No. 03/09

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:

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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. Acai berry, SuperFood or SuperFraud?

Source: Trans World News, USA, 8 April 2009

Is the Acai Berry a SuperFood or a SuperFraud? For years the media has been raving about the Acai berry and its health benefits, but a recent rash of negative publicity has forced people to ask the question – Is Acai the real deal?

“The media tends to like juicy stories – either something very positive or something very negative. Of course, the truth usually lies in the middle. This is the case with the Acai Berry,” states Bob Peters, Director of Communications for PowerSupplements.

The Acai Berry comes from the Acai Palm trees in the Amazon Rainforest. The Acai berry is very high in antioxidants, healthy Omega fats, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Due to the impressive nutritional profile of the Acai Berry it has been called a superfruit or superfood.

The mention of the Acai Berry on the Oprah show in the USA set off an avalanche of positive publicity on the Acai berry as a super fruit. Soon, the Acai berry was being featured in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

Unfortunately in 2008 a number of marketing companies decided to create fictitious Acai Berry Review sites and Acai diet blogs. These Acai scam companies would promise “free trials” and guarantee that you would lose “30 pounds in one week”. The Acai that they sell is of very low quality, they were never endorsed by any celebrities and the only weight you lose is in your wallet.

“Let’s be very clear about this, there are a number of companies selling Acai that are an absolute scam on every level. We have been raising red flags about these Acai scam companies for over a year now” states Peters. “However, it is unfair to say that the Acai Berry is a scam or fraud simply because there are some fraudulent companies selling Acai supplements. If consumers do their research and look for the Perfect Acai Consumer Bill of Rights seal, they will be fine.”

For full story, please see:


2. Bamboo: Are eco-conscious consumers being bamboozled?

Source: Ecowordly, Guardian Environmental Network, Guardian. CO. UK, 18 February 2009

Due to its many benefits, bamboo has been touted as an environmental miracle crop. It is a significant carbon sink, it grows fast, is more termite-resistant than timber, and can be used for everything from food to clothing material to scaffolding for building construction. But are environmentalists being bamboozled? Despite its benefits, increased bamboo production could raise a lot of concerns too.

Perhaps the biggest concern about bamboo comes from the fact that it cannot be sustainably grown on a large scale in North America and Europe, meaning it has to be imported from abroad. Currently 80% of the world's bamboo production comes from China. There is also a concern that increased demand for bamboo could encourage farmers to ramp up their use of pesticides to boost yield, which would readily accumulate as run-off in the moist regions where bamboo grows best.

There is also increased distress that bamboo is environmentally inappropriate as raw material for textiles and clothing fabrics. Because of its rugged fibers, bamboo must be cooked in strong chemical solvents and turned into a viscose solution before it can be reconstructed into proper weaving material.

Furthermore, while expanding bamboo production worldwide could help to prevent deforestation and timber usage at home, there are concerns that it could prompt farmers in the developing world to clear their native forests.

The good news is that many of these concerns are outweighed by the immense benefits that bamboo production brings. Agricultural efficiency is easily its largest benefit. Since bamboos are the fastest growing woody plants in the world, the crop can be replenished quickly. Furthermore, bamboo is self-regenerating, which means that after the stalk has been cut, it rapidly re-grows from the remaining rootstock. As long as bamboo is grown in its native habitat, its impact on local ecosystems is minimal compared to the destructive foresting practices of timber production.

Although concerns about bamboo as a textile and clothing fabric are warranted (and consumers should probably avoid bamboo textiles unless they are particularly well-informed), bamboo is a remarkably suitable replacement for timber as building material.

And despite the fact that almost all bamboo has to be imported to North America and Europe, the carbon-conscious consumer can rest easier knowing that the fuel-usage for transporting bamboo from Asia to California is essentially equivalent to shipping timber coast-to-coast in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

For farmers and local communities in developing countries like Vietnam, it is impossible to deny the economic benefits of growing more bamboo. As many as 1.5 billion people already rely upon bamboo or rattan in some significant way, according to the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan.

For full story, please see:


3. Bamboo firewood and charcoal program in Ethiopia and Ghana

From: Fu Jinhe, INBAR,

6 April 2009, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – The International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) and the European Union, along with their partners the Rural Energy Development and Promotion Centre (EREDPC), Ethiopia, the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), the Federal Micro and Small Enterprises Agency (FeMSEDA), Ethiopia, the Bamboo and Rattan Development Program (BARADEP), Ghana and Nanjing Forestry University (NFU), China, announces the launch of its “Bamboo as sustainable biomass energy: A suitable alternative for firewood and charcoal production in Africa” program in Ethiopia and Ghana.

The project is the first to develop bamboo firewood and charcoal as an alternative to timber charcoal in the region. It will increase the range of useable bamboos available in each country, establish bamboo charcoal Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs), and help government and civil society organizations support bamboo firewood and charcoal production and use. The experiences from the program will be applicable throughout the bamboo-growing regions of Africa.

Dr. Coosje Hoogendoorn, Director General, INBAR said “We are very excited to launch this innovative new program today. The new bamboo charcoal technologies developed in Asia by INBAR and our partners over the past decade have enormous potential to help reduce deforestation and generate sustainable incomes, and this program marks a major step in their application for improved energy security, environment and livelihoods of the peoples of the bamboo-growing regions of Africa”.

The program will work in Benishangul-Gumuz State, Amhara National Regional State and Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State in Ethiopia and Western region, Ghana to develop at least 1,000 enterprises producing bamboo charcoal, and 30, 000 households using it. It will train over 6,000 people in bamboo cultivation, best bamboo firewood practices and bamboo charcoal production, set up three bamboo charcoal technology centers and develop marketing strategies for bamboo charcoal.

Funding for the program comes mainly from the European Commission’s “Environment and sustainable management of natural resources, including energy (ENTRP)” program. The Ambassador of the delegation of the European Commission to Ethiopia, Dino Sinigallia said “We are proud of funding such an important project. The EC has always been in the forefront in sustaining environmentally positive initiatives. The activities to be implemented under this project will promote sustainable energy consumption and are fully inline with the EC's major concern of promoting sustainable and long term development”.


4. Bushmeat in Gabon: Urban hunters do most harm to ape populations

Source: New Scientist, 3 March 2009

Commercial hunters from towns are exacting a much bigger toll on great apes than subsistence hunters from small villages, according to an analysis of ape nest density near human settlements.

The finding that numbers of gorillas and chimpanzees appear to have dwindled twice as much near towns in Gabon than near villages supports a focus on conservation efforts that tackle commercial hunting over those that aim to convince villagers to give up subsistence hunting, says Hjalmar Kühl at the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who conducted the study with colleagues.

The team counted sleeping nests left by gorillas and chimps in Gabon's mountainous Moukalaba Doudou National Park. They found that nest density decreased the closer they got to the towns that surround the park. The towns' populations range from 10,000 to 18,000 people.

Although some nests could be found close to the towns, their overall density was only half that seen in the centre of the park. In contrast, the team found no such gradient near smaller villages.

"This suggests that the impact local subsistence hunting has is much smaller than that from commercial hunters coming from the bigger towns," says Kühl.

For full story, please see:


5. Bushmeat in Madagascar: Frogs important food source

Source:, Madagascar, 23 March 2009

With its famous diversity of frog species, Madagascar has long been targeted by smugglers for the pet trade. While this threat is relatively well understood, less known is the domestic market for edible frogs. Writing in Tropical Conservation Science, researchers from the University of Aberdeen (UK) and institutions in Madagascar provide a glimpse into this activity.

Richard Jenkins and Malagasy colleagues conducted a five-month survey of collectors delivering frogs to a restaurant in eastern Madagascar. They found a thriving trade — 3,233 frogs were delivered to the restaurant during the period. Income for collectors selling edible frogs was only slightly lower per edible frog ($0.29) than it was for Mantella milotympanum ($0.32), a critically endangered frog collected for the international pet trade, thus providing an importance source of income for frog hunters. The researchers are now working to determine the sustainability of the industry.

The authors conclude by noting that forest degradation — largely due to conversion of agriculture — likely damages frog habitat, thereby potentially impacting collector livelihoods.

For full story, please see:


6. Bushmeat in Tanzania: Bushmeat hunting constitutes the most immediate threat to wildlife

Source:, Tanzania, 23 March 2009

Bushmeat hunting constitutes the most immediate threat to wildlife populations in the Udzungwa Mountains of the Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot in Tanzania. A new study, published in Tropical Conservation Science assesses the impact of hunting by comparing densities of mammalian species between the little hunted West Kilombero Scarp Forest Reserve, the medium-hunted Udzungwa Scarp Forest Reserve and the intensively hunted New Dabaga Ulangambi Forest Reserve.

Conducting surveys of these conservation areas for the 22 species of mammal known to inhabit the region, Elmer Topp-Jørgensen and colleagues recorded 20 species in West Kilombero Scarp Forest Reserve, 17 in Udzungwa Scarp Forest Reserve, and 12 in New Dabaga Ulangambi Forest Reserve. They found large species — larger than 40 kg (90 pounds) — to be the most affected. Hunting had little effect on primates, blue duiker, Harvey’s duiker, aardvark, eastern tree hyrax, and giant pouched rat in Udzungwa Scarp Forest Reserve.

Encouragingly, after the data collection for the study, the Tanzanian government, together with local communities, launched a forest management program involving patrolling and monitoring of biodiversity and forest quality. The authors say their data establishes a baseline for evaluating the effectiveness of the conservation program as well as establishment of the new Kilombero Nature Reserve.

For full story, please see:


7. Cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa) could tackle dengue fever

Source: SciDev.Net Weekly Update (2 - 8 March 2009)

CURITIBA - An Amazonian plant could form the basis of a drug to combat dengue fever, according to Brazilian researchers.

A group of scientists at the Viral Immunology Laboratory of the Brazil-based Oswaldo Cruz Foundation has found that compounds of the plant cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa) — native to the Amazon rainforest — have both antiviral and immune system-regulating properties when they come into contact with infected cells in the laboratory.

Cat's claw is known in traditional medicine for its anti-inflammatory — immune system-regulating — effects, which prompted the scientists to investigate the plant.

"We reacted a solution containing substances extracted from cat's claw with immune cells and noticed that the product inhibited the production of cytokines, proteins necessary to react to the inflammatory effects of dengue," biologist Claire Kubelka, chief of the laboratory and one of the coordinators of the study, told SciDev.Net.

The researchers also found fewer dengue virus cells in immune cells that had been treated with the cat's claw preparation.

Dengue fever is a disease caused by a virus of the genus Flavivirus, transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The WHO estimates there might be 50 million dengue infections worldwide every year. No effective medicine exists so the only recommended treatment is hydrating patients while they are recovering.

Besides Uncaria tomentosa, the Brazilian group is currently looking for anti-dengue properties in solutions of approximately 15 other plants.

The research was published in International Immunopharmacology in December.

For full story, please see:


8. Chicozapote tree provides new biodegradable chewing gum Chicza

Source: CNN, Britain, 3 April 2009

British authorities and environmental groups were welcoming the launch this week of the world's first biodegradable chewing gum, which they say could help save some of the millions spent on clearing up the mess ordinary gum creates.

