No. 06/06

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: www.fao.org/forestry/site/12980/en


PRODUCTS
1. Bamboo: Ethiopian company secures land to engage in bamboo development
2. Bark: Tongan bark may hold diabetes key
3. Bark: Tree-bark extract may help ADHD
4. Bark: Natural pine bark extract relieves muscle cramp and pain in athletes
5. Bushmeat surveyed in Western cities
6. Ferns and sunburn
7. Ginseng: USA reverses wild ginseng five-year export rule
8. Honey quality in India
9. Honey: Researcher stuck on therapeutic honey
10. Maple syrup production up across New England, USA
11. Maple syrup: Wisconsin’s maple syrup production doubles
12. Medicinal plants in Bhutan: Ancient formula in capsule
13. Medicinal plants in Iran: Semnan, home to 168 species of medicinal herbs
14. Natural colourants: Testing of natural dyes on bamboo products
15. Pine resin: Vietnam may export pine resin to Pakistan
16. Sandalwood: Big expansion for sandalwood plantation in Australia
17. ‘Stevia’ can help meet sugar crisis

COUNTRY INFORMATION
18. Bangladesh: Plant trees to protect environment
19. Brazil: Population of Acre may aid in fighting activities of biopiracy
20. Ghana: Voacanga africana – The plant with the potential to boost Ghana`s foreign exchange earnings
21. India: From tobacco to medicinal plants?
22. India: "Himachal, a major herbal state by 2025"
23. India: National Afforestation Programme. Improve forests & livelihoods of the people living around forests
24. Malawi: WWF assessment reveals uncertain future for Malawi’s forests
25. Namibia to explore Kalahari truffle
26. Nepal: Regional forest probe teams constituted
27. ‘Nigeria can earn $1bn from traditional medicine’
28. Peru: Project on medicinal plant conservation and use
29. Vietnam: Farm and forestry exports surge in May

NEWS
30. Biopiracy: Brazil, India's bio-piracy proposal may curb patents, WTO talks
31. Biopiracy: Indian Government moves to check foreign patents threat
32. Central Africa's first debt-for-nature swap invests $25 million for tropical forest conservation in Cameroon
33. Earthcorps Training Course
34. Impacts of international trade on Amazonia under discussion in Europe
35. Our Forests – video
36. Overexploitation depleting forest resources in Near East

REQUESTS
37. Request for information: ecotourism

EVENTS
38. First African Leadership Seminar on People and Conservation
39. The Global Importance of the Boreal Forest: Migratory Birds and the Paper Industry
40. International Congress on Ecosystem Services in the Neotropics

LITERATURE REVIEW AND WEB SITES
41. Article of interest: Medical Colleges for Traditional Healers
42. Rattan publications available
43. Other publications of interest
44. Web sites and e-zines

MISCELLANEOUS
45. The spider that crawled with dinosaurs
46. New colour-changing snake found in Borneo
47. First field surveys of Tanzanian mountains

QUICK TIPS AND INFORMATION FOR NWFP-DIGEST-L


PRODUCTS

1. Bamboo: Ethiopian company secures land to engage in bamboo development

Source: The Ethiopian Herald (Addis Ababa), 7June 2006

The Land and Sea Development-Ethiopia, a company aspiring to jointly undertake bamboo development in Benshangul-Gumz State with a capital of US$136 million has reportedly secured 494,000 ha of land last week. Company Founder and President Michael Gebru said the company would jointly work with three respected Indian companies for the development of bamboo and its products.

The activities of the companies are divided into three phases, the first of which would be planting exotic bamboo species that could be developed in a short period of time, the second phase being the export of bamboo. The final phase of the project would be the establishment of a paper mill that utilizes the plant as raw material.

Upon going operational, the project would export up to 500,000 metric tons of bamboo. Close to 2,000 citizens will also get jobs. Construction work will fully start within the coming nine months.

For full story, please see: http://allafrica.com/stories/200606070822.html

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2. Bark: Tongan bark may hold diabetes key

Source: Melbourne Herald Sun – Australia, 8 June 2006

Melbourne biotechnology company Dia-B Tech believes it has found a natural alternative to the anti-diabetes drug insulin in the bark of a plant found in Tongan rainforests. Chief executive Ken Smith is tight-lipped on details, preferring not to disclose the name of the vine until the company has a provisional patent over its use.

"But what I can tell you is that plant has been used by traditional healers in Tonga to heal type two diabetes and obesity over hundreds of years," Mr Smith said. "They mix it with a potion of various plants and tree barks which are ground, mixed with water and taken orally with great results."

The company has been testing the bark since February last year, today announcing to the Australian Stock Exchange that preliminary results were looking good.

Dr Ken Walder, a scientist with Intramed, another biotech company involved in the research, said it was already clear the natural derivative had a component with "very strong" insulin-like qualities.

If developed commercially, the component would be used by people with type two diabetes, a metabolic disorder that occurs when the pancreas is not producing enough insulin. The medical and commercial potential would be significant if further research confirmed the component effectively acts as a natural `proxy' for insulin, Mr Smith said.

More than one million Australians are estimated to have type two diabetes, with researchers predicting this figure will treble by 2051.

For full story, please see: www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,19406257%255E1702,00.html

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3. Bark: Tree-bark extract may help ADHD

Source: M&C News, 20 June 2006

Pycnogenol, a supplement derived from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, reduces children’s symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new study.

Sixty-one children with ADHD participated in the study, led by the Department of Child Psychiatry at the Child University Hospital in Slovakia and published in the new issue of European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. The children were between 6 and 14 years old and predominantly male.

Forty-one participants were given Pycnogenol for a month, while the other 16 received a placebo. Because the study was a double-blind experiment, neither the participants nor the researchers knew who had received the real drug. The study was funded by Horphag Research, the company that developed Pycnogenol.

One of the authors of the study, Dr. Peter Rohdewald of the Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Germany`s University of Munster, pointed out that many children with ADHD are very intelligent, but their inability to focus contributes to poor grades. He said the study follows case reports from the United States and Japan that showed evidence that Pycnogenol helped relieve symptoms of children suffering from ADHD.

The study results suggest Pycnogenol could 'give some children a possibility to do better schoolwork, to have a better social and family life, and to do it with a natural extract,' he said.

Dr. Steven Lamm, a faculty member at New York University School of Medicine, warned that Pycnogenol is not a miracle cure and will not replace pharmaceuticals anytime soon. 'I can see Pycnogenol as being complementary in the treatment of ADHD instead of adjunctive,' he said.

For full story, please see: http://news.monstersandcritics.com/lifestyle/consumerhealth/article_1174297.php/Tree-bark_extract_may_help_ADHD

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4. Bark: Natural pine bark extract relieves muscle cramp and pain in athletes

Source: Medical News Today (press release), UK,18 June 2006

A study published in this month's issue of Angiology shows that supplementation with the pine bark extract Pycnogenol® (pic-noj-en-all) improves blood flow to the muscles which speeds recovery after physical exercise. The study of 113 participants demonstrated that Pycnogenol significantly reduces muscular pain and cramps in athletes and healthy, normal individuals.

Researchers at L'Aquila University in Italy and at the University of Würzburg in Germany studied the effects of Pycnogenol on venous disorders and cramping in two separate studies.

Cramps are a common problem for people of all ages, ranging to the extreme fit and healthy to people who suffer from health problems. Previously, magnesium was hailed as the natural approach for relieving muscle cramps, however studies continue to show magnesium to be inefficient for reducing muscle cramps. "Pycnogenol improves the blood supply to muscle tissue creating a relief effect on muscle cramping and pain.

Pycnogenol is a natural plant extract originating from the bark of the Maritime pine that grows along the coast of southwest France and is found to contain a unique combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids and organic acids, which offer extensive natural health benefits. The extract has been widely studied for the past 35 years and has more than 220 published studies and review articles ensuring safety and efficacy as an ingredient. Today, Pycnogenol is available in more than 400 dietary supplements, multi-vitamins and health products worldwide.

For more information or a copy of this study, visit http://www.pycnogenol.com/.

For full story, please see: www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=45346

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5. Bushmeat surveyed in Western cities

Source: Emma Marris, news@nature.com, 29 June 2006

Illegally hunted animals turn up in markets from New York to London.

