No. 06/08

Welcome to FAO’s NWFP-Digest-L, a free e-mail journal that covers all aspects of non-wood forest products. Back issues of the Digest may be found on FAO's NWFP home page: www.fao.org/forestry/site/12980/en.

You can take part in contributing to the continued success of this newsletter by sharing with the NWFP community any news that you may have regarding research, events, publications and projects. Kindly send such information to NWFP-Digest-L@mailserv.fao.org:We also appreciate any comments or feedback.

A special thank you to all those who have sent me links to information.


PRODUCTS

1. Artemesia annua: Clinton unveils deal to cut malaria drug prices

2. Bamboo is the latest natural material to be used in eco-friendly building

3. Bamboo can play a deep role in saving the globe: scientist

4. Bamboo: Ethiopia to export chopsticks

5. Berries: Heatwave spells Swedish berry shortage

6. Ginseng: Wet weather forcing early ginseng harvest

7. Medicinal plants: Frankincense provides relief to arthritis sufferers

8. Medicinal plants: Orangutans concoct plant-based soothing balm

9. Moringa oleifera in the Philippines: Malunggay planting in Santiago intensified

10. Palms: Environmental services of the aguajales and the opportunities for a global business for the Loreto Region, Peru

11. Seabuckthorn: Cosmetic giants run into a Himalayan challenge

12. Stevia: PepsiCo to sell stevia-sweetened drink in Peru

13. Truffles: The Libyan Truffle, fruit of the Desert

14. Truffles: This summer's a washout - but it's perfect for lucrative truffles (UK)

COUNTRY INFORMATION

15. Australia: TFS reports higher profit on increased sales of sandalwood

16. Australia: Truffle industry set for rapid growth

17. Bangladesh: Protect indigenous people to save forests

18. Brazil launches rainforest fund

19. Canada: Making money from more than trees

20. Canada: Food products foraged from B.C.'s forests need to be showcased

21. Colombia's Cofan still fighting for survival

22. Costa Rica: Científicos "domestican" hongos silvestres en Costa Rica

23. Costa Rica: Non-profit organization El Puente/The Bridge

24. Ghana: Local shea butter industry to be enhanced

25. Ghana: Bushmeat hunting worth $350 million annually in Ghana

26. India: KFD neglecting its duty towards tribals of Western Ghats

27. Philippines: NegOcc farmers urged to go into cocoon production

28. Saudia Arabia: Kingdom to develop biodiversity strategy

29. Senegal: Le karité, l’or des femmes

30. South Africa: African medicine under the spotlight

31. Suriname: an innovative conservation group is working with indigenous tribes

32. Uganda: Honey production to increase

33. United States: Tribes object to fighting fire in sacred places

34. Vietnam: Animals released to wild to boost ecotourism

35. Vietnam illegal wildlife trade eats away at biodiversity: reports

NEWS

36. A Brazilian's shrine to bromeliads may one day save the plants

37. Bugs lead drug-hunters to medicinal treasure

38. Congo Basin passes 1 million ha milestone in swing to sustainable forestry

39. Mountain centre launches traditional resources portal

REQUESTS

40. Request for financing for NWFP in Canada

EVENTS

41. European Forest Institute Annual Conference. Focus on the adaptation of forest landscape to environmental changes  

42. European Forest Week

43. International Congress on Provoking Change: Strategies to promote forest users in the Amazon

44. IUFRO Conference on Gender and Forestry. Gender issues in natural resources management –perception and experiences in different parts of the world

45. 9th National Conference on Science, Policy, and the Environment: Biodiversity in a Rapidly Changing World

LITERATURE REVIEW

46. Other publications of interest

MISCELLANEOUS

47. Bee Checklist Buzzes Online

48. 'Mother Lode' Of Gorillas Found In Congo Forests

QUICK TIPS AND INFORMATION FOR NWFP-DIGEST-L


PRODUCTS

1. Artemesia annua: Clinton unveils deal to cut malaria drug prices

Source Reuters in SciDev.Net Weekly Update (4-10 August 2008)

NEW YORK, July 17 (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Bill Clinton unveiled a deal on Thursday with six Chinese and Indian companies to cut a key malaria drug price by a third and slash the price volatility of a vital ingredient by 70 percent.

Artemisinin-based combination therapies, or ACT drugs, are recommended by the World Health Organization because of growing resistance to older treatments such as chloroquine.

But the supply of artemisinin, a plant extract long used in Chinese medicine that takes up to 14 months to produce, has been volatile, with prices ranging from $150 to $1 100/kg in the past four years.

"We have reached agreement with the suppliers at every level of the production chain from the extraction of the raw ingredient to the manufacturer of the final drug to allow for sustained and lower pricing," Clinton told a news conference.

The Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative has struck deals with India's Cipla Ltd and IPCA Laboratories Ltd , which both manufacture ACT drugs, India's Calyx and Mangalam Drugs, which turn the plant extract into an active pharmaceutical ingredient, and China's Holleypharm and PIDI Standard, which grow the plants.

The lower prices will be available to the 69 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean who make up the foundation's purchasing consortium.

For full story, please see: www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N16394534.htm

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2. Bamboo is the latest natural material to be used in eco-friendly building

Source: Property Wire, England, 1 August 2008

A London architect has completed a bamboo townhouse in the middle of an urban area in Asia that is being hailed as an innovation in terms of sustainable house building in the region.

The bamboo reduces the need for air conditioning as it allows the property to be ventilated naturally but remain secure and private.

ROEWU architecture believes designs like this could help reduce the costs of air conditioning in parts of the world where it is the main source of energy consumption.

The house in Yi-Lan, Taiwan, built as a holiday home, was a challenge as the site is narrow with blank party walls on both sides. 'The house had to gain all its light and air from the street with maintaining privacy and security,' a spokesman for the firm said.

' By introducing several double and triple-height void spaces, the whole house is naturally ventilated despite the sides being enclosed. The bamboo screen neutralises the security and privacy risks that such openness could otherwise bring,' he added.

The bamboo screen wrapped around the house shields the house's occupants from the view of passers-by on the street, while allowing sunlight and air to filter into the building through the bamboo poles.

The interior is intended to be like an organic forest. Sunlight and air filter in through the bamboo poles changing the character and use of the space over the course of the day and the changing seasons. In winter, a karaoke lounge and spa on the second floor form a focal point for bathing and singing. During the summer, the roof deck, with its variably patterned sunshade system and surrounding bamboo, invites cool breezes and becomes the family's favourite gathering spot.

ROEWU describes its bamboo screen concept as 'a radical updating of the conventional Taiwanese window screen'. The approach also provides a new use for highly sustainable, fast-growing, locally sourced bamboo, which has fallen out of use in local construction.

For full story, please see: www.propertywire.com/news/related-stories/bamboo-eco-friendly-building-200808011409.html

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3. Bamboo can play a deep role in saving the globe: scientist

Source: Hindu, India, 4 August 2008

CHENNAI: “Everybody is talking about the problem of global warming, but I have a solution for it,” says N. Barathi and displays a bamboo sapling wrapped like a bouquet. Having sensed disbelief, he explains further, “Bamboo acts as a carbon sink. It absorbs excess CO2 in the air with three to four times more efficiency than any other tree. Which means, the more bamboos we plant, the more CO2 is absorbed and thus we can stop contributing to global warming,” he says.

An agricultural scientist, Mr. Barathi worked with the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore as assistant professor between 1984 and 1986 and ten years ago started his own tissue culture plant manufacturing company Growmore Biotech in Hosur.

Bamboo, he says, can effectively clean water pollution from septic tanks and factory effluents as it has a natural affinity for nitrogen, phosphorous and heavy metals.

The scientist has developed a variety of bamboo called “Beema Bamboo” which is sterile and therefore does not produce seeds and can live up to 200 years provided it gets water, sunlight and nutrients from soil regularly. Planting this at one’s home or garden will benefit generations to come, he says.

The scientist has even calculated that Chennai needs around 13 million bamboo plants to become carbon neutral, that is, to absorb the excess CO2 in the air generated by the city population. He arrives at this calculation thus: The city has a population of about one crore, including its floating population. Multiply this with the per capita emission in Indian cities [assumed as 1.33 ton by him] and this amounts to 13 million tons of CO2. One mature bamboo plant can absorb 500 kg (0.5 ton) of Co2. Assuming 50 per cent of CO2 is absorbed by the existing canopy the balance 6.5 million ton of CO2 needs 13 million bamboo plants to be absorbed completely.

For full story, please see: www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/008200808041021.htm

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4. Bamboo: Ethiopia to export chopsticks

Source: Capital in Nazret.com, USA, 18 August 2008

A bamboo processing plant, set up in Benishangul Gumuz Regional State of Ethiopia, is to start production in the coming two months. The plant would start with chopsticks, doors and flooring tiles. It is the first to produce such items from the ample bamboo resource in the region. Land and Sea Development- Ethiopia (LSDE) the owner of the plant, is also looking for other partners for another venture.

Michael Gebru founder and director of LSDE told Capital that the company would be harvesting and re-planting bamboo, hybrid eucalyptus and other non-wood crops that could be used in the pulp and paper manufacturing process. LSDE Plc is involved in the advanced agricultural sector including bio-fuel plants.

Michael said it was a long journey to take the company at this level and during the setting up of the company. He added that he has faced a lot of difficulties that he almost failed but as he does not want to give a bad example to the diaspora like himself he sacrificed a lot and reversed it to positive under new management.

Evan Peters General Manager of LSDE told Capital that after the completion of the factory the company would employ about 600 people. In addition to these up to 1000 workers will be working at the bamboo forest harvesting and planting on the nursery site.

According to agro-forest experts the bamboo wealth of Ethiopia is an untapped market. It is estimated that there are between 800,000 and a million hectares of land that are used to plant bamboo all across the country. LSDE also last week plated 10,000 seedlings of high quality bamboo in Assosa the seat of the Benishangul Gumuz Regional State.

Bamboo is the fastest-growing plant on Earth. The bamboo can grow three or more inches a day though there are exceptions. Apart from its use as wood the shoots of bamboo are edible. They are used in numerous Asian dishes and broths, and are available in supermarkets in various sliced forms, both fresh and canned version.

Bamboo leaves are also used as wrappers for zongzi, a steamed dumpling typical of southern China, which usually contains glutinous rice and other ingredients.

The empty hollow in the stalks of larger bamboo is often used to cook food in many Asian cultures. Soups are boiled and rice is cooked in the hollows of fresh stalks of bamboo directly over a flame. Similarly, steamed tea is sometimes rammed into bamboo hollows to produce compressed forms of Pu-erh tea. Cooking food in bamboo is said to give the food a subtle but distinctive taste.

In addition, bamboo is frequently used for cooking utensils within many cultures. In modern times, some see bamboo tools as an eco-friendly alternative to other manufactured utensils.

Bamboo is also used in Chinese medicine for treating infections.

When treated, bamboo forms a very hard wood which is both lightweight and exceptionally durable. In tropical climates it is used in elements of house construction, construction scaffolding and as a substitute for steel reinforcing rods in concrete construction, ... Modern companies are also attempting to popularize bamboo flooring made of bamboo pieces steamed, flattened, glued together, finished, and cut.

Besides its use as a construction material, it is also used for fencemaking, bridges, toilets, walking sticks, canoes, tableware, decorative artwork carving, furniture, food steamers, toys, bicycles, hats, and martial arts weaponry, including fire arrows, flame throwers and rockets.

The fiber of bamboo has been used to make paper in China since early times. A high quality hand-made paper is still produced in small quantities. Coarse bamboo paper is still used to make spirit money in many Chinese communities.

Bamboo has also been used in the construction of fishing rods since the mid 1800s. However, following the invention of fiberglass and graphite, bamboo use in fishing rods has declined dramatically. Bamboo is also used to make enclosures in fish farming, where cages can be made from a wooden frame and bamboo lattices

For full story, please see: http://nazret.com/blog/index.php?title=ethiopia_to_export_chopsticks&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

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5. Berries: Heatwave spells Swedish berry shortage

Source: The Local, Sweden, 3 August 2008

The recent dry spell has led to an acute shortage of berries in Swedish woodlands.

Mainly affected are woodlands south of upper Norrland in northern Sweden. According to Marogan Tjernberg, spokesman for the Swedish Forestberry Association, the situation is really dire in southern areas.

Summer’s popular blueberries and cloud berries have simply shrivelled up in the dry heat and disappeared.

