COUNTRY COMPASS

 


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AUSTRALIA

A number of Australian institutions are involved in activities related to NWFPs. For example, the Australian Tree Seed Centre of the CSIRO Division of Forestry has undertaken a range of work on non-wood forest products including those on seeds, essential oils, forest food (Acacia, Macadamia, Araucaria) and honey production.

Another example is the Western Australian Museum which has undertaken considerable research involving non-wood products taken from "the bush". Several Aboriginal communities are now supplementing their joint incomes by gathering and selling to distributors the traditional foods from forests that have sustained them for thousands of years.

For more information on the activities of the Australian Tree Seed Centre, please contact John Doran, CSIRO Division of Forestry, PO Box 4008, Queen Victoria Terrace, ACT 2600, Australia. Fax: +61 6 2818266. With regard to the activities of the Western Australian Museum, please contact Peter Bindon, Head, Anthropology Department, Western Australian Museum, Francis Street, Perth, Australia. Fax: +61 9 3288686.

BANGLADESH

A detailed report on the Mangrove Non-Wood Forest Products of the Sundarbans has been prepared (October, 1994) under the auspices of the Project on Integrated Resource Development of the Sundarbans Reserved Forest. The report deals with mangrove vegetation yielding food, fatty oils, fibres and flosses, medicines, flavouring materials, tans and dyes, as well as products such as honey and beeswax.

Some of the important NWFPs elsewhere in Bangladesh are medicinal plants. The current supply of plant materials for indigenous medicine is 750 tonnes against a consumption of about 870 tonnes. The shortfall is met by imports, mostly from India. The deficit in supply is expected to increase to about 600 tonnes by 2015. There is ample scope to improve the supply by managing the medicinal gardens properly in suitable areas. Medicinal plants can also be grown along with plantation forestry and agroforestry.

For more information, please contact Chief Conservator of Forests, Ban Bhaban, Dhaka 1212.

BELIZE

In 1993, a 6000-acre (approximately 2400-ha) area of rain forest in Belize was set aside as a reserve, with the aim of ensuring that rare medicinal plants and the threatened traditional Mayan art of healing should flourish. The Terra Nova Rain Forest Reserve, a forest thick with rare medicinal vines and herbs and many different types of animals, will be managed and operated by the recently formed Belize Association of Traditional Healers.

Figure 11

The Healer's Association will operate three main programmes, the first involving the activities of healers, apprentices and students. Healers and guides will use the forest as a living classroom to teach apprentices and students. (Source: Biological Conservation Newsletter, No. 132, May 1994.)

Interesting non-wood forest products now being produced in Belize are small carvings from the nuts of the cohune palm (Orbygnia cohune), which is widespread in the tropical moist forests of Belize. The nuts are becoming a significant consumer item in the tourist trade in Belize. Formerly, the cohune nut industry produced oil for cooking.

In addition, natural chicle, latex from Manilkara zapota, for chewing-gum is again becoming available from the forests in northern Belize, as a result of a growing demand from Japan and the United States. A pilot study is under way in the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area in northwestern Belize to see whether the chicle industry can be reestablished there. It was, at one time, a major industry before synthetic chicle dominated the market.

For more information, please contact Mary Vasquez or Joy Grant, Programme for Belize, PO Box 749, Belize City. Fax: +501 2 75635.

BOLIVIA

Prácticamente en todos los grupos indígenas de las distintas zonas ecológicas de Bolivia, existen ejemplos de innumerables productos no maderables utilizados pare la alimentación, la medicine natural, la artesanía, la construcción, la vestimenta y otras manifestaciones culturales y económicas.

Es tradicional en Bolivia el uso de lana de la alpaca y la vicuña, camélidos que habitan en el Altiplano y las partes altas de los Andes. A pesar de que en Bolivia rige una veda total de caza y comercio de todo animal de vida silvestre, estos camélidos, junto a otros animales silvestres como el eljochi (Agouti spp.), el pecar), el venado, el lagarto y muchos otros, constituyen una importante fuente de proteínas en diversas comunidades rurales.