Baboons, duiker antelopes and cane rats are available by the pound in markets in major cities in North America and Europe, a scientist reported at the Society for Conservation Biology meeting in San Jose, California, this week.

While the meat showing up in cities from New York to London represent just a sliver of the illegal bushmeat trade, it highlights the strong demand that still exists for illegally hunted meat, the ecologist says.

Bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) can be problematic when the animals killed are endangered or carrying disease. Most concern about bushmeat centres on western and central Africa, where great apes are among the animals eaten, and where it represents a serious threat to many animal populations.

Justin Brashares, a conservation ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley, has worked in bushmeat research for nearly a decade. His recent research project involved recruiting African expatriate volunteers to cruise a local bushmeat market in New York, London, Brussels, Paris, Toronto, Montreal and Chicago, reporting back the kinds, conditions and quantities of African wild meat on offer.

The results of the first 20 months of the survey, reported at the Society for Conservation Biology meeting on Wednesday 28 June, show that about 6,000 kg of illegally hunted meat moved through the seven markets surveyed, in total, each month.

That's just a smidgen, Brashares says, of what must be flowing out of Africa into Europe and North America. And intercontinental trade, he adds, is again a tiny fraction (he estimates less than 1%) of total bushmeat kill, most of which stays in the country of origin.

Most of the meat in the survey was found to be butchered and smoked, but about 27% was raw, and 21% was not butchered at all. "You have animals basically coming over in plastic bags," Brashares says. This raw meat could be a disease risk, he adds.

Brashares doesn't know most of his volunteers, nor does he know the exact location of the markets they are surreptitiously surveying. In order to ensure that the information is valid, Brashares asks two wholly independent scouts to survey each location.

For more information, please visit: http://www.nature.com/news/index.html

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6. Ferns and sunburn

Source: M&C Com, 31 May 2006

A U.S. dermatologist says research on a sunburn-preventing South American fern extract is 'very promising, but the jury`s still out,' a report said Tuesday.

The extract, Polypodium leucotomos, recently became available in the United States as a dietary supplement.

Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries sells the fern extract under the brand name Heliocare.

For full story, please see: http://news.monstersandcritics.com/lifestyle/consumerhealth/article_1168196.php/Advice_Don%60t_give_up_sun_block_just_yet

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7. Ginseng: USA reverses wild ginseng five-year export rule

Source: NutraIngredients-usa.com, France, 12 June 2006

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has performed a U-turn over the ban imposed last year on the export of five-year-old wild American ginseng roots – a decision met with relief from an industry that feared years of decline while plants matured to catch up with the regulation.

Wild American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), the root of which has a variety of uses in traditional medicine including stress, cognitive function and immune system boosting, takes between four and five years to reach maturity and start producing seeds. The life span of a plant is around 30 years and it becomes more fruitful with age.

Since 1975 the plant has been listed under the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) as species that, while not being in immediate danger of extinction, may become extinct if trade is not strictly controlled.

In its 2005 CITES finding published last August, the FWS determined that wild roots must be at least ten years old (double the previous minimum age of five years) and have four ‘prongs' or leaves before they can be legally exported from the US.

This decision met with dismay from the botanicals industry, not least because it was made behind closed doors.

But the agency subsequently held four well-attended public meetings, which elicited comments from the spectrum of those involved with the wild ginseng trade.

Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association, also said: “Our concerns with the 10-year rule were centered on errors in some of the calculations used by FWS, and on the absence of any meaningful consideration of the positive impact that can come from harvesters who are also acting as ginseng stewards by replanting mature seeds.”

The newly announced decision to reinstate the 5-year minimum export rule for those states that have a ginseng program for at least the next three harvest seasons came after FWS concluded from the information gathered at the public meetings that the practice “will not be detrimental to the survival of the species”.

It said that it had heard opinions that increasing the exportable age of wild ginseng would result in greater harvest pressure on older plant, and undermine the transition to woodland planting and management to replace harvesting of wild roots.

If new evidence to the contrary comes to light in the meantime, it does reserve the right to alter the regulation again, but pledges to do so in sufficient time before the 2007 or 2008 harvest so that stakeholders can be consulted and notified.

Around 19m wild plants were exported from the US each year until 2004, making up 7.3 percent of the overall ginseng exports.

The 2005 ruling meant that significantly less wild ginseng would be available for export in the next five years, to allow for plants that would previously have been cleared for harvesting to grow older and bridge the gap.

Ginseng exports from cultivated sources were excluded from the 2005 ruling, which also held that held that the position wood-grown or wild-simulated ginseng would have to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

In the update, however, FWS says it has determined that woodsgrown roots qualify as artificially propagated and are not covered by the same regulation as wild American ginseng.

For full story, please see: www.nutraingredients-usa.com/news/ng.asp?n=68362-fws-wild-ginseng-export

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8. Honey quality in India

Source: Telugu Portal, India, 26 June 2006

Honey buyers and sellers begin a two-day meeting here Monday to discuss how the country can improve the quality of the sweet and viscous fluid produced from the nectar of flowers.

Said Manoj Singh Chandel of the Indian Society of Agri-Professionals (ISAP): "From the feedback we get, the problem here is one of quality honey production. From a buyer's point of view, quality honey is essential. But India is lacking on that front. We need to look specifically at how to promote quality production and develop an export market."

Talks at the two-day meet will focus on apiculture technologies in development and progress of beekeeping in India, beekeeping practices for quality honey production, eco friendly management of wild bees for sustainable harvesting of honey and wax, and bee species and environmentally sustainable practices.
Honey is estimated to be a Rs.1.03 billion ($22 million) per annum industry in India.

India's honey industry is seen as under pressure due to deforestation, depletion of sources of food for the honeybee, new diseases, increasing costs of timber and other beekeeping inputs. But it is estimated that Indian forests could provide shelter and food to over 100 million bee colonies.

Beekeeping requires very little inputs. A bee box is the only essential requirement to start the industry. The output is comparatively quite high and the business is suited for poor and rural dwellers too.

For full story, please see: http://www.teluguportal.net/modules/news/article.php?storyid=6735

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9. Honey: Researcher stuck on therapeutic honey

Source: StarPhoenix, Saskatchewan, 10 June 2006

Honey has long been used as a herbal remedy, but biochemist Dr. Peter Molan, of the University of Waikato in New Zealand, has discovered a kind of honey he says could sweeten the taste of medicine around the world.

Molan says he has discovered that honey made from the manuka bush, which covers large areas of New Zealand, contains higher levels of anti-bacterial activity than honey sold at grocery stores. It's so high that clinical trials conducted by Molan and his team have suggested that direct application of the sweet stuff can effectively heal cuts, burns, sores and even combat the superbug methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA.

Hydrogen peroxide is found in all honey, but the potency varies. What Molan discovered in the manuka honey is an additional antibacterial component -- a "non-hydrogen peroxide." This gives the manuka honey its edge because it is unaffected by the enzyme that dilutes the effectiveness of regular honey. It also remains active under wound dressings and diffuses deeper into skin tissues, Molan says.

He has developed a system, now used by several labs in New Zealand, to ensure the manuka honey being sold contains non-hydrogen peroxide activity.

Despite these results, Dr. Pamela Kibsey, the Vancouver Island Health Authority's head of microbiology and infection, warns that health-food products are not regulated by Health Canada, and consumers can't be sure that what they're getting has proven medicinal value. Companies that package manuka honey that doesn't contain the active ingredient are not held to any standard. She adds that "these kinds of products have never been trialled in a proper clinical trial against known antibiotics," which is considered the highest level of scientific testing.

Sebastien and Catherine Martin, the Chemainus, B.C.-based husband-and-wife team behind Wedderspoon Organic, are trying to get government funding to bring manuka honey to clinical trials in Canada. They have been distributing the honey here since January and are convinced of its health merits. Sebastien points to the U.K., where the honey is already used in some hospitals to treat MRSA.

