No. 7/09

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

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

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


  1. Bamboo: Impulsan cultivo del bambú en oriente cubano
  2. Boswellia Serrata's bioavailability
  3. Bushmeat: Illegal pangolin trade threatens rare species
  4. Ferns: Fiddleheads big business
  5. Medicinal plants face greater risk of biopiracy in Thailand after H1N1 outbreak
  6. Medicinal plant fights Chinese desertification, brings profit
  7. Mushrooms: Finland wild mushroom season has begun
  8. Sandalwood cultivation promoted by Indian Forest Dept
  9. Sandalwood planting in religious premises of Sri Lanka
  10. Truffles: Australian harvest in full swing
  11. Truffle levy proposed for Australian harvesters
  12. Vegetable Ivory: LeJu at Pure London


  1. Bhutan: Don’t eat what you don’t know
  2. Canada: Goods from the woods: Manitoba model forest hosts introductory NTFP workshops
  3. India: People depend on wild mushrooms
  4. Indonesia: Parks may reduce deforestation in adjacent unprotected areas
  5. Jamaica: UWI improving life in the Cockpit Country
  6. Myanmar handicraft companies to participate in Shanghai furniture fair
  7. Namibia: Gam farmers refuse to move
  8. Nigeria: potential of gum Arabic
  9. Pakistan: Rewarded for tree planting world record
  10. Peru's patent win strikes blow against biopiracy
  11. Tanzania: Forestry projects and the voluntary carbon market
  12. USA: Chestnut tree restoration
  13. Vietnam: A challenge for craft villages


  1. Can non-timber forest products help conserve the Amazon?
  2. Making trade bans on endangered species work
  3. Report urges forestry industry to tackle conflict with local people
  4. The world’s three major tropical forest regions agree on collaboration


  1. Second World Congress of Agroforestry: The Future of Global Land Use
  2. International Conference: Forests, Markets, Policy & Practice
  3. VIII World Bamboo Congress
  4. University of Kwazulu-Natal Business and Management Conference


  1. New publication from FAO’s NWFP programme
  2. Other publications of interest
  3. Web sites and e-zines


  1. Ancient Maya practiced forest conservation 3,000 years ago
  2. British company barcodes trees to protect forests
  3. European Union partners with the FAO to boost agricultural production
  4. Spain: Investigadores de la UAL participan en un proyecto europeo dedicado a sustituir plásticos por residuos derivados de la Madera



1. Bamboo: Impulsan cultivo del bambú en oriente cubano

Source: DTCuba, 6 de Julio de 2009

La Habana.- La provincia de Santiago de Cuba, en la zona oriental de la isla, promueve la siembra de bambú para la actividad forestal, además de recuperar áreas afectadas por la deforestación.

El territorio aspira a concretar este año la plantación de unas 400 hectáreas de la referida especie vegetal.

Los especialistas destacaron la utilidad del bambú por sus variados usos económicos en la confección de muebles y objetos artesanales, muy demandados en el mercado interno.

Entre los usos de esa planta está la elaboración de madera prensada, la edificación de casas con distintos fines e instalaciones para el expendio de alimentos ligeros.

El forest es también vital en los planes para disminuir el impacto del cambio climático, dada su gran capacidad de captar el foresta de carbono de la atmósfera y cubrir terrenos dañados o con escasa vocación forestall.

For full story, please see:


2. Boswellia Serrata's bioavailability

Source: Natural Products Insider, 3 June 2009

Recent research on extracts and purified compounds from the gum resin of Boswellia serrata shed light on the bioavailability of a compound shown partially responsible for the plant’s joint health and inflammatory modulating principles.

“The recent research on Boswellia confirms 11-keto β-boswellic acid, or KBA, may be the appropriate active biomarker to measure consumption of Boswellia extracts,” said Blake Ebersole, technical director of Verdure Sciences.

In a study published in February 2009, experiments in CACO-2 cell cultures measuring bioavailability through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract found moderate absorption of KBA, compared to the measurement of other marker compounds from Boswellia (Eur J Pharm Sci. 2009;36(2-3):275-84). In a 2008 study in vivo models, KBA was detected in plasma and metabolized to hydroxylated boswellic acid derivatives, in contrast to other potential boswellic acid markers. This research is consistent with prior human pharmacokinetic studies on WOKVEL Extract (a dietary supplement derived form Boswellia) indicating KBA is an appropriate active plasma marker to measure consumption of Boswellia extracts.
For full story, please see:


3. Bushmeat: Illegal pangolin trade threatens rare species

Source: ENN, 20 July 2009

Chinese demand for the pangolin, a scale-covered anteater, is forcing the endangered animals closer to extinction, wildlife organizations announced this week.

Pangolins are disappearing in China and across their ranges in East and Southeast Asia. They have become the most frequently seized mammal in Asia's illegal wildlife trade, as smugglers sell the creatures to meet culinary and medicinal demand.

The pangolin decline comes despite national legislation that bans hunting the species throughout its Southeast Asia range. Meanwhile, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) prohibits the pangolin trade across borders.

Chris Shepherd, acting director for Southeast Asia for the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, said the pangolin plight reflects the difficulty in enforcing the international wildlife convention.

"The ongoing massive-scale trade in these species does highlight a failure of the Convention," Shepherd said. "CITES is a very useful conservation tool, but like any tool, it is only useful when effectively used."

Pangolin researchers gathered earlier this month in Singapore and concluded that increased demand from China has led to "great declines" in pangolin populations across Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. Some researchers concluded that pangolins from Indonesia and Malaysia now supply the bulk of East Asian markets. The panel said traders are importing pangolins into China from as far away as Africa, where four of the eight known species of the anteater live.

Pangolins have been a staple of traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, but growing human populations and greater wealth across China have increased demand. Pangolin fetuses, scales, and blood are used in medicine, the meat is considered a delicacy, and stuffed pangolins are sold as souvenirs.

The decline in pangolin populations and intensified efforts to curb the illegal trade have led to rising prices for pangolin products - further enticing organized crime rings to smuggle the endangered animals. A kilogram of pangolin scales that earned only 80 yuan (US$10) in the early 1990s would now yield 1,200 yuan ($175) on the black market, according to Zhang Yue, a wildlife trade expert in China's State Forestry Administration.

An estimated 25,000-50,000 wild pangolins lived in China in 2000, according to a national survey. Populations in Guangdong and Hunan provinces have since dropped as low as 10 percent of the 2000 estimate, and populations in Hainan, Henan, and Jiangsu provinces are likely extinct, according to a study led by Li Zhang, the technical director of Conservation International's China program.

Tallies of the creatures are generally unreliable due to their solitary and nocturnal habits. The International Union of Conservation of Nature acknowledges that there is "very little information available on the population status anywhere in the species' range" but the organization concurs that pangolin populations are decreasing.

According to data on wildlife seizures, at least 49,662 pangolins have been smuggled from Indonesia since 2002. In Thailand, border officials seized 7,734 pangolins between 2003 and June 2008.

Most governments in the pangolins' range have implemented bans on hunting or trading the animals, and violators face harsh penalties with potential imprisonment. Range countries acknowledge, however, that enforcement is generally weak due to a lack of wildlife management personnel and funding.

Shepherd said that even in countries with strict penalties, violators are rarely punished to the full extent of the law. "Penalties need to serve as a deterrent and until this happens, the trade will continue," he said.

China is a member of CITES, but the country permits some pangolin consumption to respect medicinal traditions. Pangolin scales may be used in clinical treatment and in the manufacturing of patented Chinese medicines. Both uses are permitted only in designated hospitals, not through retail sales.

To control the pangolin influx from Indonesia - where Shepherd said that middlemen regularly establish "buying stations" in villages before shipping the anteaters to China - Indonesian wildlife officials have proposed a legalized trade based on a quota system. The market would be strictly monitored and limited to a period of three to five years.

Gono Semiadi, a biologist at the Indonesia Institute for Sciences, said at a panel during the Singapore conference that a legal market would allow wildlife officials to create a rivalry between legal and illegal traders, enabling officials to better understand trade routes and trafficking data.

Given the high market value for pangolins, continued demand, and difficulty in enforcing wildlife laws in Indonesia, some conservationists are concerned that traders would illegally exceed the legal pangolin exchange quota.

"Managing a regulated trade and preventing illegal trade would prove extremely difficult, especially since the illegal trade network is so well organized," Shepherd said. "The focus should be purely on stopping the illegal trade. Allowing a regulated trade would only open a loophole for laundering of illegally sourced pangolins."
For full story, please see:


4. Ferns: Fiddleheads big business

Source: The Tribune, Canada, 27 May 2009

Port Colborne, Canada — Being a fiddlehead farmer was the “last thing in the world” Nick Secord ever wanted to do. All he really wanted was to go fishing. Walking through his 40-acre fiddlehead farm at the west end of Barrick Road, Secord recalled his start growing the vegetable that is become increasingly popular amongst health-conscious people all over the world.

About 30 years ago, he said a friend who ran a Dominion grocery store in New Brunswick asked him to collect fiddleheads to sell at the store. In exchange, his friend said he’d take Secord fishing.

A year later, Secord said he got a call from another grocery-store chain — Atlantic Wholesalers. “Are you the guy who got the fiddleheads for the Dominion stores?” Secord was asked. “Yeah, but I don’t do that. I just did it to go fishing,” Secord replied. “That was the humble beginning.” The experience showed Secord the business potential fiddleheads held, and he got to work.

But success wasn’t easy. He recalled his first experience selling the product. A grocery store placed an order for 50 cases of the plants — to be sold on consignment. He’d only get paid for the cases that were actually sold. Anything that wasn’t sold would be sent back. “Anyway we got 49 cases back,” he said. Undaunted, Secord pressed on. And slowly, his business grew.

Over the years, NorCliff Farms has become the largest grower, packer and distributor of Fiddlehead Greens in the world. His company owns or leases fields in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Maine. In total, NorCliff Farms has about 1,000 acres of land dedicated to the production of fiddleheads. His company employs more than 400 people.

It's also a substantial investment. “To plant fiddleheads like this it costs slightly more than $12,000 an acre,” he said.

But a fiddlehead farm is very different type of agriculture compared to what most people would think of. Instead of the wide-open cultivated fields that comprise most farms, a fiddlehead farm is essentially a swampy-wooded area.

Fiddleheads are actually the sprouts of the ostrich fern (Matteuccia Struthiopteris), a plant that grows in damp wooded areas. They’re harvested for a few short weeks in the early spring, when they’re still tightly curled in a spiral, before any leaves start to appear.

