No. 11/07

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1. Acai: Can a smoothie really save the rainforest?

Source: The Observer, 18 November 2007 (in Amazon News, 22/11/07)

The tearing down of trees to make way for intensive cattle production has helped destroy an area of rainforest nearly three times the size of Great Britain, says João Meirelles Filho, a Brazilian conservationist living in Belém; his organization - the Instituto Peabiru - has been monitoring the social and environmental impact. In the next decade, another Great Britain could be lost, along with the animals, birds and plants it supports. Though the message has failed to penetrate Europe, this carving out of pasture is far more pernicious than logging (accounting for three per cent of rainforest loss) or large-scale agriculture, including intensive soya production.

In his view, its future lies in the hands of the two million local people known as ribeirinhos ('river dwellers'), who make a modest living from small-scale and subsistence farming on the banks of the Amazon, using traditional methods passed down through 400 years of riverbank life. 'If we can devise an economy based around them,' says Filho, 'we may be able to save the Amazon. They are the guardians of the rainforest. A third of Amazonia is being guarded by two million people, living in 30,000 communities of between 50 and 300 inhabitants. They need our support.'

At Fruit Towers, the playfully named headquarters of Innocent Drinks in west London, the destruction of the Amazon and the role of the ribeirinhos has not gone unnoticed. One of the company's best-selling fruit smoothies contains a small amount of pulped açai, a berry that grows only within 25 yards of the Amazon's banks. To harvest it, the palm on which it grows does not have to be cut down; better still, it thrives in the shade of other rainforest trees such as rubber, Brazil nut, cabbage palm and miriti palm, encouraging growers to mimic nature rather than plant açai in endless regimented rows - the kind of monoculture that destroys biodiversity.

'We buy 300 tonnes of frozen pulp a year from our supplier, Sambazon,' says Richard Reed, co-founder of Innocent, 'and we're paying them £1,300 a tonne. That puts about £300,000 a year into those riverbank communities.'

In the Amazon, where 90 percent of ribeirinho families survive on less than US$4 (£1.90) a day, such shared income goes a long way. What's more, Sambazon guarantees to buy all the açai its suppliers produce, eliminating risk to the grower. It calculates the average daily market price, then adds a five per cent premium - which is why Sambazon's pulp (but not Innocent's smoothie) is certified by the US Fair Trade Federation. Sambazon pays cash up-front instead of making farmers wait, and buys direct from the grower to cut out middlemen. Organic, processed in a pristine new factory and fully traceable to the person who grew it, the açai used by Sambazon and Innocent typically fetches 44 reais (£12) a sack compared to 15 reais five years ago.

Irrigated twice a day by the tidal waters of the Amazon, the açai tree requires little maintenance. Prune it occasionally and keep the grove free of weeds and disease, and it will keep producing fruit - eight to 12 baskets in two hours of picking, from a plot no bigger than a large suburban garden. If managed properly, an acre of rainforest will yield 14 tonnes of berries a year.

It is a high-income, low-impact crop for sure, but that is not the only reason it appears in Innocent's portfolio. Açai is also the ultimate superfruit, its reddish skin containing anthocyanins (plant chemicals that neutralise the 'free radicals' associated with disease and ageing) and other antioxidants. Weight for weight, açai contains 60 per cent more antioxidants than the acclaimed pomegranate, 2.7 times more than blueberries and over six times more than strawberries. Beneath its skin is a yellowish fat, making it rich in calories.

Three years ago, Sambazon arrived in Amapá state and built a gleaming new factory in Santana. The American company, founded by two Californians, pledged to train and employ mainly local people, fund community projects and source açai sustainably. In one project, Sambazon gives all its bead-like açai stones - churned out by the factory at a rate of seven million an hour - to the Brazilian Women's Group, a cooperative in downtown Belém, so they can make jewellery. 'The crime rate is so bad, nobody wants to wear expensive jewellery,' says Miguel Jorge Hauat, operations director at Sambazon, 'so they are tapping into a strong market.'

The name Sambazon is an abbreviation of 'Save and Manage the Brazilian Amazon' - the company's mission in Amapá. Operating to fair trade and organic standards, it ships sachets of frozen açai pulp to juice bars through the United States and, as well as Innocent, supplies British companies.

If the ribeirinho way of life holds, this vast wilderness of islands, backwaters, palm groves and virgin forest will be ring-fenced against more destructive land use - whether slash-and-burn subsistence farming, small-scale cattle grazing or illegal logging. While Amapá is largely owned by the Brazilian government and a great deal more protected than neighbouring Pará (the most ravaged state in Amazonia), a 'new economy' based on ecotourism, heart-of-palm, açai and the collection of rainforest honey would make its future more certain.

'It's an insignificant slice of the Amazon's economy,' João Filho admits, 'probably nine percent. The remaining 91 percent is mining, timber and cattle ranching. Of that 9 percent, açai accounts for 1 percent - but although it is small, it's an inspiration and a reminder that the consumer holds the key. Until now, these ribeirinhos have lived in medieval times; they never entered the market, the capitalist system - but by selling açai abroad, which is new, they have a chance to enter the global economy, not just the local economy.'

It's a mixed blessing, since unprecedented wealth brings unprecedented social problems. 'The money they have now, they have never seen in their lives,' says Filho, 'so one thing they need is financial education. As part of the Sustainable Açai Project which Peabiru runs, we will be monitoring the social and environmental impacts before and after Sambazon.'

Filho is adamant that buying an açai smoothie can save the Amazon rainforest. 'If there is a 20-year commitment to sourcing açai organically, sustainably and responsibly, then we can achieve that objective,' he says. 'With Sambazon, Innocent and others, we can create a revolution.'

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2. Aquilaria: Chemists move toward production of valuable essential oil

Source: Thanh Nien Daily, Vietnam, 19 November 2007

“The global demand for Aquilaria oil is tremendous with supply at only 40 percent of demand. And every liter of this oil is sold for US$10,000 to $14,000 on the market,” said Ho Ngoc Vinh, director of HCMC-based essential oil provider Tinh Dat Viet.

Tinh Dat Viet is responsible for growing Aquilaria trees artificially. Vinh said the market for essential oil from Aquilaria, a genus of large evergreens native to Southeast Asia, is expanding.

In places like France, Germany, the US and the Middle East, Aquilaria oil, treasured for it fragrance, is used to produce incense and perfumes. The trees, Vinh said, are precious because they can produce an aromatic resin within the heartwood through a parasite infection process. “The amount of resin produced determines the value of an Aquilaria tree.”

Of different types of Aquilaria, Aquilaria crassna can produce the most and best resin. “A major concern, though, is that the naturally-grown Aquilaria resources are shrinking,” said Vinh. “So we have been growing the trees artificially across the country.” Under the project, 950 Aquilaria trees have been planted in the central province of Quang Nam and 4,000 and 2,500 in the Mekong Delta provinces of An Giang and Kien Giang respectively. “We have also been growing the trees on different scales in other places including Binh Dinh, Ha Tinh and the central highlands,” said Vinh.

The project's ultimate purpose is to produce Aquilaria oil using supercritical fluid carbon dioxide oil extraction techniques for domestic consumption as well as export. Aquilaria oil production in Vietnam is still mostly done by hand and scattered across the country, Vinh said, though the country has garnered US$10 million to $15 million in Aquilaria annual exports.

The Vietnam Chemical Technology Institute and the HCMC Department of Science and Technology are now working on equipment to ensure large-scale and efficient production of the oil. “To put it simply, under this technology, Aquilaria wood goes through various processing phases including grinding, purification, and extraction,” said Vinh.

Once in place, the equipment and technology will be available to any business interested in Aquilaria oil production.

The project promises great returns, Vinh added. “Eleven years of growing 1,000 Aquilaria trees on a hectare of land would cost a total amount of VND151 million. The market price of an 11-year-old Aquilaria tree is now VND4 million, which means VND4 billion in revenues from sales. No need to worry about demand either since it will only be rising.”

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3. Bamboo: Pandas face hunger as bamboo approach end of lifespan

Source: Xinhua, China, 12 November 2007

CHENGDU -- Giant pandas living in the wild may face food shortages as more bamboo plants, which comprise the bears' staple food, approach the end of their lifespan, Chinese naturalists warned.

Yang Xuyu, deputy head of the Wild Animal Preservation Station of the Sichuan provincial forestry bureau in west China, issued the warning on Sunday during the annual meeting of the China Giant Panda Breeding Technical Committee, which was held in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan.

Yang said that the station has observed 24,000 ha of bamboo flowering in Sichuan, where 1,206 pandas live in 40 nature reserves with a total area of 1.77 million ha, accounting for 77 percent of the total panda habitat in China.

Bamboo blossoms have been spotted in 14 counties in Sichuan since 2005. Nine varieties of bamboo have been observed flowering. These varieties account for 30 percent of bamboo eaten by the panda.

“No wild panda has been found dead of starvation. But as the area of bamboo flowering spreads, we should keep close watch on the severity of the pandas' food shortages," said Yang.

The mountainous region witnessed extensive blossoming of the arrow bamboo, the pandas' favourite variety, in 1984 and 1987, when the plants flowered, seeded and died. Hundreds of the endangered animals died of starvation.

The mass flowering of bamboo plants poses a major threat to the wild pandas' survival. Yang said that in the past, pandas adapted to the natural recurrence of bamboo die-offs, which occur about every 60 years. However, in modern times, their migration paths among segmented bamboo forests have been blocked by human activities. Thus, the bamboo flowering has become a major threat to wild pandas.

He said the forestry bureau has carried out a panda rescue drive, which involves sending preservation staff to local panda habitats to provide guidance and supervision. The bureau has also formed a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The two organizations are drafting a plan to restore many of the pandas' migration paths.