For full story, please see: http://www.canada.com/saskatoonstarphoenix/news/weekend_extra/story.html?id=623ecd34-6987-47b7-9221-cbfad4f63870

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10. Maple syrup production up across New England, USA

Source: Associated Press in Portsmouth Herald News, USA, 16 June 2006

Maple syrup production rose 12 percent in New Hampshire and Vermont and 13 percent in Maine this year, while production nationwide increased 17 percent, according to Department of Agriculture statistics.

As usual, Vermont was the No. 1 syrup state with 460,000 gallons produced, according to Department of Agriculture numbers. Maine was the No. 2 state with 300,000 gallons, followed by New York, with 253,000 gallons. New Hampshire produced 64,000 gallons of syrup, Massachusetts had 40,000 gallons and Connecticut came in at 10,000 gallons.

The rise in production is credited to an increase in yield as well as an increase in the number of syrup taps.

For full story, please see: http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/06162006/maine/107984.htm

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11. Maple syrup: Wisconsin’s maple syrup production doubles

Source: The Capital Times, USA, 19 June 2006

The 100,000 gallons of maple syrup produced in Wisconsin this year doubled last year, raising the state's national ranking to 4th from 8th, the Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics Service reported.

About 320 maple syrup producers reported production and price information from the syrup season Feb. 20 through April 29. The producers received $32.40 per gallon for their 2006 production, 10 cents more than a year earlier.

The estimated number of taps stayed the same at 400,000, but the average yield per tap for Wisconsin's producers doubled to 0.250 gallons from 0.125 gallons In 2005.

This year's maple syrup season averaged 23 days, 5 days longer than last year, and consisted of fewer, but longer runs.

Nationally, maple syrup production for 2006 totalled 1.45 million gallons, up 17 percent from 2005's production of 1.24 million gallons. Number of taps set was 7.26 million, up 2 percent. The U.S. price per gallon for the 2005 production averaged $29.90, up $1.50 from the 2004 price of $28.40.

For full story, please see: www.madison.com/tct/business/index.php?ntid=88144&ntpid=4

Related story: www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.cfm?Id=693&yr=2006

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12. Medicinal plants in Bhutan: Ancient formula in capsule

Source: Kuensel, Bhutan, 10 June 2006

An ancient combination of the medicinal plant, Cordyceps sinesis, and five exotic herbs, which traditional medicine has used for thousands of years to promote good health and well being, is now available in capsule form.

A product of the Menjong Sorig Pharmaceuticals of the Bhutan Institute of Traditional Medicine in Thimphu, the capsule sold under the brand name CordyPlus, was conceived to increase its efficacy and add value to it according to its manufacturers.

The other ingredients of the capsule are Polygonatum verticillatum, Asparagus racemosus, Rhododendron anthopogon, Withania somnifera and Dactylorhiza hatagirea.

According to the Pharmaceutical Unit head, Kinga Jamphel, although the capsule was not targeted towards any specific group of people, most of the consumers were middle-aged and older people.

He added that the ancient combination is believed to improve the overall health of those who experience general weakness, fatigue and joint pains. CordyPlus is also recommended for stimulating and revitalising kidney and liver functions, curing piles complications and increasing the glow and radiance to skin and hair.

Prices could vary according to the availability of raw material and its demand in the market.

For full story, please see: www.kuenselonline.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=7052

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13. Medicinal plants in Iran: Semnan, home to 168 species of medicinal herbs

Source: MehrNews.com, Iran, 26 June 2006

There are 168 species of medicinal herbs growing in this northern province, head of the Pests & Herbs Diseases Research Section at the provincial Center for Agricultural Research stated on Monday.

“Of the 7000 species of herbs known in Iran, 500 can be used as medicines,” Ahmad Dezyanian added, noting that lots of these plants can be found in Shahrud, a city in Semnan Province that is surrounded by the Alborz Mountains from north and by Dasht-e Kavir from south.

The city is home to unique forest and desert ecosystems that bear their particular herb species. Artichoke, barberry, savory, liquorice, and borage are the main medicinal herbs found in Semnan Province.

For full story, please see: http://www.mehrnews.ir/en/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=345161

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14. Natural colourants: Testing of natural dyes on bamboo products

Source: NMBA Web site

The National Mission on Bamboo Applications (NMBA) is supporting the project: Testing of natural dyes and validation of processes for their application on bamboo products; subsequent training of craftspersons

The Department of Textile Technology, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi has developed experience and expertise in  developing and standardising technology for application of natural colourants to carpet wool, silk and other fibres. Supported by NMBA, and led by Prof. Mohan Gulrajani, Professor, Textile Engineering Department, it has now turned its attention to bamboo.

The objectives of the projects are:

    • To develop and demonstrate eco–friendly natural colourants in processed bamboo & bamboo products to enhance product value, texture, aesthetic appeal, durability and environment friendliness and to complement improved design inputs.

    • A technology package including process parameters for application of natural colourants will be available for dissemination on completion of the project. As a part of the project, technologies, applications and processes have been demonstrated to artisans, and craftsmen.

For full story, please see: http://bambootech.org/tslink.asp?subsubid=55&subid=1&sname=PROJECTS&subname=KNOWLEDGE&lid=129

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15. Pine resin: Vietnam may export pine resin to Pakistan

Source: Viet Nam News, 30 June 2006

Viet Nam may secure contracts to export pine resin to Pakistan, which recently expressed interest in importing 800 tonnes in August and September, according to the Ministry of Trade.

The nation’s pine resin exporters should take advantage of this opportunity, especially given that Vietnamese products are increasingly appearing in foreign markets, it said.

Nguyen Hong Tien, from Viet Nam’s commerce office in Pakistan, warned that although Vietnamese pine resin is competitive in terms of price and quality, Pakistani clients seek prices lower than average market prices. He quoted one Pakistani importer as saying that if Indonesia’s pine resin trades at US$1,000 per tonne, the Vietnamese equivalent should be sold at $950 per tonne.

Volatile prices and poor packaging are the main factors keeping Vietnamese products behind those from Indonesia and India, the world’s two leading pine resin exporters, Tien said. Pakistan imports about 3,000 tonnes of pine resin products from foreign countries each year, mostly from these two countries, he added.

Experts have said Viet Nam has great potential to develop its pine resin sector, as the country’s terrain and climate make it suitable for pine tree cultivation. Although the country could easily produce more than 40,000 tonnes of pine tar valued at $70 million each year, it has not yet taken advantage of this potential, with average annual production remaining a modest of 8,000 tonnes, they said.

A 36-tonne consignment of pine resin valued at $70,000 was recently exported to the US, a major centre from printing and chemical industries. US demand for pine tar – a natural material used to produce products including ink, glue, and paint – is substantial, and the shipment marked a breakthrough for the nation’s fledgling pine resin production industry, said the trade ministry

For full story, please see: http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/showarticle.php?num=02BUS300606

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16. Sandalwood: Big expansion for sandalwood plantation in Australia

Source: ABC Online – Australia, 19 June 2006

An Indian sandalwood plantation in the Ord Valley is undergoing its biggest expansion in seven years. Tropical Forestry Services is planting a further 235 ha of the exotic hardwood, increasing its total plantation to more than 800 ha.

The company plans to harvest its first crop in 2012, banking on continuing strong demand from Asia, Europe and the United States.

Chief executive Tom Cullity says the company is planning processing facilities at Kununurra to produce sandalwood oil which is used for perfumes and cosmetics. "Oil is from the hardwood; over A$100,000 for a tonne of hardwood. The sandalwood oil that is distilled from the hardwood is very valuable and it's used in a lot of perfumes and cosmetics," he said.

The other major grower of Indian sandalwood in the Ord, ITC Limited, has now planted 750 ha, owned by investors. Its first harvest is planned for 2014.

For full story, please see: http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200606/s1666117.htm

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17. ‘Stevia’ can help meet sugar crisis

Source: The New Nation – Bangladesh, 2 June 2006

Stevia serrata (family name: 'Asteraceae'), a herbal plant which is widely used as an alternative to sugar in many developed countries like Australia, Canada, China, Japan and the United States, can help meet country's growing demand for sugar , an expert said.

Herbal scientist Dr. Alamgir Mati said the compound made of stevai leaf (sometimes known as sweet leaf or 'Chinipata') is 300 times sweeter than common sugar: 5g of stevia leaf contains the same power as 1kg of sugar.

