No. 10/04

Welcome to FAO's NWFP-Digest-L a free e-mail journal that covers all aspects of non-wood forest products. A special thank you to all those who have shared information with us.

Back issues of the Digest may be found on FAO's NWFP home page:

1. New Working Document on NWFP
2. Non-wood News
3. Agarwood: CITES backs sustainable management of high-value fragrant wood
4. Amazon fibres: Brazil to investigate more natural fibres for cars
5. Bushmeat: Anthrax kills more wildlife in Namibia
6. Bushmeat: AIDS warning over bushmeat trade
7. Camu camu (Myrciaria spp): a conservation and development issue in Peru
8. Camu camu: La Unión Europea y otros cooperantes internacionales
9. Ecovogt, textile based on Amazonia plants
10. Gum arabic: Nigeria export to U.S. begins
11. Gum arabic: Uganda may export gum to USA
12. Medicinal Plants: Research confirms medicinal promise of Kenyan plants
13. Mushroom pickers protesting plummeting prices
14. Armenia: Beekeeping center opened
15. Namibia: Conservancies a major success
16. Samoa to profit from indigenous knowledge deal
17. Uganda: Value of forests rises
18. United States: U.S. Nontimber Forest Product Species Database updated
19. Vietnam endorses national action plan to control wildlife trade
20. Africa ecotours
21. Biopiracy: Malaysian state acts to thwart biopirates
22. Call for research proposals
23. CITES imposes trade controls on African diet plant and Asian yew trees
24. More protected areas and planted forests in Latin America and the Caribbean
25. Traditional medicines have 'real benefits'
26. Wildlife Trade: ASEAN commits to controlling wildlife trade

27. Beyond Wood: the value of non-timber forest products
28. Global forum on the review of women¿s progress on forestry management since Beijing 1995: towards a common agenda
29. UNFF country-led initiative on IAF
30. Third International Conference: Biodiversity conservation as a way of life

31. The Overstory: Wild Foods
32. The truth about non-timber forest products
33. Other publications of interest
34. Web sites and e-zines

35. Request for assistance: establishment of a botanical garden
36. Request for assistance: authors required for medicinal plant handbook
37. Request for information: medicinal plants

38. Brazil holds record for deforestation
39. Québec devrait protéger davantage la forêt boréale
40. Kenyan ecologist wins Nobel Peace Prize


1. New Working Document on NWFP

From: FAO's NWFP Programme

The following new working document has been produced by FAO's Non-Wood Products Programme:

¿Contribution des insectes de la forêt à la sécurité alimentaire. L¿exemple des chenilles d¿afrique centrale » (Produits forestiers non ligneux Document de Travail No1)

(Contribution of forest insects to food security. The example of caterpillars in Central Africa.)

The document is in French, but the synthesis is also in English.

Hard copies of these publications are available free of charge from:
Non-Wood Forest Products Programme
Forest Products Division, Forestry Department, FAO
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy
Tel: +39-06-570-52746 or -53853; Fax: + 39-06570 55137

An electronic version of this publication will shortly be available on the NWFP home page:

2. Non-wood News

From: FAO's NWFP Programme

The deadline for contributions to the next issue of Non-wood News, FAO¿s annual newsletter covering all aspects of non-wood forest products, is 15 December 2004. Contributions can be in French, Spanish or English and should be no longer than 500 words. Previous issues of Non-wood News are available from the NWFP home page:

3. Agarwood: CITES backs sustainable management of high-value fragrant wood

Source: TRAFFIC Press Release, 13 October 2004 []

Governments today voted by an overwhelming majority to regulate the global trade in agarwood, a little known but high-demand product that is possibly the most valuable non-timber forest product worldwide. The efforts of Indonesia and other range States in Asia to request additional management controls under CITES should help ensure the centuries-old trade continues at more sustainable levels, says TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.

"After more than a decade highlighting the dangerous trends of over-harvesting to supply this trade, TRAFFIC is very pleased to see some collective action on this issue," said James Compton, Director of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia. "TRAFFIC's work with range States from India eastwards to Papua New Guinea has shown that this unique group of agarwood-producing tree species is clearly threatened by trade, and that unless this is better regulated, long-term supplies remain in jeopardy."

The trade in agarwood, resinous deposits of which are found in tree species of the genera Aquilaria and Gyrinops, dates back 2000 years and meets the cultural, medicinal and religious needs of societies from the Middle East right across Asia to China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan) and Japan. It is also used in the production of high-grade incense and perfumes. In addition to the Appendix II listing endorsed today, CITES Parties have called for an important dialogue between producers and consumers to be held prior to the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES.

"As the global trade involves issues of economic, cultural and medicinal benefits, in addition to the management of the tree species, TRAFFIC is extremely supportive of efforts to bring producers and consumers together to ensure that the trade continues," Compton continued. "It is important to remember that CITES Appendix II is not a trade ban, but a management intervention that will help ensure legality, promote sustainability and enable more accurate monitoring of the agarwood trade."