Algunos PFNM son importantes para el país. Entre ellos cabe destacar la pulpa de fruta y el palmito de varias palmeras como el Pejibay (Bactris gasipaes), cuya producción en plantaciones agroforestales esta dando promisorios resultados, o de Asaí (Euterpe precatoria), por el creciente interés en mercados de Francia, EE.UU., Brasil y otros. Otro PFNM con alto valor económico es la castaña (Bertholletia excelsa), extraída totalmente de bosques tropicales del norteamazónico de Bolivia, con una producción actual de 7900 t y un valor de exportación de 10,26 millones de $EE.UU. De las semillas de castaña se produce también un aceite comestible con amplio consumo local. El cacao (Theobroma cacao) es otro PFNM abundante en bosques aluviales a lo largo de los ríos del Noroeste de Bolivia y producido en plantaciones homogéneas y agroforestales, particularmente en las laderas andinas de Alto Beni en La Paz. (Contribución de: Torsten Frisk, Oficial Regional Forestal, Oficina Regional para América Latina y el Caribe, FAO, Santiago, Chile. Fax: +56 2 6961121.)

XAPURI AGRO-EXTRACTIVIST COOPERATIVE

Xapuri, located in the far western corner of the Brazilian Amazon, is the home town of the slain leader of rubber tappers, Chico Mendes. The Agro-extractivist Cooperative of Xapuri is one of the many groups being benefited by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Programme for the Protection of the Environment and Indigenous Peoples (PMACI). The PMACI joins together, for the first time, rubber tappers, Indians, small-scale farmers and government and IDB officials in the pursuit of achieving sustainable development of the Amazonian tropical forest.

Rubber tapping is still the principal source of living for the community and a rubber processing plant is under consideration. The cooperative is considering a number of income-producing activities that could supplement the incomes of the members. They include the production of cacao and chocolate, cooking oil, palm hearts and rubberized garments. The nationwide trend towards decentralization could open another marketing avenue. For example, when each state can decide on what to include in school lunch programmes, their state could choose supplements incorporating Brazil nuts.

While the rubber processing plant is being considered, the PMACI-financed Chico Mendes Brazil nut plant is in full operation in the halfway station between the remote forest sites where the fallen nuts are collected and consumers in faraway cities. The Brazil nut plant employs 95 workers to sort, process and pack the finished product. About 70 percent of the plant's 44-tonne annual production is exported, mainly to the United States and Italy.

Production will increase in six to eight years as nut plantations now being established begin to yield. (Source: Amazon Journey, in IDB Extra, publication of the Inter-American Development Bank, 1993.)

BRAZIL

The importance of the Brazilian extractive populations has been recognized since 1970, when settlers and rubber tappers of the Amazon region began organizing themselves through trade unions of rural syndicates to defend their rights and their way of life. This struggle permeates the populations of the forest and, in 1985, the National Council of Rubber Tappers was founded to unify their struggle and to represent them at the national level. This process culminated with the establishment of the Extractive Reserves, whose main goal is to solve pending land questions, a prerequisite to guarantee the extractivist communities the right to continue living and working in the areas they already occupy.

Figure 12

Inspired by the ecologist/trade union leader Chico Mendes in the middle of the 1980s and based also on the example of Indian Reserves, the Extractive Reserves, considered an alternative for exploiting forests without cutting them down, are today a new model of sustainable development institutionalized and legalized by the state.

Based on the demands of the diverse traditional populations such as rubber tappers, Brazil nut and palm nut gatherers and collectors of fruits and flowers of the savannah cerrado to establish new reserves, Brazil already has today nine officially decreed Extractive Reserves. These reserves are conservation units within which local people have the right to live and harvest forest products.

