Welcome to FAO’s NWFP-Digest-L, a free e-mail journal that covers all aspects of non-wood forest products. Back issues of the Digest may be found on FAO's NWFP home page: www.fao.org/forestry/site/12980/en.
Source: KAIT, Arkansas, USA, 14 April 2007
Deer hunters around Pocahontas say many of the trees are withering and their vegetation is dead. Thanks to a cold snap that hit Northeast Arkansas last week much of spring’s green has now turned to brown.
For Greg Mathews, an avid hunter, he knows the threat this could have on wildlife. "I own some property north of town that I manage strictly for the wildlife, and not having an acorn crop, it's going to be hard for the deer and turkey to make it through the winter. I supplement feed, but that's not going to be enough for this year," said Mathews.
Acorns produced by many of these withering trees provide vital nutrients for animals like deer. "Acorns are the staple for wildlife. That's what they count on every year is the nut crop. You have lean years, but I don't think there's ever been a year where you have zero," said Mathews.
He says the true effects of this cold snap on plant vegetation probably won't be seen until later in the year, when deer hunting season begins. "In order for the does to produce good fawns for the spring, they are going to need some fat preserves. That's what the acorns do for the deer," said Mathews.
Mathews says the forestry service is also surprised by the damage to trees. However, there's always a first time for everything, and hunters are just hoping for the best. "You can pretty well speculate that the deer will be in stress by the time the winter is over without any nut crop at all," said Mathews. The problems with vegetation will not affect the current turkey season, but hunters could see the affects by deer hunting season which begins in October.
For full story, please see: http://www.kait8.com/Global/story.asp?S=6371028&nav=menu67_3
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Source: Kuensel, Bhutan, 17 April, 2007
Using bamboo instead of wood in building houses could go well with Bhutan’s policy of sustainable development according to an American architect. “Bamboo can yield 20 times more timber than trees an acre and it can be harvested after every seven years whereas trees take about 30 to 60 years,” said architect David Sands of Bamboo Technologies based in Vietnam. He also said that the use of bamboo was both cost effective and environmental friendly. “In Bhutan, building a masonry house on a 20 square ft. plot of land is approximately Nu. 104,000 Using high quality bamboo can bring down the cost to Nu. 81,000.”
David Sands who made a presentation in Thimphu this week on sustainable bamboo housing said that bamboo plantations were also environmentally friendly as it helped reduce carbon dioxide and generated 30 percent more oxygen than trees.
The director general of Department of Forest (DOF), Dasho Dawa Tshering, said that the department was encouraging the use of bamboo as the demand for timber was increasing every year with more and more development activities, adding that “We fear that this might affect the government’s policy to maintain 60 percent forest cover in the country”.
A lot of young trees are also used to erect prayer flags when there is death and sickness in the family particularly in the districts where bamboo is hard to come by.
The director general said that the department had already initiated large-scale bamboo plantation in the southern region. The Forest Development Corporation Limited (FDCL) officials are to start a 15 hectare bamboo plantation in Samtse by June this year.
During the presentation, the home and cultural affairs minister said that replacing timber with bamboo should not compromise Bhutan’s unique architectural features. According to David Sands, bamboo could replace wood and could still preserve Bhutan architectural heritage.
While bamboo as an alternative to wood seemed feasible in Bhutan, there were many factors to be considered according to forest officials. Bhutan had about 50 different species of bamboo and all of these species could not be used for construction and groundwork was needed on the different species of bamboo that can be actually used for construction”.
In addition, bamboo for construction also needed to be treated or straightened in most cases, which would require high technology machines. Asked whether using bamboo for construction was practical enough considering the state of technology in Bhutan, Dasho Dawa Tshering said that using bamboo for construction was not a new thing especially in the villages and for building low cost houses, there is no requirement for expensive high technology machines.
For full story, please see: http://www.kuenselonline.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=8336
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Source: PR Newswire (press release), 9 April 2007
Two innovative, low-cost houses designed by Dr. Alan Early of the Indonesia Aid Foundation are being tested on a seismic shake table at Colorado State University. One house is made completely of concrete, including the roof. On April 6, this house successfully held during progressively greater earthquakes, to an ultimate test of greater than 10.0 on the Richter scale. An earthquake of this magnitude is only likely to occur every 1500 years. For a structure to withstand such forces is unprecedented in known shake tests and actual earthquakes.
A second test of a similar structure with the same concrete base but with a wood frame and metal roof will be tested in the afternoon of April 10th at CSU's Engineering Research Center in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Both houses have unique green building features for environmental friendliness. The house bases have 40% of steel rebar replaced by bamboo of the same diameter. Bamboo is both lighter and stronger than traditional materials and its cultivation is environmentally friendly. Both houses are erected on a layer of discarded automobile tires as a very low-cost and successful shock absorber/damper mechanism.
These houses were developed for Indonesian families with income of $100 per month. Most families with lesser income already live in very safe bamboo houses. Extensive coordination and consultation with the Research Institute for Human Settlements of the Indonesian Ministry of Public Works have ensured this design conforms to Indonesian cultural tastes and preferences. Individual families qualifying for government loans will provide proof of land ownership and work on their own home. The houses will cost only $995.00.
The Indonesia Aid Foundation anticipates that this design will ultimately be an important part of the solution to the significant housing shortage in Indonesia caused by earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.
For more information, please contact:
For full story, please see: http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/04-09-2007/0004561960&EDATE=
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Source: Calcutta Telegraph. 11 April 2007
Bamboo has become big business for the border state of Mizoram, which has managed to corner 10 per cent of the estimated Rs 5,000 crore business generated out of bamboo grown in the Northeast.
The Northeast produces 65 per cent of bamboo in the country and 20 per cent of global production.
The Technology Information Forecasting Assessment Council is planning to produce electricity from bamboo.
This tribal-dominated state makes matting, bamboo boards, chipping and canned bamboo shoots. It is also used for making paper, incense sticks and construction of buildings. Bamboo is processed and made into boards which are more tensile than steel. Sometimes it is made into mixed board with a timber layer on the outside. Raw materials to Cachar Paper Mill are supplied from the bamboo plantations here. Recently, a joint venture bamboo-processing unit with a private public partnership and seven chipping clusters was set up.
The Mizoram government is planning to supply chipped bamboo to paper mills. However, the bamboo crop flowers every 50 years and it takes a couple of years for the next crop to emerge. G. Malsawmdawnglina, joint director of industries in the government of Mizoram, said, “Till the time our next crop is ready, our factories remain idle.” The Mizoram government has announced a policy — Bamboo Flowering and Famine Combat Scheme — to combat the adverse situation.
The Centre has also promised schemes to employ the youth to make bamboo link roads and other projects.
For full story, please see: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1070412/asp/northeast/story_7635769.asp
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Source: The Statesman, India, 19 April 2007
COOCH BEHAR: Residents of Sipahitari, Hatidhura, Karalidanga and Baro-rangras are passing through sleepless nights. The reason: they fear outbreak of epidemic and famine in the area as fruits have appeared in bamboo bushes.
Following popular belief about the relation of bamboo bloom and fruits with famine and epidemic, the villagers have started destroying the bushes of the fruit bearing bamboos.
It was learnt from Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidyalaya sources that the bamboo variety of this area is locally known as Mooli-bansh. This variety of bamboo blooms about every 45 years. There is no reason to get panicky over this, a UBKV teacher, said. It is a common natural phenomenon in North-eastern states.
A retired teacher of Pundibari said he heard that famine follows bamboo bloom because during the bloom, rats multiply them in a rapid speed and eat crops in the field.
The area where fruits have appeared in bamboo bushes is about 23 km from Cooch Behar town. In February this year, flowers appeared in the bamboo bushes in the area. Seeing the bloom, many villagers had uprooted the bamboo trees. However, since fruits have appeared in other bushes, panic has gripped the people of the locality.
On behalf of Concern for Cooch Behar, Md Saukat Ali said that many of the residents of the affected villages depend on the bamboo and is like cash cards for the locals. Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidyalaya should come forward to eradicate the superstition over bamboo fruits among the villagers to save them from economic disaster. Large scale uprooting of bamboo trees may affect the socio-economic condition of the villages, he said.
For full story, please see: http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php?clid=10&theme=&usrsess=1&id=154082
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Source: Fibre2fashion.com, 11 April 2007
A certificate course on bamboo craft is developed by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Industrial Design Centre (IDC) and Khadi and Village Industries Commission to target unemployed rural youth, traditional craft persons, NGOs and bamboo growing farmers.
India is the second largest bamboo producing country in the world and has over 13 lakh bamboo artisans but their earning is very meagre due to deteriorating rural markets, lack of proper marketing channels.
Since the artisans are not familiar with the new trends that may attract the city market, this course may help them to enhance their quality work and their earning as well.
For full story, please see: http://www.fibre2fashion.com/news/textile-news/newsdetails.aspx?news_id=33729
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Source: Sun.Star, Philippines, 15 April 2007
THE Office of the President and the Philippine Bamboo Foundation recently rallied Benguet farmers to be engaged in commercial bamboo production as one alternative source of livelihood. This is also to deter the impact of the continuous smuggling and importation of vegetables to the local agriculture industry.
Undersecretary Edgardo Manda, who visited and observed the bamboo industry in China, said China has devoted 5 million hectares to bamboo and would be short of supply in five years; thus, the Philippines, particularly Benguet, must now go into commercial bamboo production to address the shortage of bamboo in the future.
Dr. Romualdo Sta. Ana, president of the Philippine Bamboo Foundation and a director of the International Network on Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) based in Beijing, China, has arranged for hands-on training of two Benguet farmers for three months in China to ensure that farmers would be equipped with appropriate knowledge and skills angled in commercial bamboo production.
Gov. Borromeo Melchor expressed his full support to the new alternative source of livelihood for farmers. Melchor pointed out the provincial government has earmarked portion of its resources to train farmers in the different towns to be engaged in other productive sources of livelihood aside from vegetable farming.
