No. 8/09

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 Agnese Bazzucchi for her help with this issue.


  1. Berries: Superfruit Goji Berry (Lycium barbarum)
  2. Brazil Nuts Are Seeds, Not Nuts!
  3. Bushmeat: Gorillas orphaned by bushmeat trade
  4. Bushmeat: Gorilla virus in our midst
  5. Cinnamon possible cure for diabetes
  6. Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) holds key to arthritis treatment
  7. Honey more effective than antibiotics
  8. Medicinal Plants: Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) to battle swine flu
  9. Medicinal plants; Withania somnifera - Rediscovering the “Indian Ginseng”
  10. Mushrooms: Food security project offers hope of self-sufficiency
  11. Shea Butter: Empowerment and knowledge for women


  1. Brazil: Can NTFPs help conserve the Amazon?
  2. Canada: NTFP Newsletter
  3. Ecuador: 'Carbon bonds' to save forest
  4. Ghana: Promotion of non-wood products may save the forests
  5. India: Aboriginal uses and management of ethnobotanical species
  6. India: Bamboo drive to beat rebels
  7. India: Bamboo shoot raises hope for sweet profit
  8. Nepal: Herb farming shows way out of poverty
  9. Peru to pay Indians for conservation of Amazon jungle
  10. Rwanda: Local institute beats target of biodiesel production
  11. USA: Native plants recovering after pigs, goats fenced out
  12. USA: USDA proposes label for bio-based products


  1. Biopiracy: Developing nations demand bio-piracy protection in Trips
  2. Disappearance of honey bees has devastating affects
  3. Indigenous peoples protect the rainforest with hi-tech tools
  4. Killer weeds turn into stylish handbags, sturdy hammocks
  5. New way to benefit from tropical forests
  6. ’Trees of life' are vital food source
  7. Vietnam succeeds in farming medicinal mushroom


  1. 11th Annual BIOECON Conference on "Economic Instruments to Enhance the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity"
  2. 4th Shop the Wild Festival
  3. Forum on non-timber forest resources


  1. Capacity building opportunity for upcoming African Conservation Biologist
  2. Position of Program Coordinator for Latin America


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


  1. Cosmetic company finds alternatives to palm oil
  2. Flying frogs and the world's oldest mushroom: a decade of Himalayan discovery
  3. New artificial bone made of wood
  4. USA: Proposed biomass plant would run on trees killed by pine beetles




1. Berries: Superfruit Goji Berry (Lycium barbarum)
Source: The, 10 August 2009

Superfruits are a relatively new addition to contemporary diets. They are, for the most part, small fruits with some amazing claims as to their health benefits and nutritional content. Since they are relatively new there have been few clinical trials on which to find these claims.

The bright orange to red goji berry is grown mainly in Tibet. There is some debate linking the goji berry to the wolfberry which, although the same species, may come from two different places. China and Mongolia are thought to be home to the wolfberry, while “goji” has been specifically linked to the berry in Tibet. The Tibetan goji alone is thought to have over 40 species. The inside of this colourful berry is laden with seeds. Berries are not picked but shaken from the trees onto mats where they are left to dry before packaging. Touching the berries before packaging and or drying is said to cause oxidation, turning the goji black 

According to goji legend, use of the berry stretches back over 3000 years. It is said that Tibetan monks who drank from a well surrounding goji berry vines found longevity by drinking the water into which goji berries fell at random. The monks then spread the word through travellers, creating a conspicuous amount of interest about the new anti-aging miracle. Legend further tells of Li Qing Yuen who lived for 252 years (1678 to 1930) on a diet which consisted mainly of goji berries.

Goji berries seem to explode with nutritional value. They have at least 18 amino acids, 21 trace minerals, protein, and are a truly rich source of carotenoids. Of the 21 trace minerals one, germanium, is of particular interest for fighting cancer. Vitamins contained include vitamin C, vitamin B, vitamin E, and essential fatty acids. As with any product, though, it is wise to watch the processing and labelling to make sure that you are getting the full benefit, as nutrients can vary according to growing environment and processing.

Aside from its anti-aging uses, goji berries are recognized for quite a few other uses as well. The berries have been used to protect the liver and kidneys, help eyesight, improve circulation, bolster immunity, soothe skin problems, and to help with anxiety and sleeplessness. Although not all of these uses have been proven via clinical studies, there are some studies that seem to have a positive bearing on the use of goji berries overall.
For full story, please see:


2. Brazil nuts are seeds, not nuts!

Source: Plank Talk, 13 August 2009

The Brazil nut is known to most people as the largest nut in a can of mixed party nuts, but other than that, most people know little about it, including that it comes from an Amazonian rain forest tree of the same name or that it is really a seed, not a nut.

For the past 35 years an interesting research led by Dr. Scott A. Mori of the New York Botanical Garden has focused on the classification and ecology of species of the Brazil nut family. The Brazil nut itself is only one of what it is estimated to be about 250 species of that family found in the forests of Central and South America. This number includes nearly 50 species that do not have scientific names, mostly because collectors are usually not willing to climb into tall trees to gather the specimens needed to document their existence.