Over 80 officials and panda experts from eight countries attended the meeting, which has been held annually since 1989. Participants shared their research on ways to preserve the panda.

The bears eat 20 or so bamboo species. A research center for endangered animals in China's western Shaanxi Province has carried out tests aimed at helping pandas to diversify their taste in bamboo. Researchers collected 90 bamboo species that are known to be edible and fed those types to six captive pandas. The center said that the test results will be useful for panda reserves.

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4. Bark: Bad breath beware

Source:, New Zealand, 26 November 2007

Reuters. Adding a pinch of magnolia bark to mints or gum can eliminate bad breath by killing most odour-causing germs, US researchers have reported.

Most bad breath occurs when bacteria in the mouth break down proteins, producing foul-smelling sulfur compounds. But many anti-bacterial agents cause nasty side effects like tooth staining, making them impractical for oral care.

Magnolia bark extract - a traditional Chinese medicine used to treat fever, headache and stress - has proven effective against germs that cause ulcers, and recent studies have shown it has low toxicity and few side effects.

Scientists at chewing gum maker Wm Wrigley Jr Co wanted to see if it could kill halitosis-causing bacteria, and if it could be used in a gum or mint. Researchers Minmin Tan and colleagues, reporting in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, tested magnolia bark's germ-killing ability in a Wrigley lab. They found it highly effective against three types of oral microorganisms, killing 99.9 percent of bad breath bacteria within five minutes.

Tests on nine healthy Wrigley employees who chewed mints and gum containing the bark after lunch produced less dramatic but still potent effects. The mints killed off more than 61 per cent of the germs that cause bad breath within 30 minutes - comparable to some commercial mouthwashes. Mints without the extract were only 3.6 percent effective. The gum didn't work as well, reducing oral bacteria by 43 percent within 40 minutes, compared with an 18 per cent reduction in gum with no extract.

The extract also helped kill a group of bacteria that causes tooth decay.

But don't expect it in stores any time soon. "It's a long way from scientific research to a commercialisable product, and there are a lot of perils and pitfalls along the way," said Wrigley spokesman Chris Perille.

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5. Honey: The frequent usage of manuka honey for eczema treatment

Source: Free press releases, Oxford, UK, 28 November 2007

Following the discovery of Manuka Honey and its benefits in eczema treatment, most of the manufacturers of health care products have started including natural ingredients in their eczema treatment skin care products. There are basically two forms of eczema – atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis. About 10 – 20 percent of the total population in the world is suffering from eczema. The most common symptoms of eczema are dry, itchy and red skin that may also bleed in worse cases.

According to recent breakthrough discovery, Manuka honey is found to be quite beneficial in healing eczema and skin rashes. The antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties of Manuka honey make it effective on skin afflicted by this condition. Manuka honey also is great for moisturising and soothing dry and damaged skin. Some of the skin care products companies, therefore, are also using Manuka honey, especially in their winter care products

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6. Medicinal plants: Ancient medicinal plant yields modern leukemia drug

Source: Environment News Service, 2 October 2007

Rochester, New York. A compound derived from feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), a common medicinal plant that has been used for centuries to reduce fever, will soon be tested on humans for its ability to attack the roots of the deadly blood cancer leukemia. Under development is dimethylamino-parthenolide, DMAPT, which is derived from the daisy-like plant.

New research by University of Rochester investigators published in the current issue of the journal "Blood" shows that the water-soluble DMAPT selectively targets leukemia at the stem-cell level, where the malignancy is born. Standard chemotherapy does not strike deep enough to kill cancer at the roots, resulting in relapses.



7. Neem: Rightly called the 'village pharmacy'

Source: Merinews, India, 4 November 2007

Available in the form of lotion, cream, soap, oil, spray and capsules, neem-based formulations can be used to treat diseases ranging from skin disorders to fungal and viral infections to periodontal diseases to nervous and blood disorders. In recognition of its numerous properties, this plant is rightly described as ‘village pharmacy’. And the plant is… the traditional Indian Neem (Azadirachta indica).

Millions in India are familiar with Neem’s miraculous powers and scientists around the world are working to unravel more of its medicinal properties. Researches have already revealed promising results in so many disciplines that this obscure species may be of enormous benefit to countries both rich and poor. Even some of the most cautious researchers say that Neem deserves to be called a wonder plant. In particular, Neem may be a harbinger of a new generation of soft pesticides, which will allow people to protect crops in benign ways.

Although apparently justified by evidence, the rising enthusiasm is based largely on exploratory investigations rather than controlled experiments or wide-spread use of Neem products in modern practices. The results have seldom, if ever, been subjected to the rigours of independent evaluation or use.

Although Neem is one of the most ancient and widely used herbs on earth, intense scientific investigations into the properties of Neem are being undertaken across the globe. These studies verify the efficacy of its traditional uses and reveal even more uses the plant can be put to. This illustrates again that traditional wisdom can guide modern science in developing remedies for human ailments.

Experts at the National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI), Lucknow and the erstwhile King George’s Medical College (KGMC) here in a joint research have already obtained a patent for a mixture made of Neem bark and roots of a creeper, Tumba, grown in Punjab. They clinically tested the mixture for mouth-cleansing. Dr C.S Saimbi, Professor Periodontics, Faculty of Dental Sciences (KGMC) and a researchers’ team led by the then Head of Tree Biology division, Dr H.M Behl, are behind the success of this formula underlying the mouth-cleansing product. The product awaits marketing by the pharmaceutical industry. This is the first ever Ayurvedic mouthwash anywhere in the world.

Regular mouth wash prevents plaque, which, if not checked in time, could lead to dental problems like gingivitis and pyorrhoea, says Dr. Saimbi. The mixture of Neem and Tumba was tested on a number of patients. It produced better results than the currently used mouthwash in the market, claimed Dr Saimbi.

Interestingly, with 80% of the Indian population living in rural areas, only the urban residents use modern tooth paste; a majority of the people in villages still prefer datun. There are at least six types of datun, viz., Neem, Babul, Mango, Guava, Dandarasa and roots of Pilu which are very commonly used and have medicinal properties as well, says Dr Saimbi, whose dental research has focused on traditional medicinal plants. He is the only one in India who holds a doctorate in Ayurveda besides a post graduate degree in dentistry.

Explaining the role of the different types of datun as cleansing agent, he says, while Neem is extremely popular, Babul makes the gum strong, healthy and well keratinized. Guava datun on the other hand acts as an antiseptic, though it does not make a good brush. Mango datun which contains gallic acid, citric acid, benzol and chlorophyll acts as a good antiseptic and deodorant. It is also popular in the southern States like Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The skin of the stem and branches of the walnut tree, called Dandasa, is also used to clean the teeth.

The bottom line with all these types of datuns is that chewing increases salivary flow which ultimately helps in the prevention of dental diseases, Dr Saimbi pointed out, adding that datun also helps in the prevention of plaque.

Dr Saimbi said there were some 35 indigenous plants grown in India which have medicinal values for treating dental diseases. Experts have already worked out their clinical efficacy. Many of these plants have found their way into the unani, siddha and tibb systems of medicine across the country.

Modern scientists across the world are trying to find even more uses for this remarkable Neem tree. The plant’s seeds and bark contain compounds with proven anti-septic, anti-viral, anti-pyretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and anti-fungal properties. Preliminary studies suggest exciting uses for Neem. Clinically it has been established that Neem-based cream or lotion can stop itching, inflammation or rashes and Neem tea may be taken internally for allergies to pollens.

The people of India have long revered the Neem tree, with millions cleaning their teeth with Neem twigs (datun). They have also applied Neem leaf juice when afflicted with skin disorders, consumed Neem tea as a tonic and scattered Neem leaves on their beds, books, grain-bins, cupboards, and closets to keep bugs away.

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8. Seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides): Ancient “wonder berry” taking root in Saskatchewan

Source: Discover Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada, 12 October 2007

Seabuckthorn bushes, which some Saskatchewan producers have been using as shelterbelt plants for years, also yield bark, leaves and fruit that are packed full of things that are good for us: omega fatty acids 3, 6, and 9 are found in the seeds, and the fruit is rich in vitamins A, C, E, K, B1, B2 and Niacinamide.

Betty Forbes, President and CEO of Northern Vigor Berries, grows and markets seabuckthorn bushes and their products.  She says the plant has some legendary admirers. "Ghengis Khan is said to have fed seabuckthorn to troops and horses prior to battle to keep them healthy, in battle and afterwards," said Forbes.  "It's been traditionally used in many forms throughout China for centuries."

Forbes, herself, is still getting acquainted with the myriad of uses for seabuckthorn bushes and berries. "Medicinally, it has uses as a soothing oil for cuts or burns," she said.  "It's one of the fruits that has a perfect one-to-one ratio between omega-3 and omega-6.  Of all the fruits, it has the highest content of Vitamin E.  It is very high in Vitamin C.  In fact, there's a company out of Finland that's marketing capsules just on the Vitamin C alone."

Forbes noted that the berries, leaves and even the tree bark have been studied for a wide range of potential health benefits.  She says it's impossible to narrow its benefits down to just one or two specific uses.

Forbes' father and brother have a 15-acre seabuckthorn orchard, which she estimates is probably the largest in Canada at present.  She stepped into the business full-time when no one else expressed a desire to market the relatively unknown plant.

On top of the health benefits, seabuckthorn actually makes a pretty tasty pie, juice, or even a liqueur. "Its taste is between an orange and a lemon," Forbes said.  "It's not everybody's flavour choice, but mixed in with various other things, it's awesome.  The Chinese used it as their sports drink during the Seoul Olympics."

As far as markets go, Forbes says Canada is now in the process of learning where seabuckthorn is needed, at home and around the world.  Currently, foreign markets like Japan, Russia and China are the strongest, but she believes interest is growing in Canada and the United States.