It was learned that the Foundation would import the Moso bamboo variety, which would be given for free to techno-demo farms and nurseries in the different parts of the country. Moso is a variety of bamboo shoots that is well suited to the Benguet climate just like the other local varieties.
Experts revealed that bamboo is the only plant that absorbs carbon dioxide four times more than any other crop and therefore has a carbon credit under the clean development mechanism (CMD) that seeks to achieve the emission reduction goals of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
Melchor explained the support being given by government and private organizations especially in the field of developing alternative sources of livelihood would be a big boost to the continuous economic development in the province.
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Source: NutraIngredients-usa.com, France, 20 March 2007
Boswellia serrata extract performed as well as a selective COX-2 inhibitor in a controlled clinical study to assess its effect on relieving osteoarthritis pain, researchers report in the Journal of Indian Pharmacology. (S Sontakke, V Thawani, S Pimpalkhute, P Kabra, S Babhulkar, L. Hingorani. 2007. Open, randomized, controlled clinical trial of Boswellia serrata extract as compared to valdecoxib in osteoarthritis of knee. Indian Journal of Pharmacology. February 2007, vol 39, issue 1, 27-9)
Boswellia serrata has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine, popular in India, and its gum resin is reputed to have anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, and analgesic activities.
Although in a randomized, double-blind clinical controlled study Boswellia serrata extract was reported to be better than a placebo in relieving osteoarthritis symptoms in the knee, researchers at the Government Medical College in Nagpur decided to conduct the new research since no comparative clinical trial using the extract has been reported.
Their positive findings give further backing to the efficacy of the extract in addressing joint health - an area in which patients have been casting about for natural alternatives to COX-2 inhibitors following revelations about serious adverse events and subsequent withdrawals.
For full story, please see: http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/news/ng.asp?n=75124-boswellia-serrata-cox-joint-health
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Source: Nature.com, England, 16 April 2007
This month, Morgan of the San Diego Zoo's centre for Conservation and Research for Endangered Species (CRES) took 14 Cameroonian hunters on a visit to the Limbe Wildlife Centre, on the southwestern coast of Cameroon, to teach them about conservation and attempt to convince them to turn to farming.
Programmes to stamp down on bushmeat hunting are proliferating all over Africa: small local groups and big conservation societies are trying a number of approaches, from producing locally made documentaries that highlight the problems of the practice, to developing cane-rat farming schemes.
All must combat the basic things that drive hunting: hunger, poverty and tradition. Morgan's approach brings hunters face to face with their prey.
For full story and interview with Bethan Morgan, please see: http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070416/full/070416-1.html
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Source: People's Daily Online, 15 March 2007
After years of study, Liu Shuying and her team at the Institute of Applied Chemistry under the Chinese Academy of Sciences have established the first ginseng genome library in China. Including holographic material and genetic data, this library is another step forward in the modernization of traditional Chinese medicine.
Jilin province in China's northeast currently produces 80 percent of all ginseng in China, and 60 percent of ginseng available on the world market.
For full story, please see: http://english.people.com.cn/200703/15/eng20070315_357943.html
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Source: Hindustan Times, India, 11 April 2007
It began in the 18th century in the narrow lanes of Jaipur's old city. Today, the lac industry is a booming business with its products finding their way to places as far away as Europe.
In recent years, the industry has successfully broken away from its traditional image of making bangles to produce exquisite jewellery and gift items.
"The industry has now reached international levels. Lac ornaments and other items are sent to Delhi from where they are exported to Europeans markets," said AS Jafar, a manufacturer. “With the growing popularity of lac items, the area accounts for business worth millions of rupees now," he added.
Today, over 5,000 families in Jaipur are involved in the industry. Jaipur alone accounts for annual exports worth Rs.700-800 million.
Several local artisans have even been awarded for their contribution and creative innovations. Yet, not many know that these artisans have to toil hard and long in difficult conditions to give shape to these designs. "We have to work on hot furnaces where lac is melted. Working conditions are very harsh, especially during summer," said Kadir, another manufacturer of lac items.
But the artisans seem to forget about their hardships when they proudly begin to talk about taking the cottage industry to global levels.
For full story, please see: http://www.hindustantimes.com/storypage/storypage.aspx?id=0a013f8f-4d54-4e99-9caf-ff5579bc9595&
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Source: Peterborough Examiner, Canada, 16 April 2007
For local maple syrup producers, the sound of sap dripping into a tin bucket is usually a sure sign of spring. But this year, those sounds have been few and far between.
Across much of Ontario and parts of Quebec, syrup crops have been cut in half, local producer Brenda Steed said. Prime sap production needs cold nights of about –5 C and warm days above the freezing mark. The past month has either been too warm or too cold, Steed said. "It’s been a tough spring. A lot of people are getting hit hard especially if maple syrup is your only crop," she said.
For those attending the annual maple syrup day at the Peterborough Farmer’s Market Saturday, that meant paying more for a bottle of sweet local syrup. Most bottles, depending on the size, cost a dollar more than they did last year.
Robert Wagner was on hand selling the syrup he makes on his farm just south of Stony Lake. He agreed it has been a rough year. "It’s an unusual season, but as a farmer you learn to live with what nature presents us with from time to time," he said.
While the poor sap flow will hurt the bottom line of his spring cash crop, Wagner said he doesn’t do it for the money. "If you did it for profit, you shouldn’t go through the trouble," he said. "You do it because it’s a way of life. It’s a challenge and it’s rewarding to see the first farm crop of the season."
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Source: Associated Press, 1 April 2007 (in Boston Globe, USA)
SHARON, Vt. --Maple sugar maker Arthur Berndt has 16,000 maple trees on his Maverick Farm, but he worries about their future. He says branches are dying, trees aren't regenerating as well as they once did and yield less syrup than he expects, given his equipment and technology. He believes climate change may be to blame. "The long-term effects are that sugarmaking in Vermont will become a thing of the past if left unchecked," said Berndt,
He sees a grim scenario for the future of the nation's No. 1 producer of maple syrup. The state, which has an estimated 500 million sugar maples, has about 2,000 sugar makers who produce about 500,000 gallons of syrup a year. It's a key part of Vermont's economy -- and its image.
"When you think about all the other sugar makers in Vermont who depend on maple syrup for some of their income," Berndt said. "That's not going to be available to them in 20, 30, 50 years if we don't change things. And Vermont will not have the cache it once had, with people visiting sugar houses, so it will have an effect on tourism as well."
Berndt, who is also an environmental activist, has taken his concerns about global warming to federal court. He has joined a lawsuit filed by environmental groups Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace and four U.S. cities including Boulder, Colo. They are suing the Overseas Private Investment Corp. and the Export-Import Bank for helping to fund overseas power plants, which they say contributes to global warming.
In the 20 years since Berndt and his wife bought Maverick Farm, they've noticed a change. The maple trees, some already stressed by acid rain, have new challenges, such as pests he believes are linked to warming climate. He fears the maple will move north and other trees, such as hickory, oak and ash will prosper.
Many sugar makers who rely on freezing nights and thawing days have noticed a shift in the weather. Mild winters have prompted sap to flow in February and sometimes as early as January. "Traditionally, in the old days, you wouldn't ever get a February run," said Blaine Moore, who works for Berndt and grew up on the land. "You look at the old sugar maker records and April was when you made the syrup. Now, the last three years, we hardly made any in April."
A study by the University of Vermont Proctor Maple Research Center has found that the sugaring season is three days shorter than it was in the 1940s. That doesn't sound like much, but for a product with a 30-day season, it's a 10 percent reduction.
And the season is starting about a week early in many places.
This year was different. After an unusually warm January, cold delayed sugaring until mid-March, which is later than usual in Vermont.
"That's not at all inconsistent with global change," said Timothy Perkins, director of the research center. "We expect to have higher variability than we've had in the past." In an ongoing study, the center is assessing the impact of climate change on the maple industry. "Now we've lost 10 percent of the season, but people don't really notice it much. But at some point there will be reductions in yield," Perkins said.
But so far, so good with Vermont's season, according to Tim Wilmot, a University of Vermont Extension maple specialist. "Right now, we're just dealing with the weather we have, and it's no different than any other year. Yes, it was quite warm in December and January. But now the weather is behaving like it always does. It's up and down. We could get a snowstorm anyday," Wilmot said.
Not everyone believes climate change is taking a toll.
"In farming, you talk to 10 different farmers and you'll get 10 different stories with 10 different grumbles," said David Knappett, owner of Maple Orchard Farms of Canada, Inc., in Bracebridge, Ont., which buys syrup from farmers and finishes it. "I don't think, as of yet, that any climate change has affected maple production."
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Source: BusinessWeek, USA, 4 April 2007
As Maine's maple sugar season wound down, Gov. John Baldacci signed legislation to clarify the legal definition of "pure maple syrup" to help consumers decide whether they're getting the real thing.
The new law sets standards on how much sugar must be in syrup in order for it to be considered pure. It took effect immediately upon the governor's signature Monday.
The bill was advanced by the Maine Maple Producers. The Maine Farm Bureau said the new standard helps to protect Maine's maple syrup industry.
Maple sugar producers say that if there's too much sugar in syrup, it can crystallize shortly after sale. The new law helps to ensure that when someone buys "pure maple syrup," that's what they're getting.
Vermont, the nation's No. 1 maple syrup producer, has rules similar to Maine's new standard. Maine is the nation's second-largest maple syrup producer.
For full story, please see: http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D8O9VOD00.htm
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Source: Republic of Botswana, Botswana, 27 March 2007
TSHABONG - Some Bokspits residents call the plant seboka while others know it as tlhokabotshwaro. Outsiders have named it Bushman’s Hat, Queen of the Namib, and many other names. Scientifically, however, the wild plant is known as Hoodia gordonii and is reputed to have medicinal properties.
Found in the Bokspits region, the plant is now being grown commercially to benefit the communities of southern Kgalagadi where it grows wild. Local Khoi San communities, however, have long known about the special medicinal value of the plant and have chewed the succulent stems of the plant to suppress hunger.