The new gum becomes non-adhesive when dry and decomposes to dust within six weeks, a spokesman for Mexico's Chicza Mayan Rainforest Chewing Gum told CNN.

Unlike other gums that contain petrochemicals the natural gum is produced from the sap of the chicozapote tree (Manilkara zapota) found in the Mexican rainforest, a spokesman for Chicza told CNN.

A spokesman for campaign group Keep Britain Tidy told CNN they welcome any product that can help eradicate the staining on pavements caused by dropped chewing gum. Removing chewing gum litter costs local authorities £150 million ($222 million) a year, a spokesman for the Local Government Association told CNN.

The producer of the new gum is Consorcio Chiclero, which comprises 46 cooperatives with around 2,000 chicleros farmers, working in an area of 1.3 million hectares of rainforest, according to a statement from Chicza.

Locals have been extracting the natural chicle gum base from the bark of the chicozapote trees for a century, a spokesman for Chicza told CNN.

After years of exporting the gum base to be used as an ingredient in the manufacture of regular chewing gum, the cooperative recently decided to start making its own gum using only chicle gum base and natural flavorings and sweeteners, Chicza said.

For full story, please see:


9. Cork: World’s first winery to earn FSC certification

From: Rainforest Matters monthly publication, March 2009

The Willamette Valley Vineyards in Oregon, USA – the world’s first winery to earn Forest Stewardship Council / Rainforest Alliance certification for using cork stoppers harvested from responsibly managed forestlands – has launched a new cork recycling program -- Cork ReHarvest -- further demonstrating its commitment to environmental stewardship.

A first for Oregon and a model for wineries around the globe, the program has two aims: to collect and recycle used corks and to educate the public about the importance of sustaining the cork forests of the Mediterranean.

For full story, please see:


10. Frankincense: A brief catch-up

From: Cropwatch Newsletter, USA, 14 January 2009

The year 2008 saw the publication of a number of papers on the analysis and therapeutic properties of Frankincense gum, extracts & distillates. Frankincense gum (syn. Olibanum) (syn. Incense) are obtained by tapping the trees of a number of Boswellia spp., and the gum and derivatives are valuable exported commodities for the Horn of Africa region (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia & the island of Socotra (off Yemen)), but also for Sudan and other African regions. Frankincense gum is used to prepare incense, and extracts and distillates have been widely used as fragrance ingredients. Indian, Arabian and African Boswellia spp. have a number of uses in local ethnic medicine, which is starting to translate into uses in evidence based conventional medicine (see for example, the major feature on Frankincense and derivatives in Phytomedicine, June 2008).

For a working definition, we can say that Frankincense is the dried exudation obtained from the schizogenous gum-oleoresin pockets in the bark of various Boswellia spp - the Boswellia group itself being placed within the Burseraceae 12 family.

Frankincense has been very highly valued for thousands of years, and has many uses & applications. It is the Horn of Africa’s highest volume export, and apart from uses in incense/perfumery, the gum oleoresin & preparations thereof are also used in a number of medicinal systems, for flavourings and for skin cosmetic applications for toner, emollient and anti-wrinkle uses.

Several Boswellia spp. are listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008, including several individual spp. from the island of Socotra, off Yemen:

Boswellia aff. ameero Vulnerable D2 - native to Socotra

Boswellia ameero Vulnerable B2ab(ii,iii) - native to Socotra

Boswellia bullata Vulnerable D2 - native to Socotra

Boswellia dioscorides Vulnerable D2 - native to Socotra

Boswelia elongata Vulnerable B2ab(iii) - native to Socotra

Boswellia nana Vulnerable D2 - native to Socotra

Boswellia ogadensis Vulnerable D2 -only from 1 river location in Ethiopia.

Boswellia pirottae LR/nt - only from 3 river locations in Ethiopia

Boswellia popoviana Vulnerable D2 - native to Socotra

Boswellia sacra LR/nt - native to Oman, Somalia and S. Yemen.

Boswellia socotrana Vulnerable D2 - native to Socotra

For full story, please see:


11. Frankincense oil may be a treatment for bladder cancer

Source: Aroma Connection, USA, 21 March 2009

According to a study published this week in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2009, 9:6, “Frankincense oil derived from Boswellia carteri induces tumor cell specific cytotoxicity”, scientists at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center have found in vitro evidence that frankincense oil (probably its constituent boswellic acid) can kill bladder cancer cells without affecting non-cancerous cells.

In order to determine that frankincense was the effective oil, they compared it to sandalwood, fir, palo santo and hemlock oils which did not differentiate between the types of cells. The study references numerous other studies that have found that frankincense has potential in treating cancerous cells.

The abstract can be accessed at:

For full story, please see:


12. Maples in Korea: Gorosoe sap – prized elixir from South Korean forests

Source: The International Herald Tribune, USA, 24 February 2009

At this time of year, when frogs begin stirring from their winter sleep and woodpeckers drum for newly active insects, villagers climb the hills around Hadong, South Korea to collect a treasured elixir - sap from the maple tree known as gorosoe.

For centuries, southern Korean villagers like Park have been tapping the gorosoe, or "tree good for the bones."

Unlike North Americans who collect maple sap to boil down into syrup, Korean villagers and their growing number of customers prefer the sap itself, which they credit with a wide range of health benefits.

In this they are not alone. Some people in Japan and northern China drink maple sap, and birch sap has its fans in Russia and other parts of northern Europe. But no one surpasses southern Koreans in their enthusiasm for sap, which they can consume in prodigious quantities.

"The right way is to drink an entire mal" - 20 liters, or about 5 gallons - "at once," said Yeo Man Yong, a 72-year-old farmer in Hadong. "That's what we do. And that's what gorosoe lovers from the outside do when they visit our village."

Drinking gorosoe has long been a springtime ritual for villagers in these rugged hills, for whom the rising of the sap in the maples is the first sign of the new season. Some villagers even use the sap, which tastes like vaguely sweet, weak green tea, in place of water in cooking.

In the past decade, thanks in part to the bottling industry and marketing campaigns by local governments, gorosoe sap has become popular with urban dwellers as well.

"I send most of my sap to Seoul," said Park, who harvests 5,000 liters of sap in a good year.

Gorosoe sap sells for about 2,500 won, or $1.60, per liter. Hadong produces 1.2 million liters of sap a year from its wild maples. Although most sap harvesters here are tea or persimmon farmers who gather sap on the side for extra income, some enterprising villagers have begun planting thousands of maple trees as a primary business venture.

Promotional pamphlets advertise the sap's purported benefits: it is good, they say, for everything from stomach aches to high blood pressure and diabetes.

Most of these claims have yet to be substantiated, said Kang Ha Young, a researcher at the Korea Forest Research Institute.

"But one thing we have found is that the sap is rich in minerals, such as calcium, and is good, for example, for people with osteoporosis," Kang said. "Somehow, our ancestors knew what they were doing when they named it 'tree good for the bones."'

Now that sap-gathering is becoming more commercial, some environmentalists have criticized tree tapping as "cruel." "I oppose boring holes in a tree and drinking its sap," said Kim Jeong Yon, 46, a tourist visiting Geoje.

Kang says careful tapping is harmless. To ensure this, the national forest authorities recently began requiring licenses of sap collectors and regulating the number of holes they can bore into each tree.

Gorosoe farmers, who were doing a brisk business selling sap to visitors from makeshift stands, acknowledged the need for restraint.

“The trees donate their blood to us," said Yang Heung Do, 51. "If you donate too much blood, you get weak. So we drill only one to three holes per tree, depending on its size."

For full story, please see:


13. Medicinal Plants: Nigeria revokes sickle cell drug license

From: SciDev.Net Weekly Update 16 - 22 March 2009

A long chapter in an internationally-watched experiment in the commercialization of an indigenous medicine has drawn to a close after the company charged with producing the drug had its license revoked.

Nicosan — based on a traditional remedy for sickle cell anemia — has been manufactured by the company Xechem, in Nigeria, since 2003.

But the Nigerian government's National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Development (NIPRD) has withdrawn the company's license, according to documents seen by SciDev.Net.

The move follows the apparent collapse in production of the drug, which has left many Nigerian sickle cell sufferers without a medicine with which to alleviate their symptoms.

Nicosan (formerly Niprisan) is based on extracts from West African plants that had been known to generations of a Nigerian family as an effective treatment for sickle cell anemia.

Around 12 million people suffer from the painful genetic illness. It has been labeled "probably the most neglected serious public health disorder in Africa" by Charles Wambebe, chief executive officer of the International Biomedical Research Institute in Abuja, Nigeria.

The family who owned the recipe initially drew up a Memorandum of Understanding for its development with Nigeria's NIPRD. This pioneering agreement has been widely cited as a case study in "benefit sharing" — allowing vulnerable groups to have a stake in the profits from commercializing indigenous products.

In 2003, in a controversial move, Xechem bought the rights to develop Nicosan. By February last year its subsidiary, Xechem Nigeria, said it was producing some 50,000 capsules a year (see Sickle cell drug mired in controversy).

But the following month (March) a fraud complaint was brought before Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crime Commission against Xechem Nigeria. The complainant alleged that US$3.5 million of public funding from the Nigerian government, which was supposed to have been spent on drug manufacture, had been misused.

Xechem had also borrowed nearly US$4 million from a Nigerian bank and US$4 million from a US bank. The destination of these loans has also been questioned.

Rumors that the NIPRD was considering revoking Xechem's license have been around for some months. A source told SciDev.Net that the company had not kept up with its quarterly reports and royalties. But, two weeks ago, Ireti Oniyide, managing director of Xechem Nigeria, said rumors of a license reassignment were "not true".

"We are producing the drug and it is on the market. You can go to Lawcas or Cutteman pharmacy in Abuja or JKK or Medcloth in Lagos and get it. You cannot get it everywhere because we need to make sure that they have the correct storage facilities.''

He said that that the parent company, Xechem International, filed for bankruptcy protection (see Bankruptcy leaves indigenous sickle cell treatment in jeopardy) specifically to "to protect the Nigerian company. It has not affected us".

A SciDev.Net survey has, in recent weeks, failed to find the drug in major pharmacies in Nigeria.

And a senior government official told SciDev.Net, on condition of anonymity, that Xechem had stopped production activities for over two months after operating on a skeletal basis for 16 months.

Wambebe, formerly director general of the NIPRD, said last month that he wanted to see the product available for people at an affordable rate. "It is an area of great concern for me, being the chief investigator who initiated the research and development on Nicosan."

Dorothy Ogundu, a Nigerian physician and scientist who worked in the United States on the commercialization of Nicosan five years ago, said: "I don't know whether to be sad or angry at the events that keep unfolding."

She said in an email that she had worked on the drug "because I believed in the necessity of finding a reprieve in the sickle cell affected community, one that has caused havoc amongst Nigerians".

"I see this as a misadventure on all sides, the murder of the golden bird, while those who should and ought to know better did nothing," she added

For full story, please see:


14. Moss: Oakmoss and Treemoss

From: Cropwatch Newsletter 14, January 2009

D. Joulain & R. Tabacchi, two people who, perhaps more than any others, have been responsible for unraveling the chemistry of oakmoss and treemoss products over their working lives, have written a review of oakmoss planned to be published in Flavour and Fragrance Journal by mid-February 2009. This will be followed by a review on treemoss products by the same authors in the following edition. A third article reviewing the biological properties of lichen products by different authorship is planned for the following edition of the journal.