“These are the fiddleheads coming up, see them all,” he said, kneeling beside the fresh green plant. “You want them when they’re just coming up like this. If there are any leaves on the stem, they are past harvest. Once you have a first leaflet that’s on the stem, they’re too old and we don’t use them for market.”

And the fields that make up NorCliff farms are actually wooded areas, cleared of the low-lying underbrush to allow the ostrich ferns to get established.

There’s little big equipment required, and no pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals. The ferns, he said, contain their own natural herbicide making manmade additions unnecessary. A number of smaller ponds were added amongst the ferns to ensure they have plenty of water. He said pumps are used to ensure that the land floods every spring, just in case it’s dry year.

The popularity of the product continues to grow, as a health conscious people look for delicious alternative greens to add to their plates.

Fiddleheads have an abundance of protein, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. They are also high in vitamins A, C, B, along with niacin, copper and manganese. They are also extremely low in sodium and cholesterol.

Secord said the business is also reaching out to young culinary arts students, in the hope of finding new ways to enjoy the vegetable.

Although his business was borne from a desire to go fishing, as busy as Secord has become, he doesn’t have much time left to spend with a fishing pole. But that pond beside his home and office has about 750 trout swimming around in it. And if he ever finds the time, Secord might actually have a chance to go fishing after all.

For full story, please see:


5. Medicinal plants face greater risk of biopiracy in Thailand after H1N1 outbreak

Source: Bangkok Post, 28 July 2009

Biodiversity advocates are warning the Department of Intellectual Property to step carefully in granting patents to foreign firms to make flu drugs from Thai herbal plants, especially the well-known fah talai jon (Andrographis paniculata).

The number of patent applications to extract fah talai jon chemical substances by foreign researchers has risen dramatically after the outbreak of type A (H1N1) flu earlier this year, said Witoon Lianchamroon, director of Biothai, a non-profit organization working on biodiversity conservation.

The Institute of Thai Traditional Medicine says clinical studies on fah talai jon show it is effective in easing flu symptoms such as sore throat and diarrhoea.

Mr Witoon said granting patents for herbal medicines or production methods to foreigners would limit chances for Thais to make use of the medicinal plant.

Patenting the chemical extract of fah talai jon would only repeat the mistake of the plao noi incident; in which Japanese pharmaceutical firms patented medicinal ingredients and methods of extraction for the herb.

"The department must check carefully whether any patent application breaks the international biological diversity treaty and Thailand's 1999 Plant Varieties Protection Act," he said. "Although fah talai jon is not found only in Thailand, countries possessing the precious herb should work together to protect their rights from bio-piracy."

The Intellectual Property Department said it had received a number of applications from abroad to patent activities for developing herbal plants, including fah talai jon, red onion, ginger, plai and ya nguang chang (Indian Heliotrope).

Supaporn Pitiporn, head of pharmacy at Chaophaya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital in Prachin Buri, which is famous for developing herbal medicines, said it was difficult for Thai researchers to get patents because of their limited knowledge.

For full story, please see:


6. Medicinal plant fights Chinese desertification, brings profit

Source: Xinhua News, China, 27 July 2009

Hohhot -- When Ulji sold his beloved jeep that was used in herding and spent the money on saplings and herb seeds, his father flew into a rage and shouted at him; "We are herdsmen, herding is what we do."

But Ulji never regretted his actions. In 2001, he put all he had on planting cistanche (Cistanche spp.), a kind of herb that has a symbiotic relationship with the desert plant, saxaul (Haloxylon ammodendron).

Saxaul is used effectively to fight against impeding erosion, but without its symbiotic partner Cistanche, there is no monetary gain in growing it. Cistanche lives on the slender tendrils of saxaul's root, and is often called the ginseng of the desert.

As a treasured traditional Chinese herb, it has been used to treat senile dementia, constipation, E.D. and infertility. It is also believed to boost immunity, improve memory and delay aging.

Ulji began to grow saxaul inoculated with cistanche in 2003 and harvested the first cistanche in 2006. He couldn't wait to show it to his parents, who still had no idea how much money the humble potato-like plant would provide for the family.

In May of 2006, Ulji sold half a packet of cistanche for 3,000 yuan (US$440), equal to the average annual income per capita in the town. And in the spring of 2008, the family earned more than 10,000 yuan just from cistanche.

So far, Ulji has planted saxaul on 24 hectares of desert and fruit trees on 21 other hectares, making a small oasis in the fourth-largest desert in China.

Zhang Jianjun, a 33-year-old vendor in a small town called Bayangaole near the Ulan Buh desert, still remembers how his family had to move five times because of desert expansion a decade ago.

“The days when we can't walk with eyes open have become old memories. Every time we moved before, the sand buried our house," Zhang said.

The family has not moved since 1999 after the Dengkou County, that administers Bayangaole, invested heavily in growing saxaul. Now the county has planted 20,000 hectares of saxaul and inoculated cistanches on 2,000 hectares.

To combat desertification, Saxaul-cistanche shrubs are spread on the vast deserts of west China.

Saxaul-cistanche shrubs also serve as wind barriers on the singular road that runs through Tarim desert in northwest China's Xinjiang. The cistanche-rich barriers generate 9 million yuan revenue a year, enough to cover the road's maintenance.

Saxaul, a small, bushy tree of 1 to 4 meters high, has an 80 percent chance of surviving the drought barren deserts. The plant has a strong root that can reach deeper than 10 meters down into the ground and hold the sands firmly. Its lush needle leaves also slowdown the wind.

It once faced extinctions as herdsman would over harvest the plant, digging it up by the roots. But the situation began to change as Chinese began to artificially cultivate cistanche.

Every hectare of saxaul grown with cistanche can yield 150,000 yuan worth of cistanche products, in addition to the desertification control benefits, said Tu Pengfei, a scholar from Peking University's Modern Research Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The cistanche and saxaul combination is an ideal way to combat desertification compared with growing grass and trees, said Tu.

The locals take more personal initiatives in planting profitable herbs like cistanche to prevent desertification, said Xia Ri, president of Inner Mongolia Sand and Herbs Industry Association. "And it helps ecology, economy and social well-being." Xia added.

Jia Zhibang, Chief of China Forestry Administration said 18.11 percent of China, or 174 million hectares, is desert. China suffers an annual direct economic loss of 54 billion yuan from desertification that affects the life of nearly 400 million people.

China's desert area has been shrinking at the rate of 128,300 hectares a year, a U-turn from the annual expansion of 343,600 hectares before the end of the 20th century.

For full story, please see:


7. Mushrooms: Finland wild mushroom season has begun

Source: YLE.FI, 24 July 2009

The wild mushroom season has started in Finnish forests. Chanterelles were the first to appear, and the first boletus mushrooms have also been found.

Picking mushrooms is a favourite late summer and autumn outdoor activity in Finland, providing both healthy recreation and free food. With its distinctive orange-yellow colour, the prized chanterelle is easy to find in forest terrain. It can already be found in abundance in southern and central Finland.

There are several ways to preserve mushrooms beyond the growing season: they can be dried, frozen, or pickled in salt.

While many mushrooms are both tasty and nutritious, and wandering in the forest is both good exercise and relaxing, there are also hazards.

Some forest fungi are deadly poisonous, so pickers need to know their mushrooms. Even some edible ones can cause problems if not prepared properly. For instance, milk caps need to be boiled for at least five minutes, and the water discarded. Mushroom hunting is therefore best done in the company of someone who knows which mushrooms to avoid. Sensible precautions are also recommended to avoid getting lost in the forest.

For full story, please see:


8. Sandalwood cultivation promoted by Indian Forest Dept

Source: The Hindu, 17 July 2009

Chitradurga (PTI): Karnataka forest department has decided to promote sandalwood cultivation in the district by distributing around 50,000 seedlings this year.

The department has taken this decision following a recent amendment in Karnataka Forest Rules 1969, under which some of the norms relating to sandalwood cultivation have been relaxed, District Forest Officer Srinivasulu told PTI on Friday.

"Earlier, cultivators had to sell sandalwood only to the forest department. Hence people were not coming forward to cultivate this precious wood", he said.

With the amendment, the government has now allowed sale of sandalwood directly to semi-government agencies such as Karnataka State Handicraft Development Corporation (KSHDC) and Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Limited (KSDL), he said.

The two agencies buy the wood from cultivators by paying an advance amount of 10 percent of the approximate cost and the remaining would be paid within a maximum period of six months, he said.

To avoid smuggling and illegal trade, the department mediates in the selling process and keeps a record of wood sold.

Sandalwood in the only tree sold on the basis of weight and not size. The present market price of sandalwood is Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000 per kg. About 10 varieties of sandalwood were cultivated in the state, Mr. Srinivasalu said.

Mr. Srinivasalu said sandalwood was largely found in Jogimatti forest range in Chitradurga, Devaragudda forest range in Molakalmuru and Neerathalli forest range in Holalkere taluk of the district.

"We want farmers to cultivate this wood which does not require heavy investment. This will be cultivated along with arecanut or coconut. The government is also offering a 75 percent subsidy on cultivation", he said, adding the forest department had already distributed 15,000 seedlings to various cultivators in the district.

For full story, please see:


9. Sandalwood planting in religious premises of Sri Lanka

Source: Daily News, 27 July 2009

Wood is a renewable and sustainable energy resource which is considered environmentally friendly.The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has forecasted that the global wood demand will increase from 3,500 million cubic meters consumed in 1990 to over 5,000 million cubic meters annually by 2010. It is an increase of 40 percent over 40 years. According to this, the increase is equivalent to 78 million cubic meters per year.

If we consider how the planting of forests has created an impact on the environment, it is obvious that Sri Lanka too can make an impact on the global environment through sustainable forest plantation.

However, unplanned development and timber utilization have led to a mass scale destruction of forests, which is now around 5,700 acres monthly in Sri Lanka alone. At the current rate of exhaustion, rain forests may disappear from the face of the Earth within 30 to 40 years.

Haritha Piyasa program led by Mahinda Chinthana outlines that it will be implemented to reforest the hill country, slopes and protected watershed areas with plants endemic to Sri Lanka. Accordingly, steps will be taken to promote commercial forestry in keeping with the timber requirement of the nation. Under the guidance of Environment and Natural Resources Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka and the patronage of Tharunyayata Hetak president Namal Rajapaksa, sandalwood (Santalum album) will be planted in places of religious worship. To conserve these endangered plants, a public quoted company Touchwood Investment PLC. (TI) has so far planted trees to cover all 22,400 religious locations in the country.