Mr Duncan Basima of the Department of Forestry and Range Resources said the plant was in high demand internationally and that they decided to cultivate it domestically to benefit communities where it grew wild. The plant species they have cultivated contains the active ingredient P.57 which is reputed to suppress hunger.
He said his department started a communal cultivation project in Bokspits to generate income for residents and create national capacity in Hoodia cultivation. Four communities in the Bokspits area have been mobilised and trained to cultivate the plant. The project, funded by the African Development Fund for two years in cooperation with Veld Product Research and Development, would help reduce poverty in the arid Bokspits area and communities would be able to earn a living out of the plants. However, Bokspits residents would have to wait until 2009 to harvest their first crop of medicinal plants as they only started the project in October last year.
The General Manager of Veld Products Research and Development, Mr Douglas Thamage, said multinational pharmaceutical companies were interested in the plant that grows wild in Namibia, South Africa and Botswana. Mr Thamage said the Hoodia gordonii project was still at cultivation stage and that his organisation was trying to train communities on how to conserve and harvest the plant for commercial use. He said that he was trying to encourage people to plant Hoodia gordonii in their own plots since there isn’t much in the bush which could be used for commercial purposes. It takes three to four years for the plant to be ready for harvest.
South African scientists have been testing Hoodia gordonii and they discovered that the plant contained a previously unknown molecule that replicates the effect glucose has on nerve cells in the brain fooling the body into thinking it is full. The appetite suppressant properties of Hoodia gordonii have now been developed and Hoodia derivative products are marketed in many western countries where obesity is a problem.
For full story, please see: http://www.gov.bw/cgi-bin/news.cgi?d=20070327&i=Hoodia_Gordonii_a_rare_medicinal_hope
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Source: Press Information Bureau (press release), India, 18 April 2007
Inaugurating the Orientation and Capacity Building workshop for the CEOs of State Medicinal Plant Boards on “Strategies for Conservation and Cultivation of Medicinal Plants” in New Delhi today, the Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare, Smt. Panabaka Lakshmi said that our strategies and action plans should focus not only on conserving and enriching the existing medicinal plants biodiversity in the forest areas but promote cultivation of medicinal plants through farmers.
This two pronged approach will not only ensure that medicinal plants that are collected by tribals and other forest dwellers for their livelihood are made available to the AYUSH industry but also that the farmers are able to cultivate medicinal plants as an alternative crop.
The two-day workshop has been organized by the National Medicinal Plants Board in collaboration with Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT).
For full story, please see: http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=26951
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Source: This Day (Lagos). 10 April 2007
A water filter that uses the local plant Moringa oleifera has been developed to help purify water for domestic use in several communities (both rural and urban) in the Niger-delta area of Nigeria. Moringa oleifera, which grows widely in several parts of Nigeria, is known in Yoruba language as 'Ewe ile'; gawara in Fulani; baga-ruwar maka in Hausa; while the Ibos call it odudu oyibo.
The plant filter, which was developed by the NGO Rural African Water Development Project (RAWDP) has a removal efficiency of 99.5 percent for turbidity, 98 percent for suspended solids, 90 to 99 percent for bacteria of 1 to 4 log units, and 100 percent for water hardness, claims which are allegedly backed by a World Bank report.
In May 2006 RAWDP won the World Bank's Development market-place competition, with a grant to implement the 'Mor-Sand Filters for Oil Producing Communities' project - a natural and low technology process for purifying water that can be easily managed at the household level. The project involves the production of sand water filters and use of natural coagulative properties in the powdered seeds of the Oleifera tree to purify water for use by poor household. The filter has been designed and manufactured for use in local and urban communities in Abia, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa State, and Ondo States. However, in October 2006, the project commenced in Izombe and Egbema communities in Imo and Rivers states respectively.
According to Mr. Joachim Ekeji, Project Coordinator of RAWDP, "the broad objectives of the project is to assist households in oil producing communities to maximise the quality of their drinking water supply and free them from the burdens of ill health caused by human and industrial pollution; through manufacturing and promotion of the filter as a house-hold water treatment system". "The project grant finances the production of 1000 Mor Sands Water filters and the training of 70 youths. So far, 100 water filters have been produced with an additional 300 water filters planned before the end of July. These filters have been publicly demonstrated to the local residents and are currently in use".
Since the project started in 2006, a total of 10 stakeholder consultations were held with various community groups such as local Chiefs, women, youths and religious groups in Imo and Rivers States; 160 individuals (54 women and 106 men from the two states) participated in pilot Water filter training workshops, which also featured the production and test running of the water filters.
Speaking on the advantages of using the filters, Ekeji said once installed, operation and maintenance of the filters costs zero. "The only thing you need is the Moringa tree whose seeds are needed to filter the unclean water. Every body should plant a Moringa tree in his compound, so that when it grows, its fruits can be used to filter unclean water."
Rural Africa Water Development Project also plans to cultivate 2000 acres of Moringa plants, which will benefit in the end 10 million households in South-east Nigeria.
For full story, please see: http://allafrica.com/stories/200704110281.html
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Source: Joy Online, Ghana, 12 March 2007
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Ghana, is embarking on a programme to assist 5000 malnourished children in 58 communities in the Central Region to improve their health conditions.
ADRA is assisting the communities to grow the Moringa plant, which has been found to contain high nutritious and medicinal properties and appealed to the communities to use it in the preparation of their food.
According to Mr. Evans Lartey, ADRA's Winneba area Field Project Officer (FPO), the programme, which would last for 12 months, would cover malnourished children between the ages of 6 months and 59 months.
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Source: AP in CFRC Weekly Summary 12 April 2007
Demand for ramps from celebrity chefs, avant-garde restaurateurs and avid foodies has some experts worried for the future of the pungent wild leeks grown in the hills of Appalachia.
“[Ramps are] becoming harder to find in many areas because they’ve become so popular and people frequent all the festivals that are held in their honour,’’ said Jeanine Davis, an associate professor of horticulture at North Carolina State University who focuses on specialty crops like ramps.
Davis said the increase in popularity over the years means that chic big-city eateries and their adventurous chefs are vying for the bulbs but “very few people are producing these commercially.’’
Ramps look much like a spring onion or a scallion, with flat green leaves protruding from a white onion-like bulb. Their flavour and smell, which is said to linger on the breath and skin for days after being eaten, is powerful and garlic-like.
A group in Chicago recently hosted a $65-a-plate ramp dinner, considerably higher than the $6 to $10 dinners found in most parts of West Virginia every spring.
Although ramps are harvested in the spring, the plants are not mature enough to produce seeds for replanting until autumn. Many foragers who find ramps growing wild in March or April don’t return to sow new seeds in September or October, Davis said.
Norene Facemire and her husband own one of the few ramp farms in the country, Ramp Farm Specialties in Richwood. She says that areas off the main roads are pretty well dug up, but ramps are still abundant in the mountains. Her 50-acre farm supplies ramps to individuals and restaurants all across the country. She added that she’s not concerned about a lack of ramps in the ground in West Virginia, although the recent cold and 12 inches of snow in the Richwood area have made it tough to harvest their plants.
Janet Fisher, deputy commissioner for the state Department of Agriculture, said ramps are still abundant in the eastern and northeastern parts of the state.
The ramp plant takes three years to mature to the stage where it’s edible, and two more years before it begins bearing seed for reproduction.
For full story, please see: http://www.forestrycenter.org/headlines.cfm?refid=98076
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Source: SomaliNet, USA, 6 April 2007
Kenyan President Kibaki has affirmed the highly priced sandalwood tree a protected species for a period of five years representing a ban of trade in them. According to the announcement, the ban on sandalwood tree‘s exploitation and trade is effective from February 14, this year meaning that there will be not cutting or trading of the species and those caught trading in the products would be prosecuted.
The species, also known as Osyris lanceolata, is one of the plants threatened with extinction due to indiscriminate exploitation and illegal trade.
The species can fetch between Sh1 million and Sh3 million depending on its age.
For full story, please see: http://somalinet.com/news/world/East%20Africa/9235
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Source: KalingaTimes, India, 20 April 2007
Red sandalwood, a precious fragrant tree whose indiscriminate felling is a punishable offence in India, has raised a stink in Nepal, with the exposure of a thriving cross-border smuggling network that has ministers at loggerheads.
On Wednesday, police in Nepal seized nearly seven tonnes of red sandalwood near the border with Tibet. Hidden under mounds of beaten rice, the precious cargo was being spirited away from India to China via Nepal by smugglers, with the likely involvement of customs and security officials in all three countries.
The seizure comes less than a week after a revenue patrol along the same route unearthed 11 tonnes of red sandalwood being smuggled to China from India through Nepal.
The flourishing racket has been flayed by Nepal’s MPs, who have raised the issue in parliament and demanded an investigation.
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Source: Press release, SBT Seabuckthorn International Inc., 16 April 2007 (in openPR)
Seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.), named a ‘superfruit’ for its robust nutritional properties, is poised to outrun and outgun many other functional foods, and the health industry is standing up and taking notice. Dr Paul Gross (www.berrydoctor.com) recently rated seabuckthorn second out of ten potential ‘superfruits’, based upon four criteria including nutrient density and potential for disease impact.
In studying the superfood and superfruit phenomena, nutritional science is recognising that Mother Nature is capable of providing, in such varied single foods as wheatgrass juice, garlic, blueberries and now seabuckthorn, a foodborne ‘inoculation’ against ill-health that the laboratory cannot yet match.
While the nourishing and healing properties of seabuckthorn are relatively new to the West, they have been well known in the East for hundreds of years. The earliest mention of seabuckthorn was in the Tibetan medical classic "'rGyud Bzi" in the eighth century.
Almost the entire plant is suitable for consumption and topical application. The fruit pulp, rich in such antioxidants as vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and numerous flavonoids (complimentary micronutrients that work in concert with more familiar vitamins), plus the rare and valuable palmitoleic acid (known to support wound healing and cell health), can be pressed for juice, freeze dried and packaged as a supplement, and incorporated into topical skin preparations. The fruit oil can be extracted separately and taken internally or externally.