According to Forbes, Saskatchewan has a distinct advantage when it comes to growing seabuckthorn bushes.  The plant is very winter- and drought-tolerant, and it grows well in high pH soil.  It even tolerates saline soil.

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9. Seabuckthorn: Are you ready for seabuckthorn wine?

Source: CNN-IBN, India, 4 November 2007

Seabuckthorn, a berry that grows in the harsh climate of Ladakh at the height of 10,000-14,000 feet, is now minting money for a populace which has been long cut off from India's economic boom. The thorny bush, which was initially planted in Ladakh to stop soil erosion, has become a successful self help initiative.

The golden berry which has high anti-oxidant properties is now being used as a prime ingredient in over 20 different edible and non-edible products. Seabuckthorn juices, anti-ageing creams, tea, to name a few, are being marketed across India by big brand names such as Fab India.

The discovery of Seabuckthorn's use began as a small experiment by women of the Shoo-shuk village, where 33 women of Tseesta Lullu society spent days collecting the local berry. "We started in one room in our village, just boiling the berry and making pulp for juices and jams," says Tsering Yankskit, one of the pioneers. "Then, with the help of Leh Nutrition Project, we expanded," she adds.

Furthermore, Seabuckthorn is all set to become an ingredient in the liquor industry. "Whatever mash is left after the pulp is extracted is of no use," says Director Rural Development and former DC (Leh), Manoj Dwivedi. "Now, the Vijay Mallya group is using it to make wines. They have done a trial run and it has been successful."

Dwivedi adds that the wines are in great demand in Europe.

This year alone, 17 different co-operatives collected a total 153 metric tonnes of Seabuckthorn pulp, with an annual turnover of Rs 55 lakhs. Experts say that this is only the beginning. "We are only utilizing 5 percent of the potential," says Leh's Seabuckthorn project's Nodal Officer, Tadpal Jolden. "If we go inside the forests, there is more, and people can benefit."

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10. Shea nuts: Northern region produces 50,000 tonnes sheanuts

Source: Modern Ghana, Ghana, 19 Nov 2007

The Northern Region is said to be producing at least 50,000 tonnes of sheanuts, out of the 200,000 tonnes produced in the entire West African sub-region for export.

Though less importance is attached to the production of sheanuts within the sub-region, experts say over 95 percent of its exports are used to produce shea stearin, the valuable hard fat component of butter for the use of confectionary particularly in the sweets and chocolates industry. This has increased its demand in the world market.

A guest speaker at a two-day workshop organized by the Tamale Ecclesiastical Province Pastoral Conference (TEPPCON), Dr. Peter Lovet, who disclosed this, observed that the trade in sheanut was small compared to that of cocoa, of which 3.6 million tonnes were produced annually within the same area though they are currently of the same value.

He predicted an estimated 150,000 tonnes global shortfall in the production of cocoa this year as against other exports and called for a boost in sheanut production.

Sheabutter was of particular interest to the over 4-billion-dollar natural cosmetic market, a sector that is said to be growing at over 9 percent per annum. The increasing demand of the product on the world market, he indicated, coupled with its existing and traditional position in the rural economy could play a major role in the alleviation of poverty.

He therefore called on stakeholders to embark on sheanut production as it competed with cocoa on the world market.

The Northern Regional Chief Director, Mr. Charles Abass, commended women for the roles they played in most economic activities, especially in the sheanut business.

He indicated that about 70 percent of farming activities was done by them and therefore acknowledged that the income earning capacity of women must be widened if they are to cope with their increasing responsibilities.

Mr. Abass appealed for the setting up of a sheanut industry in the region to add value to the product and address the numerous problems related to the rampant felling of shea trees, envisaging that it would be a viable venture.

The forum, which was organized under the theme “Women’s Economic Empowerment for Development of the North”, attracted women from all the three northern regions as well as some religious heads.

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11. Stevia: US firm claims cheap, industrial stevia production

Source: FoodNavigator-USA, France. 15 November 2007

Blue California claims to have developed an economical industrial production process for the 'natural sweetener' stevia, which promises lower prices for manufacturers.

The ingredient firm said it has completed the isolation of Rebaudioside A, a sweet compound derived from stevia, using a "more economical and proprietary process".

The company expects to go into industrial scale production in 2008.

Although stevia has created a whirlwind of action in recent months, the major hurdle to getting the product onto the market remains regulatory. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve the ingredient for use in foods and beverages due to a lack of adequate information on its safety.  It is, however, approved for use as a dietary supplement, and has so far been available in 'green' stores, where a niche sector of health-aware consumers has traditionally purchased it for its sweetener properties.

However, with major players circling around the ingredient, industry expects FDA will soon take some action.

Notably, Coca-Cola and Cargill have teamed up to market a stevia sweetener product. Coca-Cola has filed 24 patent applications for the ingredient in the US, and media reports claim that the firms are gathering information to petition FDA for approval.

Stevia, derived from the South American plant Stevia rebaudiana, is said to have up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar.  As a sweetener, stevia's taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, although some of its extracts may have a bitter or liquorice-like aftertaste at high concentrations.

According to Blue California, its isolation process for Rebaudioside A results in a product that delivers the desired sweetness without the bitter aftertaste.

The potential use of the ingredient as a sweetener is gathering increasing attention as more and more consumers seek a more 'natural' sweetener alternative in an attempt to avoid what they consider 'artificial' products.

Although the ingredient is not approved as a food additive in the US or Europe, around a dozen other countries currently approve stevia for use in foods and beverages, including Canada, Japan, Brazil and China.

According to Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD), there have been 180 new food and beverage products containing stevia launched globally in the past year.  These include teas, potato snacks, dressings and beverages.

In order to seek approval for the use of stevia in foods in the US, food manufacturers have two options: they can either take the necessary steps to classify the ingredient as generally recognized as safe (GRAS), and be prepared to provide FDA with the necessary scientific backing if necessary; or they can petition FDA to approve the ingredient as a food additive.

Achieving GRAS status is a much quicker process, with FDA generally responding to GRAS notices within 180 days of reception.

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12. Stevia: PureCircle complete deal with Chinese agribusiness to produce stevia plant extract

Source: Earthtimes, UK, 1 November 2007

London/PRNewswire. International food ingredients-maker PureCircle - producers of naturally extracted food ingredients - today announced a landmark joint venture deal with Ghanzou Julong High Tech Food Industries (GJ), a Chinese agribusiness to produce raw stevia plants.

Under the terms of the multi-million dollar deal, PureCircle will gain exclusive access to plantations and extraction facilities to guarantee cultivation of at least 5000 metric tonnes of high purity Stevia plants which will meet the growing demand for Stevia extract from food and beverage manufacturers world-wide. PureCircle is also exploring other opportunities on a global scale to supplement the production of Stevia and guarantee projected future supply.

Commenting on the deal Peter Milsted, Commercial Director for PureCircle said: "This deal with our Chinese partners GJ puts PureCircle in pole position to be able to provide the raw stevia required by major food and beverage corporations. High-quality stevia plants and seedlings will increasingly be needed to meet the demand for natural high-intensity sweeteners, which we hope will become the world's leading natural alternative to sugar in food and beverages. We are continuing to investigate opportunities in other areas of China and in other parts of the world."

PureCircle have also identified a host of co-products also derived from the Stevia plant which have differing uses as food supplements and additives, as well as a next generation of food ingredients based on natural extraction methods from plants and herbs.

The company is planning to expand its cultivation operations via new plantations in Asia, Africa and elsewhere within the next 12 months.

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13. Truffle prices up as Italian summer ruins crop

Source: - United Kingdom, 2 November 2007

A long, dry summer has resulted in a bleak year for Italy's prized white truffle. Temperatures of up to 30 degrees lingered well into September, drying up the rich soil in the Piedmont region where white truffles grow.

Gourmets in Alba, the white truffle capital of the world, are aghast at soaring prices, which have reached £500 per 100g. A plate of tagliatelle al tartufo bianco - pasta with raw truffle shavings - now costs up to £38 in restaurants in Milan.

Truffle-hunters say there are less than half as many truffles to be found this year as there were in 2006.

The white truffle is a fungus, from the Tuber genus, which grows on the roots of oak, hazel, poplar and beech trees in northern Italy. It can also be found in Croatia, on the Istria peninsula.

Last year, Gordon Wu, a property tycoon from Hong Kong, paid a record £60,000 for a 3.3lb white truffle from Alba.

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14. Truffles: English farmers in attempt to cultivate truffles

Source: Reuters, UK, 7 November 2007

London (Reuters Life!) - Farmers in a northern English town are moving upmarket with an attempt to grow truffles, one of the world's most expensive delicacies. They will spread the spores from the rare black fungus normally found in France's Perigord region among the roots of oak and beech trees next to a motorway near the town of Pontefract in England's Yorkshire region.

Supermarket chain Asda, which organized the trial, said it wants to cut the price of the "black diamonds," which sell for hundreds of pounds (dollars) per kilogram. "Truffles are so rare and expensive that very few ordinary people have ever tasted them," an Asda spokesman said. "Growing them on a large scale in Yorkshire would boost supply and cut the cost of importing them."

However, truffle lovers will have to wait up to five years to see if the experiment has worked because the pungent fungus grows so slowly.

If the trial is a success, Asda said it may extend truffle cultivation across Yorkshire.

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15. Wildlife: Extinction threat growing for mankind's closest living relatives

Source: Accra Mail (Accra), 29 October 2007

Mankind's closest living relatives - the world's apes, monkeys, lemurs and other primates - are under unprecedented threat from destruction of tropical forests, illegal wildlife trade and commercial bushmeat hunting, with 29 percent of all species in danger of going extinct, according to a new report by the Primate Specialist Group of IUCN's Species Survival Commission (SSC) and the International Primatological Society (IPS), in collaboration with Conservation International (CI).