In order to help the traditional populations to utilize their resources sustainably, in 1992 the Brazilian Government, through the Brazilian Institute of Environment, created a special entity, the National Centre of Sustainable Development for Traditional Populations.

Besides being the intermediary between traditional populations and the federal government, the major aim of the Centre is to support the preparation and implementation of plans, programmes and projects in collaboration with their representative entities. (Source: von Behr, M. Extractive reserves in Brazil: searching for sustainable development with social justice. Paper for the Workshop on Extractivism and Potentialities of Multiple-Use Forest Reserves in Africa, Naro Moro, Kenya, May 1994.)

Reports indicate that the Extractive Reserves are not working as well as they could. Few have organized marketing cooperatives to provide economic support to their members. To survive, forest dwellers are either leaving their holdings or increasing their area of slash-and-burn plots. The situation is even worse in communities outside protected areas.

The possibility that the extractive reserve initiative might fail is rooted in the lack of appropriate public policies. Existing policies that directly affect the reserves are rarely enforced, and the lack of proper pricing policies for extractive commodities has left many products with no market. (Source: L. Fernando Allegretti, Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, TRl News, 13(1), Spring 1994.)

EXTRACTIVE RESERVES IN BRAZIL

NAME

STATE

AREA (ha)

RESOURCES

Alto Jurua

Acre

506186

Rubber

Chico Mendes

Acre

970570

Nuts, rubber

Cajari

Amapá

481650

Nuts, rubber, palms

Ouro Preto

Rondon

204583

Nuts. Rubber palms

Pirajubaé

S. Cata.

1444

Molluscs fish

Ciriaco

Maranh.

7050

Palms (babaçu)

Mata Grande

Maranh.

10450

Palms (babaçu)

Frexal

Maranh.

9542

Palms (babaçu)

Tocantins

Tocant.

8280

Palms (babaçu)

Total

2199754

(Source: von Behr, M. op. cit.)

CAMEROON

One of the relatively little studied resources of the forest is the large variety of vegetal material exploited for the manufacture of drugs. Primitive forest communities have for a long time exploited narcotics and medicines obtainable from plant materials for the treatment of ailments. Recently, an analysis of the extract from the vine Ancistrocladus korupensis showed positive signs that it may be a source of medicine to treat AIDS.

In Cameroon, therefore, researchers are being encouraged to design and carry out research in the following areas: socio-economic surveys of the range and extent of use of NWFPs, and of their marketing within and outside the local milieu; domestication and genetic improvement of plant species discovered; and methods of processing non-timber products. (Source: Songwe, N.C. Extractivism and potentialilities of multiple-use forest resources in Cameroon with special reference to non-timber products. Paper for IUCN Workshop on Extractivism and Potentialities of Multiple-Use Forest Reserves in Africa, Naro Moro, Kenya, May 1994.)

CHILE

In Chile, there is no specific policy relating to NWFPs. However, there are a number of NWFPs in Chile, most of them being of local importance and some of them having a market outside the country.

Use of forest fodder, such as Prosopis tamarugo in the northern part of the country, is of considerable importance. Boldo is produced from the leaves of the plant Peumos boldus and is used as a substitute for tea. Quillay (bark of Quillaja saponaria) is another NWFP which is exported to European markets as saponin. While there are extensive plantations of Pinus radiata in Chile, their potential for producing resin is rarely used. Small-scale operators collect resin and supply it to units producing rosin, turpentine and beta-pinene. There are also fairly large areas in Chile growing Eucalyptus spp., mainly bluegum (Eucalyptus globulus), the leaves of which have a comparatively higher content of oil.

Being "monumental", Araucaria species have been protected from cutting. However, collection of their seeds for food is permitted and the tree is important for certain cultural communities. Some medicinal plants are locally used and some are also exported. Six or seven companies are said to be engaged in collecting, processing and exporting pine mushrooms growing under plantations of Pinus radiate, but this potential also is not adequately tapped. There is an operational unit in Santiago producing syrup from the indigenous palm, Jubaca chilensis. Other non-wood products of interest are activated carbon from charcoal, chicken feed from pine sawdust, wild honey, Chilean cane and local food colourants. (Source: C. Chandrasekharan, Travel notes, FOPN/FAO, 1994.)