Sandalwood is a rare plant in the South Asian region which faces extinction today. Its therapeutic properties are highly useful in Ayurvedic medicines and beauty care products worldwide. It holds a traditional ritualistic value too.

Environment and Natural Resources Minister Ranawaka said the intervention of the Tharunyayata Hetak program to plant sandalwood is a timely decision and would help achieve the objectives of Haritha Piyasa program enshrined in the Mahinda Chinthanaya.

The program to reintroduce Sandalwood plants in all places of religious worship will fulfill the objectives of the Mahinda Chinthana that to conserve the threatened plant species of the land, National Coordinator sandalwood Reintroducing Project D.A. Hettiarachchi said.

Although most profit oriented companies cover up their true motives with meager social responsibility schemes, the TI was born with its commitment towards Cooperate Social Responsibility.

“We believe that the demand for our source product wood will increase the forest cover of the planet and also generate more rainfall while maintaining the water cycle and control global warming. The Sandalwood Reintroducing Program will reap maximum result in addressing environmental issues,” TI Chief Executive Officer Asitha Koralage said.

For full story, please see:


10. Truffles: Australian harvest in full swing

Source: Food Week Online, 24 July 2009

Australia's black truffle harvest is in full swing with growers tipping a bumper crop of the revered fungus this winter.

Australia's truffle pioneers are in Tasmania, which produced the country's first Tuber melanosporum in 1999 after plantings began in 1991. Peter Cooper from Perigord Truffles of Tasmania is predicting a best-ever national harvest for 2009 of about 1.5 tones.

Europe produces up to 60 tones of black truffles during its annual winter harvest.

The feather-light truffles have a three-week fresh shelf life and fresh is considered best, although they can be preserved.

Mr Cooper said prices for Australian truffles have so far withstood an impact on demand caused by the global financial crisis. They'll sell this season for about $2.50 per gram, he said.

Tasmanian truffles, sniffed out from under oak and hazel trees by dogs, are picked in the morning and packed and shipped the same day. The clock on freshness is ticking as soon as they are plucked from the earth.

Mr Cooper said they can be anywhere in Australia within 24 hours and anywhere in the world within 48 hours of harvesting. Most of them will be sold overseas, through Asia and into Europe.

A black truffle varies in size from 2cm in diameter to the size of a grapefruit and is covered in black warts; its appearance indicates nothing of its true value.

The truffles, which form annually, are found just below the soil surface to a depth of 20cm and are believed to develop their best characteristics in cold soil.

For for story, please see:


11. Truffle levy proposed for Australian harvesters

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 27 July 2009

Truffle growers are considering a levy on growers or truffles to raise money for industry research and development.

At the AGM of the Australian Truffle Growers Association in Launceston on the weekend, president Wayne Haslam said now was the right time to get growers to agree to fund industry development.

Mr Haslam says the impetus is Australia's increasing production, which is tipped to quadruple by 2012. "Probably the biggest challenge that we face is the fact that this year, we'll produce probably one and a half tons.

"The industry has the potential to double its output every two years, which means that in five years we'll be producing perhaps 8 tones. How are we going to manage that?"

For full story please see:


12. Vegetable Ivory: LeJu at Pure London

Source: Fashion United, 10 July 2009

Jewelry label LeJu will be on show at Pure London from 2-4th August 2009. New autumnal styles will be on display including pieces made out of sustainable vegetable ivory complemented with tropical recycled wood, resin and horn; striped agate; lava beads; and sterling silver dipped ceramic beads.

LeJu is renowned for its vegetable ivory jewelry and the company only uses high quality. Before the tropical palm seeds can be worked, they must dry naturally for a minimum of two years to gain the hardness required for dying and carving. Use of vegetable ivory provides an alternative to cutting down rain forests for farming, and prevents elephants from being killed for their tusks.

LeJu is headquartered in London and runs their fair trade production in South America. All jewelry is finished to perfection in their London workshop.

For full story, please see:



13. Bhutan: Don’t eat what you don’t know

Source: Kuensel Online, 20 July 2009

Mushroom season has begun and, as usual, many will hunt for the fungi which are considered a delicacy in Bhutanese cuisine. But the risk from wild mushroom poisoning also looms large with fatalities every season.

Breaking a common Bhutanese myth, the National Mushroom Center’s (NMC) program director, Dawa Penjore, says that adding thingay (Szechuan pepper) to an unidentified mushroom will not make it safe for consumption. Many Bhutanese believe that naming an unidentified mushroom or adding thingay will make it safe for consumption.

“Be wary of what you eat,” says Dawa Penjore. “Just because an animal consumes a certain mushroom and doesn’t die, doesn’t mean you won’t as well.”

With a warmer and wetter climate this year, mushroom harvesters are expecting a bountiful season, but forensics specialist Dr Pakila Drukpa wants to remind consumers of a fundamental rule in dealing with fungus, “If you’re not sure what it is, don’t eat it,” he said.

Although records are not maintained of how many people suffer or die of mushroom poisoning every year, “it does occur from time to time,” says Dr Pakila.

Dawa Penjore says mushroom harvesters, especially young children, could pick up similar looking but poisonous versions of safe mushrooms, which could either end up in their meals or for sale at the market or roadside.

NMC has already identified a slightly poisonous mushroom being sold at the vegetable market in Thimphu, the Ting Shamu or Gomphus Floccocus. But because NMC did not have the power to regulate sales of the fungi, nothing could be done, said Dawa Penjore. “It’s not a high risk mushroom, but it could happen with more poisonous mushrooms,” he said.

Dawa Penjore said the NMC was understaffed and, with only one employee with mushroom expertise, it was a challenge to monitor the market.

There are about 250-300 species of mushrooms in Bhutan, of which around 30 or more could be poisonous.

For full story, please see:


14. Canada: Goods from the woods: Manitoba model forest hosts introductory NTFP workshops

Source: CMFN News, 27 July 2009

In March and April the Manitoba Model Forest (MBMF) held a series of six workshops on Non-timber Forest Products (NTFPs) in communities around the model forest area. The workshops were very successful, with more than 150 people attending, and generated great interest in opportunities from the forest. The workshops represented a collaboration between the MBMF, the Centre for Non-timber Resources at Royal Roads University (Victoria, B.C.), Manitoba Forestry Association and the Woodlot Association of Manitoba.

Participants learned about a wide variety of topics related to NTFPs, including: what are NTFPs, local and international marketing, adding value to products, and an exploration of what’s in your community’s backyard. They also gained some hands-on experience in growing their own Shitake and Oyster mushrooms on logs and tapping Manitoba Maple trees for sap and the production of maple syrup. There were opportunities to sample ice cream with Manitoba maple syrup, and herbal tea from Russia. Some participants attended the workshops out of interest in starting up a business, while others attended out of interest in learning about NTFPs for their own use.

The workshops are part of a longer-term plan to build capacity and expertise in NTFP businesses in the model forest area. A new curriculum on NTFPs is being developed by Royal Roads University and Dave Buck for an intensive training course. The MBMF is supporting the development of the curriculum. In addition, the training course will be piloted in the Manitoba Model Forest area in the autumn of 2009.

For full story, please see:


15. India: People depend on wild mushrooms

Source: Express Buzz, 24 July 2009

Paradip – In what seems to be a grim reminder of the Kalahandi situation, where famished people died after consuming mango kernels and poisonous mushrooms, several families of Raghunathpur, Naugaon and other areas of Jagatsinghpur district are struggling for a square meal.

More than 50 persons of Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara districts have already been hospitalized after consuming a certain type of mushroom while several other have complained of stomach trouble and other related diseases in the villages of these two districts. Many like Parbati Sahoo of Gokilpur village under Raghunathpur block have little option given that the vegetables sell at Rs 15 to Rs 30 a kg.

‘‘With seven mouths to feed and no regular source of income to purchase vegetables we collect ‘saag’ and a few `mushrooms’, Parbati said. Her husband and three children took ill after consuming wild mushroom and were admitted into Naugaon hospital.

Nearly 30 villagers of Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara districts had been hospitalised after taking wild mushroom. A medicine specialist confirmed that certain varieties of wild mushrooms are dangerous for health and result in stomach trouble.

Potatoes, brinjal, parbal, ladies finger, arum, pumpkin, snake gourd, and ridge gourd are being sold in the rural market for Rs 20 to Rs 30 a kg. Farmers, on the other hand, said prices have gone up as many vegetable crops were destroyed by monkeys and bulls.

For full story, please see:


16. Indonesia: Parks may reduce deforestation in adjacent unprotected areas

Source:, 9 July 2009

The establishment of protected areas (PAs) on the Indonesian island of Sumatra may have helped reduce deforestation in adjacent unprotected areas, reports new research published in Journal of Biogeography. The results run counter to recent studies elsewhere that suggest the establishment of nature reserves attracts development projects and migrants to surrounding areas, undermining overall conservation efforts.

Analyzing 98 LANDSAT satellite images across Sumatra and the smaller island of Siberut from 1990 to 2000 and applying a statistical method known as "propensity score matching", David Gaveau and colleagues found that "a reduction in deforestation rates inside Sumatran protected areas has promoted protection, rather than deforestation, in adjacent unprotected land lying within 10 km of protected area boundaries."

"We report the absence of a 'detrimental neighbourhood leakage' effect around Sumatran reserves, indicating that Sumatran PAs have not attracted population growth and development projects along their boundary," lead author David Gaveau, a researcher at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology of the University of Kent, told via email. "Instead, this study provides evidence for the presence of a 'beneficial neighbourhood leakage' effect. It appears that reducing deforestation inside Sumatran protected areas has promoted protection to adjacent unprotected areas."

But Gaveau and colleagues caution that their findings may be explained by demographic changes — specifically depopulation of rural areas due to urbanization — rather than the influence of conservation efforts extending beyond park boundaries.

"Whether Sumatran protected areas extend their conservation influence beyond their boundary may prove controversial, because enhanced law enforcement and ecotourism activities on private lands around protected areas are not well developed on the island of Sumatra," they write. "The unexpected presence of a beneficial leakage effect, that conserves forests adjacent to protected areas, may be explained by an island-wide decreasing population growth near Sumatran protected areas as human population moves closer to urban centers."

The authors also note that their optimism for the success of protected areas in reducing deforestation is tempered by the continued loss of forest in Sumatra. Between 1990 and 2000 Sumatra lost at least 50,078 square km of forest, 25.6 percent of its forest cover, while 49,020 km of logging roads had been built in remaining forest areas. While 91.7 percent of deforestation occurred in unprotected areas, "more than 35 percent of the Sumatran protected [areas] set aside to conserve biodiversity... had experienced severe rates of forest loss [and] 60% had been encroached by mechanized logging operations."

