No. 2/06

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:

1. Bamboo plastic: Mitsubishi's plastic goes green
2. Bamboo linen
3. Bamboo: Kawayan Festival in the Philippines shows best of bamboo
4. Bushmeat: 'Hippie Chimps' fast disappearing in Congo
5. Butterfly tourism: Mexico logging threat to butterflies
6. Caterpillars: Good grub in Africa
7. Gum Arabic: Nigeria hosts 3rd regional conference on Gum Arabic
8. Honey: European Union suspends import of Brazilian honey
9. Maple syrup
10. Medicinal plants in Bangladesh
11. Medicinal plants in India to be monographed and patented
12. Mushrooms: Restoring your balance with mushrooms
13. Noni (Morinda citrifolia) : Medicinal value of Tahitian noni juice drink
14. Sandalwood bonanza, planting tree that is worth more than gold
15. Wattle: Industry proposed for Dalwallinu wattle

16. Brazil: Brazilian companies close US$ 27 million in deals at BioFach
17. Brazil: EMBRAPA will participate in international research project on tropical fruits
18. Brazil: Low-cost machinery for handicraft production
19. Burkino Faso : La production de karité
20. Kenya blames drought for increasing wildlife crime
21. India: promotion of marketing of tribal products
22. Scotland: Forestry plan to double tree planting rate
23. Vanuatu: Nevsem disagree on Vanuatu sandalwood ban
24. Vietnam: WWF project aims to prevent wild animal trade, promote biodiversity
25. Vietnam: Non-timber forest product development project underway
26. Vietnam: Big plans for NWFP 

27. Biopiracy: Brazil grapples with jungle piracy dilemma
28. Biopiracy: San cry foul over hoodia trade
29. Dual-Campus MA in Environmental Security and Peace
30. Fair trade in wild natural resources
31. Yale lectures: Viana discusses sustainable development, climate change

32. Request for information: case studies on NWFP


40. Other publications of interest
41. Web sites and e-zines

42. Armenia: forests to be destroyed in 20 years with today's deforestation rates
43. Chopsticks: China introduces chopsticks tax
44. China: 20% forest cover promised
45. Costa Rica: Rain forests see spate of wildlife deaths
46. Vietnam: Slow but promising recovery for nation's forest cover



No. 2/06

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:


1. Bamboo plastic: Mitsubishi's plastic goes green

Source: Autoblog, 28 February 2006

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. announced that it is has developed, with the Aichi Industrial Technology Institute, a new material to be used in the interior of its future vehicles. The material, which uses a plant-based resin and bamboo fiber, is called “Green Plastic”. Because of these components, the material produces less CO2 emissions and "volatile organic compounds" or VOCs.

Mitsubishi also points out that bamboo, which grows much faster than timber, will lessen chances for depleting raw resources when mass-producing Green Plastic.

For full story, please see:

2. Bamboo linen

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, 5 March 2006

Fast-growing bamboo makes unlikely but soft, colourful linens and bath towels. Doesn’t sound very comfortable? Well, imagine a bamboo cloth mixed with a dash of cotton that feels silky. That is what manufacturers discovered when they turned hardy bamboo into fabric.

Garnet Hill, a New Hampshire company is almost as excited about the ecological benefits as the soft sheets: finding a fiber as easily renewable as bamboo is a nice fit, spokeswoman Janet Partridge said. The plant has a surprisingly soft feel. Partridge compares it to cotton with a sateen finish. Garnet Hill has made the 70 percent bamboo, 30 percent cotton material into sheets of vibrant plum, tangerine, red and green. "It really holds onto the colour, has a great drape and is not wrinkly or stiff," Partridge said.

Bamboo is mature enough to harvest in three to five years and can be grown without fertilizers or pesticides.

CB2 had the same thoughts about bamboo as they wove the material into towels. "Bamboo is considered a very friendly environmental plant," said Bette Kahn, a spokeswoman for CB2. CB2 uses a 65 percent bamboo to 35 percent cotton mix in its new towels. "It absorbs faster than cotton," Kahn said.

In the two Chicago stores where people can actually touch them, people are snapping up the towels.

For full story, please see:

3. Bamboo: Kawayan Festival in the Philippines shows best of bamboo

Source: Sun.Star – Philippines, 4 March, 2006

Products made of bamboo were the centerpiece attraction of the weeklong "Kawayan Festival" that seeks to enhance the chances of the highly regarded grass as a multi-million peso income earner. For three years now, the Provincial Government has been giving importance to bamboo by way of the Kawayan Festival held every February. This year, the Festival was held in Koronadal City. It is a well deserved opportunity for craftsmen to showcase their unique creations.

"We have been provided an avenue where our products have bigger chances of being noticed by buyers. This festival is a big push for us to continue our trade," said Sandy Torrico, owner of Crossing Palkan Bamboo Craft.

Emmanuel Jumilla, manager of the South Cotabato Productivity and Technology center where the festival was held, said they want the bamboo industry to be fully developed for the benefit of both the local economy and tourism industry.

South Cotabato Governor Daisy Avance Fuentes said bamboo is an integral part of the provincial culture, referring to thatched houses in rural areas made of bamboo. Fuentes said the quality of handicrafts, particularly produced by the inmates, have improved dramatically.

The festival also highlights the culinary importance of bamboo. Locals commonly cook the shoots of bamboo by adding coconut milk and different kinds of vegetables to it like beans and "saluyot."

For full story, please see:

4. Bushmeat: 'Hippie Chimps' fast disappearing in Congo

Source: AP in ENN Newsletter, 6 March 2006

Mbihe-Mokele, Congo — Scientists are struggling to save the fast-disappearing bonobo, the gentle "hippie chimp" known for resolving squabbles through sex rather than violence.

Unfortunately, bonobos are prized by Congolese for their tasty meat, and many villagers who are illegally hunting the wiry, wizen-faced apes don't realize how close their prey is to extinction.

"Bonobos are an icon for peace and love, the world's 'hippie chimps,'" said Sally Coxe of the Washington-based Bonobo Conservation Initiative. "To let them die off would be a catastrophe." Female bonobos give birth to a single infant only once every five years, making the species especially vulnerable.

The bonobo, or Pan paniscus, is native only to the vast rain forest in this huge central African nation, living high off the ground in treetop nests. As few as 5,000 may now remain in Congo, down from an estimated 100,000 in 1984, said Ino Guabini, a primatologist with the World Wildlife Fund. "There is no question that bonobos are seriously threatened," Guabini said. "We need urgent measures or there is no way we can protect the species."

But for poor villagers, bonobos can be lucrative business, with much of the meat heading for expensive, clandestine meals at restaurants in the cities. One bonobo can earn $200 for Richard Ipaka, a 50-year-old part-time poacher who lives in the provincial capital, Mbandaka. "That's enough money for two months," he said.

Like many Congolese, he said he did not know bonobos are found in the wild only in his country. And like many others, he was sceptical that the ape is endangered. "Our ancestors have been eating bonobos for centuries. How could they disappear?" Ipaka said.

But the peace-loving bonobos are increasingly difficult to sight, and not just because they're good at hiding, suspended from the high branches of trees or swiftly traversing the lattice of thick, muddy roots strewn over the forest floor. The best place to glimpse them these days may be the Bonobo Paradise sanctuary in Congo's capital, Kinshasa, which is home to a few dozen rescued from poachers by police.

The bonobo is the subject age-old songs and legends, and conservationists hope to turn some of those traditions to their advantage. In the village of Botwalu, for instance, locals believe the bonobo was once a man who lived with their tribe but now hides in the forest because an angry tree stripped him of its clothes. The Bonobo Conservation Initiative has begun working with villages that hold such hunting taboos to create a series of reserves for the graceful animals.

That may not be enough. Even provincial police who are supposed to protect the bonobo are mostly ignorant about dangers to its survival, and they are often sympathetic to those who eat it.

Some officers consume bonobo meat, too, said Clerivent Kanyamba, deputy chief of the Equator province police. "What can we do if bonobo meat is tasty?" Kanyamba said.

For full story, please see:

5. Butterfly tourism: Mexico logging threat to butterflies

Source: BBC Online, 6 March 2006

Illegal logging in Mexico's national parks continues to threaten millions of butterflies, despite a government crackdown, environmentalists warn.

Mexico's government has taken drastic measures to protect the butterflies. It has formed a team of 17 park rangers, armed with assault rifles and body armour, to protect the colonies of monarch butterflies in Michoacan state.

In 2004, numbers of the migrating monarch butterflies plummeted to 100 million - the lowest ever recorded. The park rangers are there to help protect the winter nesting grounds of tens of millions of orange and black winged butterflies from armed gangs of illegal loggers in the 56,259-hectare Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. Despite facing hefty jail sentences, the loggers have continued unabated, say environmentalists.

Mexico's environment ministry estimates the country's highland fir forests have shrunk by half since 1968, despite massive planting operations.

Logging has been the main source of income for many generations, and while some communities have turned their hand to 'butterfly tourism', many others feel cheated. "The environmentalists have pushed the government, but... we have no other way of making a living," said Homero Gomez, spokesperson for Rosario, a village which is host to the most monarchs and tourists each year.

But Jose Alvarez - head of the Michoacan Reforestation Fund, a group that has helped villagers plant more than 480,000 trees this year alone - says this is a near-sighted argument. "If this (logging) continues, we won't have any butterflies, there won't be any water and there won't be any villages; the trees are the basis for everything that is living in this area," he said.