Dr. Mati said that 1kg of sugar is being sold at Taka 65 while it takes at best only Taka 5 to produce 5g of stevia.

"Bangladesh being an agro-based country could easily cultivate the plant in its vast 'char' lands as it grows well in open space having regular sunlight ", he added.”After 60 days of cultivation, the leaf of the plant can be harvested and be turned into granules like that of sugar".

Dr. Mati, who is now working with the plant, said "if the country's vast char areas are brought under Stevia cultivation it can help minimize sugar imports as well as help create job opportunities for large number of unemployed youths.

He added that it has no side effects as an alternative to sugar; rather it reduces blood pressure risks of obesity and diabetic patients because it contains low carbohydrate.

For full story, please see: http://nation.ittefaq.com/artman/publish/article_28260.shtml

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COUNTRY INFORMATION

18. Bangladesh: Plant trees to protect environment

Source: The New Nation – Bangladesh, 5 June 2006

Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia on Monday urged all families to plant ten timber, fruit-bearing and medicinal plants including five Neem trees each this year to help protect environment.

She urged everyone to come forward for tackling desertification, alleviating poverty, achieving affluence and protecting the environment.

The Prime Minister also inaugurated National Tree Plantation Movement and Tree Fair- 2006 and distributed the "Prime Minister's National Award for the Tree Plantation-2005".

Begum Zia said her government, which took over at a time when trees and woodlands were plundered, has transformed tree plantation into a social movement. She said the country is once again full of trees. "The entire country including the capital Dhaka has been covered by greenery."

Begum Zia said 25 000 ha of woodland forest had been created under the social forestry programme while Taka 86 crore distributed as dividend among 56 000 poor beneficiary families during the last four years. The trees under the social forestry programme have been valued at Taka 500 crore.

She said the government has created a mangrove forest on a land area of 1,53,000 ha in the coastal zone and distributed five crore saplings at a concessionary price.

For full story, please see: http://nation.ittefaq.com/artman/publish/article_28322.shtml

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19. Brazil: Population of Acre may aid in fighting activities of biopiracy

Source: A Tribuna, 15 June 2006 (in Amazon News, 22 June 2006)

During the Seminar “Biopiracy – Hits and Misses”, which took place yesterday in the State Department of Technical Assistance (Seater), the speaker Fernanda Kaingang, Executive Director of the Brazilian Indigenous Institute for Intellectual Property (Inbrapi) and founder of the National Indigenous Institute of Private Property, asked the population of Acre to put forth greater efforts and participation to fight biopiracy in Amazonia.

According to Fernanda, the people of Amazonia still do not have a precise idea of the value that Amazonia represents to the world and, due to lack of necessary knowledge regarding their rights, allow foreign countries and companies to take not only their natural resources, but their traditional knowledge as well.

The founding and implementation of the Northern Network for Intellectual Property will provide rights to brands and patents so that people will be able to have this type of ownership title.

The Northern Network of Intellectual Property, Biodiversity and Traditional Knowledge is formed by non-profit institutions that work in the Amazon Region, promoting the social functions of intellectual property, sustainable use of biodiversity and the use of differentiated mechanisms for protecting traditional knowledge.  The network works with training and development of human resources, dissemination of the social functions of intellectual property, supporting intellectual property centers and bearers of traditional knowledge, collective property and traditional knowledge, generation and dissemination of information, sustainable use of biodiversity, transfer of technology and sharing of benefits

Fernanda assured that the implementation of an information system is essential to prevent and fight piracy and to protect rights and traditional knowledge of Amazonia.  The major objective of the initiative is to disseminate information on protection and access to traditional knowledge and to ensure indigenous peoples the right to intellectual property.

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20. Ghana: Voacanga africana – The plant with the potential to boost Ghana`s foreign exchange earnings

Source: Accra Daily Mail, 15 June 2006

Ghana is to supply over US$6 million worth of Voacanga africana, the country's leading medicinal plant export product, to major importers from Europe and China this year.

Mr. Samuel Kwame Agyei, President of Botanical Products Association of Ghana (BOTPAG), has disclosed that the product is in high demand. Addressing the press in Accra this week, Mr. Agyei said the plant, which grows in six regions - Eastern, Volta, Central, Western, Brong-Ahafo and Ashanti - had an active principal ingredient used for memory enhancement in major Western countries.

He said although the medicinal plant provided employment and income for more than 8,000 collectors, the practice of uncoordinated harvesting posed a threat to the benefits that could accrue to individuals, companies and the nation as a whole.

Mr. Agyei said farmers in the six regions had begun harvesting the seeds prematurely ahead of the upcoming harvesting season, which commences in July. He said low quality control protocols and assurance systems and lack of regulation could result in the supply of sub-standard products to the world market. "Every year, Ghana loses over 40 per cent of potential supply volumes as a result of harvesting immature seeds. If this practice is not checked, the demanded volumes of this year would not be realised, resulting in loss of revenue and future opportunities for the country."

BOTPAG has scheduled a series of sensitisation programmes to educate farmers on harvesting practices and other quality control measures.

Mr. Dan Acquaye, Programme Coordinator for Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Product (ASNAP), said export earnings from natural plants had increased from US$300,000 in the 1990s to US$4 million currently. He said that it is unfortunate that this potential has not been developed although the country has a favourable climate to grow such plants. Plant medicine remains a priority since about 65 percent of developing countries (according to a World Health Organisation report) rely on it for treatment, hence the need for government to support the industry.

Mrs. Juliana Asante-Dartey, Country Director for ASNAP, said the organisation would continue to support the plant product industry in Africa through research and development of quality assurance systems and trade standards.

For full story, please see: http://www.accra-mail.com/mailnews.asp?id=16942

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21. India: From tobacco to medicinal plants?

Source: Deccan Herald, India, 31 May 2006

Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss has moved a Cabinet note on trade and taxation policy on tobacco which would have very wide ramification on the tobacco industry in the country. It would be deliberated by the cabinet, especially Finance Ministry and then the Prime Minister, before a final decision is taken.

The Note has recommended gradual withdrawal of the subsidy for tobacco industry and gives alternate method of livelihood to farmers engaged in tobacco cultivation. They could be encouraged to take up growing medicinal plants as these are similar to tobacco in many respects and the trade in medicinal plants is going to be worth five trillion dollars in the next few decades.

For full story, please see: www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/may312006/update1152372006531.asp

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22. India: "Himachal, a major herbal state by 2025"

Source: The Hindu, India, 1 June 2006

The Himachal Pradesh Government has formulated a comprehensive policy for making it a major herbal destination in the country by 2025.

The 'Forestry Sector Medicinal Plants Policy' is focussed on conservation and augmentation of medicinal plant resource in its natural habitat through adaptive and participative management with linkages to sustainable use for commerce and research purposes, a Forest Department spokesman said on Wednesday.

Under the new policy, a system would be developed for pricing of wild harvest of medicinal herbs, reflecting the conservation cost and community benefits and organic cultivation of commercially important species on private lands, he said.

The policy envisaged public-private community partnership for capacity building for cultivation and putting in place an integral and sensitive institutional mechanism for development of herbal sector.

It further provides for networking with other north-western Himalayan states to push community oriented reforms in the medicinal plant sector and to form alliances for better collaboration and coordination of policy issues, marketing the value addition operations.

The policy would also promote the use of commercially viable medicinal plants available in the State by the State-owned and private pharmaceutical units and subsidiaries engaged in value addition.

For full story, please see: http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/004200606010341.htm

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23. India: National Afforestation Programme. Improve forests & livelihoods of the people living around forests

Source: Press Information Bureau (press release) - New Delhi, India, 15 June 2006

The National Afforestation Programme (NAP) is the flagship scheme of National Afforestation & Eco-development Board (NAEB). It provides support, both in physical and capacity building terms, to the Forest Development Agencies (FDAs) which in turn are the main organ to implement Joint Forest Management.

The FDA is a federation of Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs) at the Forest Division level to undertake holistic development in the forestry sector with people’s participation. It allows greater participation of the community, both in planning and implementation, to improve forests and livelihood of the people living in and around forest areas.

