No. 11/06

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:

A very warm welcome to all new readers and once again a special thank you to all those who have sent me links to information.


1.Agarwood: Malaysia’s fragrant wood export in danger
2. Bamboo: Thornless bamboo varieties stand tall as alternative crops
3. "Bushmeat" link to SARS outbreak confirmed
4. Honey: exports from Brazil grow
5. Moringa: Use of moringa advocated
6. Mushrooms help in cancer & AIDS research
7. Truffles: White truffle sold for record price


8. Armenia tree project pledge contributes to UNEP billion tree campaign
9. Bhutan: Non-wood forests products- lifeblood of rural communities
10 Brazil: The most deforested region of Amazonia has only 23% of its original forest cover
11 Cameroon: Forum to brainstorm on honey production
12 Cameroon: Why Bakas would not leave the forest
13. India: Rare bamboo bloom brings rats, threatens crops in Mizoram
14. India: Medicinal plant board looks at forest departments to nurture rare species
15. India: demand for sandalwood products
16. India: Farmers are smelling profits in sandalwood
17. Nepal's pristine forests diversity and components
18. Peru: Medicina tradicional peruana supera promedio andino
19. Philippines: Bamboo products have high acceptability in world market
20. South Africa: 'Costly plunder' of SA medicinal plants
21. Tanzania Indigenous Knowledge Database
22. Uganda: Local cooperative deals in gum arabic
23. Zimbabwe: Buffalo Thorn chosen tree of the year


24. Belize-Guatemala dialogue to protect Chiquibul forest
25. Ecotourism: Promoting development through ecotourism in Ghana
26. Forest fragmentation hurts Amazon biodiversity
27. Largest tropical forest certification in the world


28.Request for list of threatened medicinal plants
29.Yale Chapter of the International Society for Tropical Forester's call for papers


30. 8th World Bamboo Congress. Bamboo for Agro-Industrial Development and Ecological Enhancement: Materials and Techniques for a Greener World
31. Sharing Indigenous Wisdom: An International Dialogue on Sustainable Development.
32. IUFRO European Congress 2007 "Forests and Forestry in the Context of Rural Development"


33. The Overstory
34.Other publications of interest
35. Web sites and e-zines


36. Asian Indigenous reps assess ‘UN Decade of Indigenous Peoples’
37. Forests expand thanks to government policy
38. Russia: Forest code adopted



1. Agarwood: Malaysia’s fragrant wood export in danger

Source: New Straits Times, Malaysia, 23 November 2006

Malaysia must justify its 2007 export quota of fragrant wood to the secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora or face a temporary suspension of exports.

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry has until next week to explain its 200- tonne quota of gaharu produced from Aquilaria malaccensis to CITES, the body that governs the trade of protected species like the A. malaccensis.

Before any country issues an export permit for protected species, its own scientific authority must advise that the export will not harm survival of the species and specifies the quota.

The CITES secretariat and other member countries are informed of the maximum amount (quota) and can question it.

Gaharu, or agarwood — one of the most expensive types of wood in the world — is listed under Appendix II of CITES, which lists species of plants that could become endangered if trade in them is not controlled or monitored.

Gaharu is highly valued for its fragrance, used in the Middle East and in traditional Chinese medicine.

Malaysia and Indonesia are the world’s largest producers of agarwood for the legal trade, but experts say their sale worldwide is severely under-reported.

A ministry spokesperson said its 2007 export quota was determined based on the fourth National Forestry Inventory, but added that the figure hadn’t been finalised.

For full story, please see:


2. Bamboo: Thornless bamboo varieties stand tall as alternative crops

Source: The Hindu, India, 23 November 2006

Growing bamboo can be a solution to several problems that the agricultural sector is facing — such as crop infestations and water shortage. Being the tallest grass variety and resembling a tree in appearance, bamboo has the ability to survive in drylands and wastelands and is a good alternative to farmers in drought prone regions.

Its extensive root system holds the soil particles together and prevents soil erosion and its shoots are consumed as food and for making pickles, handicrafts and fibres.

One of the major limiting factors for increasing the area under bamboo cultivation is the non-availability of planting material.

With the introduction of several new thornless varieties, bamboo cultivation has become economically viable and environmentally beneficial, especially for small-scale farmers, according to Dr. N. Barathi, Director, Growmore Biotech, Hosur, Tamil Nadu.

Several bamboo species can grow 30 cm/day with some species growing even up to 90 cm/day.

A single clump (stem) of bamboo reaches full height in about 30 days after planting. Though it can be harvested after three years of planting, it is advisable for farmers to harvest the crop during the 5th year and maximum yield can be expected from 7th or 8th year of planting.

Bamboo cultivation requires less labour when compared with vegetables or fruit crops. "Thornless bamboo varieties cultivated under drip irrigation system require an investment of Rs.40,000 to Rs.50,000 per acre for the first 4 years. Under well-managed conditions, a bamboo bush will have 40 to 50 poles of varying ages out of which 3 to 4 year-old poles out of 10 can be harvested every year.

The cultivation costs during the first year of planting 200 clumps in an acre along with drip irrigation comes to about Rs.22,000 and in subsequent years the cost would scale down to Rs.9,000 and Rs.10,000 annually.

In about 15 years one can expect a net income of about Rs.4.0 lakhs from an acre, Dr. Barathi explained. Giving details on the planting technique he said, "the soil should be well drained as bamboo does not grow in waterlogged soils.

The clumps at present fetch a price of about Rs.1,000 per tonne, and farmers can expect a net return of about Rs.50,000/acre/year.

For more information on thornless bamboo varieties and their availability readers can contact Dr. N. Barathi, Director, Growmore Biotech Ltd., 41b Sipcot phase II, Hosur 635 109, Tamil Nadu, Phone: 04344- 260564 and 260565, email:

For full story, please see:


3. "Bushmeat" link to SARS outbreak confirmed

Source: – USA, 23 November 2006

Chinese scientists say they have found a genetic link between SARS in civet cats, a racoon-like animal eaten as a delicacy in China, and humans.

Earlier research by scientists from Hong Kong University and the World Health Organization had found evidence of the virus in civet cages in a restaurant where people came down with SARS. The finding lead to a permanent ban on the sale and consumption of civet in Guangdong province.

The new research, conducted by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the Guangzhou Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and Hong Kong University, found that the SARS coronavirus found is the same as the SARS coronavirus found in civet cats. According to Wang Ming, an official from the Guangzhou Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the research proves that SARS jumped the species barrier from civets to humans.

For full story, please see:


4. Honey: exports from Brazil grow

Source: ANBA, Brazil, 23 November 2006

Despite the European embargo against Brazilian honey, which was put in place in March this year, Brazil continues breaking export records in the area. Revenues with foreign sales of the product in the first ten months of this year have already exceeded the total obtained in the whole of 2005: US$ 20.13 million by the end of October this year, against US$ 18.94 million sold abroad in 2005.

The study about Brazilian honey exports was developed by the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (Sebrae) Agricultural Unit specialists and national coordinators of the of the Sustainable Integrated Apiculture Network (Rede Apis), Alzira Vieira and Reginaldo Resende.

In terms of volume, Brazilian exports of honey up to October this year have not yet exceeded the total for 2005. Exports totalled 12,800 tonnes in the first ten months of 2006, against 14,400 tonnes shipped abroad in the whole of 2005. "Brazil will certainly equal or exceed this figure up to the end of the year," Resende said. The greater value of exports in the first ten months of this year when compared to 2005 is due to price increases on the foreign market. "There has been a significant improvement this year when compared to 2005," he said.

For full story, please see:


5. Moringa: Use of moringa advocated

Source: Accra Daily Mail, Ghana, 20 November 2006

Experts who participated in a three-day workshop on moringa tree in Accra have enumerated a number of benefits from it, and have therefore advocated its extensive use.

Dr Vanisha Nambiar, a nutritionist at the University of Baroda in India, who has conducted extensive research on the potential of the moringa tree, mentioned some of its benefits. “It contains highest B-carotene content; it is also good source of ascorbic acid, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and has low levels of exalates. The leaves are rich source of protective nutrients essential for healthy vision, bones, blood and skin.”

Dr Nambiar also noted that the tree has a number of medicinal properties. For instance, the leaf paste could heal wounds; its seed oil is used to treat gout and the flowers as tonic. Despite the numerous potentials of the tree, she regretted that the plant is underutilized.

Participants were educated on the nutritional value of both the tree and the leaves, their medicinal value, and the quantity to consume as food supplements. They were also taught how to cultivate, process and market the plant.

Dr. Armelle de Saint Sauveur of Moringanews and the facilitator of the workshop said that the workshop was necessitated by the growing interest of people in the moringa tree and its uses. “It is very easy to cultivate, it grows very easily and very quickly and you can have its leaves after only one month. So it is really good. It has been compared with other vegetables and it is in many cases the most interesting vegetable for nutrition. It has the highest rate of vitamins, protein and minerals.”

She disclosed that, after the workshop, the next objective would be the production of a book on the moringa tree, which would be made available in all countries.

