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Forest Products Division
The 'Promotion and Development of Non-Wood Forest Products' is among the priority actions of FAO's Forestry Department and is a key activity within its Forest Products Division. During 1996, the objectives of the NWFP programme were further fine-tuned to focus on those key issues which emphasize the important contribution NWFP have in poverty alleviation and in improving food security, and which are within the means and mandate of FAO. The mission statement of our NWFP programme is: "To enhance the sustainable utilization of Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFP) in order to contribute to the wise management of the world's forests and the conservation of their biodiversity, and to improve food security for forest dependent people". We strive to achieve this goal through the following three programme elements:
1. Gathering, analysis and dissemination of key technical information on NWFP;
2. Full appraisal of the socio-economic contribution of NWFP; and
3. Improved networking among all NWFP stakeholders.
Within the element "Gathering, analysis and dissemination of key technical information on NWFP", we continue to highlight relevant issues in relation to NWFP development in our publications in the 'Non-Wood Forest Products' series. However, in line with the recommendations of the recent World Food Summit, priority is given to cover those specific issues and non-wood forest resources which are (or have the potential to be) used as food, food additives and for medicinal purposes. For 1997, the following titles are foreseen in our Non-Wood Forest Products series:
No. 9: "Domestication and commercialization of non-timber forest products in agroforestry systems" in collaboration with ICRAF (Proceedings of an international conference held in Nairobi, Kenya, 19-23 February 1996.)
No. 10: "Tropical Palms" (by D. Johnson, in collaboration with the FAO Regional Office for Asia and Pacific)
No. 11: "Medicinal Plants" (working title only) in collaboration with Gifts of Health (a UK-based NGO)
Several other topics, which could be covered by a publication in this series, are being studied or are under development, such as 'Harvesting of NWFP', 'NWFP from Pines', and 'Contribution of NWFP to food security' (working titles only). Your suggestions and contributions are very welcome to these or for any other topic which you consider relevant for development and/or for publication through FAO's Non-Wood Forest Products series.

At the same time, we will continue to compile readers' contributions and prepare the next issue of our Non-Wood News bulletin, for which we plan to maintain one issue a year, but with more frequent updates of relevant sections on our Web page.

Under the second element, "Full appraisal of the socio-economic contribution of NWFP", we aim to identify, compile and help develop reliable and global data on production and trade of NWFP for inclusion in FAO Forestry Statistics. Making such statistical data easily available will contribute to a precise appraisal of their full socio-economic contribution to sustainable development and will facilitate the elaboration (and their acceptance by policy and senior decision-makers) of appropriate (forest) policies leading to a more equitable access to Non-Wood Forest resources and to a fair distribution of benefits obtained from NWFP to all people involved.

A better identification of those partners who are involved with NWFP in one way or another, is an essential initial requirement and particularly to identify those who have and/or develop data on the socio-economic role of NWFP. Action on this element started last year with the dispatch of a questionnaire to our global network of organizations (governmental and non-governmental), companies and individuals working in the field of NWFP. These contacts have been established by FAO through the organization of meetings, travel, field projects, mail, the distribution of our publications in the NWFP series, and especially through our bulletin, Non-Wood News and our internet Web page. These contacts and the resulting mailing list (which by now includes over 1 200 references world-wide) constitute a valuable source of information for all on who is who and who is doing what and where in the field of NWFPs. In order to optimize the use of this resource, the NWFP Programme plans to expand its existing information resource into a full database on organizations involved in all aspects of NWFP. The database would be used to store and retrieve data on organizations, agencies and companies; on the location and kind of products which are the focus of their work; to assist in the assessment of the socio-economic contribution of NWFP; and to identify critical gaps in thematic issues or geographic coverage. Based on this database, a directory of organizations involved in NWFP will be published under the Non-Wood Forest Products series and will also be available on Internet.