CHINA

New York-based Pfizer has signed a three-year agreement with the Institute of Basic Theory at the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a non-profit corporation in Beijing.

Scientists in the institute will collect, identify and extract a variety of plants to be processed and screened at Pfizer's research laboratories in Connecticut.

The Chinese institute will pay Pfizer an undisclosed sum for its expertise. If any of the extracts leads to an approved therapy, Pfizer will produce it and pay a royalty to the institute. (Source: The Straits Times, 11 January 1995.)

China is the world's largest producer of gum naval stores. Research studies related to the product are being carried out at the Research Institute of Chemical Processing and Utilization of Forest Products, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Shao Shan Road, Nanjing, China.

For more information, please contact Shen Zhao Bang, Director, Research Institute of Chemical Processing and Utilization of Forest Products, Nanjing, China. Fax: +86 25 5413445.

COLOMBIA

Corporación Nacional de Investigación y Fomento Forestal (CONIF) is an NGO established in 1974 to undertake research in various aspects of forestry to generate relevant information for implementing silviculture and agroforestry programmes. Its scope covers NWFPs. It publishes extensively in the different fields of its activity.

For more information, please contact Director, CONIF, Ciudad Universitaria, Carrera 50 No. 27-70, Santa Fe de Bogota, DC. Fax: +571 2213473.

COSTA RICAN OFFICE FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (CROSD)

Costa Rica, led by the government and private sector, is converting itself into a world-level pilot project for sustainable development. The goal is to sustain economic viability, political stability and strong institutional capabilities, while raising basic living standards across the total population base.

Special attention is being given to balancing environmental protection and enhancement with social and economic concerns-conserving biodiversity, finding effective ways for economic forces to work in concert with environmental protection, advancing international agreements and mechanisms for climate protection and encouraging new energy policies. The Costa Rican initiative is also being designed as the precursor to a regional effort under the Central American Alliance for Sustainable Development - a project launched in December 1993 by the presidents of Central American countries and United States Vice-President Al Gore.

While, internally, the Costa Rican Government is facilitating cross-sectoral implementation of new policies through a major restructuring effort, international outreach has been limited by communication difficulties and the lack of a central information point. International outreach is vital - both on a Costa Rican national level to develop support for this innovative path and on an international level to ensure that Costa Rica's attempts are truly used as sustainable development test cases for other tropical developing countries and the world as a whole.

The Washington, DC-based Costa Rican Office of Sustainable Development (CROSD) was created specifically to initiate and maintain this important outreach effort. The goals of CROSD are to educate the international environment and business communities about Costa Rica's efforts to move to a sustainable society and to facilitate connections between and among different sectors -government, non-government, international organizations and the private sector in Costa Rica, the United States and other countries -with the goal of furthering practical and tangible methods to move towards global sustainability.

For more information, please contact CROSD, 1604 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA.

COSTA RICA

Costa Rica is believed to house half a million plant and animal species, roughly 5 percent of the world's total, a very large amount for a small nation. Only 16 percent of the life forms have been classified so far. It is the goal and mission of the National Institute of Biodiversity (INBio) of Costa Rica to conduct an inventory and to utilize sustainably the country's biological wealth and diversity.

INBio was created in October 1989 by a presidential executive decree, after an interinstitutional presidential planning commission recommended its establishment as a private, nonprofit, public interest organization for the purpose of "putting biodiversity to work for society" and conserving Costa Rica's wildland biodiversity through wise use. It is governed by an assembly of founders and a board of directors. INBio's activities are grouped under four divisions: National Biodiversity Inventory, Biodiversity Prospecting, Biodiversity Information Management and Biodiversity Information Distribution.

