No. 01/09

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:

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 We also appreciate any comments or feedback.

A special thank you to all those who have sent me links to information and also to Adam DeHeer for his help with this issue.



1. Balsam boughs: NTFPs of the Midwest USA
2. Bamboo: Indian artisans weave dreams
3. Bamboo: Indian floor tiles, handicrafts
4. Bamboo planting boosted in Mexico
5. Berry-based natural sweetener "brazzein" to hit the market in 2009
6. Chambira Palm: Baskets bring a new way of life to Peruvians
7. Cork Flooring, A Sustainable Choice
8. Frankincense: Sustainable harvesting by Siddhi Tribe of India
9. Maple Syrup: Tapping trees for that classic Canadian flavour
10. Medicinal Plants in danger of dying out, according to conservationists
11. Pandan prop roots found suitable for handicrafts in the Philippines
12. Pinus sylvestris cones: First FSC Labelled Gin from Belgium
13. Stevia: The Natural Sweetener
14. Rattan: Conserving Forests


15. Bolivia: The Importance of plant knowledge
16. Ethiopia: EU Grants 251 Million Euros to Support Development Programs
17. India: Forest health restored by managing for NTFPs
18. Indonesia: Government team to bolster protection for the country’s TK
19. Mozambique: Hidden Forest
20. Nepal: Forest Museum in Pokhara
21. Nigeria: Desert Encroaches on Nation at 600 Meters per Annum
22. Peru: Revised laws 'could promote biopiracy'
23. Peru: Region outlaws biopiracy
24. Tunisia: Jendouba region provides 90% of Tunisia’s cork production
25. USA: USDA Issues final rule governing NTFPs


26. Ecosystem services reveal relations between humans and nature
27. Non-wood News
28. SEED awards 2009: Call for submissions


29. 19th session of the Committee on Forestry
30. Fourth International Conference on Sustainable Development and Planning
31. International Expert Workshop on Indigenous Peoples' Rights, Corporate Accountability and the Extractive Industries
32. Shea 2009: Optimizing the Global Value Chain
33. WFC2009-XIII World Forestry Congress


34. Environment Outlook in the Amazonia: GEO Amazonia
35. Other publications of interest
36. Web sites and e-zines


37. Illegal clearing behind human and tiger deaths in Sumatra
38. Mexico: Tree biodiversity improved through traditional coffee farming
39. New edition of UNESCO’s Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger



1. Balsam boughs: NTFPs of the Midwest USA

Source: University of Minnesota, USA, 8 December, 2008

Nontimber forest products (NTFPs) are most everything you find in the woods that is not timber. Mostly, the term refers to the many products that enhance and contribute to our lifestyles and our livelihoods. These products often have strong connections to our respective cultures and shared history and economy.

NTFPs are the berries and mushrooms we pick to eat; they are the game that sustains our families. They are the medicines that we gather and the barks we collect for baskets and crafts. NTFPs are the balsam boughs and princess pine that, when worked by Minnesota hands, become the wreaths upon our holiday doors. For some, NTFPs provide affordable outdoor recreation. For others, they generate a much-needed paycheck. For many of us, they do both.

Winter months offer prime opportunities for exploring forests and discovering NTFPs. Frozen soil conditions allow us to stray ‘off the beaten path’ in the woods. Winter excursions are memorable and invigorating but most of all will inspire greater appreciation of forests and NTFPs.

Each fall, Minnesotans take to the woods to gather boughs to be clipped and woven into decorative wreaths, swags and garlands. What used to be a family activity has grown into a multimillion dollar industry. Minnesota – in the Midwest USA – is a national leader in the seasonal greens industry, shipping wreaths to every state in the nation and across the globe.

Wreath making provides seasonal employment to people all over Minnesota and there are many non-profit organizations that use wreath and garlands sales as a fund raising event. This short and intense seasonal industry employs thousands of people in Minnesota, and allows many ‘home based businesses’ to earn a substantial amount of income.

Approximately 98% of the boughs harvested for wreaths are from the balsam fir tree, Abies balsamea. In Minnesota, bough harvesting season begins after hard frosts have “set” the needles on the branches. Other species, including northern white cedar (pictured at right) and white pine, are also gathered to create mixed wreaths.

Boughs harvested properly cause minimal harm to the tree and, in fact, can lead to more prolific branching for future harvests. Careless harvesting can quickly deplete and degrade the resource.

To help protect the resource, members of the wreath making industry, harvesters and land managers formed the Balsam Bough Partnership in 1996. The partnership promotes sustainable harvesting practices of the bough resources and strategies that complement other forest management practices. The partnership meets periodically to review seasonal needs, compliance on legislation and review permits. The Balsam Bough Partnership has also developed educational materials for harvesters and advocates sustainable harvesting practices.

For full story, please see:


2. Bamboo: Indian artisans weave dreams

Source: The Telegraph, Calcutta, India, 6 January, 2009

Jamshedpur. A career in bamboo craft would help several artisans realise their dreams. Take Ban Bihari Mahali for instance. He is a bamboo artisan who earns between Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 per month if he works everyday but now he hopes to turn this figure to Rs 3,000. His dreams have taken shape after the state government decided to open 25 bamboo processing training centres this month.

The project aims to help the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe get professional training in the art. “The three-month long training would give an opportunity to the artisans and help them develop their skill. It will also teach them how to market their products.

The project is estimated to cost Rs 3 crore in the first year. Initially, 450 artisans in groups of 20 would be allotted a shed for the training programme. The artisans would be taught measurement, free-hand drawing, treatment and preservation of bamboo, mat weaving and furniture making for export.

Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Ichagarh, Chandil and Dumaria will house these training centres in collaboration with Guwahati-based Cane and Bamboo Technology Centre. “We have selected these districts after the Institute of Forest Productivity, Ranchi, claimed that raw material (bamboo) was easily available in these places. Bamboo artisans, who earn between Rs 40 and Rs 50 per day, will now be able to earn more,” said Dhirendra Kumar, the special secretary with state department of industries.

The artisans will also be provided a platform through Jharcraft, a corporation for development of handlooms, handicraft, under the department of industries, in the initial months.

For full story, please see:


3. Bamboo: Indian floor tiles, handicrafts

Source: Press Trust of India in Business Standard, India, 20 February 2009

Bamboo, which grows in abundance in Tripura, is now ready for value addition and commercial utilization with technology provided by China's Nanjing Forestry University.

The Bamboo Engineering Research Centre (BERC) at the Nanjing University has concluded after extensive research that the bamboo varieties found in the state could be used in making floor tiles, building materials and handicraft.

The state's Forest Minister Jitendra Chowdhury said the government had signed a memorandum of understanding with the BERC through the Tripura Forest Development and Plantation Corporation (TFDPC) in 2007 for transfer of technology. The TFDPC had last year sent a consignment of two varieties of bamboo available only in Tripura -- Muli and Mirtinga -- to the university for research.

The minister said that the BERC had recently sent some samples of finished building materials with recommendations that the bamboo types available in Tripura had huge opportunity of export. Chowdhury, who had led an Indian delegation in 2007 to seek technical assistance from the BERC, said efforts were being made to use the grass in making organic fertilizer and bamboo fibres for manufacturing pulp.

The TFDPC has already decided to establish a bamboo-based factory at Nagicherra industrial estate here, with the Japan Bank of International Cooperation providing financial assistance.

"The initiative has been taken to exploit the potential of bamboos in the state," deputy manager of TFDPC Madhumita Som said adding the JBIC would provide a financial assistance of Rs one crore to promote NTFPs. She said the factory would produce handicraft items and material for decorating houses. The TFDPC has initiated a training programme for artisans to run the proposed factory. There is a growing demand for bamboo-made products as people have shown interest in different commercial exhibitions in the country.

Abdul Matlub Ahmed, president of Indo-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries and an industrialist himself, announced that he would relocate his Rs 200 crore pulp and paper mill from Sylhat to Tripura as bamboo is available here in plenty.

For full story, please see:


4. Bamboo planting boosted in Mexico

Source: Xinhua, China, 5 January 2009

MEXICO CITY. The Mexican government and the United Nations have signed an agreement to boost bamboo planting in the country, its National Forest Commission (Conafor) said Sunday.

Some US$715,000 will be used to establish the Center of Bamboo Technology Development in the east state of Veracruz in part of the country's productive reforestation strategy.

The Center will be the fourth largest in the world, after China, India and Cuba, it said. Bamboo produced in Veracruz will be sent to the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia through the Panama Canal.

The project will improve the livelihood of the peasants in the mountainous area of the Huatusco municipality in Veracruz and help them recover the lost forest land.