Our third element "Improved networking among all NWFP stakeholders" is an essential function of our work as part of the FAO mandate in general and, in particular, it is crucial for the successful implementation of most of our above-described activities. An important component of the present work of the NWFP Programme is the maintenance and expansion of this networking activity, by replying to requests for technical information from individuals and organizations in many countries, dispatching our publications, putting people in contact with one another, providing financial and technical support to regional NWFP development initiatives, networks or workshops, and by assisting member countries with the identification, formulation and implementation of NWFP-related field projects. Examples of our networking function are described in other sections of this Bulletin and in the Editorial.

Strengthening collaboration with other institutes will continue to receive our full attention, because the issues dealing with NWFP development touch upon so many technical disciplines and socio-economic aspects that a multisectorial and multi-institutional approach provides ultimately the best framework for a successful promotion and development of NWFP.

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An "International Expert Meeting on Medicinal, Culinary and Aromatic Plants in the Near East" is being organized by FAO's Regional Office for the Near East (RNE), with support from the Non-Wood Forest Products programme of the Forest Products Division, Forestry Department, FAO, Rome. The meeting is scheduled to take place from 19-21 May 1997 in Cairo, Egypt.

The meeting will bring together experts from the Near East and Mediterranean Region and has the following objectives:
· to gain a better insight into the resource situation and present status of medicinal, culinary and aromatic plants of the Near East region , their potential, and the problems and issues to be addressed for their sustainable development;
· to identify and propose priorities for action in promoting their development, taking into consideration their socio-economic, technological, environmental, institutional and policy dimensions;
· to develop a broad strategy framework and guidelines for the conservation of their resources and for the sustainable development of their products; and
· to provide suggestions/recommendations for action at various levels to support national efforts to medicinal, culinary and aromatic plants in the Near East.

For more information please contact:

Mr A. Al-Fares, Regional Forestry Officer, RNE
P.O. Box 2223, Cairo, Egypt
Fax: +20-2-3495981

The Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago, Chile, with support from FAO HQ, has released a publication entitled: Desarrollo de productos forestales no madereros en América Latina y el Caribe. The authors, C. Chandrasekharan, T. Frisk and J. Campos Roasio, have edited the publication on the basis of the proceedings of the Expert Meeting on Non-Wood Forest Products in Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Santiago de Chile in July 1994. Additional information extracted from the country reports presented at the Expert Meeting has been included in the publication, as well as some documentation prepared for the International Expert Consultation of Non-Wood Forest Products of Jakarta, in January 1995.

For more information and to receive copies of the publication, please contact:
Torsten Frisk, Regional Forest Officer, FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean
Casilla 10095, Santiago, Chile
Fax: +56-2-6961121

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The European Forest Genetic Resources Programme (EUFORGEN) is a collaborative programme between European countries aimed at ensuring the effective conservation and the sustainable utilization of forest genetic resources in Europe. It was established to implement Resolution 2 of the Strasbourg Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe. EUFORGEN is financed by participating countries and is coordinated by IPGRI in collaboration with the Forestry Department of FAO.

The Programme operates through a network system of geneticists and other forestry specialists who analyze needs, exchange experiences and develop conservation objectives and methods for selected species. One of the four pilot networks presently established is on the cork oak, Quercus suber, one of the most important NWFP-producing tree species in the Mediterranean. (The other networks are on Picea abies, Populus nigra and noble hardwoods.)

The activities planned for the Quercus suber Network include:
· the compilation of a bibliography on Q. suber, carried out in collaboration with Silva Mediterranea (see also Non-Wood News 3);
· an inventory of Q. suber genetic resources: including the development of common descriptors for Q. suber stands and individual trees, a survey of the species distribution in the member countries (France, Italy, Portugal and Spain), a detailed inventory of endangered and marginal populations of Q. suber, and the establishment of a European database on the results of the inventories and on ex situ collections;
· the identification of research needs and the development of the knowledge base required to formulate sound conservation strategies;
· formulation of conservation strategies;
· raising the public awareness of decision-makers of the threats to Q. suber genetic diversity. The first two meetings of the Network were held at IPGRI's headquarters in Rome, Italy, in 1994 and 1995.
For further information please contact:
J. Turok, EUFORGEN Coordinator, International Plant Genetic Resources Institute - IPGRI, Regional Office for Europe
Via delle Sette Chiese 142, I-00145 Rome, Italy
Fax +39-6-5750309