The Michoacan Reforestation Fund is working closely with Professor Lincoln Brower, a biologist and leading expert on the monarch butterfly and scientists from the US space agency (NASA) on an aerial reconnaissance programme to try to understand which parts of the forest are critical for the monarchs, and where those areas are in relation to the trends in logging activity.

For full story, please see:

6. Caterpillars: Good grub in Africa

Source: OurPlanet... environmental newsletter, 8 March 2006

The news that Espitas, a restaurant in Dresden, Germany, has lines around the block for its maggot ice cream and maggot salad was no surprise to entomologist Marc Kenis from Switzerland’s CABI Bioscience, a non-profit group that works on sustainable agriculture projects. Kenis has been finding ways to help keep caterpillars on the African menu, especially during the hungry months when food is scarce.

There is a long history of insect consumption in Africa. A UN study shows that 85 percent of participants in the Central African Republic consume caterpillars of various kinds; 70 percent in the Congo and 91 percent in Botswana. Kenis has been working with Zambian researcher Gudeta Sileshi of the World Agroforestry Center to make edible insect larvae a sustainable cash crop for Africans. He thinks that researchers should promote edible insect larvae as an answer both to food scarcity and the destruction of African forests.

“Conservation laws need to be reinforced and include protection of traditional [insect] harvesting rules,” explains Sileshi, adding that “caterpillar reserves” within wildlife parks will need to be clearly marked and breeding regulations monitored.

Sileshi says that investment from the private sector may be needed to bring larvae to African tables. He notes that consumption of insects also averts many cases of kwashiorkor—a type of protein deficiency common in children. The larvae have more protein and fat than beef or fish, according to the UN. “I personally know and appreciate the value of edible insects in the African diet after having lived in Africa for 12 years,” says Gillian Allard, a forestry officer at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Professor Jaboury Ghazoul in ecosystem management at ETH Zurich is conducting research on one breed of about 20 commonly eaten edible caterpillars. “There is a huge sum of money that these worms are putting into the local economy,” says Ghazoul. Limitations are currently with collection, marketing and sales, since caterpillar population explosions occur twice a year, with no set schedule.

The major hurdle that researchers such as Kenis and Sileshi will confront, Ghazoul suspects, will be eliminating diseases which prevail when wild populations of insects become domesticated and bred in high concentrations. But it’s not an insurmountable problem.

“People in Zambia don’t have chicken or fish and we forget that,” says Kenis. “As Africa shifts from its traditional practices that once protected caterpillars and forests, the people now need new tools to create local enterprises among harvesters to help the people survive—especially during the dry months when food is scarce.”

Westerners may never develop a gourmet caterpillar cuisine. Kenis says the taste of unseasoned larvae is none too pleasing, and that even Zambians seem to like their caterpillars best when fried in palm oil and smothered in tomato sauce and onions. Some grubs are reported to have a nutty flavour, but they’re undoubtedly an acquired taste.


World Agroforestry Center: Phone: (650)833-6645

CABI Bioscience: Phone: (011)41-0-32 421-4870

For full story, please see:

7. Gum Arabic: Nigeria hosts 3rd regional conference on Gum Arabic

Source: The Tide - Port Harcourt, Niger Delta, Nigeria. 4 March 2006

The purpose of the third regional conference on the establishment of Gum Arabic buffer stock, which will take place in Abuja on March 9, is to finalise a regional initiative for the establishment of a buffer stock in the three leading producing countries of Sudan, Chad and Nigeria. The conference is a follow-up to two earlier conferences on the project held in Sudan and Chad in 2005.

The project is being promoted by the FAG, the Nairobi-based Natural Gums and Resins in Africa (NGARA), the Association for International Promotion of Gums (AIPG), Germany and the governments of Sudan, Nigeria and Chad. The meeting is expected to ratify the project documents, leading to the signing of a final declaration on the establishment of the Gum Arabic buffer stock.

The world market for natural Gum Arabic had been very unstable over the years with attendant wide price fluctuations. The situation had made it very difficult for processors and end users to plan their production based on the availability of the natural raw material, which was widely used in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Consequently, long-term industrial users of natural gums had resorted to using other natural and synthetic substitutes, which are readily available in large quantities and at predictable prices.

The establishment of a regional buffer stock of Gum Arabic is expected to stabilise the volatile international and national markets for natural gums by giving long-term confidence to end users that a stock exists to feed the market in times of natural disasters.

Participants at the conference will include leading African producers of Gum Arabic, top international processors of the commodity, governors of producing states and farmers.

For full story, please see:

8. Honey: European Union suspends import of Brazilian honey

Source: Agencia Brasil, 17 March 2006

Starting 17 March, Brazil will not be allowed to export honey to the European Union (EU). The bloc says Brazil needs to perform further quality control analysis on the product and that the country’s processes need to be similar to those performed in Europe.

According to the Director of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Issues of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, Odilson Ribeiro, Brazil already has its own control procedures, but the EU does not consider them equivalent to theirs. Ribeiro said that the UN gave the Ministry a six-month deadline for restructuring its National Program of Residue Control in order to adapt to the EU export norms.

According to Ribeiro, a plan containing information on the quality of the product has already been developed and is currently being implemented. The EU considers this information should have been sent to them earlier, however, Ribeiro emphasizes, the EU has never found any problem in the analysis it has made of Brazilian honey.

Honey from the Northeast region of Brazil is produced mainly through extractive processes. Thus, there is no risk of antibiotic contamination, Ribeiro explained. He added that producers from the states of Ceará and Piauí would be the most affected by EU decision.

In order to minimize future problems, the Ministry of Agriculture intends to: look for new markets besides Europe; request sanitary requirements from these countries; promote Brazilian honey; encourage the product’s organic certification; give support to honey producers’ associations; and verify sanitary education programs.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the honey exported before this embargo will have no problem on the EU market.

In 2005, Brazil exported 14 400 tons of honey to the European Union, which represented an income of US$18.9 million.

For full story, please see:

9. Maple syrup

Source: Detroit Free Press - United States, 6 March 2006

According to the Michigan Maple Syrup Association, the state ranks sixth in syrup production in the United States, with about 90,000 gallons per year. (Vermont is first.) There are about 500 commercial maple syrup producers in Michigan and a couple thousand hobbyists.

To get sap for syrup, a hole is drilled into the tree and the sap drips through a spout or tube into a bucket or plastic bag. Black maple and sugar maple are the trees commercially tapped in Michigan, though the sap from red and silver maples also can be made into syrup. A tree needs to be about 40 years old and should be at least 10 inches in diameter to be tapped, and it can then be tapped for more than a century. Springtime is tap time, because warmer days and freezing nights make the sap flow. Once a tree starts budding, the syrup will taste bitter. The season starts in February in southeastern Michigan and lasts into April in the Upper Peninsula.

One tap will yield about 10 gallons of sap for the season, and it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. The colourless sap is 2%-3% sugar, and it's boiled to reduce the water content and concentrate the sugar until it becomes syrup.

Michigan maple syrup has 50 calories per tablespoon and is fat-free.

Syrup comes in four USDA grades: Grade A Light Amber is the lightest in colour and tastes the mildest. Grade A Medium Amber is a little fuller in flavour and is usually what's used for pancakes and waffles. Grade A Dark Amber is even more flavourful. It's used on breakfast foods, and for cooking and baking. The darkest, Grade B, is best suited for baking.

For full story, please see:

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10. Medicinal plants in Bangladesh

Source: The Daily Star – Bangladesh, 17 March 2006

Despite huge export potential, Bangladesh is yet to reach the $62 billion world medicinal plant market due to lack of institutional support, speakers told a seminar yesterday. Urging the government to make a national database for medicinal plants, they said growers need professional training especially on modern post-harvesting method.

They were speaking at the seminar 'Potential of Export of Medicinal Plants' in Dhaka. The Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) organized the seminar as part of its National Export Training Programme (NETP).

The speakers said demand for medicinal plants is increasing on average 15 percent annually in the world market. Neighbouring India earns Rs 1000 crore per year by exporting medicinal plants. Bangladesh exported medicinal plants worth $7,000 in the last fiscal year, they added.

Presenting a keynote paper, Ferdousi Begum, executive director of Development of Biotechnology and Environment Conservation Centre (DEBTEC), said inadequate linkage between cultivators, individual buyers and institutional buyers is also discouraging the farmers. Quoting a WHO survey she said the global medicinal plant market will increase to $5 trillion by 2050.

The EPB vice-chairman said, "Export earning from medicinal plants is not encouraging, as the country holds huge potential in some Western and Middle East countries."

For full story, please see:

11. Medicinal plants in India to be monographed and patented

Source:, India, 16 March 2006

The National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) is in the process of monographing each plant and getting them registered at various countries, NMPB Chief Executive Officer, S B Sajwan said today. "The Monographing of each plant is being done to safeguard the interests of the country and also to protect it by patenting," Sajwan told reporters. Stating that medicinal plants and herbs were available in abundance in India, he said there were chances of other countries patenting some herbs.

NMPB was monographing each plant and getting them registered at various countries, particularly where plants and other related products were being exported.

The board has also taken steps to translate Ayurveda and Unani formulations in Sanskrit, Urdu and Arabic respectively, into English, French, German, Spanish and Japanese and preserve them in a 'Traditional Knowledge Digital Library.' One lakh formulations have already been translated into these languages, Sajwan said.

The domestic medicinal plant market is worth between Rs 5,000 crore to Rs 7,000 crore, with a 10 to 12 percent annual growth, Sajwan said, adding that India was exporting medicinal plants and related products worth Rs 800 crore to Rs 900 crore annually.