Oil from the seeds is high in several fatty acids, including omegas three and 6 in a critical 1:1 ratio; applied topically, the seed oil heals radiation burns, reduces scarring, heals or improves psoriasis and a host of other skin conditions, and taken internally it has been proven to improve heart health and gastro-intestinal disorders.
The leaves, high in vitamins, minerals, protein and several natural anti-inflammatory compounds, are dried for tea, powdered for an ingredient in soaps and creams, and steeped to make a soothing rinse for irritated skin. Studies are ongoing to determine the healing and nutritive possibilities of seabuckthorn bark.
All told, this superfruit, known to ease and soften scar tissue and arteriosclerosis, reduce inflammation and cell death and reverse burn damage, has over 191 known bio-active compounds for topical and internal applications. In fact, Mark Blumenthal of the American Botanical Council has stated: “If there ever was an herb that could qualify for the next generation of herbal luminaries, I would nominate Seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides).”
While Asia and Europe have used seabuckthorn commercially for several decades, the industry is new in North America. The health and supplement industries are just starting to pay attention (and draw attention) to this plant.
For more information, please contact:
Chuck Barton, VP Sales & Marketing
SBT Seabuckthorn International Inc
4154 Ponderosa Drive
Peachland, British Columbia, Canada
For full story, please see: http://www.openpr.com/news/18456/Seabuckthorn-Synergistic-Superfruit.html
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Source: ABC Regional Online, Australia, 9 April 2007
A north Queensland company hopes to develop treatments for cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer's disease after being granted permission to collect rainforest material under new biodiversity laws.
The chief executive officer of EcoBiotics, Dr Victoria Gordon, says the agreement is an Australian first and will allow the company to replicate natural rainforest resources for medicinal purposes by developing pharmaceutical products from natural resources in rainforests. She says the company is conducting pre-clinical trials on new drugs, but the focus of the research is on treatment for solid cancerous tumours.
Dr Gordon says the company will harvest plants and fungi in a search for new chemicals that can be developed into drugs used to treat solid tumours and central nervous system illnesses.
For full story, please see: http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200704/s1892426.htm
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Source: Focus News, Bulgaria, 5 April 2007
More than half of the honey produced in Bulgaria is exported to other countries, mainly in the EU, chairman of Sofia’s Bulgarian Apiarist Union has announced at an apiculture seminar.
Bulgaria produces an average 6,000-8,000 tons of honey, 4,000-5,000 of which is exported abroad. Bulgarians’ honey consumption is very low – 150-200 grams/person/year.
Bulgarian apiarists have some clashes with legislation amendments, which imposed tax levying on their production.
For full story, please see: http://www.focus-fen.net/index.php?id=n109485
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Source: Citizen, South Africa, 12 April 2007
The environmental group Greenpeace called for urgent action on Wednesday to prevent illegal logging in the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, accusing international companies there of “causing social chaos and wreaking environmental havoc.”
In a report which accused the World Bank of failing to stem the problem of illegal logging, Greenpeace said over 15 million hectares (37 million acres) of rainforest had been granted to the logging industry since a moratorium was agreed by the country’s government in May 2002. The group’s report, “Carving up the Congo,” also accused international logging companies of deception and intimidation to get timber.
Of the 60 million people in the DRC about 40 million depend upon the rainforests to provide essential food, medicine and other non-timber products along with energy and building materials.
And the forest is critical for the survival of wildlife including gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos, the report said.
Meanwhile, the World Bank has acknowledged that over the last three years not a single penny paid in taxes by logging companies has reached local communities to provide essential services like schools and hospitals.
“This leaves these people not only without the forest that provided their food, shelter and medicine, but without the benefits they had been promised, ´ Greenpeace said.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has the second-largest primal tropical forest in the world with 86 million hectares (212 million acres) of which 60 million (148 million) are potentially exploitable for logging. –Sapa-AFP
For full story, please see: http://www.citizen.co.za/index/article.aspx?pDesc=36429,1,22
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Source: Reuters, 3 April 2007 (in ENN News)
BRAZZAVILLE - Congo Republic has signed a deal to allow a U.S. developer to build hotels and casinos in a natural park that is home to several endangered species, a source at the Forestry Ministry said on Monday.
The agreement, signed last week in the commercial capital Point-Noire, gives Utah-based Pioneer International Development a 50-year licence to develop eco-tourism in the Conkouati-Douli National Park, the central African country's most diverse reserve.
The contract foresees a trial period for the government to review the performance of Pioneer, which was established in 2004 and has offices in several African countries.
"After the signing of this protocol ... Pioneer will appoint operators to begin the development process under the supervision of the Forestry Ministry," said a copy of the accord, read to Reuters by the source.
Stretching from deep in the Atlantic Ocean to the central African country's inland hills, Conkouati-Douli's 505,000 hectares are home to a host of rare and endangered species including leatherback turtles, mandrills, gorillas and chimpanzees.
For full story, please see: http://www.enn.com/today.html?id=12507
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Source: Stabroek News, Guyana, 3 April 2007
The British High Commission recently made monetary donations to a social welfare and sustainable development society. According to a press release British High Commissioner Fraser Wheeler presented cheques to the Help and Shelter and the Guyana Marine Turtle Conservation Society (GMTCS).
The money donated to the GTMCS is the third part in a project aimed at building capacity for the indigenous people of the North West Guyana to assist them to effectively manage their natural resources and to undertake a preliminary assessment of certification for local organic NTFP. The release said the project started last July, with assistance from the high commission, and has resulted in NTFP from the area being sold in the local markets. Additionally, six persons were trained as tour guides and a map of the area's natural resources has been drawn.
The release said criteria for assessing the implementation of the projects have been set and the organisations will receive more assistance when these benchmarks have been met.
For full story, please see: http://www.stabroeknews.com/index.pl/article_general_news?id=56517505
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Source: Fibre2fashion.com, India, 5 April 2007
To upgrade silk production in Jharkhand, the Central Silk Board (CSB) and state industry department initiated a joint venture project of ‘perspective plan for sericulture development’ with an investment of Rs151 crore.
Jharkhand at the moment produces 100 tons of raw silk and targets to reach 350 tons within next six years. Regions of West Singhbhum, Seraikela-Kharsawan and Santhal Pargana serve as breeding grounds for cocoon cultivators. The state produces tasar, mulberry and eri silk.
In this venture, the government plans to undertake infrastructure development, plantation activities, training and value addition of raw silk projects in the current fiscal year.
Ranchi-based Central Tasar Research and Training Institute would help in the project by providing services of training, research and development and technology transfer to farmers.
At the moment sericulture is being done in plant species like arjuna, saal, asan and mulberry tree but the Government’s focus would be on non-mulberry production of silk.
For full story, please see: http://www.fibre2fashion.com/news/textile-news/newsdetails.aspx?news_id=33459
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Source: DailyIndia.com, USA, 28 March 2007
Sonepur (Orissa): The Palash flower known as the “flame of the forest” remained unnoticed until Orissa’s Sonepur District farmers discovered its commercial value. Locals found these flowers an ideal source to prepare dye for colouring fabrics.
Palash is an odourless flower growing in abundance in the countryside. Botanically called Butea monosperma, palash bears flowers of red petals.
Sambalpuri saris, bed-sheets and mats dyed with the colours made from Palash flowers have become extremely popular and are in great demand.
In Birmaharajpur, the locals and people from other neighbouring villages collect Palash flowers and earn their livelihood by selling them to the weavers. “Palash is useful for making dye, so we sell it to weavers and earn some money. Our children also help us in collecting the flowers," said Gurbari Naik, a flower collector.
"This flower blossoms in the Chaitra (spring season). We will give it to the weavers and get two to five rupees per kilogram," said Hema, another flower collector.
The flowers are dried and their colours are extracted to dye cotton, silk cloths and natural fibres, known as 'Ikkat' and 'Sambalpuri'. The synthetic fibres do not respond well to the dye made from Palash.
Jharna, a producer of natural colours, said that saris and other fabrics coloured in Palash-based dyes are not only lasting and good-looking but also safe to use. "Here we get plenty of Palash flowers. We collect and dry them. Then we soak the dried flowers in water, add some ingredients and make dyes. This dye is used in cotton and silk fabrics," said Jharna.
"As a dye, this is quite quick in colouring. It looks beautiful on the fabric and also renders it healthier for user's skin. But this source of natural dye is not available all the year round as 'Palash' is a seasonal flower. So we have it collected in this (spring) flowering season and preserve it by drying for use all the year round," said Chaturbhuj Meher, an award-winning weaver from the State.
Although the process of preparing dye from Palash is quite lengthy, the weavers of Sambalpuri textile in Sonepur District have switched over to this dye as it is cheaper compared to chemical dyes.
Some people feel there is little awareness about the uses of Palash tree. "All the parts of this tree are useful. Its seeds, flowers and even the stems have medicinal value. If only, the people of this State are made aware about the uses of the tree, then we could conserve it and grow more of it to make it a trading commodity to sell to other states" said Abhimanyu Sahoo, an Oriya poet.
Dried Palash flowers are also used as a diuretic. The gum obtained from the tree contains tannin and is used in the treatment of diarrhoea. Locals say the seeds have de-worming properties. The wood of Palash tree is soft and durable and is used for making boats.
For full story, please see: http://www.dailyindia.com/show/129016.php/Orissa-weavers-use-dye-of-wild-flower-to-colour-handspun-cloth
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Source: Independent, UK, 3 April 2007
Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is enlarging its vision, from the denizens of the Suffolk marshes and the Scottish lochs to the living jewels of the Asian rainforest. The society is moving into tropical bird conservation in a serious way as part of a partnership that is seeking to save one of the world's greatest wildlife hotspots.
With its sister organisation in Indonesia, and BirdLife International, the RSPB has secured a long-lasting management concession on a stretch of lowland rainforest in Sumatra which has more breeding bird species than all of Britain.
In an area two-thirds the size of Greater London, the Harapan rainforest hosts at least 267 types of bird, compared with 226 in all of the British Isles - and may hold more than 300. And that's just the birds. It is also home to a striking range of animal species including Asian elephants, Sumatran tigers and the newly discovered clouded leopard, as well as five primate species, sun bears, Sumatran otters, Malayan porcupines - and the world's richest and most diverse flora.