For full story, please see:


5. Berry-based natural sweetener "brazzein" to hit the market in 2009

Source: Natural News, USA, 22 December 2008

We've all heard about stevia, agave nectar, brown rice syrup and other natural sweeteners, but now a new sweetener derived from a West African berry has been successfully synthesized in a form compatible with mass production, and the company Natur Research Ingredients expects to make it commercially available between late 2008 and mid-2009.

The sweetener brazzein, to be marketed under the brand name Cweet, is a protein derived from the berry of the west African plant oubli (Pentadiplandra brazzeana Baillon). It has long been used as a food source by both humans and animals (particularly apes) in the region, and was first synthesized into a sugar alternative in 1994 by researchers from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (USA).

Because brazzein is anywhere from 500 to 2,000 times as sweet as sugar by weight, the small amounts needed to sweeten food do not add any significant caloric content (stevia, by comparison, is approximately 300 times as sweet as sugar). Unlike many sugar alternatives, brazzein is said to have no aftertaste, and can even reduce the aftertaste of other non-sugar sweeteners such as aspartame or stevia when mixed with them. Brazzein's sweet flavour also sets in slower and lasts longer than other sweeteners.

Brazzein is also soluble in water and stable at high temperatures and a wide range of acidities. For example, it can persist at 980C (2080F) for up to two hours. According to Natur, this makes the products suitable for all forms of cooking, including baking, and as a beverage sweetener. Because brazzein is a protein and not a carbohydrate, it does not affect blood sugar and is safe for diabetics.

Natur acquired the sole rights to manufacture and distribute brazzein from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, which holds a number of patents on the sweetener and the processes used to manufacture it. Although the university has sought ways to commercialize the sweetener since the 1990s, all such prior attempts have failed. According to Natur, a researcher from the university recently discovered an entirely new process that is suitable for mass production.

Because the University of Wisconsin used an artificial process to extract the brazzein sweetener from oubli berries, it was able to obtain patents over the sweetener itself. No credit was given or payment made to the indigenous Africans who had used the sweetener for centuries, drawing accusations that the university had engaged in "biopiracy," stealing ancestral knowledge for private profit. The university retains several patents over the ingredient brazzein.

In a reversal of the university's claim that brazzein is an invented ingredient, Natur says that its sweetener is natural. It has not yet disclosed information regarding the process used to extract the sweetener or any synthetic ingredients that might be used.

"We are using the fruit as a source material for this ingredient," said Loren Miles, Natur's chief executive officer. "Within three to six months we should be ready to publicly announce further details, but we can disclose this information now to interested parties through a confidentiality agreement."

The next step for Natur is to scale-up production and submit an application to the FDA for "generally recognized as safe" status. Natur says that it expects to receive approval at about the same time it is carrying out consumer tests. But the FDA's GRAS approval is not guaranteed: The FDA is known for denying GRAS status to natural sweeteners (like stevia, which was finally approved only days ago) in order to protect the profits of artificial chemical sweeteners like aspartame.

For full story, please see:


6. Chambira Palm: Baskets bring a new way of life to Peruvians

Source: The New York Times, USA, 19 January, 2009

San Antonio de Pintuyacu, Peru. Women in this remote Amazon village can weave fibers from the branch of the chambira palm tree into practically anything they need — fishing nets, hammocks, purses, skirts and dental floss.

But for the last year they have put their hopes in baskets, weaving hundreds to build inventory for export to the United States. Their first international buyers are the San Diego Natural History Museum and San Diego Zoo, and they plan to sell to other museums and home décor purveyors.

The circuitous route these baskets have taken from the jungle to American store shelves started with a bird watcher’s passion for natural habitats, passed through a regional government whose policies have become increasingly more conservationist, and, supporters say, should end with better lives for the weavers and their communities.

The enterprise is one of many ventures here in the Amazon aimed at “productive conservation,” which advocates say will save the rain forest by transforming it into a renewable economic resource for local people — just as some ecotourism lodges and other ventures in places like Africa and Southeast Asia have tried to do.

The greatest challenge has been convincing residents of the communities along the river, who until now largely supported themselves by chopping down palm branches and fishing, that conservation is in their best interest.

The government of Loreto, Peru’s densely forested and least populous region, organized the basket project, which is financed by grants from two nonprofit groups, Nature and Culture International and the Moore Foundation.

“Having the government take such a role in a market-based approach is quite novel,” Amy Rosenthal, deputy director for projects at the Amazon Conservation Association, a nonprofit group that works in southern Peru and northern Bolivia, said when told of the program.

But the program in Peru is not without challengers. Iván Vásquez, president of the Loreto region, said he had made some enemies for supporting conservation in a region where fishing and logging have been the primary sources of revenue for decades and where oil and gas are seen as the next frontiers.

The changes in Loreto may correspond to a broader shift in Peru’s attitude toward conservation. Last spring, motivated by the signing of a free-trade agreement with the United States, the country set up an environment ministry, which has already started to focus on deforestation.

For full story, please see:


7. Cork Flooring, A Sustainable Choice

Source: Mother Earth News, USA, 9 December 2008

Soft like suede, cork has the insulating qualities and resiliency of carpet; the easy-to-clean surface of wood or tile; plus luxurious appeal from its earthy colours and rich visual texture. Made from tree bark, it’s also a natural and renewable resource, so it’s environmentally friendly, right?

The answer is yes, but with a footnote.

Cork has a multitude of green characteristics. The material is acquired by stripping most of the outer bark from the cork oak tree. This regular harvesting does the tree no harm, and the bark grows back, to be stripped again every nine years. The trees live for 200 years or so, and the forests, called Montados, are highly prized and passed down through generations of families in the cork-producing business.

Even cork processing is relatively straightforward: The cork sheets or pieces are cured, boiled and pressed. Scraps are collected for reuse, so almost nothing is wasted.

Yet for those of us in North America trying to be more eco-friendly, cork has a notable drawback: It comes from Europe. Forests of Quercus suber, the one oak species that produces cork, grow in the Mediterranean, primarily in Portugal. Fuel consumption from shipping cork adds to the embodied energy in every cork flooring product. Although the trees have been successfully grown in California, they haven’t produced the corky bark, likely from a subtle difference in the ecosystem.

The dilemma of long-distance shipping, however, is counter-balanced by the truly urgent need to preserve cork oak forests. Nora Berrahmouni, Mediterranean forest unit director at the environmental nonprofit World Wildlife Federation (WWF), says that cork forest ecosystems are endangered by increasing population growth and forest clearing. With the loss of viable Montados, “there could be intensification in forest fires, a loss of irreplaceable biodiversity and an accelerated desertification process,” she says.

“The cork forest loss is coming from the decline of the global cork market,” Berrahmouni says, explaining that conventional wine corks are being replaced by aluminium screw tops and petroleum-dependent plastic stoppers. The decreased demand for cork has devalued the forests, leading to sales — even abandonment — of the once-priceless land. Cork products such as flooring, on the other hand, will keep Montados intact and support a sustainable form of agri-forestry, Berrahmouni says. “We encourage consumers to buy cork flooring materials.”

According to ReCORK America, a cork stopper recycling project sponsored by Amorim, the world’s largest producer of cork bottle stoppers, there are approximately 13 billion corks sold into the market each year. Almost all of them end up in the trash — a sad fact because corks can easily be recycled into flooring and other commercial products.

For full story, please see:


8. Frankincense: Sustainable harvesting by Siddhi Tribe of India

Source: Deccan Herald, India, 30 December, 2008

The people of Malenad have to constantly keep in touch with nature for their livelihood. And they are heavily dependent on forest produce rather than agriculture.

Five-year-old Krishna Siddhi can extract frankincense with dexterity but has no clue about the alphabet. And typically so because those living in the Malnad region have to constantly keep in touch with nature for their livelihood. Though illiterate, they are accomplished in other ways.

The siddhis are a tribe that live in Shirasgaon village, situated 40 kms away from Sirsi taluk in Uttara Kannada district. Out of the 30 families living in the village, as many as 16 families belong to the siddhi tribe. People here rely more on forest produce for their livelihood, because there is not much scope for agriculture here. The village itself is situated in the midst of thick forests. Shirasgaon residents rely on NTFPs such as Canarium strictum (raladoopa), Ailanthus triphysa (halamaddi doopa or frankincense), apiary, Garcinia gummi-gutta (uppage), Garcinia indica (murugalu), Myristica dactyloides (rampatre), cinnamon and the like.

This is that time of the year (between November and January) when frankincense is collected. However, because of indiscriminate collection across the Malenad region, many rare species are on the verge of extinction. Canarium strictum is one of them. According to experts, Canarium strictum is found only in the forests of Shirasgaon in Sirsi taluk and in the forests of Siddapur taluk. Germination is the key problem for the species.

But residents of Shirasgaon are different from other pickers of minor forest products as they know the significance of each tree and they look after trees as one would protect one’s own child.