Increasing scarcity of supply has driven agarwood prices progressively higher, to the extent that mid-level grades are sold for US$1 000/kg in markets like Bangkok and Singapore, and can fetch over US$10 000/kg in the end-consumer markets of the Middle East and East Asia. Although harvest and trade is controlled by permit systems in major exporters such as Indonesia and Malaysia, the monetary incentives to illegally extract agarwood from the lowland forests of Asia far outweigh compliance with the law. Organized groups of illegal harvesters have been documented encroaching national parks in countries including Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

A single agarwood-producing species, Aquilaria malaccensis, has been listed on CITES Appendix II since 1995. But having only one species out of more than 20 listed on CITES has caused implementation and law enforcement difficulties * particularly as agarwood is traded in the form of wood, wood chips and oil, which makes it almost impossible to distinguish between species. The harmonizing of trade controls for all Aquilaria and Gyrinops species under CITES, therefore, should streamline management of the trade.

"Agarwood should be seen as a flagship for sustainable management of Asia's remaining lowland forests, and the connectivity between producer countries and end-use markets" Compton said. "It is a pertinent example of how political endorsements like the ASEAN Statement on CITES should be translated into work on the ground to manage the region's valuable resources and reduce illegal harvest and trade."

For further information please contact: James Compton, Regional Director, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia. Tel: 60-12-316-6904

4. Amazon fibres: Brazil to investigate more natural fibres for cars

Source: O Estado de S.Paulo, 24 October 2004 (in Amazon News, 28.10.04)

Brazil could be a pioneer in the intensive use of natural fibres for car production. Assembly-line workers already use an alternative prime material such as the fibres from coconut and from jute, agave and cotton, and they have carried out advance research in the hope of introducing more materials from renewable resources. Throughout the world, industry searches for alternatives to replace those derived from petroleum, used in various automobile components. With renewable natural resources, areas for planting and a varied species of plants, Brazil has the chance to be a leader in this realm, stated Volkswagen's Engineer Director, Orildo Cabbellete.

Currently, in all Fox models, VW has the coverings to seats, the ceiling and the trunk's hood coverings made with the curaua fibre. A plant from Amazonia and similar to a pineapple, it also will be the source for the CrossFox, a new version which will be introduced to the market in the beginning of 2005.

Next year, VW will begin to use coconut fibre on the seats of the Parati and the Saveiro, a product which is already utilized by Mercedes-Benz. "In addition to the aspect of recycling, the products is more resistant than common resin", affirmed Roberto Gasparetti from Mercedes-Benz. This product is used in the seats and the panel cover and the thermic comfort is one of the advantages of natural fibres. "Ventilation is improved and absorbs the change in body temperature", he explains. In addition to this, following 400 km of use in tests, the seats maintain their original configuration without deformations.

5. Bushmeat: Anthrax kills more wildlife in Namibia

Source: The Namibian (Windhoek), 28 October 2004

Anthrax, which broke out in eastern Caprivi, Namibia, last month, continues to kill wild animals and livestock in the area, the Ministry of Environment said yesterday. Sacky Namugongo, the Deputy Director for Parks and Wildlife Management, said since the outbreak of the disease on 14 October, 56 buffalo have died of the disease in eastern Caprivi. Last week, said Namugongo, four mountain zebras died of the disease.

However, Namugongo said no further elephant mortalities have been reported. It was earlier reported that eight elephants had died of anthrax. He said approximately 40 cattle have died since the start of the outbreak, and several scavengers such as jackals, hyenas and wolves are also believed to have died.

Namugongo once again appealed to people in the affected areas not to eat the meat of animals that died of anthrax, as the disease is very contagious.

He said some people are believed to be selling anthrax-infected meat. "These people must stop this," he said, adding that people should not buy any meat from "bush butcheries" as it could be from animals that died of anthrax.

The anthrax outbreak is believed to have spread to the Caprivi Region from Botswana's Chobe National Park, were a large number of animals reportedly died of the disease.

For full story, please see:

6. Bushmeat: AIDS warning over bushmeat trade

Source: File On 4, BBC, 26 October 2004

A study of African hunters has shown that a virus similar to HIV has passed from apes to humans from bushmeat of the kind that is being sold illegally in the UK.

A leading scientist has told the File On 4 programme that the virus was probably passed on to tribesmen via body fluids when the animals were slaughtered and butchered. Assistant Professor Nathan Wolfe, who tested more than 1,000 hunters for Johns Hopkins University, US, found a retrovirus from the same family as HIV in a number of them. "This is the area of the world where HIV came from, and this is most likely the mechanism by which HIV emerged into the human population," he said.

Although the full public health implications are still unknown, the fear is that the new virus could result in a new disease which would have global impact.

UK imports: The File On 4 team accompanied environmental health officers to spot inspections at London shops where they found illegal bushmeat from West and Central Africa. About five million tonnes of bushmeat, which originates from animals such as antelope, snakes, gorillas and elephants, is eaten in these regions of Africa every year. It is estimated that 12 000 tonnes of all manner of illegal meat is smuggled into the UK annually, a significant proportion of which is thought likely to be bushmeat.

There may also be serious implications for the health of British domestic livestock as the foot-and-mouth outbreak was linked to illegal meat imports in 2001.