The two-tier approach, apart from building capacities at the grassroots level significantly empowers the local people to participate in the decision making process.

The objectives of the scheme are; protection and conservation of natural resources; checking land degradation, deforestation and loss of biodiversity; ecological restoration and environmental conservation and eco-development; make people managers of the natural resources in and around villages; fulfilment of the broader objectives of productivity, equity and sustainability for the general good of the people; improve quality of life and self sustenance; and skill enhancement for improving employability of the rural people.

Six hundred and eighty FDAs have been operationalised so far at a cost of Rs. 1,489.42 crore. They have treated a total area of 9.05 lakh ha (as on 6th February, 2006). Bamboo plantation, medicinal plants and Jatropha have been given adequate focus under NAP during the current plan period.

Last year, 60 new FDA projects have also been sanctioned to cover an area of 36,688 ha through 1,502 JFMCs.

For full story, please see: http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=18395

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24. Malawi: WWF assessment reveals uncertain future for Malawi’s forests

Source: WWF International - Gland, Switzerland, 6 June 2006

Lilongwe, Malawi – Findings of a recent forest assessment in Malawi show increasing deforestation rates and unsustainable exploitation of non-timber forestry products in the country’s protected areas.

The report, which surveyed threats to forests throughout the country’s protected areas, indicates that logging and forest conversions for agriculture are key drivers to the disappearance of Malawi’s forests and deterioration of the country’s national parks.

The assessment further revealed that Malawi’s most biologically significant forests in the country’s central region were the most vulnerable. This was the case for forestry reserves in Mangochi, Mulanje, Dedza and Salima. And, all national parks have suffered various degrees of encroachment. The worst affected are Lengwe followed by Kasungu, Nkhotankhota and Nyika.

Malawi’s protected forests currently cover 4.7 percent of the country, while national parks and wildlife reserves cover 11.6 percent.

The report concludes that the Malawi government, donor agencies and other stakeholders, including organizations like WWF, need to work together in ensuring that protected areas in Malawi are effectively managed for the benefit of the country through tourism, sustainable utilization and employment creation.

For full story, please see: www.panda.org/news_facts/newsroom/index.cfm?uNewsID=71320

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25. Namibia to explore Kalahari truffle

Source: New Era (Windhoek), 2June 2006

The Kalahari truffle (Terfezia pfeilii) is one of Namibia's many untapped natural resources with immense potential to bring the country much needed foreign currency.

The truffle, an edible mushroom that resembles a potato tuber, is a sought after delicacy especially in Italy and France, where a simple 1 kg costs over N$7 000 (US$1 200). Last year, an Italian truffle weighing 1.2 kg which was auctioned at N$666 000 (US$111 000).

In Namibia, a bag of 25 kg may cost one as little as N$24 or US$4, which Professor Osmund Mwandemele, the Founding Director of the Sam Nujoma Marine and Coastal Resources Research Centre in Henties Bay says, "It's a pity we are not marketing it to get a decent income."

In fact, Professor Keto Mshingeni, who wrote a paper on the intriguing treasures of the tuberous truffles and ganoderma mushrooms with potential for HIV/AIDS treatment, said that price at which the Italian truffle was auctioned "makes the truffle significantly more expensive than gold".

Realising this potential to boost the living standards of the people along the Kalahari Desert where the truffle is found, the Southern African Biosciences Network, of which Professor Mwandemele is the Chairperson has submitted a project proposal for funding to the Nepad Biosciences Secretariat. He said it is a viable resource, which if explored could bring in a lot of money into the country. Mwandemele said that the project would look at promoting mushroom farming technologies in the SADC region.

However, the truffle, which has a symbiotic relationship with the wild melon fruit, is one of the mushrooms that need a lot of work because it is difficult to grow.

According to Mshingeni's paper, which was co-authored by other two universities in Tanzania and China, African truffles are grossly undervalued, largely due to people's ignorance on the global respect which truffles demand. Apart from this, there is lack of aggressiveness and skills in marketing them and also due to lack of detailed information on the biology, ecology and natural products chemistry of Africa's truffle mushroom heritage.

The project proposal, for which funding is being sought, is also looking at setting up incubation centres or technology parks to transfer technology to would-be entrepreneurs in mushroom farming. Namibia has its own initiative, which offers training to those who want to engage in such activities.

Presently, there are two groups of people in Katutura and Ondangwa, who have been trained to undertake mushroom farming. The Katutura project, which is funded by Nedbank, trained 50 people, of whom only seven are active.

Alfons Mosimane, the Project Manager of the Zeri Regional Project said the project aims at empowering local communities to produce mushroom for food and an income. Mushrooms supply the body with protein, carbohydrates, lipid, vitamins and inorganic minerals.

Mushroom production is not a very expensive venture as a mushroom house may cost in the range of N$5 000 depending on what material is used. Local material such as grass, sawdust, maize and mahangu stalks can be used as substrate for growing mushrooms.

In the long term, a forum comprising mushroom producers countrywide will be formed to try and find alternative ways of growing mushrooms such as in traditional mud huts and also to use veteran farmers as mentors for would-be entrepreneurs.

For full story, please see: http://allafrica.com/stories/200606020970.html

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26. Nepal: Regional forest probe teams constituted

Source: The Rising Nepal, 31 May 2006

The Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation has constituted five different high level investigation teams with Joint-Secretaries at the Ministry as coordinators, and decided to send them to each of the five development regions for carrying out necessary investigation over the irregularities, illegal activities and action to be taken against the culprits, in connection with the incidents of encroachment of forest at different parts of the country, illegal export, trafficking of timber products, illegal hunting of wildlife and smuggling of non-timber products said to have increased during the last few weeks.

Issuing directives to the chiefs of different offices in Parsa District under the Ministry at the office of Parsa Wildlife Reserve Monday, Minister Rai appealed to all the concerned sides to make efforts for the sustainable, balanced and practical management and utilization of forests based on public participation.

He highlighted the economic importance and bio-diversity of the productive forests of Terai, Chure and Inner Terai of Nepal, while stressing the need for all to pay attention on promoting and conserving these forests.

For full story, please see: http://www.gorkhapatra.org.np/content.php?nid=1457

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27. ‘Nigeria can earn $1bn from traditional medicine’

Source: The Tide, Nigeria, 1 June 2006

President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that the country can earn at least one billion dollars within the first 10 years of the implementation of the country’s blueprint on traditional medicine. He said that the blueprint would centre on the development, promotion and commercialisation of the products both within and outside the country.

Obasanjo spoke on Tuesday in Abuja while inaugurating the Presidential Initiative Committee on the Development, Promotion and Commercialisation of the country’s herbal medicinal products.

The president noted that the initiative would also generate employment, alleviate poverty and contribute substantially to the country’s healthcare delivery capacity.

He described as “negligible” Nigeria’s current participation in the 60 billion dollar annual global market of traditional, alternative and complementary medicines dominated by Asian countries. Obasanjo noted that the desire to change the country’s unfavourable position informed his directive for the preparation of the blueprint. “In fact, it is established that more than 70 per cent of modern medicines are rooted in or based on herbs that are subsequently subjected to other scientific, chemical and industrial processes,” he said.

He highlighted the growing number of users of herbal medicinal products in Africa. “More than 60 per cent of children with high fever in many African countries are treated at home with herbal medicines,” the president said.

He urged the committee, chaired by the Minister of Health, Prof. Eyitayo Lambo, to establish a research and training institute on all facets of herbal medicine. Obasanjo also tasked the committee to among others, create adequate public awareness on the values of herbal medicine and develop a comprehensive database on herbal medicinal plants.

For full story, please see: http://www.thetidenews.com/article

Related story: http://www.thetidenews.com/article

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28. Peru: Project on medicinal plant conservation and use

From: Charles Veitch, charlesveitch@yahoo.co.uk

There is a project underway at present in Peru sponsored by the Darwin Initiative which is collaboration between the University of Oxford, a Peruvian NGO, Centro EORI and five Indigenous communities in the Madre De Dios region.

The project aims to develop, in collaboration with the communities, a participatory management plan for the conservation and use of medicinal plant species in the Manu Biosphere Reserve, Peru. Methodological lessons from the project will be summarised as a model, to be then promoted regionally and nationally.