Southern counties such as Värmland are worst affected, but it remains to be seen if other areas recover as it is still early in the season.

As well as mushroom picking, berry picking is a popular Swedish pastime. It is also a source of economic income. In 2000, according to the Swedish Forestberry Association, 14,000 tons of berries were collected for retail purposes, of which 70 % were blueberries. Commercial berry pickers are almost always non-Swedes.

For full story, please see: www.thelocal.se/13458/20080803/

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6. Ginseng: Wet weather forcing early ginseng harvest

Source: Tillsonburg News, Ontario, Canada, 15 August 2008

Wet weather this summer has forced many ginseng farmers into an early harvest. Growers are racing to salvage what they can now that root rot and berry blight have become a problem.

Shade and straw on third-and fourth-year fields has been removed on some farms in preparation for an early harvest. Under normal conditions, mature root is dug in October and then only in its fourth year.

“It’s the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Alex Keresturi of Burford, who started his first crop in 1987. “It’s very much a losing battle this year. It doesn’t matter how much chemical we use because of all the storms.”

Phytophthora root rot is the major threat because the fungus spreads rapidly in saturated soil. Ginseng root should have the consistency and colour of fresh parsnips when it comes out of the ground. Root rot moves quickly once it is established and turns ginseng root to mush.

Red berries at the top of the ginseng plant develop purple discolourations in the presence of botrytis head blight. The berries, which are harvested for seed, develop a grey, fuzzy appearance as the fungus matures.

Fungicides are available to control these conditions. The chemical of choice locally is Maestro 80 DF. Maestro 80 DF is not registered for use in Canada. However, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency has approved an emergency permit which expires in December.

Sean Westerveld, a ginseng and medicinal herb specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, says it is difficult to fight root rot when the soil is continuously saturated.

Under ideal conditions, ginseng will receive light rain or dew over night and dry, warm conditions by day with low humidity.

A handful of growers are preparing to harvest early. Doug Bradley, chair of the Ontario Ginseng Growers Association, said that number will climb in the weeks ahead. Discoloured foliage in mature patches, he said, is a sign that many gardens are infected.

Most of the Ontario ginseng crop is sold in Asia, where it is used in tea, food and as a traditional folk medicine.

For full story, please see: www.tillsonburgnews.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1157206

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7. Medicinal plants: Frankincense provides relief to arthritis sufferers

Source: EurekAlert (press release), USA, 29 July 2008

An enriched extract of the 'Indian Frankincense' herb Boswellia serrata has been proven to reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Research published today in BioMed Central's open access journal Arthritis Research & Therapy has shown that patients taking the herbal remedy showed significant improvement in as little as seven days.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis; it commonly affects weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips, along with the hands, wrists, feet and spine. The symptoms include pain, stiffness and limited movement. This randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial of 70 patients will be of great interest to sufferers, especially those who don't get adequate relief from existing treatments.

The study was led by Siba Raychaudhuri, a faculty member of the University of California, Davis, in the United States. According to Raychaudhuri, "The high incidence of adverse affects associated with currently available medications has created great interest in the search for an effective and safe alternative treatment". The extract the authors used was enriched with 30% AKBA (3-O-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid), which is thought to be the most active ingredient in the plant. Raychaudhuri said, "AKBA has anti-inflammatory properties, and we have shown that B. serrata enriched with AKBA can be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee". This is a proprietary product developed by Laila Nutraceuticals.

B. serrata has been used for thousands of years in the Indian system of traditional medicine known as 'Ayurveda'. This study is the first to prove that an enriched extract of the plant can be used as a successful treatment.

The same authors have previously tested the safety of their remedy in animal experiments. They say that, "In this study, the compound was shown to have no major adverse effects in our osteoarthritis patients. It is safe for human consumption and even for long-term use".

For full story, please see: www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-07/bc-fpr072808.php

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8. Medicinal plants: Orangutans concoct plant-based soothing balm

Source: Register, England, 28 July 2008

Indonesian wild orangutans have demonstrated a certain degree of medicinal savvy by deploying naturally-occurring anti-inflammatory drugs to "treat aches and pains", as the New Scientist puts it.

Four of the Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) were spotted by Cambridge University primatologist Helen Morrogh-Bernard in the Sabangau Peat Swamp Forest in Central Kalimantan preparing a "soothing balm".

Back in 2005, Morrogh-Bernard watched as an adult female picked a handful of leaves from a plant, chewed them, and used saliva to produce a green-white lather. She then "scooped up some of the lather with her right hand and applied it up and down the back of her left arm, from the base of the shoulder to the wrist, just as a person would apply sunscreen". Morrogh-Bernard noted: "She was concentrating on her arm only and was methodical in the way she was applying the soapy foam. I knew this must be some form of self-medication."

The orangutan finally ditched the leaves, which allowed Morrogh-Bernard to identify them as belonging to the genus Commelina. Significantly, orangutans don't eat these plants as part of their normal diet, and local indigenous people are also aware of their anti-inflammatory properties.

Morrogh-Bernard has since clocked three other orangutans using their home-brew balm, saying it "links apes and humans directly". While she said the former "may not have learnt how to apply the anti-inflammatory ointment from local people", the opposite may be true.

Morrogh-Bernard's findings are published in the International Journal of Primatology. ®

For full story, please see: www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/28/orangutan_balm/

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9. Moringa oleifera in the Philippines: Malunggay planting in Santiago intensified

Source: Manila Bulletin, Philippines, 31 July 2008

Santiago City – This city in the fourth district of Isabela may soon become the malunggay capital of northeastern Luzon (Cagayan Valley). Dr. Solomon Maylem, Santiago City agriculture officer, said malunggay has been highly endorsed as a food crop by experts because it is rich in nutrients.

Santiago City Mayor Amelita Navarro, a nurse by profession and a doctor’s wife, echoed Maylem’s observation in an executive order directing all City Hall employees and village officials to step up the planting of malunggay seedlings or cuttings in their backyards and in idle lots in the city. The employees and officials were asked to plant each at three malunggay seedlings or cuttings. "Back in the United States, where my children and grandchildren stay, an apple a day keeps the doctors away, but here in the Philippines, we have the more powerful and miraculous malunggay that can keep the doctors away. So, we regularly send them preserved malunggay leaves which are taken like green tea," said the lady mayor, whose family owns a chain of drugstores.

Scientifically called Moringa oleifera Lamk, malunggay is versatile as food. The leaves, pods, and flowers can be cooked and eaten.

In the country, recipes for malunggay range from tinolang manok, pinakbet and mungbean stew to corn-mushroom soup and "inabraw," the popular Ilocano dish.

Studies show that an ounce of malunggay contains Vitamin C seven times found in oranges, three times the iron of spinach, three times the potassium of bananas, four times the calcium content of milk, and four times the Vitamin A of carrots.

Research also shows that people who consume malunggay regularly have controlled blood pressure, strengthened immune system, manageable sugar level, and reduced arthritic pain.

"Based on my own experience, I strongly advise lactating mothers to eat malunggay because it enhances the production of milk," Navarro said.

It was also discovered that school children who eat malunggay excel in class.

Maylem said his department is initially growing 16,000 seedlings to be dispersed all over the city.

For full story, please see: http://www.mb.com.ph/PROV20080731131238.html

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10. Palms: Environmental services of the aguajales and the opportunities for a global business for the Loreto Region, Peru

Source: Ecosystem Marketplace, August 2008

Angel Salazar of the Peruvian Amazon Research Institute (Iquitos) has written an article on aguajales, palm tree forests that occupy 5.3 million hectares in the Peruvian Amazon and sequester large amounts of carbon. They play a role in the local economy through providing employment opportunities for local communities and by satisfying the high consumer demand for their fruit. Salazar's article describes the potential benefits offered by aguajales harvesting and calls for increased efforts for improved management of aguajales as well as for linking these ecosystems to environmental services payment schemes.

The fruits from the aguajales, the aguaje, are in great demand by the inhabitants of Iquitos. Fruits are consumed directly, or processed as refreshments, the aguajina, or as ice creams and popsicles. The demand generated by that way of consumption is satisfied by approximately 20 t of fruits per day.

The marketing of the fruits generates a chain of value that creates employment in both rural and urban areas. In Iquitos alone, close to five thousand jobs are generated by the selling of aguaje fruits. Most of those employed are women who generate their own employment.

The benefits that can be obtained by the harvesting of the aguajales are much more diverse than the ones that are traditionally obtained. These are the so-called strategic products, those obtained by providing added value to the aguaje pulp. These products include antioxidants, solar protectors, and high-quality oils for the cosmetics industry. An additional benefit that could be obtained is the added value of the ecosystem through the possibility of obtaining payments for the environmental services that the aguajales provide.

For full story, please see: http://ecosystemmarketplace.com/pages/article.opinion.php?component_id=6019&component_version_id=8909&language_id=12

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11. Seabuckthorn: Cosmetic giants run into a Himalayan challenge

Source: Economic Times, India, 1 August 2008

Ahmedabad: A dozen women are busy plucking seabuckthorn berries in Leh-Ladakh and Kargil for supplying them to their local Nundum Cooperative Society (NCS). The society will further their produce to All-India Aromatic Plants Growers Association (AIAPGA).

By supplying such special fruits with medicinal values, these women will earn Rs 85-90/kg, higher than what they were getting earlier. “Our members have started earning more than 50% by growing such plants,” says Mohammed Zaffar, president, NCS, which has 40 members. And the buck doesn’t stop here. In fact, it starts from here. In a way, the hill people of India are coming together to take on foreign FMCG biggies such as Amway, K-Link, DXN and Tenzxi, who have been dominating the Indian cosmetics market, by launching a slew of herbal cosmetic products.

The 6,000-member-strong AIAPGA, including herbal society, will launch herbal products under its common brand across the country by next week through self-marketing. And it is confident of outdoing the foreign competition. “We will break them completely. Our prices are quite nominal than these biggies and high in quality,” says AIAPGA president and Kangra Herb Society director Randhir Singh Guleria.

The growers are expected to get more than 40% margins on their produce once the mechanism falls in place. The association has got patent approval for launching 35 products initially, and a few more will join after approval. What’s more, the Rs 300-crore industry is confident of touching the Rs 1,000-crore mark in the next five years with their in-house business model.

Until now, the Indian consumer didn’t have the right choice of organised herbal-care products. “This will wipe out the existing cosmetic players and create a new market for us,” says Mr Guleria.

Right from planting till the packaging, branding and marketing of the final product, the association has strategically built an in-house model for its members. This model will be more cost-effective than the one followed by foreign biggies, they claim. Interestingly, the growers will get returns as per their subscription period with the association.

That means the longer the period, the higher the margins. “Our 40-hectare land was a complete wastage as we didn’t know how to utilise it. Now, we have decided to supply medicinal plants for two years,” says Dharamshala-based grower Manish Mahajan.

A large number of growers come from regions like Leh, Kargil, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and areas covered under the Himalayan range.

For full story, please see: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/News_By_Industry/Cons_Products/Cosmetic_giants_run_into_a_Himalayan_challenge/articleshow/3312164.cms

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12. Stevia: PepsiCo to sell stevia-sweetened drink in Peru

Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, USA, 31 July 2008

PepsiCo announced Thursday plans to use a natural, no-calorie sweetener based on the stevia plant, joining Coca-Cola Co. in the effort to bring a stevia-sweetened beverage to market.

Pepsi plans to begin selling in August a version of SoBe in Peru that uses a new stevia-based sweetener called PureVia. Pepsi, based in Purchase, N.Y., jointly developed PureVia with Whole Earth Sweetener Co., a subsidiary of Merisant Co., the makers of Equal.

"Consumers have always been looking for a beverage that is natural, tastes great and has no calories, and SoBe Life with PureVia answers the call," said Massimo d'Amore, CEO of PepsiCo Americas Beverages, in a press release. "This will have great appeal to health-conscious people who are looking for hydration and natural ingredients."

PureVia will be launched as a tabletop sweetener in the United States this fall, but it has not been approved by the FDA as a food additive. That prevents its use as a direct ingredient in food and beverages. Stevia sweeteners are available as dietary supplements.

Atlanta-based Coke and Cargill, a Minneapolis-based food products company, announced in May they had jointly developed a stevia-based sweetener called Truvia. Cargill has started selling Truvia as a tabletop sweetener, but Coke has not said which beverages could use Truvia.