The Brazil nut flower is large, roughly two inches in diameter, and fleshy, and the male part of the flower has a structure not found in any other plant family in the world. The fertile stamens are arranged in a ring that surrounds the style at the summit of the ovary. This ring has a prolongation on one side that is expanded at the apex to form a hood-like structure. At the apex of the hood are appendages that turn in toward the interior of the flower. A small amount of nectar is produced at the bases of these appendages. The fleshy “hood” presses directly onto the summit of the ovary and the six petals form an overlapping “cup” that blocks entry to the flower to all but the co-evolved pollinators.

The Brazil nut is known to be pollinated only by large bees with enough strength to lift up the hood and enter the flower. These bees are presumably rewarded for their efforts by the nectar they collect from the interior of the hood. When the bees are in the flower, pollen rubs off onto their heads and backs from where it is transferred to the stigma of subsequent flowers visited.

For the most part, a Brazil nut tree cannot fertilize itself so the bee pollinators are needed to carry pollen from one tree to another. This is an example of a biotic interaction in which both the bee and the tree benefit—the former is rewarded with a nectar meal and the trees end up producing seeds.

At maturity, the round, woody fruits the size of cannon balls fall to the ground with 10 to 25 edible seeds about 1.5 inches long trapped inside. In botanical terminology, a nut is a kind of fruit so this is why the Brazil nut would have been more appropriately named the “Brazil seed.”

The fruit walls are chewed open and the seeds are removed and carried away by agoutis (rodents about the size of a cat) and less frequently by squirrels. Because the seeds are trapped inside the thick, woody fruits and because the boney seed coats are difficult to open, only animals with sharp teeth or a strong bite are able to consume the seeds. The agoutis and squirrels eat some of the seeds and cache others for future consumption. Some of the cached seeds are forgotten by the animals, and it is these seeds that may germinate and grow into the next generation of trees. Once again, the animals and the trees benefit, the former get a meal and the latter have their seeds dispersed to an area where they have a better chance growing into adult trees.

The Brazil nut is a NTFP that provides income to the Amazonians that harvest it for food. The harvesting of Brazil nuts has long been cited as a prime example of how human economic activity can provide income for people and protect biodiversity of tropical forests at the same time. However, a study by Carlos Peres and colleagues have demonstrated that continuous harvesting of Brazil nuts over long periods results in Brazil nut groves without juvenile trees; thus, there will be no replacement by younger trees when the older trees senesce and die. We continue to learn that tropical rain forests are so complex that every time they are exploited by humans they suffer negative impacts to their ecology and diversity.
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3. Bushmeat: Gorillas orphaned by bushmeat trade

Source:, 10 August 2009

The Fernan-Vaz Gorilla Project has set free six young gorillas on an island outside of Loango National Park in Gabon. The release marks a new stage in the rehabilitation of the gorillas.
The six western lowland gorillas, ranging from two to seven years of age, were orphaned when their respective parents were killed for bushmeat.

Before the release the gorillas underwent a three year 'rehab program' on another island with their keepers. For younger gorillas, still capable of being released into the wild, the program is meant to provide them with the essential skills needed to survive. Such skills are usually taught to baby gorillas by their parents in the first six to eight years of their life. The island provides a refuge from poachers and other predators where the gorillas are able to acclimate to the wild in safety. "We have to find ways to restore value to Africa’s forests, and reintroduction places focus on the African wildlife in the African forests," said Doug Cress, executive director of the Pan African Sancuary Alliance, which has worked closely with the Fernan-Vaz Gorilla Project. "It’s no good for any of us to aspire to having the world’s largest captive population of chimpanzees or gorillas – even if we are saving lives. That is not conservation and it is not sending messages that can be translated into environmental action."
For full story, please:


4. Bushmeat: Gorilla virus in our midst
Source: ENN Daily Newsletter, 6 August 2009

Researchers are shaking up the HIV family tree again. For the first time, investigators have found what looks like a gorilla version of the AIDS virus in a person. They do not know how the woman became infected but suspect that other humans harbour a similar virus. The possibility that gorillas can transmit the virus to humans further underscores the danger of butchering the apes or keeping them as pets, which still occurs in some African communities.

Several studies have shown that the most common form of the human immunodeficiency virus, dubbed HIV-1, likely evolved from a chimpanzee relative, SIVcpz. When investigators reported three years ago that they had found a similar SIV, SIVgor, in gorillas living in Cameroon, a genetic analysis suggested that it, too, descended from SIVcpz. Now the finding of SIVgor in a Cameroonian woman who moved to France five years ago further complicates the story.

In a paper published online this week in Nature Medicine, virologist Jean-Christophe Plantier of the Université de Rouen in France and colleagues describe how a 62-year-old suffering from fevers and weight loss sought medical care shortly after arriving in Paris. The woman tested positive for HIV antibodies and had suffered some damage to her immune cells but had not developed AIDS. Plantier's lab, however, could not make copies of her virus, a standard diagnostic step in wealthier countries that quantifies how much HIV a person has in the blood. He and his collaborators eventually succeeded by using novel reagents designed to sequence unusual HIV strains. The virus they found was most closely related to SIVgor. "I was very surprised to find SIVgor in the human population," says the paper's senior author, François Simon, a virologist at Hôpital Saint-Louis in Paris.
For full story please see:


5. Cinnamon possible cure for diabetes

Source: NaturalNews, 31 July 2009

An ancient spice prized for its unique flavour, aroma and healing capabilities, cinnamon has received a lot of attention by the modern media as a possible treatment for diabetes. Several studies have shown that cinnamon is an effective medicine for lowering blood sugar levels.   While most doctors do not suggest replacing traditional diabetes therapy with cinnamon, many people may find this spice to be an effective way to control blood sugar naturally.