Under cover: Posing as rich white loggers and accompanied by an undercover worker from the Last Great Ape project, File On 4 journalists travelled to Cameroon where pygmy hunters offered to kill gorillas, seen as the best meat. All they wanted in return was the ammunition and the meat of the gorilla to eat. The journalists were offered the skull, palms, and legs of the gorilla free of charge as long as they could provide the bullets to shoot the animal. One pygmy said they had lost count of the number of gorillas they had killed. Abject poverty forces such hunters to kill any animal, no matter how rare or unfit for human consumption, and transport it out of the country through black markets.

It is not known whether anybody has become sick from the virus.

For full story, please see:

7. Camu camu (Myrciaria spp): a conservation and development issue in Peru

Source: Jim Penn, Rainforest Conservation Fund

Camu camu is a small tree native to wetlands of the Amazon Basin. It is especially abundant in the Peruvian Amazonia. Though very high in vitamin C, until recently camu camu was used almost exclusively in Peru as fish bait and a convenient source of firewood when dead. The fruit is now popular in drinks, popsicles, candy and even cosmetics. Trees of this genus can also grow to be very large (e.g., the "shahuinto" variety). Camu camu fruit pulp is exported from Peru, with most of it going to Japan.

Since most M. dubia has at least 2 700mg of ascorbic acid per 100 grams of fruit, this small tree has been planted in experimental agroforestry systems since the 1960s. Some ribereños were also planting it on their own because it soon had a demand in urban markets. Large-scale planting has now begun throughout the region due to the current export of the fruit. However, the results of recent planting programs have often been poor. Many NGO projects have been overly concerned about signing up large numbers of people and quickly planting fields in order to impress funding agencies and governments with the number of plants and participants. Meanwhile, poor execution of the projects and a lack of proper field maintenance have limited fruit production from projects with communities in the region of Loreto. At the same time, the harvesting of wild camu camu has increased in intensity.

There is concern over how much harvesting the wild stands can endure. Fish, such as the large Colossoma macropomum ("gamitana", "tambaqui") feed on the fruits, and they have disappeared from places where camu camu fruit is no longer available to them. Sustained and equitable programs are needed to assist the people with the cultivation and management of camu camu. Unfortunately, discrimination against rural people of the Amazon frequently ruins conservation and development plans.

In spite of the current situation, there is reason to be optimistic. Camu camu is relatively easy to cultivate, and by six years can bring excellent returns. If prices for the fruit remain high, more rural people will dedicate their time and efforts to growing camu camu. As is the case with "aguaje" (Mauritia flexuosa), camu camu is becoming an important component of floodplain agroforestry systems in the region of Loreto, Peru. Meanwhile, there is a need to improve extension work, as well as access to processing facilities and markets.

For full article, please see:

8. Camu camu: La Unión Europea y otros cooperantes internacionales

Source: Revista Bosques Amazónicos virtu@l Año 4 N° 16, (

La Unión Europea y otros cooperantes internacionales impulsan la cadena productiva del camu camu.

Mediante el ¿Programa integral para el aprovechamiento sostenible del camu camu en cuencas seleccionadas del departamento de Loreto¿, la Unión Europea en alianza estratégica con Agro Acción Alemana, CESVI de Italia e Hivos de Holanda aspiran impulsar uno de los recurso de la biodiversidad amazónica con mayores perspectivas en los mercados internacionales: el camu camu. Esta fruta posee el más alto contenido de vitamina C en el planeta, 30 veces más que el limón, además de poseer otras propiedades medicinales.

El monto de financiamiento de este importante proyecto para el desarrollo de la Amazonía asciende a Euros 1 164 084. La implementación está a cargo del Centro de Desarrollo para la Competitividad de la Amazonía (CEDECAM), organización que tiene como misión formular y ejecutar proyectos de desarrollo con enfoque de sostenibilidad.

La principal característica de este proyecto es su enfoque integral orientado a desarrollar la cadena de valor de un producto altamente aceptado en el mundo. La concepción integral del proyecto se sustenta en apoyar los temas clave en las 3 fases de la cadena productiva: agrícola, industrial y comercial. En la primera etapa, se promoverá una sólida, homogénea y permanente oferta exportable de la fruta. En la siguiente fase, se preocupará de generar valor agregado para ser competitivos. Finalmente, se buscará posicionar el camu en el mercado nacional e internacional.

Es proyecto constituye una valiosa oportunidad pero al mismo tiempo un reto. Oportunidad, porque ofrece a los agricultores e instituciones directamente vinculadas a este cultivo la posibilidad de utilizar eficientemente los recursos económicos y materiales disponibles; de formar alianzas estratégicas con inversionistas e instituciones internacionales académicas; y de investigación, a fin de superar los cuellos de botella que confronta el camu camu y que actualmente impiden su despegue. Representa un reto porque coloca a los beneficiarios y los agentes económicos involucrados en la cadena productiva frente al desafío de realizar los mejores esfuerzos para, de una vez por todas, comercializar el camu camu en sus diferentes formas tanto en el mercado nacional como en el internacional.

Sin duda alguna, por su magnitud y trascendencia, el proyecto dinamizará la economía regional, especialmente en los caseríos que se dedican a este cultivo en las cuencas de los ríos Ucayali, Napo, Mazán y otros que sean priorizados.