For full story, please see:

12. Mushrooms: Restoring your balance with mushrooms

Source: Chester Ku-Lea in, 7 March 2006

Mushrooms are valuable health food – low in calories, high in vegetable proteins, chitin, iron, zinc, fiber, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Mushrooms also have a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Their legendary effects on promoting good health and vitality and increasing your body's adaptive abilities have been supported by recent studies. These studies suggest that mushrooms are probiotic – they help our body strengthen itself and fight off illness by maintaining physiological homeostasis – restoring our bodies balance and natural resistance to disease.

Agaricus is the most widely consumed mushroom in many countries, where it is regarded as a health food, due to its medicinal properties. Agaricus is traditionally known as "God’s Mushroom" because of its near miraculous curative benefits to a wide range of disorders. People have used it to overcome numerous diseases and disorders relating to the immune system, cardiovascular system, digestion, and for weight management, diabetes, chronic and acute allergies, cataracts, hearing difficulties, stress syndrome, chronic fatigue, diarrhoea, constipation, and disorders of the liver.

Cordyceps can be a powerful stimulant for macrophage activity, strengthening the immune system’s ability to fight against bacterial and viral infection. Human clinical studies indicate that Cordyceps can be effective in the treatment of high cholesterol, poor libido/impotence, arrhythmia, lung cancer, and chronic kidney failure. It is also reported that Cordyceps causes muscle relaxation. This can make it especially helpful for treating chronic coughs, asthma, and other bronchial conditions.

Maitake is also known by the name Dancing Mushroom, famous for its taste and health benefits. In Japan, it is called "King of Mushrooms". The fruiting body and the mycelium of Maitake are used medicinally. In China and Japan, Maitake mushrooms have been consumed for 3000 years. Years ago in Japan, the Maitake had monetary value and was worth its weight in silver. Historically, Maitake has been used as a tonic and adaptogen. It was used as a food to help promote wellness and vitality. Traditionally, consumption of the mushroom was thought to prevent high blood pressure and cancer - two applications that have been the focal point of modern research. Clinical research with Maitake mushrooms has increased dramatically in the past several years. Laboratory studies have shown that Maitake mushroom extract can inhibit the growth of tumours and stimulate the immune system of cancerous mice.

Reishi has been called an “immune potentiator.” Recent studies have indicated that Reishi can have a number of other effects: analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral through inducing interferon production, lowers blood pressure, cardiotonic action through lowering serum cholesterol, expectorant & antitussive, liver (hepatitis)-protecting and detoxifying, protection against ionizing radiation, antibacterial, and anti-HIV activity. Reishi contains calcium, iron and phosphorus as well as vitamins C, D, and B - including pantothenic acid, which is essential to nerve function and the adrenal glands.

Shiitake (for centuries called "Elixir of Life”) has been licensed as an anti-cancer drug by the Japanese FDA. Lentinan has shown some effect on bowel cancer, liver cancer, stomach cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer. Lentinan stimulates the production of T lymphocytes and natural killer cells and can potentiate the effect of AZT in the anti-viral treatment of AIDS. Shiitake is rich in several anti-oxidants (selenium, uric acid & vitamins A, E, & C) as well as vitamin D. Shiitake mushrooms may also lower blood pressure in those with hypertension, lower serum cholesterol levels stimulate the production of Interferon which has anti-viral effects, and has proven effective against hepatitis in some cases.

Yun Zhi or the Cloud Mushroom has been used to dispel dampness, reduce phlegm, treat pulmonary infections, to strengthen the tendons and bones, for vital energy, and to support liver health.

Benefits: assists with immune function; high in vegetable proteins; and promotes good health and vitality

For full story, please see:

13. Noni (Morinda citrifolia) : Medicinal value of Tahitian noni juice drink

Source: Best Syndication, 5 March 2006

Tahitian noni juice drink lowers bad cholesterol and triglycerides - alternative methods to lowering LDL besides statin medicine or medications

The human body needs a small amount of cholesterol to function, but too much cholesterol can cause health problems, including coronary heart disease.  Americans spent over $16 billion on statin drugs last year, according to the New York Times.

A recent study has shown that the Tahitian noni juice may lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides in smokers.  The sales of the drink have ballooned to over $1 billion after various news agencies reported on the study. 

Noni juice is made from a bumpy fruit of the noni plant (Morinda citrifolia).  The plants are found in the Polynesian Islands and have a medicinal history among the locals for some 2000 years.  Recent research has found that the drink contains high levels of anti-oxidants.

For full story, please see:

14. Sandalwood bonanza, planting tree that is worth more than gold

Source: New Straits Time, Malaysia News Online, 10 March 2006

A sandalwood tree, Aquilaria malaccensis, measuring 60cm in diameter can fetch at least RM14,000. Multiply this by 40,000 trees on a 44-hectare plot of land, and the income from the harvest in six to 10 years would be a staggering RM560 million.

This projection has been made by the state Forestry Department, which has begun planting the tree, commonly known as sandalwood or gaharu, on a trial basis at its station in Merchang, Marang. The Merchang station was previously used for research into Acacia mangium (a foreign species) for the pulp and paper industry. The decision to replant the area with Aquilaria was made for economic reasons.

In the wild, sandalwood trees are felled for their heartwood — the precious gaharu — highly sought by perfume makers. Gaharu has become a precious commodity because Aquilaria malaccensis is becoming very rare in the wild due to illegal extraction. "The sandalwood tree is more precious than gold," said state Forestry director Na’aman Jaafar. "This is a new source of wealth for the State."

The trees at the Merchang station have been grown under a silviculture programme since the middle of this year, collecting and replanting seedlings from the wild.

The trees should mature in 10 years and provide a continuous seed bank. "But the trees can be logged after the sixth year," Na’aman said. "We have found a technique where all the trees can be used instead of just the heartwood or gaharu.”The trees will be grounded to extract its resins, which will be processed for the perfume trade."

At current prices, the value of a tree ranges from RM14,000 to RM18,000, and the heartwood from RM100 to RM200 a gram, which is more than the price of a gram of gold.

A healthy sandalwood tree does not produce gaharu, which requires inoculation with a certain micro-organism. It will then take another four to six years for the resins to develop. Some collectors cut trees in the wild hoping to find the resins, giving no chance for the mature tree to propagate and endangering its existence in the forest.

"There simply isn’t enough time for the trees to propagate in the wild, and their scarcity only results in stronger demand and higher prices," Na’aman said.

For full story, please see:

15. Wattle: Industry proposed for Dalwallinu wattle

Source: Central Midlands & Coastal Advocate, Moora, Australia. 27 January 2006

Dalwallinu wattle could become a new industry and not just a flower as the Shire of Dalwallinu look into the development of a wattle seed industry.

The Shire of Dalwallinu has been awarded $10,000 in funding through the Wheatbelt Development Commission's (WDC) Wheatbelt Regional Development Scheme (WRDS) to contribute to a feasibility study into the industry.

Currently wattle seed production in Australia is considered a 'boutique industry' with most supplies coming from small commercial operators in South Australia or from Aboriginal pickers. The Shire of Dalwallinu is hoping to look into the growth of the industry within the region.

Dalwallinu Shire President Robert Nixon said the potential in the project is significant. "The outcome of the study will determine Dalwallinu's potential to become a player in the growing bush food industry," Nixon said. "The potential to export products around the world with Dalwallinu's name will boost our local gross domestic product output, employment opportunities and the tourism industry."

The Shire has been working with Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) wattle expert Bruce Maslin on the wattle seed project. Mr Maslin said the wattle seed production could have benefits not only as an industry but also as a way of controlling salinity.

"There are many ways the wattle seed can be used as a food source and as many species occur naturally in the environment, it could be a different way of using a natural resource." Wattle seeds can be used in pesto, biscuits, and medicines, as alternatives to coffee and wheat flour and as a flavouring agent.

Mark South from the WDC said the idea of wattle seed production was one with merit, which is why funding was awarded to the project. "We are keen to see the Shire of Dalwallinu also engage with local Aboriginal groups to gain some of their knowledge and insight into the wattle seed."

More funding will be sought through other means in the coming months for the study and it is understood the study will go out to tender within the year.

For full story, please see:


16. Brazil: Brazilian companies close US$ 27 million in deals at BioFach

Source: ANBA, 2 March 2006

The 38 Brazilian companies that participated in BioFach, the largest organic product fair in the world, made deals of US$ 27.4 million for the next 12 months, according to the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex). The fair took place in Nuremberg, Germany, between 16 and 19 February.

Among the products presented by companies in Brazil were raw and processed fruit and vegetables, juices, jams, sweets, coffee, teas, sugar, soy, honey, nuts, oils, powdered chocolates, guaraná, cane spirit, fish, beef and cereal bars, as well as typically Brazilian products, like heart of palm, assai, cupuaçu, acerola and cashew.

"The Brazilian performance reflects a continuous learning process by producers of Brazilian organic products and the investment made in training, research, learning of tendencies and demands and expectations in the global market," stated the president at Apex, Juan Quirós, through a spokesperson.

Companies that participated in BioFach represented 12 Brazilian states.

Contacts were made and deals were closed with importers from 26 countries: Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Spain, France, Greece, Holland, Hungary, England, Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, China, Korea, Japan, Bolivia, Canada, the United States and South Africa.