Researchers aren't completely sure whether cinnamon influences insulin or whether it affects the rate at which sugars are absorbed, but the results of many studies are encouraging, and will hopefully lead to more research about just how cinnamon causes these positive blood glucose results.

For most people, adding a small daily dose of cinnamon to their diet is almost effortless. In fact, a bowl of whole-grain oatmeal, sweetened with stevia and flavoured with cinnamon is an ideal breakfast food for someone aiming to control blood sugar.
For full story, please see:


6. Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumben) holds key to arthritis treatment

Source: Times of India, 17 August 2009

Deep in Africa's Kalahari Desert lies the Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumben), a plant that may hold the key to effective treatments for arthritis, tendonitis and other illnesses that affect millions each year.   In the US, Devil's Claw extracts are in phase-II clinical trials for the treatment of hip and knee arthritis. Other promising uses are not far behind. Scientists have now successfully reproduced active ingredients in the Devil's Claw. Their technique may eventually lead to the development of "bio-factories" that could produce huge quantities of rare plant extracts quickly and at little cost.

Milen I. Georgiev, a scientist who organizes and teaches environment protection, pointed out that for thousands of years, native populations in southern Africa have used the Devil's Claw as a remedy for a huge number of ailments, including fever, diarrhoea and blood diseases.

But while the demand for these beneficial compounds is increasing, the supply of natural Devil's Claw is dwindling, thanks to years of drought, which have pushed the plant towards extinction. Today, there are dozens of medicinal and herbal products around the world that are based on chemicals derived from the plant. "In Germany, 57 pharmaceutical products based on Devil's Claw, marketed by 46 different companies, have cumulative sales volumes alone worth more than $40 million," Georgiev noted.

Currently, more than 25 percent of all prescribed medicines used in the industrialized countries are derived either directly or indirectly from plants, many of which are rare and sometimes endangered.
For full story please see:


7. Honey more effective than antibiotics
Source: The Medical News, Australia 27 July 2009

A household remedy a millennia old is being reinstated: honey helps the treatment of some wounds better than the most modern antibiotics.

For several years now medical experts from the University of Bonn, Germany have been clocking up largely positive experience with what is known as medihoney. Even chronic wounds infected with multi-resistant bacteria often healed within a few weeks. In conjunction with colleagues from Düsseldorf, Homburg and Berlin they now want to test the experience gained in a large-scale study, as objective data on the curative properties of honey are thin on the ground.

The fact that honey can help wounds to heal is something that was known to the Ancient Egyptians several thousand years ago. And in the last two world wars poultices with honey were used to assist the healing process in soldiers' wounds. However, the rise of the new antibiotics replaced this household remedy. ‘In hospitals today we are faced with germs which are resistant to almost all the current antibiotics,' Dr. Arne Simon explains. ‘As a result, the medical use of honey is becoming attractive again for the treatment of wounds.'

For several years now Bonn paediatricians have been pioneering the use in Germany of medihoney in treating wounds. Medihoney bears the CE seal (a marking which establishes the manufacturer's product conforms to all applicable requirements) for medical products; its quality is regularly tested. The success is astonishing: ‘Dead tissue is rejected faster, and the wounds heal more rapidly,' Kai Sofka, wound specialist at the University Children's Clinic, emphasises. ‘What is more, changing dressings is less painful, since the poultices are easier to remove without damaging the newly formed layers of skin.' Some wounds often smell unpleasant – an enormous strain on the patient. Yet honey helps here too by reducing the smell. ‘Even wounds which consistently refused to heal for years can, in our experience, be brought under control with medihoney – and this frequently happens within a few weeks,' Kai Sofka says.

It has already been proved that medihoney even puts paid to multi-resistant germs such as MRSA. In this respect medihoney is neck and neck in the race to beat the antibiotic mupirocin, currently the local MRSA antibiotic of choice. This is shown by a study recently published by researchers in Australia. In one point medihoney was even superior to its rival: the bacteria did not develop any resistance to the natural product during the course of treatment.
For full story, please see:


8. Medicinal Plants: Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) to battle swine flu
Source:, 12 August 2009

The national capital’s civic agency is all set to tackle the spread of the influenza A (H1N1) virus in its own unique way - by distributing medicinal plants like Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum)  and giloy (Tinospora cordifolia) to residents. Ayurvedic practitioners believe these plants can boost immunity and help fight swine flu.

Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) leader of house Subhash Arya Wednesday said: “The corporation will provide giloy branches and leaves as well as tulsi plants to the citizens of Delhi free of cost so that they could safeguard themselves from swine flu.”
“These will be distributed through the municipal councillors from their residential offices. The residents of their ward would collect these herbal plants from there,” he added.

This decision was taken after a meeting of MCD councillors and members of the civic agency’s garden and horticulture departments. “It was decided that keeping in view the preventive and curative powers of these herbal plants, these should be made available free of cost to the citizens,” Arya said.