Beverage companies see potential in the stevia plant because it offers a natural, no-calorie way to sweeten drinks. Stevia, 200 times sweeter than sugar, already is used as a food additive in parts of Asia and South America

For full story, please see: www.ajc.com/business/content/business/coke/stories/2008/07/31/pepsi_sobe_drink.html

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13. Truffles: The Libyan Truffle, fruit of the Desert

Source: Alarab online, UK, 31 July 2008

Truffle is a kind of fungi classified as a subterranean plant. Its colour varies from white to reddish white. There are also black and brown truffles. Its size ranges between the size of a big orange and the walnut. Truffle fungus grows in lime land near some desert plants making the so-called symbiotic association i.e. a mutually beneficial relationship between them.

In some Arab countries, it is known as the earth tree or the earth egg. It is also known as the thunder daughter. It grows by itself with no interference i.e. whenever the conditions are suitable for its growth. These conditions consist in a sufficient humidity and a union between the air and the lightening; these elements fall down with the raindrops and penetrate the soil to make truffle grow.

Truffle grows in spring as the soil is saturated with water. There are several types of truffles such as the desert one and the European one. However, the desert type has a highly nutritional value and it grows only in arid regions. It differs from the type that grows in the European forests. Desert truffles differ in size: some are small and others are big. There are many varieties including Zobeidi, Khalasi, Jobi and Hober.

Truffle comprises a highly nutritional value thanks to the minerals it contains, notably iron, proteins, and amino acids, minerals that the body needs and cannot generate. In addition to that, truffles are easily digested.

The Libyan truffle, found in deserts, is one of the best known worldwide. The Al-Hamada Al-Hamra region is considered as one of the largest regions producing it.

Truffles have been known in Libya since the Roman era, as they were the favourite food of the high-class. Unlike the urban inhabitants, the desert inhabitants know very well the truffle and the way to extract it from the soil. Most city people do not know the plant as they have not seen it before.

Truffles have a lot of good benefits as they are used in treating trachoma, a disease infecting the eye, according to medical researchers. They also increase fecundity for both men and women. Because of these benefits, the best varieties of truffle are expensive. The price of some varieties may reach 2500 euro a kilogramme or more in the markets.

There are many methods adopted by the truffle hunters to extract the plant from soil. Some hunters use dogs to find the valuable truffles. A well-trained dog can trace the scent of the plant 40 meters away. Other hunters examine the soil to perceive the swellings and the small fractures that represent a sign of the presence of truffles. Hunters dig the fractures with a knife to bring the truffles out.

The customary variety of this fungus is sold in domestic markets, whereas the average and excellent varieties are exported to the Gulf and the European countries.

Recently attempts have been made to cultivate truffles and produce them in large quantities. These attempts started first in Europe and focused on growing certain varieties of forest truffles (European truffle). Yet, there were difficulties in cultivating the fungus. The harvest was possible only four years after and the result was moderate. The quantities produced were very moderate and consequently, the income was low.

Concerning the desert truffle that grows abundantly in North Africa, some attempts to plant the fungus by the Libyan doctor and specialist, Salem El Shamkh, took place recently in Europe (Finland). He succeeded in producing high-quality truffles in a short period of time which does not exceed 14 months.

The experiment concludes that establishing truffle farms in North Africa is possible provided that there is a correct scientific basis. Accordingly, a good and abundant production can be obtained and about 200 tons from one hectare can be produced each year.

The strange fungus might have actually a high economic value in the near future and might be some day one of the sources of revenue.

For full story, please see: http://english.alarabonline.org/display.asp?fname=2008%5C07%5C07-31%5Cztravelz%5C975.htm&dismode=x&ts=31/07/2008%2003:07:50%20%C3%A3

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14. Truffles: This summer's a washout - but it's perfect for lucrative truffles (UK)

Source: Times Online, UK, 6 August 2008

The wet summer may not have suited everyone but Britain's truffle hunters are delighted. They are predicting a bumper crop of the fungi known as “black diamonds”, over which gourmets go into rhapsodies.

A chilly spring followed by sunshine and then summer rain has created perfect growing conditions for the pungent delicacy. The British summer truffle may not be as highly regarded by epicures as the French and Italian varieties, but it is still worth about £180/kg.

One couple from Plymouth were celebrating yesterday after their gardener discovered truffles worth hundreds of pounds growing between the roots of beech trees in their garden.

However, a plantation at a secret location in Wiltshire has become one of the world's most productive sources of British summer truffles. The three-hectare (7-acre) site produced 200kg (440lb) of the delicacy last year, and an even bigger harvest is expected this summer.

The truffle expert Nigel Hadden-Paton, the first Briton to be invited to join the Confrérie de la Truffe de Bourgogne, France's leading truffle “brotherhood”, said: “No one has seen anything like it. The quantity of truffles is simply astonishing. We have found them up to 500g [17oz] each, which means they are bigger than cricket balls.”

Truffle spores are believed to have been imported to Wiltshire in the roots of beech, oak and hazel trees planted 12 years ago. The slightly acidic soil proved the perfect growing medium — last year's harvest was worth about £27,000.

Traditionally pigs were used to root out truffles in the Périgord region of France, although dogs are increasingly used.

But the Wiltshire farmer, who does not want to be identified for fear of attracting hordes of uninvited truffle hunters, has his own unorthodox method, according to Mr Hadden-Paton.

He said: “He finds them by taking off his shoes and socks and feeling around with his feet.” This year's truffle season is likely to be relatively short because the damp conditions which helped them grow will also rot them unless they are harvested quickly.

For full story, please see: www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article4466760.ece

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15. Australia: TFS reports higher profit on increased sales of sandalwood

Source: The West Australian, Australia, 14th August 2008

Perth-based Indian sandalwood grower TFS Corporation has announced a 44 per cent increase in net profit to $27.6 million, which the firm attributed to a substantial increase in sales of its managed investment schemes. TFS, which recorded a net profit of $19.2 million in 2006-2007, said the increased sales had driven revenue up 52 per cent to $68.4 million and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation by 46 per cent to $42.1 million.

Company chairman Frank Wilson said the firm's higher MIS sales had bucked the wider trend away from the schemes, thanks to higher demand for sandalwood, a broader distribution base and the tax deductibility of forestry schemes. “In addition, we have continued to build the necessary infrastructure at our plantation operations in the Kununurra region of WA and have strengthened our land bank,” he said.

“Plantings during the year doubled to approximately 600 hectares, and we are well placed to service a further significant increase to accommodate the level of MIS sales achieved in the 2008 financial year and those anticipated in future periods.”

TFS announced last month that it would acquire Albany-based essential oils business Mount Romance Australia for $28.6 million, in a move Mr Wilson said would represent an accelerated realisation of the firm's vertical integration aspirations.

The company will pursue agreements with international fragrance companies in 2008-2009, such as the oil supply arrangement signed with UK-based Lush Cosmetics, as well as increasing its focus on research and development.

For full story, please see: www.thewest.com.au/default.aspx?MenuID=3&ContentID=91342

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16. Australia: Truffle industry set for rapid growth

Source: Australian Food, Melbourne, Australia, 28 July 2008

Australian truffle production could grow by as much as 10 times its current level by 2013, but market development and further research will be needed to ensure the industry has a long-term future. These are some of the conclusions of a stocktake of the industry to be presented this weekend by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) at a meeting of the Australian Truffle Growers Association in Victoria.

The research established that production is likely to grow from 800 kg in 2007 (currently worth $1.6 million) to between five and 10 tonnes in 2013 from existing truffières alone.

The size of mature truffière land is expected to increase from 250 ha to 600 ha in the same time frame at an average growth rate of over 20 per cent per year.

Truffles are unique underground mushrooms that grow on the roots of trees which either naturally host the fungi or have been inoculated with truffle spores. Truffle production in Australia began in Tasmania in the 1990s with assistance from RIRDC and has now spread to all other states. The first harvest was in Tasmania in 1999, after eight years of hard work to enable production of the delicacy.

Despite being a relatively new crop to Australia, truffles are one of the most highly sought after and valued foods in the world, with Australian truffles currently selling for between $2000 and $3000 per kg. Despite being highly sought after by many chefs, it is not used often due to the considerable cost of purchase. The cost is so high due to the difficulties with creating the right environment for the truffles to grow.

RIRDC’s General Manager of New Industries, Dr Roslyn Prinsley, said the stocktake points to future success for the industry but also highlights constraints that need to be addressed. “This snapshot of the industry highlights the future growth in production and increasing investment from large-scale growers,” she said. “However it also highlights the need for export market research and development, particularly in Asia, and education of consumers in Australia.

“Further work will be needed to address biosecurity issues, industry sustainability and climate change, and research and development into marketing, production yields, quality and consistency of supply,” Dr Prinsley concluded.

Truffles are indeed so prized that Stanley Ho, the casino mogul from Macau, was willing to pay a record US$330,000 for a 1.5kg white truffle last year. The price was a record for a truffle and valued the product at a staggering $220,000/kg.

For full story, please see: www.ausfoodnews.com.au/2008/07/28/truffle-industry-set-for-rapid-growth.html

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17. Bangladesh: Protect indigenous people to save forests

Source: The Daily Star, Bangladesh, 9 August 2008

Speakers at a seminar yesterday called for protecting indigenous people to save forests of the country. They said the indigenous people are the part of the forests and they know how to protect them.

The seminar titled 'Environmental degradation in forest: Socio-economic crisis of indigenous people' was organised by the Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (Bapa) at WVA auditorium in the city. Speaking as chair Bapa President Prof Muzaffer Ahmad said there is a debate over the name of Adibashi but there is no debate about it that those who live in forests also protect them. "Those who consider forests as the raw materials of industrialisation do not protect them," he said.

The existence of Adibashi people is being threatened in the name of participatory forests, he added.

In a keynote paper, Prof Khandaker Mokaddem Hossain of Dhaka University said the ethnic communities constitute, according to a government statistics, about 1.2 percent of the total population, but the actual number of indigenous people is considerably higher than this. He said a huge number of Bangalee settlers have been rehabilitated at Matiranga and Ramgarh thanas in Khagrachhari district, Lama thana in Bandarban district, and Madhupur Tracts of Tangail and Mymensingh districts. As a consequence, the indigenous people have become marginalised and lost their traditional rights over land and trees, he said.

Prof Hossain said the government should implement ILO's Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 169 to protect their human and land rights. He said the land and tree resources of indigenous people should be protected from the activities that are not sound environmentally.

Apart from the rehabilitation of Bangalee settlers and commercial plantation of tea, pineapple, orange, lemon and rubber trees, infrastructural development including construction of roads, bridges and highways, industrialisation and urbanization process, and control of forest lands by military and para-military troops in Chittagong Hill Tracts are the main causes of deforestation.

Philip Gain, director of SHED, said the aggression of alien trees in forest is not acceptable. There were 100 species of indigenous trees in Madhupur forest but in the name of participatory afforestation these trees have been replaced by acacia and eucalyptus, he said.

If the government does not take adequate steps it will be very difficult for indigenous people to survive, said Rabindranath Soren, a leader of the Adibashi community.

For full story, please see: www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=49593

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18. Brazil launches rainforest fund

Source: BBC News, UK, 1 August 2008

Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva has launched an international fund to protect the Amazon rainforest and help combat climate change. The fund will promote alternatives to forest-clearing for people living in the Amazon, and support conservation and sustainable development

Officials will seek donations abroad and aim to raise $21bn (£11bn) by 2021.

But a government minister said Brazil would not accept foreign interference in its Amazon policy.

Speaking at the launch in Rio de Janeiro, President Lula said Brazil was aware of how much the Amazon meant to the wider world. "It's better for the country's image to do things right, so we can walk in international forums with our heads high," he added.

But the Brazilian leader also insisted that the Amazon's preservation was Brazil's responsibility. "We... want the sovereignty that we hold over Amazonian territory and the decisions that are made in this region to be respected," he said.

Roberto Mangabeira Unger, minister for strategic affairs, put the point more forcefully: "The fund is a vehicle by which foreign governments can help support our initiatives without exerting any influence over our national policy. We are not going to trade sovereignty for money."

The environmental group Greenpeace said it was the first time Brazil had accepted a link between global warming and preserving the rainforest. "For a long time, Brazil was violently opposed to this, insisting fossil fuel was to blame," said Sergio Leitao, director of public policies for Greenpeace Brazil. "That's true, historically speaking, but today forests play an important role."