The workshop was held under the theme: “Moringa and other Highly Nutritious Plant Resources: Strategies, Standards and Markets for a Better Impact on Nutrition in Africa.”

The workshop was supported by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA, Wageningen), and the Centre for the Development of Enterprise (CDE, Brussels), with a contribution of the Global Facilitation Unit for Underutilized Species at IPGRI, Rome

For full story, please see:


6. Mushrooms help in cancer & AIDS research

Source: PR Web (press release), WA, USA, 14 November 2006

In a breakthrough study by researchers in the USA and Japan, Agaricus blazei mushrooms have been found to have a dramatic effect on helping transforming the health of people with serious immune conditions. Various studies suggest that the Agaricus mushroom can help transform people and animals to health by strengthening immune cell activities and functions such as T-cell, Macrophage, and Natural killer cells.

This may be nothing new, as mushrooms for thousands of years have been a key component in medicinal healing.

From the creation of penicillin, to traditional therapies in cultures around the world, the mushroom is considered a recycler in the immune system, just as it is in nature.

The Agaricus is already used by 500,000 people in Japan for minor and major immune maintenance, and is now beginning to be in demand in the U.S. The Dallas Mavericks of the NBA are making plans to incorporate it in their nutrition supplement Nutritox, and owners of Health Food stores like Jeff Kutas have found there is so much interest he is being booked as a speaker to share its benefits.

"I've actually had people tell me that the Agaricus mushroom has extended or even saved their life," says Jeff. "It makes me feel uncomfortable, because I'm not a doctor, but in our twenty years of working with specialty health products, this product stands alone."

For full story, please see:


7. Truffles: White truffle sold for record price

Source: Xinhua, China, 13 November 2006

A 1.59 kg truffle sold for 125,000 euros (US$160,790) during the VIIIth world auction of the truffle at the 76th Alba White Truffle National Festival in Italy November 12, 2006.

An anonymous bidder in Hong Kong snapped up what is expected to be the most expensive white truffle ever.

For full story, please see:



8. Armenia tree project pledge contributes to UNEP billion tree campaign

Source: Press Release, Armenia Tree Project, 5 December 2006

The Armenia Tree Project (ATP) has joined the worldwide tree planting campaign launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). As part of the “Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign” [], ATP pledged to plant at least 500,000 trees in 2007. This will be part of Armenia’s contribution to the UNEP goal to plant at least one billion trees worldwide during 2007.

ATP was founded in 1994 in to further Armenia’s economic and social development by assisting the Armenian people to use trees to improve their environment and standard of living. Guided by the need to promote self-sufficiency, aid those with the fewest resources, and conserve the indigenous ecosystem, ATP mobilizes resources to fund reforestation and the preservation of remaining ecosystems.

Through interrelated programs including urban and rural tree planting, environmental education, and advocacy, ATP stands at the forefront of addressing Armenia’s environmental challenges.

Over the past 12 years, ATP’s Community Tree Planting program has facilitated the planting and restoration of more than 800,000 trees at over 600 sites in Armenia. Fifty thousand trees are grown each year to supply this program at nurseries located in the refugee villages of Karin and Khachpar.

At these two nurseries, ATP conducts research on tree propagation techniques, produces 53 varieties of indigenous tree species, and provides environmental education programs for students, professionals, and visitors. In addition to improving the environmental landscape, the program creates jobs and a living wage for hundreds of people in a country where half the population lives below the poverty line.

Beginning in 2003, ATP began a micro-enterprise reforestation program in the rural refugee village of Aygut. The Backyard Nursery Program was designed to simultaneously regenerate the local forests and reduce poverty by providing jobs. The program has expanded from a pilot program of 17 families to over 300 families, who produced nearly 300,000 trees this year. ATP also established the Mirak Family Reforestation Nursery in Margahovit village in 2005, which will have the capacity to produce over one million trees each year.

“Armenia Tree Project is honored to be a part of the UNEP Billion Tree Campaign,” stated Executive Director Jeff Masarjian. “As we begin organizing our 2007 programs, we are expecting to plant 60,000 fruit and decorative trees from our Karin and Khachpar nurseries, 230,000 tree seedlings from our backyard nursery program, and 210,000 pine and other reforestation seedlings from our nursery in Margahovit.”

“We were inspired by the UNEP Billion Tree Campaign announcement by Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai at the UN meeting on climate change in Nairobi last month, and we were the first organization to join the campaign with a pledge from the Republic of Armenia,” added Masarjian

For more information, please contact:

Armenia Tree Project

65 Main Street

Watertown, MA 02472 USA

Tel: (617) 926-TREE (8733)




9. Bhutan: Non-wood forests products – lifeblood of rural communities

Source: Bhutan Broadcasting Service, 6 December 2006

NWFP contribute significantly to the livelihoods and sustenance of many rural communities in the kingdom. Some of the NWFP are important for subsistence use, while others have high commercial importance. The demand for NWFP has been growing locally and internationally over the years. The agriculture secretary, Dasho Sangay Thinley, said that meeting this growing demand without degrading the non wood forest resource base was a challenge.

He was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the national workshop on the development of NWFP in Thimphu yesterday. “The government’s goal of maintaining the forest cover at 60 percent for all time may prove difficult with an increase in consumption of wood, NWFP and fuelwood,” said the agriculture secretary. He said that there was a need to assess forests resources on a periodic basis, quantify the benefits, both tangible and intangible and calculate sustainable rates of utilization of timber as well as non timber forest resources. “Development of NWFP is one of the government’s top priorities during the tenth five year plan. It should benefit the poor.”

According to forest officials, NWFP includes all the non-industrial forest products that were harvested from the trees, shrubs and other plants in the forests. These include a wide range of products from medicines to dyes, oil seeds and nuts, incense, bamboo and canes, food, fodder, spices, gums and resins, organic tea, cosmetics, ornamental plants and mushrooms.

The revenue generated through NWFP royalties between 2003-2006 from the supply of bamboo, mushroom, and canes amounted to Nu. 115,000, while royalties at commercial rate amounted to Nu. 900,000 from bamboo, lemon grass, mushroom, resin and Daphne. And the royalties collected from cordyceps between 2004-2006 added up to Nu. 5.26 million.

The two-day workshop will see participants coming up with a set of recommendations which will pave the way for developing national strategies for sustainable management of non wood resources in the kingdom.

The director general of the department of forest, Dasho Dawa Tshering, says the government has identified NWFP development for the reduction of poverty in the kingdom. He added that it is also seen as a means to achieve economic growth. “Our main focus will be to come out with an appropriate recommendation for future planning and development of NWFP. We’ll also look at their sustainable management."

The forest department has identified about 216 species of medicinal plants, 97 mushroom species, 97 different fruits and nuts, 70 ornamental plant species, 50 bamboo species, 14 cane species, 25 oil and resin species, 20 spices, 38 fibres, 181 fodder, 36 dyes, 12 food crops and 77 forest vegetables as NWFP.

About 40 stakeholders of NWFP are attending the workshop. Experts from FAO, WWF and SNV are also attending.


10. Brazil: The most deforested region of Amazonia has only 23% of its original forest cover

Source:, 3 November 2006

According to a study released today in Belém, an area located between the states of Pará and Maranhão called the Belém Endemism Center (CEB) is the most deforested region in Amazonia, with only 23% of its original forest cover still standing. The area was the first area of human occupation in Brazilian Amazonia and covers 147 municipalities (62 in Pará and 85 in Maranhão) and includes 42 protected areas. The study shows that of 33% of the forest areas still standing, some 23% are intact forests and 10% are already-logged forests.

The Mapping of Remaining Forests of CEB was conducted by researchers of the Biota Pará project, a joint project between the Emílio Goeldi Museum and Conservation International. It is the most detailed scientific study to date on the region and serves as a warning to what could happen to other areas of Brazilian Amazonia.

"This is a lesson to the other parts of Amazonia, because everyone says that indigenous lands and reserves or conservation units slow deforestation. This is true when there is a surrounding forest, but when the forests outside the conservation units or indigenous lands are logged and no longer accessible, people enter the reserves and conservation units because it becomes economically attractive to do so, it becomes worth the risk", said biologist José Maria da Silva, Science Vice-President of Conservation International -Brazil. According to the study, protected areas are suffering heavy pressure; some of them are even in a critical situation.

The map also showed that the CEB area is where the largest number of endangered species in Pará is located, and that some of them have probably already become extinct. Other conclusions include that the remaining forest is more susceptible to species loss, invasion by other species and forest fires and that regeneration areas are of utmost importance to biodiversity.

For full story, please see:


11. Cameroon: Forum to brainstorm on honey production

Source: Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé), 19 November 2006

How can we promote honey marketing and augment output? Stakeholders in the honey sector are currently brainstorming in a three day forum in Limbe in which tangible solutions to this question are expected to be ironed out. The national forum on honey marketing, which opened on 15 November in Limbe, is organised by the Western Highlands Nature Conservation Network {WHINCONET} Cameroon with funds from the Netherlands Development Organisation {SNV} and PECTEN Cameroon. It brings together over 100 participants drawn from all over the ten provinces who are being drilled on promoting honey marketing and on strategies to improve bee keeping and on honey income generating activities.

