composed of representatives from UK-Overseas Development Administration (ODA), the Commonwealth Science Council (CSC), the International Centre for Underutilized Crops (ICUC), FAO, the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) and the International Cooperation Centre on Agrarian Research for Development (CIRAD) has been set up to initiate action to establish a steering committee and an agreed Memorandum of Understanding for participating countries and the executing agency of the network. During its first year UTFANET will be managed by ICUC and monitored by UK-ODA.

For more information, please contact Nazmul Haq, ICUC, Department of Botany, Bio-Medical Science Building, Southampton SO9 3TU, UK. Fax: +44 703 594269.


In Malawi and other countries in southern Africa, wild fruits play an important role in people's diet and contribute to the economy of the rural community. A study of indigenous edible fruits conducted by the University of Malawi has provided interesting information. Fruits of Adansonia digitata, Diospyros usambarensis, Bauhinia thonningii and Vitex payos contain over 70 mg/1009 fresh weight, and are excellent sources of vitamin C, with D. usambarensis having the highest vitamin C level (337 mg/1009), and A. digitata containing up to 300 mg/100 g fresh weight. Annona senegalensis and Trichilia emetica are rich in protein. Flacourtia indica and Syzygium guineense are rich sources of iron. Adansonia digitata, Bauhinia thonningii and Vitex doniana are excellent sources of calcium.

Seed kernels are important sources of vegetable oil, and are protein rich, so may be substituted for groundnut flour or oil in rural household cooking. The seed kernel of baobab (A. digitata) is rich in protein (28.7 percent dry weight) and fat (29.5 percent); these levels are similar to those of leguminous seeds. (Source: Treeseed News, No. 2, March 1994. SADC Tree Seed Centres Network.)


When European sailors discovered sandalwood in the South Pacific during the eighteenth century, they rapidly became aware of its value. The new British colony of Australia desperately needed a product it could use to barter in China for its important beverage: tea. Sandalwood, which was in high demand in China, was consequently perfect. Huge amounts of wood were cut until the stands were completely depleted, leaving the islands with almost no sandalwood. This trade was often the first contact of the islanders with the European world.

During the last century, the high price commanded by sandalwood led to the logging of the remaining trees and now, except in Australia and a few Pacific islands such as New Caledonia or Erromango, there is hardly any activity related to sandalwood. Today many Pacific countries want to develop a sandalwood resource in order to find a new source of income for the future. This, however, is not easy. When seeds are available, germination is difficult; once the seeds have germinated, the hemiparasitic habit of Santalum spp. leads to many problems in nursery and plantation management. And seeds are extremely scarce.

In New Caledonia, the Forestry Department of the French International Cooperation Centre on Agrarian Research for Development (CIRAD-Forêt) has been working in association with the Forestry Service on sandalwood since the beginning of the 1980s. Techniques for seed conservation, germination and nursery management of sandalwood seedlings have been developed. Plantations have been established in many sites in New Caledonia during the last ten years and results are now available in order to make recommendations on types of sites and silvicultural techniques for sandalwood. This experience is being disseminated to certain Pacific countries (Tonga, Cook Islands) through short field workshops.

CIRAD-Forêt shares information with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), which has a conservation programme for sandalwood. (Contributed by Yves Ehrhart, CIRAD-Forêt, BP 10001, Noumea, New Caledonia. Fax: +687 284927.)


The values arising from on-site consumptive use (berry- and mushroom-picking), on-site non-consumptive use (hiking, camping, etc.), and off-site visual experience were estimated in a study carried out by Mattsson and Li. The contingent valuation method (CVM) was applied in a mail survey for obtaining empirical data. A follow-up survey was also conducted in order to obtain information about the representativeness of the respondents to the CVM survey. Results indicated that the non-timber value accounted for a considerable portion of the total forest value. For the area studied the estimated non-timber value amounted to approximately 1050 million SKr per year, as against 1870 million SKr per year for timber (assuming that all the annual timber growth will be harvested for industrial consumption). On-site consumptive use was more valuable to rural people than to urban, while on-site non-consumptive use was more valuable to urban people. Taken together, these on-site use values which to a large extent depend on the Right of Common Access - accounted for two-thirds of the non-timber value. (Source: Mattsson, L. & Li, C.Z. The non-timber value of northern Swedish forests. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research, 8: 426-434, 1993.)


The island countries of the Pacific share a strong dependence on land and ocean resources for their livelihood. Increasingly, these resources are in jeopardy because of expanding economic activities, new lifestyles, and growing populations. An environmental change that can undermine the viability of Pacific island communities is the loss of biodiversity, or biological variety, as species become depleted or extinct.

Past attempts to protect important ecosystems by creating national parks and nature reserves have had little success in the Pacific. These types of protected areas tend to exclude the very people whose support and participation are essential. Often these "protected areas" exist on paper only. The limited success of past efforts to protect the biological diversity of the Pacific islands has increased the urgency of conserving and managing the environment now. It is against this background that the South Pacific Biodiversity Conservation Programme (SPBCP) was formulated. SPBCP is developing strategies to conserve biodiversity by assisting Pacific island people to use their biological resources in ways that are sustainable. The programme is addressing the conservation of biodiversity on a long-term, sustainable basis by promoting awareness and initiating action to resolve issues.

Figure 7

In particular, SPBCP is working to help local communities, NGOs and government agencies to establish conservation areas that protect threatened terrestrial and marine species and demonstrate ecologically sustainable development. Each conservation area will be the responsibility of a management group comprising representatives from local communities, landowners, NGOs, local and national government and SPBCP. SPBCP will also demonstrate, in a practical way, how the ecologically sustainable use of resources can help the economic and social development of the people who own or depend upon them.

For more information, please contact Muliagatele Iosefatu Reti, Programme Manager, South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Apia, Western Samoa. Fax +685 20130.

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