"The real question for policy makers is not whether tropical PAs have lower rates of deforestation than unprotected areas, but rather whether the long-term viability of tropical forests has been secured by establishing protected areas," the authors conclude.

For full story, please see:


17. Jamaica: UWI improving life in the Cockpit Country

Source: The Gleaner, 26 July 2009

The Cockpit Country, an area of forested hills which covers parts of St James, Trelawny and St Elizabeth, is highly treasured by scientists because of the vast number of plants and animals found only in that region. These plants and animals also provide food and livelihood to many in the surrounding communities.

The forests contain medicinal plants which are used in home remedies and as key ingredients in wines, 'root' drinks and tonics.

Among these forest plants are chainy root, sarsaparilla, medina and 'strong back'.

Over the years, however, the Cockpit country has been heavily harvested for various NTFPs such as roots, bark, vines, leaves and fruits. Medicinal plants are now being reported to be in short supply or available only deep in the interior. 

With funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in collaboration with government and local committees, a project led by Dr Sylvia Mitchell, lecturer and head of the Medicinal Plant Research Group at the Biotechnology Centre, the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, was launched for the micropropagation of select non-timber forest medicinal plants.

The researchers, realizing that there is an urgent need to curtail the threat to NTFPs, have begun educating residents about how they can earn a living in a manner that does not degrade the forests. Dr Mitchell said an important component of the education process is showing the residents how to incorporate new technology into their traditional livelihood practices.

She says, "The process starts in the laboratory where the hard-to-find forest plants are multiplied by a process called micropropagation. The rooted plantlets are then taken to the tree-hardening facilities established in the Cockpit Country at Quick Step, Troy and Bunker's Hill. At these demonstration sites, the plantlets are removed from their glass vessels and after a hardening phase, when they are strong enough, they are planted in the field plots."

Dr Mitchell noted that the Cockpit Country's endangered species, particularly these valuable medicinal plants, are now being preserved from over-harvesting. In addition, large numbers of plantlets of economically important crops such as wicker, peppers, peppermint, ginger and pineapples are also distributed free of cost to participating community members on the basis that they will collect growth data for the project.

The UWI has created a new opportunity for every rural person in Jamaica to farm and earn a living by using these disease-free plantlets to produce a more bountiful harvest. Farmer John no longer has to trek far into the forest, destroying it in the process, to make a living.

The UWI has created a new opportunity for every rural person in Jamaica to farm and earn a living by using these disease-free plantlets to produce a more bountiful harvest.

For full story, please see:


18. Myanmar handicraft companies to participate in Shanghai furniture fair

Source: Xinhua News, 13 July 2009

Yangon -- Myanmar's handicraft companies will participate in a furniture fair to be held in China's Shanghai early September to penetrate new international markets, a local weekly reported Monday.

Five companies will mainly display furniture, rattan, plastic rattan and traditional handicraft at the fair scheduled from 9 – 12 September, the Weekly Eleven said in this week’s issue.

Myanmar held its first furniture show in 2004 and the second in 2006. In March last year, the Myanmar Furniture Fair 2008 was held in the city in a bid to introduce the country's value-added good-quality forest products to the world market and boost timber export. A total of 44 private wood-based products industries and value-added manufacturing companies, displayed various pieces of furniture, finished wood-based products, rattan and bamboo wares as well as wood-made home decoration items.

In its bid to develop the wood-based industry, Myanmar has been giving priority to manufacturing value-added finished wood products for export.  Accordingly, a number of wood-based industrial zones have been set up for the purpose since export of wood log is restricted and export of teak log by the private sector also banned since 1992 when the government enacted the Forest Law.

Myanmar mainly exports its timber products to India, Thailand, Japan and Malaysia. Timber stands as the country's third largest export goods after mineral and agricultural products. Myanmar is rich in forest resources with forest covering about 50 percent of its total land area.

For full story, please see:


19. Namibia: Gam farmers refuse to move

Source: The Namibian, 10 June 2009

The farmers who invaded neighbouring Nyae-Nyae Conservancy near Tsumkwe are refusing to go back to Gam, Inspector Samuel Gariseb, commander at the Tsumkwe Police station, told The Namibian yesterday.

The conservancy and the Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa (Wimsa), with the help of the Legal Assistance Centre, plan to sue the farmers for more than N$600 000 in camping fees, potential loss of income from trophy hunting, loss of income from harvesting of the devil's claw plants destroyed by the cattle, water and grazing consumption, and the infringement of rights of the members of the conservancy.

Gariseb said the farmers were moving in and out of the conservancy area but have made it clear that they do not want to return to Gam. "They have told us that they came to permanently settle here. They want land here," Gariseb said. Police are still patrolling the veterinary fence into the conservancy.
For full story, please see:


20. Nigeria: potential of gum Arabic

Source: This Day, 4 July 2009

Maiduguri — Worried by depleting oil revenue, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has urged Nigerians to go back and till the land with the mission of re-enacting the glorious era of pre-1970s when the nation's economy mainstay was cash crops.

Speaking during the presentation of the key note address at a seminar: "Harnessing the potentials of Gum Arabic for Economic Development in Nigeria," the Deputy Governor of the CBN, Mr. Tunde Lemo, who was represented by a director at the bank, Mr. Joe Alagieuno, said during the pre and post-independent Nigeria, before crude oil became the country's major foreign earner in the mid- 70's, the agricultural sector performed satisfactorily on all parameters.

He lamented that since the advent of oil, the development and harnessing of the economic potentials of all exportable agricultural commodities began to wane.

Lemo, while explaining that Nigeria needs to brace up in order to maintain her position as the second highest producer of gum Arabic coming after Sudan, said apart from its economic value it has the ability to withstand adverse environmental conditions which has made it a potent weapon for fighting desertification and environmental degradation in the Sahelian belt of the country.

He said the gum Arabic which is used as thickener, suspender, emulsifier, stabilizer, flavour carrier, binder and encapsulating materials, is very useful in confectionaries, food, beverages, pharmaceuticals and chemical industry with major markets including Belgium, China, USA, U.K and Japan.

The CBN deputy MD, who identified that the primary mandate of the CBN is to promote a sound and sustainable financial system, price and monetary stability, among others, said interventions in the commodity sub-sector, is to encourage value addition through increased local processing with a view to ensuring higher returns on investments.

He said at the end of the two-day seminar that a solution would be proffered to the problems of limited awareness and low investment in gum Arabic. He further said the seminar was aimed at sensitizing more potential investors; promote interaction and partnership among all the relevant stakeholders in the public and private sectors, as well as expose participants to the best practices in gum Arabic value chain.

Also speaking at the opening of the seminar, Alhaji Shettima Yuguda Dibal, the deputy governor of Borno State who represented Governor Ali Modu Sheriff said the way the world is going, Nigerians may wake up to see that the oil, though we still have it, might just be worthless. He added that "it is dangerous to rely on oil when we have other areas we can get resources from. We must go back to the land for resources."

For full story, please see:


21. Pakistan: Rewarded for tree planting world record

Source: WWF, 16 July 2009

Lahore, Pakistan - Pakistan set the Guinness World Records for tree planting, beating India in a healthy and productive international competition contributing to preserving fragile and endangered forests.

With 541,176 young mangrove trees planted by 300 volunteers from the local fishermen communities just in one day, the country broke the previous 447,874 record held by historical rival India.

In response to the achievement WWF awarded Pakistan’s Environment Minister Hameed Ullah Jan Afridi the Leaders of the Planet title, an award recognizing individuals making a significant personal contribution to the conservation of the natural world and sustainable development.

"This is a wonderful example of partnership between government, local communities and the private sector for a common cause, for conservation,"said Richard Garstang, the head of WWF Pakistan Wetlands Program.

"It is good to see a productive competition between Pakistan and India. We hope that tree planting competitions will become as popular as cricket matches,"he said.

The mangrove tree planting event was held in the vast wetland ecosystem of the Indus River Delta in the Southern Sindh Province, some 150 km south east from Karachi - a unique sanctuary of biodiversity designated in 2002 by the Government of Pakistan as a Ramsar Site (Wetland of International Importance), with support from WWF International Freshwater Program.

Covered in mud and sweating, the 300 volunteers who have been trained to plant record numbers without using any mechanical equipment, worked all day in a temperature of up to 37° before breaking the score. Their efforts were also a special contribution to the global fight against climate change.

Scientists say deforestation contributes to about 20 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions and that reducing deforestation is one of the quickest ways to fight rising temperatures. Forested Wetlands such as mangroves, flooded forests and many peatlands play a crucial role in this respect.

"Mangrove reestablishment strongly correlates with climate change adaptation, biodiversity conservation and improving community livelihoods," said Anada Tiega, Secretary General of Secretary General of Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

A planting interval of just over 2m was used in order to give the young Red Mangroves plenty of room to spread their canopies as they grow. Planting was confined to the mudflats of the inter-tidal zone - the area between the high and low tide marks. The trees are expected occupy approximately 325ha of the island.

Mangroves are being cut in Pakistan and other countries for fodder, fuel and timber but their over-utilization has very damaging consequences. Apart from their crucial role in providing habitat for many organisms including fish, shrimps, lobsters, oysters and algae, mangroves also protect the coast from erosion, as well as hurricanes and tsunamis.

For full story, please see:


22. Peru's patent win strikes blow against biopiracy

Source: SciDev.Net Weekly Update 13 - 19 July 2009

Peru has prevented several foreign companies from taking out patents on products by demonstrating that they were developed using the traditional knowledge of Peruvians.

Over the past few months, the Peruvian National Commission Against Biopiracy has shown authorities from France, Japan, Korea and the United States that products submitted for patents were developed using the traditional knowledge of Peruvian people.

It showed that the products lacked the innovation and inventiveness required for patents.

"This is a good example of how coordinated action between the state, the business sector and civil society can prevent inappropriately granted patents related to genetic resources and traditional knowledge," Andrés Valladolid, technical coordinator at the commission, told SciDev.Net.

The products are derived from Lepidium meyenii, Plukenetia volubilis Linneo and Myrciaria dubia — three plants well known among indigenous Peruvian populations for their medicinal properties.

"I suspect a lot of developing countries will be quite impressed by what Peru has achieved and may consider doing something similar by establishing a department to investigate biopiracy allegations," says Graham Dutfield, professor of international governance at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom.