Statistics from the study "Honey Production and Marketing in Cameroon", which was carried out between 3 April and 26 May 2006, revealed that the Adamawa province is the largest producer and supplier of honey in the national market. It is followed by the North West, the West and the South West. The study also revealed that the Littoral and the Centre provinces are the highest importers or consumers of honey products. The South West province consumes all its production in terms of honey products.

The report also disclosed that the North West province produces 55,000 litres, the South West 10,000 litres, while the Adamawa province produces about 4.5 million litres/year. The report shows that most of the beekeepers are involved in other economic activities to sustain their livelihood.

In the opening address, the coordinator of WHINCONET Mr. Tinyu Cyprian Mondoh noted that the environment has a great role to play for bees to exist as they pollinate flowers and instigate plant reproduction. He said bee farming is a good income generating activity. He said WHINCONET is out to create awareness and raise the profile of stakeholders in the honey sector so as to promote its economic and conservation values. There is also the pressing need to establish a collaborative link amongst principal agents, facilitate information and exchange skills between actors in the marketing of honey.

For full story, please see:


12. Cameroon: Why Bakas would not leave the forest

Source: Pegue Manga, The Post News Online, 14 November 2006

Francois Messieh, a Baka pygmy from Zokadiba, a village in the north of Boumba-Bek National Park, could not conceal his disgust at urban life. Messieh had spent just one day in Yokadouma, a small town in the East Province of Cameroon, some 635 km from Yaounde. He, like other Bakas, were in Yokadouma for a workshop that featured the presentation of a study, sponsored by WWF Jengi Southeast Forest Programme, on space and resources used by Bakas.

“See," he interjected, "this is the season for wild mango harvest and I am here. Most of my brothers are in the heart of the forest now." Tomorrow, he thought, one would have to stay on again to listen to more talking.

Messieh's interjections demonstrate Baka pygmies' attachment to their forest home and their reliance on its resources. Any attempt at persuading them to change their ways is greeted with misgivings.

“No, this people want to deceive us," they chorused during the Yokadouma meeting, when stakeholders tried hard to explain that efforts are being made to secure their rights and uphold their customs in the management plans of the Nki and Boumba-Bek national parks.

The reaction was understandably so because they have been living in the forest for centuries. Their forest god, Jengi, and their sacred places are all found in the forest. This has shaped their perception of the world and their attitude towards conservation.

A WWF study on identification of Bakas' resources used and space in the north of the Boumba-Bek National Park revealed a clear link between space, resources, tradition and customs of the people. Take away one of these components and you would have destroyed the essence of their existence.

The study carried out by Njounan, Ndinga and Defo, of WWF Jengi Southeast Forest Programme, showed that Bakas have their sacred places and shrine deep in the forest. Most of these sacred places are found in the national parks. Around these sacred places, the study disclosed, is a concentration of NTFP.

Moreover, Bakas, who number several thousands in the Southeast of Cameroon, identify sacred places from some particular trees. For instance, the Loa Mendi tree, which according to the study is found deep inside the forest, is considered sacred. It has a high medicinal value (it is used for treatment of sterility and impotency) and the Bakas go for it only once a year.

So endeared are they to the forest that they build their houses deep inside. The study explained that the Bakas have two types of settlements: internal permanent forest settlements and external settlements that are located near the main roads.

They also build temporary "huts" in the forest to carry out gathering, hunting and fishing. There is a concentration of "huts" around NTFP.

Rituals are also performed in the forest during certain periods of the year. There is, according to the study, the Yeli dance performed by Baka women out of the forest, before the men go hunting. The Yeli dance, Bakas believe, provide security for the men while hunting. It also enables the men to go for the big game.

The study also established that Bakas' penetration of the forest depends on the availability of NTFP. The fewer the resources, the farther they penetrate the forest and vice versa. They harvest some of these resources in disregard of sustainability. Bakas fell some trees to harvest honey. They dig out wild yams and, most of the time, do not replant the tuba for regeneration.

Faced with these strong attachments to the forest, conservation organisations like WWF have been working hard to ensure that the rights of these indigenous people are included in the management plans of the three national parks and their customs recognised.

Jenny Springer is in charge of Livelihood and Governance in WWF USA. According to her, indigenous people have clearly expressed their profound reliance on the forest for their way of life. "It is very important to recognise this relationship in conservation," she noted.

"In every part of the world, there is a long history of marginalisation of indigenous people. It is not created by conservation. Initially it is a social issue but conservation as a social process can get caught up in this same path of social problems and marginalisation," Jenny explained.

Consequently, she said, in order to be successful, conservation organisations have to work in close partnership with indigenous people and support their rights, while designing conservation projects that will also benefit them.

Jenny said she had noticed an increased enthusiasm to recognise the rights of indigenous people this year, compared to last year, when she visited the Southeast.

For John Nelson, Policy Advisor for Forest Peoples Programme, an NGO that works to secure the rights of indigenous peoples and promote their participation in the environment, there has been a big difference compared with when his organisation first arrived in the Southeast in 2001.

"We are feeling very optimistic and we are going to be increasingly collaborating with WWF and its partners to work on a common agenda to secure indigenous peoples rights," he said. "People should remember that when they talk about wildernesses in Africa, a lot of these places are actually populated by people."

But Podo Mois, a Baka from Massia, still in Boumba-Bek north did not enthuse. "The forest is our home. We have our honey, wild yams and mangoes to harvest. Once we are in the forest we feel very good, so there is no need moving out."

For full story, please see:


13. India: Rare bamboo bloom brings rats, threatens crops in Mizoram

Source: Reuters India,15 November 2006

Tribal villagers in Mizoram are killing hundreds of thousands of rats as the rodents, drawn by the rare flowering of a wild bamboo, devour rice fields.

Hordes of rats have swept through the forests of Mizoram, feasting on the fruits of wild bamboo, which flowers every 48 years.

As they gorge on the small, green fruits, their population is soaring. In areas where they have finished off the fruits, the rats have turned their attention to farmers' crops.

The bamboo flowering will reach its peak in 2007, but already it is causing havoc. Experts say that the rich protein content of the bamboo fruits increases the rats' reproductive power.

"Our drive to kill rats covers 150 villages across the state and, so far, villagers have killed around 200,000 rodents using poison and locally made traps," James Lalsiamliana, a senior agriculture officer, told Reuters from the capital, Aizawl.

The area around Aizawl and two other districts of the state -- 30 percent of whose area is covered by bamboo forests -- are the worst hit so far by the hungry rats.

"Killing of rats will continue until middle of December till the harvesting is over," Lalsiamliana said.

The last time the bamboo flowered was in 1959 -- and the armies of rats that came in its wake then decimated paddy fields across the region, leading to severe food shortages. The lack of food sparked a revolt against Indian rule in the remote state bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh that lasted until 1986 in which around 3,000 people were killed.

Local people call the famine which follows bamboo flowering "mautum" which means "bamboo death" in the local language. In 1959, New Delhi brushed off local warnings of a famine as tribal superstition. "I hope this time the government is well-prepared to face possible food shortages as I remember last time, the government remained a silent spectator to people's suffering," Laldinkmawia Sailo said.

For full story, please see:


14. India: Medicinal plant board looks at forest departments to nurture rare species

Source: Pune Newsline, 13 November 2006

Faced with the dwindling numbers of rare medicinal tree species like Ashok, Guggal, Kanchan and sandalwood, the Union Ministry of Health’s National Medicinal Plant Board (NMPB) is taking far-reaching steps to ensure conservation, which would include earmarking land and setting up of nurseries for sustainable cultivation of medicinal plants by roping in various state forest departments.

In a letter to principal chief conservator of forests (PCCFs) of all states, NMPB Chief Executive Officer BS Sajwan has invited project proposals for raising nurseries of a specified list of rare species that can be grown in the different agro-climatic conditions of each state. The NMPB will then fund these projects up to a maximum cost of Rs 30 lakh.

The seedlings developed at these nurseries can then be provided to farmers at subsidised rates for planting under the agro or farm forestry system, in forest areas, unused government lands or institutional spaces including schools and offices.

A lack of seed sources and quality planting material prompted this move by the NMPB, which was resulting in not only illicit trade of endangered species, but also use of spurious substitutes due to non-availability of raw material.

“The main aim is to create a base of nurseries for medicinal plants in demand for use in ayurvedic products, and whose conservation status is endangered due to over-exploitation,’’ said Sajwan.

Another challenge was the long gestation period of certain plants, due to which farmers were reluctant to cultivate them. “The only way the supply of the plant parts coming from trees like Ashok, Arjuna, Guggal, Neem can be ensured is to raise them through the forest department,’’ the letter said.

There will be no dearth of funds for these projects, assured Sajwan. “We have sufficient funds to cover 20 projects from 20 states, and are targeting a planting material base of at least one million seedlings,’’ he said, adding that the process would begin within a year, allowing time for the various proposals to come in and receive clearance.