For full story, please see:


15. Palm fronds: Palms for Palm Sunday, fair trade and eco-friendly

Source: Associated Press in, USA, 3 April 2009

About 2,500 congregations from every major denomination this weekend will use fair-trade palm fronds in their annual celebration of Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem in the days before his crucifixion.

The University of Minnesota's Eco-Palms program ensures the leaves were harvested in Mexico and Guatemala in an environmentally sensitive manner by workers getting paid a fair price, and organizers say they're getting more orders than ever.

The project grew from a 2001 study on the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement to a 2005 pilot project that today has become a $4.5 million business.

The project ensures workers get a higher wage for picking only the highest-quality fronds from palm trees growing wild in the rainforests of northern Guatemala and southern Mexico's Chiapas state, a practice that allows the plants to continue growing.

And communities also benefit through an annual rebate. The program this year, for example, will send about $32,000 to ten communities in Guatemala. Money in the past has been used for scholarships for girls and to supplement teacher salaries.

Scott Jewett, a seminary student in Bexley, Ohio, said he hadn't realized until last year that churches were unintentionally supporting over-harvesting by buying traditionally used palm fronds that tend to be longer.

After reading about the Eco-Palms project in a magazine, he persuaded the pastor and others at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church to order from Eco-Palms, even though orders cost about $20 more.

For full story, please see:


16. Sclerocarya birrea: A lesser known NWFP of Africa

Source: Guardian in, 6 January 2009

The contribution of forests and trees to food security in Africa is vast, diversified and highly valuable. It ranges from the direct production of food to the provision of jobs, income generation, and support to the sustainability of farming systems.

African populations have learned to exploit all types of vegetation. Looking at the various ways plants are used in medicine and food production, one can assert that almost any tree, shrub or grass species in Africa is used in one place or another for food, nutrition or medicinal purposes.

The foods from forests and trees are particularly essential to improve the nutritional status of the people by providing vitamins and other elements, which are not found in food produced through agriculture. In spite of this importance and richness, progress has been very slow in considering measures and programs to increase the contribution of wild plants and animals to food production and food security. Currently the contribution of forests and trees to food and income security is rarely quantified and sustainability is hardly predictable.

It can however be more meaningful and responsive to modern market needs to manage natural resources in an appropriate manner and invest in substantive research and technology towards the improvement and development of the same. A combination of initiatives aiming at improved knowledge of local and traditional practices, inventorying and managing resources, and further integrating trees in farming systems can effectively make a difference and have a significant impact on food security.

In this article, one native species, Sclerocarya birrea, which is a wild/semi-domesticated tree, is used as a case study tree to reveal the potentials of lesser known but valuable trees.

The species is widely distributed in 29 different countries in Africa from north to south and east to west: Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Niger, and Nigeria in Western Africa; Chad and Sudan in Central Africa; Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania in Eastern Africa; and Angola, Southern Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland in southern Africa.

Across Africa the tree has three sub-species namely birrea, multifoliolata and cafra. Tanzania is the only country where all the three subspecies occurs, so the most diverse eco-region for Sclerocarya.

The tree provides fruits with many other locally used non timber products. In a few countries the fruit is processed into products which are traded internationally. The fruits are rich in vitamin C, about five times higher than that of the citrus fruit. The fruit pulp is eaten fresh, boiled to a thick paste for sweetening porridge or fermented to make alcoholic drinks of both local and commercial value.

In famine years, the kernel is locally roasted and eaten. At 96% dry matter; the kernel is 57.3% fat, 28.3% protein, 6% total carbohydrates, 2.9% fiber, and rich in phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. The fruit is also used to make juice, jam, jellies and as a cosmetic agent. The leaves and bark have medicinal properties. Within the past 30 years the tree has been established in plantations in Israel and Oman.

Despite the abundance of this tree in Tanzania, its potential is utilized to a very lesser extent. This is the tree whose fruits are used to brew the popular Amarula cream in South Africa. Amarula is almost exclusively available in luxurious outlets and hotels sold on average at US$2-5 per 5cc volume peg. This cream from Sclerocarya fruits thus generates substantial amounts of income from local and international markets.

Strategies for improving its management in order to improve the livelihoods of rural people in Tanzania will not only ensure environmental sustainability and reverse the loss of biodiversity, but also provide the poor farmers with an attractive alternative source of income.

Empirical experiments are needed to suggest ways of harnessing the potentials of Sclerocarya birrea. The ultimate goal must be that local people apply this knowledge to diversify their income and improve their livelihoods.

Such a goal is supported by the fact that research from various areas of Africa reveals that rural people are incredibly resourceful, often in the face of extreme hardship. They did not need to be lectured, pressured or motivated. What they need to be offered are choices of, and access to, technologies, practices and information in an environment that makes their efforts worthwhile.

This initiative provides the foundation for delegating tree management to local people instead of being a matter for state departments or other large external organizations.

And in deed the initiative is in line with many multinational and national policies which encourage active rather than passive participation of local people in development projects and programs.

For full story, please see:



17. Bhutan: CountrySTAT-Bhutan – Everything you need to know about agriculture in Bhutan

Source: Kuensel Online, Bhutan, 16 March 2009

There are 9,727 yaks in Thimphu dzongkhag. Khenkhar gewog in Mongar has 42.08 hectares of land under buckwheat cultivation. Dopshari gewog produced 70.57 tonnes of apples last year and the price of a power tiller plough is Nu 9,600.

Such information is now just one or a few clicks away on the recently launched CountrySTAT-Bhutan, a web-based system for disseminating national food and agricultural statistical data along with metadata for analysis and policy making.

Developed over the past year and a half with financial and technical support from the FAO-Netherlands partnership program (FNPP), Country STAT-Bhutan aims to provide reliable information on key sectors of the country’s agriculture-dependent economy to relevant stakeholders. The system contains statistical data on land use, agricultural production (crops, livestock and forest), export and import of agricultural products, agricultural inputs, commodity prices, farm machinery, and development infrastructure.

CountrySTAT-Bhutan will complement and be compatible with FAO’s FAOSTAT database. Data is classified as per national, dzongkhag and gewog levels, with national-level data shared with FAOSTAT.

“District and gewog level data is highly useful for national planning and policy-making purposes, as well as for researchers and rural development projects. Data on land suited for agricultural production is vital in a country where farming is limited by steep and rugged mountain terrain, altitude and the high priority given to forest cover,” states the media release. “Forest-related data is needed to determine the quantity of wood being harvested for various purposes and the income generated by farmers from the sale of non-wood forest products.”

CountrySTAT-Bhutan will also provide statistics on distribution of agricultural inputs, including credit, which is needed to assess farm productivity and the food security status of the country. Information on agricultural infrastructure is useful for development planning and resource allocation.

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18. Brazil: Land boost for Indians

Source: BBC News, 19 March 2009

A ruling by Brazil's Supreme Court has boosted the efforts of the country's disadvantaged indigenous groups to keep control of their lands.

By ten votes to one, judges ruled to maintain an Indian reservation in the northern border state of Roraima as a single, continuous territory. It means that a small group of outside rice farmers with plantations in the area will now have to leave. The head of the court also accused the government of failing the Indians.

This was the third occasion the court had met to reach a decision on the question, and the delays appeared to be just another indication of the sensitivity involved, the BBC's Gary Duffy reports from Brazil. The Raposa Serra do Sol reservation, which stretches more than 1.7m hectares (4.2m acres) along the Venezuelan border, is home to up to 20,000 Amazonian Indians. Indigenous leaders had feared a ruling against them would have signaled to land-owners and loggers that it was acceptable to invade their territory.

Thursday's decision confirmed a decree issued by Brazil's President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who established Raposa Serra do Sol in 2005 exclusively as an area for use by the local Indian population.

Gilmar Mendes, president of the court, said the ruling should set a precedent for Indian land rights. "We've established a statute that has to be applied not only in the Raposa Serra do Sol case, but also in other cases of demarcation," he said. Mr. Mendes also criticized what he called the neglect of the indigenous community by the government. He said that beyond setting out the territory where they lived, the Indian population had been left to their own luck. "It is a complete neglect of public responsibility," he added.

Our correspondent notes that the case has raised fears in military circles that it would create an effectively autonomous Indian reservation running along a lengthy section of Brazil's border. To meet those concerns, the court imposed a series of conditions that guarantee access by the police and military to the territory.

The land dispute has turned violent on occasion with several Indians shot and injured in May of last year.

Police in the Roraima city of Boa Vista said the situation was calm. "There have been no demonstrations for or against the reservation, and nothing has happened to justify beefing up security near the reservation," said police spokesman Jose Negreiros.

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19. Bolivia: Tree iguanas targeted by hunters as source of traditional medicine

Source:, Bolivia, 23 March 2009

Harvesting of a Bolivian lizard for its purported healing powers is leading to its depletion, report researchers writing in Tropical Conservation Science.

Erika De la Galvez Murillo and Luis F. Pacheco of the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés found that collection of the Andean Tree Iguana or "Jararank'o" (Liolaemus signifer), a lizard found on Bolivia's dry Altiplano, for use in traditional medicine reduced population by nearly half relative to unharvested sites. They note that the species may suffer increased mortality when dens are destroyed during harvesting since mother lizards — targeted by collectors for their size — care for their young.

To improve the sustainability of the practice the authors suggest that hunters avoid collecting females and destroying dens.

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20. Cambodia: 'Ecstasy oil' distilleries threaten rainforests

Source:, Cambodia, 25 February 2009

Authorities, working with conservationists, have raided and closed several 'ecstasy oil' distilleries in Cambodia's Cardamom Mountains. The distilleries posed a threat to the region's rich biological diversity, reports Fauna & Flora International (FFI), the conservation group involved in the operation.

"The factories had been set up to distill 'sassafras oil'; produced by boiling the roots and the trunk of the exceptionally rare Mreah Prew Phnom trees (Cinnamomum parthenoxylon) and exported to neighboring countries," said FFI. "The oil is used in the production of cosmetics, but can also be used as a precursor chemical in the altogether more sinister process of producing MDMA – more commonly known as ecstasy.

The distillation process not only threatens Mreah Prew Phnom trees, but damages the surrounding forest ecosystem. Producing sassafras oil is illegal in Cambodia."

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21. Cameroon: Life around Ngovayang Forest

Source: Cameroon Tribune, 30 March 2009

Environmental experts have started implementing field level micro-projects aimed at improving the livelihood of people living in and around the NgovayangForest in the South Region. The initiative to conserve and sustainably manage the biodiversity of the NgovayangForest was officially launched in November 2008 at a workshop organized under the auspices of the Cameroon Biodiversity Conservation Society (CBCS), an affiliate of Birdlife International. The launching ceremony brought together representatives of relevant government Ministries, community-based organizations and traditional institutions in the area.