INBio's goal is thus the conservation of biodiversity through facilitation of its sustainable use by Costa Rican society. This goal is attainable by conducting three sequential and somewhat overlapping steps: saving biodiversity, identifying it and putting it to work. An essential consideration for the success of this approach is that it must be a multiparticipatory effort, conducted by the people responsible for and expected to benefit from the conservation of biodiversity. Details about the activities of INBio in collaboration with Merck & Co. have been given elsewhere.

INBio is also developing, in collaboration with the Intergraph Corporation of Huntsville, Alabama, USA, a computerized Biodiversity Information Management System (BIMS). Should commercially marketable software be developed as a result of this relationship, INBio and Intergraph will share the income from sales of the software.

For more information, please contact Rodrigo Gámez Lobo, Director General, INBio, Santa Domingo de Heredia. Fax: +506 2362816.

THE OLAFO PROJECT

The Olafo Project was established in 1989 by the Nordic Cooperation Agencies of DANIDA, NORAD and SIDA to test in the field the feasibility of a rural sustainable development model based on the wise use of native natural resources (mostly forests) by the local communities. The activities promoted by the project are expected to improve the income of local families and conserve natural ecosystems and biodiversity.

The project works in demonstrative areas in five Central American countries. Some of these areas are in tropical rain forests (Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama), others are in mangrove forests (Nicaragua) and some are in subtropical forests (Guatemala). Besides the ecological differences, project areas present different ethnic and social conditions. In Panama and Costa Rica the project works with native communities. In Costa Rica the land and its resources are owned by the peasants, while in Panama the land is communally owned. In the other areas, communities extract resources from reserves and other national lands.

Having gone through initial fact-finding and agronomic research phases, the project is currently implementing productive activities. The first production cycle has been completed. Some of the successful activities of the project are these:

• Ornamental plants (Zamia skinneri and Reinhardtia gracilis) production in Costa Rica

• Medicinal plants (Smilax spp.) production in Costa Rica and Panama

• Chicle (Manilkara zapota), latex and ornamental plant (Chamaedorea elegans and C. oblongata) production in Guatemala

• Palm heart extraction in Panama

• Quassia amara (a medicinal plant) production in Costa Rica

• Iguana farming in Nicaragua

• Fibre-based handicrafts (Carludovica palmata, Heteropsis sp. and Philodendron sp.) in native communities in Costa Rica and Panama

• Integration of timber and NWFP management in Guatemala and Costa Rica.

(Source: Imbach, A. & Ammour, T. Use of non-timber forest products for rural sustainable development in Central America: the experience of the Olafo Project. Paper for the IUCN Workshop on Extractivism and Potentialities of Multiple-Use Forest Resources in Africa, Naro Moro, Kenya, May 1994.)

CUBA

Los bosques cubanos poseen una amplia y variada flora y fauna silvestre que son fuentes inapreciables pare la obtención de productos forestales no madereros, algunos con una tradición histórica de uso entre los campesinos y de gran importancia pare la economía nacional ya que resultan esenciales en la alimentación humane y animal, en el uso doméstico o de artesanías, y en la elaboración de bebidas típicas; otros productos constituyen fuentes directas de ingreso de divisas pare el país.

En Cuba las hojas de palmas son tradicionalmente utilizadas pare la construcción de viviendas rurales, centros de secado y beneficio del tabaco e incluso en la exportación en rama de este ultimo. La corteza de mangle es usada desde hace mucho tiempo en el curtido de pieles y mas recientemente en la perforación de pozos de petróleo. Fibras naturales son utilizadas en la confección de diferentes artículos de amplio uso en la cosecha de café, frutas y hortalizas, así como en la realización de diferentes artículos para uso doméstico o artesanal. La producción de semillas forestales y resina de pino son productos que se incorporaron a los fondos de exportación del país en los últimos 20 anos y que tienen grandes posibilidades de incrementarse a mediano plazo.