Brazilian Environment Minister Carlos Minc called for a radical change in environmental attitudes: "We are committed to reducing the destruction of the rainforest, to eliminating illegal burning and to guaranteeing a better quality of life for all. Our war is not won by simply reducing illegal burning in one month, it will be won once this environmental model that is destroying our communities and biodiversity is history."

For full story, please see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7538480.stm

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19. Canada: Making money from more than trees

Source: Atlantic Farm Focus, Canada, 31 July 2008

Money may not grow on trees but burls do and those misshapen growths may be just what a wood carver needs to make a beautiful bowl. How about shitake mushrooms growing on a water soaked log? A city chef may be willing to pay for a local supply.

In the wake of mill shutdowns, woodlot owners across Atlantic Canada are looking at all ways of making money from their woods, from providing hiking and skiing trails to harvesting colourful berries and unusual mosses to sell to Christmas crafters and decorators. But connecting with people who desire these activities and products has been an obstacle for woodlot owners.

To help, more than a dozen forestry and agriculture organizations in the region and in Maine have come together to create “From Our Atlantic Woods”, a printed colour catalogue and website that will list non-timber forest products grown or produced in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Maine. The catalogue should be ready for next year’s tourist season. Copies will be given out free at the listees’ places of business, tourism booths, farmers’ markets and Sobeys stores throughout the region.

INFOR is heading up the “From Our Atlantic Woods” project. There is no charge to producers to list in the directory. For more information or to sign-up, visit www.ntfp.infor.ca .

For full story, please see: http://atlanticfarmfocus.ca/index.cfm?sid=158321&sc=590

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20. Canada: Food products foraged from B.C.'s forests need to be showcased

Source: Vancouver Sun, Canada, 15 August 2008

Foraging in B.C. forests is suddenly something to be reckoned with. It's graduated to the post-secondary level.

One of the projects undertaken by The Centre for Non-Timber Resources at Royal Roads University in Victoria is Buy B.C. Wild, which has sponsorship from the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Thrifty Foods, VanCity and Service Canada.

"We realized there were a lot of wild products coming out of our forests and there was a need for wildcrafters and businesses to have a collective voice to showcase their wonderful products and services," says Holly Caine, coordinator of Buy B.C. Wild. A website directory listing 150 purveyors of wild food, herbs and craft material from B.C. forests showcases the non-logging side of our forests. (See www.buybcwild.com)

"What we're trying to promote are the people who access the resources in our communities and provide local products," says Caine. While Vancouver Island's timberlands are mainly private, in the rest of the province, about 70 per cent is Crown land, she says.

"One of the really important things to the centre, as the sector emerges are policies regarding sustainability and guidelines on how to forage and we'd like to see money go back into the communities," she says.

Currently, the best source of information on where and how to forage is district forest offices. "You need to contact them to let them know of your intentions. People also have to be aware of first nations cultural use of medicinal plants. A harvesting area might have been used for centuries and they have cultural and heritage rights to that area."

On Vancouver Island, she says, "everybody knows how wonderful and nutritional our native plants are. Our blueberries are amazingly nutritious with phytonutrients."

One of the centre's seminal events was a 2005 international symposium called Shop the Wild. "It was humongous," says Caine. "Researchers from around the world came and there were products from forests around the world."

Caine has a weak spot for wild berry jams. "Thimbleberry jam. Rose petal jam. I buy them already prepared. And on the weekend before Thanksgiving, you can find high bush cranberries at higher altitudes. It makes the most amazing jelly."

She invites the public to the third annual Buy B.C. Wild Festival, held at Royal Roads University on 4 and 5 October of this year with more than 50 exhibitors and vendors.

For full story, please see: www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/arts/story.html?id=e29fc2f6-c90d-4994-a7dc-dc1908be245a

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21. Colombia's Cofan still fighting for survival

Source: Traditional Knowledge Bulletin, 22 July 2008

Bogota, Colombia -- Although he is only 21, Camilo Yoge has seen his indigenous tribe lose its culture, territory and traditions. Yoge, a member of the Cofan tribe, has seen farmers, ranchers and oilmen invade his ancestral lands to plant illegal coca crops, raise cattle and search for oil. He has seen many young Cofan take to wearing Western-style clothes, listening to popular music and abandoning their native language for Spanish. "We're losing out traditional dress, our environment," lamented Yoge, who is studying to become a taita, or shaman. "We are no longer free in our own territory."

To help the Cofan, who number only about 2,600 people between Colombia and Ecuador, preserve their traditions, the Colombian government last month created the Orito Ingi-Ande Medicinal Plants Sanctuary to protect the plants the Cofan depend on for medicinal and spiritual purposes. Officials in Colombia say the reserve is the only national park in the world created for that reason.

"Sustainable use will permit us to preserve the natural resources," said National Parks Director Julia Miranda Londoño.

The idea for the reserve came after Cofan leaders met in 2003 with the national organization of indigenous shaman to search for an unpopulated region they could use to preserve their medicinal plants. They took the proposal to national park authorities, who spent several years mapping out a 25,000-acre reserve.

The Orito Ingi-Ande Medicinal Plants Sanctuary, whose name means "our territory" in the Cofan language, ranges in elevation from 2,300 feet to nearly 10,000 feet above sea level in the southwestern departments of Nariño and Putumayo - about a two-hour drive from Cofan territory, where much of the vegetation has been destroyed by farmers, ranchers and oilmen.

With few options available for earning money, park officials say many Cofan have resorted to harvesting coca leaf, the base ingredient for cocaine, further eroding their traditions. Even traditional palm fronds, which are now hard to find, have been replaced by tin when building roofs for their homes.

"We live from nature, that's where our energy comes from," said Louis Octavio Criollo, 39, a Cofan who is also training to become a taita. "But when (the forest) is cut down, all of that is lost."

Aside from spiritual value, the new park's elevation range has abundant biodiversity, parks officials say, including about 400 bird varieties, numerous reptiles, and such rare species as chameleons, jaguars and Andean spectacled bears. Cofan elders have also identified nearly 100 plant species used for medicinal and religious purposes.

Two of the most important plants are yoco (Paullinia yoco), a vine used against fatigue and as a laxative and to prevent malaria, and yagé, a mildly hallucinogenic vine used in traditional rites, which has become popular with outsiders who often harvest the plant for sale. Other plants are used to treat inflammations, kidney ailments and rheumatism.

Indigenous Colombians, who belong to dozens of different ethnic groups, make up about 2 percent of the nation's population of 45 million. Like the Cofan, many have suffered the impact of disease, deforestation, and violence from the nation's more than 4-decade-old civil war.

Lilliana Madrigal, vice president of programs for the Amazon Conservation Team, based in Virginia, which helped plan the new park, predicts that the reserve will inspire the creation of protected areas in other nations. In fact, Colombian park officials say they are already planning to convert a 2.9-million-acre indigenous reserve into a national park to protect areas important to the creation myths of several indigenous groups living there. Luciano Mutumbajoy, a member of the nearby Inga indigenous people and a leader of Colombia's traditional medical practitioners, helped create the yet-to-be named park. "If our medicine is finished, the life and existence of the indigenous people will end," he said.

For full story, please see: www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/07/08/MNUK11GCV8.DTL

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22. Costa Rica: Científicos "domestican" hongos silvestres en Costa Rica

Source: Univisión, USA, 5 August 2008

Científicos costarricenses trabajan en la "domesticación" de varias especies de hongos silvestres comestibles, para que puedan ser producidos comercialmente y se aproveche su potencial alimenticio y medicinal.

El proyecto está a cargo de un grupo de biólogos del Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio), una entidad privada sin fines de lucro que se dedica al estudio de las especies vegetales y animales de Costa Rica y que promueve su uso sostenible.

Los investigadores han estudiado parte de las 125 especies de hongos silvestres clasificadas en el país y hasta el momento han identificado cuatro con un importante potencial de domesticación.

Milagro Mata, directora de la Unidad de Hongos del INBio, explicó que se trata de las variedades conocidas científicamente como "Pycnoporus sanguineus", "Ganoderma australe", "Lectinum monticola" y "Lentinula aciculospora".

Dos de las especies son setas y otras dos "orejas de palo", como se conocen popularmente, las cuales reúnen particulares beneficios alimenticios, como un alto porcentaje de proteína, fibra y aminoácidos entre sus componentes.

Tras la identificación de estas especies, el INBio concentrará ahora sus esfuerzos en la construcción de un laboratorio para la reproducción experimental de los hongos, a fin de establecer los métodos más apropiados para su producción comercial, dijo Mata.

La investigación forma parte de un proyecto financiado por la entidad internacional Fundecooperación, en el cual participan también Bután (Asia) y Benin (Africa), el cual está dotado con un presupuesto de un millón de dólares.

Según Mata, el consumo de hongos ha crecido aceleradamente en el mundo en los últimos años y Costa Rica podría sacar provecho económico de su potencial.

El INBio espera poder capacitar y eventualmente financiar el inicio de operaciones a agricultores que quieran explotar comercialmente este producto, explicó la bióloga.

For full story, please see: www.univision.com/contentroot/wirefeeds/noticias/7559155.html

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23. Costa Rica: Non-profit organization El Puente/The Bridge

From: Barry Stevens, barrystevens@earthlink.net

I'm co-founder of a non-profit human services organization in the Costa Rican rainforest. We're working with indigenous Bribri here. The Bridge provides educational assistance, food assistance, and microloans mainly to indigenous people in the southeastern part of Costa Rica. Our goal is to help people help themselves to self- sufficiency.

If we've done anything unique, it's learning that five services, each necessary to assisting people living in extreme poverty, must be delivered simultaneously to have solid chances of success. The approach is summarized at www.elpuente-thebridge.org/page35.html

Along the way, we've run into a local curandero with a passion for applying his knowledge of medicinal plants, and for preservation of his culture. We're already in the planning stages of a workshop, in which the curandero will work with MDs and other medical personnel to share this vital knowledge from the rainforest.

We've also learned about Guadua bamboo, which is more efficient that "normal plants" at carbon sequestration and oxygen production, can create revenue for the indigenous by selling it as food, furniture, and ultimately as construction material - and collect revenue from the international community as "carbon credits".

For more information, please contact:

Barry Stevens

Co-Founder, El Puente - The Bridge

http://www.elpuente-thebridge.org

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24. Ghana: Local shea butter industry to be enhanced

Source: Modern Ghana, Ghana, 16 August 2008

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with Africa 2000 Network on Friday held a stakeholders' workshop to empower rural women in northern Ghana to boost the local shea butter industry. The project beneficiaries would be trained under the Local Level Integrated Information System (LIIS), a component of the Sustainable Rural Livelihoods Project (SRLP) of the UNDP.

Mr Shigeki Komatsubara, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Ghana, said LIIS was the model for providing information services to local shea butter producers. “Information services are critical especially for communities which are taking control of their own development using an assets-based approach to achieve sustainable livelihoods.”

Mr Komatsubara said the LIIS was a framework that aimed at addressing development information, knowledge access and communication needs within the context of efforts towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the community level. He said Ghana's LIIS model also considered the development of an information exchange platform using the Development Information Portal. “The portal is expected to provide a one-stop shop for obtaining development information packaged to enhance rural development implementation of Community Action Plans (CAPs).”

Mrs Christy Ahenkora-Banya, head of SRLP unit UNDP, Ghana, said the project would identify the marketable quality of shea butter and set up the ideal production environment for local women's producer groups. It would explore new markets for shea butter sales promotion, provide business management skills for local women's producer groups and transmit production skills among local women processors in a coordinated way.

Mrs Ahenkora-Banya said the ultimate outcome was to empower women and alleviate their acute poverty in northern Ghana through enhancing the viability of the local shea butter industry as sustainable business.

The Africa 2000 Network, the implementing partner, would be responsible for the transmission of skills and knowledge in shea butter production among local processors when the project is rolled out.

For full story, please see: www.modernghana.com/news/179061/1/local-shea-butter-industry-to-be-enhanced.html

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25. Ghana: Bushmeat hunting worth $350 million annually in Ghana

Source: Ghana Dot, Ghana, 1 August 2008

Kumasi. The annual volume of bushmeat harvested in Ghana is estimated at 384,992 tons valued at $350 million as against the total annual consumption also estimated at 225,287 tons and valued at $205 million, authorities said.

Nana Kofi Adu-Nsiah, Executive Director of the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission, announced this at the launch of 2008 Close Season on hunting in Kumasi on Friday. He noted that bushmeat is also a trade item that contributes significantly to household incomes and the economy through income generation and protein production.