"Some will say that the refusal of the patents shows how well the patent system can operate. Consequently, it is a matter of monitoring the situation and gathering prior evidence to attack questionable patent applications," Dutfield adds.

"Others will say that since not every country is going to make as much effort as Peru to challenge bad patent applications, the lesson to be learned is that the patent system effectively promotes biopiracy — and needs serious reform to avoid the misappropriation of traditional knowledge."

The commission monitors 69 Peruvian genetic resources on databases at the world's main patent offices. "We don't want to forbid companies from using our genetic resources or traditional knowledge — but they have to reward the indigenous people fairly," Valladolid says.

But Michel Pimbert, director of the Sustainable Agriculture, Biodiversity and Livelihoods program at the International Institute for Environment and Development, is skeptical about the likelihood of such rewards as, he says, indigenous people's own national governments often do not recognize their rights as citizens.

"It would be naive to think that national governments would automatically share benefits with local communities when biopiracy is prevented or compensation obtained," he says.

For full story, please see:


23. Tanzania: Forestry projects and the voluntary carbon market

From: Jenny Henman, Green Resources, 21 July 2009

The Uchindile and Mapanda Forest Projects in Tanzania have today been validated under the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) following the AFOLU guidelines for Afforestation and Reforestation Projects. The validation was carried out by TÜV Süd.  The VCS is largely recognised as the benchmark and most demanding standard for the voluntary carbon market.

The project will reforest 10,814 hectares of degraded land located in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania and put 7,565 hectares into conservation to protect local biodiversity. The project will generate permanent Verified Emissions Reductions (VERs) over a 99-year crediting period guaranteed by a reserve buffer. From 2002 to 2008 the project has generated an estimated 611,418 tCO2 already and from 2008 to 2020 anticipates a future 2,873,417 tCO2.  The projects were certified under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard in 2008 - the world’s leading standard for sustainable forest management.

The projects have relied on the revenues from carbon financing, in addition to  timber revenues, to make the projects commercially viable. The projects offer significant employment in a poor rural region where few other job opportunities exist - namely 50 permanent and more than 1,000 temporary people employed in Mapanda and Uchindile.  As a company Green Resources employs and provides training to over 3000 staff in Africa.  The company is committed to supporting local communities through investment in schools, health facilities and provision of safe water. Green Resources also promotes community tree planting by giving away seedlings and providing necessary training in silviculture.  All carbon revenues will be re-invested in Tanzania and 10% of the carbon revenues will be spent on additional community projects.

The Uchindile and Mapanda Forest Projects applied an approved Clean Development Mechanism methodology for afforestation/reforestation, and have carried out supplementary analysis in line with the VCS requirements to determine the size of the risk buffer. The project hopes to achieve verification of the carbon credits generated from tree growth from 2002 to 2008 later this year.

Green Resources AS is a plantation, carbon offset, forest products and renewable energy company. The company was established in 1995 and is a private Norwegian company with 60 shareholders. It employs more than 3,000 people and has invested NOK 350 million (USD 50 million) in its African operations since its inception. Green Resources operates in Tanzania, Uganda and Mozambique.
For more information, please see:


24. USA: Chestnut tree restoration

Source: Jackson Sun, 27 July 2009

A tree orchard recently set up at the Tennessee Army National Guard's Lavinia training site will examine the American chestnut tree, which was decimated by a fungus that arrived more than 100 years ago.

The Tennessee National Guard is working on program with the American Chestnut Foundation, which began the restoration project more than 20 years ago. The fast-growing trees were valued for their integral roles in the ecosystem, as food sources and as a lumber source for furniture.

Today, more than 500 chestnuts at the Volunteer Training Site Milan orchard are being tested for ways to fight off the blight disease. The method of "back-crossbreeding" American chestnuts with their blight-resistant predecessors is being used.

The goal is to have a hybrid Chinese and American chestnut tree able to cross back to the American versions, which once numbered in the billions in the United States. The trees would then provide pollen and seeds to create a new generation of highly resistant trees, according to the National Guard.

"In this case, backcrossing is being used to get trees that hold onto only a small portion of the genetic code from their Chinese ancestors - blight resistance - but that still look like American chestnut trees," said Janie Becker, an environmental biologist for the National Guard. "Because healthy American chestnuts grow so rapidly, they could be important features in our efforts to mitigate global warming by their uptake and storage of carbon from the atmosphere."

As of 2007 there were only 117 known American chestnut trees in West Tennessee, mainly in Hardeman and Fayette counties, according to a study by Joe Schibig, a professor at Volunteer State Community College.

For full story, please see:


25. Vietnam: A challenge for craft villages

Source: VietNamNet Bridge, 24 June 2009

For years, Vietnam’s culture and economy have been associated with craft villages and their products which are consumed locally and in 136 countries worldwide. Nevertheless, few people know that the craft villages are in trouble due to raw material shortages, says Luu Duy Dan, general secretary of the Vietnam Craft Village Association.

Bat Trang pottery, Phu Vinh bamboo products and Dong Ky woodwork products have become the main trading items in the country’s north due to their unique and traditional cultural features. Despite being popular villages, trade turnover is down due to the material supply problem.

It is believed that Vietnam’s craft villages will fall into a material supply crisis in the next 10 years if local authorities fail to find solutions soon. Most of the villages lack standard materials to maintain production.

The country’s bamboo area has dwindled and many enterprises import the tropical grass with its woody stems from China, Laos and Cambodia. “Bamboo imported from Laos’s Hua Phan province is much cheaper than in Vietnam,” says a representative of Phu Vinh village.

Rattan supplies are also low after the tropical palm trees are exploited to serve export. Rattan in traditional supplying regions such us Vinh Phuc, Phu Tho, Thai Nguyen, Yen Bai, Thanh Hoa and Nghe An are nearly exhausted.

Vietnam’s silk products use over 90% substandard silk materials, resulting in poor-quality items from Van Phuc, Nha Xa and Duy Xuyen craft villages. Meo village in Thai Binh province, the country’s chief exporter of fine handmade embroidered handkerchiefs, has to import fibers from India and Bangladesh at prices increasing year by year.

In Vietnam, only Du Du, Vo Lang and Dong Giao wood-carving villages take materials from human-grown forests. This is a big advantage for the villages as more and more international consumers require certificates of origin of the Forest Stewardship Council.

Most craft villages in Hanoi cannot keep their production active as nearly 80% of the material comes from outside sources, according to the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade. They have to import steel, iron, silk and wool from China and wood from Laos. Rattan and bamboo come from Son La and Lai Chau provinces.

Some villages can produce with local materials but have to depend on certain seasonal harvests. Meanwhile, the long-term development of material supply zones is the solution for the sustainable development of craft villages.

Some localities have established trade village development plans till 2020 but have yet to define material supply zones. Since these plans are being carried out in scattered provinces, they are not developing the area as a whole and the Government has yet to issue guidelines. As a result, international organizations find it hard to support development of the material supply zones.

For full story, please see:



26. Can non-timber forest products help conserve the Amazon?

Source:, 21 July 2009

Industrial-scale logging and resource exploitation continue to plague the South American rainforests, contributing to their systematic destruction. Today, indigenous inhabitants and other local residents of the rainforests and their surrounding areas, faced with the enormous pressures of the global economy, often find themselves in a crucible. Many of their opportunities for supporting themselves and their families financially involve logging or other large-scale operations that deplete and ultimately decimate the forests. In order to make even a marginal living, local people often find themselves forced to participate in the destruction of the very ecosystems that they live in and depend on. In fact, a recent study in the prestigious journal Science has shown that while deforestation (in the Brazilian Amazon) generates some short-term benefits, it fails in the longer term to improve the quality of life or increase affluence. Thus, deforestation is NOT a critical step toward development. Instead, a two-pronged approach of compensation for allowing forest to stand coupled with development of sustainable activities that maintain biodiversity and ecosystem services will be of greater benefit. As the world seeks to mitigate global warming and carbon emissions, this latter approach will become more and more desirable and feasible.

The Amazon Fund believes that it is possible for people of the rainforest to gain a viable living from their environment in a way that is sustainable and healthy for the ecosystem. Some of the hope for the future of the forests, the plants, the animals, the people, and the knowledge of the Amazon lies in NTFPs.

Rich and intricate webs of life, rainforests clearly contain more than just wood for logging.

As logging continues to destroy rainforests, forest inhabitants, activists, scientists, and others who care about the welfare of both the Amazon and the entire planet are searching for ways in which commercial harvesting, processing, and sale of NTFPs can be financially competitive with logging while remaining sustainable and directly involving and benefiting forest inhabitants. Studies have suggested that the continued sustainable harvesting of fruit and rubber over time was more economically sound than a one-time timber harvest on a comparable piece of land.

Beyond the economic viability, there is tremendous value found in the sustainable management of the forest that is impossible to quantify. No one can, with any certainty or accuracy put a dollar value on the role that functioning rainforest systems play in the health of our planet. Nor is it possible to put a price on families continuing to live in the forest, on the living knowledge of the forest and its products, on the continued existence of cultural groups and species of plants and animals. In addition to ethical considerations, there are very pragmatic reasons to foster the survival of Amazonian forests, plants, animals, people, and knowledge. The medicinal wealth contained in these forests is exhaustive and extremely valuable; it is impossible to predict when we might need it in the future.

It is critical, both for the sake of the planet and the people that the native people who live and work in the forests have ownership and control of the companies, coalitions, and cooperatives that they use to sell sustainable NTFPs. Exploitation and slavery are not conditions of the past. Even today, across the globe in innumerable industries, middlemen keep profits for themselves and leave the land ravaged and its inhabitants impoverished. Because indigenous and local people live in the forests and depend on them for survival, they have a vested interest in their preservation and long-term existence. Therefore, a business operated by those who live in and understand the forest is much more likely to be beneficial to the forest in the long run than one operated by people from far away whose priority is immediate profit, not the welfare of the land. By eliminating the middleman or using a non-profit as the intermediary, people can keep their prices competitive while reaping a significantly larger portion of the profits. Practices that are often not very profitable (for example, farming corn, cocoa, or coffee) can yield a much higher profit if the people engaging in them have an active role in the retail end of the process, cultivate in such a way that maximizes the potential of the land and ensures its continued fertility in years to come (employing practices such as shade growing, permaculture, etc), market to the right places, and certify their sustainable product officially (if it is organic or fair trade, for example) to make it more marketable and more lucrative.