En la actualidad, el valor de la producción de productos no madereros en Cuba se estima en unos 3,5 millones de pesos anuales y los ingresos por exportaciones de resina y semillas alcanzan un promedio anual de 277000 $EE.UU.

Los principales obstáculos para el desarrollo de los forestales no madereros son las actuales limitaciones financieras que vive el país y la falta de infraestructura para la transformación industrial. (Contribución preparada por: Torsten Frisk, Oficial Regional Forestal, Oficina Regional para América Latina y el Caribe, FAO, Santiago, Chile. Fax: +56 2 6961121.)

ECUADOR

Los PFNM han sido aprovechados en el país sobre todo por las comunidades campesinas en actividades artesanales, y constituyen una importante actividad complementaria de la economía campesina, preferentemente en aquellas zonas donde se promociona la agroforesteria o donde la aptitud de los suelos desestimula las actividades agrícolas. La producción de artesanía ha sido un oficio tradicional que aprendieron en la vida practica las comunidades, constituyendo en la actualidad una actividad importante dirigida al mercado turístico y como fuente generadora de divisas.

En la actualidad, los productos de los bosques tropicales (costa y oriente) quizás son los más aprovechados, tales como la tagua (Phytelephas sp.) y la paja toquilla (Carludovica palmeta). Es necesario señalar que las estadísticas nacionales no recogen información suficiente respecto a la producción de los PFNM, del aprovechamiento y del aporte que por varias décadas han realizado las comunidades a la economía del país y que también han sido subvaloradas por las cifras estadísticas. (Contribución preparada por: Torsten Frisk, Oficial Regional Forestal, Oficina Regional para América Latina y el Caribe, FAO, Santiago, Chile. Fax: +56 2 6961121.)

ECUADORIAN PALMS

Astrocaryum jauari grows in seasonally inundated areas and no products from it are marketed in Ecuador.

Mauritia flexuosa grows in permanently waterlogged soils along the rivers and in the back swamps. Only rarely do products from it find their way to the marketplaces. Jessenia bataua is very common in forests on terra firma soils. Fruits and oil extracted from it are commonly found in local markets.

Ammandra natalia has, so far, only been found growing on terra firma soils. The fibres from its leaf sheaths are marketed throughout the country for making brooms.

Euterpe chaunostachys is common in the nutrient-rich swamps along the Pacific coast of Ecuador. Canned palm hearts, produced from its crown-shaft, are the basis for a small industry which markets this product within Ecuador, but also on the international market.

Phytelephas aequatorialis, the tagua palm, is widespread on the Ecuadorian coastal plain up to 1500 m above sea level, where its seeds, which produce "vegetable ivory", are commonly collected from natural stands. (Source: Pedersen, H.B. & Balsleu, H. Ecuadorean palms for agroforestry. Aarhus University Press, DK 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark. 1990.)

FIJI AND OTHER SOUTH PACIFIC ISLANDS

Non-wood forest products are important for a number of South Pacific Island countries and there appears to be scope for improving their role and contribution towards people's welfare and development.

Sandalwood (Santalum austrocalidonicum, S. yasii, S. macgregorii) occurs in a number of the island countries. A meeting was held in 1993 in Hawaii and another one in Noumea, New Caledonia, in August 1994 to review the potential of developing sandalwood.

Along with tuber crops, breadfruit (the fruit of Artocarpus utilissimus) is part of the staple diet of South Pacific islanders. Wood from old trees is often used as fuelwood.

Kawa, an intoxicating beverage, is an integral part of all kinds of ceremonies in the South Pacific Islands. This beverage is obtained by squeezing the juice from the roots of the plant, Piper methysticum. Kawa powder in packets and instant kawa in bags are now available in local markets. Kawa is also exported on a limited scale to meet the needs of South Pacific islanders living outside the region.