Yet for all its natural treasures, the forest has been placed under dire threat by the pressures of illegal logging and conversion to timber and palm oil plantations, which have reduced the Sumatran rainforest to a fraction - less than 5 percent - of its former 16 million hectares.
"It is difficult to express just how significant this breakthrough is," said Graham Wynne, the RSPB chief executive. "Almost all of Harapan rainforest has been logged to some extent in the last 60 years and some of its species have been staring extinction in the face. But all of the forest can still recover and, thanks to the work of Burung Indonesia, the local bird protection organization, and the Indonesian government, every single species it hosts now has a toehold on survival. Harapan rainforest is to become a beacon of hope for forests across Indonesia and beyond."
Until now, sites earmarked for timber production or plantation crops in Indonesia could be used for nothing else. But the ecosystem restoration decree, which was introduced by the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, permits the management of forests to obtain benefits labelled "ecosystem services". These include storing carbon, controls on pollution and protection for wildlife, all of which, say the partnership, will help nearby human communities.
Directly benefiting will be the 150-strong Batin Sembilan tribe, a nomadic people that will continue to harvest rubber, honey, fruits and rattan for its own use. "Now these people have a choice for their future. With intact forest remaining, they will have the choice of maintaining their traditional lifestyles," said Sukianto Lusli, executive director of Burung Indonesia. "They will also have the option of becoming wildlife monitors or forest wardens, as will other people in the local area."
There will be other jobs for the Harapan community including forest guides, nursery management and the preparation of land. Field staff are being recruited now and the site will eventually be managed by a team of about 80 people. The development of a research station and eco-tourism are long-term possibilities.
Once they start looking properly, conservationists expect to find thousands of plant and animal species in Harapan.
Graham Wynne said: "This is a groundbreaking project achieved with the full support of the Indonesian government. It is hugely significant not just for rainforest conservation in Asia but for other parts of the world."
Harapan is, in fact, the Indonesian word for hope. The forest stretches 35km (22 miles) east to west and 40km north to south, and represents about 6 per cent of remaining lowland rainforest in Sumatra. It is two degrees south of the equator and conservationists hope that its humid conditions will hasten regeneration. Furthermore, the ecosystem restoration decree means other private management bodies also can apply to restore forests in Indonesia.
The RSPB is about to launch a UK fundraising campaign for Harapan with a target of £2 million over the next 12 months. Similar campaigns are beginning in other European countries and Japan. The initiative has already received significant financial support from the European Commission and Conservation International's Global Conservation Fund.
In the long term, the RSPB, Burung Indonesia and BirdLife International plan to establish a trust fund of £9m. Annual interest payments from the fund will cover the forest's management costs.
For full story, please see: http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/wildlife/article2414740.ece
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Source: MehrNews.com, Iran, 13 April 2007
Iran’s Ministry of Agriculture Jihad will put the medicinal herbs comprehensive plan into practice for the next five years to develop the output, said the ministry’s Ornamental Plants and Medicinal Herbs Office head here on Friday.
One of the plan’s goals is to export the medicinal herbs. To this end, almost 58 to 60 000 hectares are under cultivation, said the official, adding the lands are expected to yield 73 000 tons of medicinal herbs.
The ministry plans to spot the proper farmlands for herbs, train its experts and producers, and cooperate with standards institutes to produce quality medicinal herbs.
For full story, please see: http://www.mehrnews.ir/en/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=469694
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Source: Malaysia Star, Malaysia, 5 April 2007
BENTONG: Orang asli should seize the opportunity to participate in the field of biotechnology to improve their standard of living, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob said. He said due to their nature and background, these indigenous people had a vast knowledge in jungle plants and herbs.
“For many generations, they have been exposed to traditional herbs and the medicinal value derived from plants. “This resulted in them having an advantage in this field over others. “Maybe the time has come for them to be taught the potential and high commercial value of these plants,” he said when attending a gathering with the orang asli community in Kampung Sungai Bot near here recently.
He also presented a dividend of RM500 each to 53 orang asli families in Kampung Sungai Bot, Kampung Sungai Gapoi and Kampung Ulu Shafie for their involvement in the replanting of oil palm by Risda.
Adnan said he had brought up the matter to the attention of state executive councillor in charge of orang asli affairs Datuk Ishak Muhammad.
He said plans were in the pipeline to rope in the community for the state’s various biotechnology projects. “They can be an asset by sharing their experiences on ways to extract certain plants and herbs for use as traditional medicine and health supplements. “With the help of technology we can produce chemical-free herbal products commercially,” he said.
Adnan said it was up to the community to adapt to changes and take up the challenge. “They can then live more comfortably and improve themselves to be on par with others. “But if they want to keep their status quo, we will not force them to change,” he stressed.
For full story, please see: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2007/4/5/southneast/17290313&sec=southneast
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Source: Reuters, 19 March 2007
Malaysia's answer to Viagra is a traditional herb the country has picked to spearhead its push into biotechnology, but now it faces the challenge of convincing the world the remedy is both potent and safe.
Surging interest in the herb, "tongkat ali", has spawned dozens of products, from pills to beverages, that play up its reputed aphrodisiac properties, and could even threaten the sway overseas of ginseng, a more-widely established remedy in Asia. Generations of ageing Malaysian men have sworn by the rejuvenation effects of "tongkat ali", scouring the countryside for it so eagerly that it has almost vanished from all but the deepest rainforest, and now has the status of a protected plant.
Scientific studies show that concoctions of "tongkat ali" can help hormone production, making rats and mice more frisky, but have yet to prove it can reliably produce the same effect in humans, researchers say. "It can have different effects on different people," said Abdul Razak, head of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, which is driving research and commercial production of the herb.
"Tongkat ali", which scientists call Eurycoma longifolia, is a slender evergreen shrub with bitter, brownish-red fruit that is native to Malaysia and Indonesia. All parts of the plant which grows up to 10 metres (33 ft) tall can be chopped up fine and boiled in water to make the traditional medicine.
As Malaysia looks to biotechnology for economic growth, scientists are taking a harder look at the aphrodisiac qualities of tongkat ali and say it could spawn drugs to treat cancer and malaria.
Five years of research studies in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States have helped to identify the key compounds in the herb, Razak said.
For full story, please see: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/KLR40651.htm
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Source: Viet Nam News, Vietnam, 16 April 2007
Medicinal plants, once prevalent on Hoang Lien Son Mountain in Son La Province, are facing extinction because of uncontrolled harvesting by traders, according to experts.
Most of the plants are being sold to China, where about 60 per cent of the herbs were originally imported from.
Dinh Van My, head of the Sa Pa Herbal Medicine Research Station, says the plants are popular because they can be sold for hundreds of thousands of dong.
Even a small amount of Coptis sinensis, Panax pseudo ginseng or Ngu Diep ginseng will get between VND200,000 (US$12) and VND500,000 (US$30), he says. Around 40 species of medicinal plants have completely vanished and at least 10 more are on the verge of extinction, said My. If this trend continues to grow, there won’t be any herbs left to sell.
Traders, however, are more concerned about feeding their families than worrying over the future of these herbs in Viet Nam.
Hau A Viet, a medicine dealer, says his family always goes into the jungle when the plants are ready to be picked. On a good day, his family can earn more than enough money to eat and live comfortably for months, he says.
Nguyen Quoc Tri, director of Hoang Lien Son National Park, admits this is a major problem in the area. He says it’s difficult to stop dealers because there aren’t enough forest officials to police the more than 10,000 households living in or around the park from Ho Village, Lao Chai, Ta Van and Giang Ta Communes.
My and Tri are asking that stricter penalties be put in place to curb the uncontrolled trade of these plants to protect them for future generations.
For full story, please see: http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/showarticle.php?num=01HEA160407
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Source: SciDev.Net, 3 April 2007
[LILONGWE] The Southern African Development Community has resolved to develop regional safety standards and carry out research into traditional medicines and medicinal plants to cure communicable diseases.
Health ministers from the 14 member countries made the resolution at a meeting in Malawi's capital Lilongwe last week (30 March) and recommended sending experts to China for advice about how to create the standards.
Traditional medicine has moved up the Southern African Development Community (SADC) agenda following an upsurge in the accessibility and use of traditional medicine in the region. "Whether we like it or not, people in our countries are accessing traditional medicine," said Stephen Sianga, director of Social and Human Development at the SADC secretariat. "What is important is to ensure that these medicines are safe and meet the acceptable quality standards."
Mphu Ramatlapeng, chair of health ministers of the SADC, said that by joining forces and pursuing strategic partnerships at the regional level with key stakeholders, countries could address some of the key objectives of the UN Millennium Development Goals.
A ministerial steering committee involving stakeholders from all the countries has been put in place to explore the issue and draw up the safety guidelines. The guidelines will include policies to monitor the use of traditional medicines at country level. Malawi health minister Marjorie Ngaunje told delegates a policy has already been developed for Malawi.
Crispin Kaposhi, a pesticides consultant in Zambia who has conducted studies on the use of indigenous plants as pesticides and drugs, said governments should strive to preserve traditional knowledge before it disappears. "We need to intensify research and support the work that our traditional healers are doing with medicinal plants," he said.
For full story, please see: http://www.scidev.net/gateways/index.cfm?fuseaction=readitem&rgwid=4&item=News&itemid=3531&language=1
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Source: Forestry Funding News Alert # 19 (March 2007)
The African Women's Development Fund (AWDF) funds local, national, sub-regional and regional organisations in Africa working towards women's empowerment. The AWDF is an institutional capacity-building and programme development fund, which aims to help build a culture of learning and partnerships within the African women's movement. In addition to awarding grants, the AWDF attempts to strengthen the organisational capacities of its grantees.
The AWDF funds work in five thematic areas: Women's Human Rights, Political Participation, Peace Building, Health, Reproductive Rights and HIV/AIDS, Economic Empowerment. The AWDF makes grants in three cycles each year. Applications can be sent in at any time.