While forest authorities have welcomed this move, they are sceptical too. “There have been such schemes mooted by the Central Government earlier, but implementation at the state level is often not effective due to lack of coordination among the concerned agencies. Similar proposals for medicinal plant cultivation put forth by us have not received sufficient response from the Maharashtra State Horticulture and Medicinal Plants Board (MSHMPB),’’ said Maharashtra Deputy Chief Conservator of Forests Ashok Khadse.

For full story, please see:


15. India: demand for sandalwood products

Source: News Today Bureau, Chennai, 15 November 2006

With burgeoning demand for sandalwood products, farmers are shifting their focus towards growing more sandalwood trees. And Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Ltd is taking the lead in encouraging farmers to plant sandalwood trees.

Elaborating on the company's initiatives during the launch of a new herbal soap, H V Paraswanath, managing director, Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Ltd said that currently the company is solely depending on Karnataka forests since sandalwood is the basic raw material for cosmetics.

The ninety year old cosmetic firm is now into diversification, he said and added that the company is all set to enter into the detergent products segment. The occasion also witnessed the re-launching of the 'Mysore Sandal Talc'.

For full story, please see:


16. India: Farmers are smelling profits in sandalwood

Source:, India, 21 November 2006

Farmers are smelling profits, thanks to the initiative by a Vadodara farmer. If his efforts and the Central Government’s assistance take root, Gujarat farmers will be raking in money from sandalwood plantations. Shanti Desai from Pariya village in Valsad district has the country’s biggest sandalwood nursery and has sold fine quality white sandalwood saplings to more than 50 farmers in the State this year.

It all started in 2002, when the Central Government gave its nod for cultivation of sandalwood for its commercial and medicinal use. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Desai, who had always wanted to cultivate sandalwood, approached forest authorities in Karnataka and got seeds of white sandalwood (Santalum album) from them. This year, he has planted more than 1.5 lakh sandalwood saplings over 20 acres of his private land. ‘‘I had planted around two lakh sandalwood saplings but many were destroyed in the heavy rain this monsoon,’’ he said.

Desai has distributed more than 50,000 sandalwood saplings to farmers in Anand, Kheda, Kutch, Ankleshwar, Vadodara, Himmatnagar and Bharuch districts. It takes seven years for a sandalwood sapling to grow into a tree but once the cycle starts, farmers can get regular income every year by cutting and selling old trees and planting new saplings in their place.

So far, countries like Thailand and Australia have gained from commercial cultivation of sandalwood, but in a few years Indian farmers would also benefit due to the Central Government encouragement to farmers to grow this tree.

According to A P Singh, Director of Medicinal and Ayurvedic Board, Gujarat, procurement of sandalwood saplings is possible through the researchers of the Wood Research Institute in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Singh says farmers of Gujarat engaged in sandalwood cultivation would be given a subsidy of 30 percent/acre. Also, a 10 percent loan will be given by nationalised banks to farmers growing sandalwood.

According to Desai, 1kg of sandalwood costs around Rs 2,000 and the price of sandalwood oil is Rs 50,000 per litre. He said that minimum 16 to 20 kg of wood can be obtained from a single tree.

A farmer from Bharuch said, ‘‘after cultivating sandalwood for 10 years, 6-7 percent of sandalwood oil can be extracted that can be used for medicinal purpose and also as a fixative in perfumery industry. The market price of one tonne of sandalwood is around Rs 26 lakh.’’

For full story, please see:


17. Nepal's pristine forests diversity and components

Source: Gorkhapatra, Nepal, 10 November 2006

The intricate pattern of geographical construction stretching vertically from the lowland to the highest ridge of Everest is an interesting feature of the Nepalese landmass. This varied geographical condition provides several preferable habitats for diverse biological components in this country. The current data reveals about 54 per cent of the country's land lying under the vegetation coverage. According to recent data, Nepal now accommodates nearly 6,500 species of diversified flowering plants besides many non-flowering species.

The former data of Nepalese flora was based mainly upon the specimens collected by the pioneer botanists from abroad like Sir Buchanan Hamilton and N. Wallich in the first and second half of the eighteenth century. Nepalese botanists are now capable of conducting their own expeditions and surveys besides their applied researches on forests and forest products. Their high sounding researches under tissue culture technology, the modern advancement in the field of botany, are tremendously beneficial to the forestry and agricultural sectors.

The ecological map developed under the joint efforts of French and Nepalese botanists in 1985 indicated the occurrence of 118 ecosystems, 75 vegetation and 35 forest types in the country. Based upon elevation and the category of specific vegetations, Nepal comprises six floral zones like tropical, subtropical, temperate, sub alpine, alpine and nival zones.

The tropical zone of the south that lies below 1000m encompasses major parts of Terai, Siwalik and Mahabharat ranges. This zone is predominated basically by Saal (Shorea robusta) forest. The Khair, Sissau or Dalbergia forests are also in majority in this part. Among the reported 1500 species of tropical plants, 29 species are placed under the endemic category.

With a strong policy to conserve valuable biodiversity of Terai and Siwalik, the Nepal Government has established five protected areas in these regions. These include Royal Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve (Far west), Royal Bardia National Park (Midwest), Parsa Wildlife Reserve (Central), Royal Chitwan National Park (Central) and Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve (East).

The subtropical climate prevails at elevations of 1000-2000m and is blended with the features of Indian, Southeast Malaysian and Sino Japanese elements. The total floral diversity of this zone comprises 2028 species of flowering plants including 50 endemic species. The most popular trees of this part are Castanopsis, Schima and Alnus. This zone encompasses major portions of Mahabharat and midland regions. The Arun valley of Sankhuwasabha district is represented with scarce Chirpine forest localized mainly within the valley floor only.

The moist and deciduous forest is widespread in the temperate region between 2000-3000m. The principal floral components found here are Chestnut and Maple (Acer) trees. Other tree components like, evergreen oaks, rhododendrons, conifers, etc are also distributed over this zone. The current data indicates the occurrence of 2000 species of plants in this zone with a count of 113 endemic species.

The sub-alpine forest ranges from 3000m up to the tree line at 4100m. The south-western slope displays remarkable growth of rhododendrons besides silver fir which appears at 3000m and a little above. About 1650 species of flowering plants are enumerated from sub alpine forest including 180 native species.

The green and lustrous alpine meadows represent colourful small flowers like Primula, Potentilla, Gentians, Saxifraga, Saussurea etc. The characteristic pattern of green moss carpets and lichen covered trees and rocks can be seen up to 5500m. This zone has marvellous display of Birch-Rhododendron forest within 3300 to 3800m. No traces of vegetation can be found in the nival zone above 6000 meter where perpetual snow cover remains all the year round. The characteristic stunted Juniper-Rhododendron and Caragana-Lonicera forests are well represented in the alpine zone. Of the total alpine record, only 3 percent are endemic species.

The government's policy to conserve high altitude pristine forests and existing valuable resources has led to the establishment of six national parks and two conservation areas in this region. These include, Shey-Phoksundo National Park, Khaptad National Park, Rara National Park, Langtang National Park, Makalu- Barun National Park, Sagarmatha National Park and Annapurna and Kanchanjunga Conservation Areas.

The newly declared Shivapuri National Park is located in Kathmandu district. According to a report, the grassland coverage equals to about 1.75 million hectares of areas in the country. Scientific investigation has indicated the occurrence of 700 species of medicinal plants which is equivalent to about 12 percent of the entire plant record till date (6500 species).

Within the perimeter of this country's small land mass, a diversified floral composition can be noticed in different altitudinal levels. Studies have shown the occurrence of 687 species of algae, 1670 species of fungi, 465 species of lichens, 1150 bryophytes, 383 pteridophytes and 6500 species of flowering plants in the entire nation. Nepal has about 386 species of orchid flora; four species are counted as endemic species. The total endemic plants in the country now reach to 246 species, indeed a high ratio of endemism in proportion to country's small size. Among the reported plants, eight species have been thought almost extinct. The updated research has shown the record of 31 rhododendron species in the country. The beautiful red Laligurans or Rhododendron arboreum is the National flower of Nepal.

The different communities of ecosystems provide several suitable habitats for diverse faunal components. Many endangered animal species like, tiger, rhinoceros, bear, leopard, elephant etc survive under the canopy of the warm and humid forests of terai. Many rare birds, butterflies and insects also seek shelters in these forests.

The maximum rate of deforestation that occurred in the last decade has placed many rare fauna and flora under endangered category. Though we launch all sorts of reforestation campaigns, the already demolished pristine forests can never be restored again. The well-managed community based programmes, no doubt, are significant steps to safeguard the remaining forest resources. It has been experienced that the buffer zone and sustainable principal can work side by side to meet the conservation strategy in a more effective manner.

Once we think of conservation, the first step is the people's familiarization with the significant value of forest and its existing resources. This simply can be achieved by implementing influential conservation education programmes in all the VDCs of the country

For full story, please see:


18. Peru: Medicina tradicional peruana supera promedio andino

Fuente: SciDev.Net, 20 Noviembre 2006

Pese a que casi la mitad de especies de plantas usadas con fines medicinales en la época colonial en el norte del Perú han desaparecido, los curanderos han sabido mantener un balance, reemplazando las especies perdidas con otras y preservando el conocimiento popular en niveles superiores al de otras regiones andinas.