Medicinal plants are traditionally used for treating several ailments. In June 1994, a Traditional Medicine National Workshop was held in Fiji as a follow-up to an earlier one involving women and their use of forest products. The objectives were: to prepare information for a handbook of traditional cures for health problems; to train local traditional medicine practitioners in the collection, collation and compilation of information on traditional medicines; and to increase awareness and thoughtful exploitation of the forest through promotion and careful use of medicinally useful forest plants and trees. (Source: Pacific Islands forests and trees.)

For more information, please contact Asenaca Ravuvu, Environmental Education Officer, Department of Forestry, Suva, Fiji. Fax: +679 301595.

GUATEMALA

The Microenterprise Division of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has awarded Appropriate Technology International (ATI) a contract to design a programme for improving non-wood forest production in Guatemala's Peten region. The programme will enhance the biodiversity conservation work of USAID and Conservation International in the Maya Biosphere Reserve by introducing ecologically and financially sustainable business initiatives to add value to NWFPs.

The programme will address productivity barriers across the value-added chain for small-scale producers of allspice, corozo palm oil and wild plant potpourri. Improvements in harvesting, post-harvest handling, processing and marketing will lead to higher-quality goods that are competitive in domestic and international markets.

The Peten is a 14000 square mile (approximately 36000 km2) region of forest and savannah, the land of the ancient Mayas and, today, more than 250000 Guatemalans. In 1990, Guatemala set aside 40 percent of the region as the Maya Biosphere Reserve. The largest protected area in Central America, the reserve is home to jaguars, tapirs, monkeys and half of the country's 664 bird species. Non-wood economic resources include honey, spices, wax, latex, oils, medicines, resins and other products that are important in international markets.

In 1991, Conservation International joined USAID and the Guatemala National Council for Protected Areas (CONAP) to start a resource management programme known as ProPeten. The project promotes sustainable economic activities to preserve the forest's natural and cultural resources. Programme partners work with local communities, harvesters and businesses to improve resource management, develop low-impact tourism and promote small-scale business enterprises. (Source: ATI Talking Points, 1 August 1993.)

For more information, please contact Carlos R. Lola, Program Development Director for Latin America, ATI, Washington, DC, 20005, USA. Fax: +1 202 2934598.

GUYANA

The unique Iwokrama International Rain Forest Programme of Guyana is aimed at the conservation of rich biodiversity and scientific research leading to the development of techniques and guidelines for sustainable utilization of forest resources. The programme covers an area of 388000 ha of undisturbed Amazonian forest, about 2 percent of Guyana's tropical forest. It is envisaged that the Iwokrama International Rain Forest Programme will have four major components, viz. an International Centre for Research and Training; an Environmental Communication Unit; an Amazonian Rain Forest Wilderness Reserve; and a Sustainable Utilization Zone.

Besides programmes relating to environmental awareness, environmental impact assessments and training, the research component will address five major aspects: viz. management of the conservation zone; study of ecological processes and mechanisms for maintaining biodiversity; developing techniques for sustained production of timber; socioeconomic impacts of utilization of the biological resources by the Amerindian communities; and sustainable development of non-wood products.

Iwokrama abounds in non-wood products. The indigenous communities have used these products for centuries (and are still using them) more or less on sustainable levels. Besides hunting and fishing, the Amerindians have used many plants and their parts for fibres, thatching material, tannin and dyes, latex resins, essential oils, fish poisons, insecticides and, most important, for medicinal potions and food. Two examples from Iwokrama will illustrate the importance and potential of non-wood products. It is on record that there was significant trade of balata (Manilkara bidentata) latex about two to three decades ago, which collapsed in the 1980s. Another product, greenheart seeds, contains at least two alkaloids, bebeerine and sipirine, which are used to treat dysentery, diarrhoea and malarial fevers. They are also used by the Amerindians as a contraceptive.

For more information, please contact Prem Srivastava, Research and Development Manager, Iwokrama International Rain Forest Programme, 41 Brickdam and Boyle Place, Georgetown, Guyana. Fax: + 592 2 59199.

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