The Ngovayang Forest constitutes an important source of livelihood for the local people derived from the use of non-timber-forest products (NTFPs). The management and sustainable harvest of these products necessitate a better understanding of the collection, processing and marketing of the products.

The indigenous people of the area are the Bagneli and Bakola living alongside their Bantou neighbors who often claim ownership of all natural resources in the region.

CBCS has long been carrying out research activities in the Ngovayang Forest area geared towards enhancing the living conditions of the indigenous people while conserving biodiversity in the region.

The micro-projects designed to alleviate poverty following the research results in the area touch on improvement of income generating activities, sustainable harvesting of NTFPs, creation of community farms and enhancement skills in craft work. These projects are intended to link the livelihood improvement to biodiversity conservation by strengthening the capacity of the indigenous people.

CBCS is in the process of implementing a five-year development and conservation project on livelihood improvement in the area. For this initiative to have maximum impact and benefits to the indigenous people and the site support groups, collaboration amongst the various stakeholders becomes of paramount importance. This is essential because it avoids duplication of efforts and resources and facilitates the exchange of information and experiences. CBCS has often provided and continues to provide for such exchanges.

Identification of stakeholders is said to be prerequisite for sustainable development. Identification is important for communication and mutual recognition of rights or duties of various stakeholders including political stakeholders who make policies and define general framework within which other stakeholders work.

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22. China: Fund aims to preserve culture of conservation in Tibetan communities

From: CEPF E-News, March 2009

An innovative fund designed to support conservation and sustainable development across the Mountains of Southwest China Hotspot has helped spark a revival in traditional practices and recognition of community-based conservation.

Launched by CI, the CEPF-supported Community Conservation Fund (CCF) is part of an initiative aimed at revitalizing traditional resource management practices, such as designating certain Tibetan community lands as sacred and untouchable.

Every Tibetan community in China has its own sacred areas that are protected by strict rules. Economic development needs and societal changes, however, are weakening these cultural safeguards, resulting in increased threats to biodiversity.

“Rapid economic development and other outside influences are eroding the tradition of sacred lands,” explains CI-China’s Technical Director Li Zhang. “We designed the CCF as a mechanism to help communities reverse this trend.”

With additional support from the EU-China Biodiversity Program and CI Indigenous and Traditional Peoples Program, the CCF to date has made 70 grants to support community conservation initiatives, covering 80 percent of the hotspot.

Zhang said community conservation has proven to be a highly effective tool, and this has enabled CI-China to convince provincial officials and leaders in the People’s Congress of the need for legislation recognizing community conservation sites as official protected areas. Such laws will give community members the legal authority to patrol these areas and enforce conservation practices.

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23. Georgia: Breakthrough sustainable forest use plan

From: CEPF E-News, March 2009

A conservation group in the Republic of Georgia has realized a milestone for the Caucasus Hotspot with a landmark management plan balancing sustainability and development while opening the door for transboundary cooperation along the West Lesser Caucasus biodiversity conservation corridor.

With CEPF support and input from all stakeholders, the Association for Nature Protection and Sustainable Development (Mta-Bari) has developed the management blueprint for the buffer zone surrounding Mtirala National Park. Roughly 20,000 hectares of mostly pristine mountain forest fall under the purview of the document, which identifies areas for intervention and lays the groundwork for careful land use.

“The plan contains needed guidelines for sustainable use of natural resources and generation of alternative livelihoods, such as beekeeping, grape cultivation and small-scale tourism,” explained Zurab Manvelidze, project coordinator and Mta-Bari chairman. “It is the first of its kind in the hotspot and should serve as an important template for work in other protected areas of the Caucasus.”

Unique geology, terrain and climate have made the Caucasus among the most biologically diverse regions in the temperate world. A quarter of its 6,500 species of vascular plants are found nowhere else on Earth – the highest level of endemism in the temperate zone. However, unsustainable use of forests, poaching, and over harvesting of decorative plants are major threats to the buffer zone and the park.

Beyond establishing a framework to counter these threats, the management plan, which has been approved by the Georgian government, has also served as a launch point for discussions on transboundary cooperation with Turkey. Its Jamili Biosphere Reserve is a short distance from the Mtirala buffer zone and borders a proposed protected area in Georgia’s Machakhela region. Close cooperation between the countries would strengthen conservation in the region while promoting tourism and other economic opportunities for communities.

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24. India: Ethnic groups crucial to biodiversity

Source: The Deccan Herald, India, 3 March 2009

With an estimated 10 percent of India’s over 46,000 plant species being either extinct or in the endangered category owing to ruthless exploitation, scientists say that the key to conserving plant diversity lies in the protection of ethnic communities, who have traditionally lived in the forests.

“The vast majority of important plants are still conserved by tribal communities residing in the remote forest areas of the different phytogeographic zones of India,” says D C Saini, senior scientist and taxonomist at the prestigious Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany in Lucknow.

“If the biodiversity of any area is to be protected and forest biota itself to be used for the benefit of mankind, the protection of ethnic communities and their involvement in the conservation of bio-diversity need to be strengthened and expanded,” Dr Saini told Deccan Herald.

He said the rich biodiversity of the country comprises more than 46,000 plant species of all groups of plant kingdom and 573 tribal communities. “Owing to its richness in vegetation and extreme diversity in floristic compositions, the Indian sub-continent is designated as one of the twelve mega-centers of biodiversity in the world, representing two of the 18 hotspots of biological diversity, namely the Western Ghats and North-Eastern Himalayas,” he said.

Living in close association with nature and natural resources, these indigenous tribes have managed and conserved the biodiversity of their localities.

“This vast repository of knowledge related to plants has been cared, nourished and conserved by the tribal communities as a common property for thousands of years by experience, trial and errors and it is also being freely transmitted from generation to generation by means of oral communication,” Saini says.

He explains that the tribal people are not only familiar with thousands of commercial plant species in their eco-systems but they also have a good knowledge of the ecological inter-relations of the various components of plant diversity.

Also many plants have been conserved in their natural habitats thanks to their deep knowledge of beliefs, faith and taboos.

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25. Madagascar: Scramble to log valuable rainforest trees in midst of crisis

Source:, 23March 2009

Armed gangs are logging rosewood and other valuable hardwoods from Marojejy and Masoala parks in Madagascar following abandonment of posts by rangers in the midst of the island nation's political crisis, reports and local sources.

"It is with great sadness that we report the temporary closure of Marojejy National Park to tourism," stated the web site. "The closure was deemed necessary by park management due to the lawlessness that has descended over the SAVA region during this time of political unrest in Madagascar, and the resultant looting and destruction which is currently occurring within the park. In particular, gangs of armed men (led primarily by foreign profiteers in conjunction with the rich local mafia) are plundering the rainforests of Marojejy for the extremely valuable rosewood that grows there."

Illegal logging of rosewood, ebonies, and other hardwoods has emerged as one of the primary drivers of forest degradation in north eastern Madagascar in recent years but, as noted by, the situation has been exacerbated by the political crisis that has led rangers and park officials in some areas to abandon their posts.

"Turmoil is going to last for months — no more rules, no more laws, no more police or control, just weapons and people starved for money or by greed," said the source. "2000 to 3000 people went to Masoala to harvest rosewood."

The source notes that poachers are coming in from the town of Antalaha on the side of Masoala, an expanse of rainforest renowned for its biological diversity, opposite from the big park headquarters. "The big businessmen are all in Antalaha. This is where the timber goes for export."

"Foreign traders have arrived in local towns seeking to take advantage of the political crisis that has weakened park protection and enforcement," the source continued. "This is the worst, by far, that has happened to the park in recent years. The situation is worse than desperate." says the crisis has "serious implications" on several fronts: First, of course, is the extremely detrimental impact it is having on the park's unique flora and fauna. While old-growth rosewood trees may be the primary objective of the armed gangs, such destructive, unregulated use of the forest will certainly have an adverse effect on everything else in the park. Most worrisome is the well-being of the highly endangered Silky Sifaka, a lemur found only in the rainforests of Marojejy and the surrounding area.

But the crisis is also having a devastating effect outside the boundaries of the park itself. With armed militia descending on local villages and death threats being issued, people live in fear; communities are divided, and families are pitted one against the other. Many local people who depend on tourism – guides, porters, shopkeepers, and hotel and restaurant personnel – now live in limbo. With no other means of support, some turn to the lucrative rosewood trade.

The political crisis in Madagascar has brought to a near standstill Madagascar's $400-million-a-year tourism industry. A spate of countries, including Britain and the United States, has warned travelers against visiting the country.

Conservation in Madagascar is highly dependent on income from tourism. Half of park entrance fees are returned to communities living in and around protected areas. Without this source of income, locals in some areas may be forced to turn to conservation areas for timber, fuelwood, and agricultural land as is beginning with criminal syndicates in Marojejy and Masoala.

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26. Nepal: Small changes improve Nepalese communities’ relationship to forest

From: CEPF E-News, March 2009

Improved health and livelihoods are the tools a group is offering communities to help avoid further forest loss in eastern Nepal.

The Namsaling Community Development Centre (NCDC) is working with residents in a patchwork of small agricultural communities, some growing tea and others growing cardamom in the community forests that pepper the area.

The project site is in Nepal’s Ilam District in the Kanchenjunga-Singalila Complex, part of the Eastern Himalayas Region where the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) supports civil society conservation efforts. This biologically rich landscape is shared by Nepal and India and harbors a wide variety of floral communities and globally threatened species, such as the red panda.

Many people in the project area rely on forest resources to supplement meager incomes from agriculture, but the scale of harvesting has depleted their natural wealth. The result: forest fragmentation and loss that threatens both biological diversity and the communities’ well-being.

With CEPF support, NCDC’s approach is to enable changes that offer the communities improved lifestyles while decreasing natural resource consumption and degradation.

One such tactic is the installation of improved cook stoves, which use less wood and eliminate some of the adverse health affects caused by unvented smoke in their homes. By the end of 2008, NCDC arranged for the installation of the improved cook stoves in 107 homes, said Kamal Raj Rai, project coordinator for NCDC. An additional 75 are expected to be installed as well.

Most important, those who have the new cook stoves report a decrease in smoke-caused eye problems and headaches, and a drop in their firewood use by up to 50 percent.

NCDC has also trained residents to make the cook stoves, and is working with farmers to cultivate a wider variety of crops and employ organic practices, including organic pesticides and composting

In addition to addressing livelihood issues, the project also assessed biodiversity in the area. Participants are preparing a detailed plant species monitoring and conservation plan based on the recommendation of the Ethnobotanical Society of Nepal.

NCDC also used data collected for the area to create a map identifying land-use patterns, forest coverage, and habitat and distribution of key species. With this information, the organization plans to create community participatory monitoring plans for key species.

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27. Perú: Dos millones de plantones de camu camu

Source: El Comercio, Peru, 4 February 2009

La producción de más de diez millones de alevinos (larvas) de diversas especies de peces para consumo humano destinadas a ser la gran despensa alimentaria frente a los problemas del hambre que se avecinan en el futuro, así como también de dos millones de plantones de camu camu (Myrciaria dubia), son parte de los principales proyectos que se están ejecutando y ya impulsan el desarrollo de la Amazonía en el Perú.