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The International Development Research Center was founded in 1970 by the Canadian Government as a public corporation to support research in developing countries. In accordance with its mission, "Empowerment through knowledge," IDRC is committed to orienting research towards building a sustainable and equitable world. To translate this mission into action, IDRC has chosen five multidisciplinary themes to define its scope of interest: Biodiversity; Food Systems under Stress; Information and Communication; Technology, Environment, and Society; and Integrating Environmental, Social, and Economic Policies.
IDRC's Sustainable Use of Biodiversity initiative focuses on the conservation and utilization of biological resources as well as on issues of resource access. Research for the sustainable use of natural resources is supported in the areas of Indigenous Knowledge, Agro and Aquatic Biodiversity, Intellectual Property Rights, and Management and Commercialization of Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFP). The extent and complexity of the issues involved in the area of NWFPs cuts across many of the Centre's themes and programs, necessitating a truly integrated and interdisciplinary research approach. For instance, the focus of IDRC's work in the area of Indigenous Knowledge involves enhancing the capacity of indigenous peoples to protect and develop their knowledge of biological resources and garner recognition for their innovations and intellectual contributions.
IDRC-supported research in the area of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and Genetic Resources has led to model legislation initiatives in several developing countries. IDRC produced a report, People, Plants and Patents, which has been distributed worldwide.
IDRC has significant past experience in the area of Community-based Management and Commercialization of Natural Products, particularly in NWFP systems. Over the years, an approach has emerged which supports indigenous and local community participation in designing alternative management practices. IDRC's research focus in Africa, Asia and Latin America explores opportunities and challenges in developing community-based enterprises for the commercialization of natural products. Research on medicinal plants, investigating health uses, sustainable collection methods and production practices are other key areas. Support to regional networking on NWFPs is also provided. For example, IDRC has played a leading role in the creation of the International Network on Bamboo and Rattan.
Current IDRC projects related to NWFPs include: Essential Oils (Bolivia), Transformation of Shea Butter (Burkina Faso), Central American Medicinal Plants Network (TRAMIL), Natural Pesticides (Africa), and the Medicinal Plants Network (Asia).
Some of IDRC past successes include Carmine Production from Cochineal (Peru), Anthocyanic Pigments (Burkina Faso), Wood Adhesives (Tanzania), Natural Gums and Resins (Uganda), Aromatic Plants (Morocco), Rubber Seed Oil (Nigeria), and Non-Timber Forest Products (Nepal).

For further information, please contact:
Dr Pierre Zaya, Senior Scientist, IDRC
P.O. Box 8500 Ottawa, Canada, K1G 3H9
Fax +1-613-567 7749

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The World Conservation Union is carrying out various activities in the field of non-timber forest products within its Forest Conservation Programme.

In the last couple of years, recent initiatives have included: a small-scale project in Sri Lanka supported by WWF International to test economic valuations of non-timber forest products; a study in the Amazon, in cooperation with local partners (Federación Departamental de Campesinos y Nativos de Loreto - FEDECANAL and the Centre for the Sustainable Development of Traditional Peoples - CNPT, Brazil, on the economic, social, cultural and ecological sustainability of extractive reserves; a forestry pilot project in Petén, Guatemala, on an inventory of the NTFPs and wildlife used by local people; the Olafo project in Central America, on the use of NTFPs for rural development (directed by CATIE, see also under Costa Rica in "Country Compass").

In 1996, a revised edition of a report published in 1989, entitled "The economic value of non-timber forest products in Southeast Asia" has been published by the Dutch Committee of IUCN (see under "Publications of interest".)

A number of other publications have been released by IUCN on various aspects of NWFPs use and conservation (see under "Publications of Interest").

For more information, please contact:
Don Gilmour, Forest Conservation Programme Coordinator
Rue Mauverney 28
CH- Gland, Switzerland
Fax: +41-22-9990002

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The Rainforest Foundation International, based in New York, was established in 1989. Since then it has funded various programmes focusing on the Kayapo people's rights to land in Brazil. Activities have included demarcation of territory, support of health care, education, border protection and economic resources management programmes.