They collect frankincense without causing any damage to trees. Canarium strictum is a product in greater demand in the market than Ailanthus triphysa, thanks to its fragrance. Each family of Shirasgaon collects nearly 10kgs of frankincense every season. But marketing is a crucial problem. People here face similar problems when it comes to other forest products, such as kokum and cinnamon. But, kokum juice has seen some profits in the market.

Janaki, a member of Shridevi Self-Help Group, says the SHG made a profit of Rs4,000 for collecting nearly one quintal of kokum juice during the previous year. The SHG members have also been trained in mat knitting.

Shirasgaon residents have also developed a nursery of rare plants such as Artocarpus hirsitus (hebbalasu), Artocarpus lakoocha (vate), Ochrocarpus longifolius (surige) and 15 other species.

Prakruti Association, an NGO, has been encouraging their activity by providing good price to their products and by providing dryers for drying the peels of Garcinia gummi-gutta and the like. The dryer has helped them save much wood for drying. Prabhakar Gouda, one of the NTFP collectors, says that contractors who had got the tenders collect the NTFP from people.

But some of the collectors do not have knowledge of proper collection and tend to damage the tree while collecting frankincense. Thanks to their lack of knowledge, the tree dies before two-three periods of collection are completed.

Can Shirasgaon villagers be eye-openers to those who destroy forests indiscriminately? The answer is yes, indeed. Residents of Shirasgaon village have set an example to the world on the importance of protecting forests.

For full story, please see:


9. Maple Syrup: Tapping trees for that classic Canadian flavour

Source:, Canada 23 February 2009

It has been sweet success for a new breed of sapsuckers who introduced the maple syrup industry to Vancouver Island seven years ago.

Ladysmith's Gary Backlund and five others in the Master Woodland Manager program at Vancouver Island University decided to create a West Coast maple syrup industry in 2002. More than 85% of the world's maple syrup is produced in Canada and is most commonly made in the eastern provinces of Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. In 2007, more than 40,600 tonnes of Canadian syrup, valued at $231 million, was sold to 45 different countries.

While the Vancouver Island production is a drop in the bucket compared to the Eastern industry. Backlund and his fellow sapsuckers produced 3,000 litres of sap in their first season. Last year, more than 60,000 litres of sap was collected from bigleaf maples all over Vancouver Island.

Backlund and his daughter Katherine don't measure their success in how much money they make from their maple syrup hobby.

While the production is low-cost, it is time consuming. "We get about $1 for every litre of sap or $75 for every litre of syrup, which when you take in consideration the amount of labour it takes to get that, it's not very much," said Katherine. "For us it's really a hobby more than a business." The family enjoys sharing their knowledge, but don't expect to pursue commercial success.

Commercial success was on the mind of Bram Lucieer of Campbell River, one of the original six island sap seekers. He didn't make syrup. Instead, he produced a rare maple wine. Lucieer's ambition to sell his award-winning maple wine in the national and international market was corked when he ran into the arduous commercial regulations.

It is a huge disappointment since he is confident that he tapped into something that has the potential to make a large profit with hardly any overhead.

"The raw material is virtually free for the taking. The commercial profit would be huge. It's not like maple syrup where the reduction rate is about 40 (litres of sap) to one (litre of syrup). One litre of sap makes one litre of wine," said Lucieer from his Campbell River home.

Lucieer says would be willing to share his trade secrets to help others take West Coast maple wine to the next level.

A plantation of bigleaf maples would be the first step in making a profitable maple wine or maple syrup company.

For full story, please see:


10. Medicinal plants in danger of dying out, according to conservationists

Source:, UK, 7 January 2009

Plantlife, the conservation charity, point out that traditional medicine is the primary source of health care for more people worldwide than western medicine – often because it is the only affordable treatment available. For example plants in east Africa are used to treat malaria and opportunistic infections caused by HIV Aids.

However around 15,000 species are under threat from pollution, over-harvesting and habitat loss, including Himalayan Yew, known as a source of anti-cancer drugs. The decimation of the plants is not only leading to a loss of traditional knowledge but could prevent a breakthrough in treating conditions like migraines, fever and even cancer.

Plantlife have compiled a report on the best way to protect plants for the future, following a three-year study of projects around the world involving medicinal plants. Projects included developing medicinal first aid kits in Uganda, establishing China's first ever community nature reserve for wild medicinal plants and promoting the cultivation of medicinal plants by local farmers in Nepal.

Alan Hamilton, the author of the report, said protecting medicinal plants is not only important for human health but for the surrounding ecosystem.

He said: "Focusing on medicinal plants has the potential to be a major motivating force behind nature conservation. Improving health, earning an income and maintaining cultural traditions are important to us all – wherever we live – and all three are involved in motivating people to conserve medicinal plants, and thus the habitats where they grow."

For full story, please see:


11. Pandan prop roots found suitable for handicrafts in the Philippines

Source: Philippine Information Agency, Philippines, 4 December 2008

Tacloban City. Gone are the days when pandan’s use is limited to giving distinct aroma to rice, curry dishes and desserts and sweet beverages.

Pandan prop roots may now be used by handicraft producers, a result of a study of the DOST-Forest Products Research and Development Institute.

A report from FPRDI research specialist Arlene G. Torres showed that researcher Simplicia B. Katigbak found of the 40 pandanus species in the Philippines, those with specialized prop roots can be tapped as an alternative material for handicrafts. These species are sabotan, Pandanus alasas and Pandanus pangdan which are widely distributed in the country. Ms. Katigbak said that the material was also pliable and could be easily woven.

This is good news considering that the Philippines is one of the world’s leaders in the handicraft production, with exports averaging US$ 676,832,244M in 2001-2002. Philippine handicrafts are chiefly made from non-timber raw materials such as rattan, bamboo abaca, buri, woody vines and pandan.

Pandan is popular due to its varied uses. Its leaves are woven into mats, hats and bags and baskets. Its prominent aerial or prop roots are made into thread, rope for fishing lines, and tying and plating material for chairs. If moderately harvested, the use of prop roots for handicrafts will not affect the plant’s growth, Ms. Katigbak assured.

Pandan is a tropical erect green plant with fan-shaped sprays of long narrow bladelike leaves and woody aerial roots. The leaves are used in Asian cooking to add a distinct aroma to rice, curry dishes and desserts and sweet beverages.

Pandan trees provide materials for housing, clothing and textiles, food, medication, decorations, fishing, religious uses and manufacture of handicrafts, among which are the mats which are handwoven from the dried leaves.

It is also said to have flavonoids which are believed to have a variety of healthy properties including antiviral, anti-allergen, antiplatelet, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

Interestingly, the leaves of the plant have been known to repel cockroaches.

For full story, please see:


12. Pinus sylvestris cones: First FSC Labelled Gin from Belgium

Source: Forest Stewardship Council, 19 January 2009

The first FSC labelled gin was launched in the Belgium market in December 2008. Made from the green pine cones of Pinus sylvestris, a common tree in the Flemish region, the launch of this gin also marks the first FSC certified NTFP originating from Belgium.

Known as Dennenknopje, ‘little pine cone’ in Dutch, the gin is made from cones that are collected from the FSC certified Domeinbos Pijnven forest. Owned by the Flemish government, it is managed as part of a larger FSC Group that has been certified since 2006. Certification to FSC’s Principles and Criteria for responsible forest management ensures that the natural forest complexity is maintained and social issues are considered, while securing long term supplies of forest products.

Distilleerderij Leukenheide is the family owned company responsible for producing the gin. Founded in 1833, it is the oldest traditional gin distillery in the region. The company achieved FSC chain of custody certification in May 2008, facilitating completion of the supply chain from Domeinbos Pijnven forest by processing the gin and labelling the bottle with the FSC label.

The eye-catching FSC labelled gin brings promotion of FSC in the country and strengthened local identity to this relatively forest rich region. It also demonstrates that responsible management of forests can bring new and interesting opportunities, not only for recreational purposes, but also within the economic perspective of responsible forest product harvesting.

For full story, please see:


13. Stevia: The Natural Sweetener

Source:, Canada, 21 February 2009

Stevia rebuadiana, a natural herb native to Paraguay and Brazil, has been used for centuries to sweeten drinks and eaten as a simple sweet snack. Its common form, a white powder extracted from the leaves of the plant, is rated to be 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar.

At present, it can be found in natural health-food stores and in the natural-food section of some grocery stores as a dietary supplement, in powder and liquid form. It has a slight liquorice taste and an interesting after-taste for those who aren’t used to sugar.

Stevia is delicious in almost any recipe using fruit or dairy products, but does present a bit of a challenge when used for baking since it lacks sugar’s abilities to add texture, caramelize, enhance the browning process and feed the fermentation of yeast. On the other hand, high temperatures do not affect its sweetening properties and can be used to sweeten coffee or tea.