In order for NTFPs to be a viable and sustainable source of income, those relying on them have to be conscientious and thoughtful about what, when, and how they harvest, and willing to diversify what they harvest and sell. The pau rosa tree was historically over-harvested for its fragrance. The whole tree was chopped down, but the fragrance is present in the leaves and twigs. Taking just leaves and twigs from the plants could bring in some money without killing trees. Harvesting a certain part of the plant in a thoughtful way ensures that the plant is not damaged and that the harvest has a relatively low impact. One could have an integrated and profitable set-up by engaging in some small-scale forest agriculture, harvesting different parts of various plants in a low-impact way throughout the year, and possibly being involved in local eco-tourism.

The “added-value” techniques that small-scale American farmers often employ to boost their profits could translate quite well to the Amazon. For example, at an average American farmer’s market, organic garlic might sell for $5.00 a pound, but a decorative garlic braid, simple in design and easy to produce quickly, will easily sell for $15 or $20, multiplying the income for the same quantity of garlic substantially beyond the increase in labour. Similarly, with creativity and a little effort, some by-products from forest industries or just from the forest itself could be easily, quickly, and profitably transformed into new products. For example, if seeds were being gathered for sale for plant propagation, seeds that were unlikely to sprout and which would otherwise be discarded could be used for jewelry or some other handicraft.

Eco-tourism is one service-based income option for people living in or near the rainforest. With the recent increase in environmental consciousness, more and more tourists want to see and experience firsthand the extraordinary natural features of the Amazon rainforest. If done properly, eco-tourism can have a low environmental impact. If indigenous people create and operate the eco-tourism initiatives, they can serve as a very personal cultural and environmental learning opportunity for tourists as well as a viable business for the people running them. Theoretically, enough people affected by positive eco-tourism experiences could have a longer-term, further-reaching impact on where money is going and even on the health of the planet. Small changes can have a positive impact. Additionally, eco-tourism could provide more opportunities for forest inhabitants to sell local NTFPs without having to rely on a middleman or the costs of export. Tourists coming through are bound to be interested in sampling local foods and bringing souvenirs back to their friends and families. This is also another opportunity for added-value techniques.  Forest nuts might sell at a given price per pound, but if prepared in an appealing way, they could be marketed for a higher price.

Of course, complete reliance on NTFPs has its pitfalls. Many of the extractive reserves established specifically for the harvesting of NTFPs are used without consideration for sustainability, and even some “sustainable” efforts, particularly with crops like Brazil nuts, have not ultimately been so sustainable. Markets are easily flooded and saturated. To truly preserve the forest, output is limited. As more people become interested in harvesting NTFPs, doing so would have to become a supplementary income source in order to stay sustainable. NTFPs are not the Holy Grail; they are just one piece of the puzzle, a dynamic puzzle that requires flexibility and foresight.

The Kallari cooperative of Ecuador is an excellent example of a highly successful indigenous-operated collective based around forest agriculture and NTFPs. In its twelve years of operation, Kallari has expanded from 50 families to 850 families, who earn more than four times as much as they would in a standard “fair-trade” operation. At the same time, they are preserving their rainforest and some of the traditional Kichwa ways by relearning handicrafts that can then be sold. One of the hallmarks to Kallari’s success is its flexibility and appropriate response to changing markets, demands, and situations. Kallari currently integrates cocoa farming with other NTFP-derived products, such as jewelry made from forest seeds and fibers. The cooperative seems amenable to making changes over time depending on the market, the forest, and the people. Kallari serves as one potential model for viable incorporation of NTFPs in efforts to preserve the rainforests.

As we work to decrease the deforestation of South American rainforests, we see that NTFPs could play a valuable role in the solution. Amazon Fund seeks to support sustainable use of NTFPs in its mission to preserve the forests.

For the full, story, please see:


27. Making trade bans on endangered species work

Source:, 8 Jun 2009

New research suggests that socio-economic considerations as well as biological and trade criteria need to be taken into account in the implementation of international trade agreements. The research focuses on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), which is the largest international agreement on species conservation.

CITES is implemented through several EU regulations. It regulates trade in species and their derivative products (such as ivory or skin) through permits and certificates. It is designed to protect biodiversity and reduce extinction and covers over 30,000 species. Despite this, trade in some of these species continues, partly because much biodiversity in developing countries is outside protected areas. For example, in southern Africa, some 80 percent of potential elephant range is outside protected areas.

Effective conservation is based on the concept of sustainability. At a basic level sustainable conservation means that the use and trade of endangered species can continue if it does not affect the conservation status of that species. However, both traditions and poverty in developing countries may mean that the use of some protected species is not a matter of choice.

The study identifies problems with the implementation of CITES in developing countries, but also finds that these mainly result from a lack of local community involvement. There is a need for education, appropriate national legislation (only six southern African countries have this in place) and economic incentives.

In the past, CITES trade bans have sometimes pushed trade underground and increased the value of products from affected species. For example, a total ban has produced some detrimental results for species such as the elephant, black rhino, leopard and Nile crocodile. In addition, farmers may not want these animals on their land. However, in the case of the leopard and rhino, the introduction of quotas for hunting trophies has meant landowners consider the animals a valuable asset.

To alleviate these problems the study suggests a need for community support and the devolution of responsibility from the state to the communal level. This approach has proven successful in boosting biodiversity in countries including Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana. However, species whose products and derivatives are of particularly high commercial value can still face conservation problems despite economic incentives. This is the case for species used for traditional medicines such as tigers, Asiatic bears, the devil's claw plant and the African cherry. In these cases, community cooperation and economic incentives are more difficult to achieve.

CITES and other policies should base their protection on socio-economic considerations as well as biological/trade criteria. However, tools are needed to identify species which will benefit from trade, as are mechanisms to facilitate sustainable legal trade at a community level.

For full story, please see:


28. Report urges forestry industry to tackle conflict with local people

Source: IIED, 9 July 2009

Conflict between companies that profit from forests and local people who depend on them could be tackled by industry-led approaches, but too few companies use them, says a recently published report by the Forests Dialogue (TFD), an international group of forest experts from business, environmental, academic and human rights groups.

The report, written for TFD by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), urges companies to take the lead in resolving existing conflicts and preventing new ones from arising.

Conflict in the forest sector is common and can range from wars of words to serious acts of violence. It most often follows disputes over rights to land and resources but can also arise over conservation priorities, pollution, and access to benefits from the sector. Conflict is a lose-lose situation. For local communities it means diminished livelihoods and worse, and for the private sector it increases costs and risks.

"Most companies in the forest sector have no formal systems to address conflict, despite there being clear ethical and business cases for doing so," says Emma Wilson, a senior researcher at IIED and author of the report. "Forest certification schemes often require companies to have systems for local stakeholders to raise grievances, but very few companies are certified and those that are tend to have systems that are ad hoc or in their early pilot stages."

The report shows that while company-led approaches for avoiding and managing conflict in the forest sector do exist, they are rarely used to their full potential. It calls for a range of mechanisms and flexible, locally tailored approaches to address conflicts.

"This report draws on established best practice to show how companies can take the lead in resolving conflicts and pursuing fair and equitable outcomes," says TFD co-leader Stewart Maginnis, of International Union for the Conservation of Nature. "It shows that even where national legislation to protect poor people’s rights is woefully inadequate, private sector relations with local communities do not have to be held hostage to the lowest common denominator but can live up fully to the aspirations of good corporate social responsibility."

The report calls for more industry-wide sharing of experience and knowledge, and the development of broadly applicable means of resolving conflicts.

"Sustainable companies invest for the long term, so they have a broader perspective than the average company on who their major stakeholders are and a deeper interest in understanding and accommodating local expectations and concerns," says TFD co-leader James Griffiths, who heads the sustainable forestry programme at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). "This report – which features several WBCSD member companies - can help share best practice within the sector, while clarifying the respective roles of companies and other stakeholders, like government, in address existing conflicts or avoiding future ones."

The report acknowledges that companies will not be able to do this alone. It urges companies to build effective, equitable and lasting relationships with groups that are directly affected by forestry operations – including indigenous peoples, forest owners and user groups, unions, other businesses, civil society organizations, community leaders and government – in order to address environmental and social concerns. To be effective, companies also need supportive local policies and laws. The report highlights the potential for good practice in company-led approaches to influence the local policy environment through demonstration.

"Enduring conflicts between forest peoples and forestry companies have been one of the main barriers to good relations between corporations and communities," says Marcus Colchester, Director of the Forest Peoples Programme, a human rights group.

"As this report stresses, conflicts may be rooted in the lack of recognition of customary rights in national laws and policies but such conflicts can be resolved by companies going the extra mile. Better though if governments provide a fairer basis in the first place."

The report notes that some conflicts can only partially be addressed by voluntary corporate approaches, especially if they are deeply rooted in historical land use and land reform processes. Such conflicts may be addressed most effectively through reform of policy and the practices of governments and bureaucracies.

TFD members are drawn from organizations such as the International Tropical Timber Organization, World Bank, International Institute for Environment and Development, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Forest Peoples Programme and International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests.

For full story, please see:


29. The world’s three major tropical forest regions agree on collaboration

From: Tim Christophersen, IISD, 20 July 2009

The intergovernmental regional organizations representing the world’s three largest tropical forest regions (the Association of South-East Asian Nations – ASEAN, the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization – ACTO, and the Central Africa Forests Commission – COMIFAC) agreed to work more closely to enhance south-south cooperation in conserving and sustainably managing their tropical forests and biodiversity. The three regions - primarily Amazon, Congo and Borneo - collectively contain more than 80 percent of the world’s tropical forests, and an estimated two-thirds of all terrestrial species.