Titled Primates in Peril: The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates-2006-2008, the report compiled by 60 experts from 21 countries warns that failure to respond to the mounting threats now exacerbated by climate change will bring the first primate extinctions in more than a century. Overall, 114 of the world's 394 primate species are classified as threatened with extinction on the IUCN Red List.

Hunters kill primates for food and to sell the meat; traders capture them for live sale; and loggers, farmers, and land developers destroy their habitat. One species, Miss Waldron's red colobus of Ivory Coast and Ghana, already is feared extinct, while the golden-headed langur of Vietnam and China's Hainan gibbon number only in the dozens. The Horton Plains slender loris of Sri Lanka has been sighted just four times since 1937.

All 25 primates on the 2006-2008 list are found in the world's biodiversity hotspots-34 high priority regions identified by Conservation International that cover just 2.3 percent of the Earth's land surface but harbour well over 50 percent of all terrestrial plant and animal diversity. Eight of the hotspots are considered the highest priorities for the survival of the most endangered primates: Indo-Burma, Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands, Sundaland, Eastern Afromontane, Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa, Guinean Forests of West Africa, the Atlantic Forest of Brazil, and Western Ghats-Sri Lanka.

Habitat loss due to the clearing of tropical forests for agriculture, logging, and the collection of fuelwood continues to be the major factor in the declining number of primates, according to the report.

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16. Belize: Fish that lives in trees found in Belize

Source: Caribbean, 19 October 2007

Scientists have found one of the oddest fish known to mankind in abundance in Belize. The killifish (Kryptolebias marmoratus) have been found living in mangrove trees according to research published in The American Naturalist and reported in the New Scientist magazine.

The small colourful fish (about two-inches long) found in mangrove swamps can survive several months living inside pathways carved by insects in rotting logs.

In surveys in Belize scientists found "hundreds of killifish lined up end to end, like peas in a pod," writes Elie Dolgin in New Scientist.

The fish survive by "[remodelling] their gills to retain water and nutrients, and [adding] new proteins to their skin to excrete nitrogen waste." These changes are reversed as soon as they return to the water. The species is also the only known hermaphrodite vertebrate that is capable of self-fertilization.

Dr Scott Taylor of the Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands Programme in Florida admitted the creatures were a little odd.

Although the cracks inside logs make a perfect hiding place, conditions can be cramped. The fish - which are usually fiercely territorial - are forced to curb their aggression.

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17. Brazil: Government to discuss endangered species list of Brazilian flora

Source: O Estado de S.Paulo, 7 November 2007

The Ministry of the Environment (MMA) is to schedule a meeting with botany experts to reassess the endangered species list of Brazilian flora.  The list was submitted to the government two years ago by the scientific community, but never published.  Ministry technicians disagree with assessments of scientists regarding the majority of the species on the list.  The MMA believes that only some 400 of the nearly 1,500 species listed are truly endangered.

The situation was revealed last week in an article in the Estado newspaper.  Researchers from the Biodiversitas Foundation, who prepared the list, and the Brazilian Botanical Society (SBB) are requesting the immediate publication of the full study.  The current list dates back from 1992 and has only 107 species and, according to scientists, is completely outdated.  The first review was submitted to MMA in December 2005 and listed 1,537 species as endangered.  The Ministry contested the findings and requested another assessment.  A new list was then prepared and submitted two months ago, with 42 species less than the former (1,495).

The MMA was still not satisfied.  According to the Secretary for Biodiversity and Forests at the Ministry, Maria Cecília Wey de Brito, information submitted on many species was insufficient.  "We need to sit down together and clarify the logic used to include all of these species", she said.  "We want an official list that is solid, without any risks that it will have to be changed two days later."

Some 300 researchers participated in preparing the list.  The Biodiversitas Foundation, an NGO based in Belo Horizonte (MG), coordinated the work through a contract with Ibama.  The review of the endangered fauna list took place through the same partnership and was published in 2003.  At the time, the MMA held publication of the aquatic fish and invertebrates list for one year because of the impact classification could have on fishing activities of certain species.

Researchers believe that the high number of plant species may have 'frightened' the ministry.  Maria Cecília denies it.  "The numbers are not the problem, it is the reliability of the information", she said.  She raised the concern that some species may have been included more through overcaution of researchers than due to any concrete evidence of endangerment.  "There is no doubt that we are behind schedule in this process (of publishing the list), but we must clarify existing doubts before making a decision."

She said that she intends to schedule a meeting with the researchers before the end of the year.  The Technical Superintendent at the Biodiversitas Foundation, Gláucia Drummond, approved the idea.  "It is precisely this dialogue that has been lacking", she said.  "If there are any doubts, the experts are ready to clarify them."  She said that there are scientific justifications for all of the species on the list.  "If the MMA disagrees, it should put forth its scientific arguments."  Most of the species considered endangered are in the Atlantic Rainforest (45%) and the Cerrado (savanna) (34%).

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18. Cameroon: Scientist fears extinction of medicinal plants on Mt. Cameroon

Source: The Post (Buea), 23 November 2007

Cameroonian scientist and senior lecturer at the University of Yaounde I, Dr. Isaac Njilah Konfor, has said the rich medicinal plants found in the Mt. Cameroon region might soon be exhausted owing to unsustainable harvesting.

Njilah, a volcanologist and an environmental geo-scientist was speaking Monday, November 19 to the press at the Limbe Botanic Gardens on, after the opening session of a three-day workshop on the theme, "Endangered Species of Mt. Cameroon and Ecological Succession on the Recent Lavas."

The Cameroon Ecological Society, CES, in collaboration with the British Council in Yaounde organised the workshop. "Sooner or later we will have a problem where the forest of Mt. Cameroon, which is very precious, not only to Cameroon but to the rest of the world, will be exterminated,' Njilah said.

The seriousness of the problem rallied some 70 Cameroonian scientists from several research institutes, universities and secondary schools who brainstormed on possible ways of helping to curb the trend of the disappearance of the medicinal plants.

Among the endangered species of this region is the Prunus africana; a plant reportedly used for the treatment of prostrate cancer. By dint of its high demand, it has become one of the most sought after.

Dr. Njilah said this species was one of their concerns, for it may soon become exhausted from the forest if measures are not taken to propagate it. The workshop also ascertained the effects caused on these plants by past eruptions in the region with the most recent ones being those of 1999 and 2000, which damaged hundreds of hectares of natural forest.

The Head of Projects and Services of the British Council, Emmanuel Ngungoh, in an address said he hoped the workshop would develop initiatives to enhance the biodiversity of the Mt. Cameroon area. He noted that the British Ecological Society, BES, was providing funding for the Cameroon Ecological Society. At the end of the exercise, the participants resolved to, among other things, create a Journal of the Cameroon Ecological Society.

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19. Cameroon: Exhibition of local, indigenous crops impresses population

Source: Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé), 29 October 2007

It was a day for local / indigenous crops and non timber forest products recently in Bamenda with an exhibition to raise awareness on their value and importance. The welcome initiative by the Network for Sustainable Agriculture (NESA) and the Western Highlands Nature conservation Network (WHINCONET) assembled rare local and indigenous food crops from the Western Highlands. The exhibition had a lot to show: pumpkins, Bambara groundnuts, Cowpea, garden eggs, Cashew nut, Monkey cola, Bali Guava, Pashion (Adam) fruit, Ancop, tree trunk Mushroom etc.

Fon Nsoh, the president of NESA told participants at the exhibition about the need to encourage the consumption, promotion cultivation and preservation of indigenous food crops. Fon Nsoh revealed that about 100 million Africans suffer from food insecurity which exposes them to serious health risks and famine. He blamed it on the under use or misuse of existing food resources and expressed the conviction that the base of Africa's food supply can be broadened by the growing of the almost forgotten indigenous food crops and the sustainable exploitation of NTFPs. It was evident during the exhibition that Africa's indigenous knowledge base for food production and especially traditional food crops is being lost and that is why most of the major foods cultivated and consumed have their origins elsewhere.

The exhibition also offered a rare moment for lessons on the advantages of indigenous crops over exotic ones as many were encouraged to consume and give farmers a chance in their standard of living. Mrs Fokam Florence, an Expert on Agricultural Production also took time off to encourage farmers to increase the production of local/ Indigenous food crops for consumption and as a source of wealth. The exhibition was organized on the heels of the 2007 rural women's day, the world food day and the international day for the eradication of poverty.

The NESA exhibition was organized under the combined theme "Valuing Local /Indigenous food as a right for people living in poverty, rural women as agents of change, producing and providing"

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20. Denmark: Fewer Christmas trees cost more

Source: United Press International, USA, 2 November 2007

Copenhagen, Denmark, (UPI) -- Danish Christmas tree buyers this year are paying for a soft tree market several years ago, when fewer trees were planted. Earlier this decade the country's Christmas tree growers cut back the number of saplings they planted annually from 25 million to 10 million to counter lower prices, the Copenhagen Post reported.

Now the first of the smaller crops are mature enough to sell. Demand is high -- and prices are as well.

Denmark is Europe's largest exporter of Christmas trees. Kaj Ostergaard, the Danish Christmas Tree Growers' Association president, said the country exports 85 percent of its crop. While export prices are as much as 20 percent higher, Ostergaard said local purchasing power plays the biggest role in figuring a tree's cost.

"You can get a glorious tree for (about $13) in rural western Jutland, but the same tree would set you back (about $97) in Copenhagen's affluent suburbs," he said.

Ostergaard said he believes enough trees would be available. But, just to be on the safe side, growers were planting about 15 million saplings annually to prevent future shortages, he said.