Arya explained that the ayurvedic system of medicine prescribes that these herbs should be boiled in water at night till the quantity of the soup reduces to one-fourth.
“It should be taken in half glass measure after filteration every morning. I am confident that it will prevent as well as cure the prevailing swine flu,” he said.
For full story, please see:


9. Medicinal plants: Withania somnifera - Rediscovering the “Indian Ginseng”
Source: Indian Express, 1 August 2009

Recently it has been found that almost everything that Ayurveda (the system of traditional medicine native to India) has to say about the herb known as Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has been backed in recent times by hard scientific evidence emanating from India as well as from the West. 

Interestingly, many Indian physicians who have been trained in the Western system of medicine do not seem to acknowledge the virtues of Ashwagandha. However In many countries in Europe and particularly in the US, there is an ever increasing scientific interest in the knowledge embodied in the Ayurveda. Ashwagandha, in particular, has aroused enormous interest and even the Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre has acknowledged its potential benefits for cancer treatment.

Although Ginseng and Ashwaganda are botanically unrelated, at a basic level of perception they seem to impart similar benefits — vigour and strength. Hence, Ashwagandha has often been called the Indian Ginseng. The two are quite different in their chemistry and in the health benefits that they provide.

Ashwagandha, which if literally translated means “redolent of a horse”, has many beneficial properties as recent studies have corroborated. Traditionally, Ashwagandha was prescribed after an illness in order to strengthen the immune system. It is also an ingredient in the Ayurvedic tonic Chyawanprash, which also serves as food supplement.

It is hard to conceive that a small shrub of Ashwagandha is endowed with so many biologically active compounds. These compounds are extracted not just from its fruit (berries) but also from its leaves and roots. It is therefore not surprising that its use has been that of an anti-inflammatory agent, immune system protector, antioxidant, tranquiliser, anxiety reducer and anti-carcinogenic agent. Immunity-building has been the forte of Ashwagandha since ancient times. The root extract of this herb provides the white blood cells with an enhanced capacity to devour the pathogens.
For full story please see:


10. Mushrooms: Food security project offers hope of self-sufficiency
Source: Sustainable Food Examiner, 5 August 2009

Eleven years ago Chido Govero, who never knew her father and lost her mother to AIDS, was rescued from an orphanage in Zimbabwe by a local scientist working with the ZERI Foundation.

At the young age of twelve she began work in a university research laboratory, studying local wild mushrooms and their potential as a domesticated food source. Govero and her colleagues in the university discovered that for communities lacking a consistent supply of food, mushrooms offer superior nutrition and have the potential to dramatically contribute to food security. Govero became fascinated with the accessible and nutritious mushroom, and became an expert at making them thrive with the simple materials readily available even to homeless orphan girls.

Now twenty-three years old, she is cultivating native mushrooms in mulch composed of discarded organic materials, such as fallen leaves and the husks from coffee beans and is on a mission to teach other orphaned girls to find the mushrooms in their local environments and cultivate them for food and income. Govero has already trained a dozen other orphaned girls how to grow mushrooms from coffee pulp. Her plan is to reach out and network throughout Africa to create jobs and alleviate hunger with what is locally available.

In July 2009 Equator Coffees, a successful American-based, woman-owned company known both for social responsibility and artisan coffees, launched Chido's Blend™ to raise funds to support Govero's work.

"Chido is an inspiration to all women entrepreneurs who work for social change," said Helen Russell, co-founder and CEO of Equator Coffees. Russell met recently with Govero, who travelled to the U.S. to visit with leaders in the specialty coffee industry. "Chido's Blend™ will raise funds critical to the success of her efforts, and inspire coffee lovers to look deeper into the power of their morning cup. This cause takes coffee to an entirely new level." 100% of the profits from the sales of Chido’s Blend™ go toward Govero's work in coffee growing communities. Her program also receives vital support from the ZERI Foundation, which specializes in international sustainable development. 
For full story, please see:


11. Shea Butter empowerment and knowledge for women

Source: IPS, 4 August 2009

While Africa is still far from having adequate capacity for scientific innovation, women are more and more present in the field of the continent's sustainable development.

According to Dr Alhadji Wareme from Burkina Faso, knowledge is not the exclusive preserve of universities and the like, but is also to be found by building on traditional techniques and craftsmanship. He says women's groups have made enormous strides in this regard in Burkina Faso, notably in the production of shea butter.

"The filière (producer to consumer chain) for shea butter produced by women's organizations offers major opportunities in terms of invention and wealth creation in a rural or urban setting, providing livelihoods for women in particular, and a source of foreign currency for the country due to growing export demand," he told IPS.  (Improving shea butter production in Burkina Faso - and neighboring Mali and Niger - has been directed towards improving joint action throughout the sector, from producers through processors, distributors, exporters and consumers: the entirety is referred to in French as a filière.)

The foundation of these productive advances, Wareme underlines, is in traditional knowledge. According to him, Burkinabe women have long processed shea nuts for butter. With assistance from a development partner, the International Development Research Centre, these women have improved production techniques, using manure, taking better care of the health of the trees, as well as speeding up the extraction process using a machine press.

Warame continues: "Women's groups, combining traditional and modern techniques, have succeeded in creating something good in the shea butter filière. What's needed now is a programme to share these techniques more widely."