Así lo se reveló el doctor Luis Campos Baca, presidente del Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonía Peruana (IIAP), en el foro Nuevos Desafíos para el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Amazonía Peruana que se realizó en el Congreso de la República.

La reunión fue organizada ante la preocupación sobre el futuro de esta vasta región del planeta que, según estudios científicos, se encuentra amenazada por el avance de la acción del hombre y por el irreversible calentamiento global.

En la importante cita participaron representantes de instituciones científicas, expertos, autoridades regionales, todos ligados al desarrollo de esta región y en ella no solo se denunciaron los graves problemas de deforestación, invasiones, caza y pesca indiscriminada, etc. sino que también se plantearon propuestas y proyectos destinados a enfrentar estos problemas.

Campos Baca añadió que la producción de camu camu en la Amazonía, un fruto nativo y de extraordinarias propiedades alimenticias y medicinales, tiene un potencial de exportación que será concretado en los próximos meses y años. “Y con la producción de alevinos de peces que ya viene repoblando ríos y lagos amazónicos se buscará superar la dependencia alimentaria y se generará bionegocios en alianza que el IIAP concretará con los gobiernos regionales de Loreto y Ucayali”, acotó.

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28. Tanzania: Traditional practices contribute to conservation of medicinal plants

Source:, Tanzania, 23 March 2009

Traditional practices contribute to conservation of medicinal plants in West Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, report Tuli S Msuya and Jafari R Kideghesho in the March issue of the open access journal Tropical Conservation Science.

These practices include domestication; beliefs on sacredness of trees; beliefs on sacred forests; respect of cultural forests; protection of plants at the burial sites; selective harvesting; secrecy; collection of dead wood for firewood; and use of energy saving traditional stoves. But medicinal plants are increasingly vanishing, not only because they are highly demanded for primary health care, but also because they cater for several other purposes such as trade, food, timber, firewood and building poles. Land clearing (for agriculture, settlements and other developments) and accidental and deliberate fires also contribute to loss of these species.

Msuya and Kideghesho conclude by underscoring the role of traditional management practices in enhancing conservation of biodiversity and as a tool for ensuring primary health care in rural communities.

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29. Vietnam: Nghe An exports rattan products for the first time

Source: Voice of Vietnam News, Vietnam, 9 March 2009

The central province of Nghe An will send its first consignment of rattan products under a recently signed contract between the Duc Phong company and the leading Swedish interior decoration group IKEA.

The Duc Phong company, based in Nghe An, will export three models of rattan lamps, earning a minimum revenue of VND25 billion in the first year of the contract and triple their revenue over the next five years. The company, which currently needs an additional 4,000 workers to complete the contract, is outsourcing much of the work to local households. It has conducted extensive research on different kinds of rattan products such as tables, lanterns, and other interior decorations for markets like Japan, the US, and Europe. As many as 80 percent of Duc Phong products have been designed by the company with the rest coming from individual customers.

Duc Phong, which processes millions of tons of rattan per year, also takes the lead in growing rattan, reducing its dependence on outside sources. It has so far spent nearly VND100 billion planting 1,350ha of rattan in four districts and the firm adopts an approach that combines its own investment with the local labour force. Duc Phong is expected to produce seven tons of rattan per ha over the next 30 years, ensuring the sustainability of its production.

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30. Zambia plans to increase honey production

Source: VOA News, Zambia, 07 April 2009

Over 20,000 bee farmers in Zambia are expected to double their annual production once the country's "Bee Keeping and Honey Policy" is in place. Bee farmers earn slightly more than $3,000 for a ton of honey or beeswax on the international market. The Centre for International Forestry Research is collaborating with African governments to come up with policies to guide the production, packaging and marketing of honey-related products. The Zambian government believes raising bees will help pull hundreds if not thousands out of poverty.

Honey and beeswax are among the country's major non-traditional products that are exported to Tanzania, South Africa, Germany, Libya, The United Kingdom, Botswana, Japan, Canada and the U-S.

Dr. Crispen Marunda is CIFOR's regional coordinator for Eastern and Southern Africa. He says the present day beekeeping industry is loosely organized and that there are no legal or legislative structures to monitor or control it.

Marunda explains that monitoring mechanisms will help farmers and government negotiate fair prices and markets for honey-related products. He says an official policy will have a meaningful effect on forest communities that raise bees and related products:

"By coming up with a bee keeping industry policy, the government will have a structure in terms of how they can support the different institutions who are producing, exporting or buying honey. [The beekeeping policy] will also assist some communities into some kind of bee keeping communities. The communities can have an institution at a local level, they can market their honey as a group, they can lobby for better prices, they can export their honey as a group rather than them working as individuals," he says.

Another project supported by USAID is also trying to develop Zambia's honey sector. It involves support for the Zambia Agribusiness Technical Assistance Centre, ZATAC, which provides assistance to the Smallholder Export Organic Honey Project in Mwinilunga, 500km from Lusaka.

A USAID report indicates that ZATAC's approach of providing marketing, technical and financial linkages between producers and agribusinesses is slowly paying off. Approximately 3,000 honey farmers have been trained to harvest, handle and package certified organic honey for export. The training is expected to help the farmers take advantage of new export opportunities under the US-backed Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and new trade initiatives of the European Union. There are reportedly about 20,000 beekeepers in Zambia, producing an average 600 metric tons of marketed honey annually. Seventy percent of Zambia's beekeepers -- both men and women -- are located in the northwest.

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31. Africa: Minister Tasks Continent on Bio-Resources Development

Source: The Daily Champion, Nigeria, 2 March 2009

Lagos — The Nigerian Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Alhassan Zaku has called on Africa to develop its bio-resources to harness the continent's abundant natural products for economic development.

Zaku, represented by Prof. Peter Onwualu, the Director General of Raw Materials Research and Development Council, made the call at a three-day herbal and natural products exhibition tagged "HerbFest 2009" recently in Abuja.

HerbFest was organized by Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA) in collaboration with International Centre for Ethnomedicine and Drug Development and Bio-resources Development and Conservation Program.

The Minister urged participants at the exhibition to tap Africa's biodiversity to encourage the development of the continent. He said Africa had suffered economic losses due to illegal and unauthorized collection and use of its bio-resources.

Zaku also noted the inability to utilize science and technological innovation to convert these resources to standard and commercial products that attract international acceptance constitutes huge economic loss. He said Nigeria's biodiversity was an important source of medicine, food and chemical products that hold potential to transform the nation's agricultural and industrial systems.

He said the ministry had established various agencies and institutions with specific mandates to identify and exploit raw materials and development of products. "This has become pertinent as it has been shown that the stock of the country's medicinal plants are depleting due to environmental degradation," he added. He attributed this to human activities, inappropriate harvesting methods, biopiracy and illegal commercialization.

The Minister said the loss of biodiversity was accompanied by the loss of indigenous knowledge as the elders, who were the custodians of indigenous knowledge, pass-on without having passed their knowledge to the younger generation.

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32. Birdflu antivirus sourced from Indian trees

Source: SciDev.Net Weekly Update (31 March - 5 April 2009)

A team of scientists in Bangalore (India) reported in Current Science last week (25 March) that they have identified several tree species that contain shikimic acid, a crucial component in the production of Tamiflu, the only drug used against bird flu caused by the H5N1 virus.

Plants meet two-thirds of the requirements for shikimic acid and the remaining one-third is met by engineering the bacterium Escherichia coli to produce the chemical — which is not cost-effective.

The researchers screened 210 tree species in the Western Ghats region for shikimic acid content and shortlisted seven trees that contain 1-5 percent shikimic acid by dry weight.

The acid is mostly present in the leaves of these trees. This is an advantage, the scientists report, as the sheer volume of leaves present on trees — compared with fruits — will make extraction cheaper.

"Industries have existing technologies for isolation of shikimic acid from Illicium vernum [the Chinese plant]. The same could be applied to these [Western Ghats] plants as well with minor modifications," says Uma Shaanker, a researcher at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, and one of the authors of the paper. The process is relatively simple as shikimic acid is highly water soluble, he says.

Besides isolation, commercialization would require bulk extraction on a large scale and validation of the shikimic acid content.

Shaanker's laboratory now plans to demonstrate the feasibility of bulk extraction — in tens of kilograms compared to milligrams in the laboratory — in the two species, Araucaria excelsa and Calophyllum apetalum, with the highest shikimic acid content.

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33. Carnegie Research Fellowship Program accepting applications

From: CENN, 19 March 2009

Deadline for applications:

5 p.m., April 30, 2009

Caucasus Research Resources Centers (CRRC) is happy to announce the Carnegie Research Fellowship Program (CRFP). The program offers exceptional research opportunities in the United States for scholars from the South Caucasus.

Specifically, scholars in the social sciences and the humanities may apply for individual, non-degree research opportunities at universities and institutes in the United States. The program is directed at advanced researchers that already have a demonstrated track record in research. The research period lasts up to a full semester (4 months), starting either September 2009 or January 2010. In 2008-2009, two fellows from Georgia and one from Armenia have been sent to Harvard University, University of Chicago and University of Washington to do their research.

Applications need to be submitted in a hard copy to your local CRRC office. All costs for the scholars are covered, including round-trip airfare.

The Carnegie Research Fellowship presents an extraordinary chance to researchers that can advance their work through a period of self-directed study in the US. Note that the application process is very competitive, since a concise research proposal is expected.

In order to get application materials, go to CRRC website: If you are interested in getting further training on how to improve your application, please e-mail with "interactive online trainings" in the subject line.

Additional contact information:

Hans Gutbrod, Regional, or
Aaron Erlich, Regional Development and Outreach Coordinator
Regional Office
Eurasia Partnership Foundation
3 Kavsadze Street
0179 Tbilisi Georgia
Tel: (995 32) 22 32 64
Fax: (995 32) 25 39 42/43


34. Finland/FAO provide €14 million for data collection and management skills

Source: FAO Newsroom, 27 March 2009

Finland and FAO signed a €14 million partnership agreement to improve forest data collection and analysis as well as management skills in selected developing countries for sustainable forest management.

The aim of the four-year program is to help developing country governments protect their forest resources, build sustainable forest livelihoods and provide governments with the knowledge to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

The selection process for the three to six countries that will pilot the “Sustainable Forest Management in a Changing Climate” program is under way and should be concluded in the coming weeks.

“FAO is very grateful to the Finnish government for having the foresight to realize just how important this work is and for providing the financial, technical and political support to carry it out,” said Jan Heino, FAO’s Assistant Director-General for Forestry.

“It is vital that we strengthen the information base for sustainable forest management so that developing countries are able to manage their trees and forests based on timely and reliable information,” he said.

The experience and knowledge gained in the countries participating in the program will then be shared through FAO’s global networks to benefit a wider group of FAO member countries.

According to the recently published FAO State of the World’s Forests 2009 report, 7.3 million hectares of forests were lost every year between 2000 and 2005. The report added that the global economic turmoil has resulted in reduced demand for wood, shrinking investments in forest industries and forest management.

Around 18 percent of global CO2 emissions stem from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, a figure comparable to the total annual carbon dioxide emissions of the United States and China.

FAO is the lead UN agency for supporting developing countries in establishing forestry management and assessment systems, developing and implementing National Forest Programs, deriving and implementing best practice guidelines for forest management.