9. Ecovogt, textile based on Amazonia plants

Source: O Estado de S.Paulo, 2 October 2004 (in Amazon News, 7.10.04

Caio Von Vogt, a designer from Para, has created a new cloth (which carries his name: ecovogt) from aquatic plants from the Amazonia riverside regions. The weave was developed using the experience of native populations, which they inherited from the indigenous peoples on how to weave the fibres.

The designer's idea is that the riverain populations will supply prime material. In this way, he believes that it will be helping the region preserve its techniques and native vegetation. Prices could reach R$18/meter, which is near the price of linen at R$15.

Because it is an ecological material, Vogt believes that the products has everything necessary to conquest the European markets.

10. Gum arabic: Nigeria export to U.S. begins

Source: This Day (Lagos), 20 October 2004

Jigawa Gum Arabic Processing Company has concluded arrangements to export over 120 tonnes of gum arabic to the U.S.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that some 145 professionals in 15 local government areas of the state have already commenced tapping the product.

The Managing Director of the company, Alhaji Imam Mohammed, said the state expected over US$240 000 from the sale of the product. He said efforts were on to secure new agreement with more companies in the U.S. for the supply of gum arabic.

Mohammed commended the renewed interest of the Jigawa Government in expanding gum arabic plantations. He said the plantations would earn the government foreign exchange and help curb desert encroachment.

The company has already set up a gum arabic processing laboratory with the assistance of USAID.

For full story, please see:

11. Gum arabic: Uganda may export gum to USA

Source: The Monitor (Kampala), 18 October 2004

Uganda may benefit from the export of gum arabic to the United States under the African Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa) if the samples there pass the functionality tests. The success of the tests will open an automatic door for Uganda to export directly to the US duty and quota free market under Agoa.

This is contained in a paper by Ugandan scientists (Dr Willy Kakuru of ICRAF, Mr J Okorio of the Forestry Resources Research Institute (FORRI) and Mr Clement Okia of the Uganda Agroforestry Development Network) titled 'Agroforestry Development in Uganda's dry lands' that was presented recently at a workshop at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi. According to the paper, it has been confirmed that Uganda has reasonable quantities of Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal trees used for the production of gum arabic, which is in high demand in the US.

The trees grow in the wild in Uganda's dryland regions, especially in Teso and Karamoja, stretching up to the Sudan. The trees grow in about 36 districts of northern, south western and central Uganda, most of which are relatively dry areas.

12. Medicinal Plants: Research confirms medicinal promise of Kenyan plants

Source: SciDev.Net Weekly Update: 18 - 24 October 2004

Kenyan plants used in traditional herbal medicine are showing promising medicinal properties in scientific assessments of their ability to treat diseases such as herpes and malaria, according to presentations made at the 25th African Health Science Congress in Nairobi earlier this month (4-8 October).

Geoffrey Rukunga of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) said the Institute is assessing how two Kenyan medicinal plants work against the herpes simplex virus (HSV). When the researchers treated mice with extracts from the African Cherry (Prunus Africana) and the Chinaberry (Melia azedarach) trees, then infected them with HSV, both infection and disease progression were slower than in untreated mice. ¿There is a need to source new affordable therapeutic agents for management of HSV infections," said Rukunga, adding that further research on these plants is ongoing.

KEMRI scientists are also investigating the antimalarial effects of other Kenyan medicinal plants, either alone or in combination with chloroquine ¿ the drug widely used to treat the disease in Africa. "Malaria chemotherapy research is targeting use of drug combinations as a way of delaying or overcoming development of drug resistance," KEMRI's Francis Muregi told SciDev.Net. "However, very little is known about effects of combining herbal preparations with synthetic drugs."

Muregi told the congress that researchers had screened 60 extracts of 11 plants, used for control of malaria by local communities in Kenya's Kisii district, for activity against the malaria parasite. Four plants ¿ Ekebergia capensis, Stephania abyssinica, Ajuga remota and Clerodendrum myricoides ¿ gave encouraging results against both chloroquine-sensitive and chloroquine-resistant strains of the parasite. In later studies, the researchers found that using extracts of E. capensis and C. myricoides in combination with chloroquine was more effective that using the drug on its own.

KEMRI'S Orwa Ja told SciDev.Net that the researchers are continuing to document medicinal plants used in areas of Kenya where malaria is endemic and will collect data "which we are convinced will be useful leads into further investigations".

For full story, please see:

13. Mushroom pickers protesting plummeting prices

Source:, 28 September 2004

Crescent Lake, Ore., USA (AP) ¿ Matsutake mushroom pickers are protesting plummeting prices for the delicacy by staying off the job for five days. Their hope is they can turn back a global economic tide that has pushed down the price they receive from local buyers to $3 a pound from about $30 two weeks ago. The matsutakes retail for $35 to $45 a pound in U.S. markets and more in Japan.

A good picker can harvest anywhere from 5 to 20 pounds of the firm, white mushrooms daily, bringing good money in normal times and small fortunes when prices hit the hundreds of dollars a pound, as they have in years past.

It's unclear whether the walkout can make a difference. Buyers contend they simply take their marching orders from bosses whose eyes are fixed on the Japanese auction markets, where the global price of matsutakes is set. A global glut of matsutakes has forced down prices, they say. Many buyers aren't even bothering to open up buying tents this week.