For more information on how to apply, visit their Web site at: http://www.awdf.org/pages/index.php?pid=2&sid=24
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Source: The Guardian, London, 12 April 2007 (in Taipei Times)
When L'Oreal, the world's largest cosmetic company, bought the Body Shop little more than a year ago, industry observers reacted with shock as a small, ethical brand was gobbled up by a huge multinational. They represent polar opposites of the US$197 billion global beauty industry. But a year later it has become clear that the US$1.3 billion acquisition was the start of something new at L'Oreal — the group has taken a leaf out of Body Shop's book and has decided to go natural.
Once the preserve of a few hippies, the natural cosmetics phenomenon has gradually migrated into the mainstream and is now a booming market. Sales are only one percent of the global beauty market. But it is growing at 15 percent to 20 percent a year, and all the big cosmetic firms have started paying attention.
As cosmetics containing shea butter pop up on more and more Western supermarket shelves, little do buyers realize that sales of this age-old beauty-boosting nut are helping legions of African women feed their children and send them to school.
Retailers have also caught on. Just as they adjusted to the growing demand for organic food, supermarkets are moving into the natural cosmetic market, with Tesco in Britain launching its own personal care range called Bnatural.
Jean-Paul Agon, chief executive of L'Oreal, said as much at the company's annual results this year: "2006 marked the group's entry more than ever into the natural market. It is a market in full development in the whole world." The group's acquisition of Sanoflore, a French organic products company, in October only served to reinforce that.
For full story, please see: www.taipeitimes.com/News/feat/archives/2007/04/12/2003356385
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Source: Belfast Telegraph, UK, 22 March 2007
Britain is to give £50m towards helping to save the second-largest rainforest in the world, the Congo Basin in central Africa.
In one of the Budget's most eye-catching and unusual items, Mr Brown announced an £800m Environmental Transformation Fund, to help developing countries cope with environmental changes such as global warming - and the Congo forest will be the recipient of its first major grant.
The money will form the basis of a new Congo Basin rainforest conservation fund, to be set up under the aegis of the 10 African countries surrounding the great wilderness, which at 700,000 square miles in extent is twice the size of France, but is increasingly threatened with development in the way the Amazon has been affected in Brazil.
Britain has persuaded Professor Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmental campaigner and 2004 Nobel Peace Price winner, and Canada's former Prime Minister, Paul Martin, a long-standing advocate for debt relief and for African leadership in development, to oversee the fund's establishment and advise on its governance and financial management, ensuring that it has strong African ownership and supports the needs of the Congo Basin countries.
"Fifty million local people rely on the tropical rainforest of the Congo Basin for food, shelter and their livelihoods, while the world relies on it, and other rainforests, as an ecological handbrake on our rapidly changing climate," said the International Development Secretary, Hilary Benn.
"But deforestation is a serious problem with nearly 6,000 square miles being destroyed every year.
"The UK's initial contribution of £50m to this African initiative - which we hope other countries will support -will help empower local people to live and work in the forest, while helping to prevent the double tragedy for them and the world that deforestation would bring."
The aim is to ensure that local people's livelihoods and rights are protected while helping them to better manage the forest and find livelihoods consistent with forest conservation.
The new fund will strengthen the work of the donors who are already active in the region, including Belgium, Canada, France, Germany and the US, and it will open a channel for new donors to add their support.
The Stern report on climate change, published in October last year, highlighted the fact that deforestation is responsible for 18 per cent of world greenhouse gas emissions, and said prompt action to tackle deforestation was a critical part of the global response to climate change.
For full story, please see: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/budget07/article2381973.ece
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11-15 June 2007
Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA,
Indigenous peoples all over the world are steadily confronted with outside pressures of having both their land and cultures assimilated into the dominant cultural context. There is currently an acute need to explore successful models of sustainable development that allow for the preservation of indigenous lands, sovereignty and culture, while also allowing for the integration of economic development, institutional capacity-building and technological advancement.
This conference is designed to bring together scholars and practitioners who are committed to the concepts of sustainable development. This year the conference will focus on the Natural Environment foundational element in the Menominee model of sustainable development.
For more information, see http://www.sharingindigenouswisdom.org/default.asp
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3-7 September, 2007
The conference is being organized by RECOFTC, in collaboration with other Rights and Resources Initiative partners, and many other organizations and donors that are concerned for poverty and forest issues.
It is well established now that areas with high rates of poverty and forest areas often coincide. There is much interest in exploring ways of using forest resources in ways that benefit the poor, while sustaining the resource base. There is increasing evidence though that the potential of forests to contribute to poverty reduction is only being partially realized. There is also growing recognition that this will continue to be the case unless critical issues are addressed such as the need for greater tenure security, market reform and other supportive changes in policy to improve access to resources and markets by the poor.
This conference aims to support discussion and exchange on the critical factors surrounding forests and poverty and current efforts to reduce poverty through forest management and use. It will strengthen existing, and help build new, strategic networks of key stakeholders to advance tenure, market and policy reforms in support of poverty reduction. Based on the evidence and experiences shared at the conference, participants will be invited to craft a common agenda of priorities to strengthen reforms for poverty reduction and forests in Asia. Arrangements at the national and regional level to support the implementation of the agenda will also be considered.
Call for papers and posters
Papers are called from potential participants addressing the central theme of the conference - the relationship between forests and poverty, and particularly the role of forest resources, products and services in poverty reduction. The following themes and topics provide examples of the types of contributions that the conference organizers are looking for:
• The Role of Forests in Poverty Reduction: Key Concepts and Issues
• Lessons from Policies, Programs and Projects in Pro Poor Forestry
• Emerging Opportunities and Threats for Pro Poor Forestry
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September 30-October 3, 2007
The congress discussions will be organized under the following 3 themes and 8 sub-themes:
1. Global Challenges, Responsibilities and Leadership in Forestry: 1.1 Challenges and Responsibilities of Political Leadership and Governance Structures 1.2 Challenges and Responsibilities of Constitutional, Legal and Policy Experts. 1.3 Challenges and Responsibilities of the Business Community 1.4 Challenges and Responsibilities of Civil Society
2. Frontiers of Science and a Healthy and Diverse Forest Environment 2.1 The Forest Environment, its Diversity and Productivity, and Scientific Challenges 2.2 Human Health and the Forest
3. Cultures, Markets and Sustainable Societies 3.1 Markets and Sustainable Societies 3.2 Culture, Ethics, and Sustainable Societies
Abstracts for Posters: Last Date May 15, 2006
For more information, please contact:
Prof. Shashi Kant
Chair - Organising Committee
Faculty of Forestry
University of Toronto
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16-18 October 2007
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Recent and unprecedented economic and social change in the Asia-Pacific region has significantly altered the way forests are regarded and used. It is in acknowledgement of a new kind of society-forest dynamic in the region that the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission, in partnership with member countries and other international organizations, is conducting the second Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study (APFSOS II). This major international conference is being organized to strengthen the consultative and capacity-building processes of APFSOS II by bringing together diverse stakeholders and expertise to provide broader perspectives on emerging changes, probable scenarios and their implications for forests and forestry in the region.
The conference will provide opportunities to present selected voluntary papers. Main discussion areas and subjects on which to present voluntary papers will include:
• Current situation of Asia-Pacific forests and forestry
• Societal transition in Asia and the Pacific and probable scenarios for forests and forestry
• Impacts of globalization on forests and forestry in Asia and the Pacific
• Challenges in balancing environmental, economic and social needs
• Policy, institutional and technological adaptation for the 21st Century
Abstracts (about 250 words) of voluntary papers should be submitted not later than 15 May 2007 and full papers should be submitted not later than 15 August 2007.
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Patrick Durst
Senior Forestry Officer
FAO Regional Officer for Asia and the Pacific
39 Phra Atit Road, Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Tel: + 66 2 697 4139
Fax: + 66 2 697 4445
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21-24 November 2007
Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Medicinal plants in many forms have been used since ancient times in traditional medicine and for health care. Aromatic plants and their products, particularly essential oils, are also becoming more important. Traditional medicine is, at the present time, accepted as an alternative for or used in conjunction with the western medical practice in many countries. The 3rd Global Summit on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants is therefore being organized to provide a forum for the scientists, researchers, representatives from the medical and pharmaceutical industries as well as traditional medicine to discuss, share the ideas, information and experiences for future collaboration in the global development of medicinal and aromatic plant industries.
The theme of the Summit will be “Medicinal and Aromatic Plants in Health Care” with the emphasis on the following subtopics:
• Cultivation and quality standardization
• Sustainable role of medicinal and aromatic plants in health care
• Safety and efficacy of phytomedicines and phytocosmetics
• Isolation and characterization of bioactive substances from medicinal and aromatic plants
• Nanotechnology in pharmaceutical, phytocosmetics and natural products
For more information, including the call for paper and posters, please contact:
Dr. Thaneeya Chetiyanukornkul, Secretariat
International Centre, UNISERV, Chiang Mai University
239 Huay Keaw Road, Chiang Mai 50200 Thailand
Tel.: + (66-53) 94-2861, Fax: + (66-53) 94-2890
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Sourrce: ABC Science Online, 20 March 2007
Pacific Islanders are demanding the power to restrict patenting of their human, plant and animal genes, even if they run foul of international patent laws.
A new book documents 16 'acrimonious' encounters between scientific researchers and indigenous communities and calls for Pacific states to take a united approach to gaining control over such patents in the region.
"Researchers are harvesting and patenting the Pacific region's genetic resources by simply gathering and taking ownership over almost everything in their path," says co-editor of the book, Aroha Mead of the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. She says lack of regulation and a lack of knowledge about the latest genetic technologies and intellectual patent law has made the region a major target for commercial gene hunters.
The book says a major problem is that communities involved in research often don't give informed consent. The book documents cases in which researchers gained consent from people who were not representative of their community. This resulted in conflicts within the community and the community's eventual withdrawal from the research.