Nana Adu-Nsiah noted that under legislative provisions, hunters are required to obtain and pay for a license to hunt during the designated hunting season, adding that group hunting is outlawed and that different species are given varying degrees of legal protection through their inclusion in appropriate legislative schedules.

He said the Wildlife Division was responsible for licensing and enforcing regulations throughout the country and that bushmeat traders were required to operate under the license issued by District Assemblies.

The Executive Director stated that the Wildlife Conservation Regulations L. I. 685 required that during the four months of August 1 to December 1 each year; there should be no hunting of wild animals with the exception of the grass cutter.

He said non-observance of the Close Season would undermine the sustainability and eventual existence of wild animals thereby depriving Ghanaians of a valuable resource for development.

He asked the public not to patronize the sale of bushmeat, dead, alive or smoked except for grasscutters so that hunters would find it uneconomical to hunt those animals during the close season.

Nana Adu-Nsiah appealed to the Police and traditional rulers to arrest offenders by notifying the nearest Wildlife Division and other Forestry Commission Offices.

For full story, please see: www.ghanadot.com/news.gnadot.080108c.html

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26. India: KFD neglecting its duty towards tribals of Western Ghats

Source: SahilOnline, India, 27 July 2008

Sirsi: Non-timber forest produce (NTFP) earlier called Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is the source of income for many families, particularly the tribal people, in the villages of Western Ghat districts.

But thanks to the negligence of the Karnataka Forest Department (KFD), NTFP has been losing its importance. KFD has lacked interest in rejuvenation, caring of these plants and produce, creating awareness among the tribal, their training or motivation, monitoring the extraction of NTFP and the like programmes.

According to sources in the Department Canara Forest Circle, just with five forest divisions, there is a potentiality of getting an annual income of Rs two to three crore from about 30-35 NTFP species. In Canara Circle, about 3000 families depend on NFFP. They get around 33 percent of the total value of the NTFP in a year, according to a survey done by the Department a couple of years ago.

The NTFP in Canara Circle include Uppage (Gracinia gummigatta), Murugulu (Garcinia indica), Cane, (Clalmus thwaitesi), Dalchinni leaves (Cinnamoum), Sheegekai (Acasia coninna), harda (Analekai), Halmaddi (Ailanthus triphysa), Honey and wax, beedi leaves, Surige (Mammea suriga), Rampatre (Myristica malabarica), Shame Bidiru (Oxytethera stocki), Laavancha (Vativenia zizaniodes), resin and the like.

Environmentalist and spokesperson of Life Trust in Sirsi Narasimha Hegde felt that the KFD should take it seriously. It must empower the village forest committees (VFC) to enlighten the NTFP collector families about various issues including value addition of the products, protection of species and so on. He opined that even the Stree Shakti groups might also be involved in the process. When his attention was drawn to the problems in NTFP collection the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Sirsi Division, Vijaymohanraj told this paper that the DFD was ready to associate the awareness among the villagers and in protecting the concerned species.

For full story, please see: www.sahilonline.net/english/news.php?catID=coastalnews&nid=2890&viewed=0

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27. Philippines: NegOcc farmers urged to go into cocoon production

Source: Sun.Star, Philippines, 25 July 2008

WHILE sugarcane workers in Negros Occidental may dread the start of the off milling season, another sector is actually in need of more workers to boost the industry.

Thelma Watanabe, overall training coordinator of the Organization for Industrial, spiritual & Cultural Advancement (Oisca)-Bago Training Center (OBTC), said there is a need to encourage more farmers to go into cocoon production to meet the steadily increasing demand for silk not only locally but internationally as well. "The fact that Negros silk is of very high quality makes this industry a very promising one for farmers not only in the island of Negros but also in the neighbouring provinces and the entire archipelago," she added.

Watanabe and husband Shigemi, director of the OBTC, played host to the first visit of Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura last Tuesday to the silkworm product and silk reeling center, housed at the sprawling 26-hectare OBTC, which was constructed in 2004 and inaugurated March 2005 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Watanabe said that since the start of the Oisca sericulture project in 1989 with approximately two hectares of mulberry plantation in the town of Murcia, the Oisca Negros silk industry has come a long way.

"From a handful of 50 farmers cultivating an area of about 20 hectares mulberry plantation, the number has increased to about 260 farmers now actively engaged in quality cocoon production in an area of not less than 170 hectares fully planted to mulberry trees," she said.

The initial experimental cocoon production from 1993-1996 in Murcia yielded very good results upon random testing at the Cocoon Testing Center in Japan. This paved the way for promoting the project to more farmers in nearby municipalities and the eventual establishment of a silk reeling plant at the Oisca Compound in Bago City, which has a capacity to process a hundred tons of fresh cocoons per year.

Watanabe said Oisca silk has been enjoying excellent market value. "Oisca's actual production now of three tons silk yarn from approximately 30 tons of fresh cocoons per year is not even enough to supply the local market."

"Silk has always enjoyed excellent market value. Today, people hear of Philippine silk and the prospect of job generation it can bring to the Filipinos: from the cocoon-producing farmers to the silk reeling workers, the weavers, dyers, embroiderers, handy craft makers, and the garments manufacturers," she stressed.

"Oisca International has always been concerned of how to help marginal farmers in rural areas uplift their quality of life. Thus, the idea of starting an Oisca silkworm rearing project for silk yarn production in Negros Occidental was conceptualized," said Watanabe.

The project's progress, she added, is partly due to the assistance given by government and non-government agencies concerned in the industry.

For full story, please see: www.sunstar.com.ph/static/bac/2008/07/25/bus/negocc.farmers.urged.to.go.into.cocoon.production.html

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28. Saudia Arabia: Kingdom to develop biodiversity strategy

Source: Arab News, Saudi Arabia, 19 August 2008

JEDDAH: The Council of Ministers yesterday decided to develop a national strategy for preserving biological diversity involving the protection of all kinds of species, natural locations, hereditary resources and training manpower for its development. The existing National Committee for Biodiversity should develop the strategy, Culture and Information Minister Iyad Madani said in a statement to the Saudi Press Agency after the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, who chaired the council meeting at the Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah, said that the national committee should also prepare a database on the Kingdom’s biodiversity and classify all known types of environments, their geographical locations, their history and changes that they have undergone or that may take place. The Council of Ministers ordered the National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development to set up a National Committee for the Program of Man and the Biosphere to undertake the preservation of biodiversity including identifying the locations for establishing biosphere reserves.

For full story, please see: www.arabnews.com/?page=1&section=0&article=113030&d=19&m=8&y=2008

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29. Senegal: Le karité, l’or des femmes

Source : Sud Quotidien, Senegal, 16 juillet 2008

Beurre aux nombreuses vertus, surnommé « l’or des femmes », le karité est un secret de beauté que les femmes africaines se transmettent depuis des millénaires. Aujourd’hui avec le développement du commerce équitable et du bio il est devenu la nouvelle coqueluche de l’industrie cosmétique.

Grand héritage de l’Afrique, l’arbre à karité pousse à l’état sauvage essentiellement dans les régions boisées d’Afrique de l’Ouest et Centrale. Sa longévité qui peut atteindre 300 ans et sa taille de plus de 15 mètres en font un arbre majestueusement prolifique.

La fabrication artisanale du beurre de karité est une affaire de femmes avant tout, elles se regroupent pour les récoltes de la mi-juin à la mi-septembre. A savoir que pour obtenir 20kg de beurre de karité, il faut récolter 100kg d’amandes. De cette récolte naît un échange commercial entre les femmes des groupements et certaines marques de cosmétiques.

Chaque opération est réalisée avec soin en respectant la qualité et la nature du produit, de ce fait chaque principe actif reste intact. On prend l’amande qui se trouve à l’intérieur de la noix que l’on fait sécher, concasser, torréfier et enfin moudre. La poudre est ensuite pilée et l’on obtient alors une pâte que l’on mélange à de l’eau bouillante. Il en ressort à la surface toute l’huile et les impuretés sont déposées au fond de la cuve. On retire cette huile que l’on fait cuire, une fois solidifiée elle deviendra le fameux beurre de karité que l’on vénère tant.

Ses vertus & bienfaits : Adulé pour ses vertus protectrices et adoucissantes, le beurre de karité est le remède à toute peau en mal d’hydratation et de luminosité. Les cosmétiques l’ont bien compris en le déclinant à la perfection en crèmes pour le corps, shampoing, baume pour les lèvres, etc. …

Bien qu’il soit utilisé pour la peau, les cheveux ou dans l’alimentation en tant que substitut du beurre de cacao, le karité n’en reste pas moins un produit 100% végétal, naturel et bio. Avec l’engouement du commerce équitable, il est en passe de devenir le produit de soin incontournable à avoir dans sa salle de bain. Utilisé à tout âge, il demeure le meilleur allié des peaux sèches pour ses vertus hautement hydratantes et régénérantes. Adieu, les sensations de tiraillement pendant les frimas car il procure confort et bien-être et laisse une peau douce et satinée.

Fort de ses vitamines A (anti-âge et anti-inflammatoire), D (calmante), E (anti-oxydante et nutritive) et F (hydratante), le karité renferme de nombreuses propriétés qui apportent souplesse et élasticité à la peau : adoucissantes et protectrices notamment pour les cheveux, anti- desséchantes et hydratantes en prévention de la sécheresse cutanée, réparatrices et cicatrisantes, il favorise le renouvellement cellulaire, enfin apaisantes, en cas d’allergies telles que les rhumes de foin.

For full story, please see: www.sudonline.sn/spip.php?article12511

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30. South Africa: African medicine under the spotlight

Source: Independent Online, South Africa, 8 August 2008

South Africa's biodiversity and indigenous knowledge is being highlighted at the inaugural Indigenous Knowledge Systems Expo at the Transvaal Museum. Delegates were told on Thursday of the value of these systems and what the government is doing to protect them.

Organised by the Department of Science and Technology in collaboration with national government departments as key stakeholders, the expo runs until Saturday and has as its motto: "Indigenous ways of knowing, works".

Department spokesperson Mava Scot emphasised the importance of indigenous knowledge. "This knowledge is valuable not only to those who depend on it in their daily lives, but to modern industries as well. Many widely used products such as plant-based medicines and cosmetics are derived from knowledge systems of South Africa's indigenous communities.

"This makes South Africa an attractive venture for companies seeking novel compounds for application in the medical, agricultural, horticultural or environmental fields," he said.

Dr Maureen Wolfson of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi) addressed the workshop on "the contribution of indigenous knowledge to bioprospecting of indigenous biological resources". Her presentation examined indigenous knowledge in plant use for medicinal purposes.

The importance of biodiversity as well as its financial value were other aspects contained in her presentation. Wolfson said about 80 percent of South Africans consulted about 200 000 traditional healers and about 700 plant species were traded a year.

Delegates were told indigenous knowledge systems could make a significant contribution to sustainable development.

For full story, please see: www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=139&art_id=vn20080808060902459C682919

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31. Suriname: an innovative conservation group is working with indigenous tribes

Source: Mongabay.com, USA, 28 July 2008

Deep in the Suriname rainforest, an innovative conservation group is working with indigenous tribes to protect their forest home and culture using traditional knowledge combined with cutting-edge technology.

The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) is partnering with the Trio, an Amerindian group that lives in the remote Suriname-Brazil border area of South America, to develop programs to protect their forest home from illegal gold miners and encroachment, improve village health, and strengthen cultural ties between indigenous youths and elders at a time when such cultures are disappearing even faster than rainforests.

ACT is providing the Trio with equipment and training so that "indigenous park guards" can map — and thereby someday gain title — to their lands. The Trio use GPS units to document geographic features as well as the location of hunting grounds, places of spiritual significance, and sites rich with medicinal plants and other important resources. Key to the process is bridging the generational gap between indigenous elders and youths: the shamans provide the younger rangers with the historical and cultural information needed to add critical details to the maps. In addition to mapping, the indigenous park guards patrol forest areas for illegal activities, including mining and collection of wildlife for the pet trade.

ACT is also promoting the transfer of ethnobotanical knowledge to Trio children through the "Shaman's Apprentice Program" where school kids learn the traditional uses of medicinal plants. The program is combined with an indigenous health clinic which operates next to a conventional health clinic. Both offer free services for villagers.

A critical part of these programs are village shaman, medicine men and women who serve as custodians of the immense biological knowledge of a people who have survived in the Amazon rainforest for generations. No one understands the secrets of these plants better than these indigenous shamans, but like the forests themselves, this floral genius is fast-disappearing due to deforestation and profound cultural transformation among younger generations. The combined loss of this knowledge and these forests irreplaceably impoverishes the world of cultural and biological diversity.