For more information, please see: and

Please see also the ASEAN July 2009 Bulletin “World’s Three Largest Tropical Forest Regions to Forge Alliance”:



30. Second World Congress of Agroforestry: The Future of Global Land Use

23 – 28 August 2009
Nairobi, Kenya

The 2nd World Congress on Agroforestry will assess opportunities to leverage scientific agroforestry in promoting sustainable land use worldwide. The Congress will serve as a forum for agroforestry researchers, educators, practitioners and policy makers from around the world to:

  • Share new research findings, lessons, experiences, and ideas that will help influence decisions that impact on livelihoods and the global environment
  • Explore new opportunities and strengthen existing partnerships in agroforestry research, education, training, and development
  • Form new networks and communities of practice, and nurture old ones

The overall Congress theme is "Agroforestry - The Future of Global Land Use". Plenary, symposia, concurrent sessions, and poster sessions will be organized around different major topics, based on the following:

  • Food Security and Livelihoods
  • Conservation and Rehabilitation of Natural resources
  • Policies and institutions

Expected Outputs
Planned publications include a summary document, a book of abstracts, refereed journal articles, journal special issues, and books on the key topics covered in the symposia and technical sessions. A declaration that embodies the substance of Congress deliberations will be developed as a tool for discussions with policy makers and donor agencies to advance the cause of agroforestry worldwide.
For more information, please contact:
2nd World Congress of Agroforestry
World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
PO Box 30677-00100 GPO
Nairobi, Kenya
Fax: +254 20 722 4001 or via USA +1 650 833 6646


31. International Conference: Forests, Markets, Policy & Practice

8–9 September 2009
Shanghai, China

This intensive two-day conference will examine trends in legal and certified forests and markets —globally and in China—and explore ways to harmonize policy and practice and enhance capacity for positive change. Its objectives are to explore public policies and business practices designed to bring legal and certified forest products to market, and to enhance capacity to take advantage of opportunities and address challenges posed by changing policy and business environments.

Conference objectives are to:
1. Explore public policies and business practices designed to bring legal and certified forest products to market.
2. Enhance capacity to take advantage of opportunities and address challenges posed by the changing policy and business environment.

For more information, please contact:
Rainforest Alliance
665 Broadway, Suite 500
NewYork, NY 10012 USA


32. VIII World Bamboo Congress

16–18 September 2009
Bangkok, Thailand

The VIII World Bamboo Congress is intended to focus attention on the role of bamboo in rural, economic, industrial and environmental development. The congress will cover the following program fields of interest:

• Architecture, Engineering and Social Housing
• Protection and Construction
• Community and Economic development
• Industrial Aspects
• Products – Design and Technologies
• Plantation Development and Management
• Resources, Standards and Policy
• Biological Aspects
• Ecology and Environmental Concerns
• Horticulture and Landscape Design
• RegionalReports

For more infromaion, please contact:
Mr. Harsh Adhyapak
Event coordinator, Equinox Marketing Co., Ltd.
Fax: (662) 231-8121


Mr. Kamesh Salam
PresidentWBOand Conference Secretary


Mr. Smit Boonsermsuk


33. University of Kwazulu-Natal Business and Management Conference

Durban, South Africa
5–7 November 2009

BMC-2009 is a conference aimed at bringing a variety of multi-disciplinary experts together to solve business and management related problems in Africa and beyond.  The conference will cover disciplines such as accounting, economics and finance, business management, information and communication technology, public administration, business leadership, business laws, and other disciplines relating to business and management sciences.

For more information, please contact:
BMC-2009 Secretariat
Dean’s Suite
Faculty of Management Studies
Westville Campus UKZN
Fax: + 27 (31) 260 1606



34. New publication from FAO’s NWFP programme

From:  FAO’s NWFP Programme

FAO’s NWFP Working Document series has a new volume – No. 7. The role of CITES in controlling the international trade in forest products: implications for sustainable forest management.

Forests, and forest products, are fundamental to the health and well-being of the vast majority of the world’s human population. Technological innovations, and specifically improvements in the global transport infrastructure, combined with human migration have increased the use and availability of forest products even further. However, this use is not without a cost – the populations of many wild species have declined as a result of harvest for international trade, some to the point that entire species are threatened with extinction.

In order to address international trade threats to wild species, governments established the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES entered into force in 1975 and has over 160 member governments (Parties). This report explores the role and impact of CITES on the trade in forest products and sustainable forest management throughout its 30-year history, with an emphasis on plant, and specifically timber, species.

An electronic version of this document will be available shortly from our NWFP home page. Hard copies are available free of charge from FAO’s NWFP Programme at the address on the first page or by sending an e-mail to


36. Other publications of interest

From:  FAO’s NWFP Programme

Adekunle, M. F., M. Hailu, L. Mitiku. 2009. Underutilized forest plants in traditional healthcare and nutrition in Sekota Woreda, Amhara Region, Ethiopia. Acta Horticulturae. 806(Vol 1), 195-202. 11 ref.

Angulo, E., A. L. Deves, M. Saint Jalmes, and F. Courchamp. 2009. Fatal attraction: rare species in the spotlight. Proc. Roy. Soc. B 276(1660):1331-1337.

Ambinakudige, S., and Sathish, B. N. 2009. Comparing tree diversity and composition in coffee farms and sacred forests in the Western Ghats of India. Biodivers. Conserv. 18: 4, 987-1000.

Brodie, J. F., O. E. Helmy, W. Y. Brockelman, J. L. Maron. 2009. Bushmeat poaching reduces the seed dispersal and population growth rate of a mammal-dispersed tree. Ecological Applications. 19: 4, 854-863.

Cherkaoui, I., S. Selmi, J. Boukhriss, R. I. Hamid, and D. Mohammed. 2009. Factors affecting bird richness in a fragmented cork oak forest in Morocco. Acta Oecol. 35(2):197-205.

Dawson, I. K., A. Lengkeek, J. C. Weber, and R. Jamnadass. 2009. Managing genetic variation in tropical trees: linking knowledge with action in agroforestry ecosystems for improved conservation and enhanced livelihoods. Biodivers. Conserv. 18(4):969-986.

Giri, K., B. Pokhrel, I. Darnhofer. 2009. In the absence of their men: women and forest management in the Mid-hills of Nepal. Journal of Rural Planning. 27: Special issue, 293-298. 8 ref.

Kranjac-Berisavljevic, G., Y. I. Balma, B.Z. Gandaa. 2009. Securing food in the Hungary season: role of the baobab tree. Acta Horticulturae. 806(Vol 1), 85-92. 10 ref.

Madegowda, C. 2009. Traditional knowledge and conservation. Economic and Political Weekly. 44: 21, 65-69. 7 ref.

Manish Dubey, Kumar Ashok, K. Mahour, D. Dwivedi, V. S. Vihan. 2009. Screening of antibacterial activity of some Indian plants with their phytochemical analysis. Journal of Pure and Applied Microbiology. 3: 1, 211-214. 12 ref.

Nhancale, B. A., S. E. Mananze, S. E.; Dista, N. F.; Nhantumbo, I.; Macqueen, D. J. 2009. Small and medium forest enterprises in Mozambique. IIED Small and MediumForestEnterprise Series No.25. vii + 45 pp.

Radder, L., K. G. Grunert. 2009. Consumers' perceptions of African wildlife meat: a laddering study. Journal of Food Products Marketing. 15: 2, 164-174. 31 ref.

Raman, B. V., A. S. Ramkishore, M. U. Maheswari, T. M. Radhakrishnan. 2009. Antibacterial activities of some folk medicinal plants of eastern Ghats. Journal of Pure and Applied Microbiology. 3: 1, 187-194. 25 ref.

Sheil, D., and D. Murdiyarso. 2009. How forests attract rain: an examination of a new hypothesis. BioScience 59(4):341-347.

UNDP-UNEP. 2009. Mainstreaming Poverty-Environment Linkages into Development Planning: a Handbook for Practitioners. UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Facility.
Experience continues to show the vital contribution better environmental management can make to improving health, resilience to environmental risks, economic development and livelihood opportunities, especially for the poor. Poverty-Environment mainstreaming is one possible way. It aims to integrate the linkages between the environment and poverty reduction into government processes and institutions, thereby changing the very nature of its decision-making culture and practices. The UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative has published a new Handbook, which is designed to serve as a guide for champions and practitioners engaged in the painstaking task of mainstreaming poverty-environment linkages. It draws on a substantial body of experience at the country level and the many lessons learned by the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme in working with governments — especially ministries of planning, finance and environment — to support efforts to integrate the complex interrelationships between poverty reduction and improved environmental management into national planning and decision-making. French and Spanish translations will be made available in summer 2009.

UNDP-UNEP. 2009. Making the Economic Case: A Primer on the Economic Arguments for Mainstreaming Poverty-Environment Linkages into National Development Planning. UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Facility.
This new primer provides guidance on presenting evidence about the economic, development and poverty reduction benefits of the environment to public sector decision-makers, so as to justify and promote “environmental investment.” This primer is designed to help interested countries and governments engaged in the environmental mainstreaming challenge to succeed in making their case, ensure that they have the evidence to back it up, and identify entry points to engage the attention of economic and development decision-makers and to enter into meaningful dialogue with them. French and Spanish translations will be made available in summer 2009.

Upadhyay, N. K., R. Kumar, S. K. Mandotra, R. N. Meena, M. S. Siddiqui, R. C. Sawhney, A. Gupta. 2009. Safety and healing efficacy of Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) seed oil on burn wounds in rats. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 47: 6, 1146-1153. 31 ref.

Zhao Jing, HaiLong Qin, Yan Kong. 2009. Resources advantages and development countermeasure of non-timber forest products in impoverished mountainous areas in Yunnan Province. Journal of ZhejiangForestryCollege. 26: 1, 105-110. 9 ref.


36. Web sites and e-zines

From:  FAO’s NWFP Programme

World Forestry Congress Website
Download the provisional programme and see how much the XIII World Forestry Congress has to offer!

Take part in the Congress, wherever in the world you may be. This year, not only will the WFC be hosted in Argentina, it will also be globally hosted, online, through numerous interactive multimedia, such as Wikipedia:

Also, see what the XIII WFC looks like, even now, months before it starts! Learn more about the Congress, familiarize yourself with the faces and voices of the organizers and key note speakers on a newly created Youtube channel:



37. Ancient Maya practiced forest conservation 3,000 years ago

Source: Science Daily, 23 July 2009

As published in the July issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science, paleoethnobotanist David Lentz of the University of Cincinnati has concluded that not only did the Maya people practice forest management, but when they abandoned their forest conservation practices it was to the detriment of the entire Maya culture.

"From our research we have learned that the Maya were deliberately conserving forest resources," says David Lentz, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Cincinnati and executive director of the Cincinnati Center for Field Studies. "Their deliberate conservation practices can be observed in the wood they used for construction and this observation is reinforced by the pollen record."

The UC team is the first North American team allowed to work at the Tikal site core in northern Guatemala in more than 40 years. The UC team is unique in other ways as well. Whereas previous archaeological excavations reflected an interest in culture history, particularly of the elites, researchers’ interests are different in the 21st century.

"Forty years ago the emphasis was on what king built what palace, who slew whom and who is portrayed on what stelae. It's all about the rulers and their exploits," says Lentz. "They didn't look at the economy, agricultural practices, forest management or how the people and the culture functioned."