For full story, please see:



12. Brazil: Can NTFPs help conserve the Amazon?
Source: Amazon Fund, 20 June 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 Brazilian NGO “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. Viewed through an economic lens, NTFPs are any non-timber biological materials taken from forests for human use. NTFPs may be sold commercially or used for personal sustenance by the people harvesting them. Many NTFPs can be collected in a renewable and sustainable manner on a relatively small scale, providing local people with adequate income while preserving the forest. Potential Non-Timber Forest Products include herbs and other medicinal products, nuts, fruits, mushrooms, honey, gums and resins, spices, flavourings, sweeteners, fragrances for perfumes, ornamental pods and seeds, fibers, oils, food colorants, and rubber.

Sustainable harvesting more economically sound than a one-time timber harvest
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13. Canada: NTFP Newsletter
Source: NTFP Network of Canada, July 2009

The National NTFP Network of Canada has released its second Newsletter. Inside you will find a series of articles on a range of topics, a description of upcoming events and other information reflecting the diversity of the NTFP situation across Canada. 
For full story, please see:


14. Ecuador: 'Carbon bonds' to save forest
Source: Carbon Positive, 9 August 2009

While the UN, World Bank and NGOs work away at creating a new international carbon payments mechanism to save the world’s remaining rainforests, Ecuador has been trying a variation on the theme – carbon bonds.

The bonds would be issued over a government guarantee that oil won’t be extracted from the Yasuni National Park in the Ecuadorian Amazon and its forest and biodiversity preserved. The project would deliver a total of 407 million tonnes of emissions reduction savings, primarily from the avoided extraction and burning of 850 million barrels of oil under the reserve, and the protection of forest. There would also be significant benefits in biodiversity conservation and protecting the way of life of two indigenous groups living traditionally in the forest.

Working in a similar way to tradable carbon offset credits generated in return for emission reductions; the Ecuadorian government envisages issuing Yasuni Guarantee Certificates linked to the price of offset credits on the European carbon market.

Revenue from bond sales would offset the royalties foregone to oil companies in locking up the reserve permanently. If the oil reserve were to be exploited at some future date, the bonds would be cancelled and the government would be legally bound to return the proceeds, plus interest.

Ecuador’s President, Rafael Correa, has called on developed countries – governments and companies – to commit to buy the bonds, saying if the international community doesn’t come to the party the debt-strapped country will have no choice but to allow the oil field to be developed.

The bond sales would take place over a ten-year period with revenue being earmarked for investment in sustainable energy to wean the country of fossil fuels.
The US-based World Resources Institute has welcomed the concept in principle but expressed concern over carbon leakage. That is, should emission reductions be recognised in this plan when, in the short term at least, the demand for the oil from the field is likely to be just filled from supply elsewhere. This would mean no real emission savings.
For full story, please see:


15. Ghana: Promotion of NWFPs may save the forests
Source: Ghana News Agency, 2 August 2009

Ghana faces the threat of losing its forest cover and becoming a desert if the current rate of deforestation continued without support from all stakeholders in efforts to switch on to the use of regenerative and early maturing plant species, Mr Henry Kamel Ford, a Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources warned on Friday. He said Government was exploring ways to conserve the traditional wood species and promoting the lesser used plant varieties like bamboo and rattan, which had very high regenerative capacities.

Mr Ford gave the caution when he interacted with Members of the Greater Accra Bamboo and Rattan Association, occupying the edges of the Switchback Road, in Accra.

In a stock-taking of the forest resources of the nation, Mr Ford pointed out that the cover which was about 8.3 million hectares in the year 2000 shrunk to 1.5 million hectares in 2006, adding that if the current rate of depletion of 65,000 hectares continued, Ghana would have no forests in 23 years’ time.

Consequently, Government is promoting the use of bamboo and rattan as suitable alternative to wood, not only to conserve the traditional woods, but because bamboo had nutritional values and could be used in the aviation, construction and the textile industries.
Mr Ford said the Ministry had begun a capacity programme for stakeholders in the bamboo industry, and was collaborating with the governments of China and the Philippines for training to enhance its use in Ghana. “We are now taking bamboo seriously, and we are now sourcing fund for the growth of the bamboo and rattan industry,”

Mr Ford said government was ready to support the acquisition of land at Ayimensa, near Accra, to localize the bamboo industry to make it a one-stop shop for bamboo products.
Currently most artisans in the bamboo and rattan industry are scattered in the city of Accra at the Switchback Road, along the Achimota Tetteh Quarshie Road and the Arts Centre, without any good shelter, making it difficult for them to work when it rains.

The Minister inspected some furniture made from bamboo and rattan by the artisans and how they had recycled the waste materials to mould animals such as giraffes, lions and other forest species. The Deputy Minister said it would perhaps become possible for school children to use bamboo furniture when the industry was fully developed to save the nation’s traditional wood species.

Mr Vincent Mawuli Vordzi, General Secretary of the Association, said the main problem facing the 500 member association was the acquisition of land. He said the nine plots acquired so far was not large enough to accommodate all its members.