Un estudio publicado el 7 de noviembre en el Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine y que rastrea dos mil años de medicina popular, identificó en sólo cinco de 24 departamentos peruanos, 510 especies de plantas medicinales a las cuales la sabiduría popular les da más de 2,400 usos medicinales diferentes.

"Esa cantidad es muy superior a la de otras regiones andinas. Por ejemplo, en Ecuador se usan solamente unas 200 especies y se ha perdido muchísimo conocimiento tradicional", afirmó a SciDev.Net uno del los autores de estudio, Rainer Bussmann, de la Universidad de Hawai.

Según la investigación, los curanderos peruanos actualizan constantemente sus conocimientos y buscan nuevas propiedades en las plantas, reemplazando las que se pierden por especies más comunes.

Los investigadores identificaron 278 condiciones médicas diferentes tratadas eficientemente con plantas, que incluyen enfermedades respiratorias, renales, óseas, infecciones de los órganos sexuales, entre otras.

Muchas plantas eran usadas desde hace 800 años antes de nuestra era, y conservan aún sus nombres originales en quechua o raíces de dialectos desaparecidos, indicativos de su antigüedad, subraya el estudio.

Estos conocimientos ancestrales son transmitidos de generación a generación oralmente y en algunos casos, como en el de las parteras, se transmiten solamente por línea materna.

Uno de los objetivos de la publicación es dejar un registro escrito de estos conocimientos, para que no puedan ser patentados, subrayó Bussmann.

Enlace al artículo de Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine (en inglés)


19. Philippines: Bamboo products have high acceptability in world market

Source: PIA Press Release, 14 November 2006

Iloilo City. The acceptability of Philippine bamboo products in the world market appears high, as indicated by the upward trend of exports and the increasing number of country destinations. This was declared by Dr. Florence P. Soriano, director of the Forest Products Research and Development Institute, Department of Science and Technology in yesterday's opening of the 3rd Iloilo Kawayan Market, where 33 exhibitors are showcasing export quality home furnishings and accessories with bamboo as one of the component material.

The annual Iloilo Kawayan Market aims to promote Iloilo as the "bamboo capital of the Philippines".

Dr. Soriano noted that in August 1996, an international organization sponsored the First National Bamboo Congress where technologies on furniture and handicrafts, as well as other applications in constructions and other industrial uses were presented. Ten years after, Soriano said the Ilonggos have demonstrated significant activity in transforming those technical papers for presentations into successful businesses and livelihoods for small and medium enterprises.

She said that Philippine bamboo products are exported to 36 countries, including the USA, Japan, Spain, France, Australia, Italy and the Netherlands, adding that the aesthetic, socio-economic and environmental value of our bamboo products provide a potential area for demand creation and enhanced acceptability.

She emphasized that partnership between the Department of Trade and Industry's One Town One Product and the Department of Science and Technology's Small Enterprises Technology Upgrading Program must be highlighted and it would be the key to further upgrade the technology so that our production will become more efficient in terms of volume and quality.

Dr. Soriano challenged the Ilonggos to keep the enthusiasm and show the world what Iloilo bamboo plantations and industries have become, to prove that it is truly the bamboo capital of the Philippines.

For full story, please see:


20. South Africa: 'Costly plunder' of SA medicinal plants

Source: Independent Online, South Africa, 16 November 2006

An estimated 80 percent of the South African population uses traditional medicine - and the continuing illegal and destructive harvesting of wild medicinal plants is costing the country dearly, while it also risks losing a major source of primary health care.

This was said in papers before the Pietermaritzburg High Court, on Wednesday, by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife ecologist Steve McKean.

McKean was supporting an application by the national director of public prosecutions for a preservation order linked to the trial of three men arrested on August 6, allegedly in possession of a bag of specially protected plants.

McKean said in his affidavit that the illegal harvesting and sale of medicinal plants in KwaZulu-Natal was estimated to be worth more than R65-million a year. "This trade is made up by hundreds of people who gather and sell plants mainly from wild populations. In most cases, this is done without the necessary permits and without the land owners' consent," he said.

McKean said the illegal removal of species (of specially protected plants) contributed to the population decline and increased the possibility of the species becoming extinct.

The listing of plants as specially protected was based on sound scientific evidence that populations of those species were being overexploited and that they were declining, to the point of being rare, he added.

For full story, please see:


21. Tanzania Indigenous Knowledge Database

Source: SciDev.Net Weekly Update: 6 November - 13 November 2006

Indigenous knowledge (IK) is defined as local or traditional knowledge that is unique to every culture or society, which sometimes influences local decision-making in different areas.

The IK database is a product of the Tanzania Development Gateway, an initiative that uses information technology and the internet to promote social and economic development within Tanzania. The database has been established to enhance sharing and dissemination of IK information, experiences and practices in Tanzania, its objectives are to:

· provide a platform/system where IK is captured, stored and disseminated;

· provide a mechanism of sharing this knowledge and also integrate it with modern science and technology to enhance information dissemination;

· promote sharing and dissemination of IK information, experience and practices in Tanzania; and

· in realisation of IK and its contribution to social and economic development, the database will promote development of IK systems to improve local communities by establishing a mechanism.

For more information, please contact:

The Manager, Tanzania Development Gateway, Economic and Social Research Foundation, P.O. Box 31226, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Tel: +255 22 2760260.

Fax: +255 22 2760062.



22. Uganda: Local cooperative deals in gum arabic

Source: New Vision (Kampala), 13 November 2006

A cooperative society has begun collecting gum arabic in Karamoja. The gum is used in the manufacture of beverages.

The Uganda Gum Arabic cooperative Society Ltd, launched in February, was the initiative of President Yoweri Museveni. By the first week of November, it had collected close to two metric tonnes of the exudates.

The secretary, manager and chief executive officer, Patrick Ekomera, said gum arabic was extracted from the Acacia sahel and Acacia senegal trees that grew wild in Karamoja.

He said the society expected to collect over 60 metric tonnes of the exudates by the end of the year. The local community will soon be equipped with skills of collecting and sorting out good quality exudates, he added. "The objective of the cooperative society is to develop the gum arabic industry in the region that is endowed with the Acacia senegal and Acacia sahel.”

"The species in Karamoja are much better than those in Sudan, where the world supplies have been coming from," Ekomera said.

He said the society targeted progressive farmers, the business community, women, youth, political leaders, civil society organisations and civil servants.

For full story, please see:


23. Zimbabwe: Buffalo Thorn chosen tree of the year

Source: The Herald (Harare), 23 November 2006

An indigenous tree -- buffalo thorn -- has been chosen as the tree of the year for the 2006 National Tree Planting Day because of its outstanding medicinal properties.

The start of the tree planting season is always the first Saturday of December, this year December 2, with more than 89 000 seedlings of several species earmarked for planting on about 105 hectares countrywide.

The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Cde Francis Nhema, said this year's tree planting day is going to be held under the theme: "Indigenous Medicinal Trees -- Revitalising the Health of the Nation". He was speaking at a Press conference in Harare where he addressed key stakeholders and journalists.

"The theme recognises the growing recognition of the important role indigenous medicine plays in the maintenance of people's health.

"The declaration of 2001-2010 as the decade for African Traditional Medicine by the Summit of the African Union is also a clear recognition of the important role traditional medicine plays in our society," said Cde Nhema.

He said buffalo thorn (muchecheni in Shona, umphafa in Ndebele and scientifically known Ziziphus mucronata), is used to treat a variety of ailments, including stomach disorders, tuberculosis, boosts immunity and it grows well throughout the country.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 75 percent of people living in the developing countries rely on traditional medicine collected from the wild for their primary health care.

Cde Nhema hinted on the need to conserve and manage forests and woodlands to curb deforestation and to continually revisit trees that were planted earlier.

"I am calling upon the custodians of our national medicinal heritage, especially chiefs, headmen and traditional medicinal practitioners, to set up herbal gardens and to conserve and manage forests and woodlands within the area of their jurisdiction," said Cde Nhema.

The Forestry Commission, in collaboration with NTPD organising committee, will facilitate tree planting and all seedlings required for the occasion have been produced by farmers and are available in forest nurseries throughout the country. Cde Nhema spoke on the need for schools to carry out programmes for planting trees so that children can grow up knowing the importance of conserving them.

Cde Nhema urged all Zimbabweans to mark this year's NTPD by planting and managing locally and relevant indigenous medicinal trees in their areas. "Let us all join in the re-greening of our country and ensuring a healthy nation," said Cde Nhema.

For full story, please see:



24. Belize-Guatemala dialogue to protect Chiquibul forest

Source: The Reporter Belize, 17 November 2006

Twenty-two participants from Belize and Guatemala gathered for a two-day session at Las Cuevas Research station with the primary objective of developing a bi-national work plan directed to better protect the Chiquibul forest which is shared by both countries.

The Chiquibul National Park in Belize and Chiquibul-Montanas Mayas Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala face a myriad of threats ranging from illegal extraction of NTFP, deforestation, forest fires, hunting and land speculation.