Cheap supplies of matsutakes are available from China, the Korean Peninsula and British Columbia.

The pickers' protest appears to be unprecedented, said Denise Smith, director of the Alliance for Forest Workers and Harvesters, a Willow Creek, Calif., group that advocates fair treatment of harvesters.

For full story, please see:

14. Armenia: Beekeeping center opened

Source: A1 Plus, September 19, 2004 (in INFO CENN, 30.9.04)

Multi Agro beekeeping center was opened Thursday in Armenia. The center is working with 2 567 beekeepers. This year 14 tones of honey were produced but half of honey haul was taken to feed bees.

The center director Roza Tsarukyan says honey is to be exported in the future. She said not only honey but pollen and medicines are planned to be exported overseas.

15. Namibia: Conservancies a major success

Source: New Era (Windhoek), 27 October 2004

"If we can export marula oil in the raw form to the United Kingdom or make tons and tons of shampoos and soaps from local resources, why can't we do the processing here ourselves? Surely this is not a fool's paradise?" With these inspiring words, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Dr Malan Lindique, opened the national Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) conference in Windhoek yesterday. CBNRM intends to conserve Namibia's wildlife, while at the same time empower rural communities to take control of their environment.

Community-based conservancies like those in Uukwaluudhi in Kaokoland, the Nyae-Nyae, Salambala, and Torabaai, are just a few which have successfully managed to create what Lindique termed, "community based-entrepreneurism". Re-looking at the latest achievements over the past decade, he indicated that the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, together with other NGOs, and the private sector, have had substantial success in the 31 registered conservancies in the country. It is reported that close to 95 000 rural people have become active members in conserving their environment effectively.

Eighty percent of the income derived through wildlife tourism is ploughed back into the community. Sustainable development means development that meets current needs, without compromising the ability for the future generations to meet their own needs. In the light of this, conservancies having trophy hunting, community campsites and mid-market lodges have become a viable industry in the country.

The decade has been fruitful for community-based tourism ventures, where revenue of up to five million dollars was generated, employing close to 100,000 Namibians. Trophy hunting also generates an income of N$160 million dollars annually. Under the 2001 Forest Act, provision has also been made to proclaim the first 15 community forests before the end of this year.

Although there have been successes, there are some constraints experienced in conservation ventures. Director of Namibia's Community Based Tourism Association, Nacobta, Maxi Louis says, "There's still the lack of management skills on the grassroots level and not enough understanding about tourism development."

For full story, please see:

16. Samoa to profit from indigenous knowledge deal

Source: SciDev.Net Weekly Update: 4 to 10 October 2004

The Samoan government and the University of California, Berkeley, have signed an agreement to share equally the profits from a potential anti-HIV drug ¿ prostratin ¿ derived from the bark of Samoa's indigenous Mamala tree.

The drug, which stimulates expression of the HIV virus from reservoirs in the body so that anti-HIV drugs can clear it, is also being tested in clinical trials by the AIDS Research Alliance, who pledged in 2001 to give 20 percent of any profits back to the country.

Jay Keasling, a chemical engineering professor at Berkeley, and his team will first need to isolate the genes of the Mamala tree that produce prostratin. The gene will then be inserted into bacteria to create 'microbial factories' that can churn out much larger quantities of the drug than could be produced naturally.

The researchers are working in collaboration with ethnobotanist Paul Alan Cox who first learned of prostatin's anti-viral properties from local healers. The agreement, which allocates a 50 percent share of commercial profits to the Samoan people, is novel, says Cox, in that "it may be the first time that indigenous people have extended their national sovereignty over a gene sequence".

Indigenous knowledge is increasingly being recognized as a valuable resource for commercial products such as pharmaceuticals. But the absence of a legally binding international treaty governing the intellectual property rights regarding such local knowledge means that it is open to exploitation.

Earlier this year, the discovery of naturally decaffeinated coffee plants originating in Ethiopia but grown in Brazil led to a fierce dispute over its genetic ownership (see Storm in a coffee cup). By contrast, the agreement signed in Samoa seems ¿ on the surface at least ¿ to be a win-win situation. Keasling believes the pact will "set a precedent for biodiversity conservation and genetic research" and for future commercial use of indigenous knowledge.

Not everyone is so positive, however. Rudolph Ryser, chair of the Centre for World Indigenous Studies, told SciDev.Net "the agreement is destined to falter". According to Ryser, such agreements cannot be fairly made until mutually agreed international protocols are put in place. He adds that rather than signing agreements to share profits with local people, drug developers should instead aim to provide drugs for free.

For full story, please see:

17. Uganda: Value of forests rises

Source: The Monitor (Kampala), 22 October 2004

A new report reveals that there is more money in forests than widely believed. The report, released on Tuesday, estimates contribution of Uganda's forests to the local people's livelihoods at Shs332.3 billion and contribution to stabilising environment such as providing more nutrients at Shs222.2 billion.

"So the total value from forests comes to about Shs594 billion," said Dr Andrew Plumptre, the director of the Albertine Rift Programme, Wildlife Conservation Society as he presented the report at Hotel Africana on Tuesday.