Mr Vordzi called on the Government to empower the Association to issue licenses for entry into bamboo enclaves for the harvesting of the plant, and also help the Association check the illegal export of bamboo products while measures were also taken to expand the market for the bamboo products.
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16. India: Aboriginal uses and management of ethnobotanical species
Source: Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 4 August 2009

A study by Chandra Prakash Kala on the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2009, 5:20, on the native uses of ethnobotanical species was carried out in the south Surguja district of Chhattisgarh state in India with the major objective of identifying different food and medicinal plant species and also to understand their ongoing management and conservation.   Through questionnaires and personal interviews, a total of 73 ethnobotanical species used by tribal and non-tribal communities were documented, of these 36 species were used in curing different types of diseases and 22 were used as edible food plants. This rich traditional knowledge of local people has an immense potential for pharmacological studies. The outside forces, at present, were mainly blamed to change the traditional system of harvesting and management of ethnobotanical species.

The destructive harvesting practices have damaged the existing populations of many ethnobotanical species viz ., Asparagus racemosus, Dioscorea bulbifera, Boswellia serrata, Buchnania lanzan, Sterculia urens and Anogeissus latifolia. The sustainable harvesting and management issues of ethnobotanical species are discussed in view of their conservation and management.
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17. India: Bamboo drive to beat rebels
Source: The Telegraph Calcutta, 31 July 2009

The forest department has embarked on a bamboo plantation drive with the aim of generating employment for tribals of Naxalite strongholds in Dhanbad and Bokaro districts so that they are not easily lured into joining the rebel ranks. The department has already embarked on a mission to plant more than 30,000 bamboo saplings.

The bamboo produced will be used to make handicraft products, thus providing a boost to the cottage industry and generating jobs for both young and old. Three villages in Topchanchi block, two in Tundi block, four in Baghmara and one in Mahuda block of Dhanbad district and two villages each in Nawadih and Gomia blocks of Bokaro have been chosen for the drive. The Union government has sanctioned Rs 18 lakh for the project. More funds have been promised if positive results emerge.

After receiving reports that Maoist top leaders were luring unemployed youths and even elders sitting idle at home to join them in return for money and other facilities, the Centre had asked the forest department to initiate the project.

Talking to The Telegraph, district forest officer of Dhanbad Sanjiv Kumar said they wanted to create jobs for both young and old residents. “While the old people can make bamboo products, the youth can sell them in the market. Besides, we need people for the plantation job as well,” he said. The villagers, he added, were showing a lot of interest in the project. “Regular training will be held for them,” Kumar promised.
For full story, please see:


18. India: Bamboo shoot raises hope for sweet profit
Source: Telegraph India, 30 July 2009

The pungent bamboo shoot that flavours your pork could soon become a staple ingredient for industrial growth in the under-developed Bodo belt.

The Bodoland Bamboo Development Board and the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) based in Beijing signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a bamboo shoot processing centre in Kokrajhar on Friday, in an attempt to use the abundant grass on a commercial scale.

Used to season numerous dishes, the bamboo shoot has found its way to supermarket racks in both fresh and canned versions. Despite its popularity in the Northeast, the bamboo shoot has not been tapped as a commercial potential.

Keeping that gap in mind, the Bodoland Bamboo Development Board decided to test the waters. Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) executive member Mitaram Basumatary, who is also the chairman of Bodoland Bamboo Development Board, and J. Coosje Hoogendoorn, Director General of INBAR, signed the agreement at the BTC secretariat conference hall.

The bamboo processing centre will be established at the Central Institute of Technology (CIT) situated at Balajan in Kokrajhar. INBAR will lend the technical support required.

Besides training the youths, INBAR will emphasize the commercialization of bamboo-related edible products.

Terming the signing of the MoU as a step for industrial development in the BTC area, Mitaram Basumatary said all parts of bamboo plants are useful and can be industrially processed and utilised.

“Bamboo shoot has the largest potential market not only in the region but also outside, but it lacks commercialization and value addition. I believe the proposed bamboo shoot processing centre will be able to bring some dramatic changes in the bamboo sector in the BTC. The emphasis is on commercialization of bamboo-related spices and preservation of bamboo shoots through various technologies,” Basumatary said.

Speaking about the MoU, Hoogendoorn said the collaboration between the Bodoland Bamboo Development Board and the INBAR aims to strengthen bamboo production in the area. “Though people use bamboo for household purposes, it has been not used for income generation purposes,” she said.

Experts say there is a growing market for processed and packaged shoots, providing an opportunity for entrepreneurs to explore its commercial potential. 
For full story please see:


19. Nepal: Herb farming shows way out of poverty

Source: (Nepal). 2 August 2009

Jumla - The population of 10 Village Development Committees (local communities of villages) in a Mid-Western district of Nepal have taken to herb farming in a big way. This endeavour, which enjoys support of the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (MoFSC), is helping bail the people out of penury. On top of it, commercial farming of herbs has helped conserve medicinal plants that were in peril in the wild, thanks to unabated collection that was going on till 2005.

The medicinal plants are in high demand in the international market and fetch a good price too, says Laxmi Chandra Mahat, district project facilitator for the herb farming project.
“Apart from herb conservation, this project will be instrumental in raising the living standard of local people,” says Mahat. 

According to statistics of the district project office, farmers have cultivated at least 10 kinds of herbs in some 1,500 hectares in Jumla. “Cultivating crops, we used to find it hard to meet day-to-day expenses even for six months. Now that we have taken to herb farming, we hope to get a better return,” says Kali Bahadur Thapa of Patmara VDC.

In the fiscal year 2008/09, people of Patmara sold 120 kg of herbs and earned about Rs. 130,000. The profit motivated them and they planted herbs in some 300 hectares in their village.