The bilateral programs in the selected beneficiary countries will in turn collaborate with and feed into the UN-REDD (United Nations Collaborative Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) and the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership facility and the Forest Investment Program.

FAO is one of the three UN agencies that form a part of UN-REDD. The others are UNDP and UNEP.

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35. Forests Move Rain: Study revolutionizes meteorology

Source:, 1 April 2009

Two Russian scientists, Victor Gorshkov and Anastassia Makarieva of the St. Petersburg Nuclear Physics, have published a revolutionary theory that turns modern meteorology on its head, positing that forests—and their capacity for condensation—are actually the main driver of winds rather than temperature. While this model has widespread implications for numerous sciences, none of them are larger than the importance of conserving forests, which are shown to be crucial to 'pumping' precipitation from one place to another. The theory explains, among other mysteries, why deforestation around coastal regions tends to lead to drying in the interior.

Although the theory has garnered a wide contrast of reactions—from dismissal to accolades—it has so far been mostly ignored by the greater scientific community since first published in a small journal in 2007. A new paper in Bioscience by Douglas Sheil and Daniel Murdiyarso attempts to remedy this by introducing (or re-introducing) the theory to scientists of all fields, many of whom have probably never heard of the theory despite its radical and widespread implications.

According to the Murdiyarso and Sheil's paper, conventional theories not only don't explain the connection between forests and rainfall, they have yet to explain fully the actual production of rain across regions. In fact, current understanding "offers no clear explanation for how flat lowlands in continental interiors maintain wet climates," write Murdiyarso and Sheil, for example the Amazonian interior or the Congo. If one employs only conventional theories that "precipitation should decrease exponentially with distance from the oceans," all the continents would look like diminishing green spirals from space, with the landscape turning browner and drier closer to the center.

This is where Makarieva and Gorshkov's revolutionary theory fills in the gaps. They posit a 'pump', where “areas able to maintain high levels of atmospheric condensation draw in air and moisture from elsewhere”. What regions maintain high levels of atmospheric condensation? Quite simply the answer is forests, with rainforests maintaining greater quantities than temperate, but both are important.

“An actively evaporating natural rainforest will work as a pump continuously supporting lower air pressure above its canopy and thus drawing moist air from the [the ocean]” says Makarieva and Gorshkov. If the rainforest is cutoff or destroyed, water will simply stop being pumped from the ocean and will cease inland, leading to desertification.

But how does this new model, radical in its emphasis, play out against observations of actual weather patterns?

Meteorology has largely been based on the concept that temperature drives the globe's wind systems, but the new theory overturns that arguing that oceans and forests, with their ability to produce water vapor condensation, are the real wind movers.

For a specific example Makarieva and Gorshkov point to prehistoric Australia. They believe the pump “explains the enigmatic conversion of Australian forests to deserts that roughly coincides in timing with the appearance of the first people.”

According to Makarieva and Gorshkov, when these early peoples burned small bands of forests along the coast where they first inhabited, “the internal inland forests were cut off from the ocean (the tube of the pump cut off) and underwent rapid desertification.”

Simply put a loss of coastal forests—which had been driving rain from the ocean into the interior—caused Australia's current dry climate. If Australia hadn't lost those coastal forests, its environment may be entirely different today—and would not be suffering from extreme and persistent droughts.

Regarding forest conservation the impacts are huge, since the pump posits that large tracts of forests actually carry and sustain levels of precipitation. “It should stimulate many stakeholders to see a much greater value in maintaining large forest tracts than they might otherwise,” Sheil says.

And while tropical forests remain the most productive of ecosystems in terms of precipitation, Makarieva and Gorshkov argue that temperate forests are also vital. “This year we have published an extension of precipitation pattern analyses, including more regions for Northern America. From the new data it is evident that the degrading secondary forests of temperate North America are on their way to desertification, losing their ability to transport atmospheric water along the continent.” In a sense this is a contemporary example of what the scientists say occurred in Australia thousands of years ago.

Murdiyarso and Sheil also argue in their paper that the pump theory actually resurrects a controversial idea: greening deserts. Conventional meteorology makes it impossible that deserts could be greened, i.e. turned into self-sustaining forests with human help, but the new theory changes this. Arguably forests could be planted from coasts leading to interior deserts, bringing rain and reshaping the ecosystem entirely. In effect, it would be the reverse of what happened in prehistoric Australia.

“If forests could be established on a large-scale in deserts (as the new hypothesis implies) they could, if appropriately planned, perhaps bring the rain they need to grow them,” Sheil says. “Once these areas were forested the forests would need to be maintained and would capture considerable amounts of carbon (and thus help to reduce the greenhouse effect and limit global warming).”

In fact the implications for global warming are many, including re-evaluation of past ecosystem responses to changes in climate. However on the practical end, the new theory grants a new role for the importance of forests. While they have long been recognized as 'carbon sinks' they would now need to be recognized as the 'bringers of rain'—vital for maintaining a stable and productive climate for every species on earth.

While other scientists are being exposed to theory for the first time, Makarieva and Gorshkov argue that it has largely been proven. “The biotic pump theory is derived from fundamental physical principles, it is not a model. We have no doubts that, sooner or later, it will make a revolution in atmospheric physics and environmental science in general. We are facing enormous difficulties in overcoming the initial resistance of the community. We are working further and developing the theory, but we cannot easily publish our new results as people have not yet absorbed and understood what has been already done.”

While time will surely tell, Makarieva and Gorshkov bring up a good point. Considering rampant deforestation, global warming, desertification, and water security—time is not on our side.

For full story, please see:


36. Plant workshop winds up in Botswana with resolve to create a regional network Source: IPACC, Africa, 10 Mar 2009

Indigenous San and Nama plant specialists gathered at Dqae Qare San guest farm in the Central Kalahari desert (4 March - 9 March 2009) to share experiences and needs in relation to sustainable cultivation and conservation of precious plants.

The workshop was hosted by the Global Diversity Foundation, IPACC and the Kuru Family of Organizations in the Ghanzi District of the Central Kalahari Desert. Delegates came from Namibia, South Africa and Botswana representing Khwe, Ju/'hoansi, Naro, Kung, Khomani and Nama indigenous peoples.

The workshop focused on sharing information and experiences with sustaining both plant biodiversity and the intergenerational transmission of plant knowledge. All delegates expressed a grave concern that indigenous knowledge of plants is not being transmitted to young people, and that regional governments are not empowering local communities to conserve precious natural resources.

Moses Selebatso of Conservation International summed up the problem: We have Community Based Natural Resources Management legislation in Botswana. The law is good, but the application is not sufficient. We know that people are poaching plants all the time, in violation of the law, but officials are not following up. The challenge is to empower communities to play a leadership role in fighting illicit and unsustainable harvesting''.

Nathanael Nuulimba of the Land, Livelihoods and Heritage Centre agreed. San communities want to protect biodiversity and sustainably managed natural resources, but other communities are coming in, over-harvesting, and taking the produce to market. If this were game meat or ivory, it would be immediately stopped, but plants are not recognized as important elements of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Paulus Arnold, Kung ecologist from Namibia lamented his government’s view of plant biodiversity. The !Kung of N=a Jaqna Conservancy have won the Equator Prize of excellence in sustainability of their biodiversity, and now the Namibian government is taking over half the reserve for cattle which will destroy the fragile plant biodiversity on which the San rely.

GDF and IPACC taught participants about the importance of the Convention on Biological Diversity, a binding international treaty which African governments have ratified but are failing to implement. Instruments such as the Malawi Principles on the Ecosystems Approach and the Addis Ababa Guidelines and Principles on the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity require African governments to devolve governance over natural resources to those who rely on them and can effectively protect them. In theory this is what Conservancies and CBNRM territories are meant to do. In practice, southern African governments have little understanding of the complex knowledge of San and Nama people about plant biodiversity and are not working effectively with them to help conserve the valuable resources.

The workshop resolved to create a regional network to help educate indigenous peoples about policies, methods and practices to sustainably harvest and conserve plant biodiversity. Indigenous delegates recognized that they need to be speaking to their governments on a more regular basis to develop commitment to ecosystems approaches to governance and conservation. They also felt that there was a lot to learn in terms of access and benefit sharing, intellectual property rights, good harvesting practices, and how CBD

For full story, please see:


37. UNEP-WCMC launches new Carbon and Biodiversity Atlas

Source: REDD and Biodiversity e-Newsletter, Vol. 3 March 2009

The atlas shows that areas high in both carbon and biodiversity do exist and can be identified by relatively simple mapping tools. Prioritizing such areas could give the 'double benefit' of reducing emissions from land use change whilst conserving biodiversity. Three regional maps along with six national maps are shown for the tropics.

The atlas can be downloaded here as a screen friendly version, or as a printable version. The atlas is also available as hard copy or as a CD upon request.

Please contact for further information regarding the demonstration atlas, or to request copies.

For more information regarding the Carbon and Biodiversity Atlas, please see:

For full story, please see:



38. Request for information: Rural livelihoods and forest income

From: H. Gyde Lund, 29 March 2009

Santosh Rayamajhi writes “I am looking for recent work (PhD thesis or equivalent) on rural livelihoods and forest income in South Asia. I would appreciate your help in this regards.”

If you can help please contact:

Santosh Rayamajhi, Doctoral Research Scholar

University of Copenhagen, Denmark.



39. Second Gender and Forestry Conference

15–18 June 2009

Umeå, Sweden

The conference seeks to contribute towards addressing better gender balance in the forestry sector. Presentations will be organized according to the following topics: (i) making a difference through education, knowledge exchange, and capacity building; (ii) making a difference through policies and statistics; (iii) making a difference through cooperation, networking, and role models; and (iv) making a difference through research.

For more information, please contact:

Dr Gun Lidestav,
Dept of Forest Resource Management
SLU, 901 83 Umeå, Sweden
Telephone: +46 90 786 8391
Fax: +46 90 7781 16


40. Biodiversity Hotspots in the Mediterranean Area: species, communities and landscape level

22-24 and 25-29 June

Cagliari, Italy

The congress will cover the following subjects in three different sessions:

  1. Flora and evolution in the Mediterranean area
  2. Phytosociology as plant synecology
  3. Towards an ecological characterization of mediterranean landscapes

The first day will also be devoted to two parallel side events:

  1. Plants species and communities in the Mediterranean mining areas: biodiversity, landscape evolution and their use in phytoremediation;
  2. Important plant areas in Italy and in the Mediterranean context.

The second day will be dedicated to the following side events:

  1. Origins of endemic plants to the Corso-Sardinian microplate: an integrative phylogenetic approach;
  2. Conservation studies on threatened plants in the Mediterranean area.

For more information, please contact:

Consulcongress S.r.l.
Via San Benedetto 88
09129 Cagliari, Italy
Tel. +39 070 499242
Fax +39 070 485402


41. Indigenous Plant Use Forum (IPUF) 2009 Annual Conference

6-9 July 2009

Stellenbosch, South Africa

The 12th annual Indigenous Plant Use Forum (IPUF) conference will be held at the Agricultural Research Council's Infruitec-Nietvoorbij facility, in the Olive Grove Hall (Infruitec campus) in Stellenbosch, with the theme “Exploration and commercialization: Opportunities and challenges”.