To maintain this ecosystem at a better stage of protection, the delegates met to identify areas of mutual cooperation. Similar exercises have been made by the Comision Nacional de Areas Protegidas of Guatemala with their Mexican counterparts for the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve situated in the Mexican state Yucatan.

These technical arrangements have been possible due to the Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in matters related to the conservation of protected areas among the three countries of Belize, Guatemala and Mexico.

This Memorandum came into effect on August 26, 2005 with the parties declaring their commitment for cooperation in the Maya city of Tikal.

As a result of the reunion a first draft document was produced. This outlines the technical areas of cooperation as follows: patrol systems in the Chiquibul forest, communication and exchange of information, sustainable livelihood activities, training and fundraising.

The Forest Department and Friends for Conservation and Development would be the primary focal points in Belize responsible for the implementation of the workplan which has a life of one year.

In Guatemala, the Comision Nacional de Areas Protegidas, the agency responsible for the national Chiquibul-Montanas Mayas will serve as the focal point.

Friends for Conservation and Development is a NGO based in San Jose Succotz, entering on a co-management programme with the Forest Department for the Chiquibul National Park.

The participants were drawn from the Forest Department, the Belize Defence Force, Friends for Conservation and Development, The Nature Conservancy, Las Cuevas Research Station, Comision Nacional de Areas Protegidas, and a representative from the ministry of Defence from Guatemala.

For full story, please see:


25. Ecotourism: Promoting development through ecotourism in Ghana

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra), 30 November 2006

Ecotourism means ecological tourism, where ecological has both environmental and social connotation. It is also a concept-tourism movement and as a tourism section. It is typically defined as travel to destinations where the flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attraction.

Its conception dates back in the late 1980's, but came to the limelight in 2002, when the United Nations celebrated the "International Year of Ecotourism". This celebration was a watershed event, but was not created with those who had pioneered the niche.

As a means of development, ecotourism focuses on local cultures, wilderness adventures, volunteering, personal growth and learning new ways to live.

Responsible ecotourism includes programs that minimize the adverse effects of traditional tourism on the natural environment, and enhances the cultural integrity of local people. As a result, in addition to assessing environmental and cultural factors, initiatives by hospitality providers to promote recycling, energy efficiency, water re-use and the creation of economic opportunities for local communities are integral parts of ecotourism.

Many global environmental organizations and donor agencies favour ecotourism as a vehicle to promoting sustainable development.

It is estimated that by the year 2010, Ghana’s economy will rocket to a target of $1.5 billion from about one million foreign tourists.

The pertinent question to ask is, if this targeted revenue comes from ecotourism solely, what will be the impact on the environment?

Presently, for many countries, ecotourism is not seen as a marginal activity intended to finance protection of the environment but rather as a major sector of national economy and as a means of attracting tourists. In countries such as Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nepal, Madagascar, Kenya and Antarctica, ecotourism represents a significant portion of their gross domestic product.

Aside building the human capital base of a nation through the creation and provision of jobs, ecotourism promotes sustainable use of biodiversity.

Also, ecotourism facilitates the sharing of socio-economic benefits with local communities and indigenous people by having their informed consent and participation in the management of ecotourism enterprises, which can bring a long-term decline on rural-urban migration hence bridging the already existing gap created by enterprises such as traditional tourism.

The significant question is, "what percentage of the natural resources, we as a people have been blessed with, have been translated into ecotourism venture for national development?"

Though there is precious little statistical data to substantiate the somewhat negative environmental impact traditional tourism have had on the environment, the same cannot be said about ecotourism since it is a remedy in effect. It has increased environmental and cultural knowledge, thereby lessening tourism's own environmental impact.

Currently, there are various moves to initiates national and international ecotourism certification programmes, although the process is causing controversy by the environmentally unfriendly section. One typical example of ecotourism certificates has been put into place at Costa Rica, though the program has been dismissed as green-washing by others.

For full story, please see:


26. Forest fragmentation hurts Amazon biodiversity

Source: Reuters in ENN News, 28 November 2006

Chopping up the dense forests of the Amazon lets hot winds blow in and around ancient trees, killing them off hundreds of years early, researchers reported Monday.

Many species of trees, and other plants and animals that depend on them, are disappearing more quickly than most experts anticipated, William Laurance of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and colleagues said.

"Rain forest trees can live for centuries, even millennia, so none of us expected things to change too fast," Laurance said in a statement. "But in just two decades -- a wink of time for a thousand year-old tree -- the ecosystem has been seriously degraded," he said.

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Laurance and his team said fragmenting the forest creates more edges, exposing trees that would normally have been protected by other trees.

"When you fragment the rain forest, hot winds from the surrounding pastures blow into the forest and kill many trees, which just can't handle the stress," said Henrique Nascimento, a team member from Brazil's National Institute for Amazonian Research in Manaus. "Also, winds build up around the fragment and knock down a lot of trees."

The international team of researchers has been studying Brazil's rain forest for 22 years, covering nearly 32,000 individual trees.

"The rain forests of central Amazonia contain some of the most biologically diverse tree communities ever encountered, averaging 250 species that attain a diameter of at least 10 cm (4 inches) per 1 hectare (2.5 acres)," they wrote in their report.

"These communities are also being cleared and fragmented at alarming rates as a result of large-scale cattle ranching, slash-and-burn farming, rapid soya expansion, industrial logging, and wildfires," they wrote.

They found that nearly a fifth of some of the most common tree genera -- the larger groups comprised of several related species -- declined in abundance over the 22 years. Only one-tenth of the genera became more abundant.

Those within 300 feet of the forest edges were the most vulnerable.

The researchers did not report on saplings or seedlings but said these would be even more vulnerable.

"When you fragment a forest, the winners are common pioneer and generalist species that like forest disturbance," said Laurance. "The losers are rare, slow-growing tree species that provide fruit, nectar, and homes for a diversity of rain forest animals."


27. Largest tropical forest certification in the world

Source: Rainforest Alliance News, 28 November 2006

The Rainforest Alliance has granted Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification to 3.7 million acres (1.5 millions hectares) of rainforest in the central Amazon owned and managed by a group of Kayapó, who harvest and sell Brazil nuts from the land. It is the largest area of tropical forest to receive FSC certification, which balances the need for income from forest products with biodiversity conservation and water and soil protection.

The Kayapó of the Bau Indigenous Territory is currently the only indigenous group in Brazil that has FSC-certified forestlands. The group received the certificate from the Rainforest Alliance in collaboration with our locally-based partner organization, the Institute for Agricultural and Forestry Management and Certification.

Brazil now takes the lead as the Latin American country with the most FSC-certified forestlands, totalling approximately 12.4 million acres -- 6.7 million acres in natural forest and 5.7 million acres in plantations.

The certification will also help control development along BR 163, a 1,094-mile, partially paved highway that runs through the Brazilian Amazon. The government plans on paving the entire road to open up access to the region. Critics are concerned this will increase deforestation and make the area more vulnerable to exploitation. The Bau Indigenous Territory is in the Para region, near the BR 163, and certification of these lands will help guarantee that they are used sustainably for years to come.



28. Request for list of threatened medicinal plants

From: Belinda Hawkins, UK, (in Phytomedica list)

I am trying to collect lists of threatened medicinal plants around the world, to assess their status within ex situ conservation spheres and therefore enable the more effective prioritisation of local in situ conservation.

If you have any information that you feel would be useful for my project, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me:

Belinda Hawkins
Botanic Gardens Conservation International
Descano House
199 Kew Road
Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3BW, UK

Tel: +44 (0)2083 325953
Fax: +44 (0)2083 325956


29. Call for papers from Yale Chapter of the International Society for Tropical Foresters


Call for papers for the “Financing of forest conservation: Payments for Environmental Services in the Tropics” to be held 2-3 March 2007.

What mechanisms are currently available for forest conservation in the tropics? Conservation has always been approached by a number of sectors including biology, political science, economics, and social science. But these perspectives and their associated agencies have historically worked in separate spheres, with little collaboration. Today it is essential that a holistic approach be taken and that the different fields are incorporated together into conservation schemes, and economists comprise an important part of this holistic view.

It is imperative to include economics in conservation planning in order to demonstrate the potential benefits of sustainable forest management. Payment for environmental services is one of the tools environmental economists use to support forest conservation and has great potential for the conservation of tropical forests. This term encompasses a wide scope of activities including carbon credits, bio-prospecting, watershed protection, soil conservation, tax credits and ecotourism.

The Yale Chapter of the International Society for Tropical Foresters expect that this conference will serve as a forum to discuss the various types of payment for environmental services, the issues associated with each type, and the successes and failures to date. The discussion will be driven by questions such as: Can payment for environmental services mechanisms lead to conservation? Can such mechanisms be as economically viable as other uses? How can these methods be better integrated into conservation and management plans? What are the potential negative consequences from the standpoints of conservation, local livelihoods, and economic optimization? How can active trading markets for ecosystem services be developed? Are payments for avoided deforestation and reduced carbon emissions feasible? Will tax credit programs be viable in the long term?