This value is up from Shs464 billion in 1998 and is about 5.2% of Uganda's annual production. The World Bank estimates Uganda's GDP this year at $5.8 billion.

The report, "The Value of Uganda's Forests: a livelihoods and Ecosystem approach' is the work of The National Forest Authority and Wildlife Conservation Society.¿Average annual incomes from forestry ranged between 8-35 percent of the total annual incomes to the households," says the report.

The study estimates formal forest sector such as pit sawing, firewood and charcoal at Shs181.7 billion. Informal forest sector such as using poles amounts to Shs190.02 billion. The non marketable values like soil conversation have been estimated at Shs222.22 billion.

The study involved 696 households and 48 villages in Rwenzori, Bugoma, Budongo, and Kasagala. "Initially, there were no studies. And finance kept pestering us for studies," said Mr Eliphaz Bazira, commissioner, ministry of Water, Lands and Environment. He said putting a value to Uganda's forests will make government think twice about their destruction.

"Forests are good for Uganda," said Mr Olav Bjella, NFA executive director. "But you are losing it because of poor management."

Dr Yakobo Moyini, a consultant said that for politicians, with a five year term limit, benefits from forests are invisible because they are long term ¿ beyond the terms of office of the politicians.

For full story, please see:

18. United States: U.S. Nontimber Forest Product Species Database updated

From: Eric T Jones []

With funding from the National Commission on Science for Sustainable Forestry, 490 new entries have been added to the Institute for Culture and Ecology's free web database on nontimber forest product species. This brings the total number of entries to 1,343 commercially harvested species in the United States.

Land managers and other stakeholders can use the database to help identify NTFP species occurring in their region, their general use, and part of the plant used.

The new entries included edible, medicinal, and decorative fungal species, lichens, additional vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, and ferns known to be currently or formerly commercially harvested in the United States.

Information to existing entries was added or altered where relevant new information emerged or where errors were discovered in the original data. As a result of the new work, the database is less geographically biased, and includes approximately 95% (to the level of genus) of the most important NTFP organisms in the mainland United States.

The updates were done by David Pilz. Pre-update entries were provided by James Weigand and funded by the USDA Forest Service Forest Sciences Lab in Portland, OR.

19. Vietnam endorses national action plan to control wildlife trade

From: Maija Sirola [], Traffic Press Release, 7.10.04

As global attention focuses on boosting high-level political will to combat the wildlife trade ¿crisis¿ in South-east Asia, the Government of Viet Nam has endorsed a comprehensive National Action Plan to address the country¿s wildlife trade management priorities. The National Action Plan to Strengthen the Control of Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Viet Nam to 2010 was approved by the Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dzung last Tuesday, immediately prior to the opening of the 13th Meeting to the Conference of the Parties to CITES in Bangkok, Thailand.

The National Action Plan is built upon field research and rigorous consultations with Vietnamese agencies and stakeholders, and analysis from international conservation experts. The plan focuses on six thematic priorities: increased government capacity, appropriate economic incentives, harmonised legislative controls, targeted public awareness, scientific research, and international cooperation.

Among the key research findings were that poverty was in fact not the primary factor fuelling the illegal trade and that local consumption of wildlife will continue to grow as economic conditions improve. In fact, 73% of decision-makers and government field personnel surveyed said that Viet Nam¿s domestic trade in wild meat required urgent attention.

¿By endorsing the National Action Plan, the Government is determined to address the illegal and unsustainable trade in wild species and to implement its obligations to CITES.¿ said Mr Ha Cong Tuan, the new director of the Viet Nam¿s Forest Protection Department, and the head of the country¿s CITES Management Authority. ¿This is an important framework that brings together efforts from various sectors, organizations and individuals to help address the country¿s natural resource loss.¿

Viet Nam is well known for its biodiversity and range of endemic species, but as the country¿s human population has grown, these animals and plants are literally losing ground. Alongside threats from habitat degradation and land conversion, wild species are heavily exploited to supply both domestic and international trade demands, despite laws prohibiting or severely curtailing the harvesting of ¿rare and precious species¿ and banning the export of wild forest mammals.

In South-east Asia, Viet Nam plays a role as source, consumer and re-exporter of a vast range of wild animals and plants, and is a wildlife trade hotspot of global significance. The development of a national-level response, supported by high-level political will, can provide a model for other countries in the region to emulate. Viet Nam¿s Action Plan provides an important building block in the 10-country block of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is expected to launch a regional commitment to improve wildlife trade controls (the ASEAN Statement on CITES) on 11 October.

For more information, please contact:

At CITES CoP 13 in Bangkok:

Maija Sirola,
Communications Co-ordinator,
tel. +66 (0)4 0980217,

In Viet Nam:

Ms. Nguyen Dao Ngoc Van,
National Projects Co-ordinator,
tel. +84 4 7338387 ext 161.

20. Africa ecotours

Source: FIU Update, 18 October 2004, H. Gyde Lund

ECODECO is promoting an ecotourism tour package across east Africa, to some of the destinations where forestry and wetland conservation has been initiated through tourism. This is a tour package covering between 3 and 14 days, across east Africa. Proceeds from these tours go towards forestry and wetland conservation, are inexpensive and clients are given special treatment.