This project is due for completion by September 2007 and progress to date has been good. Inventories of medicinal plant species found in each community have been completed, and lists made of plants used by local people. A participatory manual has been designed and the first phase of monitoring the impact of medicinal plant harvesting has been carried out. Participants are also noting quantities of medicinal plants harvested within each community.

Propagation and cultivation techniques have been taught to the participants and plant nurseries and herbal gardens have been established, and some enrichment planting has also been carried out in areas of secondary forest.

For more information please contact:

Anna Lawrence annalawrence@eci.ox.ac.uk

or Charles Veitch charlesveitch@eci.ox.ac.uk

or visit www.eci.ox.ac.uk/humaneco/Peru.html

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29. Vietnam: Farm and forestry exports surge in May

Source: Viet Nam News Agency, 2 June 2006

Exports of farm and forestry products hit US$582 million in May, an increase of 26 percent over the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. This brought total farm and forestry export turnover in the first five months to US$2.85 billion, up 25 percent year-on-year, with US$2 billion contributed by farm products.

Forestry products also recorded high increases, with furniture earning US$778 million and rattan and bamboo products, US$79 million, up 29 percent and 8 percent, respectively, over the same period last year.

For full story, please see: www.vnagency.com.vn/newsA.asp?LANGUAGE_ID=2&CATEGORY_ID=30&NEWS_ID=201844

Related story: http://www.tradingmarkets.com/tm.site/news/ECONOMIC%20NEWS/282552/

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NEWS

30. Biopiracy: Brazil, India's bio-piracy proposal may curb patents, WTO talks

Source: Bloomberg – USA, 9 June 2006

Brazil, Peru and India want inventors to disclose the origin of genetic resources to prevent companies from stealing traditional knowledge or national assets. The proposal is both unworkable and unneeded, the U.S. says.

Such a rule change would slow or halt patent approval for plant breeding or goods ranging from medicines and cosmetics to chemicals and foodstuffs. The U.S. says the proposed changes to the World Trade Organization's intellectual property rules would ``undermine the patent system'' and ``stifle innovation'' rather than thwarting so-called bio-piracy.

The clash pits China, Cuba, Venezuela, Thailand and Tanzania, as well as India, Peru and Brazil, against the European Union, the U.S., Australia and Japan and threatens to further damage already tense negotiations at the WTO.

For full story, please see: www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000086&sid=agv_HExYkgKk&refer=latin_america

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31. Biopiracy: Indian Government moves to check foreign patents threat

Source: Times of India, 30 June 2006

After losing nearly 18,000 patents of medicinal plants to the West because of government's reluctance to share traditional knowledge, India has decided to allow International Patent Offices (IPOs) to access its Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) for examining patent claims.

The library, which would be ready by December 2007 at the cost of Rs 10 crore, has codified information of 75,000 ayurvedic, 50,000 unani and 15,000 siddha formulations and 1,500 yoga postures in patent application formats in five international languages — English, German, French Japanese and Spanish.

The cabinet on Thursday authorised TKDL's co-developer, National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources, to sign a non-disclosure agreement with IPOs providing access to “TKDL database 24x7 on a secured portal.”

The non-disclosure agreement with IPOs will be negotiated on the principle that the latter will not misuse TKDL for any other purpose except for examination of any patent application or to prevent misappropriation of traditional knowledge.

The agreement will also disallow IPOs and their examiners to make any third party disclosure of TKDL other than what is necessary and essential for the purposes of patent search and examination.

Health minister A Ramadoss said: "We want to thwart anyone who tries to profit from our traditional knowledge, from yoga to 150,000 ancient medical remedies.

The library will prevent those living abroad from claiming patent for existing formulations. IPOs from 11 countries, including the US and UK, which have signed an agreement with India, will have access to the database."

TKDL at present contains 11 million pages of information."

For full story, please see: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1690834.cms

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32. Central Africa's first debt-for-nature swap invests $25 million for tropical forest conservation in Cameroon

Source: World Wildlife Fund, 26 June 2006 (in ENN)

France and Cameroon signed the first ever Central African debt for nature swap today. This agreement will invest at least $25 million over the next five years to protect part of the world's second largest tropical forest, home to elephants, gorillas, hundreds of bird species and indigenous groups such as the Ba'Aka pygmies.

The agreement comes from France's Debt Development Contract (C2D), a complement to the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative (HIPC), a joint initiative of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The HIPC's goal is to reduce the excessive debt faced by the world's poorest nations. The goal of C2D is to provide complete debt relief of the concessional loans France contracted to other countries. Twenty-two countries are eligible for C2D. The total amount of C2D debt relief is $4.6 billion.

The document requires Cameroon to earmark funds among four different sectors: education, health, infrastructure and natural resources. This is the first C2D agreement to allocate funds to natural resources. Previously funding had only been allocated to the education and health sectors, but, after French president Jacques Chirac stressed the importance of natural resources in poor countries last July, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) worked with both countries to include conservation in Cameroon's debt forgiveness plan.

"The importance of this unique and history making agreement lies in the combination of debt forgiveness and investment in forest conservation and local communities," said Laurent Some, director of WWF's Central Africa Regional Program Office.

Through the funds the Forest and Environment Development Program, a program to reduce poverty while protecting and managing natural forestry resources, will be implemented. The funding will be used to better manage protected areas, wildlife and forest production and increase community forest resources and research capacity. The program is designed to secure some 40 protected areas and increase the present protected area network from 14 to 17 percent of the national land area.

Illegal logging and an underdeveloped infrastructure threaten Cameroon's forests. As a solution, the program calls for working alongside forest companies to develop management plans and a demand for certified, environmentally friendly products. Employing 12,000, the forest sector is Cameroon's largest private employer and the second largest source of export revenue after oil. However, forest sector employment has dropped in recent years, so funds will also be used to re-establish two national forestry schools to train the new recruits.

WWF sees this agreement as a concrete example of the commitment expressed by the region's heads of state at the Brazzaville summit in February 2005 and looks to other nations to follow France and Cameroon's lead

For full story, please see: http://www.enn.com/net.html?id=1552

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33. Earthcorps Training Course

From: Mark Howard, mark@earthcorps.org

EarthCorps offers a 6-month training course in Seattle, Washington, USA that brings together young representatives (18-25 years of age) of international organizations to learn the basic fundamentals of environmental restoration, community organizing, and leadership.

EarthCorps training is ideal for any organization that works with:

• Community empowerment

• Reforestation

• Ecotourism development

• Youth outreach

Earthcorps charges no fees for its services and in fact supplies insurance, individual homestays, gear, and a monthly stipend to all international participants.  EarthCorps provides additional support in acquiring US J-1 Trainee visas.

REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS:

• 2 years of practical experience or secondary education in the environmental field

• Conversational English

• Written support from an organization working in the environmental field.

DEADLINES AND START DATES:

•Applicant Application Dead Line: August 31, 2006

•Participant selection: September 2006

•Visa processing: October - January 2006

•Travel confirmation: February 1, 2007

•EarthCorps Program starting date: mid-February 2007 •EarthCorps Program graduation: mid-August 2007

TO APPLY:

Candidates should be referred to EarthCorps by an environmental organization (i.e. NGO, LGU, community group or student club). Materials are available online at: http://www.earthcorps.org/join_international.php.  

For more information, please contact:

Mark Howard

EarthCorps

International Coordinator

6310 NE 74th St., Suite 201E

Seattle, WA 98115, USA

Tel: +1-(206) 322-9296 ext. 224 office

Fax: +1-(206) 322-9312 fax

e-mail: mark@earthcorps.org

www.earthcorps.org

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34. Impacts of international trade on Amazonia under discussion in Europe

Source: Amazonia.org.br, 1 June 2006 (in Amazon News, 8 June 2006)

Impacts of international trade on Brazilian Amazonia were discussed today at a session of the event, "Green Week", organized by the European Commission in Brussels. David O'Sullivan, director-general of trade of the European Commission and Roberto Smeraldi, director of Friends of the Earth were among the participants in the debate on impacts and also how trade can help the forest.