For full story, please see:

17. Brazil: EMBRAPA will participate in international research project on tropical fruits

Source: Agência Brasil, 21 February 2006

Ricardo Elesbão Alves, a researcher in the EMBRAPA (Brazilian Agricultural Research Company) Tropical Agroindustry unit, which is based in the northeastern state of Ceará, travelled this past weekend to Costa Rica to participate in a meeting of the program, "Adding Value to Underutilized Tropical Fruits with Great Commercial Potential," together with representatives from eight other countries.

The program, which is sponsored by the European Union, foresees an investment of 1.7 million euros over the next four years on research involving nine tropical fruits, three of which are Brazilian: açai, cashews, and camu-camu.

According to Alves, who is coordinating the project in Brazil, the objective is to develop products that retain the plants' nutritional value. "The fruits contain compounds that prevent free radicals, which cause the body to age, from building up in the organism. We want to identify these compounds and use the fruits to make products that will maintain these compounds in processed forms like juices and dried fruits."

The three fruits were chosen for their high nutritional value and economic potential. From the cashew, Alves explained, only the nut has export value, while the fruit practically goes to waste. "But since cashew fruit is good for only two days, it can't be exported as is. It has to be in a processed form that maintains the quality of the fresh fruit," he added.

Besides cashews and açãi, camu-camu, which is native to the Amazon, was included in the project, because it contains "nearly 5% vitamin C, but only after this potential is scientifically proven will its market value be enhanced." Alves mentioned the successful example of acerola, which a US firm in Ceará uses to make vitamin C capsules by a natural method of fruit dehydration developed by the EMBRAPA unit there.

The researcher emphasized that "most of the fruit is produced by small-scale growers, who will also be able to benefit from the project." He went on to observe: "Since the supply chains are still informal and disorganized, we have problems with the quality and security of the products, and there has been no assessment of more adequate process technologies. This restricts the development of local agroindustries and access to the international market."

The funds earmarked for Brazil in the program are divided among three research centers: the EMBRAPA Tropical Agroindustry unit in Ceará, the EMBRAPA Food Agroindustry unit in Rio de Janeiro, and the EMBRAPA Eastern Amazon unit in Belém (PA). The other institutions involved in research for the program are the Center of International Agricultural Research Cooperation for Development (CIRAD), in France; the Universities of Bonn (Germany), Ghent (Belgium), and Southampton (England); the National Center of Food Technology Research, in Costa Rica; the National Polytechnic School, in Ecuador; and the National Institute of Forest, Agricultural, and Livestock Research, in Mexico.

For full story, please see:

18. Brazil: Low-cost machinery for handicraft production

Source:, 9 February 2006 (in Amazon News – 16.2.06)

Family labour; raw material collected from the forest; simple techniques, passed down from generation to generation – yet, there is more to handicraft produced in poor communities of the Amazon region than just that. 

Just as in almost all productive activities, handicraft production at times demands the use of equipment, the price of which may make production unfeasible.  "There is no use in promoting courses to help artisans add greater value to their handicraft without the use of machinery.  People gain the knowledge but have no access to the machinery ", comments Irmânio de Magalhães, artisan and handicraft businessman in Boa Vista, Roraima.

Brazilian creativity has been useful in helping resolve this problem.  Artisans often make do with what they have, and build their own instruments and machinery out of discarded material: junk, bits of rock, wood, old motors... They are thus able to produce faster and produce more highly finished products, without having to purchase expensive equipment, which can cost over R$ 5,000 each.

Surprised with the creativity and technique of these artisans, whom he calls 'technicians, Irmânio began studying these machine models: simple, low-cost and easy to acquire.  He conducted a project for the purpose of reproducing them and disseminating this technique, through courses and manuals or booklets to be distributed to other artisans.

Supported by the local SEBRAE, he raised the funds to purchase material to build the machines and brought in the 'technicians to participate in the construction.

The project has already been successful, in Irmânio’s opinion.  “The first machine – for drilling seeds – has already been built.  We’re applying for the patent, so as to protect the artisans."

Irmânio also supports and is encouraging several poor families in Boa Vista, who have begun producing handicraft and now make their living from this activity.  He transmits concepts of design, market and primarily, environmental education.

For full story, please see:

19. Burkino Faso : La production de karité

Source : Hélène Peronny, Le CRDI Explore, 10 mars 2006

Le Burkina Faso est le deuxième producteur mondial de karité (aussi appelé arbre à beurre). Selon la pluviométrie, entre autres facteurs, ce petit pays de l'Afrique de l'Ouest produit de 40 000 à 80 000 tonnes d'amandes de karité par an. Celles-ci, réputées pour leur haute teneur en matières grasses, sont utilisées localement pour la cuisine, la pharmacopée et la cosmétologie. Elles intéressent de plus en plus les pays occidentaux pour les soins de la peau.

Traditionnellement, ces amandes sont pressées par les femmes. Jusqu'à tout récemment, ce travail harassant s'effectuait à la main ou à l'aide de presses hydrauliques (faites de crics de camions importés), mal adaptées à la tâche et souvent défectueuses. Grâce au financement du Centre de recherches pour le développement international (CRDI), des chercheurs burkinabé et canadiens ont mis au point des presses à karité qui allègent le travail des femmes et permettent d'augmenter la productivité.

Le gouvernement du Burkina Faso veut notamment inciter les burkinabé à utiliser le karité comme substitut alimentaire à l'huile de palme et d'autres huiles présentement importées du Ghana, de la Côte d'Ivoire et de la Malaisie.

Le projet karité, qui crée des emplois et procure un revenu supplémentaire aux femmes, contribue à la croissance économique du Burkina Faso. Il devrait aussi favoriser la création d'emplois dans le secteur de l'artisanat puisque les productrices de karité veulent modifier le conditionnement du produit en se servant des feuilles des palmiers éventails locaux. Qui plus est, le projet a une incidence favorable sur l'environnement car, en incitant les burkinabé à protéger les arbres à beurre, il favorise la lutte contre la désertification.

Pour plus d'informations, voir:

20. Kenya blames drought for increasing wildlife crime

Source: Mail & Guardian Online - Johannesburg, South Africa, 7 March 2006

The Kenyan government on Monday blamed increasing incidents of poaching and illegal trade in bushmeat in the country on a searing drought that has put millions of people across East Africa at risk of famine.

Tourism and Wildlife Minister Morris Dzoro said authorities were working to crack down on illegal trafficking of ivory, rhino horn and other live animals such as reptiles within the region, despite the drought. "Wildlife crime has been worsened by the current drought which has exacerbated the bushmeat trade and killed many wild animals whose trophies now lie in the wrong hands," Dzoro told an anti-poaching seminar in the Rift Valley town of Naivasha, about 90km northwest of the capital.

"Environmental crime is a growing problem that is increasingly linked to other crimes such as smuggling, fraud, money laundering, weapons offences and drugs," Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said in a message to the seminar that was sponsored by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

IFAW East African chief James Isiche called on states to cooperate and end trafficking of wildlife and their products. "Wildlife crime is a matter of serious global concern -- its magnitude is considered second only to illegal drug trafficking. Its transboundary nature requires collaboration both between states and within national law enforcement agencies," Isiche said. "This also calls for the deployment of substantial resources which are more often not available to developing countries," he added.

For full story, please see:

21. India: promotion of marketing of tribal products

Source: Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Press Information Bureau (press release), India, 14 March 2006

The promotion and marketing of tribal products is being done carried out through the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd. (TRIFED). TRIFED undertakes the promotion and marketing of tribal handicrafts and processed/value-added Minor Forest Produce (MFP) and Surplus Agricultural Produce (SAP) through a series of marketing and development initiatives, for example:

• Direct sale through their eleven sales-outlets called “TRIBES INDIA” and by consignment sales through twenty state level Organisations located in 22 cities in various states. It is also engaged in exporting handicrafts abroad. Retail marketing of tribal MFP products like honey, hill brooms, shikakai, soapnut, amla and medicinal powders besides organically grown agricultural produce like rajma, cashew, red chilli, turmeric, etc.

• promotes tribal products by participating in exhibitions and displaying these items.

• In January 2006, TRIFED organized a ‘National Tribal Craft Expo’ in Delhi for the display and sale of tribal art and craft from various states.

• trains tribals in order to upgrade their skills and to educate them on ways of sustainable collection as well as improved quality of MFP like wild honey extraction, production of Hill Brooms, making of leaf-plates and leaf cups (pattals/donnas) etc. it is also proposing to impart training to gum pickers and collectors. It has started a project for cultivation and marketing of medicinal plants (like Safed Musli) at Jagdalpur, Distt. Bastar Chhattisgarh.

For full story, please see:

22. Scotland: Forestry plan to double tree planting rate

Source: The Scotsman, 14 March 2006

A revised forestry strategy for Scotland could see 10 000 ha of woodland planted each year, double the present rate. Draft proposals by the Executive could also bring woodland areas of more than two hectares within 500 metres of one in four of the population by 2015.

The move would develop further the "green gym" and outdoor classroom theme that attracted more than 18 million visitors to Scotland's woods and forests last year. Other key aims of the strategy include reducing the rate of climate change, helping community development, improving biodiversity and increasing the volume of timber sales to more than eight million cubic metres by 2025.

Encouraging tree planting by integrating grants with individual land management contracts for landowners and farmers could move Scotland up the European forestry league within the next 20 years. At present Scotland's 1.33 million hectares of woodland - one-third state-owned Forestry Commission, two-thirds private - cover 17 per cent of the country. That compares with only 5 per cent a century ago, but lags well behind the European Union average of 36.3 per cent tree coverage and the world average of 29.6 per cent.