Since 1995, the Foundation has been supporting projects outside Brazil, in particular in Africa and South-East Asia.

A new office (The Rainforest Foundation, UK) was established in London in 1995. This will be at the centre of a network of European organizations.

The six programmes of action of the Foundation for the next three years are: the development of a "community-based conservation" programme in rainforest countries throughout Latin America, Africa, South East Asia and the Pacific; fundraising; policy development; information on the threats being faced by the rainforests and its people; development of a European network of Rainforest Foundations; and establishment of an environmental education programme.

The programmes which address NWFPs more specifically are:

"Sustainable use of non-timber forest products in the Philippines" "Non-timber forest products education training in Xingu Park, Brazil"

For more information, please contact:
The Rainforest Foundation
Fenner Brockway House
37-39 Great Guildford Street, London SE1 0ES, UK
Fax: +44-171-620 1445

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The network was established in 1995 by a small group of people involved in research, forest policy development or participatory project implementation related to NTFPs.

Funding of network activities up to December 1996 was provided by IUCN, after which the network has secured its own alternative funding.

Goal: to develop and promote best practice NTFP management (and use) and policy for rural development and forest conservation in South and South East Asia

Objectives: to identify, develop and refine methodologies for NTFP research, management and policy and to analyze and share experiences and lessons from the field to gain a better understanding of the evolving role of NTFPs in rural development and forest conservation.

The network organized a workshop to review existing methodologies (both for training and project implementation), in Puncak , Indonesia from 21-23 May 1996.

For more information, please contact:
Andrew Ingles, Network Coordinator
c/o Department of Forestry Lao PDR/IUCN
P.O. Box 4340 Vientiane, Lao PDR
Fax: +856 21 222861

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The Mediterranean Agronomic Institute, at Chania (Greece) is a constituent post-graduate Institute of the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM). CIHEAM is an intergovernmental organization (13 Member States) whose purpose is the development of scientific cooperation in the fields of economics, management and applied biological, technological and environmental sciences, as related to rural areas. The realization of this scientific cooperation is achieved mainly through the training of university graduates, future academics, executives and researchers.

The Institute in financed by the Greek Government and EU competitive funding programmes.

The Institute offers courses in four major disciplines: Applied Biological Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Economic and Management Sciences, and Food Sciences.

Within Applied Biological Sciences, the Department of Natural Products offers post-graduate training in current advances in the production, use and legislation of plant and microbial natural products. Special attention is given to aromatic and medicinal plants.

Over the last few years, the introduction of new research and application tools has dramatically changed the field of natural products in an effort to keep pace with growing consumer demand. Alternative food ingredients and preservation materials, such as natural antioxidants, bioflavours, biopreservatives, natural colourings, fragrances, and microbial polysaccharides, are increasingly being used by the industry today. The training modules at the Institute allow the candidates to follow specialized courses and carry out intensive laboratory work in natural product technology and development. An overview of the economic and marketing aspects of production is also included in the courses.

In the context of Environmental Sciences, the Institute supports training and research in two broad directions: Management of Mediterranean Ecosystems and Restoration Biology and Conservation.

For more information, please contact:
Dr Alkinoos Nikolaidis
P.O. Box 85,
73 100 Chania, Crete, Greece
Fax: +30-821 81154

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The European Tropical Forest Research Network, an initiative of the Directorate General XII of the EU, was established in 1991. Its overall aim is to contribute to international efforts to further a wise and sustainable management and protection of tropical forests and woodlands. For this purpose, ETFRN offers a forum for information exchange and discussions, and stimulates joint research activities with a clear focus on multidisciplinary research between European institutions or individuals and in cooperation with scientists from developing countries working in the field of tropical forests.