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21. Fiji: Minister eyes sandalwood boom

Source: Fiji Times, Fiji, 3 November 2007

Interim Minister for Fisheries and Forestry Joketani Cokanasiga expects a future boom in the sandalwood trade.

With logging activities now taking place in the division, Mr Cokanasiga said his ministry would revamp the sandalwood trade, which the province of Bua was once well known for.

"Sandalwood is one of the trade that we will be looking at which will include the marketing area and the involvement of the villagers," he said.

"This is to basically help the villagers introduce new groups into the sandalwood business and provide further assistance that will equip them while manning their individual sandalwood trade."

He said sandalwood, which is also used as base for popular expensive perfumes, produced in developed countries, would provide a good chance for the people of Bua to rekindle their ties to a wood their ancestors were once know for in the trade business with early European settlers.

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22. Finland: Study on Finns’ recreational habits to begin in 2008

Source: newsletter, 18 October 2007

Finns make frequent visits to commercial forests for recreation, but the latest major research on this is nearly a decade old. Funding is sought for a new study.

The mushroom crop was poorer than expected this year in Finland. Chantarelles (Chantarellus cibarius) were the only species yielding a more-than-average crop. If the autumn is mild and the night frosts moderate, chantarelles and funnel chantarelles (Chantarellus tubaeformis) can be found for picking until snow covers the ground.

”Last winter, the latest I heard of someone picking mushrooms was in the beginning of January,” says Mr. Kauko Salo, senior scientist at the Finnish Forest Research Institute and a known mushroom expert. “And a family friend picked fresh chantarelles for their Christmas table.”

If sheltered by moss, chantarelles and especially funnel chantarelles can take a bit of frost. Otherwise freezing is fatal to the fruiting bodies of mushrooms, for depending on the species, 90–95 percent of their mass consists of water.

Salo says that this year’s yield of boletus and milk cap (Lactarius sp.) mushrooms was below average in Finland, although the conditions should have been ideal for boletus in particular: a rainy July was followed by a warm spell.

The mushroom crop translates directly to mushrooming zeal. According to a major study completed at the turn of the century, 44 percent of Finns gather mushrooms during a good crop year, but only 33 percent in a bad year. ”On average, Finns go mushrooming five times a year, but the keenest among us go more than 15 times per year,” says Ms. Tuija Sievänen, senior scientist at the Finnish Forest Research Institute.

According to Sievänen, mushrooms are picked in all parts of the country, though there are differences in the number of enthusiasts. About half of those living in the eastern parts of the country go mushrooming, but fewer than 30 percent of the inhabitants of western and northern parts do. “This is a reflection of cultural differences. The habit of picking mushrooms has spread to Finland from Russia, and it is still most intensive in Eastern Finland,” Sievänen says.

Previously, there were also differences in what was picked – milk-caps in the east, chantarelles in the west – but these differences have vanished by now.

The Finns’ attachment to summer cottages helps to keep the tradition alive. Those who have a regular access to a summer cottage are more likely to pick mushrooms than others.

Sievänen says that a new study on the Finns’ nature-related recreational activities is to start in 2008, if enough funding is granted by the government. The variation in berry and mushroom picking in different crop years is a good example of why data have to be gathered during more than one year, to gain a reliable picture of possible changes.

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23. Guyana: Rainforest tribe establishes massive sustainable-use reserve

Source:, USA, 4 October 2007

An indigenous group in Guyana has established one of the world's largest sustainable forest reserves, reports Conservation International.

The Wai Wai, a forest-dwelling people who received title to 625,000 hectares (1.54 million acres) of land in 2004, will build a "conservation economy" based on principals of sustainable use. With assistance from conservation scientists, the Wai Wai will seek to develop ecotourism and expand their traditional craft business.

"We have always been keepers of the forests that support us, and now it is official, recognized by the government and the world," said Cemci Sose, chief of the Wai Wai. "The immediate challenge we face is creating economic opportunity through the Community Owned Conservation Area to prevent our young people from leaving, which could destroy our community."

Conservation International, an environmental group that is working with the Wai Wai, hopes that the reserve will generate additional income from payments for ecosystem services, like carbon sequestration and watershed protection. Carbon credits for forest conservation could be worth tens of millions annually to Guyana.

"This shows the power of giving land rights to indigenous populations, because they know what's best for their communities," CI President Russell A. Mittermeier said. "The Wai Wai could have sold off the timber and other natural assets for a one-time payoff, but instead they chose to protect the rainforest and allow future generations to continue to benefit from it."

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24. India: Uttarakhand forests valued at $2.4 billion

Source: Hindu Business Line, India, 25 November 2007

The forests in Uttarakhand region have been valued at $2.4 billion (approximately Rs 10,700 crore) per year in terms of the services they provide. This needs to be recognised and compensated, according to a study released here on Saturday.

Globally, it is estimated that the current economic value of the services provided by the earth’s ecosystems is at least $33 trillion per year. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2003 has defined Ecosystem Services (ESs) as a wide range of conditions and processes through which natural ecosystems, and species that make them up, sustain and fulfil human life.

Thirty-two such services, including carbon sequestration, climate management, hydrological regulation, timber, firewood, soil conservation, pollination and other non-timber forest produces (NTFPs) have been identified so far, the study said.

In the forests of Uttarakhand, the average value of about $1,150 per hectare per year for the services provided needs to be reflected in our economic planning and compensated for, said the recent study, ‘Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Forest Governance, in Uttarakhand, as a scoping study’.

Uttarakhand has nearly 70 per cent forest cover, of which 40 per cent is ‘good forest’. While the entire Himalayas are hailed as the water towers of the world, this State is particularly crucial from the ecosystem services aspect, as it has sustained the lives of millions of people (nearly 500 million people living in the Gangetic plain currently) for the past 5,000 years, said ecologist Prof S.P. Singh.

The report has been prepared by Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) India and its partner organisation, Central Himalayan Environmental Association (CHEA) in Uttarakhand, under the guidance of Prof Singh. It evaluates and quantifies the services rendered by the Himalayan ecosystem in the State. It is the first comprehensive collation of scientific information around various ESs using mainly secondary sources.

LEAD is a global network of individuals and non-government organisations committed to sustainable development.

The research is supported by Heinrich Boll Foundation, a Green Party Affiliate, including stakeholders such as local members of village forest councils, scientists, government forest managers and NGOs.

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25. Iran: Honey production increased by 2.5 times in North Khorasan province

Source: Iranian Agriculture News Agency, Iran, 27 November 2007

The Deputy of Livestock Affairs of Agricultural Jihad Organization of North Khorasan announced a 2.5 times increase in the honey production of the province. “This year 413 tons of Honey were harvested from 33 436 colonies of Honeybees,” said Jamshid Garivani. “The average honey harvest is 12.36kg/colony,” he added.

“The city of Esfrain is the province’s major honey producer with 14 004 colonies and 210 tons of honey produced,” he continued. “This year 150 Queen Bees have been distributed among the growers of the province,” he said.

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26. Kenya: Government-owned ranch ventures into wildlife conservation

Source: ENN News, 15 October 2007

NAIROBI, Kenya — The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Ol Pejeta Conservancy (OPC), and the Kenyan Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will bring wildlife conservation and, ultimately, tourism and economic benefits to the government-owned Mutara Ranch in Kenya's Laikipia District.

This unique public/private partnership will benefit wildlife and the local community by preserving the area for wildlife migration while establishing the infrastructure needed to support successful ecotourism and cattle ranching ventures

Under the agreement, AWF will provide the initial funding for infrastructure improvements. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a privately-owned wildlife area that borders Mutara ranch, is home to Kenya's largest black rhino population and promotes conservation and ecotourism. As part of this partnership, Ol Pejeta Conservancy will provide the equipment and personnel as well as advice on establishment of an ecotourism venture.

ADC will set aside a 12,000-acre area within Mutara for wildlife conservation and ecotourism and manage the entire ranch area in a manner that protects wildlife habitat and prevents poaching.

Speaking of the project, ADC Managing Director, Mr. William Kirwa, says "it is in the Corporation's five-year strategic plan to enter into ecotourism endeavours that is sustainable to both livestock and wildlife. As a government agency, ADC will play a key role in vision 2030 by promoting ecotourism in its ranches. This will be done in collaboration with partners and will aim at benefiting surrounding communities. The agreement between OPC, AWF and ADC is one of the Public Private Partnerships that the Corporation is going into to optimize usage of its ranches and will seek to incorporate community interests."

Mutara ranch comprises an area of 253 square kilometers in the midst of critical wildlife migration corridors. It has a wide diversity of game, including the big five, rare species such as Grevy's zebra, cheetah and Patas monkey. It was first established as a privately-owned ranch in 1921 and is now a government-owned cattle ranch.

According to Richard Vigne, Chief Executive Officer, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, "The entry of Mutara ranch into the Laikipia conservation arena will act to secure critical wildlife habitat whilst developing opportunities for ecotourism ventures. Ol Pejeta Conservancy, one of Kenya's premier wildlife sanctuaries, is proud to be associated with a project that assists government to realize the potential of wildlife as a tool for wealth creation in the semi-arid regions of Kenya."

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27. Mexico funds will protect butterflies

Source: The Associated Press, 26 November 2007

CERRO PRIETO, Mexico (AP) — President Felipe Calderon unveiled a sweeping plan Sunday to curb logging and protect millions of monarch butterflies that migrate to the mountains of central Mexico each winter, covering trees and bushes and attracting visitors from around the world.

The plan will put $4.6 million toward additional equipment and advertising for the existing Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, covering a 124,000-acre swathe of trees and mountains that for thousands of years has served as the winter nesting ground to millions of orange- and black-winged monarch butterflies.