In June 2008 mongabay.com visited the community of Kwamalasamutu in Suriname to see ACT's programs in action. During the visit, Amasina, a Trio shaman who works with ACT, answered some questions about his role as a traditional healer in the village. He also unexpectedly noted strange happenings with climate, suggesting that either climate change or regional deforestation is noticeably affecting local conditions.

For full story, including the interview with the Trio Shaman, please see: http://news.mongabay.com/2008/0728-act_amasina_interview.html

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32. Uganda: Honey production to increase

Source: New Vision, Uganda, 29 July 2008

THE Bunyangabu Bee-Keepers Community is to transform the subsistence production of honey in Kabarole, Kasese and Bundibugyo to commercial. Under the three-year programme, 500 bee-keepers on the slopes of Rwenzori Mountains will benefit from the project. “We shall train and give them equipment that will enable them produce large volumes of honey,” said Eryeza Magezi, the head of the organisation. During an interview with The New Vision last week, he said they had secured market for bee products abroad.

The project coordinator, Smplisio Masereka, said his group produces 10,000kg annually. A kilogramme of honey goes for sh3,000 on the local market.

For full story, please see: www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/18/641698

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33. United States: Tribes object to fighting fire in sacred places

Source: kgw.com, Portland, USA, 8/12/2008 (Jeff Barnard, Associated Press)

Indian tribes from the Klamath River canyon are worried that the U.S. Forest Service is violating some of their sacred lands by fighting a remote wilderness wildfire rather than leaving it to burn naturally.

The Siskiyou and Blue 2 fires have been burning for weeks at low intensity in the Siskiyou Wilderness on the Six Rivers National Forest in the Siskiyou Mountains between the Klamath River and the Oregon border.

With so many fires in the area, it took weeks for the Forest Service to send its first crew, and they adopted a strategy of burning out a perimeter around the fires to prevent them from spreading as the weather gets hotter, drier and windier.

Under protocols established years ago, the tribes have been meeting with the Forest Service over the management of the fires, and Six Rivers National Forest Supervisor Tyrone Kelley said they are being sensitive to their concerns.

But though the fires are far from any homes, leaving them to burn without a strong perimeter around them is not an option, given the nearby timber resources and expectations that the fire conditions will get worse, he said. He added that because the fires are in a wilderness area, fire lines are built by hand, not with bulldozers.

The area is home to many prayer seats or vision quest sites shared by the three tribes, where tribal members have fasted, prayed and sought spiritual guidance for thousands of years. The area is also used to gather grasses for baskets and Port Orford cedar for ceremonial buildings, such as sweat lodges.

In the 1980s, the tribes fought a Forest Service proposal to build a logging road through the area up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the tribes lost, Peters said. Later, the logging project was killed by designation of the area as a wilderness.

For untold centuries, native people have set fires to manage natural resources, such as the oaks that produce acorns, a major traditional food source, and grasses used to weave baskets, Peters said.

But the tribes are worried that the fires set by the Forest Service burn at higher intensity, destroying fisheries habitat and other resources, and using instruments such as drip torches violates the spirituality of the place, said Bill Tripp, eco-cultural restoration specialist for the Karuk tribe.

For full story, please see: www.kgw.com/sharedcontent/APStories/stories/D92H24HG1.html

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34. Vietnam: Animals released to wild to boost ecotourism

Source: VietNamNet Bridge, Vietnam, 29 July 2008

An ecotourism company from Ho Chi Minh City has released animals including deer, wild boars, tortoises, pythons and snakes, porcupines and species of bird into natural forest in the central highlands. The company says the animals were released into 50ha of forest in the Mang Den national ecotourism area in Kon Tum Province to help conserve wildlife and attract tourists to the ecotourism area.

Deputy Director of the ecotourism-based Sai Gon-Mang Den joint stock company, Lam Ba Khai, said this is the second time his company bought wild animals from nearby localities and released them into natural forests. The company is also investing 40 million VND to provide supplementary food for the animals.

Khai said all animals were quarantined and checked for reproductive ability and acclimatised in natural surrounds before being released to freedom.

For full story, please see: http://english.vietnamnet.vn/tech/2008/07/796055/

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35. Vietnam illegal wildlife trade eats away at biodiversity: reports

Source: AFP, 3 August 2008

HANOI (AFP) — Vietnam's appetite for illegal wildlife meat and demand for traditional medicine is devastating animal and plant species within and beyond its borders, experts warn in two new reports.

Vietnam has been one of Southeast Asia's most biodiverse countries, but some species may be lost before they are known to science due to an illegal global trade believed to be trailing only drugs and gunrunning.

Two new reports spell out that, despite Vietnam's international commitments to combat the trade, the smuggling of tigers, monkeys, snakes, pangolins and other animals to and through Vietnam is booming.

"Vietnam's illegal trade in wildlife continues unabated and affects neighbouring countries," wrote Nguyen Van Song of the Hanoi Agricultural University in the Journal of Environment and Development. "Wildlife in Vietnam has become very scarce."

The study estimated that up to 4,000 tonnes of live animals or meat, skins, ground bones and other illegal products are trafficked into and out of Vietnam per year, generating more than $67 million in revenues.

Species are mostly sourced from Vietnam's national parks and neighbouring Laos and Cambodia, to be consumed in Vietnam, China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, according to the study based on hundreds of interviews.

The largest volume of illegal wildlife goods is smuggled across the Vietnam-China border, with an estimated 2,500 to 3,500 kg (5,500 to 7,700 pounds) flowing daily through the two major border gates, it said.

There have been high-profile crackdowns. In a case last week, Vietnamese police seized more than two tonnes of live snakes and 770 kg of tortoises from Laos en route to China.

But the report estimated that the total value of confiscated wildlife accounts for only 3percent of the illegal trade, and that authorities are at a disadvantage when a forest ranger polices an average of 1,400 hectares (3,500 acres) of forest at a monthly wage of about $50.

The capital Hanoi is Vietnam's largest market for illegal wildlife meat, with revenues of over $12,000/day, the report said. The most popular species served in Hanoi were snakes, palm civets, monitor lizards, porcupines, leopards, pangolins, monkeys, forest pigs, hardshell turtles, soft-shell turtles, civets, boas and birds.

The other market fuelling the trade is traditional Vietnamese and Chinese medicine, said a report by the wildlife monitoring network TRAFFIC. Surveys found that "many high-profile animals of global conservation concern (such as tigers, bears or rhinos) can still be bought on the market, provided prior notice is given and that the price negotiated is high enough."

Informants had told TRAFFIC that live tiger cubs, tiger skeletons, raw materials and processed medicinal products were brought from Cambodia, Laos and as far as Malaysia to supply the Vietnamese market.

Traders in Ninh Hiep commune near Hanoi had offered to supply investigators with "any type of medicinal animal if ordered sufficiently in advance" -- including a frozen tiger, rhino horn and wild bear gall bladder.

The shop-owners who offered the illicit goods, the TRAFFIC report found, were "well organised, each claiming that they were shielded from investigations through protection by enforcement personnel."

For full story, please see: http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5iJ-ADoBrECuVvzEzXSr-vDbkb9IA

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NEWS

36. A Brazilian's shrine to bromeliads may one day save the plants

Source: Amazon News, 14 August 2008

Teresópolis, Brazil - Elton Leme's garden is to bromeliads what St. Andrews is to golf or what Cooperstown is to baseball: a living shrine. There are plants in the soil, plants peeping from between rocks, plants hanging from the roof of Mr. Leme's home-built hothouse. There are even plants planted on plants.

He has discovered more than 300 species of bromeliad, the largest family of flowering plants endemic to the Western Hemisphere – including pineapple. No man alive has discovered as many.

Now, with flora disappearing at an increasing rate, he is rushing to find and catalogue as many new species as he can and then give them to botanists all over the world as an insurance policy against future destruction. "Today we don't just talk about extinction of species but of ecosystems," Leme says from his garden high in the hills above Rio de Janeiro. "It's a race against time to discover species before they are lost forever."

Leme plans to share the 2,000-odd plants he has gathered during his 35-year career with botanists and other bromeliad buffs. He has already given duplicate flowers to research institutes and botanical gardens and he aims to grow more so his legacy will outlive him. "I am preserving nature," he says. "If there's a forest fire, say, and land is destroyed, then the species that are there won't become extinct. We can repopulate using what I have."

"All this is public heritage," he says, gesturing to the greenery that surrounds him. "The more I give away, the better it is for conservation."

Leme has the advantage of living in Brazil, a continent-sized nation that is home to an estimated 2,000 of the world's 3,000 known species of bromeliad. Much of his free time is devoted to searching for new species. He once found 18 new species in five days on a granite rock formation and he has even discovered new species in books, erroneously labelled as existing ones. Just by looking at pictures and cross-referencing the botanists, the discovery date, the ecosystem where it was found, he has a good idea of whether a plant is new. Once he saw a photograph and spotted a bromeliad sitting quietly in the foreground. He didn't recognize it and immediately suspected it was a new species. A few weeks later he was leading an expedition to find it.

That hunger to find new species is becoming increasingly important given the environmental destruction in Brazil. In the Atlantic Forest, a diverse stretch of Brazil's wooded coastline that forms a natural habitat for many bromeliads, the devastation is acute – only 7 percent of the original forest survives. The new big threat is an agricultural push into fertile inland areas coveted by sugar-cane, soybean, and beef producers.

In the midst of this destruction, Leme's collection is a veritable oasis. He believes it is the most varied collection of Brazilian bromeliads in the world, and specialists agree, coming from far and wide to visit.

Right now he is digging the garden, a deceptive term for what involves replacing the current bed of soil with six tons of earth, phosphates, coconut fibers, pine cones and other elements. It will take months of hard work and $4,000 of his own money. Not that he is complaining. A look around his garden provides enough value for the money.

For full story, please see: www.amazonia.org.br/english/noticias/noticia.cfm?id=281003

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37. Bugs lead drug-hunters to medicinal treasure

Source: New Scientist, UK, 12 August 2008

If you're looking for medicinal plants in the jungle, then let the insects guide you. A study has shown for the first time that brightly-coloured bugs like to sit on medicinally-active plants.

Todd Capson, an entomologist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, hopes the findings will accelerate drug discovery efforts and improve measures to safeguard rainforests.

Bioprospectors searching for medicinally-active plants in a rainforest face a problem of needle-in-haystack proportions. Plants do not advertise the fact that they contain potential medicines. The insects that feed on them, on the other hand, do. Insects ingest bio-active chemicals from the plants and advertise the fact that this makes them poisonous to predators with their flashy colours.

Plants which look like many others may nevertheless contain active chemicals that can be used to fight parasites, viruses and even cancer. Artemisinin, for instance, is a powerful anti-malarial drug extracted from a Chinese plant, while vincristine, based on a compound extracted from rosy periwinkle, is used to treat leukaemia.

A popular way of finding new drugs based on natural compounds is to study the plants used in traditional medicines. Capson and colleagues thought that there might be a way of accelerating the search, by also looking for plants that seem to be valued by non-human species.

Many tropical insects carry toxins to protect themselves from predators. In fact, in the early days of drug discovery, researchers tried collecting insects in order to extract their active compounds. "Good luck collecting 100 kg of insects," says Capson.

However, the insects often do not synthesise the toxins themselves. Instead, many eat toxic plants and concentrating the poisons. As a result, the search for new drugs inspired by natural compounds now focuses on plants rather than insects.

Conveniently, many insects signal that they are poisonous to predators with flashy colours – often bold reds and yellows.

"If you're poisonous, it's to your advantage to advertise that to your predators," says Capson. But to him, the bright colours tell an entirely different tale. "What it's telling us is: 'You should go ahead and sample the plant I'm eating to search for pharmaceutical compounds'," he says.

Capson's team decided to test their theory in the forests of Panama. They chose 10 plants which they knew contained medicinal compounds, and 10 non-medicinal plants which looked very similar to them. In four national parks, they searched for the plants in their natural environment and recorded the number of bright insects on their leaves as they went.

The team regularly found brightly-coloured bugs on nine of the 10 active plants, but on just four of the 10 inactive plants. On average, each poisonous plant had 1.9 bright bugs on its leaves, while innocuous plants had just 0.5. "This is the first time that anyone has proven that brightly-coloured insects associate with active plants more than they do with inactive plants," says Capson.