Recent attempts to encourage planting in Scotland have been hampered by the halving of timber prices since the mid-1990s and a complicated system of planting and maintenance grants for landowners, farmers and communities.

Rhona Brankin, Scottish forestry minister, said: "This is a major opportunity for the Scottish public to have their say on a range of important issues such as climate change, use of woods to provide recreation for health and wellbeing, increasing business opportunities and improving wildlife habitats."

The Executive's first forestry strategy was published in 2000. Ms Brankin said that produced a remarkable response from the forestry industry to "deliver an increasing range of benefits", including more than 18 million woodland visitors a year. A review of the original strategy last year had produced the draft now out for consultation.

The Forestry and Timber Association welcomed the strategy as recognising the need to support the economic and business aspects of forestry to deliver environmental and social benefits.

For full story, please see:

23. Vanuatu: Nevsem disagree on Vanuatu sandalwood ban

Source: The Vanuatu Independent, 8 March 2006

The outspoken spokesman for the Nevsem custom movement from Erromango in Tafea province, Jacob Narvot, is condemning the government's ban on sandalwood harvesting.

He voices concern that the three months of harvest given by the government through the department of forestry is the only opportunity for local farmers to cut their timber.

"The government hasn't assisted us local farmers in any way, so why do they want to ban sandalwood when that represents one of our main income sources in the islands?" queries Narvot. "We know what we are doing, so we ask the government to review its policy of banning sandalwood cutting. We cultivate the sandalwood, so the government should not stop us harvesting it", Narvot explained.

He concluded that as the government allows only three months for harvest, local people and farmers rush to cut trees down, and don't care about size of timber. As a result, some of sandalwood trees in South Erromango were totally destroyed.

"We suggest the government concentrate on the issuance of sandalwood licences and leave us to decide what to do with our sandalwood trees."

Narvot is a sandalwood farmer and nursery man who has planted sandalwood also on Efate near Tamanu Beach and Pango. He said he has 1000 seedlings now ready for sale.

For full story, please see:

24. Vietnam: WWF project aims to prevent wild animal trade, promote biodiversity

Source: Viet Nam News, 1 March 2006

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Viet Nam has launched a project to raise awareness on the trading of wildlife across the nation and its impact on biodiversity. The initial phase of the project involved a survey on use of wildlife products, conducted in Ha Noi.

Wildlife products were found to be favoured by many Hanoians, according to the survey carried out by TRAFFIC. In Ha Noi, nearly 50 percent of people who were asked about wildlife consumption said they had eaten wildlife animal meat at least once. Survey respondents were aged between 18 and 60 and included businessmen, state officers, farmers and students.

The report also said that 82 percent of wildlife was caught for food purposes, while the remainder were used in the production of traditional medicines and jewellery.

Wildlife consumption was increasing as more people could afford to pay higher prices for rarer delicacies, the survey found.

The survey was carried out between last September and December in Ba Dinh, Dong Da, Hoan Kiem, Hai Ba Trung and Gia Lam district.

The WWF planned to follow the survey with an advertising campaign on the need to protect local wildlife as well as school education projects set for the 2006-07 period. School education and advertising will play an important part in the project, which aims to get most urban residents, particularly Hanoians to change their taste for wildlife products.

The WWF will be co-ordinating with the Ha Noi Forest Protection Department to establish a wildlife hot-line (8262869).

For full story, please see:

25. Vietnam: Non-timber forest product development project underway

Source: Vietnam Economic Times - Hanoi, Vietnam, 14 March 2006

The Special Forest Products Research Centre (SFPR) recently designed a 2006-2020 national project on developing the non-timber forest sector and forest-based livelihoods in a sustainable manner.

Sustainable livelihoods would help involve local communities in afforestation and non-timber production with a view to favouring poverty reduction, protecting forest biodiversity and ecological balance, said an SFPR official.

By the SFPR's assessment, local authorities have paid too much attention to the wood processing industry and forest protection tasks rather than eyeing NTFP as a potential export staple for the country.

Statistics released by the centre show that average revenues from NTFP in the 2001-2005 period hit US$100 million, and they are projected to top US$500 million by 2010.

It is hoped that the non-timber forest industry, after being reformed, would become more capable of serving the domestic market rather than being almost totally dependent on foreign markets as is the case at present.

The centre will work closely with relevant local agencies to localise non-timber product material areas in the proximity of forest product processing areas, help localities identify key products and multiply wild plant and animal raising models.

For full story, please see:

26. Vietnam: Big plans for NWFP 

Source: Saigon Times Daily, Vietnam, 17 March 2006

A research center under the agriculture ministry expects to triple the revenue from shipping rattan furniture, farm animals and other NTFP by 2010.

The Non-Timber Forest Product Research Center under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development predicts these goods can earn at least US$500 million annually, including US$300 million from export.

Developing the sector helps preserve forests’ biodiversity and improve the incomes of people who live around forests. It also encourages villages to make handicrafts for export.

The center said so far Vietnam had underestimated the sector’s potential, only focusing on protecting and developing forests to serve the wood industry.

The center’s statistics show that from 2001 to 2005 Vietnam annually got at least US$100 million from exporting non-timber forest products, including rattan furniture and farm animals, such as snakes and crocodiles. In HCMC, exporting crocodile products, in line with international standards, gets almost US$5 million each year, while in the Mekong Delta, the export revenue from python products is US$20 million each year.

The center carries out the national plan on non-timber forest products until 2020. Besides animals and rattan, these products include herbal plants and wild mushrooms.

For full story, please see:


27. Biopiracy: Brazil grapples with jungle piracy dilemma

Source: Leading The Charge, Queensland, Australia, 15 March 2006

Sao Paulo, Brazil - In 1999, a young Brazilian botanist named Eliana Rodrigues dug through forests in an ambitious project with Krao Indians to collect and identify 400 tropical plants and berries they use as medicine.

Proud of being socially conscious, she and her research partner, Dr Elisandro Carlini, signed agreements with three villages to share royalties from all commercial products and patents developed from the research. To help the tribal economy near the Amazon rainforest, they agreed to pay the Indians to cultivate some medicinal plants.

The hope was to identify more of Brazil‘s vast but largely unknown biodiversity, and find cheap treatments for dozens of ills afflicting the world. But an employee at the federal Indian affairs agency accused them of biological piracy and got a court injunction halting their project.

Seven years later, they are still stuck in legal limbo, waiting for Brazil‘s government to pass laws giving scientists access to plants on Indian reservations and in national forests, and defining how researchers should share any profits with poor local communities.

People who oppose research on Indian lands, many of them in the government, worry scientists will hand over findings to foreign pharmaceutical companies, allowing them to make huge profits from unique local cultures in the Amazon. Indians, meanwhile, resent the paternalistic nature of the state that obstructs their wishes to collaborate with researchers.

Stopping biopiracy -- which happens when scientists or companies fail to pay local groups or governments in exchange for their plants or knowledge -- will be on the agenda at a United Nations conference on biodiversity in Curitiba, Brazil from March 20-31.

Biopiracy must stop, most people agree. But sharing benefits is complicated. Anthropologists worry cash payments could erode Indian cultures. Economists wonder if payments should be made to a municipal, state or federal authority.

Scientists are anxious for change. Brazil has an estimated 60,000 plant species, but less than half are defined in textbooks. Discoveries could generate business.

Even when companies risk the uncertain legal environment and cobble together benefit-sharing plans with poor communities, they are often caught in ethical dilemmas. Experiments by companies that consider themselves socially or environmentally aware have had mixed results.

Natura Cosmeticos SA, a company that makes beauty products based on tropical plants, relies on rainforest communities to help it develop new extracts and pays them for their help. "Working with locals saves us light years of research," said Eliane Anjos, the company‘s environmental affairs director. "But paying locals isn‘t easy. It can destroy local cultures and cause social and economic imbalances."

Experts also disagree on how to define who should receive benefits, how much they should receive and for how long.

Brazil has signed international agreements to protect biodiversity and has turned parts of those agreements into domestic law, but like other countries rich in biological wonders, such as many in Africa, it has yet to decide how to deal with biopiracy. Poor governments are often too weak to monitor and enforce biodiversity laws.

As local laws lag, patents that raise biopiracy issues are starting to be dealt with by the World Trade Organization and the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization.

For a developing country like Brazil, murky laws are holding back a type of economic development that is far less damaging to the Amazon than activities like logging, poaching and mining.

"Brazil‘s unique competitive advantage is its biodiversity. It has 22 percent of the world‘s plant species, but federal laws aren‘t prepared to deal with this," said Antonio Paes de Carvalho, president of Extracta, a small Brazilian company that isolates molecules to discover drug therapies.

For full story, please see:

28. Biopiracy: San cry foul over hoodia trade

Source: Wezi Tjaronda, Windhoek in BIO-IPR (

San communities in southern Africa have urged governments of Switzerland, Germany and South Africa to act against the illegal sale of Hoodia products.

While the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) stipulates that indigenous groups be given a share of the profits from the commercial use of local genetic resources and traditional knowledge, the San are yet to benefit from the many Hoodia products that are being sold in Germany and Switzerland.

The San people, found in Namibia, South Africa, Angola and Botswana have known and used Hoodia, a succulent plant, for over 100 years as an appetite suppressant. The plant was however patented a few years ago by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and licensed for further development to a British company, which in turn sold additional licenses to drug company Pfizer, and later to Unilever.