Taking a leaf from Jumla, the MoFSC plans to expand the herb farming project in 11 districts of four zones in three phases by 2014. The International Fund for Agriculture Development has loaned Rs 1.5 billion to the ministry for the Rs 2.17-billion project, according to Mahat.
For full story please see:


20. Peru to pay Indians for conservation of Amazon jungle
Source: Latin American Herald Tribune, 9 August 2009

LIMA – The Peruvian government will pay Indian communities for their work in preserving the Amazon jungle as part of an ambitious program that seeks to protect 55 million hectares of rain forest in the country, Environment Minister Antonio Brack told Efe.
“One of the worst problems about global warming is that mankind in the last 500 years has destroyed 50 percent of the forests on the planet and that is a very serious problem indeed,” the environment minister said, adding that in Peru 10 million hectares (39,000 square miles) of tropical forest have been destroyed. Up to now development has consisted of the woodland practice of slash and burn to clear land for crops and livestock, but that has given mediocre results because of the 10 million hectares where that has been carried out, 8 million hectares are unproductive. It’s shameful and we can’t keep doing it,” Brack said.

The Peruvian administration’s program is not limited to compensating native communities economically, but will also initiate other actions like employing 600 Indians as forest rangers to protect these areas, and to award scholarships so that natives can be trained in such activities as ecotourism and beekeeping.
For full story please see:


21. Rwanda: Local institute beats target of biodiesel production
Source: The New Times (Kigali), 3 August 2009

Kigali — After one year of launching the production of biodiesel, the Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (IRST) has achieved its strategic projection of producing 2000 liters of biodiesel per day.

The biodiesel that is produced from the palm oil, Moringa oil, Jatropha oil, avocado seeds and animal fats among others will help the country break away from dependency of imported petroleum products, since Rwanda is a land locked country.

The land mark achievement has been accomplished due to the purchase of machinery from Europe and plans are under way to purchase bigger machines with higher capacity that can produce 340,000 liters of diesel per day. However, Rwanda still imports most of the raw materials from the neighbouring countries for the production of diesel oil. It imports a total of 11.5 tonnes of raw materials. According to Nduwayezu Jean Baptist, the Director General of IRST, for Rwanda to attain fuel independence, it needs at least 225,000 hectares of land to produce raw materials.
For full story, please see:


22. USA: Native plants recovering after pigs, goats fenced out
Source: Haleakala Times (Hawaii), 29 July 2009

HALEAKALA — Native species in the shrub land and forest of Waikamoi Preserve on the north slope of Mount Haleakala have staged a dramatic recovery after hoofed animals were fenced out. In some cases, native plant cover increased by 300 percent or more.

The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii reported that work at the site confirmed that strategic conservation efforts, like fencing and feral animal removal, can help restore damaged ecosystems.

The conservancy conducted two surveys — one immediately after fencing and removing goats and pigs from part of its Waikamoi Preserve in 1994, and another survey last year. The results surprised scientists. When they went back for the second survey, they found the land was far denser with native plants than it had been.  

“The message is that it’s really worth protecting important native forests and watersheds from invasive animals. You really do get remarkable results,” said Mark L. White, Maui program director for The Nature Conservancy.

Native trees and ferns sprang up. Native shrubs and forest-floor mosses and lichen exploded. And remarkably, several grasses — including an invasive grass — declined.

In the 1994 survey, the upper sub-alpine areas were open and dominated by grasses, both native an alien. By the time of the 2008 survey, grasses and soft-bodied (herbaceous) plants were reduced in number. In their place were native woody shrubs and ferns.
For full story, please see:


23. USA: USDA Proposes Label for Bio-based Products

Source:, 5 August 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a labeling system to identify products made with renewable plant, animal and other bio-based materials.

The BioPreferred labeling proposal is an outgrowth of the federal government's BioPreferred purchasing program, which was created in the 2002 Farm Bill. The 2008 Farm Bill expanded the program to also promote the sale of bio-based products outside of the government.

The proposal would set up a system in which companies could voluntarily apply the BioPreferred label to their products. The USDA has already identified more than 15,000 bio-based products in about 200 categories.

The USDA hopes that a labelling system for bio-based products would help consumers, businesses and governments easily identify bio-based products, and also act as a marketing tool for the product makers and vendors.

The USDA defines bio-based products as items that are made up entirely or mostly of biological ingredients like plant, animal, marine and forestry materials. A product would be able to use the BioPreferred label if it meets or exceeds the USDA's minimum content requirements.
For full story, please see:



24. Biopiracy:  Developing nations demand bio-piracy protection in TRIPS
Source: The Economic Times (India), 10 August 2009

NEW DELHI: India and eight other developing countries continue to be at loggerheads with the US over the issue of amending the agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to include rules on checking bi-piracy.

This was necessary as a number of individuals or companies in developed countries were usurping traditional knowledge existing in developing countries for centuries and getting it patented in their names. The group has been stressing that disclosure of origin of biological resource being patented and benefit sharing with the country of origin of the patented resource should be made part of the TRIPS agreement.

Speaking to the Economic Times, a government official in the commerce department pointed out that the issue of checking biopiracy through multilateral rules is very important for India as entities in developed countries have been continuously trying to patent properties of biological resources being used in India for generations.