For more information, please contact:
European Tropical Forest Research Network
Markus Radday, ETFRN Coordinator
c/o ATSAF e.V
Ellerstr. 50
D - 53119 Bonn, Germany
Fax: +49-228-984699

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To implement long-term compensation to indigenous societies for their intellectual contribution in the identification of useful products in the drug discovery process, Shaman Pharmaceuticals funded, in 1990, the Healing Forest Conservancy, an independent non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the biocultural and biological resources of the world's rainforest, and to funnel a percentage of the profits from commercialized products to countries and communities that have participated in Shaman's drug discovery process.

The Healing Forest Conservancy works with indigenous federations, tropical country governments, professional associations, and other non-profit organizations, to devise and implement a compensation strategy that promotes the conservation of tropical forests (and particularly medicinal plants) and the conservation and welfare of tropical forest cultures, particularly knowledge on the use of medicinal plants.

Pilot projects for compensation, initiated by the Conservancy, have obtained the support of indigenous federations, international conventions, professional associations which are involved in the development of Codes of Conduct for ethnobiological research, such as the Society for Applied Anthropology, the International Society for Ethnobiology and the Society for Economic Botany.

Examples of pilot projects are:
Establishment of an ethnobiomedical plant reserve in Belize (see also Non-Wood News 2). The Conservancy, together with Rex Foundation, funded the surveying and demarcating of the land following a request by the Belize Association of Traditional Healers. The Terra Nova Reserve is an example of collaboration between a government, an indigenous healer association and outside funding sources. All project participants share the value of preserving traditional medicinal plants that many governments could not otherwise afford to maintain;

Training in ethnobotany: Medicine Women in India and Cameroon: the Conservancy provides education and training programmes in tropical countries for women, particularly indigenous women, to increase and diffuse the knowledge of basic technical skills in ethnobiology (including plant collection and drying) and to promote discussion on ethical issues (e.g. intellectual property rights).

Through Compensation Trust Funds, the Conservancy will deliver biannual funding to indigenous communities as long as Shaman shows profits from the development of drug products. The funds will be used to provide benefits to all communities collaborating with Shaman, rather than just the community from which plant material or knowledge has been drawn for the development of the specific drug product. (Source: Katy Moran, 1995. Returning benefits from ethnobotanical drug discovery to native communities. Prepared for the Conference "Biodiversity and Human Health", 3-5 April 1995, Washington DC; and K. Moran, 1996, "Compensating forest-dwelling communities for drug discovery: the work of the Healing Forest Conservancy. Unasylva, Vol 47. (186).

For more information, please contact:
Katy Moran, Executive Director
The Healing Forest Conservancy
3521 S Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007 USA
Tel/Fax: +1-202-333-3438

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The Institut Français de Recherche en Coopération pour le Développement, (ORSTOM) has recently terminated a research programme on the commercial exploitation of NWFPs in Amazonia. The project, which operated from 1989 to 1994, received financial support from UNESCO, the Ministry of Environment, France, the EU, and Conservation International. It was realized by ORSTOM together with several institutions: the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisa da Amazônia-INPA, Manaus, Brazil; the Université de Paris X Nanterre; the Museo Paraense Emílio Goeldi in Belém, Brazil; the University of Aarhus, Denmark; the University of São Paulo and the University of Campinas, Brazil; and The MacArthur Foundation.

The final report of the project "Extractivisme en Amazonie centrale: viabilité et développement" is now available (in French only). It presents the results of research under some major discussion items: the diversity of extractive activities, socio-economic aspects, the dynamics of extractivism, practices and impacts in extractive activities, and the conditions necessary for the valorization of extractivism.

For more information, and to obtain copies of the final report of the project, please contact:
Dr J.P. Lescure, Directeur de Recherche à l'ORSTOM, Laboratoire de Botanique Tropicale, Université de Paris VI
12 rue Cuvier, 75005 Paris, France
Fax: +33-1-44276526

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A significant research programme on NWFPs is being developed within the Australia Tree Research Programme by focusing on species selection, genetic improvement and floral biology. Current projects include:

Australian Acacias for human food (Chris Harwood). The seeds of about 50 Australian dry zone Acacia species are traditional food for the Australian Aborigines. More recently, seeds of several of these trees have become popular ingredients in gourmet "bush tucker" preparations, such as biscuits and pasta (see also under Country Compass). In sub-Saharan Africa, three of these species, Acacia colei, A. cowleana and A. tumida, have grown rapidly and may produce abundant annual seed crops. Trials have shown that using local technologies, seeds are easily processed to produce palatable foods. Priorities for future research include dietary and nutritional studies of seeds as food sources, and field experiments to determine appropriate silvicultural strategies for maximum seed production.