The San of Southern Africa, represented by the Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa (WIMSA) and other organizations, namely Biowatch, Berne Declaration and the Church Development Service have written to the governments of South Africa, Germany and Switzerland to stem the trade in Hoodia, which they say is an illegally acquired resource.

In a letter to ministers of the three countries, the organizations said the intended solution would be not only to suppress the illegal sale of Hoodia products but also establish a structure that prevents the biopiracy of many other generic resources as well.

In the letter, WIMSA’s Roger Channels urged the countries to take "long overdue steps against the continued trade of Hoodia plants and products without the return of benefits to the San - the holders of the traditional knowledge about the plant". He said a recent inquiry found that more than 10 Hoodia products are on sale in stores and pharmacies in Germany and Switzerland. "Almost all sellers/distributors market their product with reference to the traditional knowledge of the San. In other countries too, notably the UK and US, there is brisk trade in Hoodia products," he said, adding that while this is the case, the San have yet to receive a single penny from the trade.

CSIR and the San Council three years ago signed a benefit sharing formula while a second such agreement was signed between the San and the Hoodia Growers Pty Ltd in early February this year. Channels said through the CSIR agreement, only the license holders, Phytopharm UK and Unilever have legitimate access to the knowledge and generic resource but for the moment, the license holders are not selling any Hoodia products.

And while the Hoodia growers market the product saying the owners of the traditional knowledge benefit from the growing of Hoodia, WIMSA says this is not the case.

"Therefore all Hoodia products currently on the market are not part of the above-mentioned two San benefit sharing agreements. The San have not negotiated Benefit Sharing Agreement with anyone except the CSIR and the South African Hoodia Growers. It seems safe to conclude that all commercially traded Hoodia products contain illegally acquired resources and traditional knowledge according to CBD," reads the letter in part.

So far, said the letter, no user country has made any move to stop the sale of these products. The countries were urged to "take seriously their obligations as user countries to initiate appropriate legal, administrative or policy measures to stop the sale of Hoodia products in their countries in violation on CBD rules".

For full story, please see:

29. Dual-Campus MA in Environmental Security and Peace

Source: INFO CENN (, 22 March 2006

The University for Peace (UPEACE), affiliated to the United Nations, is pleased to announce that applications are now invited for the Dual-Campus MA program in Environmental Security and Peace, for the 2006 – 2007 academic year.

The MA in Environmental Security and Peace focuses on the interface between peace, development and environmental security. In particular, it concentrates on the links between several factors of insecurity: environmental stress and degradation, threats to livelihoods, harms to the resilience of fragile ecosystems, intensified competition over natural resources and, in certain volatile situations, escalating violence and conflict.

There is a major shortage of skilled and motivated people who fully understand these complex issues and their inter-linkages. The MA in Environmental Security and Peace responds to these challenges by providing motivated individuals with the necessary skills to understand, define and manage the actions needed to reduce the threats to peace arising from environmental change, and to make significant contributions towards improving environmental security and peace around the world.

The MA in Environmental Security and Peace is delivered in a dual mode between the UPEACE Campus in Costa Rica and the UPEACE Toronto Centre in Canada. The complete programme lasts for one year, out of which 4 months are spent studying at the UPEACE Toronto Centre. By combining the best resources available in Costa Rica and Canada this program offers a unique opportunity to study environmental security issues from different perspectives.

For the 2006 – 2007 academic year, UPEACE will be offering 10 full scholarships to qualified applicants in the MA in Environmental Security and Peace.  One of these scholarships is designated for a Canadian applicant.

For more information on the structure and content of the MA in Environmental Security and Peace, as well as application instructions and scholarship information, please visit

30. Fair trade in wild natural resources

Source: UN News Centre, 28 February 2006 (in FIU 13 March 2006)

With half the world’s 1.2 billion poor depending for their livelihoods on harvesting wild natural resources, ranging from cocoa and rubber to oils and spices, in a trade valued at $4.7 billion annually, the United Nations environmental agency today released a blueprint for a fair deal to lift them out of poverty.

A key recommendation of the report by the UN Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), is that aid should be targeted at developing the business skills of rural communities to help them avoid exploitation by entrepreneurs and other middle men in the trade of non-timber forest products (NTFP).

“There is no doubt that if provided with the right kind of support, trading forest products can genuinely provide a route out of poverty,” (UNEP-WCMC) project coordinator Elaine Marshall said of the report: Commercialization of non-timber forest products: factors influencing success (CEPFOR).

The study identifies how commercial development NTFPs can enable rural communities to escape poverty without irreversibly damaging the environment. It examines 19 different case studies in Mexico and Bolivia, involving products ranging from wild mushrooms and palm fibres to incense and the agave-based traditional beverage, Mezcal, looking at why some commercialization initiatives succeed while others do not. In many areas these products provide the only source of income, and communities are dependent on them for survival.

Entrepreneurs often provide a link between producers and the market place and play a critical role in determining whether trade is fair to producers or not. CEPFOR found that they play a number of positive roles, including identifying markets, providing business contacts, advancing capital and providing training to producers.

But the inequitable distribution of power along the market chain was widely seen by producers as a major factor limiting commercialization success, with relatively few entrepreneurs resulting in lack of competition. Many communities are entirely dependent on one or a few entrepreneurs for bringing their products to market, which can result in exploitation and unfair trade – hence the need to develop the business skills of these communities as well as to support socially-minded entrepreneurs and create producer organizations providing opportunities to share information and contacts. This can greatly strengthen the ability to negotiate favourable deals and command a higher price for products.

CEPFOR also calls for training and education to prevent the widespread scourge of over-harvesting.

NTFPs include a wide range of commercial products traded internationally, including nuts, seeds, fibres, resins, fruits, oils and spices, used for foods, crafts and medicines, among many other uses.

For full story, please see:

To download all project outputs, free of charge, please go to:

31. Yale lectures: Viana discusses sustainable development, climate change

Source: Yale University Daily News, 3 March 2006

Virgilio Viana, the secretary for environment and sustainable development of Amazonas State in Brazil, presented a series of three lectures this week as part of a joint program between Yale's School of Management (SOM) and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (FES).

Viana, the first speaker to come to Yale on funding from a grant made to the SOM-FES joint-degree program by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in San Francisco, spoke on sustainable development, forest certification and climate change. His last talk culminated in a round table discussion of how to apply theories of sustainable development in the Amazon. In his lectures, Viana focused on applying business and economic concepts, such as incentives, to environmental problems like deforestation in order to find effective solutions.

"People don't deforest because they're stupid -- there's an economic rationality behind it," Viana said in his second lecture. "The vision is to have good business that treats the environment well by convincing people that this is good for them. If they perceive that they will get more benefit by deforesting then that is what they will continue to do."

Viana suggested a series of economic measures to address the issue of deforestation, including sales tax exemptions for non-timber forest products and support for small-scale forestry businesses.

Professor Garry Brewer, who teaches at both SOM and FES, said Viana's work on the environment and the Amazon provides a good example for countries seeking to manage their environmental resources.

"Many countries just don't have the capacity to care for their environment," Brewer said. "The hope is that our Yale model [of a joint-degree program in management and forestry studies] will ultimately attract students from Latin America interested in addressing these issues. We're looking to create a real relationship between Yale and the Amazon."

Viana said he hopes Yale's program will inspire similar programs in Brazil.

"A joint program like Yale's gives foresters a view of business and how the economy of forest management industries can be improved by better competition," Viana said. "We're currently discussing the possibility of receiving a group of Yale students in Amazonas."

For full story, please see:


32. Request for information: case studies on NWFP

From: Maria Helena Cendales,

I am a Colombian student of the Master of Science in European Forestry in the EU Erasmus Mundus Programme. Currently, I am initiating my Master thesis at the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences SLU in Uppsala, Sweden.

My topic is the management and ecological implications of harvesting non-timber forest products in Europe. Usually, these topics have been studied and are very relevant for developing countries. Also there is interesting information of the use of such products in Europe, but in many cases it has been assumed that wild collection is sustainable and will continue being. Recently, some facts have called the attention about the sustainability of the use of NTFPs in Europe, for example the inclusion of several species of European medicinal plants in CITES lists.

Lately, trade statistics demonstrate the relevance on the commercialization of NTFPs, for example the European Forest Sector Outlook Study (UNECE–FAO 2005), which shows trends towards a higher demand of these products. Consequently, there is a worry about the lack of information on biology and production capacity of the species and their national or European markets.

I have been researching on these topics the last four months, and I found out that there is not available literature on quantitative evaluation of the impact of wild collection on the sustainability of NTFPs and the conservation of their habitats in Europe. The objective of my thesis is to make an analysis of such impacts based on existing case studies in Europe and other documents related such as journal articles, books, reports, theses, dissertations, etc. The analysis will be focussed on cases of traded NTFPs derived from wild collection including aspects such as description of the production and commercialization processes, impacts at population, community and/or landscape levels, and preferably written in English.

I want to analyse all of this information for making comparisons, defining tendencies, highlighting relevant elements and, thus, I want to recommend some practices and point out aspects that should be included or improved, in order to promote a more sustainable trade of such products.

Sorry for this long email. I do think your inputs are very relevant to find out this kind of information and progress with my research. For this reason, I would be very glad if you can kindly provide me information of cases studies or experiences. If you do not have any, it would be very useful if you can contact me with people who could provide me this kind of information.

I would really appreciate your help and orientations.