We encourage abstracts based on primary research, or personal or institutional experience. Selected participants will present full papers at the conference. Abstracts should be a maximum of 500 words, and all correspondence will be addressed to the principal author.

In your response, please include the following:
Name(s) of the author(s)
Title and abstract of the paper to be presented
Institution(s) or organization(s) of author(s)' affiliation(s)
Address, telephone, fax and e-mail
of the principal author
Please send abstracts by December 15, 2006, electronically or by mail:
Yale ISTF Conference
c/o Tropical Resource Institute
Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
210 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511
Web site:



8th World Bamboo Congress. Bamboo for Agro-Industrial Development and Ecological Enhancement: Materials and Techniques for a Greener World

21-26 May 2007

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The importance of bamboo to the world economy and its people is enormous. Over 4 billion people live in association with bamboo and the annual usage world-wide is equivalent to US $2.7 billion. Global and national trade in bamboo and bamboo products is worth over $4.5 billion. The potential of bamboo to help fuel rural, economic and industrial development has been bolstered by the triennial International Bamboo Workshops and Congresses. These events have contributed substantially to the development of the bamboo sector throughout the world and have raised the profile of bamboo amongst peoples, institutions and governments. These events have also encouraged global interaction through improved networking and sharing of actions.

The Congress is being organised by the World Bamboo Organization (WBO), Escola de Bio Arquitetura (EBIOBAMBU), and the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), and will be held at the Hotel Sofitel Rio de Janeiro. The Bamboo Expo will take place nearby at the Forte de Copacabana. The Event is expected to be the largest and most focussed gathering of bamboo practitioners and decision makers in history. An estimated 600 delegates from about 40 countries are expected to attend the WBC, and thousands will attend the Bamboo Expo.

Registration will begin in December 2006.

For full details, go to the official congress website:


Sharing Indigenous Wisdom: An International Dialogue on Sustainable Development.

11-15 June 2007

Wisconsin, USA

This Conference is being held to foster dialogue on traditional indigenous knowledge being utilized and incorporated as models and methods of sustainable practices. Traditional or Indigenous Knowledge refers to the wisdom, embodied in indigenous communities or groups, being utilized to preserve and protect resources vital to the continuity of indigenous communities or groups. This year the conference will focus on Natural Environment foundational element of the Menominee model of sustainable development.

For more information, please contact:

Dale Kakkak

Sustainable Development Institute

College of Menominee Nation

P.O. Box 1179

Keshena, WI 54135


Telephone: +1-715-799-5600

Fax: +1-715-799-5951



IUFRO European Congress 2007 "Forests and Forestry in the Context of Rural Development"

6-8 September 2007

Warsaw, Poland

Forests and forestry contribute to rural development in multiple ways. Policy makers and practitioners alike are confronted with growing and increasingly diverse social, economic and environmental demands of modern societies on forests and forestry. In addition, global developments such as climate change and urbanization influence and transform the ways in which forests are perceived, managed, conserved and used as elements of the rural landscape. More scientific knowledge is needed to better understand the complex relations between forests and other land-uses and to overcome the different constraints to forestry in the context of rural development. The role of research as a foundation for the development of forestry and urban policies, planning and managing natural resources will be central.

The IUFRO European Congress aims to take a comprehensive and integrated view on the key issues inside and outside the forest sector that shape and influence the role of forests and forestry as a means of rural development. The current state of knowledge will be presented, and further research priorities will be identified. The Congress will focus on four main themes:

· Policies supporting rural development

· Forests and rural development in the light of global change

· Social aspects of forests and forestry in the rural landscape

· Economic role of forests in rural development

Call for Abstracts

We hereby invite all interested to submit abstracts on your research and development activities that are of relevance to the four main themes of the Congress. The Scientific Committee will make a selection of abstracts to be orally presented during the Congress. There will also be an opportunity to present posters. Abstracts for both oral and poster presentations should be prepared, using the guidelines available at the Congress website.

The abstracts should be submitted by March 15, 2007.

For more information, please contact:

Prof. Dr. Piotr Paschalis Jakubowicz,

Chair, Scientific Committee of the IUFRO European Congress 2007,

Warsaw Agricultural University,

Faculty of Forestry,

Warsaw, Poland




33. The Overstory

From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

Recent issues of The Overstory have covered:

· Commercialization of non-timber forest products (no. 168)

· Forestry and sustainable livelihoods (no. 169)

· The Role of Mushrooms in Nature (no. 173)

· Trees for nature conservation (no. 176)

· Ten percent multipurpose tree cover for every farm: A low risk, high opportunity first step (no. 177)

· Sustaining native bee habitat for crop pollination (no. 178)

· Trees outside forests (no. 179)

For more information, please contact:

Craig R. Elevitch (Editor)

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34. Other publications of interest

From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

Alamgir, M; Misbahuzzaman, K; Hoque, A.T.M.R; and Masum, K.M. 2006. Role of non wood forest products based cottage industry in the livelihood of forest encroachers in Bangladesh. International Journal of Forest Usufructs Management. 7(1): 59-66

An exploratory survey was carried out to assess the role of non-wood forest products (NWFP) based cottage industry in the livelihood of poor encroachers in the Karerhat Range of Chittagong (North) Forest Division, Bangladesh. A multistage random sampling technique was adopted to identify sample households. The households were divided into three categories dependent on farm size, that is, large (more than 0.25 ha), medium (0.05 to 0.25 ha) and small (smaller than 0.05 ha). Sixty households, 20 from each category were selected at random. Out of the total household members surveyed, 52.17% were found to be directly engaged in the enterprise where the workforce was mostly (61.11%) constituted by women. The literacy rate of the workers engaged in the industry was estimated at 35% which was marked by absence of graduate level education among the respondents included in the survey. Most of the entrepreneurs (70%) in the study area had an average landholding less than 0.05 ha. Approximately 56% of the landholding consisted of encroached forest land. A total of 15 handmade products from bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris) and muli (Melocanna baccifera), cane (Calamus tenuis) and patipata (Clinogyne dichotoma) were identified which were sold in local markets for earning livelihood income. Both net profit and annual expected income per article were the highest in case of pati, the sleeping mat, while net profit per article for jharu, the broom, was the least. The expected per capita annual income per household member engaged in the industry falls far behind the national average.

Apte, Tejaswini. 2006. A Simple Guide to Intellectual Property Rights, Biodiversity and Traditional Knowledge. Kalpavriksh, Grain, IIED.

Bevege, D.I. 2005. Supplying forest services and products from natural forests and plantations: can we meet the challenge? Forests, wood and livelihoods: finding a future for all Record of a conference conducted by the ATSE Crawford Fund, Parliament House, Canberra, Australia, 16 August 2005. 30-43

Sensible and equitable use of the world's forests while ensuring sustainable delivery of forest-based goods and services devolves upon many interlinked social, economic, environmental and developmental issues. Increasing global population, rising standards of living with concomitant consumption of forest products, and widening expectations of the forests to provide environmental services and regulate water supplies, are placing huge demands on forest resources. While the yield from industrial and fuelwood plantations increasingly complements the harvest of wood products from native forests, the establishment of plantations is not offsetting the current rate of deforestation. Clearing for agriculture, often associated with uncontrolled logging and fuelwood collection, remains the major cause of net forest loss. Conversion of tropical forest to industrial plantations may have negative implications for biodiversity, but positive ones for carbon sequestration and wood production. Harvesting traditional NWFP can have mixed outcomes on the forest, depending on the levels of exploitation and management. The level of exploitation of forest products is determined by need, demand and price. In general, forest commodity prices have steadily dropped over the last several years in line with many other commodity prices. This places pressure on producers to reduce costs, and this pressure is reflected in the level and effectiveness of forest management. Current forest valuation processes tend to ignore the value of forest services and goods other than wood; this leads to a restricted forest policy horizon and undervaluation of forests, and consequently to inappropriate pricing for goods and services and levels of investment in forest management. This situation is reflected in a lack of sectorally-integrated forest policies, rundown forest management authorities and inadequate R&D, and a lack of investment in training of staff. The capacity for ecologically sustainable forest management is inevitably severely compromised. The international development community needs to take stock of what past development assistance in the forest sector has achieved. A paradigm shift is necessary, focused on governance, forest policy and capacity building if the pressures on forests are to be met and the expectations of the global community realized.

FAO. 2006. Better forestry, less poverty: a practitioner’s guide. This FAO Forestry Paper suggests ways to design and implement forest-based interventions that will have the greatest potential to reduce poverty. The areas for action that it discusses include timber production in both natural and planted forests, NWFP, woodfuel, bushmeat, agroforestry and payment for environmental services.

Kalu, C. and Rachael, E. 2006. Women in processing and marketing of non-timber forest products: case study of Benin City, Nigeria. Journal of Agronomy; 5(2): 326-331

The study was carried out from 2002 to 2003 to assess the role of women in the processing and marketing of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in Benin City, Nigeria. Thirty-nine species comprising 32 families were identified.