ECODECO wishes to get in touch with organizations and individuals interested in such a tour. ECODECO will plan for all the travel, including local transfers, and accommodation.

Those interested contact Breta or Muhoro of the ECODECO/VFA partnership on email on

21. Biopiracy: Malaysian state acts to thwart biopirates

Source: Daily Express (Malaysia), 22 October 2004 (in SciDev.Net Weekly Update: 18 - 24 October 2004)

The biodiversity-rich Malaysian state of Sabah, on the island of Borneo, is going to require NGOs to get approval from the state authorities before conducting any research there.

The move was agreed after a discussion held by officials from state ministries in August 2004. It is intended to stop biopiracy ¿ the act of gaining benefit from a country's biological resources without fair compensation.

The decision means that all applications to do research in Sabah will first have to be approved by the State Economic Planning Unit. The Research and Internal Affairs Office of Sabah's chief minister's department will then assess applications for final approval.

22. Call for research proposals

Source: Sustainable Africa Newsletter , 21.10.04

The International Foundation for Science (IFS) and the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF) are pleased to issue a call for research proposals open to young scientists. The purpose of the grants is to provide opportunities for young researchers to contribute to the generation of scientific knowledge relevant for achieving food security and poverty alleviation as expressed in the formulation of the Challenge Program on Water and Food. For information regarding the call, please access the CPWF web page for a copy of the guidelines, or the IFS website

23. CITES imposes trade controls on African diet plant and Asian yew trees

Source: Sustainable Africa Newsletter , 9 October 2004

BANGKOK, Oct 8 (Reuters) - A United Nations conference approved on Friday a proposal by African countries to control trade in a rare plant sought by drug companies for its appetite-suppressing properties. The hoodia cactus in question has been used for thousands of years by southern Africa's San Bushmen to dampen their appetites during long treks through the harsh Kalahari desert and holds the key to potentially lucrative anti-obesity drugs.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) listed the hoodia plant in its Appendix II ¿ which will regulate global trade in the species ¿ at the behest of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.

It also adopted a Chinese and United States proposal to put Asian yew trees, which provide the compound for one of the world's top-selling chemotherapy drugs, in the same appendix.

That will give added protection to plants which could save untold human lives while earning billions of dollars for big drug companies.

The proposals will be raised again during the plenary session next week, but are almost certain to pass because they have strong support.

South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has patented the chemical entity extracted from hoodia and licensed British drugs-from-plants firm Phytopharm Plc to develop the plant's commercial potential. Phytopharm said in July it welcomed moves to protect hoodia from illegal cultivation.

"We would like pharmaceutical companies to produce finished products in the three countries," said John Donaldson of the South African delegation, adding that there were structures in place to ensure that the San Bushmen derived benefits from the product.

Valuable but fragile yew: For years Chinese herbalists have used trees of the taxus species, also known as yew trees, to treat common ailments.

In the late 1960s, scientists in North Carolina found that extract of yew bark fought tumors. In the early 1990s, the U.S. government approved the use of paclitaxel, also known as taxol, by drug company Bristol-Myers Squibb for chemotherapy. Taxol, whose patent expired in the United States in 2001, is one of the best-selling drugs for treating a variety of cancers. In 2003, drug firms sold more than US$4 billion worth of products with taxol and other drugs derived from yew trees known as taxanes.

But conservationists say the various taxus species are under threat from illegal harvesting and habitat destruction in China. "This is a win for conservation as well as for trade," Craig Manson, the head of the U.S. delegation, told Reuters. "It ensures the products come from legal and sustainable resources. And it's important to preserve the species because it has a great impact on the lives of many people," he said.

24. More protected areas and planted forests in Latin America and the Caribbean

Source: FAO Newsroom

20 October 2004, San José - Less natural forest cover, but more protected areas and forest plantations, and an increased share of international trade in forest products are expected by 2020 in Latin America and the Caribbean. This is the conclusion of an outlook study to be published at the end of the year by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The forecasts were presented for discussion to country representatives at the Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Commission this week in San José, Costa Rica.

"The challenges and opportunities of the expected changes call for greater participation of communities and local government in forest management, better property rights regulations, improved intraregional trade and development of systems for a better flow of information," said Mr Merilio Morell, an FAO forestry expert, at the meeting.

Country representatives at the meeting recognized the need for coordinated follow up actions and programs in response to the outlook forecasts. "The future of forests in the region in the coming decades depends on how countries react to, and what kinds of actions they take in view of these expected changes," Morell said.

Ongoing trends

Natural forest cover is expected to continue decreasing between now and 2020, according to the study. It is expected to shrink from 964 million hectares in 2002 to 887 million hectares in 2020 or 47 percent of the total land area of the region. Planted forests are forecast to increase from 12 million to over 16 million hectares. Protected areas are also likely to expand. Already between 1950 and 2003, protected areas increased from 17.5 to 397 million hectares, reaching 19 percent of the region's total area and 23 percent of the world's protected areas. Between now and 2020, new protected areas are expected to be created in the region, including mega parks and biological corridors.

Sustainable forest management

With appropriate means it is possible to reverse the trend of deforestation. "With proper mechanisms to finance sustainable forest management, it will be possible to reverse the deforestation trend and conserve forest ecosystems," Morell said. "Latin America and the Caribbean are at the forefront of implementing such innovative financial mechanisms."