For more information, please contact:

Maria Helena Cendales
Erasmus Mundus M.Sc. European Forestry Student
SLU, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Forest Products and Markets Dept.
P.O. Box 7060, S-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
Phone +46 18 67 10 00
Fax +46 18 67 34 90
Mobile: +46 (0) 73 841 6785


UNEP/UNESCO Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) – Can the UN Save the Great Apes (and their Biodiverse Habitats)?

(Side event – CBD CoP8, Curtiba, Brazil [event no.219])

30 March 2006
Curtiba, Brazil

The great apes are heading for extinction, unless loss of habitat and hunting are stopped. The Kinshasa Declaration on the Great Apes was signed last September by 22 countries and most of the NGOs involved in their conservation. It affirms commitment to a global strategy and sets a timetable for reducing the rate of decline of great ape populations by 2010, and securing the future of 94 priority sites by 2015. If successful, this will ensure that all taxa of orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos should survive in their natural habitat.

Great apes are keystone species in those habitats, and so their survival affects thousands of other species that are ecologically dependent on them. Great apes & their habitats are also important economically, and so conservation policies are being linked to poverty reduction strategies and sustainable development initiatives.

For more information, please contact:

Ian Redmond, GRASP Chief Consultant

Contact Info +44 7769 743975 (mobile), or

Philippine style bamboo furniture processing

20 to 29 April, 2006
Hetauda, Nepal

The Resource and Environmental Conservation Society (RES-Nepal) and the International Network of Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) have collaborated to design this training course. The course aims to produce experts of bamboo furniture making, which will increase the use of bamboo in furniture making and ultimately save a huge amount of money by decreasing the import of Rattan from abroad.

The course is useful for bamboo and rattan entrepreneurs, and organizations and individuals working in the field of bamboo promotion.

For more information, please contact:
Suman Sigdel at
or visit

Sustainable wild collection of medicinal and aromatic plants: Workshop on implementation strategies for the international standard

5 May 2006
Teslic, Bosnia and Herzegovina

This meeting will be a side event to the 1st IFOAM Conference on Organic Wild Production.

Trade in “organic” wild products is becoming more and more important, not only within the food sector but also in the personal health care and the medicinal herb sector. These sectors overlap as one species is often used for several end products. Currently available certification criteria or standards addressing wild collection, as for example organic certification schemes, often do not provide sufficient guidance to ensure the long term survival of wild populations. The International Standard for Sustainable Wild Collection of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ISSC-MAP) aims to provide this guidance in form of a set of principles and criteria that can be applied to the management of medicinal and aromatic plant species and their ecosystems. It could also serve as a basic tool for audit and certification of wild collection in the organic sector.

The meeting addresses practitioners active in the collection, management, trade and processing of wild plants, with focus on South-Eastern Europe: communities, buyers, processors and users of plants, developers of standards and certifications systems, governmental and intergovernmental organisations in the sectors and service providers to any of these groups.

This workshop is part of the still ongoing development process of the ISSC-MAP, which is being implemented by the Medicinal Plant Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), WWF Germany and TRAFFIC, and the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN). So far the draft ISSC-MAP has been discussed and tested for its applicability in several field projects.

During this workshop possibilities on how the ISSC-MAP principles could complement or strengthen existing certification systems will be discussed and analysed considering their applicability in the plants sector of South-Eastern Europe. South-Eastern and Eastern Europe are the prime source regions for wild collected plants in Europe and therefore one of the important target regions for the implementation of wild collection criteria.

The aim of the event is to involve practitioners active in the collection, trade and processing of wild plants in the development of concrete implementation strategies for wild collection criteria, which are adapted to their working and market situations.

For background information and registration please visit our project website or

For more information, please contact:

Susanne Honnef and Britta Pätzold
WWF Germany and TRAFFIC
Rebstöcker Str. 55
60326 Frankfurt a. Main

Trees for improving profitability, sustainability, and resource conservation on farms and ranches: A professional development workshop in agroforestry

16-19 May 2006: Kona, Hawai'i
26-30 June 2006: Guam & Palau

Topics covered include:

• diversify income on farms and ranches
• increase overall productivity
• experience successful agroforestry systems first-hand
• conserve soil and water using trees
• choose which species will do best on a site
• select tree products to reach specialty markets
• add value and market directly to consumers
• improve soil quality with trees
• optimize interactions between trees and crops
• conserve traditional varieties and native species

For more information, please contact:

Craig Elevitch
Project Coordinator
Permanent Agriculture Resources
PO Box 428
Holualoa, HI 96725 USA
Tel: 808-324-4427; Fax: 808-324-4129

Download Hawaii brochure, registration form, and agenda (pdf file)

Download Guam/Palau brochure, registration form, and agenda (pdf file)

Urban Forestry for Human Health and Wellbeing

(ASEM 2nd Symposium on Urban Forestry; COST E39 2nd Research Conference)

28-30 June 2006
Copenhagen, Denmark

Traditional medical and public health approaches to illness and health are among the successes of modern science. However, society today is faced with the increasing incidence of various forms of poor health related to modern lifestyles. Contributing factors have been identified as an increasingly sedentary population, increasing levels of psychological stress related to urban living and contemporary work practices, and exposure to environmental hazards such as air pollution. These problems encourage new thinking about ways to prevent disease and promote health. Natural spaces and natural elements such as forests and trees have been seen as providing opportunities to ameliorate such trends.

For more information, please contact:


4th International Conference on Aromatic and Medicinal Plants in French overseas regions

11-13 July 2006

The conference, which will be held at the University of French Polynesia, will enable participating scientists to present the results of their latest research, which sometimes leads to concrete commercial applications.

The five themes of this year's conference are:

• Essential oils, concretes and absolutes, a general overview of the most recent works on patrimonial aromatic plant from French overseas regions;

• New vegetable substances from newly discovered plants and new molecules representing new challenges in terms of extraction, analytical methods or efficacy and safety evaluation;

• Medicinal plants and traditional medicine involving a field of exploration at the crossroads of botany, ethnology, phyto-chemistry and biology;

• Regulation and consumer safety, dealing with the legal status of plants according to different regulations; and

• Valorization and economical perspectives, dealing with sustainability and reliability of production channels, environmental and societal responsibilities.

The GEPSUN (Engineering Process, Natural Substances) technological platform, in partnership with various public and private organizations, is organizing the conference.

The purpose of the conference is to promote the knowledge and enhanced value of plants from French Polynesia and all French overseas departments and territories. Previous conferences were held in Réunion (2000), Guadeloupe (2001) and Guyana (2004).

In French Polynesia, scientists and industrialists are currently interested in the applications of certain plants, such as Tamanu or Nono. Concerning Tamanu oil, this partnership work between institutions and producers could lead to a certificate of origin label for a product that is also found outside of French Polynesia.

For more information, please contact:

Université de la Polynésie Française - Plate-forme Technologique GEPSUN
BP 6570 - 98702 Faaa - Tahiti - Polynésie Française
Tél : (689) 82 71 89
Fax : (689) 82 71 89
e-mail :

International Conference on Managing Forests for Poverty Reduction: Capturing opportunities in forest harvesting and wood processing for the benefits of the poor

2-6 October 2006
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

For more information, please contact:

Patrick Durst
Senior Forestry Officer
FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Phra Atit Road 39, Bangkok
10200 Thailand
Tel: + 66-2-697-4000
Fax: + 66-2-697-4445


40. Other publications of interest

From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

Blom, A., van Zalinge, R., Heitkönig, I.M.A., and Prins, H.H.T. 2005. Factors influencing the distribution of large mammals within a protected central African forest. Oryx 39(4):381-388.

Blundell, A.G. and Mascia, M.B. 2005. Discrepancies in reported levels of international wildlife trade. Conserv. Biol. 19(6):2020-2025.

Jones, Eric T. et al. 2005. The Relationship between Nontimber Forest Product Management and Biodiversity in the United States. Submitted to the National Commission on Science for Sustainable Forestry. 61 p.

Larsen, H.O., Smith, P.D., and Olsen, C.S. 2005. Nepal's conservation policy options for commercial medicinal plant harvesting: stakeholder views. Oryx 39(4):435-441.

Oudhia, Pankaj. n.d. Traditional Medicinal Knowledge about Herbs used in Treatment of Cancer in Chhattisgarh, India. I. Herbs for Cancerous Wounds.

Paudel, S.K.; and Chowdhary, C.L. 2005. Managing rattan as a common property: a case study of community rattan management in Nepal. Journal of Bamboo and Rattan (Netherlands), v. 4(1) p. 81-91.

Out of 600 rattan species in the world, only seven species occur in Nepal, but these play a significant role in the income generation of communities. However, the rattan resource base has been severely depleted due to overexploitation, immature harvesting and habitat destruction. A case study of community rattan management in Kailali district, located in the Terai (lowland) area of Nepal's Far Western Development Region, is presented. The income of the community has been increased up to 30 times after initiation of a proper management regime for the natural rattan (Calamus tenuis) forest. Since 1996, the community forest user group has earned about US$ 40 000 each year from the rattan sale and a number of community development activities has been carried out with the funds generated. This case study demonstrates how rattan management can generate positive changes for the local economy, natural resources and social capital.

Ros-Tonen, M.A.F.; and Wiersum, K.F. 2005. The scope for improving rural livelihoods through non-timber forest products: an evolving research agenda. Forests, Trees and Livelihoods (UK), v. 15(2).