Scientific research and patenting can often offend deeply held cultural values, says co-editor Dr Steven Ratuva, of the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. He says patents on genes in medicinal plants conflict with the traditional view that such plants are common property, available for everyone. While fair compensation for exploiting indigenous knowledge can be important, there are other issues at stake, says Ratuva. "It's not only a matter of money," he says. "There are certain aspects of the culture which a lot of communities think cannot be bought or sold. He says recognition of local people's world view, even if it appears absurd to outsiders, must be part of the process in working out any patent or bioprospecting agreements.
The book renews calls for a Regional Pacific Intellectual Property Office to vet patent applications and make sure they conform with Pacific Island cultural values. Leaders at the intergovernmental Pacific Islands Forum say they also want such a regional office. Mead says Pacific states should also pass laws to either prevent or significantly reduce patents on life.
But Professor Brad Sherman, director of the Australian Centre for Intellectual Property in Agriculture, says such laws would contravene current World Trade Organization (WTO) rules on intellectual property relating to plants and animals. Any countries that contravene the WTO rules would run the risk of economic sanctions, says Sherman, based at the University of Queensland.
He says in his experience bioprospectors are often public sector researchers, who are under pressure to generate income from patenting. And he says tough gene patent laws would not stop such researchers from taking material out of the Pacific region and patenting it elsewhere.
Mead is aware going against the tide won't be easy but is committed. "Patents are out of control and a growing number of sectors of society are indicating that limits do need to be drawn," she says.
The book Pacific Genes & Life Patents is freely available online.
Mead, Aroha and Ratuva, Steven. 2007. Pacific Genes and Life Patents, Pacific Experiences & Analysis of the Commodification & Ownership of Life. Call of the Earth Llamado de la Tierra, United Nations University- Institute of Advanced Studies, 273 pages. ISBN 0-473-11237-X
For full story, please see: http://abc.net.au/science/news/stories/2007/1872885.htm
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From: Pascal Stute firstname.lastname@example.org
My PhD-publication "Ökonomische Ansätze zur Erzielung einer nachhaltigen Tropenwaldnutzung" ("Economic approaches to achieve a sustainable use of tropical forests") contains a big section about the establishment of income generating forests and conservation by commercialisation (CbC) approaches (on basis of NWFP). It is only available in German so far, however a summary is available in English. The work has been ranked "Magna cum laude" and was written for the European Business School (ebs) in Oestrich-Winkel, Germany.
An online-version of the book can be downloaded at the following link (the content pages/summary can be downloaded for free): http://www.shaker.de/shop/978-3-8322-5947-1. An English Executive Summary is available from FAO’s NWFP home page under “Reader’s Research” (www.fao.org/forestry/site/35667/en)
For more information, please contact:
Dr. Pascal Stute
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From: FAO’s NWFP Programme
Almeida, E.; Sabogal, C.; Brienza, S., Jr. 2006. Recuperação de areas alteradas na Amazônia Brasileira: experiências locais, lições aprendidas e implicações para políticas públicas. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia. Review of Forest Rehabilitation: Lessons from the Past. 202p. ISBN: 979-24-4609-5.
BirdLife International. 2006. Livelihoods and the environment at Important Bird Areas: listening to local voices. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK
A new publication by BirdLife International provides a synthesis of local analyses of biodiversity-livelihoods linkages in key biodiversity sites in developing countries. The studies were carried out by BirdLife partners and focused on sites designated by the organisation as 'Important Bird Areas' or IBAs. BirdLife's developing country partners are conservation organisations whose members and the local groups they work with are poor people. There is therefore a strong motivation to link conservation with poverty reduction at the local level. Doing this effectively, however, requires a clear understanding of who the poor are and what poverty means locally.
The studies explore how local people perceive poverty -from lack of money and lack of access to land and resources, to vulnerability to economic and environmental shocks - and how the IBA's contribute to alleviating some of these problems. The studies capture, in local voices, the values of natural resources that are familiar from the academic and scientific literature - food, medicines, building materials, grazing, safety nets - and highlight the poorest people's high level of reliance on environmental goods and services. They emphasise, however, that poverty means different things to different people in different places. Understanding the contribution of biodiversity to local livelihoods therefore requires careful attention to local needs and a better evaluation of the importance of different resources to poor people's livelihoods. As has been said many times, there is no blueprint for identifying biodiversity-livelihood links, and there is no substitute for local knowledge in designing conservation measures that address human needs.
BirdLife has been able to use the findings of its local situation analyses to design interventions that respond to local peoples' priorities - supporting agricultural development around Kibira National Park in Burundi to relieve pressure on the park's resources; developing high-value, community-based ecotourism in Bolivia; commercialising non-timber forest product collection in Palas Valley, Pakistan. BirdLife does not suggest that its approach will always result in win-win solutions for biodiversity and for local livelihoods - indeed such scenarios are likely to be rare. However understanding local people's perceptions and values and integrating these into conservation interventions can, the report suggests, lead to "win more-lose less" outcomes.
The report can be downloaded from: http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2007/01/listening_to_local_voices_IBAs.pdf
(Source: BioSoc Bulletin, issue 13, March 2007)
Chokkalingam, U., Carandang, A.P., Pulhin, J.M., Lasco, R.D., Rose Jane J.P., Toma, T. 2006. One century of forest rehabilitation in the Philippines: Approaches, outcomes and lessons. Bogor, Indonesia, CIFOR. Country case studies on Review of Forest Rehabilitation Initiatives: Lessons from the Past.
Chokkalingam, U.; Zhou Zaichi; Wang Chunfeng; Toma, T. 2006. Learning lessons from China's forest rehabilitation efforts: national level review and special focus on Guangdong Province. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia. Review of Forest Rehabilitation: Lessons from the Past. 159p. ISBN: 979-24-4667-2.
de Jong, W.; Do Dinh Sam; Trieu Van Hung. 2006. Forest rehabilitation in Vietnam: histories, realities and future. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia. Review of Forest Rehabilitation: Lessons from the Past. 76p. ISBN: 979-24-4652-4.
Ejobi, F; Mosha, R.D; Ndege, S; Kamoga, D. 2007. Ethno-veterinary medicinal plants of the Lake Victoria basin: a bioprospection. Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances. 6(2): 257-261
The main objective of this study was to identify and document plants traditionally used for treating livestock diseases and conditions in Lake Victoria basin of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Godoy, R., Wilkie, D.S., Reyes-García, V., Leonard, W.R., Huanca, T., McDade, T., Vadez, V., and Tanner, S. 2006. Human body-mass index (weight in kg/stature in m2) as a useful proxy to assess the relation between income and wildlife consumption in poor rural societies. Biodivers. Conserv. 15(14):4495-4506
Jones, MJ; Orr, B. 2006. Resin tapping and forest cooperatives in Honduras. Journal of sustainable forestry; 22(3-4): 135-169.
Kaliora, A C; Stathopoulou, M G; Triantafillidis, J K; Dedoussis, G V Z; Andrikopoulos, N K. 2007. Chios mastic treatment of patients with active Crohn's disease. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 13(5): 748-753
To evaluate the effectiveness of mastic (from Pistacia lentiscus) administration on the clinical course and plasma inflammatory mediators of patients with active Crohn's disease (CD).
Kursar, T.A., Caballero-George, C.C., Capson, T.L., Cubilla-Rios, L., Gerwick, W.H., Gupta, M.P., Ibañez, A., Linington, R.G., McPhail, K.L., Ortega-Barría, E., Romero, L.I., Solis, P.N., and Coley, P.D. 2006. Securing economic benefits and promoting conservation through bioprospecting. BioScience 56(12):1005-1012.
McManis, Charles (ed.). 2007. Biodiversity and the Law. Intellectual property, biotechnology & traditional knowledge. Earthscan. ISBN 1844073491 / 9781844073498
Meza, C. Sabogal. C., de Jong, W. 2006. Rehabilitación de areas degradadas en la Amazonia peruana : Revisión de experiencias y lecciones aprendidas. Bogor, Indonesia, CIFOR. Country case studies on Review of Forest Rehabilitation Initiatives: Lessons from the Past. 106p.
Mickels-Kokwe, G. 2006. Small-scale woodland-based enterprises with outstanding economic potential – the case of honey in Zambia. Bees for Development, UK.
Morsello, C. 2006. Company-community non-timber forest product deals in the Brazilian Amazon: A review of opportunities and problems. Forest policy and economics. June; 8(4): 485-494.
Ndangalasi, H.J; Bitariho, R; Dovie, D.B.K. 2007. Harvesting of non-timber forest products and implications for conservation in two montane forests of East Africa. Biological Conservation. 134(2): 242-250
Plant species-level research that comprises inventories, impact studies and monitoring is necessary if plant resources are to be harvested sustainably by human populations living adjacent to protected areas in sub-Saharan Africa. This research assessed the extraction of plant products from two montane forest ecosystems, Uzungwa Scarp Forest Reserve (USFR) and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP), East Africa. In USFR, data from vegetation sampling and interviews with local people were used to understand the ecological and socio-economic aspects of non-timber forest product (NTFP) harvesting. The densities of eight commonly harvested tree species, most of which were used as building poles, were approximately 2.4-4.5 times lower in disturbed versus undisturbed habitats across all four sites in USFR. Interviews with 91 women and 54 men suggested that most species were harvested for medicinal uses (57 species) and building purposes (50 species). In BINP, the liana Loeseneriella apocynoides (Apocynaceae) is harvested for basketry weaving. Evidence suggested that the liana was harvested in both protected and unprotected areas of BINP. Data collected suggested a negative impact on this species in an unprotected versus a protected area, with stem diameters larger than 1 cm significantly more abundant in the protected area. This study reveals that harvesting of NTFPs occurs even in these two protected forest areas, and that over-exploitation not only threatens species of high-demand, but could also alter forest structure and composition. Management practices that encourage the monitoring of sustainable harvesting levels of species and promote alternative plants for the same uses should be considered as part of conservation strategies.
Nelson, S.C. and Elevitch, C.R. 2006 Noni: The complete guide for consumers and growers. Permanent Agriculture Resources. Holualoa, Hawaii.