Essential oils (John Doran):the Australian tree Melaleuca alternifolia is the source of Australian tea oil, which has a rapidly expanding world market as a natural antiseptic. Since May 1993, CSIRO Division of Forestry has been assisting in M. alternifolia breeding programmes with the aim of increasing the oil yield of new plantations by 30 percent in five years. The Division is also currently screening other Melaleuca species and their close relatives for oils with commercial potential. Part of the Melaleuca work is based in the Mekong Delta region of Viet Nam and is funded by ACIAR.

Flowering, pollination and honey (Mike Moncour): assessment of the potential of bees to enhance yield and quality of seeds in seed orchards, in addition to providing honey as a by-product of orchard management; assessment of the potential of eucalyptus to become a source of material for the cut-flower industry.

Tannins (Suzette Searle). The CSIRO Division of Forestry is presently involved in an ACIAR funded project in China and Viet Nam to assist agencies in those countries to cultivate and improve Acacia mearnsii and other Australian acacias for tannin production. In Australia, the Division is involved in similar work in Western Australia, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory. (Source: Australian Tree Resources News, September 1995.)

For more infromation, please contact:
John Doran, Senior Scientist, ATSC
CSIRO Division of Forestry
P.O. Box 4008, Queen Victoria Terrace, Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia
Fax: +61-62-818312.

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ICRAF's policy for the domestication of indigenous trees producing non-timber forest products is based on the identification, (together with its national partners) of tree species that are of high priorty to farmers. This policy shapes ICRAF's tree improvement work in its target six ecoregions on three continents.

The process starts with participatory research, informal surveys and interviews, to determine farmers' priorities. Such exercises have already been carried out in three countries in the humid and semi-arid lowlands of West Africa, in Southern Africa and in the Peruvian Amazon. This is then followed by germplasm collections for the top-ranking tree species. Seeds of bush mango (Irvingia gabonensis and I. wombolu) in Cameroon and of Uapaca kirkiana and Sceloracya birrea in Southern Africa are being collected. Next come the actual tree-improvement activities: selections from genetic material and from superior trees that are identified in the wild.

The second species on the priority list for domestication work in humid West Africa is Dacryodes edulis, the African plum.

ICRAF, together with the International Service for Agricultural Research (ISNAR) has developed a set of methodological guidelines that put farmers first in the setting-up of priority tree species for improvement work.

The proceedings of the International Conference of Domestication and Marketing of Non-timber Forest Products, organized by ICRAF in February 1996 are being published in the FAO Non-Wood Forest Products publication series (no.9).

For more information, please contact
Dr R.R.B. Leakey, Director of Research Division, ICRAF, Nairobi, Kenya
Fax: +254-2-521001

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ICMAP is a new organization, established in 1993, whose general objective is to promote international understanding and cooperation between national and international organizations on the role of medicinal and aromatic plants in science, medicine and industry, and to improve the exchange of information between them. The Council, whose seat is in Paris, is affiliated with the International Union of Biological Sciences, also in Paris. The activities of the Council include:

· promoting a World Congress on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (WOCMAP) every five years. The 2nd World Congress on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (WOCMAP-2) will be organized in the South American region, in Mendoza, Argentina from 10-15 November 1997;
· establishing task forces for specific subjects which need attention and improved cooperation. The first Task Forces established are: (1)improvement in the exchange of information with industrial users, (2) promotion of traditional medicinal systems, (3) training, and (4) genetic resources;
· publishing a newsletter. The first issue of the ICMAP newsletter was published in December 1995; and
· promoting knowledge on the use of traditional medicine systems.
(Source: ANMAP Newsletter, n.14, 19 and 20).