Narendra Prasad and Siddiqui, M H. 2006. Conservation of plant diversity of forest for food security of tribal population. International Journal of Forest Usufructs Management. 2006; 7(1): 6-9.

The seasonality of dependence of Indian tribal communities on small forest activities is presented. A list of NTFP, which are well distributed in the forests of Jharkhand and neighbouring states, and their economic importance is provided. It is emphasized that forests act as major source of livelihood; therefore, it must be protected and conserved to sustain tribal communities.

Peck, J.E. 2006. Regrowth of understory epiphytic bryophytes 10 years after simulated commercial moss harvest. In Canadian journal of forest research. 2006 July.

Commercial moss harvest is the predominant disturbance for understory epiphytic bryophyte mats in the Pacific Northwest, yet the rate and dynamics of regrowth of this NTFP are unknown. The first long-term evaluation of cover and species richness regrowth following simulated commercial moss harvest from understory vine maple (Acer circinatum Pursh) shrub stems is reported. Stems harvested of moss on six sites in the Oregon Coast Range in 1994 were examined for species composition and relative abundance of regrowth over the course of a decade. Percent cover increased 5.1%/year, averaging only 51% cover in year 10. Forty percent of the total cover in year 10 was attributable to encroachment from adjacent undisturbed mats and 14% to reestablished litterfall. Shortly after harvest, many taxa established on the newly available habitat, such that species richness surpassed preharvest levels by year 3. In the absence of competitive exclusion even by year 10, species richness continued to exceed preharvest levels by two taxa. Vegetative cover regrowth may require 20 years and volume recovery even longer. Commercial moss harvest should be managed on rotations of several decades, and patchy harvest methods should be encouraged over complete strip harvesting to ensure moss regeneration and promote bryophyte diversity.

Samal, P.K. and Dhyani, P.P. 2006. Gender in the management of indigenous knowledge: reflections from Indian Central Himalaya. Current Science. 91(1): 104-108

In the Indian Central Himalaya, indigenous knowledge is an important natural resource that has enormous potential to facilitate the development process in cost-effective and sustainable ways. It governs almost all important productive resource sectors and revolves around traditional values of resource use. In an effort to understand the indigenous knowledge of both sexes, 250 male and 250 female respondents from 19 sample villages in Almora and Nainital districts of Uttaranchal, India were interviewed. The indigenous system of medicine and health care practices, including the prevalent human diseases and disorders, their diagnostic knowledge for curing such diseases and disorders, and the medicinal plants and other raw materials used in the treatments, were documented. Approximately 53 indigenous treatments were being practiced by the locals in healing a number of diseases and disorders using as many as 42 medicinal plant species. Among these plants were haldi (Curcuma domestica [Curcuma longa]) which was used in as many as nine formulations in healing diseases, sarson (Brassica campestris [Brassica campestris var. sarson]) which was used in six formulations, and darim (Punica granatum), harar (Terminalia chebula), tulsi (Ocimum sanctum [Ocimum tenuiflorum]) and adrak (Zingiber officinale) which were each used in five formulations. The study revealed that women are the real custodians of the indigenous knowledge system, since 52% of them have knowledge on 30 practices versus 26% for males.


35. Web sites and e-zines

From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

ITTO launches new multilingual website

ITTO announced the launch of a new website available in four languages at the 41st session of the International Tropical Timber Council. The site provides comprehensive information on ITTO's activities in English, French, Spanish and Japanese.



36. Asian Indigenous reps assess ‘UN Decade of Indigenous Peoples’

Source: Kantipur Online, Kathmandu, Nepal, 30 November 2006

In the wake of the UN General Assembly voting on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, representatives of Indigenous Peoples organisations and experts from 10 countries in Asia held a conference at The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu from 27-29 November to present their findings on an assessment of the first UN Decade of Indigenous Peoples 1995-2004.

The 10-country assessment in Asia is one of the few in-depth pieces of research carried out to explore how the Declaration of the UN Decade helped enhance the empowerment and rights of indigenous peoples.

Participants from Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam discussed what changes took place in policies and programmes for indigenous peoples in each of these countries during the decade.

According to a press release from ICIMOD, of the estimated 300 million indigenous peoples in the world, about 70 per cent live in Asia. And that Indigenous peoples continue to be amongst the poorest in society in almost every country, with higher levels of illiteracy, malnutrition, access to health services and landlessness.

And many of these communities have remained marginal to mainstream political and economic systems and are the victims of social discrimination, economic exploitation, and political marginalization with the productive resources and lands of these people being exploited through continued state and administrative control and/ or by industries who exploit timber, minerals, water, and non-timber forest products – leading to their further impoverishment, stated the release.

The conference also drew some recommendations out to uplift the status of the indigenous people from across the Asian countries.

The release added that the conference made recommendations on development of contextual definition of the term “indigenous peoples” at national level so as to ensure adequate representation in state activities and also financial and technical support from the UN and other international agencies for them and their organizations to develop, implement and monitor programmes

Setting up activities on sharing and learning for non-indigenous persons, governments and civil society and media on indigenous issues to increase awareness, recognition and respect of cultural diversity is yet another recommendation made by the conference, according to the release, along with establishing mechanism and supporting existing ones to actively promote awareness raising, capacity building and translating of relevant document in local languages for international partners and international partner organisations.

The other recommendations made during the conference were: promotion of multi-lingual and intercultural education to preserve IP languages and cultures, capacity-building of indigenous peoples and their organisations to use and monitor national and international instruments to promote and protect indigenous peoples rights, collection of disaggregated data to develop and define indicators of poverty and development for indigenous peoples and recognize traditional and ancestral land rights.

For full story, please see:


37. Forests expand thanks to government policy

Source: SciDev.Net, 14 November 2006

Afforestation is replacing deforestation in an increasing number of countries, highlighting the positive impact that government policies — including those in China and India — are having on forest expansion, say scientists.

However, the research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences yesterday (November 13) shows that in many developing countries forests are shrinking, but this situation could be reversed.

The scientists developed a new method to calculate carbon stored in forest areas, information that is critical to the study of climate change. The technique is a reliable way of translating forest area, volume and biomass across countries.

One of the study's authors, Jingyun Fang of Peking University in Beijing, China, says the new approach will affect how carbon credits are calculated, adding that it will "encourage governments to consider the value of reforestation".

Instead of simply measuring the areas covered by trees, the researchers calculated the volume of a country's 'growing stock' — trees large enough to be considered timber — as well as the amount of biomass and atmospheric carbon stored in forests.

They used data from a UN report, and found that between 1990 and 2005, forest stocks rose in 22 of the world's 50 most forested countries.

Forest area shrank fastest in Nigeria and the Philippines, and expanded fastest in China, Spain and Vietnam.

In China, reforestation and afforestation efforts, spurred by government policy, allowed forest areas to increase from 96 to 143 million hectares.

These changes are also due to urban migration and agricultural yield, and they have led the team to predict that more nations will achieve forest transition, where reforestation overtakes deforestation, in the next three years.

But the scientists also warn of the negative effect of bad land management.

"The main obstacles to forest transition are fast-growing poor populations who burn wood to cook, sell it for quick cash, and clear forest for crops," said lead researcher Pekka Kauppi of the University of Helsinki, Finland.

Forest transition at a global level will depend largely on Brazil and Indonesia, where huge areas of tropical forest are being cut and cleared.

"I think we need more effort to protect and restore primary forests, especially tropical rain forests," Fang told SciDev.Net.

"As our report has indicated, forest area and biomass are still being lost in two critical tropical countries, Brazil and Indonesia," he added.

The authors also suggest that the expanding forests can compensate for industrial emissions by capturing and storing carbon.

Link to full paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences doi: 10.1073/pnas.0608343103 (2006)


38. Russia: Forest code adopted

Source:, 25 November 2006

Russia’s new Forest Code is coming into effect next year. The Federation Council has endorsed the bill and date for its enforcement following the president’s request. The new blueprint aims to make forest management more effective and encourage investments in the industry. Timber merchants say that a major block for investments – outdates laws – has been eliminated.

The Federation Council passed the new Forest Code on Friday to make it a law in January 2007. The bill has been debated in the parliament for 18 months. Back in November, Federation Council members showed their unwillingness to pass the bill. However, the meeting between Federation Council Speaker Sergey Mironov and President Vladimir Putin has dispelled all doubts.

Russian timber industry needs $4 billion of investments annually, Russian officials estimate. Russia’s forests cover 1 billion 180 million hectares, which is 70 percent of Russia’s land. “Only 20 or 30 percent of wood-cutting areas are being developed,” Alexander Belyakov, head of the Timber Industry Committee at the Trade and Industry Chamber, says. “We are in short of vital infrastructure and roads.” Russian authorities hope the new code will encourage investors to develop infrastructure as well.

Under the new law, wood-cutting areas are to be divided into three categories – protected, exploitation and reserve ones. Forests on agricultural, defence and industrial lands have the protected status. However, the use of protected land plots will be streamlined. This kind of plot will be available for lease for the time of up to 49 years following a special auction. Forest lands will be held as federal property while regions will be in charge of their management.

For full story, please see:



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last updated:  Monday, August 24, 2009