Participating countries shared success stories on this topic at the meeting in San José.

Costa Rica reported how forest cover in the country increased from less than 30 percent to 47 percent in a little more than a decade thanks to its National Fund for Forest Financing. The Fund spends a 3.5 percent in tax charged for the use of fossil fuels to support land owners and local communities to maintain protected areas, plant trees and manage their natural resources.

Uruguay and Cuba also described how their policies helped slow down and reverse the deforestation rate.

"To guarantee protection and sustainable use of forests the multiple benefits and services provided by forests have to be valuated in monetary terms by those who benefit," Mr Morell said. "Forests not only offer timber and non-wood forest products such as fruits and natural medicines, but also contribute to ecotourism, the conservation of watersheds and biodiversity, and to the mitigation of climate change. All this should be valuated to raise funds needed to pay for conservation of forests," he said.

For full story, please see:

25. Traditional medicines have 'real benefits'

Source: BBC Online (in SciDev.Net Weekly Update: 27 September to 3 October 2004)

Scientists have shown that traditional medicines used in parts of Africa and Asia could help treat major diseases such as cancer and diabetes. They say their findings could lead to the identification of new compounds for use in drug manufacture.

The researchers from King's College London showed that extracts from India's curry leaf tree can regulate the release of glucose into the bloodstream, which could help diabetics who lack sufficient insulin to cope with excessive blood sugar. An extract of the climbing dayflower ¿ used by traditional healers in Ghana ¿ turned out be both antibacterial and antifungal. And an aquatic weed from Thailand along with Chinese star anise both inhibited the growth of cancer cells.

Any compounds identified from these plants will need to be investigated further with full clinical trials confirm these initial results, say complementary medicine experts.

For full story:

26. Wildlife Trade: ASEAN commits to controlling wildlife trade

Source: WWF Traffic Press Release, 11 October 2004

Bangkok, Thailand - The ten members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) today announced a bold initiative to work together to address the region's wildlife trade crisis. TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade-monitoring network and WWF, the global conservation organization, congratulated the ASEAN nations for this effort.

They also called upon the global CITES community to support action in Southeast Asia, a region which has long played a role as supplier and trade entrepot for a significant portion of the global trade in wildlife. The region's own rich biodiversity makes it a target for traders interested in a variety of animals and plants ranging from tigers and elephants, to rare orchids and both marine and freshwater turtles.

The ASEAN Statement on CITES focuses on six key areas of cooperation. These include the need for increased law enforcement co-operation, comprehensive legal frameworks, and more scientific information to be made available to guide wildlife trade management by CITES authorities. Beyond the ASEAN Statement itself, the 10 countries have agreed to develop an Action Plan for 2005-2010.

"This initiative is remarkable because of the diversity of nations involved, and singular focus on wildlife trade," said HE Suwit Khunkitti, Thailand¿s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, in launching the ASEAN Statement on CITES to the press today. "It will lead to further commitment in the region, and closer engagement among neighbours to combat illegal wildlife trade."

As economic growth has increased, demand has risen in Southeast Asia for products such as birds and reptiles for the pet trade, luxury items made from ivory and hawksbill turtle shell products, and high-value traditional medicines such as musk and ginseng.

"The ASEAN Statement on CITES puts in place the foundations for an integrated regional effort to crack down on illegal trade and to improve the management of animals and plants that can be legally traded under CITES, to also support the sustainable development of ASEAN countries," said James Compton, Director of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia. "However, making CITES work to its optimum potential as a conservation tool, depends on action at the national level."

Lao PDR¿s accession to CITES in 2004 means that all ten countries of the ASEAN grouping are now Parties to the Convention. This creates a common procedural framework to ensure that international wildlife trade is both legal and sustainable.

"We hope that the ASEAN Statement on CITES will precipitate increased efforts on the ground to address trans-boundary trade along Thailand¿s borders with Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar," said Dr Robert Mather, WWF Country Representative in Thailand. "WWF has been active in Thailand in supporting awareness raising, enforcement co-operation and training efforts that could be used as a model for other countries under the framework of this regional initiative."

For more information, please contact:

James Compton,
South East Asia,
+60 12 316 6904

Robert Mather,
Country Representative,
+66 989 735 33


From: FAO¿s NWFP Programme

27. Beyond Wood: the value of non-timber forest products

2-5 December 2004
Cornwall, UK

This workshop for young foresters is to be held at the Eden Project. The objective is to increase awareness amongst young foresters (both students and young professionals) of the importance of NTFPs and the complex nature of their conservation, development and utilisation. Lessons learned will enable these forest managers of the future to give a high priority to responsible and sustainable forest management, give due concern to the people who depend on the forest for their livelihood and open up new resources to communities and First Nations

For more information, please contact:

Alan Pottinger
Technical Director
Commonwealth Forestry Association
2 Webbs Barn Cottage, Witney Road
Kingston Bagpuize
Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX13 5AN
United Kingdom
Tel. +44 (0)1865 820935
Fax. +44 (0) 870 0116645

last updated:  Monday, August 24, 2009