As in the past, several short symposia will be held by grouping together oral papers and poster papers submitted by IPUF members for the 2009 Forum. Efforts will be made to accommodate all contributions on Indigenous Plant Use or related subjects. Typical symposia include:

  1. Fynbos plants
  2. Conservation and cultivation
  3. Indigenous Knowledge
  4. Ethnoveterinary medicine
  5. Honeybush symposium
  6. Biological activity
  7. Indigenous Foods
  8. Natural products from Fynbos
  9. Fibers and crafts
  10. South African standards and control

For more information, please contact:

Bernard de Villiers
IPUF secretariat
Department of Botany and Plant Biotechnology
University of Johannesburg
P.O. Box 524
2006 South Africa
Mobile: +27 (0) 71 225 3181
Tel: +27 (0) 11 559 2436
Fax: +27 (0) 11 559 2411


42. IPROMO Course on "Developing economic opportunities for mountain areas"

17 July to 1 August 2009

Rome, Italy

Following the success of last year’s IPROMO summer course, we are happy to announce the second training course on sustainable mountain development for Mountain Partnership members. The program, called IPROMO -- International Program for Education and Training on Sustainable Management of Mountain Areas -- will feature this year a summer course devoted to developing economic opportunities for mountain areas.

During its first week, the course will provide an overview of traditional and innovative tools for the sustainability of mountain economy. Three separate topics will be the object of the second week: a) mountain eco-tourism b) mountain agriculture; c) mountain forestry.

The course will be held in research institutes in Monte Rosa and in the University campus in Grugliasco (Piedmont region of Italy). Field activities will be held in the Alta Valsesia Natural Park, Monte Avic Natural Park, Montmars Natural Reserve.

The IPROMO Program has been jointly organized by the Mountain Partnership Secretariat at FAO, the UNESCO decade on Education for Sustainable Development and the University of Turin, Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Protection of Agroforestry Resources. It benefits from the patronage of the Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry. Main funding sources include the Piedmont Region, the Alta Valsesia Natural Park, the Vercelli Province, the Alagna town council, and CAI Varallo Sesia.

The course - which will be held in English - will be open to a maximum of 30 professionals mainly from developing countries as well as from EU countries with a University degree and working in mountain development at both public and private levels. The organizers will make available a limited number of fellowships which will cover all costs for participants coming from developing countries and countries in transition.

Please note that the three course topics of week two will take place at the same time and therefore candidates need to specify their interest in the application message.

For more information:

Mountain Partnership Secretariat:
Rosalaura Romeo
Program Officer
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Viale delle Terme di Caracolla
00153 Rome


43. Decentralization, Power and Tenure Rights of Forest-Dependent People

27–28 October 2009

Sadguru Foundation, Gujarat, India

The aim of the symposium is to share recent research experiences of participants and to review state-of-the-art approaches related to decentralization policies and local forest institutions, power and political position of forest-dependent indigenous peoples, pastoralists and tribals, and legislative recognition of forest tenure rights.

For scientific information and abstract submissions, please contact:

Purabi Bose (

For registration or to co-sponsor, please contact:

Harnath Jagawat (

For more information, please see:



44. Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources seeking experts in multiple fields

From: Shambhu Dangal, ANSAB Program Coordinator

Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources (ANSAB) is a regional organization working for conservation of biodiversity and economic development of Nepal.

Currently, we are developing a roster of experts in different field for prospective short term and long term projects. We would like to announce to the interested professionals to send a complete CV including availability (long term or short term and timing) to We need both national and international experts in following areas.

1. Forest Management

2. Forest Inventory

3. Geographical Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing

4. Biometric and modeling

5. Database Management

6. Forest Certification

7. Carbon Sequestration and Trading / Payment for Environmental Services

8. Natural Product Based Enterprise Development

9. Natural Product Based Marketing

10. Value Chain Promotion

11. Enterprise Certification

12. Project Management

13. Policy Studies and Research

14. Documentation

For detail information please refer ANSAB website.

For clarification please email or


45. FAO accepting applications for Chief Technical Advisor in Cameroon

From: Dr. Maxim Labovikov, 15 April 2009

Deadline for Application: 13 May 2009

Position Title: Chief Technical Advisor

Duty Station: Yaoudé, Cameroon

Grade Level P-5

Minimum Requirements:

  1. Advanced University Degree in a Natural Resource Science, Rural Development or related field.
  2. Ten years of relevant experience in natural resource management which included at least 5 years in a management, planning and implementation of projects in developing countries
  3. Working knowledge of French and English

For more detailed information on position responsibilities, application process, and selection criteria please see:

or contact:

Dr. Maxim Labovikov
Chief Forest Products Service, Forestry Department
FAO Via delle Terme di Caracalla 00153 Rome ITALY
Fax No: +39 06 5705 5137


46. IFS accepting applications from young scientists

Source: International Foundation for Science

Closing Date: Until filled

The International Foundation for Science (IFS) is looking for young scientists in developing countries for IFS Research Grants to do research on the sustainable management, use, or conservation of biological or water resources. This broad statement covers natural science and social science research on agriculture, soils, animal production, food science, forestry, agroforestry, aquatic resources, natural products, water resources, etc. Applications are accepted all year and are to be made on an IFS Application Form.

The full guidelines, eligibility criteria, and instructions to apply are available here:


47. World Resources Institute (WRI) is seeking a results-oriented Senior Associate

From: Karen Bennett

The People & Ecosystems Program at the is seeking a results-oriented Senior Associate to develop, lead, and grow new WRI efforts to implement innovative approaches for financing ecosystem conservation/restoration for the sake of improving human well being. The Senior Associate will begin by managing a multi-year project to identify, develop, and pilot test a portfolio of incentives designed to conserve forests in the southern United States. Over time, s/he will be responsible for launching additional projects that create novel approaches for aligning economic incentives with ecosystem stewardship. The Senior Associate will have the latitude to develop projects in other regions or countries. The ideal candidate has expertise in conservation finance and policy as applied to forest ecosystems. The candidate needs to have a minimum 8 years of relevant experience.

The Senior Associate will be part of WRI’s Mainstreaming Ecosystem Services Initiative, which seeks to reduce ecosystem degradation by helping governments, businesses, and development agencies integrate ecosystem services into their policies, strategies, and investments. The initiative’s strategy is two-fold:

1) Provide decision-makers with information and assessment tools that link ecosystem health with the attainment of economic and social goals; and

2) Develop new markets, economic incentives, and public policies that restore and sustain ecosystems.

Interested candidates should send their resume or CV and a cover letter to:

Karen Bennett
World Resources Institute
10 G Street NE Suite 800
Washington, DC 20002, USA
No phone calls please.
For a full job description, please see:



48. IIED papers: How to protect forests, improve lives and tackle climate change

From: Mike Shanahan

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) has published two short papers that describe how to protect forests, improve people’s lives and livelihoods and help to address climate change.

The papers by Virgilio Viana, show ways to implement REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), which is one of the tools likely to feature in the new global plan to tackle climate change that governments are negotiating this year.

Viana knows first-hand how to do this, having implemented successful projects to reduce deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon. By engaging local communities Viana’s work led to a 70% reduction in deforestation between 2003 and 2007, a 9% annual increase in the local economy in the same period (three times the national rate), and a range of social and health benefits.

Many people say that REDD will be too hard to implement and fund, but Viana says that pilot projects show that all methodological concerns can be dealt with easily. In terms of funding he calls for a two track system.

One track would be support from wealthy governments to governments of forest nations to improve forest governance and policies that reduce deforestation. The second track would use money from carbon markets to support projects on the ground in return for carbon credits.

Follow these links to download the papers.

Seeing REDD in the Amazon: a win for people, trees and climate – 2 pages

Financing REDD: how government funds can work with the carbon market – 4 pages

For a short video interview with Professor Viana, see:

For more information, please contact:

Mike Shanahan
Press officer
International Institute for Environment and Development
3 Endsleigh Street
London WC1H 0DD
Tel: 44 (0) 207 388 2117
Fax: 44 (0) 207 388 2826


49. Research Publications on Jatropha and Pongamia

From: Pankaj Oudhia, 28 January 2009

The following research publications on Jatropha and Pongamia are now available:

Oudhia, P. 2009. Medicinal uses of Indian biodiesel plant Pongamia pinnata. CGBD (Offline Database on Chhattisgarh Biodiversity), Raipur, India.

Oudhia, P. 2009. Indigenous flora having negative impacts on growth of Jatropha curcas. CGBD (Offline Database on Chhattisgarh Biodiversity), Raipur, India.

Oudhia, P. 2009. Why Jatropha is no more effective live fence in Indian state Chhattisgarh? CGBD (Offline Database on Chhattisgarh Biodiversity), Raipur, India.

Oudhia, P. 2009. Recent cases of Jatropha toxicity in Indian cattle. CGBD (Offline Database on Chhattisgarh Biodiversity), Raipur, India.

Oudhia, P. 2009. Major diseases affecting Jatropha curcas population in Indian state Chhattisgarh. CGBD (Offline Database on Chhattisgarh Biodiversity), Raipur, India.

Oudhia, P. 2008. Interactions with children affected by Jatropha poisoning in different parts of India. CGBD (Offline Database on Chhattisgarh Biodiversity), Raipur, India.

Oudhia, P. 2008. Why Jatropha plantations are becoming great failure in Indian wastelands? : Comments as Agronomist. CGBD (Offline Database on Chhattisgarh Biodiversity), Raipur, India.

Oudhia, P. 2008. Twenty indigenous ways to protect Indian biodiesel plant Pongamia pinnata from problematic insects and diseases. CGBD (Offline Database on Chhattisgarh Biodiversity), Raipur, India.

Oudhia, P. 2008. That’s how Jatropha is posing threat on Indian bird diversity. CGBD (Offline Database on Chhattisgarh Biodiversity), Raipur, India.

Oudhia, P. 2008. Possible ways of reaching Jatropha poison curcin in cow milk. CGBD (Offline Database on Chhattisgarh Biodiversity), Raipur, India.

Oudhia, P. 2008. Behavior response of wild herbivores to Jatropha curcas population in dense forests of Indian state Chhattisgarh. CGBD (Offline Database on Chhattisgarh Biodiversity), Raipur, India.


50. Other publications of interest

From: FAO’s NWFP Program

Argumedo, Alejandro & Tammy Stenner. 2008. Association ANDES: Conserving indigenous biocultural heritage. Gatekeeper. 137a.

Ba NGai, Nguyen, Nguyen Quang Tan, William D. Sunderlin &Yurdi Yasmi. 2009. Forestry and Poverty Data in Viet Nam: Status, Gaps, and Potential Uses. Viet Nam. RECOFTC, RRI, & Vietnam Forestry University.

de La Gálvez, Erika & Luis F. Pacheco. 2009. Abundancia y estructura poblacional de la lagartija jararank’o (Liolaemus signifer; Liolaemidae-Lacertilia-Reptilia) en zonas con y sin extracción comercial en el Altiplano de Bolivia. Tropical Conservation Science. Vol. 2 (1):70-87.