And what the UC team has learned by studying these processes is that the Maya, at least initially, were practicing good forestry management.

"They were not allowed to cut down what we're calling the 'sacred groves,'" says Lentz. “Then that changed during the Late Classic period with Jasaw Chan K'awiil — one of the greatest figures of prehistory. The Tikal Maya had been beaten up and had fallen to second-rate status prior to his ascendancy. Jasaw Chan K'awiil led an army to the heartland of a competing city, Calakmul, captured their ruler, bound him, brought him back and sacrificed him — and it totally reversed their fortunes in a very dramatic way."

After that, the Maya rebuilt the city of Tikal in a way never seen before. They begin building huge temples that required considerable resources, especially large, straight trees whose wood could withstand the weight of tons of stone. Their choices were limited to two types of trees only.

"So, unfortunately, Jasaw Chan K'awiil tapped into their sacred groves to do this," says Lentz. The stands of virgin timber were more than 200 years old in some areas. After building a few of the temples, the Maya ran out of timber from the Manilkara zapota (sapodilla) tree, so they switched to an inferior tree —Haematoxylon campechianum, logwood or inkwood — which is found in swamps.

"Sapodilla is soft when you first cut it, so it can be carved into beautiful, intricate shapes. Yet when it dries, it is as hard as iron," Lentz explains. "Logwood, on the other hand, is like iron to start with and stays that way." Logwood often is very crooked and grows to much lesser heights — so the archways in the temples built with logwood were far less ornate.

In addition to using the trees as timber, the Maya also burned the trees, adding carbon to the air in the form of carbon dioxide. Trees remove carbon dioxide from the air and return oxygen in its place, thus cleaning and purifying the air.

Forests provide many benefits to society," says Lentz. "The Maya forests provided timber, fuel, food, fiber and medicine in addition to the ecosystem services of cleansing the air and water. Just as forests provided essential resources for the ancient Maya, the same is true for our civilization today."

A UC research team, which will again include archaeologist Vern Scarborough and geographer Nick Dunning, will be returning to Tikal in February 2010. Some of the key questions that remain are: how did the Maya control their water resources? When did the deforestation occur? What trees were used when? Did the Maya plant large orchards and where were the sacred groves?
For full story, please see:


38. British company barcodes trees to protect forests

Source: Reuters, 10 July 2009

Deep in the world's tropical rainforests, workers are hammering thousands of barcodes into hardwood trees to help in the fight against illegal logging, corruption and global warming.
The plastic tags, like those on supermarket groceries, have been nailed to a million trees across Africa, Southeast Asia and South America to help countries keep track of timber reserves.

Helveta, the British company behind the technology, says the barcodes will help firms comply with tough laws on importing sustainable timber into the United States and Europe.
They could also play a role in fighting deforestation, which accounts for about a fifth of global emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide. The issue will feature in global climate talks in Copenhagen in December.

"We bring transparency and visibility where historically that has probably been limited at best," Patrick Newton, Helveta's chief executive officer, told Reuters.

The company, which has just secured another 3 million pounds ($4.88 million) in funding from investors, has put barcodes on trees across the world, including in Bolivia, Ghana, Indonesia, Liberia, Malaysia and Peru.

The computerized system is less prone to fraud than traditional paper records, carries live data and can help governments to collect more timber taxes, Newton said.

While the barcodes can't prevent criminals from chopping down trees, the system makes it hard for them to process, sell or export the wood, Newton said.

Officials in remote forests use handheld computers to scan the tags from the moment a tree is felled to its processing and export, and the live data is put onto Helveta's secure database.

Every tree above a certain size in a plantation is given an individual barcode. When a tree is cut down, another barcode is attached to the stump and more tags are nailed to the processed wood to allow customs officials to audit exports at the docks.

Government officials and companies can track individual trees through the supply chain and view computerized maps of forests on the database. Timber leaving a forest or factory without tags will immediately be viewed as illegal, Newton said.

Illegal logging costs timber-producing countries 7 billion euros ($10 billion) a year in stolen wood, lost taxes and lower prices for legally-sourced products, the World Bank estimates.

It also takes an environmental toll. Damage to forests raises the risk of fires, flooding and damage to plants and trees that act as a "sink" to soak up carbon dioxide, Britain's Meteorological Office said in a report last year.

Helveta hopes its technology could help countries taking part in a proposed scheme to protect the world's forests as part of the fight against global warming. That is likely to form part of any global climate deal agreed in Copenhagen in December.

The scheme, called Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), aims to increase forest cover to soak up carbon dioxide emissions blamed for rising seas, extreme weather and melting glaciers.

It may include a market-based element where traders buy and sell REDD credits from forestry projects that lock away carbon.

However, trading based on the number of trees in a forest needs close auditing if the market is to work, Helveta says.

"The problem with forests is that it is very hard to validate what is truly out there," Newton said. "If you are trying to back that need to be able to make sure that what you think is securitized is really there."
For full story, please see:


39. European Union partners with the FAO to boost agricultural production

Source: FAO Newsroom, 22 July 2009

At a time when over one billion people are undernourished worldwide, Europe steps up its support to farmers hardest hit by the economical slowdown and high food prices, FAO said today, welcoming a € 75 million ($105 million) donation from the European Union (EU) to help poor countries boost agricultural production.

The EU-funded aid package to 13 countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Central America, severely affected by high food prices, provides enormous additional backing to the UN's efforts to turn the tide of growing hunger in the world. The package follows a historic €125 million ($170 million) donation from the European Union just one month ago.

"Europe's help comes at a critical moment," said José Maria Sumpsi, FAO's Assistant Director-General of the Technical Cooperation Department. "One out of six persons on this planet is undernourished - more than ever before. Poor countries need all the assistance possible. We are grateful for Europe's unequivocal support," he said.

He noted that high and volatile food prices continue to plague developing countries and that hunger is on the rise even more because of the global economic crisis, causing lower income and increasing unemployment in developing countries.

In order to provide a rapid response to high food prices in developing countries, a €1 billion ‘Food Facility' has been adopted by the European Parliament and Council. In line with FAO's urgent call for increased investment in agriculture after decades of neglect, the Food Facility underscores the need to refocus the world's attention on farming.

"For all developing countries, a healthy agricultural sector is vital to overcome poverty and hunger," said Roberto Ridolfi, heading the EU Food Facility, who praised the role of the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis and FAO in jointly identifying and developing programmes that will have a quick, but lasting impact on food security.

"The Food Facility highlights our successful partnership with FAO," he added. "Its results will testify to our shared commitment to the plight of those are daily struggling in order to provide a meal to their families."
For full story, please see:


 40. Spain: Investigadores de la UAL participan en un proyecto europeo dedicado a sustituir plásticos por residuos derivados de la Madera

Source: Portal Forestal 10 de Julio de 2009

Investigadores de la Universidad de Almería, pertenecientes al departamento de Biología Aplicada y liderados por María José López López, participan en el proyecto europeo de investigación FORBIOPLAST, enmarcado en la VII Programa Marco de la Comunidad Europea. El objetivo principal consiste en sustituir los componentes derivados de la industria petroquímica empleados en la fabricación de plásticos por derivados de la madera, de modo que se reduzca la dependencia del petróleo y se posibilite la producción de materiales biodegradables con aplicación en diferentes sectores económicos.

Concretamente, los expertos se han propuesto aplicar estos nuevos materiales a la fabricación de componentes internos de automóviles tales como las espumas de poliuretano empleadas en los asientos, compuestos biodegradables aplicables al sector agrícola como macetas, soportes para crecimiento vegetal o encapsulación de fertilizantes y pesticidas, y en la producción de envases y embalajes para alimentos, productos químicos y cosméticos.

La participación almeriense se enmarca en el tratamiento de la madera con microorganismos para generar derivados modificados capaces de unirse a los otros integrantes de los composites - materiales sintéticos compuestos por diferentes elementos-. Para ello, los expertos poseen un elenco de microorganismos, obtenido a lo largo de más de 20 años de estudio del proceso de compostaje, compuesto aproximadamente por 400 especies lignocelulolíticas, es decir, que son capaces de degradar la lignina, la celulosa y la hemicelulosa.

Según López, "actualmente, existen diferentes procesos químicos que modifican la madera triturada para hacerla más adherente, compacta o flexible según el tipo de aplicación. Sin embargo, si realizamos este proceso por métodos biológicos, estamos proponiendo un novedoso proceso de tratamiento más amigable con el medio ambiente".

Por otra parte, el reto se centra en determinar las posibles combinaciones de materiales plásticos y madereros modificables. "Intentamos ofrecer una amplia gama de productos con una gran funcionalidad, a la vez que se respeta el medio ambiente al utilizar materiales naturales o reciclados. Por ello, habrá que fabricar el material en función a los requerimientos establecidos para cada producto", comenta López.

Y es que, esta propuesta contribuirá a paliar los efectos del cambio climático debido a que al utilizar derivados de la madera se incentivará el cultivo de árboles en detrimento del consumo de derivados del petróleo; y, adicionalmente, para algunas aplicaciones, permitirá generar productos que puedan ser reciclados o aprovechados después de su vida útil, evitando el impacto ambiental negativo ocasionado por los residuos.

En la segunda fase de participación del grupo de la UAL, correspondiente a las etapas finales del estudio, los expertos realizarán los ensayos pertinentes para determinar y evaluar la biodegradabilidad, durabilidad, toxicidad y compostabilidad de cada uno de los diferentes productos finalmente obtenidos.

Las empresas que participan activamente en este proyecto, cuyo campo de acción es la producción de envases y embalajes, el sector automovilístico, cosmético y agrícola, serán las encargadas de fabricar los prototipos y explotar y comercializar los resultados que se obtengan al final de su andadura, en el año 2012.

En este proyecto participan un total de dieciséis socios procedentes de Italia, Hungría, Letonia, Rumania, Grecia, Alemania, Noruega, Bélgica y España, coordinados por la Universidad de Pisa. Con un presupuesto total de casi seis millones de euros, los miembros del consorcio esperan obtener resultados comercializables en apenas cuatro años.

For full story, please see:



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

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

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

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

To join the list, please send an e-mail to: with the message: subscribe NWFP-Digest-L

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

To unsubscribe, please send an e-mail to:  with the message: unsubscribe NWFP-Digest-L

For technical help or questions contact

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

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

NWFP-Digest-L Sponsor:
Non-WoodForest Products Programme
Forestry Department
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome, Italy
Fax: +39-06-570-55618
Web site NWFP programme:

last updated:  Friday, September 4, 2009