There is a lot of talk about stevia right now, whether it’s safe and why it can’t be easily found in every grocery store. While it’s true that stevia makes up around 40 per cent of Japan’s sweetener consumption, used in various products including soy sauce, sweet pickles and their diet pops, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada have been reluctant to approve it as a food additive or dietary sweetener due to government policy and safety concerns.

However, as of mid-December 2008, food industry leaders have convinced the FDA that rebiana or reb A, which is extracted from stevia, is safe to add to food and beverages and it will likely appear on store shelves everywhere.

Arizona-based Wisdom Natural Brands was the first to start marketing packets of its powdered SweetLeaf. Cargill, working with Coca-Cola, followed with Truvia. And PepsiCo, with Whole Earth Sweetener Co., has developed a new line of beverages sweetened with a stevia product called PureVia.

Soon, you will see stevia in pretty much every food product you can imagine.

There are a number of published safety studies available that supports the safety of stevia and claims it may improve health.

Research also indicates it can significantly lower blood pressure among people with mild hypertension.

However, not everyone is convinced of stevia’s safety. Normally the FDA requires major food ingredients, like this one will be, to be tested over the long term. There are also some studies on rats that suggest high doses could potentially cause infertility and a possibility it may be a carcinogen. Whether the FDA should have required more testing before approving stevia products is a concern for many people.

The bottom line is, given the long history of safe use of stevia in other countries, it is likely safe to use in moderation.

However, know that research is limited and it is not recommended any woman who is pregnant or breastfeeding use stevia, nor is it recommended for children.

For full story, please see:


14. Rattan: Conserving Forests

Source: World Wildlife Fund, 20 February 2009

Establishing a Sustainable Production System of Rattan Products in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam will be launched on 5 March in Hanoi, Vietnam. This project forms the second phase of WWF’s Sustainable Rattan Harvesting and Production Programme, which aims to give communities, government and industry an economic reason to conserve forests.

This Programme, funded by the European Commission, IKEA and DEG (German Society for Development), aims to deliver measurable improvement in the sectors environmental performance.

By the project end, at least 40% of all targeted small and medium enterprises in the supply chain will be actively engaged in a cleaner production of rattan products. Meanwhile, 15% of targeted processing enterprises will be providing sustainable products to Europe and other markets.

Implementation of this approach will optimize supply chain management through less wastage. Cleaner production techniques and technologies at the pre-processing village level will reduce pollution and mitigate negative impacts on workers and the local environment.

Eco-related product standards and labelling will also be incorporated into the supply chain, by introducing credible certification. This will provide incentives for sustainable rattan primary production and will deliver increasing socio-economic benefits to rattan harvesting communities.

Demand from international environmentally and socially responsible retailers and end consumers will be used as a lever to create the necessary incentives to successfully introduce these improvements.

For full story, please see:



15. Bolivia: The Importance of plant knowledge

Source: RedBolivia Internacional, Bolivia, January 2009

How important is traditional plant knowledge in the Amazon? According to a recent study among the Tsimane' in Amazonian Bolivia, each standard deviation of maternal ethnobotanical knowledge increases the likelihood of good child health by more than fifty percent. And the study raises the question: What will be the cost — to the Tsimane' and other indigenous peoples — if such ethnobotanical knowledge is lost?

The Tsimane' number about 8,000 people who live in about 100 villages along the Maniqui River and the interior of the Pilon Lajas region of the Bolivian Amazon. Tsimane' villages are small, with an average of about 24 households linked by kinship and marriage. At the time of the study, no household had electricity or running water, and half the villages were inaccessible by road. The Tsimane' have traditionally lived by slash-and-burn agriculture, gathering, hunting, and fishing. However, since the 1970s, their territory has been encroached on by colonist farmers, logging firms, cattle ranchers, and oil companies. The Tsimane' now increasingly interact with the market economy through the sale of goods and wage labour, primarily on cattle ranches, logging camps, and farms.

Such integration into the market economy brings about changes in occupation, preferences, social organization, and health and nutritional status. The Tsimane' are now starting to merge into a culture that places no value on their indigenous knowledge, especially their ethnobotanical knowledge. Under this pressure, traditional knowledge of medicinal plants is starting to disappear, with little to take its place. Too often, as here, the global market holds out the offer of western medicine without providing the means to gain access to it.

Thomas McDade and William Leonard from Northwestern University set out to learn what impact the loss of traditional plant knowledge might have on the health of children. To do this, they assessed the health of 330 Tsimane' children, aged from two to ten years old, and tested their mothers and fathers on both their knowledge of local plants and their skills at using them. Local ethnobotanical knowledge was quantified using five measures — agreement with local experts on plant uses; botanical knowledge; skills in using plants; total number of plants used; and diversity of plants used. Child health was measured using three variables — concentration of C-reactive protein, a marker of infectious burden; skinfold thickness, a measure of fat stores; and stature, used to calculate height-for-age scores, an indicator of nutritional and health status.

The results were striking. For each measure of health, mothers with higher levels of plant knowledge and use had healthier children, independent of potentially confounding variables related to education, market participation, and acculturation.

The Tsimane' ethnomedical tradition may play a particularly important part in protecting health because effective commercial medicines are expensive and difficult for the Tsimane' to procure. If remedies derived from local plants are effective in preventing or treating illness, this would contribute not only to lower levels of inflammation but also to improved linear growth and body fat stores by reducing allocations of energy to fuelling immunity and fighting infection.

Strikingly, although the authors infer a direct association between maternal plant knowledge and child health, it may be that this association is mediated by the children themselves. Tsimane' children spend much of their time away from parental supervision, playing and foraging in small peer groups, and the authors report seeing older children use medicinal plants both for themselves and for younger children. It may be that plant knowledge — like so much other cultural knowledge — is passed, not from adults to children, but rather from older children to younger children. In the preservation of plant knowledge lies the destiny of the people.

For full story, please see:


16. Ethiopia: EU grants 251 Million Euros to Support Development Programs

Source: The Africa Monitor in, Ethiopia, 30 January 2009

Addis Abeba. Ethiopia signed a multi sect oral grant agreement on Thursday amounting to 251 million Euros(equivalent to two billion 663 million Ethiopian Birr) with the European Commission to assist its development endeavours in the road sector, productive safety net programs and forest management, including a technical assistance to support implementation of its development strategy.

The lion's share of the grant 200 hundred million Euros (2 billion birr) to be disbursed over a three year period as of mid-2009 will support Ethiopia's road sector development programs.

A further 42 million Euros (546 million birr) will support the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) in Ethiopia. According to the commission, this will be used to assist on a yearly basis more than eight million chronically food insecure individuals which constitute some of the poorest and most vulnerable members of the population living in 286 food insecure woredas across the country.

The 6 million Euros (78 million birr) grant will be used for the sustainable management of Ethiopia's forests in order to improve food security, strengthen the rural economy and reduce environmental degradation. It will also be used to improve forest condition and forest based Livelihoods through building the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and community to scale-up and mainstream Participatory Forest Management and NTFP development.

The remaining three million euro (39 million birr) in technical assistance agreement will help the government implement its development strategy and will be implemented through the support of sound development programs financed from the European Development Fund and to foster a more coherent and informed approach to development and trade issues.

For full story, please see:


17. India: Forest health restored by managing for NTFPs

Source:, India, 8 January 2009

This is a success story of a small tribal village called Karadakatha in Boudh district of Orissa, India. The village has 24 Houses with around 200 people and all are involved in forest protection. The entire village is inhabited by the Kondha Tribe.

Up to 2001 the entire village used to depend on their livelihood from selling firewood collected from the forest and gradually they found that there was an acute shortage of it and forest resources were severely depleted. This drastic change in forest ecosystem forced the villagers to shift their livelihood from firewood to NTFP and in a sustainable manner.

In 2001 a group of 10 women formed a SHG in the name of the local deity and named it Ghumura SHG. After they started protecting the forest, the forest which was completely denuded is now again dense and filled with various tree species and able to attract wildlife giving a complete shape to the entire forest ecosystem. Their initiative has influenced the neighbouring villages to protect the forest and save the forest from timber mafias. They are not only protecting the forest but also the Sadal Ganda Nal a stream passing through their forest. They prevent the contractor from collecting sand and stone from the Nal. Presently around 375 acres of forest is now directly protected by the group and because of this community monitoring other adjoining forest areas are also being protected.

They are now earning their livelihoods with NTFPs, by making Siali leaf plate, collecting Mahula, Bidanga, Siali Lai (a type of rope) and Binding Kendu leaf. Each member used to earn Rupees 1800 from Kendu leaf, Rupees 500 from Mahula per year. In addition to this they are getting Rupees 20 for a bundle of Siali Lai and making of Siali lai is preferred by male members. They are able to earn their complete livelihood from forest and some allied activities. In the last three years none of the villagers has worked in NREGS programme which is designed to ensure 100 days work for every adult in a village under different local developmental works.