Griscom, H.P., Griscom, B.W., and Ashton, M.S. 2009. Forest regeneration from pasture in the dry tropics of Panama: effects of cattle, exotic grass, and forested riparia. Restor. Ecol. 17(1):117-126.

Homyack, J.A., and Haas, C.A. 2009. Long-term effects of experimental forest harvesting on abundance and reproductive demography of terrestrial salamanders. Biol. Conserv. 142(1):110-121.

Hurley, Patrick T., Angela C. Halfacre, Norm S. Levine, Marianne K. Burke. 2008. Finding a “Disappearing” Nontimber Forest Resource: Using Grounded Visualization to Explore Urbanization Impacts on Sweetgrass Basketmaking in Greater Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. Professional geographer. 60(4), 556-579.

Abstract: Despite growing interest in urbanization and its social and ecological impacts on formerly rural areas, empirical research remains limited. Extant studies largely focus either on issues of social exclusion and enclosure or ecological change. This article uses the case of sweetgrass basketmaking in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, to explore the implications of urbanization, including gentrification, for the distribution and accessibility of sweetgrass, an economically important NTFP for historically African American communities, in this rapidly growing area. We explore the usefulness of grounded visualization for research efforts that are examining the existence of 'fringe ecologies' associated with NTFP. Our findings highlight the importance of integrated qualitative and quantitative analyses for revealing the complex social and ecological changes that accompany both urbanization and rural gentrification.

Jahromi, M. H.; Khakpour, S. H.; Farnaghi, S. 2008. The study of Commiphora Mukul resin extract effect on increasing physical stamina in male rats. Medical Sciences Journal of Islamic AzadUniversity 18: 3, P.149-153.

Jenkins, K.B., Andriamanana Rabearivelo, Chan Tak Chan Wai Mine Andre, Roma Randrianavelona, & J. Christian Randrianantoandro. 2009. The harvest of endemic amphibians for food in eastern Madagascar. Tropical Conservation Science. Vol.2 (1):25-33.

Lakshmi, S.; Beena Joy. 2009. Advances in medical treatment with plant based natural products. Recent Progress in Medicinal Plants. 24: 1, 171-197.

Murray-Smith, C., Brummitt, N.A., Oliveira-Filho, A.T., Bachman, S., Moat, J., Lughadha, E.M.N., and Lucas, E.J. 2009. Plant diversity hotspots in the Atlantic coastal forests of Brazil. Conserv. Biol. 23(1):151-163.

Msuya, Tuli S. & Jafari R. Kideghesho. 2009. The Role of Traditional Management Practices in Enhancing Sustainable Use and Conservation of Medicinal Plants in West Usambara Mountains, Tanzania. Tropical Conservation Science. Vol. 2 (1): 88-105.

Raman, T.R.S., Mudappa, D., and Kapoor, V. 2009. Restoring rainforest fragments: survival of mixed-native species seedlings under contrasting site conditions in the Western Ghats, India. Restor. Ecol. 17(1):137-147.

Sheil, Douglas and Daniel Murdiyarso. 2009. How Forests Attract Rain: An Examination of a New Hypothesis. Bioscience, 59.

Sodhi, N.S., Lee, T.M., Koh, L.P., and Brook, B.W. 2009. A meta-analysis of the impact of anthropogenic forest disturbance on Southeast Asia's biotas. Biotropica 41(1):103-109.

Topp-Jørgensen, E., Nielsen, M. R., Marshall, A. & Pedersen, U. 2009. Mammalian density in response to different levels of bushmeat hunting in the Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania. Tropical Conservation Science. Vol. 2 (1):70-87.

Urquiza-Haas, T., Peres, C.A., and Dolman, P.M. 2009. Regional scale effects of human density and forest disturbance on large-bodied vertebrates throughout the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. Biol. Conserv. 142(1):134-148.

Wunder, Sven, Jan Börner, Marcos Rügnitz Tito & Lígia Pereira. 2008. Pagamentos por serviços ambientais: perspectivas para a Amazônia Legal. Série Estudos 10.

The intent in publishing the book, "Payment for environmental services - perspectives for Legal Amazonia", to be launched in Brasília by the Ministry of the Environment is to contribute to the discussion on payment mechanisms for environmental services in Amazonia. The 136 pages of the publication analyze, characterize, contextualize and, whenever possible, quantify factors that delimit the potential for Payment for Environmental Services (PSA, in Portuguese), both to maintain or increase provision of carbon and biodiversity related environmental services, as well as to enhance the living conditions of rural populations in Brazilian Amazonia. Beginning in 2000, discussions in Brazil intensified regarding the potential of PSA after the launch of the Rural Family-based Production Socioenvironmental Development Program (Proambiente), a pioneer experience in several parts of the Amazon Region that identified a number of obstacles to be overcome in order to implement PSA schemes in the Amazon. Since then, several bills of law have been proposed to include PSA in the country's environmental policy. According to the publication, the main component currently of this policy are command and control instruments and the establishment of protected areas, seeking to directly or indirectly contribute towards maintaining the environmental services provided by Amazonia. "Overcoming the main legal obstacle, which is to establish legal grounds for inserting PSA into the federal budget, is only a first step. Additionally, there are several peculiarities of such a large and diverse region as the Brazilian Amazon, which must be considered when designing public mechanisms to transfer funds that benefit the environment".

Full text: "Pagamentos por serviços ambientais - perspectivas para a Amazônia


51. Web sites and e-zines

From: FAO’s NWFP Program

Agroforestería Ecológica: Temas de Actualización (2008 y 2009)

Crops for the Future

Information Portal: Negotiations related to the International Regime on Access and Benefit Sharing

First Forest Carbon Newsletter:

Forest Carbon Portal, Ecosystem Marketplace's Newest Service

The Forest Carbon Portal provides relevant daily news, original Ecosystem Marketplace stories, a calendar of events, a toolbox of resources ranging from methodologies to policy briefs, and market analysis on land-based carbon sequestration projects from forest to farm. The Portal also includes the Forest Carbon Project Inventory, a searchable database and map of projects selling land-based carbon credits across the globe. Users can search for projects by country, as well as by a variety of criteria such as project type, standard, registry and size. Projects are described in consistent 'nutrition labels' which supply as much information as can be maintained in a consistent structure. Projects must either be third-party verified or have sold credits to be eligible for listing. Currently, data collection is ongoing and the inventory only includes forest based projects. If you know of any forest/terrestrial carbon projects or would like to see your project showcased on the Forest Carbon Inventory map, or if your project is already on display and needs to be changed or updated, please contact Maria Bendana: Also, if you have a useful resource that is not currently listed and/or if you would like to feature a relevant article please use the same address.

Photovoices: Empowering people through photography

Research and Media Network



52. Photovoices: New way to share TK

Source: The New Straits Times, Malaysia, 17 March 2009

Photovoices provides cameras and training on the basics of good photography to the indigenous people, many of whom cannot read or write. Each project lasts between six months to a year. Facilitators, fluent in local languages and dialects, are assigned to visit the villagers each month to document the stories behind the photos onto a computer. The information is then given to scientists and government leaders.

For full story, please see:


53. Search for rhino turf in Buxa, India

Source: The Telegraph, Calcutta India, 25 February 2009

Alipurduar - The forest department will conduct a feasibility study to see if rhinos can be introduced in the Buxa Tiger Reserve (India) to try and expand their gene pool in neighboring Jaldapara, where it has apparently suffered because of years of breeding among a small group of animals.

A forest officer said genetic diversity among rhinos in the Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary in Jalpaiguri had become low because of extensive “inbreeding”, which “lowers the biological fitness of animals”.

Jaldapara and Buxa are adjacent to each other and foresters are hoping there will be breeding between the rhinos of the two forests in the future, which will ensure greater genetic diversity. If things go according to plan, a pair of adult rhinos will be brought from Kaziranga in Assam.

However, their new habitat has to be developed first. To find out whether grassland — once abundant in Buxa but now missing in vast stretches — can be brought back, the forest department has invited scientists from the Wild Life Institute of India in Dehra Dun.

According to a forest official, there used to be proper rhino habitat in Buxa in the 1950s. In the next decade, the forest department decided to plant large trees such as sal, shish and teak for commercial purposes. The grassland was destroyed during the plantation drive. Over the years, the Buxa rhinos migrated to Jaldapara or Kaziranga.

For full story, please see:


54. Tree death rate in Pacific Northwest United States doubled in 17 years

Source: Community Forestry Resource Center, USA, 19 March 2009

Trees are dying twice as fast as they did three decades ago in older forests of the western United States and scientists suspect warming temperatures are a contributing factor.

In the Pacific Northwest and southern British Columbia, the rate of tree death in older coniferous forests doubled in 17 years. That rate of increase is about 1.5 times faster than California forests, where mortality rates took 25 years to double. California, however, still had the highest tree mortality rates at the end of the study. Mortality has been lowest for forests in the interior states and the rate of change was slower, taking 29 years to double.

"This suggests that one, or several, northwestern tree species are sensitive to whatever is going on," says Jerry Franklin, a professor of forest resources at the University of Washington and one of 11 co-authors of a report in the Jan. 23 issue of Science.

Temperatures have risen more than 1 degree Fahrenheit in 30 years and that reduces snow pack, prolongs drought and helps insects and diseases to flourish, all of which could be affecting trees, according to the report in Science.

Even small changes in mortality rates can add up because the effects compound. Just doubling the rate from 1 percent a year to 2 percent a year doesn't sound like much. For 100 trees, a 1 percent mortality per year means the stand would have 60 trees after 50 years. But a mortality rate of 2 percent per year would result in 36 trees after 50 years. In addition, a doubling of the rate can gradually change the very face of the forest, with the trees overall being younger and, presumably, smaller.

"An alarming implication of increased mortality rates is that the fundamental structure of these forests could be undergoing change," Franklin says. "The forests may stabilize at lower overall levels of biomass, resulting in less carbon stored in the forests -- although the old forests will still sequester large amounts of carbon."

The forests in the study were all older than 200 years and many were established more than 500 years ago. Such forests are considered to be much more in equilibrium than young forests where competition is a key reason trees die. Consequently, in young stands it is nearly impossible to distinguish changes in mortality related to external factors such as climate variability, Franklin says.

Older forests have trees of all ages and researchers found that mortality rates increased for all age groups, ruling out the idea that the increase resulted from the very oldest trees dying. Also ruled out were the effects of forest fragmentation, air pollution and suppressing wildfires, which can lead to overcrowded stands susceptible to insect attacks or catastrophic wildfires.

This is the first large-scale analysis of mortality rates in temperate forests. Much of the world's population -- in North America, Europe, most of China and large portions of Russia -- live near temperate forests, so what happens in these forests has global importance, Franklin says.

Some scientists say that tree species unable to tolerate warmer conditions might just re-establish themselves in cooler areas. Given the speed at which warming appears to be occurring, Franklin questions whether tree species will be able to "migrate" at a sufficient rate, particularly in light of how temperate forest landscapes have been fragmented.

"My guess is that forest loss has the potential to greatly exceed forest establishment," Franklin says.

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last updated:  Friday, August 28, 2009