The previously alleged commercialization-conservation-development links involving non-timber forest products (NTFP) need reconsideration. NTFPs can play an important role in rural livelihood strategies and can contribute to sustained forested landscapes in various tropical areas, but there is no simple answer to how important NTFPs are in rural livelihoods. A diversified research approach towards forest and NTFP use is described. In this approach, more attention is being paid to NTFP sources other than natural forests and to the broader socio-economic and spatial context in which forest use occurs. The new "resource in context" approach combines insights into community-level creativity and livelihood dynamics with those of macro-economic and spatial processes, which provides a more realistic assessment of the development and conservation potential of NTFPs.

Singh, K. P.; Kushwaha, C. P. 2005. Paradox of leaf phenology: Shorea robusta is a semi-evergreen species in tropical dry deciduous forests in India. Current Science 88(11) 5 p.

Sinha, A., and Brault, S. 2005. Assessing sustainability of nontimber forest product extractions: how fire affects sustainability. Biodivers. Conserv. 14(14):3537-3563.

Taylor, David. A. 2006. Ginseng, The Divine Root. The Curious History of the Plant That Captivated the World. Algonquin Books,

In the tradition of Nathaniel’s Nutmeg and Tulipomania comes the epic story of an ancient, elusive herb with legendary curative powers that have enticed and mystified us for centuries.

Prized for centuries by Chinese emperors, Native American healers, and black market smugglers, ginseng launched the rise to power of China’s last great and influential dynasty; inspired battles between France and England; precipitated America’s first trade with China; fostered the study of comparative anthropology; was collected and traded by Daniel Boone; and has made and broken the fortunes of many. Today its healing properties are being studied for the treatment of diabetes, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease.

David Taylor takes readers from forests east of the Mississippi to the bustling streets of Hong Kong and deep into remote corners of China as he weaves together the history, culture, and intrigue surrounding the “Root of Life.”

The book traces the market links from mountain communities to consumer

markets and should interest professionals working with NWFPs.

Veddeler, D., Schulze, C.H., Steffan-Dewenter, I., Buchori, D., and Tscharntke, T. 2005. The contribution of tropical secondary forest fragments to the conservation of fruit-feeding butterflies: effects of isolation and age. Biodivers. Conserv. 14(14):3577-3592.

Zhu, H., Shi, J.P., and Zhao, C.J. 2005. Species composition, physiognomy and plant diversity of the tropical montane evergreen broad-leaved forest in southern Yunnan. Biodivers. Conserv. 14(12):2855-2870.

41. Web sites and e-zines

From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

Forest Protection in South Finland

Forests in southern Finland (South of Lapland) are extensively used. They are popular for recreation and contain a large part of the country’s forest biodiversity. They are also so intensively cut for industrial use that the current wave of species extinctions is not even slowing down. Forest conservation measures in southern Finland are now extremely important.

This website is about forest conservation, especially in South Finland. Here you can get acquainted with some of the most important unprotected forests and appeal for their future. You can also follow the progress of the Finnish National Forest Conservation Initiative for Southern Finland (METSO) from an ecological perspective.


WildFinder is a map-driven, searchable database of more than 26,000 species worldwide, with a powerful search tool that allows users to discover where species live or explore wild places to find out what species live there. Containing information on birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, WildFinder is a valuable resource for scientists, students, educators, travellers, birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Xpeditions (National Geographic)

Maps for printing and copying


42. Armenia: forests to be destroyed in 20 years with today's deforestation rates

Source: Noyan Tapan, 27.2.2006 (in CENN- March 16, 2006 Weekly Digest)

Today forests make up only 8-9% of the territory of Armenia. Though the maximum volumes of deforestation were registered during the energy crisis years of 1992-94, illegal deforestation continues with large volumes today. During a discussion dedicated to the methods and strategy of the lobbying activity in the sphere of nature protection, which took place on 27 February, Nazeli Vardanian, Director of the "Forests of Armenia" NGO mentioned that according to specialists' observations, if deforestation continues at today's volumes, the republic’s forests would be fully destroyed within years.

As outlined in the NGO’s brochure "Lobbying Activity and Protection of the Environment", the trees cut down in the 1990s were used for heating purpose, while in recent years they are being cut for profit.

43. Chopsticks: China introduces chopsticks tax

Source: BBC Newsroom, 22 March 2006

The Chinese government is introducing a 5% tax on disposable wooden chopsticks in a bid to preserve its forests. It produces about 45 billion pairs of chopsticks a year, consuming millions of birch, poplar and bamboo trees.

The move came as China said it would raise some consumption taxes next month in a bid to help the environment and narrow the gap between rich and poor.

The disposable splints of wood, usually between eight and 10 inches long, have long been a target for Chinese environmentalists. School children have written to the Chinese prime minister asking for a ban on disposable wooden chopsticks, while students have persuaded some college cafeterias to replace them with spoons.

In recent years, the government has actually encouraged their use, in a bid to reduce the spread of infectious illnesses by sharing eating utensils.

Shanghai consumers gave a mixed response to the new tax. "I think the shop owner should pay for it," one person told the BBC. "It's no use, people will still buy disposable chopsticks," was the view of another citizen who doubted if the tax would help protect the environment. But others were in favour: "It has some good impact. It will make people buy less disposable products and buy more durable ones."

For full story, please see:

44. China: 20% forest cover promised

Source: China Daily, 28.2.06

A fifth of China's land area will have forest cover by 2010, the State Forestry Administration vowed yesterday.

Over the past five years, the percentage of China's land area covered by forests has risen from 16.6 percent to 18.2 percent, Jia Zhibang, chief of the forestry agency, told a press conference held by the State Council Information Office yesterday in Beijing. "By 2010, the country will strive to raise the rate to 20 percent."

Jia also revealed that for the first time since 1949, China is seeing a reversal of land area being degraded into deserts. Desertification had expanded by 3,436 square kilometres a year by the late 1990s. Since 2001, however, such sandy land has shrunk by 1,283 square kilometres annually, according to Jia. "It's the first time since the founding of the People's Republic of China that we brought about a reversal," he said.

He attributed the success partly to a national compulsory tree-planting campaign which started in 1982. Since 2001, China has planted more than 12 billion trees, or nearly 10 trees for each person, according to Jia.

In addition to tree planting, the country will continue a logging ban in the natural forest along most of the Yangtze and Yellow River reaches, while converting more farmlands to forests and grasslands.

For full story, please see:

45. Costa Rica: Rain forests see spate of wildlife deaths

From: Patricia S. De Angelis, USA,

Source: Hillary Rosner, The New York Times, March 8, 2006

Toucans fighting over bananas? Animals breaking into kitchens to steal food? Atypical weather patterns (excessive rain and cold) are believed to be the cause of the massive starvation and death of animals along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.

Scientists estimate that half the spider monkey population in Corcovado National Park may have died during the last few months of 2005. Corcovado is home to the CITES Appendix-I spider monkey, Ateleas geoffroyi ssp. panamensis.

According to a wildlife conservation expert at National University in San José, "It's proof that sometimes we can establish a national park and say, 'We're taking care of animals here,' but the situation is out of the control of humans."

Full story:

46. Vietnam: Slow but promising recovery for nation's forest cover

Source: VietNamNet Bridge, 24 February 2006

The total area nationwide covered by forests has risen to 12.3mil ha, or 37.8% of total land area, from 36.7% in 2004. Forests classified as rich and fully rehabilitated rose to 4.6% in 2004 from 3.4% in 2000, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD). Vietnam has set a target of 43% forest cover by 2010.

However, the MARD said that the quality of the forests has been deteriorating and natural-growth pockets have become isolated. More than two thirds of the country's forests were poor or still in the process of rehabilitation.

The MARD said the Law on Forest Protection and Development, which came into effect last April, has helped slow deforestation.

Last year, the government gave VND12bil (US$750,000) to mountainous provinces for the planting of forests, trees for timber, and trees for paper materials. As a result some 1.7mil cubic metres of timber were produced last year, a slight increase compared with 2004.

However, large areas of land that could be used for lucrative crops such as cassava, cashew nuts and rubber were still being denuded of trees in the southern provinces of Binh Phuoc, Binh Thuan, Ca Mau and Ben Tre, the ministry's Forest Department said.

Illegal timber logging is also continuing, with several hundred hectares of trees having been chopped down in the Central Highlands. Last year a total of 36,376 violations of forest-protection regulations were reported, mostly involving illegal logging and the trafficking of timber and wild animals.

The prolonged drought last year resulted in 1,148 forest fires that destroyed 5,765ha of forests and 1,500ha of natural forest, representing an 80% rise over 2004. Most of the fires, which occurred in the provinces of Kon Tum, Dien Bien, Long An, Kien Giang and Lam Dong, were caused by slash-and-burn agriculture and bush-burning to collect honey bees.

Forestry Department head Nguyen Ngoc Binh has proposed that the Government issue more policies offering incentives to encourage reforestation and investment in infrastructure. The State should also speed up forest-land allocation to local people, especially poor ethnic minority people.

Director of the MARD's Forestry Project Management Board, Luong Van Tien, said a $35.1mil forest development project will be launched in five Central Highlands and southern provinces. The project aims at protecting and developing forests with a rich biodiversity and help reduce poverty for ethnic people living in the Central Highlands provinces of Kon Tum, Dac Nong and Lam Dong, and the southern provinces of Binh Phuoc and Dong Nai.

Vietnam has 1.92mil ha of special-use forests, 5.92mil ha of protected forests and 4.47mil ha of production forests.

For full story, please see:


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last updated:  Monday, August 24, 2009