The women’s will power and commitment are increasing tremendously after various successful incidents in preventing the timber mafias and contractors from collecting wood and sand. Now they are planning to make the forest richer by planting other species that can enhance their livelihood and want to set as an example for other villages. For their contribution they have been awarded by the forest department with Prakruti Mitra along with a cash prize of Rupees 10,000. The united effort in protecting the forest has been extended to other areas like PanchatiRaj, Health, Education and other governance issues and the people are able to raise their voice against corruption and irregularities with appropriate authorities for necessary action.

For full story, please see:


18. Indonesia: Government team to bolster protection for the country’s TK

Source: The Jakarta Globe, Indonesia, 22 January, 2009

A team of officials from several ministries has redoubled efforts to protect the country’s heritage and curb intellectual property infringement. The group plans to strengthen four existing intellectual property laws and draw up two new bills.

Minister of Justice and Human Rights Andi Mattalatta said on Thursday that existing laws covered copyrights, patents, brands and industrial design, while the new bills were aimed at protecting traditional knowledge and heritage, and local food products.

“We plan to improve these laws in keeping with an international treaty on intellectual property rights,” Mattalatta said, adding that the move could encourage Indonesian inventors to develop more products.

Ragil Yoga Edi, a researcher on intellectual property from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences. or LIPI, said on Thursday that 80 percent of applications for Indonesian patents were from foreign companies.

For full story, please see:


19. Mozambique: Hidden Forest

Source: The Guardian Weekly, UK, 20 February, 2009

Using Google Earth to create an ecological map of the Mozambique highlands, conservationist Julian Bayliss accidentally discovered what is now thought to be the largest piece of mid-altitude rainforest in southern Africa. The canopies of Mount Mabu have so far yielded five new species of butterfly and two species of snake. He describes how it came about

The discovery of 7,000 hectares of virgin rainforest in northern Mozambique has caused huge excitement in the scientific community. “It's extremely rare in this day and age to make such discoveries, especially in Africa, and to be the first biologist to enter such a huge area of untouched rainforest – well, it's a dream come true for a field-based conservationist such as myself, and to be the one who discovered it is incredible,” says Bayliss.

For full story, please see:


20. Nepal: Forest Museum in Pokhara

Source: Kantipur Daily, Nepal, 6 December 2008

The forest products museum has been established in the premises of Institute of Forestry here.

The museum, which targets students, researchers and tourists, showcases various timber and non-timber products.

The museum has included altogether 700 timber and non-timbers products, including 85 species of plant, timber and bamboo, 150 herbs and wildlife leather. According to Professor Dr. Abhaya Kumar Das of Institute of Forestry, Pokhara, the inception of the museum will help undertake intensive study and research about various species of tree, herbs, and plant grown in different climates, altitudes and places.

For full story, please see:


21. Nigeria: Desert encroaches on nation at 600 meters per annum

Source:, January 26, 2009

Current statistics by the Federal Ministry of Environment shows that Nigeria loses about 600m of its arable land mass yearly to desert encroachment. A statement issued yesterday by Special Assistant to the Minister of Environment, Mr Rotimi Ajayi, noted that the Minister, Mr John Odey, was worried by the state of things and charged the people to cultivate non-timber forest trees to combat desertification in the Northern belt of Nigeria

He said that there was need to change Nigerian’s attitude towards the forest, which could only be done by integrating the needs of the masses into the forest development plans. “We need to work towards a policy on alternative energy use by Nigerians. We need to emphasise on NTFPs. This is the only way we can make our forest management sustainable.”

“We should also embark on campaigns for the people to start planting fuelwood for their domestic use, in order to conserve our forest reserves. Once this is done, we would be able to have sustainable forest management system in place,” he said.

For full story, please see:


22. Peru: Revised laws 'could promote biopiracy'

Source: SciDev.Net Weekly Update (16-22 February 2009)

[LIMA] Modifications to intellectual property laws that the Peruvian government "rushed through" to enable the go-ahead of a free trade agreement (FTA) between Peru and the United States could facilitate biopiracy and hamper Peru's position as a protector of traditional knowledge, say experts.

Changes to intellectual property rights, environment and labour laws were sent to congress last month (8 January) and passed without debate before their enactment on 14 January — giving George Bush time to finalise the agreement before he left office.

The rush stemmed from fears that new US president Barack Obama would object to the treaty, which entered into force on 1 February.

But experts have warned that the changes have resulted in flexibility in certain regulations, leaving them open to broad legal interpretation, which could facilitate genetic resource patenting by other countries.

Decision 148 of the regulations of the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) — of which Peru is a member — states that "biological material existing in nature or those which can be isolated, including genome or germplasm of any natural living being, cannot be the subject of a patent".

The Peruvian amendment says biological material "in whole or in part" cannot be considered an invention — but there is no explicit mention of genes or germplasm.

This ambiguity could benefit large corporations seeking to patent genes for genetically modified organisms, Manuel Ruiz from the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law, told SciDev.Net.

Rules protecting indigenous knowledge related to biological resources have also been changed. CAN stipulates the presentation of a 'certificate of origin' before patenting — proving access has been officially authorised. But the amendment merely requires the filing of a licence — which can be issued by lesser authorities. Additionally, failure to use the licence will incur only a penalty, rather than cancellation of the patent as the CAN mandate stipulates.

Ruiz says the changes are a "step back" in progress made so far. "This measure will cause biopiracy … allowing any person or company to patent our resources or knowledge only by filing a license contract." Government officials accept that the modifications increase flexibility, but say they do not facilitate biopiracy or violate the CAN regulations.

"The changes of the law do not allow the patenting of genes, because the amendment reiterates that the biological material existing in nature, either in whole or in part, is not an invention," Manuel Sigüeñas, from the governmental National Institute for Agrarian Innovation, told SciDev.Net.

The amendments were enacted on the same day the regional government of Cusco approved a law against biopiracy and protection of indigenous knowledge (see below article).

Other government officials admitted that the law "could pose a certain threat to Peruvian biodiversity". Several officials said the National Commission on Prevention of Biopiracy are due to meet to discuss concerns.

For full story, please see:


23. Peru: Region outlaws biopiracy

Source: SciDev.Net Weekly Update (19-25 January 2009)

[LIMA] A region of Peru is claiming to be the first in the world to enact a law outlawing biopiracy and protecting indigenous knowledge at a regional level. Cusco — in the Peruvian Andes — has outlawed the plundering of native species for commercial gain, including patenting resources or the genes they contain.

Corporations or scientists must now seek permission from, and potentially share benefits with, the local people whose traditions have protected the species for centuries. Indigenous communities can now implement ways to protect local resources, including creating registers of biodiversity and protocols for granting access to it.

"I know of no other local or regional laws similar to this one that brings a legal framework for access to the genetic resources and traditional knowledge and practices — I think this is a significant precedent," said Michel Pimbert of the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development.

Local scientists and activists believe the law's value lies in the fact that for the first time a regional government will be empowered to challenge its national government on biopiracy.

But while the law is an important precedent, it could come into conflict with national laws regarding the recording of indigenous knowledge, said María Scurrah, a Peruvian scientist specializing in farmer's rights.

The National Institute for the Protection of the Consumer and Intellectual Property has created a National Register of Indigenous Knowledge. But the Cusco law says that native communities of the region will make their own records and share them only according to certain rules.

"I believe that ancient knowledge should be kept by the community and be brought to a national registry to ensure payment to each community for each variety and species registered," said Scurrah. "That is the only way to pay for each community to be the guardian of biodiversity."

Pimbert said that the most significant aspect of the law is that it shows progress can be made at a regional level, rather than working through "central governments that have become increasingly distant and unaccountable to citizens in many countries throughout the world".

For full story, please see:


24. Tunisia: Jendouba region provides 90% of Tunisia’s cork production

Source: Tunisia Online News in, Tunisia, 21 February 2009

Tunis. With some 70,000 quintals produced each year – about 90% of Tunisia's overall cork production – the governorate of Jendouba is the country's main provider of cork. The region (Kroumiria and Mogod heights) which is known for its vast expanses of cork oak forest (45,000 hectares) also boasts one of the best ecosystem protection plans in the Mediterranean region.

The cork sector in Jendouba employs some 4800 people and provides some 150,000 work days per year. Most of the harvested cork is processed at the Tabarka cork factory in northern Tunisia.

90 % of Tunisia's cork production is exported to several European countries, and especially Portugal. Apart from being used in bottles, cork is also used in shoe manufacturing, decoration, furniture, isolation and even in the sector of airspace. It is also traditionally used in the making of impact and sound insulation plates.