Using brightly-coloured insects as flags does not mean that every plant scientists collected would contain a new medicine. Once a potentially medicinal plant has been identified, it can take many years to extract the active compound and turn it into a useful drug. Nevertheless, it could focus pharmaceutical searches.

"One could go into the field and scan wild insect populations," says team-member Julie Helson of the University of Toronto Scarborough, Ontario, Canada. "This would still be labour-intensive, but would hopefully increase your hit rate in comparison to randomly collecting plants."

For Capson, there is another advantage to the method – that of saving the insect sentinels from extinction.

Capson himself is not planning on testing his method further by collecting unknown plants that have bright bugs on them and testing their toxicity. That, he says, is what he hopes his colleagues who are searching for new drugs will do. The relay baton is ready to be passed.

Journal reference: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, DOI: 10.1890/070189

For full story, please see: www.newscientist.com/article/dn14521-bugs-lead-drughunters-to-medicinal-treasure.html?DCMP=ILC-hmts&nsref=env1_head_Bugs%20lead%20drug-hunters%20to%20medicinal%20treasure

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38. Congo Basin passes 1 million ha milestone in swing to sustainable forestry

Source: ENN News, 4 August 2008

Yaoundé, Cameroon - WWF today announced that more than one million hectares of Congo Basin forests have achieved certification under the world’s leading sustainable forestry scheme.

The world’s second largest block of rainforests, the Congo Basin is a haven for indigenous peoples and endangered species like elephants and gorillas. It is also important in sequestering carbon and safeguarding water supply and quality. "With rampant illegal logging, vague logging concession boundaries and massive blocks of pristine forest destined for the chainsaw, this is a laudable step towards avoiding an ecological disaster," says James P. Leape, Director General of WWF.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification has now been achieved for forestry operations on 1.2 million hectares, a significant step towards WWF’s Green Heart of Africa network initiative goal of having certification achieved for 50% of production forest in the Congo Basin. The certification involves logging companies SEFAC, Transformation Reef Cameroon (TRC) and WIJMA in Cameroon and CIB in the Republic of Congo.

"While the certified forests will have to be maintained according to acceptable international standards, there is urgent need for other timber business operations in the region to adopt responsible forest management practices in order to ensure the conservation of this unique forest ecosystem for the benefit of people in the region and the world," added Mr. Leape.

To promote responsible forest management and trade in the Congo Basin, WWF-CARPO has set up the Central Africa Forest and Trade Network (CAFTN), a part of WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) — which works to provide support, advice and guidance to logging companies to help them better understand how good logging practices can contribute to conservation of biodiversity, improve the livelihood of local communities and lead to a market advantage.

"Illegal forest exploitation and forest crimes are largely due to poor governance and insufficient law enforcement," said Laurent Somé, WWF Central Africa Regional Programme Office (CARPO)'s Representative. "WWF also recognizes that responsible forest management plays an important role in the economic growth of tropical countries and reducing poverty in forest communities.”WWF is convinced that the adoption of responsible forestry schemes by logging companies will contribute greatly to the conservation of the Congo Basin forests and towards improving the national economy and also improve the livelihoods of local communities," Mr Some said. "For the success of responsible forestry in the Congo basin, there is a high need for government to set up enabling conditions that include enacting adequate legislation and enforcement, and promoting good governance while providing support to responsible forestry initiatives."

By 2012, WWF expects that 7 million hectares of forest in the Congo Basin will be under credible certification while another 5 million hectares will be progressing towards credible certification.

For full story, please see: www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/37831

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39. Mountain centre launches traditional resources portal

Source: SciDev.Net Weekly Update (4-10 August 2008)

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) announces the launching of a web portal on ‘Access and Benefit Sharing from Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge. Accessible at http://www.icimod.org/abs/, the portal contains information about Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) mechanisms and processes being carried out as well as the development and implementation of ABS regimes in countries of the Himalayan region. The portal provides links related to the subject and aims to serve as a regional clearing house mechanism on ABS. Through this facility, ICIMOD hopes to encourage, enable, and support learning and foster multi-stakeholder discussions and sharing of the ongoing debates and dialogues at international, regional, and national levels on the subject.

In simple terms, access and benefit sharing means that one person or entity (the user) obtains biological or genetic resources and or knowledge from another person, entity, or country (the provider) in exchange for benefits. The CBD aims to achieve the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge by facilitating access through prior informed consent of the provider. Article 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) provides a framework for the implementation of ABS. All the countries in the Himalayan region are party to the Convention and are implementing ABS regimes.

Implementing the framework in practical and legal terms is complex and has raised concerns amongst stakeholders. The portal thus aims to raise awareness as well as provide a platform for sharing and discussing various options in dealing with ABS issues.

ICIMOD, a regional intergovernmental organisation based in Kathmandu, Nepal, recently launched the portal as part of a project to promote ABS in the eastern Himalayan countries. The Centre has been working with 13 partners in four Eastern Himalayan countries - Nepal, India, Bangladesh, and Bhutan – in seven project sites since 2005, to promote the ABS process. Plans are underway to expand the project’s coverage over the long term to the entire Himalayan region, which covers Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan – ICIMOD’s regional member countries.

Supported by the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the programme reaches out to marginalised groups from grassroots-based mountain women, Dalits, indigenous peoples (Janajatis and ethnic minorities), to policy and decision makers to raise awareness and build the capacity of local institutions and individuals belonging to these groups. The aim is to implement sustainable ABS regimes. Through this programme which is part of a broader Biodiversity Conservation and Management Programme, ICIMOD aims to develop the competence of partner organisations by supporting activities such as capacity building, documenting and evaluating traditional knowledge, assisting in developing regulatory instruments, and a variety of information sharing platforms. The capacity of stakeholders and partners in the government and NGOs is being enhanced who are imparting knowledge and skills related to ABS mechanism among the indigenous people and marginalized communities. Through this process, the ABS mechanism is gradually internalised among the communities as an opportunity for poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation.

The Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region, and more specifically the Eastern Himalayas, is one of 34 global biodiversity hotspots – a treasure house of genetic biodiversity and natural resources managed with rich base of traditional knowledge and skills. These resources provide the basis for building livelihoods for mountain communities.

ICIMOD believes that local communities and stakeholders can protect and manage their genetic resources and biological diversity. This will only be possible if the people who take care of the resources also get benefits from them and get full support from the local and national governments, civil society organisations and the international community.

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Krishna Prasad Oli

Regional Coordinator, ABS – EH

Biodiversity Conservation and Management

Environmental Change and Ecosystem Services, ICIMOD

Email: koli@icimod.org

For full story, please see: www.icimod.org/home/news/news.content.php?nid=87

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REQUESTS

40. Request for financing for NWFP in Canada

From: Ann Lévesque, al.credetao@videotron.ca

Est-ce qu'il y a des fonds disponibles pour des projets locaux? Je travaille pour un centre de recherche et de développement appliquée en Outaouais (CANADA) et nous travaillons beaucoup à valoriser les PFNL sur notre territoire. Nous sommes aussi sur le point de dévellopper un projet de regénération des bleuets sauvages en forêt et je suis à la recherche de financement. Nous sommes un OSBL. Pouvez-vous m'aider? Merci!

Cordialement,

Ann Lévesque

Adjointe scientifique

Centre de recherche et de développement

technologique agricole de l'Outaouais

188, rue Jeanne d'Arc, suite 200

Papineauville (Québec) J0V 1R0

(819) 427-5511 poste 460

(819) 427-9115 télécopieur

al.credetao@videotron.ca

www.agro-outaouais.com

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EVENTS

41. European Forest Institute Annual Conference. Focus on the adaptation of forest landscape to environmental changes

18-20 September 2008

Orvieto, Italy

This year, the scientific seminar of the EFI Annual Conference focuses on sharing knowledge on trees and forests for conservation, ecological restoration, energy and raw material sustainability. It will also seek answers on how to use forestry in managing environmental changes. The scientific seminar takes place on 19 September.

Over 130 participants have already registered to the EFI Annual Conference, which is also a decision-making forum of the EFI Associate and Affiliate Members. The local hosts of the event are IBAF, the Institute of agro-environmental and forest biology belonging to the Italian National Research Council (CNR) and the Italian Academy of Forest Sciences.

For more information, please contact:

Anu Ruusila

Communications Manager

European Forest Institute

Torikatu 34

FI-80100 Joensuu

tel. + 358 10 773 4315

fax. + 358 10 773 4377

skype: anu.ruusila

www.efi.int

www.efi.int/portal/news___events/events/extra/2008/efi_2008_annual_conference_and_scientific_seminar/

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42. European Forest Week

20-24 October 2008

The European Forest Week will be marked by events in Brussels, Rome and throughout Europe. The week highlights the contribution of European forests in mitigating the effects of climate change, providing wood and renewable energy, promoting fresh water supply and protecting the environment.

The European Forest Week, declared by ministers responsible for forests in 46 European countries, is jointly organized by the European Commission, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, in close collaboration with the Presidency of the Council of the European Union at the time of the event, France.

Rome events (21-24 October) will feature discussions on forests and climate change, energy, water and "working together for forests."

Brussels events include a high-profile EU Presidency event (20 October), programmes by other European stakeholders and the European Economic and Social Committee (23 October).

In-country activities held simultaneously in participating countries throughout the region will highlight means of fully utilizing the potential of European forests. If you wish to organize an activity during the European Forest Week under its logo, please register online: www.europeanforestweek.org

Detailed information about events taking place in Rome, Brussels and elsewhere will be updated regularly on the European Forest Week’s website: www.europeanforestweek.org.

For more information, write to efw@unece.org

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43. International Congress on Provoking Change: Strategies to promote forest users in the Amazon

Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

10-14 November 2008

The purpose of this International Congress is to create a platform for dialogue between scientists, politicians, development agencies and representatives from civil society to catalyse a process of reflection on the options and requirements of a broader operational framework for sustainable development based on the use, management and conservation of the forests of the Amazon region.

For more information, please contact:

Inka Montero, Congress Secretary

e-mail: inka.montero@waldbau.uni-freiburg.de.

www.waldbau.uni-freiburg.de/forlive/05_Events/sc.html

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44. IUFRO Conference on Gender and Forestry. Gender issues in natural resources management –perception and experiences in different parts of the world

16-19 November- 2008

DehraDun, India

On behalf of the IUFRO units Gender Research in Forestry and Education, and Gender and Forestry, the Forest Research Institute (FRI), Dehradun, India, will host this conference.

The conference will explore experiences with gender sensitivity and gender analysis in forest management and organisations in the forestry sector as well as challenges to the sustainable livelihoods of forest dwellers and users all over the world. Conference days are planned for November 17 and 18, followed by a field trip on November 19.

The conference invites papers and posters to explore the significance of these shifts on forest resources and its gendered environments. These include how forest users, national and international forestry departments and organizations respond to these changes and align themselves in different ways in an increasingly connected world. Challenges to sustainable livelihoods of forest dwellers, the politics of gender, class and ethnicity in forest communities and beyond are important themes that will be investigated at the conference. The programme will comprise key notes, paper and poster sessions and short workshops as well as a visit of the education and research institutions in Dehradun.

Please pre-register as soon as possible by simple e-mail to Ernst Kürsten, copy to Siegfried Lewark. Registration will be through the conference website open in August 2008, where you will also find information about cost for participation and accommodation.

Information about fees and transport as well as more details on the programme will come out in August 2008 on the conference website and directly by e-mail to those who have pre-registered.

The conference website will be updated regularly.

More information from the Organisation Committee, please contact:

Siegfried Lewark (siegfried.lewark@fobawi.uni-freiburg.de)

Ernst Kürsten (daad.fri@t-online.de)

Jeannette Gurung (jeannettegurung@wocan.org)

Gun Lidestav (Gun.Lidestav@srh.slu.se)

Seema Arora Johnson (Seema.Arora.Jonsson@sol.slu.se)

Punam (punam@hillagric.ernet.in)

Reiner Mühlsiegl (reiner.muehlsiegl@fobawi.uni-freiburg.de)

www.iufrogenderindia.info

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45. 9th National Conference on Science, Policy, and the Environment: Biodiversity in a Rapidly Changing World

8-10 December 2008

Washington, United States

Organisation: National Council for Science and the Environment

Since the biodiversity issue burst on the scene with the 1986 National Forum on Biodiversity, there has been a burgeoning of conservation efforts, organizations, research, education and related activities. Despite many successes, the overall situation is much more precarious today.