Calderon said it would help boost tourism and support the economy in an impoverished area where illegal logging runs rampant. "It is possible to take care of the environment and at the same time promote development," the president said.

The new initiative is part of ongoing efforts to protect the butterflies, which are a huge tourist attraction and the pride of Mexico. In some areas, officials can even be found standing guard along highways and slowing cars that might accidentally hit a butterfly flying across the road.

The plan also meshes nicely with one of Calderon's main policy planks: protecting the environment and combating global warming. He has drawn up a national anti-global warming plan and committed to plant some 250 million trees in 2007.

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28. Myanmar: Promotion of standard of traditional medicine urged

Source: Xinhua, China, 29 November 2007

Yangon. Myanmar top leader Senior-General Than Shwe has urged traditional medicine practitioners in the country to harmoniously strive for the promotion of the standard of Myanmar traditional medicine to reach international level, a state-run press reported Thursday

As public confidence in traditional medicines is growing day by day, the standard of Myanmar traditional medicines is to be raised to enable them to penetrate the global market and to promote public health care through the medicine, said Than Shwe, Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, in his message on the occasion of the 8th Myanmar Traditional Medicine Practitioners Conference being held in Yangon.

Than Shwe's message, carried on the official newspaper New Light of Myanmar, said the endeavour for long-term development of Myanmar traditional medicine is not enough only with potent drugs and effective medical science but also needs the cooperative and harmonious force of the practitioners.

Noting that Myanmar possesses valuable herbal plants, rare plant species and priceless traditional medicine, Than Shwe tasked all practitioners to protect and preserve them from depletion and extinction and to ensure their perpetual existence.

He also called on the practitioners to take part in the government's research projects and address health problems through their profession.

The Myanmar health authorities have urged extension of public health services with pure traditional medicine which is free from all harmful ingredients.

The authorities have also made arrangements for the development of the traditional medicine in line with the set standards, opening diploma courses and practitioner courses to train out skilled experts in the field.

Encouragement has also been made to set up large traditional medicine industries with the private sector to produce potent drugs for common diseases, herbal gardens for medicinal plant conservation and find means to treat patients with the combined potency of the Western and Myanmar traditional medicine.

Meanwhile, Myanmar has initiated programs, aimed at integrating the use of traditional and modern medicine in treating several major challenging diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, diabetes, hypertension, stroke and bronchial asthma.

With the traditional medicine playing a more and more important role in treating diseases in the country, the government in January 2002 established the Myanmar Traditional University in Mandalay, the country's second largest city.

Moreover, Myanmar has also been sponsoring traditional medicine conference annually since 2000, attended by traditional medicine practitioners, to promote its medical practices.

There are 12 traditional medicine hospitals and 214 such clinics in the country with services provided by nearly 10,000 practitioners, earlier statistics show.

Myanmar traditional medicine, composed of such ingredients as roots, tubers, bulbs, natural items and animal products, has in a historical perspective represented the typical Myanmar culture and traditional value and norms.

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29. Philippines: DENR to tap bamboo for reforestation

Source:, Philippines, 9 November 2007

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will include bamboo among plant species for its nationwide greening or reforestation efforts. DENR Secretary Lito Atienza announced this plan as he said studies show bamboo is suitable for this purpose. "Bamboo is among major species that can green our areas effectively so we'll make this part of our reforestation," he said Friday during a press conference on the roadshow Association of Southeast Asian Nations Centre for Biodiversity will hold throughout the region.

He said DENR will also promote bamboo planting in riverbanks, 'estero' areas and other erosion-prone places since this specie is effective in holding back soil. "Bamboo is among the best natural barriers," he said.

Atienza believes planting this specie and sustaining management of such resource will help bring back bamboo groves he saw bordering Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay decades earlier.

Prospect for tapping this grass appears bright, particularly as DENR reported number of bamboo species in the Philippines rose from 47 (1991) to 62 today.

Government's 1997 master plan for developing bamboo as a renewable and sustainable resource showed between 39,000 and 52,000 hectares of land nationwide are planted with bamboo, DENR continued.

During the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan forum in China, Atienza highlighted bamboo's importance as he said this grass can be planted in idle areas for economic gain aside from being used in rehabilitating degraded ecosystems. He noted this plant has bright economic potential as the Philippines managed to rank fourth among the world's top exporters of bamboo and rattan products. "We wish to maintain this position at the very least even if such requires massive efforts to put existing natural bamboo stands under sustainable management regimes," he said.

Aside from being a traditional house construction material, Atienza said he learned during the forum bamboo can be used also for cosmetics and clothing material. "There should be more reason to plant bamboo then," he noted.

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30. Rwanda: Campaign to plant 100m trees

Source: The New Times (Kigali), 20 November 2007

The Ministry of Lands, Environment, Forestry, Water and Mines plans to plant at least 100 million trees during the annual tree-planting campaign that started yesterday.

According to State Minister for Lands and Environment, Patricia Hajabakiga, the campaign runs through this month to March next year and will become an annual event. "This year will be marked by a special one week of tree planting that will start from Nyabihu district in the Western Province and will be concluded in Kamonyi district (Southern Province)," Hajabakiga said yesterday.

Nyabihu District was recently devastated by heavy rains which killed fifteen people and displaced thousands. Officials largely attributed the heavy rains to the destruction of Gishwati forest by farmers who wanted to use the land for cultivation. Formerly covering 21,000 hectares before 1981, Gishwati Forest, located in north-western part of the country had been reduced to only 600 hectares by 2002. Hajabakiga's announcement came as several districts commemorated the National Tree-planting Day yesterday in different designated places while ministries and other institutions also went to different places to plant trees.

The minister urged Rwandans to plant trees and maintain those that have already been planted and replace those that get old.

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31. Vietnam: Medicinal mushroom first found in Vietnam

Source: Thanh Nien Daily, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 4 November 2007

A mushroom expert has discovered a highly nutritious type of mushroom, known as Agaricus brasiliensis or almond mushroom, for the first time in Vietnam.

Co Duc Trong from the HCMC-based Center of Reishi and Medicinal Mushrooms Research said he found two almond mushrooms growing in the wild in Thanh Hoa District, Dong Thap Province.

First discovered in Brazil in 1960, almond mushrooms are a choice mushroom for eating, rich in protein and vitamins and potent in fighting tumours. Because of their great medical and nutritional value, the mushrooms have been artificially cultivated, chiefly in China and South America. Brazil and China are two major exporters.

Almond mushrooms are expensive. Dried mushrooms from Brazil cost US$100 to $200 per kg. In Japan, a big consumer of dried almond mushrooms, they are sold for as high as $500 per kg.

Vietnamese researchers hope Trong’s new discovery will help them to produce almond mushrooms in Vietnam.

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32. Africa: Forestry policies, laws biased - FAO

Source: The Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa), 13 November 2007

Although women play key roles in forest protection and conservation, policies and laws are biased in favour of men, the FAO said on Monday. FAO's remarks were made at the opening of a gender workshop for forestry in Africa.

"One outstanding problem is the near absence of women in policymaking roles and processes concerning forestry," said Edouard Tapsoba, head of the FAO regional office for Africa in a statement issued in connection with the workshop..

For example, in Ethiopia, female professional employees in forest-related sectors of the federal natural resource bureau made up only 13.6 percent in total, FAO said adding that that was reflected in, for instance, gender inequality in access to land. "Land access is critical for people to be able to use its forest resources," the UN agency said "But both modern and traditional laws tend to be interpreted in favour of male ownership and control. In some cases, laws bar women from acquiring or disposing of land without their husbands' consent, female-headed households are also often denied agricultural loans, including for forestry.

In Kenya, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Zambia and Zimbabwe, on average, women received less than 10 percent of the loans directed to small land holders and one percent of the total loans to agriculture. Further, women tend to have more marginal and remote land than men, according to FAO. "The lack of gender awareness constrains the sustainable use and management of forests and forest ecosystems throughout the world," Tapsoba added in the statement.

In her opening remarks to the workshop, Ghanaian Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines Esther Obeng Dapaah said: "Why are forests especially important in the lives of women? Far more women than men, in the developing world, are farmers, cutters and users of woodfuel, collectors and traders of minor forest products, and tenders of livestock," remarked, Minister of Ghana in her keynote address.

To address this gender imbalance, representatives of national forest services, international organizations and universities will review at the workshop, studies carried out on gender in forestry in ten African countries (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia).

They will then come up with recommendations for better inclusion of women in forest management and provide the basis for the creation of local networks of women in forestry.

FAO organized the two-day workshop in collaboration with the University of Ghana, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO).

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33. Amazon rainforest children to get medicinal plant training from shamans

Source:, USA, 21 November 2007

The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) -- a group using innovative approaches to preserving culture and improving health among Amazonian rainforest tribes -- has been awarded a $100,000 grant from Nature's Path, an organic cereal manufacturer. The funds will allow ACT to address one of the most pressing social concerns for Amazon forest dwellers by expanding its educational and cultural "Shamans and Apprentice" program for indigenous children in the region.

The Amazon rainforest houses tens of thousands of plant species, many of which hold promise for warding off pests and fighting human disease. No one understands the secrets of these plants better than indigenous shamans -- medicine men and women -- who have astounding knowledge of this botanical library. But like the forests themselves, this floral genius is fast-disappearing due to deforestation and profound cultural transformation among younger generations. The combined loss of this knowledge and these forests irreplaceably impoverishes the world of cultural and biological diversity.

ACT is working to slow this loss by building stronger cultural ties between tribal elders and children. Under the "Shamans and Apprentices" program, elder shamans pass on their expertise of medicinal plants and healing rituals to apprentices -- children who are otherwise increasingly distant from their culture.