It usually takes a cycle of ten years for a 35 old cork oak to regenerate its precious skin, whence the need to set up an effective conservation system.

Cork exports account for 50% Tunisia's total forestry production; the rest is provided by wood, fodder, essential oils, as well as a wide variety of mushrooms.

For full story, please see:


25. USA: USDA Issues final rule governing NTFPs

Source: USDA, 9 January 2009

The Department of Agriculture is issuing a final rule governing the disposal of special forest products and forest botanical products from National Forest System land. The final rule was published in the Federal Register on 29 December 2008; the directives will become effective 28 January 2009.

Special forest products are products collected from National Forest System lands and include but are not limited to, mosses, fungi (including mushrooms), bryophytes, liverworts, roots, bulbs, berries, seeds, wildflowers, forbs, sedges, grasses, nuts, ferns, tree sap, boughs, bark cones, burls, transplants, pine straw, Christmas trees, firewood, posts and poles, shingle and shake bolts, mine props, rails, vegas, bow staves, and fence material.

Forest botanical products are naturally occurring and a subset of special forest products but exclude timber products such as, but not limited to, Christmas trees, firewood, and fence materials.

These regulations will allow the Forest Service to better manage its special forest products program:

· through commercial harvest and sale

· through free use, and

· implements a pilot program to charge, collect, and retain fees for forest botanical products, pursuant to the pilot program law under PL 108-108, Title III, Section 335, 117 Stat. 1312 (16 U.S.C. 528 Note).

The rule addresses fees, bidding, sustainability, and other issues with commercial harvest and sale of special forest products and forest botanical products. The new rule reflects existing procedures and practices.

In the past, the Forest Service has used its timber sale regulations and certain parts of the Forest Service Manual and Handbook to sell special forest products. Public demand for both timber and non-timber special forest products has increased. Current regulations do not adequately address selling NTFPs. Given the growing demand and the need to ensure sustainability, the Forest Service feels that it is impractical to continue to rely on timber sale regulations for special forest products. Therefore, the agency has developed regulations that specifically apply to special forest products.

Historically, the Forest Service has granted limited free use of special forest products to individuals and Tribes with treaty and other reserved rights. In addition to honouring the treaty and reserved rights retained by Tribes, the Forest Service is committed to meeting their trust responsibilities with Tribes. This rule continues to recognize these rights and responsibilities. It allows for and encourages the use of memorandums of understanding and memorandums of agreement with regional and local Forest Service offices to maintain traditional cultural practices and culturally important places.

Traditional gatherers who may not be members of federally-recognized Tribes will have full access to special forest products as they have in the past. Permits will be required, however.

The rule establishes a pilot program for disposing of forest botanical products from National Forest System lands. The Forest Service’s treatment of forest botanical products and special forest products differ only in the segregation of fees and different “personal use” and “free use” practices. The pilot program allows limited free use of forest botanical products and establishes a “personal use harvest level” for each product. If an individual’s gathering is below the “personal harvest use levels,” they don’t have to pay fees.

For full story, please see:



26. Ecosystem Services Reveal Relations Between Humans and Nature

Source: website, 30 January 2009

Ecosystem service is a term that describes the services provided by nature to humans. No blueberries without the pollination service by bees, for example.

“The term ecosystem service is a relative newcomer in the environmental debate,” says Mr. Arto Naskali, researcher at the Finnish Forest Research Institute. People are used to thinking about the natural resources produced by ecosystems, such as timber, grain and fruit, but less about ecosystems themselves.

Traditionally, environmental protection removes areas from use. However, protection of this kind is not enough. Nowadays environmental protection is discussed in relation to the sustainable use of natural resources, and this creates new terms. Ecosystem service is one such.

The term ecosystem service is used to describe processes in nature which humans benefit from in some way. Currently ecosystem services are divided into production, regulation, cultural and maintenance services.

Scenery is an ecosystem service

Of the four categories, production services are the most familiar. They are the products that often have markets: timber, maize, bananas and cotton, for example. Cultural ecosystem services include scenery and sacred places in nature, or the spiritual values associated with nature in general.

Maintenance and regulation services are somewhat similar to each other. Photosynthesis is an example of a maintenance service: it produces oxygen for breathing.

All the services mentioned above are familiar to us. Naskali says that it is the regulation services that bring about new thinking. When people want to intensify some production service, they go out to create good conditions for it. At the same time, however, the regulation services will be intervened with. Here, as elsewhere, a gain in some aspect means a loss in another.

A good example of regulation services is the pollinating insects: without them there would not be many foodstuffs. In North America the bee populations have collapsed, and people have ended up raising bees and freeing them into nature.

Essential services, often for free

A good Finnish example of a regulation service involves the elk population. Society wants to keep the elk population high, but must regulate its size, as nature’s regulators, large carnivores, are rare in Finland.

Humans have chosen their own safety over the regulation service provided by large carnivore populations. A free ecosystem service has been replaced by a service provided by humans, against a payment.

It is inherent to ecosystem services that they are often free, Naskali says. Still, they also often function as inputs in processes important to humans. This brings us to an important characteristic of the term ecosystem service: the term is anthropocentric; in other words, it looks at nature from a human viewpoint. This is why it does not please those who speak of the absolute value of nature itself or see humans as actors separated from the nature.

Recognition makes a service valuable

It is in the nature of ecosystem services that once they are recognised by humans, they gain a value. It becomes possible to consider whether humans could produce the service in question and what it would cost. At the same time it can be seen whether the service is part of a production process.

Trading in recreational and natural values are good examples of recently recognised services, markets for which are emerging. As a result, the landowner is paid for maintaining a particular service. Again, the matter is looked at from the human viewpoint. This can be a problem to some: people can earn money for conserving nature as it is.

A mechanism which guarantees general access to several ecosystem services is already in use in Finland: everyman’s rights.

For society, this is a free-of-charge method of maintaining people’s wellbeing through ecosystem services. The sequestration of carbon in trees is also an ecosystem service. It is a local service with a global significance.

Tool for policy discussions

Naskali thinks it is important that ecosystem services are recognised. After that, it is for the policy-makers to decide what to do with the information, what choices and trade-offs to opt for, and what steering mechanisms to create.

Should developing countries receive a compensation for maintaining their forests for carbon sequestration to assist in mitigating the climate change?

When ecosystem services first became a topic of discussion, some opposed using the term. Service is an economic term and some people felt it had no use in ecological debate.

On the other hand, at the same time that an ecosystem service is defined, it is easy to define who benefits and who suffers from its being maintained. This means that problems considered as having been solved might re-enter the debate.

”Still, criticism is necessary, for that’s how science progresses in democratic societies. And you can’t say that there exists a consensus on how the term should be defined.”

For full story, please see:


27. Non-wood News

From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

FAO's NWFP programme has just published the latest issue of Non-Wood News (no. 18), our annual bulletin covering all aspects of NWFP. Special Features in this issue cover “Boreal forests” and “Wildlife”.

This issue will shortly be available (in both html and pdf) from our NWFP home page:

Copies are being sent to everybody on our mailing list. If you are not on our list and would like to receive a hard copy, please send an Email to:


28. SEED awards 2009: Call for submissions

Source: Seed Initiative

Do you have an entrepreneurial and innovative idea that is locally-driven and has great potential to contribute to sustainable development in countries with developing or transition economies?

Do you need support to help grow your business or project?

If you meet SEED’s eligibility criteria, you could apply now for the 2009 SEED Awards for entrepreneurship in sustainable development. Award Winners receive a comprehensive package of tailor-made support services, worth up to $40,000, to help their venture to become established and to increase their impact. This includes access to relevant expertise and technical assistance, meeting new partners and building networks, developing business plans and identifying sources of finance.

The deadline for applications is 16th March 2009. Application forms can be filled in online or downloaded from the SEED Initiative website at

For full story, please see:



19th session of the Committee on Forestry – World Forest Week:

16–20 March, 2009,

Rome, Italy

For more information, please contact:

Mr Doug Kneeland,

Secretary COFO 2009

Forestry Department

Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, Rome


Fax +39 06 570 52151



Fourth International Conference on Sustainable Development and Planning

13-15 May 2009


Wessex Institute of Technology

Ashurst Lodge, Ashurst, Southampton SO40 7AA, UK

Contact email/website:


International Expert Workshop on Indigenous Peoples' Rights, Corporate Accountability and the Extractive Industries

27-29 March 2009

Mandaluyong City, Metro-Manila, Philippines

The International Expert Group Workshop will be organized by Tebtebba Foundation in cooperation with the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The workshop will provide the opportunity for dialogue among participants with the aim of improving the situation of indigenous peoples in relation to extractive industries. The EGM will be attended by invited indigenous experts and UNPFII members, and observers at expert level from the UN system and other-governmental agencies, academic institutions, NGOs, States and extractive industries.