The driving forces of increased human population, consumption, habitat destruction and degradation, contaminants, and invasive species have been joined by dangerous global climate disruption, globalization, poverty, political instability and other rapid environmental and social changes. Paradoxically, the biodiversity issue has largely fallen off the public agenda, pushed in part by the increased attention to climate change.

There is an urgent need for scientists, conservationists and policymakers to re-examine the biodiversity issue. We must both look retrospectively at a quarter-century of “modern” conservation efforts – what has worked well and what hasn’t, but also prospectively at the greater challenges of the next quarter-century.

We need to look broadly at the many scientific discoveries and the many issues involving the use, abuse and conservation of biodiversity including cultivated as well as wild species and ecosystems. The NCSE conference will bring together some 1000 scientists, conservationists and policymakers to develop a strategy to guide a new US Administration and others working to conserve biodiversity around the world.

It will develop an approach for biodiversity management and conservation in a 21st century context, including:

• Strategies for Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainable Utilization;

• Scientific Needs for Understanding Biodiversity Values, Losses and Consequences; and

• Expanding Understanding: Information, Education and Communication.

Registration details will be available soon at: http://ncseonline.org/conference/biodiversity/

For more information, please contact:

Dr. David Blockstein, National Council for Science and the Environment, 1101 17th Street NW, Suite 250, Washington, DC 20036, USA

Tel: 202-530-5810.

Fax: 202-628-4311.

Email: david@NCSEonline.org.

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LITERATURE REVIEW

46. Other publications of interest

From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

Andersen, U.S., Córdova, J.P.P., Nielsen, U.B., Olsen, C.S., Nielsen, C., Sørensen, M., and Kollmann, J. 2008. Conservation through utilization: a case study of the Vulnerable Abies guatemalensis in Guatemala. Oryx 42(2):206-213

Bhagwat, S.A., Willis, K.J., Birks, H.J.B., and Whittaker, R.J. 2008. Agroforestry: a refuge for tropical biodiversity? Trends Ecol. Evol. 23(5):261-267

Brockerhoff, E.G., Jactel, H., Parrotta, J.A., Quine, C.P., and Sayer, J. 2008. Plantation forests and biodiversity: oxymoron or opportunity? Biodivers. Conserv. 17(5):925-951.

Buscardo, E., et al. 2008. The early effects of afforestation on biodiversity of grasslands in Ireland. Biodivers. Conserv. 17(5):1057-1072. Abstract.

Chazdon, R.L. 2008. Beyond deforestation: restoring forests and ecosystem services on degraded lands. Science 320(5882):1458-1460. Abstract.

Gubbi, S., and MacMillan, D.C. 2008. Can non-timber forest products solve livelihood problems? A case study from Periyar Tiger Reserve, India. Oryx 42(2):222-228.

Hui, D.F., et al. 2008. Measuring uncertainty in estimates of biodiversity loss: the example of biodiversity intactness variance. Biol. Conserv. 141(4):1091-1094. Abstract.

Jensen, A., and Meilby, H. 2008. Does commercialization of a non-timber forest product reduce ecological impact? A case study of the Critically Endangered Aquilaria crassna in Lao PDR. Oryx 42(2):214-221.

Lovejoy Tembo, Z.A Chiteka, Irene Kadzere, Festus K Akinnifes and F. Tagwira. 2008. Ripening stage and drying method affecting colour and quality attributes of Ziziphus mauritiana fruits in Zimbabwe. African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 7 (9), pp. 2509-2513, 2 May, 2008

Ziziphus mauritiana Lamk. (Ber) fruit is harvested at different stages of ripening in the Zambezi valley of Zimbabwe. We hypothesize that the organoleptic quality attributes of fruits depend on post-harvest drying method and ripening stage at harvest. This study was carried out to evaluate the effect of different stages of ripening on the quality of Z. mauritiana fruits during drying. The fruits were graded into green, yellowish-brown and brown categories and these formed the treatments. Some of these fruits were blanched before drying for 1, 2 and 3 weeks under the solar dryer and the open sun drying methods. The green fruits lost significantly (P<0.001) more weight during drying than the yellowishbrown and brown fruits regardless of the drying methods. The development of browning was more on the brown fruits than the green and yellowish-brown fruits.

McLain, Rebecca J., Alexander, Susan J., Jones, Eric T. 2008. Incorporating Understanding of Informal Economic Activity in Natural Resource and Economic Development Policy. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-755. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 53p.

This report synthesizes the literature on the role of informal economic activity in the United States postindustrial economy. Informal economic activity is expanding in the United States and is likely to continue in the foreseeable future. The formal and informal economic sectors are inextricably intertwined, with individuals and households combining elements of both sectors to construct their livelihoods. Although the informal economy is often thought of as the domain of economically marginal individuals and households, virtually everyone participates in the informal economy to some extent. However, the literature highlights how factors such as social status and household position in the formal economy affect whether participation in informal economic activity is exploitative or empowering. The nontimber forest products sector serves as a case study of why it is important to consider informal economic activity when developing natural resource and economic development policy. We recommend steps policymakers can take to identify and encourage positive aspects of the informal economic activity. We also highlight several areas of research to improve understandings of the role of informal economic activity in postindustrial societies.

TO RECEIVE (free)

Request a printed version by completing an order form at: www.fs.fed.us/pnw/publications/order.shtml or calling 503.808.2138 (U.S.). Make sure you specify the General Technical Report Number (GTR-755), the complete title, the authors and year, and your mailing address.

A digital version in PDF format can be downloaded from www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/30182. The direct download link is: www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/pnw_gtr680.pdf (1mg - allow time to load in your browser).

Murat, C., Zampieri, E., Vizzini, A., and Bonfante, P. 2008. Is the Perigord black truffle threatened by an invasive species? We dreaded it and it has happened! New Phytol. 178(4):699-702.

Ohl-Schacherer, J., Mannigel, E., Kirkby, C., Shepard, G.H., and Yu, D.W. 2008. Indigenous ecotourism in the Amazon: a case study of 'Casa Matsiguenka' in Manu National Park, Peru. Environ. Conserv. 35(1):14-25.

Oudhia, P. (2008). Traditional Shurbut (Sherbet) based 365 days schedule (I) for Heart patients (at second stage) suggested by Traditional Healers of Indian state Chhattisgarh. http://www.Ecoport.org

Oudhia, P. (2008). Scientific report on herbs and herbal formulations used traditionally for ‘Extraordinary sexual performances’, based on Ethnobotanical surveys conducted in Indian state Chhattisgarh and neighbouring states. http://www.Ecoport.org

Oudhia, P. (2008). One summer day with Traditional healers, Herb Collectors and forest of Gariaband and Rajim regions of Indian state Chhattisgarh. Part-IV. http://www.Ecoport.org

Oudhia, P. (2008). Traditional Shurbut (Sherbet) based 365 days schedule (II) for Heart patients (at second stage) suggested by Traditional Healers of Indian state Chhattisgarh. http://www.Ecoport.org

Oudhia, P. (2008). Interesting information about rare herbs collected from Gariaband region, Chhattisgarh, India during February, 2008. http://www.Ecoport.org

Oudhia, P. (2008). Now fire crackers must be herb based. http://www.Ecoport.org

Oudhia, P. (2008). Lets hope that they never Dam Pairi river near Gariaband, Chhattisgarh, India. http://www.Ecoport.org

Oudhia, P. (2008). Dataiya (Paper Wasp) in Biodiversity rich Indian state Chhattisgarh. http://www.Ecoport.org

Oudhia, P. (2008). Bizarre experiences during documentation of traditional medicinal knowledge. Part-I. http://www.Ecoport.org

Sodhi, N.S. 2008. Tropical biodiversity loss and people - a brief review. Basic Appl. Ecol. 9(2):93-99

Tewari, D.D. 2008. Management of Nontimber Forest Product Resources of India: An Analysis of Forest Development Corporations. Lucknow, International Book Distributing Co., 2008, 152 p. ISBN 81-8189-223-2.

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MISCELLANEOUS

47. Bee Checklist Buzzes Online

Source: BCN 284 (August 2008)

Biologists have recently completed an online effort to compile a world checklist of bees. They have identified nearly 19,500 bee species worldwide, about 2,000 more than previously estimated. There is a current crisis known as "colony collapse disorder," an unexplained phenomenon that is wiping out colonies of honey bees throughout the United States. This crisis has highlighted the need for more information about bee species and their interactions with the plants they pollinate.

"At a time when biological diversity is suspected to be declining at an alarming rate, it is important to have a solid baseline from which to measure future trends," said Michael Ruggiero, senior scientist for the Integrated Taxonomic Information System at the National Museum of Natural History, who led the recently completed project. "This is very exciting because bees are critical for pollinating flowering plants, including most non-cereal food crops."

The bee checklist includes currently accepted scientific names, synonyms and common names. A current, complete and authoritative taxonomic checklist is key to linking all information about species. The scientific name acts as the common denominator to connect like information. Taxonomic information is not fixed and throughout time biologists reclassify species as a result of new discoveries or new research.

Compiling the checklist has taken more than five years and the efforts of leading bee taxonomists on six continents. The checklist, coordinated by the staff of the Integrated Taxonomic Information System, a public-private partnership hosted at the National Museum of Natural History, is available at http://www.itis.gov.

Major supporters of the project were the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, based in Copenhagen, Denmark, which is dedicated to making global biodiversity data accessible anywhere in the world, and the U.S.-based National Biological Information Infrastructure, a broad, collaborative program to provide increased access to data and information on the nation's biological resources.

For full story, please see: http://botany.si.edu/pubs/bcn/issue/latest.htm#Bees

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48. 'Mother Lode' Of Gorillas Found In Congo Forests

Source: NPR, USA, 5 August 2008

Gorilla experts with the Wildlife Conservation Society say they've made a spectacular find in isolated forests of the Republic of Congo: a large group of previously undiscovered western lowland gorillas. The animals are critically endangered.

Researchers say the first wildlife census of the area has revealed that 125,000 western lowland gorillas are now thriving in the country's northern forests, a number that is twice some estimates for the worldwide population.

"We have found the mother lode of western lowland gorillas," said Steven Sanderson, president of the society, which led the research. "We had no idea that these great densities, that is numbers per square kilometre [of the gorillas], were possible in central Congo."

The discovery comes even as other gorillas living in central Africa are being pushed toward extinction.

Sanderson says there are few signs that the gorillas in Congo's northern forests have been affected by the problems that have all but wiped out gorilla populations in other parts of Africa — wars, commercial poaching, massive logging operations and disease epidemics linked in part to frequent contact with humans.

"Diseases — led by, but not limited to, the Ebola virus — have created big, empty holes in the forest where gorillas used to be but are no longer," Sanderson said.

One of the main reasons the gorillas have been thriving is obvious to anyone who's ever spent time in the swampy forests that make up what explorers like Richard Ruggiero of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sometimes call the "green abyss."

"You go into it, and it's a world unto itself," said Ruggiero, who wasn't involved in the current research but who has studied gorillas and elephants in central Africa for 15 years.

"These swamp environments are extremely difficult to get along in," Ruggiero said. "There's literally no place to pitch a tent and sleep."

And since there aren't any logging operations in the heart of these northern forests, Ruggiero said, roads are all but nonexistent. That, in turn, has led to low levels of poaching or subsistence hunting. Basically, there aren't many humans here, Ruggiero said.

But that's beginning to change. In recent years, the Republic of Congo has begun to sell the right to log the forests, Ruggiero said. In his view, the pressure to keep selling logging rights is at an all-time high — and it's getting higher.

"Where there are natural resources in Africa, the rush to exploit them is at a pace that no one ever dreamt possible," Ruggiero said.

"It's horrific, frankly. And the value of this announcement of this large population is, hopefully, people will realize that this is a chance to get there before the other guys do," Ruggiero said, referring to hunters and timber companies.

Ruggiero said he now hopes a plan is developed for managing the area's natural resources — a plan, he said, that doesn't include "leaving it up to people with chain saws and bulldozers."

Sanderson said there are ways to protect the gorillas in the "green abyss."

In recent years, his group has helped large logging operations in other parts of Congo learn to harvest trees sustainably and to limit poaching operations that rely on logging roads.

And the government of Congo is considering a plan to turn a big part of this forested area into a wildlife park, Sanderson said.

It'll be difficult and expensive to protect the newly discovered "mother lode," but Sanderson said he thinks it can be done.

For full story, please see: www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93254830

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last updated:  Friday, August 28, 2009