Phillips, O.L., Rose, S., Mendoza, A.M., and Vargas, P.N. 2006. Resilience of southwestern Amazon forests to anthropogenic edge effects. Conserv. Biol. 20(6):1698-1710.
Sodhi, N.S., Brooks, T.M., Koh, L.P., Acciaioli, G., Erb, M., Tan, A.K.J., Curran, L.M., Brosius, P., Lee, T.M., Patlis, J.M., Gumal, M., and Lee, R.J. 2006. Biodiversity and human livelihood crises in the Malay archipelago. Conserv. Biol. 20(6):1811-1813.
Uehara-Prado, M., Brown, K.S., and Freitas, A.V.L. 2007. Species richness, composition and abundance of fruit-feeding butterflies in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest: comparison between a fragmented and a continuous landscape. Global Ecol. Biogeogr. 16(1):43-54.
Wang ShengYang; Lai WanChi; Chu FangHua; Lin ChienTsong; Shen ShiYen; Chang ShangTzen. 2006. Essential oil from the leaves of Cryptomeria japonica acts as a silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) repellent and insecticide. Journal of Wood Science; 52(6): 522-526
This is the first article to report the evaluation of a natural product used as an antisilverfish agent. Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina), primitive wingless insects, feed on a variety of materials, including paper, cotton, starch, and cereals. They can be a problem in libraries and other places where books, documents, and papers are stored. In this pilot study, the essential oil from leaves of Cryptomeria japonica was investigated to test its properties as a silverfish repellent and insecticide. The results from a repellency bioassay show that the essential oil significantly repelled silverfish.
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From: FAO’s NWFP Programme
Frame Natural Products audio presentations
New audio presentations featuring comments shared at FRAME's Natural Products International Workshop on rural and conservation benefits from natural products enterprises are now available.
• Johnathan Lash shares a global view of the future of natural resources and their importance in poverty alleviation, “The Wealth of the Poor.”
• Abdou Sene presents lessons learned from the Wula Nafaa project, and specifically the karaya gum market in Senegal, “Gomme Mbepp (karaya gum) in Senegal.”
• Catherine Craig gives insight about the opportunities and challenges of planning, harvesting and marketing silk products from areas with high biodiversity in Madagascar, “Wild Silk Production for Conserving Protected Areas in Developing Countries.”
Latest additions can be found by clicking on workshop proceedings from the web site.
Penn. State University provides an overview on various aspects of maple sugaring and NWFP.
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Source: Bernama, Malaysia, 8 April 2007
BEIJING. The sounds of digging and clashing spades came from a barren hillock as workers dug out trenches and bore drum size pits in the hard ground. All around, similar bare mounds and a dry brown landscape sweep away as far as the eye can see in Wanquan county in Zhangjiakou about 200km northwest of Beijing.
Sandy dry and wind-prone Zhangjiakou is in northern Hebei province and lies at the centre of a major green buffer project to reduce sandstorms and dust from hitting Beijing and the port municipality of Tianjin.
The battle is far from won, but forestry officials, tasked with stopping drought and sand from turning the land into dusty waste, believe they are making significant strides. "In the past two years, we have replanted 11,000 mu with 1.1 million trees that can survive the dry and harsh conditions. Over here, we only have one wind and it blows year-round," Kang Cheng Fu, Zhangjiakou Forestry Bureau vice-chief, told a group of foreign journalists. (A mu is equivalent to one fifteenth of a hectare or about 667sq metres.)
A fifth of China's territory is affected by desertification but there are signs that counter measures are showing results. Official data indicate that the sand encroachment has dropped by nearly two thirds since the turn of the century.
To create a green belt to shelter Beijing and Tianjin, replanting projects were started in 75 counties in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia and 180,000 farmers and their families were relocated.
Efforts to "green" Zhangjiakou started in 2000 but that didn't stop 330,000 tonnes of sand from being dumped overnight on Beijing in April last year. April and May are the season for sandstorms.
In Wanquan, dozens of workers, mostly ex-farmers who had sold their land back to the government for reforestation, are engaged in planting rows of coniferous firs and mountain almond trees.
A short drive away in Zhangbei county, Kang plucked some orange-red seeds from a leafless spiky shrub that dotted the wind-swept flat land that receives very little rain. "These are as valuable as gold, they are used in medicine," he said, adding that the hardy seabuckthorn shrub was chosen because it can survive even in drought conditions.
For full story, please see: http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v3/news.php?id=255635
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Source: Guardian News Service (in The Hindu, India, 17 April 2007)
A protected rainforest in one of the world's richest biodiversity hotspots has suffered an alarming collapse in amphibians and reptiles, suggesting such havens may fail to slow the creatures' slide towards global extinction.
Conservationists working in a lowland forest reserve at La Selva in Costa Rica used biological records dating from 1970 to show that species of frogs, toads, lizards, snakes and salamanders have plummeted on average 75% in the past 35 years.
Dramatic falls in amphibian and reptile numbers elsewhere in the world have been blamed on habitat destruction and the fungal disease chytridiomycosis, which has inflicted a devastating toll across central and South America. But scientists hoped many species would continue to thrive in dedicated reserves, where building, land-clearance and agricultural chemicals are banned.
The new findings suggest an unknown ecological effect is behind at least some of the sudden losses and have prompted scientists to call for urgent studies in other protected forest areas. The researchers, led by Maureen Donelly at Florida International University, believe climate change has brought warmer, wetter weather to the refuge, with the knock-on effect of reducing the amount of leaf litter on the forest floor. Nearly all of the species rely on leaf litter to some extent, either using it for shelter, or feeding on insects that eat the leaves.
The researchers also analysed weather records for the region, which revealed a rise of more than 1C in temperature over the 35-year period and a doubling of the number of wet days. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences yesterday. "All of the falls recorded elsewhere have been in high, mountainous regions and those have mostly been driven by the spread of fungus. All of the tests we've done for the fungus here have been negative," said Steven Whitfield, a co-author of the study.
The scientists say it is crucial to extend the study to other protected forests, such as those in Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, to assess the populations of amphibians and reptiles there. "If we are to design effective conservation strategies, we need to know what's causing these declines. If it's down to a link between climate and leaf litter, then we need to better understand that," said Mr Whitfield.
Amphibians are considered delicate sentinels of environmental change. Sudden population collapses were first noticed during the 1980s, during which more than 120 species are thought to have become extinct.
For full story, please see: http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/008200704170921.htm
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Source: The Nation (Nairobi), 19 April 2007
While Uganda suffers violent protests over plans to turn a big chunk of Mabira rainforest into sugar cane plantation, Ugandans are destroying eight times as much forest every year due to poverty, a minister said yesterday.
Minister of State for Environment Jesca Eriyo told agencies that rural poverty and population pressure on increasingly scarce land and resources was devastating the east African country's forest cover. "About 55,000 hectares of forest cover per annum disappears," she said. "That is a big challenge to us."
Last week, a protest against government plans to give at least 7,100 hectares (17,000 acres) or nearly a third of Mabira Forest Reserve to the Indian-owned Mehta Group's sugar estate turned violent, with three people being killed.
For full story, please see: http://allafrica.com/stories/200704180911.html
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Source: Environment News Service, USA, 16 April 2007
Outbreaks of Ebola virus over the past 12 years have killed roughly 25 percent of the world gorilla population, and now the scientists who documented these deaths say vaccination of wild gorillas could help protect those that remain.
A study published in the May issue of the journal "The American Naturalist" provides hope that newly developed vaccines can control the devastating impact of Ebola on wild apes. The hopeful clues come from the discovery that outbreaks may be amplified by Ebola transmission between ape social groups. "It means that vaccinating one gorilla does not protect only that gorilla, it also protects gorillas further down the transmission chain," said Peter Walsh of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, the lead author on the study. "Thus, protecting remaining ape populations may not require vaccinating a high proportion of individuals, as many people naively assume," Walsh said.
The new study was conducted at three sites in northern Republic of Congo by Walsh and other researchers from the Max Planck Institute, David Morgan of England's Cambridge University, and Diane Doran of New York's Stony Brook University.
They found that as many as four different gorilla groups fed in the same fruit tree on a single day. In this way, infective body fluids deposited by one group might easily be encountered by a subsequent group, the researchers say. Chimpanzees and gorillas also fed simultaneously in the same fruit tree at least once every seven days.
The study also provided the first evidence that gorillas from one social group closely inspect the carcasses of gorillas from other groups. The researchers point out that contact with corpses at funerals is a major mechanism of Ebola transmission in humans.
Together with other recent observations on patterns of gorilla mortality, these results make a strong case that transmission between ape social groups plays a central role in Ebola outbreak amplification.
Particularly troubling has been the concentration of Ebola impact on large, remote protected areas that were designed to be central to ape conservation efforts. Ebola has not made apes totally extinct from these areas but it has pushed once huge populations down to smaller sizes at which they are dramatically less resilient to illegal hunting and other looming threats.
Walsh contends that Ebola vaccination is a cost effective method of ape conservation. "People in the conservation community are intimidated by the up-front costs of vaccination and would prefer to instead spend the money on anti-poaching. What they are not factoring in is the fact that one year of Ebola vaccination could save as many apes as decades of anti-poaching," Walsh said. "We need to do both."
Walsh also points out that Ebola has the potential to quickly destroy years of ecotourism investment. For example, a gorilla habituation program at Lossi was set up in the mid-1990s in collaboration with the European Union’s Ecosystem Forestiere d’Afrique Centrale project to bring ecotourism revenue to local people. Ebola not only wiped out the habituated gorillas at Lossi, it neutralized years of ecotourism investment in neighbouring Odzala National Park by devastating gorilla populations there.
"We are in a period where relatively modest investments in both Ebola control and anti-poaching would go a very long way towards insuring the future of our closest relatives," said Walsh. "Let’s not blow it."
Walsh and his colleagues now are searching for funding to implement a vaccination program using one of the several vaccines that have successfully protected laboratory monkeys from Ebola.
For full story, please see: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2007/2007-04-16-06.asp
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