For more information, please contact:

Raymond de Chavez

Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples International Centre for Policy Research and Education)

1 Roman Ayson Road, Baguio City, Philippines, 2600

Telephone: 63-74-4447703;

Fax No.: 63-74-4439459



Shea 2009: Optimizing the Global Value Chain

Second International Shea Conference

25-27 March 2009,

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Between 2004 and 2008 the shea industry has effectively doubled. How will we continue that growth while addressing key challenges?

Firms from more than 12 African countries will join experts, international buyers and regional service providers to explore fundamental and cutting-edge issues in the shea industry.

Topics to be discussed include: Environmental and social issues; Production sales; Product quality and management of shea parklands; Impact of cultivation of biofuel crops; Consumer trends; Quality standards and regulation; and Value of an industry alliance.

For more information, please contact:

Vanessa Adams (Director) or Dr Peter Lovett (Shea Butter Technical Advisor)

West Africa Trade Hub, 4th Street, Kuku Hill, Osu, Accra, Ghana.



WFC2009-XIII World Forestry Congress

18-25 October 2009

Buenos Aires, Argentina

The deadline for Side Events proposals submission has been extended to 31 March 2009

For more information, please contact:

Mr Olman Serrano (Associate Secretary General) or Francesca Felicani Robles (Legal Consultant-Assistant)

XIII World Forestry Congress

FAO Forestry Department,

Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153 Rome, Italy.

Fax: +39-0657055137;



34. Environment Outlook in the Amazonia: GEO Amazonia

Source: UNEP, 18 February, 2009

The report, Environment Outlook in the Amazonia: GEO Amazonia, uncovers a revealing panorama of accelerated ecosystem transformation and a marked environmental degradation in this vast region of the South American humid tropics - shared by Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela - which is also the planet's most extensive forest zone. The study, prepared by the eight Amazonian countries, with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO), is a new publication in UNEP's series of integrated environmental assessments, also known as GEO (Global Environment Outlook) reports, and on which more than 150 experts, researchers, academics and scientists in the countries of the assessed region participated.

During the preparation of this report, the principal stakeholders from the eight Amazonian countries met to discuss the future outlook of the regional environment. They reached a consensus, clearly expressed in the text: "Our Amazonia is changing at an accelerated rate with very profound modifications in its ecosystems".

After more than two years of analysis, the experts affirm that a joint action of the Amazonian governments in the following areas could enable the region to face the challenges ( of the changing environment ): construction of an integrated environmental vision for Amazonia, and definition of a role of the region in national development; harmonization of environmental policies on regionally relevant themes; design and application of instruments for integrated environmental management; regional strategies that allow sustainable utilization of Amazonian ecosystems; insertion of risk management in the public agenda; strengthening of Amazonian environmental institutions; increased effort on environmental information production and dissemination in the region; promotion of studies and the economic value of Amazonian environmental services; and designing of a monitoring and evaluation system of policies, programmes and projects.

So far, the effort of the Amazonian countries concerning the management of environmental problems has primarily been reflected in progress related to the development of national instruments for planning and management of Amazonia.

In essence, the publication points out that the growing environmental degradation in the Amazonia can be seen by the advance of deforestation, the loss of biodiversity, and localized climate change impacts.

The way in which economic activities, infrastructure construction, and the establishment of human settlements are changing Amazonian land use has resulted in an accelerated transformation of the region's ecosystems. By 2005, accumulated deforestation in Amazonia was 857,666 km2, reducing the region's vegetation cover by approximately 17 per cent. This is equal to two-thirds of Peruvian or 94% of Venezuelan territory.

The loss of biodiversity is expressed in an increased number of endangered species. GEO Amazonia, however, points out that, while local information is available on the different countries' biodiversity, there are no statistics or any general cartography available showing the updated information about this problem for the whole region.

The report has seven chapters covering: Amazonia: territory, society and economy over time; Dynamics in Amazonia; Amazonia today; The footprints of environmental degradation; Responses by stakeholders to the Amazonian environmental situation; The future of Amazonia; and Conclusions and proposals for action.

For full story, please see:


35. Other publications of interest

From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

Ariyanti, N., Bos, M., Kartawinata, K., Tjitrosoedirdjo, S., Guhardja, E., and Gradstein, S. 2008. Bryophytes on tree trunks in natural forests, selectively logged forests and cacao agroforests in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Biol. Conserv. 141(10):2516-2527.

Aubin, I., Messier, C., and Bouchard, A. 2008. Can plantations develop understory biological and physical attributes of naturally regenerated forests? Biol. Conserv. 141(10):2461-2476.

Blomley, T., Pfliegner, K, Isango, J., Zahabu, E., Ahrends, A. and Burgess, N.D. 2008. Seeing the Wood for the Trees: Towards an objective assessment of the Impact of Participatory Forest Management on Forest Condition in Tanzania. Oryx. vol. 42, no. 3, pp 380-391.

Bryan Bachner. 2008. Intellectual Property Rights and China: The Modernization of Traditional Knowledge.Eleven Publications. ISBN 978-90-77596-62-3

This book examines the application of intellectual property rights to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Conventional legal thinking describes authentic TCM as a common heritage that is owned by no one. Its genetic resources, therefore, should be freely available for pharmaceutical research. According to the author this interpretation overlooks any rights that could accrue to the authentic inventors of TCM and, by classifying TCM as common property, disregards the value to be gained through the conservation (and consequent sustainable use) of TCMs genetic resources. The author claims that the recognition of custodial rights over traditional knowledge will provide incentives to developing countries (including China) to conserve, cultivate, and provide access, for the sake of pharmaceutical research, to valuable genetic resources. The aim of this book is to analyze the patent law that regulates TCM and suggest how it may be improved so as, on the one hand, to ensure that pharmaceutical firms have sufficient incentives to continue to research and develop TCM while, on the other hand, to recognize the value of the authentic traditional contributions.

Chwedorzewska, K., Galera, H., and Kosinski, I. 2008. Plantations of Convallaria majalis L. as a threat to the natural stands of the species: genetic variability of the cultivated plants and natural populations. Biol. Conserv. 141(10):2619-2624.

Elliott, K.J., and Swank, W.T. 2008. Long-term changes in forest composition and diversity following early logging (1919-1923) and the decline of American chestnut (Castanea dentata). Plant Ecol. 197(2):155-172.

Hamilton, A.C. (editor). 2008. Medicinal plants in conservation and development: case studies and lessons learnt. Plantlife International, Salisbury, UK.

Holck, M.H. 2008. Participatory forest monitoring: an assessment of the accuracy of simple cost-effective methods. Biodivers. Conserv. 17(8):2023-2036.

Jha, Shalene and Christopher W. Dick. 2008. Shade coffee farms promote genetic diversity of native trees. Current Biology. 18(24), R1126-R1128

Kambewa, Patrick and Henry Utila. 2008. Malawi’s green gold: Challenges and opportunities for small and medium forest enterprises in reducing poverty. International Institute for Environment and Development.

Newton, A. C., E. Marshall, K. Schreckenberg, D. Golicher, D. W. te Velde, F. Edouard, and E. Arancibia. 2006. Use of a Bayesian belief network to predict the impacts of commercializing non-timber forest products on livelihoods. Ecology and Society 11(2): 24. [online] URL:

Nhancale, B. A., S. E. Mananze, N. F. Dista, I. Nhantumbo, D. J. Macqueen. 2009. Small and medium forest enterprises in Mozambique. International Institute for Environment and Development.

Philpott, S.M., Bichier, P., Rice, R.A., and Greenberg, R. 2008. Biodiversity conservation, yield, and alternative products in coffee agroecosystems in Sumatra, Indonesia. Biodivers. Conserv. 17(8):1805-1820.

Robbins, Paul; Emery, Marla; Rice, Jennifer L. 2008. Gathering in Thoreau's backyard: nontimber forest product harvesting as practice. Area. 40(2): 265-277.

Senthilkumar, N.; Barthakur, N. D.; Rao, M. L. 2008. Bioprospecting with reference to medicinal insects and tribes in India: an overview. Indian Forester. 134: 12, 1575-1591.

Tribes of North-East India have been using several insect based traditional drugs to cure several diseases. Over 500 species of insects are used as medicine to cure common ailments to complicated ailments in the North-East from time immemorial. Some valuable information regarding traditional medicinal uses of common insects by folk doctors has been summarized.

Sunderlin, William D.; Hatcher, Jeffrey and Liddle, Megan. 2008. From Exclusion to Ownership? Challenges and Opportunities in Advancing Forest Tenure Reform. Rights and Resources Initiative.