Roberto Smeraldi spoke on how trade can either harm or help the Amazon forest, depending on the transparency of the productive chains, level of information provided consumers and government subsidies. He spoke to an audience made up of European leaders and dignitaries on how the continent can held develop Amazonia in a sustainable manner. "You here in Europe can act in two ways: through the market, altering consumption patterns by providing better information to consumers and through transparency in the chains of commercialization, and through trade negotiations, through which you can change the definition of "environmental goods and services" to favour sustainable products, whilst currently it only benefits clean technologies of developed countries".

Replacement vs. Use

The environmentalist stated that two economic models are vying with each other in Amazonia: the model of replacement (of forest cover for something else) - characterized by agribusiness - and that of use of the forest.

The replacement model is based on converting the native forest into plantations and pastures, generating jobs for a few and forcing others to migrate. It provides rapid returns and is based on large landholdings, requiring heavy infrastructure and is very vulnerable to outside factors, in addition to absorbing huge government subsidies.

Smeraldi defended the forest use model, which is characterized by maintaining the native forest cover in order to provide a wide range of products and services. It therefore averts migration of the rural population and requires local formation of services, research and industrialization, while at the same time requires a moderate scheme of subsidies. The model needs to increase in scale and critical mass to get beyond the current market niches. Concerns were also mentioned regarding implications that the planned increase in biofuel production may have on deforestation rates.

Marco Túlio Cabral, Brazilian diplomat from the Brussels embassy, who deals, among other things, with environmental issues, stated: "The data presented by Friends of the Earth are consistent and concerning, yet I would like to clarify that this is also a concern of the Brazilian government, not only of civil society. Today, the government understands that the advances achieved are here to stay.

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35. Our Forests – video

Source: CIFOR

This two-part film series documents how local communities perceive and use rainforests in Malinau District in Indonesian Borneo and how these uses may be changing – leading ultimately to the destruction of the forest, and the loss of a rich culture and way of life.

Local communities want choices about how their forest is used. The films explore the difficulties communities and local government face in defining a shared vision for forest use and making transparent decisions.

Interviews with Dayak farmers and Punan hunter gatherers, Malinau district officials, advocates from nongovernmental organizations and academics offer useful suggestions about how local people’s needs can be better served and local forest policies can be improved.

Part I. Our forests, our prosperity (Hutan kita, kesejahteraan kita)

Part II. Our forests, our decision (Hutan kita, keputusan kita)

The films are available in Indonesian, with English and Indonesian subtitling

For full story, please see: http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/docs/_ref/highlights/video_malinau.htm

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36. Overexploitation depleting forest resources in Near East

Source: FAO Press Release, 6 June 2006

While many countries in the region have increased their forest area during the period 2000-2005, heavy grazing, wood, clearing of forests for agriculture, and urban development are depleting forest resources in the already forest-scarce Near East, according to FAO.

Grazing land is often poorly managed and overburdened with livestock, leading to the disappearance of vegetation cover in heavily grazed areas, especially where nomadic herders have settled, FAO said today at a regional forestry meeting (5-8 June) in Larnaka, Cyprus.

With fluctuations in the supply and price of oil, many rural communities have once again resorted to biomass and wood as sources of fuel, pushing the use of forest and tree resources to the maximum. The region produces and consumes about 90 million cubic metres of fuelwood each year. Wood and non-wood forest products support the livelihoods of millions of people in the region, according to FAO.

In addition, because much agricultural land is being lost to urban expansion and rapid population growth, forest and grazing lands are being cleared for agriculture.

Sudan and Afghanistan, in particular, are rapidly losing forest area. War-affected people are making their way back to their original lands after the conflict and clearing forest lands for agricultural expansion and for provision of building materials and fuel.

These conditions contribute to widespread soil degradation and accelerated desertification in the Near East, the world's driest region, with exceptionally low forest cover at one fifth the world average. Eighty percent of the countries in the Near East have less than 10 percent forest cover.

Forests and woodlands in the region are important for the many environmental services that they perform including arresting desertification and land degradation, protection of watersheds, conservation of biological diversity and recreational uses.

"Forests and forest products are still largely neglected in policy- and decision-making processes in the region, said Hassan Abdel Nour, an FAO forestry expert for the Near East.”Policy-makers in these countries should start seriously addressing forest degradation to avoid losing even more of their forests."

Planted forests remain an important means of meeting needs for forest products and services and halting or reversing the process of desertification.

Many countries in the region are planting trees, and forest area has increased in 13 countries in the last 15 years, mainly due to forest plantations.

"Forest plantations cannot possibly replace the loss of natural forests, but this is a step forward," said Abdel Nour.

The Near East Forestry Commission meets every two years and is part of a global network of regional forestry commissions which together feed ideas and suggestions to the FAO Committee on Forestry, scheduled to meet in March 2007.

For full story, please see: www.fao.org/forestry/newsroom/en/news/108780/highlight_109386en.html

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REQUESTS

37. Request for information: ecotourism

From: Rani Sethi, rani402@yahoo.co.uk

Could you all help me? I need to tell my students about village and ecotourism so that they can become nature lovers instead of nature guzzlers.

I want to know about some ecotourism spots in your country. If anyone has been to these tourist spots and appreciated them maybe you could send me some info.

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EVENTS

38. First African Leadership Seminar on People and Conservation

12-19 August 2006

South Africa and Mozambique

For more information, please contact:

The Coordinator, African Seminar on People and Conservation

Centre for Environment, Agriculture and Development

University of KwaZulu-Natal

Private Bag X 01

Scottsville 3209

South Africa

Telephone + 27 33 260 5193/5775

Fax + 27 33 260 6118

Email: fincham@ukzn.ac.za.

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39. The Global Importance of the Boreal Forest: Migratory Birds and the Paper Industry

10-13 September 2006

Clare College, Cambridge, UK

Co-hosts are the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Birdlife International, Boreal Birdsong Initiative, ForestEthics, and UNEP – World Conservation Monitoring Centre with support from the Environmental Paper Network, Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and others.

The conference will include :

• In-depth discussions of the world’s impacts on boreal ecosystems, especially in relation to migratory birds

• The latest campaign news from around the boreal forest

• Release of the State of the Paper Industry and the Environment by the Environmental Paper Network

For more information, please contact:

Jim Ford, jim@taigarescue.org

or visit

www.taigarescue.org/conference2006,

http://forest.birdlife.org

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40. International Congress on Ecosystem Services in the Neotropics

13-19 November 2006

Valdivia, Chile

For more information, please contact:

neotropicscongress@forecos.net

or see: http://www.forecos.net/neotropics/

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LITERATURE REVIEW AND WEB SITES

41. Article of interest: Medical Colleges for Traditional Healers

From: Pankaj Oudhia, pankajoudhia@yahoo.com

I am giving the link to an article on traditional healers in Chhattisgarh, written by well known journalist Shri Shubhranshu Choudhary, which I would like to share with readers of the NWFP Digest

Medical Colleges for Traditional Healers. Shubhranshu Choudhary

http://www.cgnet.in/H/Tradhealers

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42. Rattan publications available

From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

The following publications in our NWFP series are being offered to our readers free of charge:

No. 14: Rattan. Current research issues and prospects for conservation and sustainable development.

No. 16. Rattan glossary and Compendium glossary with emphasis on Africa.

If you would like to take advantage of this opportunity, please send an e-mail to non-wood-news@fao.org

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43.Other publications of interest

From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

Gautam, K.H.; & Devoe, N.N. 2006. Ecological and anthropogenic niches of sal (Shorea robusta Gaertn, f.) forest and prospects for multiple-product forest management - a review. Forestry, v. 79, no. 1 p. 81-101.

Sal (Shorea robusta Gaertn. f.) forests cover over 11 million ha in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. These forests are conventionally managed for timber. Recently, interest in producing multiple products from sal forests has increased and consequently a silvicultural regime for managing these forests is a central concern.

Hamilton, Alan and Hamilton, Patrick. 2006. Plant Conservation: An Ecosystem Approach. Earthscan. ISBN 1844070832

In this, the latest in the People and Plants series, plant conservation is described in the context of livelihoods and development, and ways of balancing the conservation of plant diversity with the use of plants and the environment for human benefit are discussed. A central focus of this book is the idea that local and tribal peoples must be involved if conservation is to be successful and resources are to be used sustainably.