For more information, and to subscribe to the ICMAP newsletter, please contact:
ICMAP Secretariat- International Council for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
c/o IUBS, 51 Boulevard de Montmorency, 75016 Paris, France

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The research activity "Contribution of non-wood forest products to socio-economic development and their potential role in sustainable forest management" is being carried out in partnership with the Institute of Forest Policy, University of Freiburg; the Institute for World Forestry, Federal Research Centre for Forestry and Forest Products, Hamburg; the Institute of Environmental Studies of the University of Zimbabwe; the Centro de Estudio para el Desarrollo Laboral y Agricola, Bolivia; and the Programa de Manejo de Bosque de la Amazonia Boliviana, Bolivia.

In Bolivia the research will focus on socio-economic sustainability of forest products (see also under "News and Notes") and on the impact of regional economic growth on the economic sustainability of Brazil nut exploitation, timber exploitation and other forest-based economic activities. In Zimbabwe, research will focus on the woodcraft industries centered around the Masvingo-Beitbridge road.

In 1996, CIFOR published a document entitled "Non-timber forest products databases". This document presents the results of a survey aimed to gather information on the present status of NTFP databases, to assess such databases and their uses, and to check their compatibility and possible linkages. Questionnaires were sent to 56 organizations, 30 of which completed and returned them. Thirty percent of the databases is found in Europe, 3 each in China, India and Africa, and others are scattered in Asia, the Pacific Region and the Americas.

For more information, please contact
Manuel Ruiz Pérez, CIFOR
P.O. Box 6596, JKPWB, Jakarta 10065, Indonesia
Fax: +62-251-326433

Together with IUCN, CIFOR co-sponsored a meeting on "Methods for Conservation and Development of Non-timber Forest Products, held in Cianjur, Indonesia" from 21-23 April 1996. This meeting brought together 25 members of the South and Southeast Asia Non-Timber Forest Products Network. Countries represented were: Viet Nam, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, India and Nepal. Four topics covered methods for: business planning, assessing ecological sustainability; identifying stakeholders and developing key alliances; and collecting information at the national and international level. Themes and methods articulated in the workshop will be developed further in a monograph to be coordinated by CIFOR. (Source: CIFOR News, June 1996)

For more information or to receive a copy of the final publication, please contact:
Lini Wollemberg, CIFOR
P.O. Box 6596, JKPWB, Jakarta 10065, Indonesia
Fax: +62-251-326433

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The Hidden Harvest is a research project coordinated by the Sustainable Agriculture programme of IIED, in collaboration with IIED's Environmental Economics programme. It aims to investigate, through local-level valuation, the importance of wild plant and animal resources in agricultural systems, and to rural livelihoods.

The project has defined the basic principles of a methodology for understanding the full value of wild resources for local people. This methodological approach combines Participatory Rural Appraisal methods with economic concepts and tools. A briefing document "The Hidden Harvest: the value of wild resources in agricultural systems" has recently been produced which summarizes the lessons learnt through the project to date, and identifies key areas where policy should be strengthened if the full value of wild resources is to be realized and their sustainable management encouraged.

It is expected that a second phase of the research side of the Hidden Harvest will focus much more on trade and sustaining markets for NWFPs.

Together with the Overseas Development Institute, IIED intends to develop a field manual on methods of inventorying NWFPs.

For more information, please contact:
Joan Abbot, Research Associate, Sustainable Agriculture Programme,
International Institute for Environment and Development -- IIED
3, Endsleigh Street
London WC1H 0DD, UK
Fax: +44-171-3882826

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Wild plants have always been significant in all cultures of the Mediterranean region, being used for food, medicines, fuel and many other purposes. However, no concerted effort has been made to ensure their conservation in the face of threats posed by increasing demand, increasing human population and extensive destruction of plant-rich habitats such as the Mediterranean ecosystems. The Global Plan of Action, adopted by 150 countries and the EU, at the International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources, convened by FAO in June 1996, promotes the conservation and use of wild plants for food and agricultural production. The Mediterranean Preparatory Meeting for the Conference emphasized the need to develop underutilized species of the Region for food and non-food use, including stress-tolerant species.