Who owns the world’s forests? When Andy White and Alejandra Martin posed and answered this question in their 2002 report by the same name, they found that 77 percent of forests worldwide were administered by governments. The good news was that the forested area owned and designated for use by local communities and indigenous peoples was rising.

This year, William Sunderlin and colleagues updated the numbers in their report, From Exclusion to Ownership? Challenges and Opportunities in Advancing Forest Tenure Reform. Their findings are sobering for those who hoped to see an upsurge in community control over forests. Sunderlin found that only a few of the 30 most forested countries in the tropics had made significant changes in forest tenure since the 2002 study. Most are in Latin America.

Brazil alone is responsible for much of the global progress, with an increase of 56 percent in the forest area designated for use or owned by communities and indigenous peoples. Peru and Bolivia recorded significant increases. Columbia also posted a small increase. In Africa, communities made small gains in Tanzania, Sudan and Cameroon. But Zambia and the countries of the Congo Basin registered virtually no change at all. In Asia, India added more than five million hectares to the forested area designated for use by communities and indigenous peoples. Indonesia recorded no gains.

Even in the few countries that have reformed forest tenure, the granting of rights has not guaranteed their realization. In Peru, for example, the government has allocated forested areas for oil, gas and mining exploration in violation of indigenous land titles in the Amazon. In Brazil, the government has failed to prevent illegal incursions into extractive reserves by loggers, ranchers and miners. Even when there’s a will to recognize rights, there’s not necessarily a way: meaningful tenure reform requires administrative capacity, expertise and financial resources to demarcate and enforce community rights.

Are there any reasons for optimism? Sunderlin says yes. Countries ranging from Angola to Venezuela have made changes in law and policy to facilitate recognition of indigenous, customary and community rights to forest lands. These recent developments could set the stage for accelerated tenure transitions in the near future. In addition, rising interest in Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) will put a new premium on clarifying forest-related property rights.

But unless the pace of change is quickened and extended to more countries, it could take decades to shift the global balance of forest ownership from governments to rural people. Translating rights on paper into control over what happens on the ground is an equally daunting challenge, and one that will depend on sustained commitment from potential beneficiaries, governments, and the international community.

Uezu, A., Beyer, D.D., and Metzger, J.P. 2008. Can agroforest woodlots work as stepping stones for birds in the Atlantic forest region? Biodivers. Conserv. 17(8):1907-1922.


36. Web sites and e-zines

From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

New interactive database on indicators of sustainable forest management in Europe

The Timber and Forestry programme of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and FAO announced the release of a new web-based resource tool designed by the international community to enable researchers, policymakers, practitioners and the general public to access data on Europe’s forests. The database is a comprehensive research tool based on the report State of Europe’s Forests 2007, and includes data which have so far not been published.

These data are presented alongside other statistical data from different parts of the UNECE work programme. The UNECE/FAO Timber Section encourages the international community to take advantage of this resource, and to make suggestions for further improvement.



37. Illegal clearing behind human and tiger deaths in Sumatra

Source: WWF in ENN, 25 February 2009

Jakarta, Indonesia— In the wake of the deaths of six people from tiger attacks in Sumatra’s Jambi Province in less than a month, conservationists are calling for an urgent crackdown on the clearing of natural forest in the province as a matter of public safety.

Tigers killed three illegal loggers over the weekend in Jambi, according to government officials. Three people were killed earlier in the same central Sumatran province. Three juvenile tigers were killed by villagers this month in neighbouring Riau Province, apparently after straying into a village in search of food. And in an unrelated incident, two Riau farmers were hospitalized after being attacked by a tiger last weekend.

There is rampant clearing of forests by individuals and corporations in the region for palm oil plantations and pulpwood plantations. This forest loss is one of the leading drivers of human-tiger conflict in the region. About 12 million hectares of Sumatran forest has been cleared in the past 22 years, a loss of nearly 50 percent island-wide. The incidents in Riau occurred in the Kerumutan forest block, a site where many forest fires have been set in the last two months, as well as the location of many plantation developments threatening tiger forests.

Jambi Province is the site of the only two “global priority”? tiger conservation landscapes in Sumatra, as identified by a group of leading tiger scientists in 2005. There are estimated to be fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild.

WWF is working with officials and communities in both provinces on ways to reduce the conflict and has deployed field staff to the site of the Riau killings to investigate the incidents.

For full story, please see:


38. Mexico: Tree biodiversity improved through traditional coffee farming

Source: SciDev.Net Weekly Update (19-25 January 2009)

[MEXICO CITY] Traditional coffee farms are hotspots for native trees and could be vital reservoirs for forest regeneration, a study has found.

Small-scale farmers usually grow their coffee under tree canopies. Their product —shade-grown coffee — is already promoted as ecological because their farms harbour native birds, bats and other creatures.

But new research conducted in southeast Mexico has revealed that the surrounding trees themselves are unexpectedly genetically diverse — more so than clusters of the same trees in neighbouring forest. The farms may therefore be important corridors of genetic diversity as forests become increasingly fragmented.

Shalene Jha and Christopher Dick of the University of Michigan, United States, studied genetic samples taken from Miconia affinis trees growing in a network of coffee farms and forest fragments.

Typical of coffee farms in Chaipas state, the three farms in the study were clear-cut and burned in the late 1930s and immediately replanted with coffee bushes and canopy trees. Since then Miconia has been allowed to invade because it protects against soil erosion.

Jha found that the Miconia trees in the coffee plantations came from a wider variety of parent trees than those in clusters in nearby forest.

This could be explained by seed dispersal: in forests, seeds are spread by small, forest-dwelling birds, whereas on farms they are spread by larger, wider-ranging birds.

"If seeds are not dispersed, they will remain clumped together under the mother tree, and this will make them easy targets for predators," said Jha. "Without seed dispersal, gene flow will be limited, and this can result in future plant inbreeding."

A concern in agricultural areas is that increasingly fragmented landscapes isolate native plant populations, eventually leading to lower genetic diversity. But this study shows that shade coffee farms, by being hospitable to birds, support widespread dispersal of native trees, in effect connecting patches of surrounding forest.

The research has implications for the recent trend of rustic coffee farms moving from shade-grown to sun-intensive operations where farmers cut down canopy trees and level out the fields so it is easier to get machines in, said Jha.

"It's more essential than ever to pay attention to the ecological benefits shade coffee farms provide."

The study was published in Current Biology last month (23 December).

For full story, please see:


39. New edition of UNESCO’s Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

Source:, February 02, 2009

UNESCO launched the electronic version of the new edition of its Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger on 19 February. This interactive digital tool provides updated data about approximately 2,500 endangered languages around the world and can be continually supplemented, corrected and updated, thanks to contributions from its users.

The Atlas enables searches according to several criteria, and ranks the 2,500 endangered languages that are listed according to five different levels of vitality: unsafe, definitely endangered, severely endangered, critically endangered and extinct.

Some of the data are especially worrying: out of the approximately 6,000 existing languages in the world, more than 200 have become extinct during the last three generations, 538 are critically endangered, 502 severely endangered, 632 definitely endangered and 607 unsafe.

For example, the Atlas states that 199 languages have fewer than ten speakers and 178 others have 10 to 50. Among the languages that have recently become extinct, it mentions Manx (Isle of Man), which died out in 1974 when Ned Maddrell fell forever silent, Aasax (Tanzania), which disappeared in 1976, Ubykh (Turkey) in 1992 with the demise of Tevfik Esenç, and Eyak (Alaska, United States of America), in 2008 with the death of Marie Smith Jones.

As UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura stressed, “The death of a language leads to the disappearance of many forms of intangible cultural heritage, especially the invaluable heritage of traditions and oral expressions of the community that spoke it – from poems and legends to proverbs and jokes. The loss of languages is also detrimental to humanity’s grasp of biodiversity, as they transmit much knowledge about the nature and the universe.”

For full story, please see:



This list is for information related to any aspect of non-wood forest products.

Cross-postings related to non-wood forest products are welcome.

Information on this mailing list can be reproduced and distributed freely as long as they are cited.

Contributions are edited primarily for formatting purposes. Diverse views and materials relevant to NWFPs are encouraged. Submissions usually appear in the next issue. Issues are bi-monthly on average.

To join the list, please send an e-mail to: with the message:

subscribe NWFP-Digest-L

To make a contribution once on the list, please send an e-mail to the following address:

To unsubscribe, please send an e-mail to:

with the message:

unsubscribe NWFP-Digest-L

For technical help or questions contact

Your information is secure--We will never sell, give or distribute your address or subscription information to any third party.

The designations employed and the presentation of materials in the NWFP-Digest-L do not necessarily imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

NWFP-Digest-L Sponsor:

Non-Wood Forest Products Programme

Forestry Department


Viale delle Terme di Caracalla

00100 Rome, Italy

Fax: +39-06-570-55618

last updated:  Monday, April 30, 2012