The Nature's Path contribution, which comes through its EnviroFund program, will go towards expanding the "Shamans and Apprentices" to include grammar school-age children within villages. EnviroFund grants support programs dealing with endangered species, habitat conservation and environmental education for kids around the globe.

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34. By saving gorillas, can Congolese save themselves?

Source: ENN News, 5 November 2007

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - If the people of Congo save the mountain gorilla, might the gorilla return the favour?

That is the hope of environmental activists, who realize that wildlife conservation and tourism could be the key to survival for people as well as animals in a part of Africa where conflict has been the norm.

Mountain gorillas are gentle giants that range across the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. These primates are considered extremely endangered, with fewer than 720 in existence.

After a decade of relative calm for these animals -- the same cannot be said of the humans around them -- wildlife officials report at least 10 have been killed this year.

Photographs documenting the slaughter are heartbreaking, mostly because of the peaceful, human-like expressions the dead gorillas wear. These pictures are part of the tool kit brought to the United States by Arthur Mugisha, a former game warden in Uganda and now manager of the International Gorilla Conservation Programme.

For full story, please see:


35. Indigenous people and forest care

Source: Md. Mahfujur Rahman, The Daily Star, 9 November 2007

Indigenous communities use the forest with restraint because it provides for their basic needs -- food, shelter, water, medicine, fuel and clothing. The Bambuti people of the Congo refer to the forest as mother or father, and hold it sacred: a deity to ask for help and to thank. The Yanomami of Venezuela and Brazil believe that the natural and spiritual worlds are united: the fates of all people and the environment are inexorably linked. So when people destroy the environment, humanity slowly commits suicide.

In Borneo, the Penan harvests the sago palm, a fast-growing tree whose pithy trunk is loaded with starch used to make flour. Only the largest trunks are taken, the smaller shoots carefully preserved for future harvests. They call this molong, meaning never taking more than necessary. When the Haida people of Canada fell a red cedar, the bark is made into a textile for clothing, ropes and sails, and the wood is used to make dugout canoes, ceremonial masks and boxes, and to build communal longhouses. Smaller branches are used for smoking salmon. Passing on information is the key to a successful forest lifestyle.

Individual trees are merely tree, obviously their presence is good for environment but the forest is a natural occurrence of plants; it can maintain ecological balance. In forest, plants are not separate entities rather they are interconnected with other forms of life. The forest is home to numerous species of birds, fishes, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. All these along with various plants and microorganisms make up the biotic community. The biotic community with the physical environment forms the ecosystems. If one component of an ecosystem is missing it cannot function well. Functioning of ecosystems on the earth surface can ensure the undisturbed global environment. Forests are full of environmental goodies. Even a man-made forest is not equivalent to natural forest.

But can we want forests and not forest people? It's a dilemma for us. In fact indigenous people living in forests are part and parcel of the forest system. Their activities do not harm even the forest environment. Most forest peoples are indigenous minorities living in small, tightly knit communities - and they have much to teach the rest of the world about the natural environment they are integrated with. So we need to protect both the forest and forest people.

Natural forest cover is the true indicator of the health of the planet. Destruction of forests is resulting in polluting, destroying and degrading the environment. Forests are stores of biodiversity. Deforestation is the major cause of bio-species extinction. Forest can absorb gaseous emissions; leaves of trees can even reduce sound pollution. We almost always condemn fossil fuel burning solely for global warming, but the fact is that deforestation is equally responsible for the process. Trees of the forest can absorb CO2 and maintain a balance between O2 and CO2 in air. As we cut down more trees without planting new ones and ensuring their growth we are just paving the way for a greenhouse effect. Planned afforestation can ensure meeting demand of materials for production of commercial goods without harming the environment. Thus we can curb the situation of dependency on deadly synthetic materials. Massive forestation can delay global warming.

For full story, please see:


36. Japan invests in Indian forestry

Source: Monsters and - Glasgow, UK, 19 November 2007

Agartala, Nov 19 (IANS) Japan will continue investing in India to boost the country's forestry sector, besides opening avenues for people whose livelihoods depend on forest-based products, officials said here Monday.

'Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), under the Japan government's Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), had been providing financial assistance to 15 Indian states since 1990 for sustainable management of forest wealth through improvement of the density and quality of forests,' said Keiji Kamiyama, counsellor (economic section) of the Japanese embassy.

Kamiyama was talking to journalists here after the formal launch of JBIC-assisted, Rs.3.66-billion Tripura forest environmental improvement and poverty alleviation project.

State Chief Minister Manik Sarkar flagged off the project Monday.

Tripura is the first northeastern state to receive financial assistance from JBIC in the forestry sector. 'The talks are in a final stage to provide financial assistance to Manipur in the sericulture sector,' Kamiyama added.

The Tripura project is aimed at upgrading degraded forestland, caused by shifting cultivation, into an ecologically and commercially productive forest. It would also help in bettering the quality of life of locals, especially in tribal-dominated areas.

'The project, to be completed in eight years covering an area of 7,023 sq km and three wildlife sanctuaries, would have a healthy impact on the overall environment,' the chief minister said.

As many as 456 joint forest management committees and 1,250 self-help groups would be involved in implementing the first ever externally aided project in the northeastern state.

Under the project, 16 non-timber forest produce centres would be set up across the state with the help of Oita Prefecture of Japan for creating livelihood options and skill up-gradation of the rural poor.

The JBIC project is also estimated to produce incense sticks worth Rs.20 million and honey processing potentiality of Rs.100 million in the state.

Meanwhile, Germany would provide Rs.1.12 billion while China-based International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) has agreed to provide over $48,114 (Rs.1.9 million) to Tripura for all-round development of forest, forest produce, ecological conservation, setting up of forest-based units and their exploitation in trade and economy.

For full story, please see:


37. Natural product discovery by Cleveland medical researchers

Source: EurekAlert (press release), USA, 24 October 2007

Cleveland. Scientists at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine have published in the Journal of Inflammation a remarkable discovery with a natural product derived from the Amazon rainforest. The discovery’s unique actions suggest a broad set of applications in various joint, skin and gastrointestinal diseases, including osteoarthritis and irritable bowel syndrome.

The publication revealed that Progrado®, an extract from a rainforest tree called Croton palanostigma, was a remarkably potent antioxidant and prevented the destruction of human cartilage by molecular s scissors called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). According to the researchers, these enzymes cut collagen, which forms the backbone of the cartilage, into tiny pieces during states of inflammation and alter the fabric that holds tissues together.

“This is an exciting finding,” said Tariq Haqqi, professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University/University Hospitals of Cleveland and the lead investigator and senior author of the study. “This is the first time a natural product has been shown to directly block these molecular scissors while showing potential to stimulate repair. This is a testament to the wound healing properties of this traditional medicine and the distinctive therapeutic opportunities that nature offers.”

Haqqi’s research partner, Rainforest Nutritionals Inc., of Raleigh, N.C., develops innovative therapeutics from natural products and worked with the university on the discovery of Progrado®.

Paul Bobrowski, co-author of the study and vice president of Rainforest Nutritionals, said Progrado’s® molecular targets are highly prized and could lead to a range of therapeutic innovations for conditions ranging from arthritis, irritable bowel disease and wrinkles based on their involvement in tissue injury/repair and aging.

For full story, please see:


38. Scientists receive $2.5 million to study Amazon forests and climate change

Source: University of Arizona News (press release), USA, 16 November 2007

A University of Arizona-led international team of scientists has received a five-year, $2.5 million grant to answer the question, what is the future of Amazon forests under climate change? and to train the next generation of culturally experienced scientists. The project combines international collaboration with interdisciplinary training in earth system science, remote sensing and modelling.

The National Science Foundation-funded project is called the Partnership for International Research and Education-- Amazonia, or Amazon-PIRE. The grant includes $1.5 million for stipends and fellowships to support participating students and early-career scientists. PIRE students will take a field course in Brazil's Amazon forest about tropical ecology and biogeochemistry, conduct related experiments within the tropical forest biome at UA's Biosphere 2 and work with Brazilian scientists and students through exchanges at Brazilian scientific institutions.

"Our project has a globally important scientific goal -- which is to figure out how climate changes affect Amazon forests. And there's an educational goal -- to help transform science education so the next generation of scientists will be successful in an increasingly globalized scientific community," said principal investigator Scott Saleska, an assistant professor in UA's department of ecology and evolutionary biology.

"The purpose of NSF's Amazon-PIRE program is to change how education works in this country by supporting new models for international collaboration and training. The educational goal is especially critical in environmental science, where cultural barriers can reinforce the disparity in knowledge between the most studied ecosystems, generally those in North America and Europe, and the ecosystems about which new knowledge and data are most needed, such as those in the tropics," Saleska said.

"Because the forests of the Amazon basin form the largest contiguous, intact tropical forest on Earth, Amazonia is a storehouse of carbon whose fate will influence the fate of climate change globally," said Saleska, also a member of Biosphere 2's science steering committee member and of UA's Institute for the Study of Planet Earth.

For full story, please see:


39. Skin whitening ingredient

Source:, France, 13 November 2007

France-based ingredients supplier Alban Muller has launched a new skin whitening ingredient that combines Asian plant extracts and UV protecting antioxidants.

Whitami is being marketed as a means of lightening and toning down pigment marks for both skin and hands, while containing a titanium dioxide UV screen to help prevent further damage from the sun's rays. It also contains exfoliating actives that smooth and brighten the complexion, adding to the effect of the de-pigmenting ingredients.

The treatment targets hyperpigmentation, or freckles, a condition that Asian women in particular like to avoid - preferring instead a clear, fairer complexion, free from imperfections.