A Network on the 'Identification, Conservation and Use of Wild Plants in the Mediterranean Region', called MEDUSA, was formally established during the workshop on 'Identification of wild food and non-food plants of the Mediterranean region' held on 28 and 29 June 1996 at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh) (see also under "International Action"). This Network is currently (1996-1997) financially supported by the Directorate General I of the EU, CIHEAM (Centre International de Hautes Etudes Agronomiques Méditérranéennes), and MAICh.

The eventual aim of the Network is to propose methods for the economic and social development of rural areas of the Mediterranean Region, using ecologically-based management systems that will ensure the sustainable use and conservation of plant resources of the area. These plant genetic resources are of actual or potential importance to agriculture, various industries and human health, and consequently will improve the quality of life. The particular goal of the Network is the exploration of possibilities for the sustainable utilization of such resources as alternative crops for the diversification of agricultural production for improved product quality.

The objectives of the Network are:

  • The identification of native and naturalized plants of the Mediterranean Region, used as:
  • Food (including food and beverages, for humans).
  • Food additives (including processing agents and additive ingredients used in food preparations).
  • Animal Food (including forage and fodder for vertebrates).
  • Bee Plants (including pollen or nectar sources for honey production).
  • Invertebrate foods (including plants eaten by invertebrates useful to humans e.g. silkworms).
  • Materials (including woods, fibres, tannins, latex, resins, essential oils, waxes, oils).
  • Fuels (including fuelwood, charcoal, fuel alcohol).
  • Social Uses (including masticatories, smoking, plants used for ritual or religious purposes).
  • Vertebrate Poisons (including both accidental or useful poisonous plants e.g. hunting, fishing).
  • Non-Vertebrate Poisons (including accidental and useful poisons e.g. mollusci-, herbi-, insecti-, bacteria-, and fungicides).
  • Medicines (including human and veterinary uses).
  • Environmental Uses (including ornamentals, barrier hedges, windbrakes, soil improvement, erosion control, indication of metal pollution of underground water).
  • Gene sources (including wild relatives of major crops).
  • The creation of a Regional Information System that will include: scientific plant name and authority, vernacular names, plant description, chemical data, distribution, habitat description, uses, conservation status, present and past ways of trading, marketing and dispensing, and indigenous knowledge (ethnobiology and ethnopharmacology), including references to literature sources.
  • Preliminary evaluation of the conservation status and potential utilization in agriculture of these plants as alternative minor crops.
  • The Network includes members who are representatives of International Organizations (CIHEAM-MAICh, World Conservation Union-IUCN, International Union of Biological Sciences-IUBS,International Council on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants-ICMAP, FAO, IPGRI, LEAD) who form the Steering Committee, and representatives of institutions from countries of the Mediterranean basin (initially Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal), acting as Focal Point Coordinators. It is envisaged that the Network will include eventually members from all the Mediterranean countries and from relevant National Institutions and other International Organizations.

    Network members will meet once a year while the Steering Committee will meet several times a year in order to monitor and plan activities.

    Among the first planned activities is the development of the Regional Information System 'MEDUSA' which will be carried out by identifying the existing relevant international and national databases to be associated.

    It is planned to hold an annual workshop for Network members. The next one will take place in Monastir, Tunisia, in May 1997. The proceedings will be published in the Options Méditérranéennes, a publication of the CIHEAM.

    A MEDUSA newsletter will be published. The first issue will be released at the beginning of 1997 and will include information on the progress of the Network, news on national and international activities such as presentation of other Networks, reports, recent and forthcoming events, book reviews, etc.

    For further information, please contact the MEDUSA Secretariat:
    Melpo Skoula, Executive Secretary, MEDITERRANEAN AGRONOMIC INSTITUTE AT CHANIA, Department of Natural Products
    P.O. Box 85, 73100 Chania, GREECE
    Fax:+30-821 81154;

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