Also examined are the identification of priority plant species and localities for conservation projects, the trade in wild plants, and the contributions that are made by taxonomists, ecologists and sociologists.

This book acts as a unifying text for the series, integrating case studies and methodologies considered in previous volumes and pointing out in a comprehensive, accessible volume the valuable lessons to be learned.

Hawthorne, William and Lawrence, Anna. 2006. Plant identification. Creating user-friendly field guides for biodiversity and management. Earthscan. ISBN: 1844070794.

Johnston, Alison M. 2005. Is the sacred for sale? Tourism and Indigenous Peoples. Earthscan. ISBN: 1853838594

Tourism is the fastest growing industry in the world. Ecotourism, often considered a more benign form of tourism, can in fact cause the most damage, as it targets more vulnerable environments and cultures. Is the Sacred for Sale? looks at our present crossroads in consumer society. It analyses the big questions of tourism, clarifying how it can support biodiversity conservation. It also offers a cross-cultural window to the divide between corporate thinking and sacred knowledge, to help us understand why collisions over resources and land use are escalating.

Liese, W. 2004. Preservation of bamboo structures. Ghana Journal of Forestry, Vol. 15&16.

Ghana has valuable bamboo resources. The culms are an excellent material for countless applications. Their wider use for construction is encouraged by the overall scarcity of timber. Since bamboo has a low natural resistance, protection against biological degradation is of vital importance for long term service. Although protective measures without chemicals are preferable, they are often limited in their effectiveness in a tropical environment. When choosing a chemical preservation, the restricted permeability of the culm tissue, the choice of a suitable preservative and treatment method, the environmental effects as well as economical aspects have to be considered.

Lohr, V.I.; & Pearson-Mims, C.H. 2005. Children's active and passive interactions with plants influence their attitudes and actions toward trees and gardening as adults. HortTechnology, v. 15, no. 3 p. 472-476.

Maskey, V.; Gebremedhin, T.G.; & Dalton, T.J. 2006. Social and cultural determinants of collective management of community forest in Nepal. Journal of forest economics, v. 11, no. 4 p. 261-274.

Meyer, M.D.; & North, M.P. 2005. Truffle abundance in riparian and upland mixed-conifer forest of California's southern Sierra Nevada. Canadian journal of botany = Revue canadienne de botanique, v. 83, no. 8 p. 1015-1020.

Miller Jr., Orson K. and Miller, Hope H. 2006. North American Mushrooms: A Field Guide to Edible and Inedible Fungi. Falcon, Guilford, Conn.; $25.95; ISBN 0-7627-3109-5

This book is a guide to more than 600 fungi in the United States and Canada. It uses colour photographs and drawings to help the reader identify each example. The text lists the Latin name, notes if the fungi is edible or poisonous, describes the fungi and its spores and gives its habitat and distribution.

Murray, G.; Boxall, P.C.; & Wein, R.W. 2005. Distribution, abundance, and utilization of wild berries by the Gwich'in people in the Mackenzie River Delta region. Economic botany.v. 59, no. 2 p. 174-184.

Nightingale, Andrea. 2006. The nature of gender: work, gender, and environment. Environment and planning-D. 24:2: pp.165-185

Schreckenberg, Kate; Marshall, Elaine; Newton, Adrian; Willem te Velde, Dirk; Rushton, Jonathan; & Edouard, Fabrice. 2006. Commercialisation of Non-Timber Forest Products: What Determines Success? ODI Forestry Briefing. Number 10, March.

Commercialisation of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) has been widely promoted as an approach to rural development in tropical forest areas. However, donor investments in the development of NTFP resources have often failed to deliver the expected benefits in terms of poverty alleviation and improved conservation of natural resources. This briefing paper discusses different conceptions of what constitutes successful commercialisation and examines the key factors that influence the outcome of NTFP commercialisation initiatives.

Shackleton, S.; & Shackleton, C. 2005. The contribution of marula (Sclerocarya birrea) fruit and fruit products to rural livelihoods in the Bushbuckridge district, South Africa: balancing domestic needs and comercialisation. Forests, trees and livelihoods. v. 15, no. 1 p. 3-24.

Waylen, K. (2006). Botanic gardens: Using biodiversity to improve human well-being. Botanic Gardens Conservation International, Richmond, London, UK. ISBN: 1-905164-08-4. The report is available as a pdf to download free of charge, from www.bgci.org/wellbeing/report.

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44. Web sites and e-zines

From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

IPDEV

IPDEV is an EU research project, led by Chatham House in the UK, to assess the impact of Intellectual Property Rights rules on economic growth, environmental protection and social goals.

http://www.ip4development.org

Lady Forester

http://www.geocities.com/ccp4treez/

Policy and Law Forum

www.eurac.edu/policylaw/

Wildnerness survival

http://www.wilderness-survival.net/

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MISCELLANEOUS

45. The spider that crawled with dinosaurs

Source: The Independent, UK, 15 June 2006

The oldest orb spiders to weave a spiral web of silk have been found trapped in a fragment of amber 120 million years old. A study of the amber-trapped spider (unearthed at Alava in northern Spain) suggests that it must have lived at the time of the dinosaurs - long before the rise of the warm-blooded mammals.

The fossil was preserved because amber is fossilized tree resin, which helps prevent biological degradation.

For full story, please see: http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article1018578.ece

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46. New colour-changing snake found in Borneo

Source: Reuters (in ENN, 27.6.06)

Biologists working in the forests of Borneo have found a previously unknown type of snake which can change its colour spontaneously like a chameleon, the environmental body WWF said on Tuesday.

The poisonous snake, about half a metre (half a yard) long, was discovered in the wetlands and swamp forests of Betung National Park in the Indonesian part of the island, which is also shared by Malaysia and Brunei.

When picked up and put in a bucket, it was reddish-brown but later changed its colour to white, apparently in an automatic reaction to blend in with surroundings, according to the WWF.

The biologists named the serpent, two specimens of which were recovered, the Kapuas Mud Snake after the river that flows through the region.

The WWF said although some reptiles with legs, like the chameleon lizard, had the ability to change colour, it was rare for snakes.

For full story, please see: http://www.enn.com/today.html?id=10752

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47. First field surveys of Tanzanian mountains

Source: World Wildlife Fund, 23 June 2006 (in ENN Newsletter)

The first field surveys of the Rubeho Mountains in Tanzania revealed over 160 animal species - including a new species of frog and eleven endemic species - according to an article published in the African Journal of Ecology this month. The findings elevate the importance of protecting this biologically-rich wilderness area and the broader Eastern Arc Mountain range from destructive activities underway such as clear-cutting for agriculture, logging and poaching.

For a total of 112 days over two years, an international team of scientists from the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group, Oxford Brookes University, and the Zoological Museum of Copenhagen conducted surveys using a variety of methods including tracking, phototraps and audio recordings.

Researchers found eleven species endemic to or found only in the Eastern Arc Mountain range. The Eastern Arc forests have the densest occurrence of endemic species in all of Africa.

Over the course of the survey, researchers also observed some alarming encroachments into the forests where these animals live even though the forests are within official reserves. The team observed about 49 acres of one forest reserve had been cleared for bean and tobacco farms. Elsewhere, there was evidence of logging and hunting camps. These observations underscore the urgent need for additional conservation investment in the area and in helping limited forestry department staff with tiny budgets effectively manage the forest reserves.

The Rubeho Mountains are part of the Eastern Arc Mountain range in eastern Tanzania and located north of the city of Morogoro. Its forests are often covered in a blanket of mist during the night and help collect water for two nearby rivers which in turn provide water for several settlements and a town. As a crucial source of water and home to unique and threatened wildlife, World Wildlife Fund considers the Eastern Arc Mountain range and coastal East Africa a conservation priority and works with local communities and partners to protect the natural richness of the region.

The Tanzania Forest Conservation Group is a Tanzanian conservation organization which focuses on saving the unique plants and animals of Tanzania's forests. For more information on TFCG, visit www.tfcg.org.

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last updated:  Friday, August 28, 2009