Whitami also taps into the market for products that contain natural ingredients, as the formulation is preservative-free and contains two Asian plant extracts belonging to the apiacaea family. The plant extracts come from the Hokkai Toki and Bofu shrubs, both noted for active ingredients that have been used in traditional Chinese beauty whitening treatments for over a thousand years. Likewise, the formulation also contains Vitamin C, which is said to combine de-pigmenting activity and antioxidant properties, making it both a skin protector as well as having properties that slow down melanin synthesis (the tanning process) by tyrosinase inhibition.

As well as Vitamin C, the formula also includes Pine Bark OPCs together with Lipoic Acid, which all combine to optimise the antioxidant levels in the formula and ultimately increase the UV protection properties. The Pine Bark OPCs are extracted from pine barks from the Landes region of France, while the Lipoic Acid is naturally present in human cells.

The formulation is said to be compatible with all common cosmetics ingredients, but the company equally points out that it can modify a formula's viscosity and that it is incompatible with certain fragrances.

For full story, please see:



40. National Workshop on Sustainable Management of NTFPs

18-19 January 2008

Jabalpur, India

The objectives of the workshop are:

1. To identify issues relating to sustainable management of forest and NTFPs in different states and take stock of initiatives taken to address these issues by the forest department, researchers, NGOs etc.

2. To identify and develop models of cross-cutting, especially in the context of primary stakeholders, i.e. forest protecting communities and primary NTFP collectors.

3. To develop a uniform approach for planning on sustainable forest management with the roles of various stakeholders clearly defined.

For more information, please contact:

Dr. A.K.Pandey
Head, Non-Wood Forest Produce Division
Tropical Forest Research Institute
P.O. RFRC, Mandla Road
Jabalpur 482021 INDIA
FAX- 91-761-2840484, 4044002
E mail.,


41. Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission - 22nd Session

21 April 2008 - 26 April 2008
Viet Nam, Hanoi

The members of the APFC (currently comprised of 32 countries in Asia and the Pacific) meet every two years in a general session to review forestry developments in the region, discuss problems of mutual concern, and set new agendas for inter-sessional work.

Active participation of international NGOs and the private sector in all APFC activities is encouraged.

Languages: English

For more information, please contact:

Patrick Durst at


42. 11th European Forum on Urban Forestry. ''Forest Recreation and Tourism serving Urbanised Societies''

28-31 May 2008
Hämeenliaa, Finland

The 11th Forum will be held together with the final conference of COST Action E33 'Forest Recreation and Tourism'. This will ensure some very good speakers on the recreational and touristic values of urban and other woodlands.

For more information, please visit or contact


43. International Conference: Adaptation of forests and forest management to changing climate with emphasis on forest health: a review of science, policies, and practices;

25-28 August 2008
Umeå, Sweden

The Conference will focus on the current state of knowledge of ongoing changes in climatic conditions in different regions of the world, and the implications of these changes for forest health, forest management and conservation. Presentations and discussions will emphasise research, policies and practices that are needed to enable us to plan for and manage healthy, productive forests to meet future societal needs for forest products and the full range of forest goods and services. Ongoing research in various fields of forest and forest related sciences will be presented in parallel sessions of the conference.

The Conference will be co-hosted by FAO, IUFRO and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) with support from the U.S. Forest Service, Seoul National University, Republic of Korea and The Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry

The Conference Topics will include:

Impacts of Climate Change on Forest Health and Ecosystem Services
· Physiological responses of trees to climate change including wood properties;
· Climate induced changes in forest ecosystem composition, processes and geographic extent;
· Invasive species - increasing establishments in previously hostile environments;
· Altered incidence, severity, and geographic range of insect pests and disease outbreaks; and
· Impacts on forest ecosystems of altered frequency, intensity and timing of extreme
· events including fire, wind, and ice storms.

Adaptation Implications for Science, Policies, and Practices
· Silviculture and production of wood and non-wood forest goods;
· Forest biodiversity, endangered species, and nature conservation;
· Protective functions of forest resources, including water and soil issues;
· Socio-economic functions, livelihoods and poverty – integrated natural resources management;
· Forest genetics and tree breeding;
· Phytosanitary regulations, including trade; and
· Role of innovative management approaches including precision forestry, ecosystem management, and multi-stakeholder participation.

Enhancing Knowledge of Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Measures
· Scenarios and modelling for forest management planning;
· Monitoring, assessments and early warning;
· Roles of traditional forest knowledge in climate change adaptation;
· Opportunities for combining adaptation and mitigation (carbon sequestration) objectives
· Quality and comprehensiveness of the existing scientific evidence base, further research needs

Conclusions and Options for Science, Policies and Practices

The first announcement for the Conference can be viewed on:


44. 4th World Congress on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants–Using Plants to benefit people

9-14 September 2008

Cape Town, South Africa

In a meeting of the Secretariat of the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS) in Paris, nine international organizations decided to establish an international non-governmental body entitled: International Council for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ICMAP) [] with the general objective of promoting 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.

One of the functions of ICMAP is to arrange a world conference on medicinal and aromatic plants [WOCMAP] every five years. The first was in Europe [Maastricht, Netherlands 1992], the second in South America [Mendoza, Argentina 1997], and the third was held in Asia [Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2003]. Due to the geopolitical situation the participation was remarkably lower than at previous WOCMAP conferences, nevertheless more than 600 attendants were present. The proceedings of WOCMAP III were published in six volumes of Acta Horticulturae of the International Society for Horticultural Science.

ICMAP Bureau has invited the Leader of the Phytomedicine Programme at the University of Pretoria to organize WOCMAP IV in South Africa in 2008. We expect in the order of 1200 delegates for WOCMAP IV.

Please have a look at the first announcement.

For more information, please visit:



45. Request to complete a survey: The dilemma of dissemination in research

From: Patricia Shanley and Citlalli Lopez, CIFOR

What happens when research is done? If you are interested in how research results are communicated, the following survey is likely to be of interest.

The Center for International Forestry Research and People and Plants International are conducting a survey on dissemination practices associated with research in natural resources and cultural and biological diversity. We would be grateful if you could share your thoughts and experiences on your dissemination practices and that of the organization in which you work.

The brief, 19-question survey is available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and bahasa Indonesia using the following web links:

We thank you for participating in the survey. Please feel free to pass the survey onto your research colleagues.








46. Other publications of interest

From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

Aviron, S., Kindlmann, P., and Burel, F. 2007. Conservation of butterfly populations in dynamic landscapes: the role of farming practices and landscape mosaic. Ecol. Model. 205(1-2):135-145.

Baez, S., and Balslev, H. 2007. Edge effects on palm diversity in rain forest fragments in western Ecuador. Biodivers. Conserv. 16(7):2201-2211.

Cardillo, M. 2006. Disappearing forests and biodiversity loss: which areas should we protect? Int. For. Rev. 8(2): 251-255.

Dawson, I.K., Guarino, L. and Jaenicke, H. 2007. Underutilised Plant Species: Impacts of Promotion on Biodiversity. Position Paper No. 2. International Centre for Underutilised Crops, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The report is available to download from:

Engler, M and Parry-Jones, R. 2007. Opportunity of Threat. The role of the European Union in Global Wildlife Trade. TRAFFIC Europe, Brussels, Belgium.

European Environment Agency. 2007. Halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010: proposal for a first set of indicators to monitor progress in Europe. Technical report No 11/2007.

Glew, L., and Hudson, M.D. 2007. Gorillas in the midst: the impact of armed conflict on the conservation of protected areas in sub-Saharan Africa. Oryx 41(2):140-150.

Inogwabini, B.I. 2007. Can biodiversity conservation be reconciled with development? Oryx 41(2):136-137.

Latham, Paul. 2007. Plants visited by bees and other useful plants of Umalila, Southern Tanzania. ISBN 978-0-9554208-3-0

Bees are important for the production of honey and wax and particularly for their role in the pollination of plants, including some important economic crops. Bees have been shown to increase the yields of sunflower, passion fruit, peaches, pumpkins and runner beans. This book provides information on 188 plants in Umalila in Mbeye district. A forage chart indicates the months when bees collect pollen and/or nectar.

The plants are listed alphabetically and in addition to photographs, details of their botanical, vernacular and common names are given, together with brief descriptions. The distribution, uses and the propagation and management of selected plants is also provided where appropriate.

Peck, J.E., and Muir, P.S. 2007. Conservation management of the mixed species nontimber forest product of "moss" - are they harvesting what we think they're harvesting? Biodivers. Conserv. 16(7):2031-2043.

Wells, K., Kalko, E.K.V., Lakim, M.B., and Pfeiffer, M. 2007. Effects of rain forest logging on species richness and assemblage composition of small mammals in Southeast Asia. J. Biogeogr. 34(6):1087-1099.


47. Web sites and e-zines

From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

David Lubin Memorial Library, FAO


(A composite acronym derived from the words 'Ecology and Portal').



48. Nature is the Best Medicine

Source: Our Planet Weekly, E-The Environmental Magazine, 17/10/07

More hospitals are incorporating “healing gardens” and speeding patient recovery.

Natural light, says Roger Ulrich, professor of architecture at Texas A&M University, can make a world of difference. In 1984 after Ulrich was hospitalized with a broken leg, he launched what has become the classic study in the field of healing environments: “Biophilia, Biophobia, and Natural Landscapes.”

“The patients were assigned essentially randomly to rooms that were identical except for window view: one member of each pair overlooked a small stand of deciduous trees, the other had a view of a brown brick wall,” Ulrich writes. “Patients with the natural window view had shorter postoperative hospital stays, had few negative comments in nurses’ notes, and tended to have lower scores for minor post-surgical complications such as persistent headache or nausea requiring medication. Moreover, the wall-view patients required many more injections of potent painkillers, whereas the tree-view patients more frequently received weal oral analgesics such as acetaminophen.”

For full story, please see:



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last updated:  Monday, August 24, 2009