The US had granted patents for certain medicinal uses of biological products, like neem (Azadirachta indica) and turmeric (Curcuma longa) that have been known in India for a long time. The US government later revoked those patents. “If we have proper multilateral rules in place for disclosure of origin and benefit sharing, then it will lead to a more just global order and reduce disputes,” the official said.
For full story, please see:


25. Disappearance of honey bees has devastating affects
Source: Basil & Spice, 2 August 2009

Starting in the winter of 2006, millions of bees vanished without a trace from their hives across the United States and Europe, and are still continuing to do so. The disappearance of the honey bees - who are the indispensable pollinators of fruits and vegetables – has left billions of dollars of crops at risk and has threatened our food supply in a manner that has never been experienced before.

Given the unprecedented nature of the problem, and the agricultural nightmare that looms ahead with the loss of the vast majority of fruits and vegetables, scientists are now scrambling to understand the causes behind the disappearance of the honey bees--both in the West, as well as in many other parts of the globe.

Scientists warn that if we are unable to stop the further loss of bees, we are faced with the loss of the very foods (fruits, nuts, and vegetables) that protect us from chronic illnesses. The reality is that there are no known means to pollinate the blossoms of fruit or nut trees that can begin to compare with the efficiency of honey bees. As an example, a hive of bees pollinates 3 million flowers a day; however, when an effort is made to pollinate flowers manually, it has been estimated that one human being can pollinate a maximum of only three trees a day.

It is estimated that if the bees continue to disappear at the current rate, the honey bee population in the United States will cease to exist by the year 2035.
For full story please see:


26. Indigenous peoples protect the rainforest with hi-tech tools

Source:, 10 August 2009

Illegal logging is a threat to the rainforests of Peru. But the indigenous communities are using both ancient knowledge and modern technology to protect biodiversity and stop further destruction.

The lush green of the rain forest offers rich natural resources which the Ashaninka Indians have lived on for centuries. At the Yoreka Atame school of primeval forestry in Brazil, young indigenous and non-indigenous people have been learning how to make use of them in a sustainable way. Since 2007, the school has taught more than 2,000 participants skills like the cultivating fruit trees, keeping bees, and erecting dams in creeks and lakes to enhance spawning grounds for fish.

“That's how we Ashaninka Indians here in the border region between Brazil and Peru want to pass on our traditional knowledge," said Moises Piyako. He cofounded the Yoreka Atame school together with his brother Benki in 2007.

To prevent illegal loggers from wreaking further havoc on Brazilian territory, Benki and Moises Piyako demand a world-wide ban on imports of wood illegally felled in rainforests.
"There are only a few specimen left of many of the tree species, and we are trying to recultivate these economic plants," they said, adding that there is a lack of understanding for the importance of managing resources sustainable. "We must make sure that our natural resources are not destroyed in the struggle for survival."

In their fight for environmental protection, the Ashaninka combine traditional knowledge and modern technology. Some remote communities have already set up satellite-supported communication systems in the rainforest.

In addition, Benki Piyako and his village of Apiwtxa have set up a video blog on life in the rainforest ( There, they also post satellite photos that document how illegal logging is devastating huge areas. It is their aim to teach people how the forest and its resources can be used without destroying them. And they also want to set up a global network supporting the protection of their region
For full story, please see:,,4547011,00.html


27. Killer weeds turn into stylish handbags, sturdy hammocks
Source: Mid-Day (India), 8 August 2009

Marine weeds, considered an ecological hazard in Kerala’s rainforest, turn into valuable raw material when designers and local craftsmen working with Inheritance India come together.

Documentary filmmaker Lygia Matthew was shooting the tradition of snake boat racing in Kerala when she encountered locals who survived on the brink of poverty despite skills to fashion breathtaking items from cane and bamboo. Along with four partners, including a naturalist couple who ran a wildlife camp, a professional with the hospitality industry and a financial planner, she set up Inheritance India in 2002.

They first bought an abandoned coffee plantation in Kerala to retail organically-grown coffee in Mumbai and Pune. With help from two designers from Ahmedabad's National Institute of Design, local craftsmen were trained in making modern lifestyle items using traditional techniques and raw materials, like lantana and water hyacinth.

These weeds that thrive in tropical rain forests and end up choking water bodies and ruining marine life, were often poisoned. Inheritance India decided to use these sturdy plants to fashion handbags, mats and lamps, using organic colours obtained from pomegranate and walnuts.
For full story, please see:


28. New way to benefit from tropical forests
Source: The Statesman, Kolkata, India, 17 August 2009

Researchers have developed a way to reap social and environmental benefits from tropical forests worldwide, a project which they claim have benefited many global and indigenous community groups in Orissa.

A team, led by International Institute for Environment and Development, has said that communities in Orissa have now increased “access rights” to collect and manage NTFPs in state forest land.

The project also involves forest community groups and policy-makers across ten countries in Africa and Asia. “With forests set to take centre stage in a new global deal to tackle climate change, there is a desperate search for proven ways to improve governance to make sure that forest resources are managed for the public benefit.

“The search should look at what's been achieved by the Forest Governance Learning Group (FGLG). Its experience shows how to improve governance in ways that lead to tangible changes in policy with positive impacts on people who depend on forests,” team leader James Mayers said.

Through stimulation, the project has achieved impacts such as: forest-dependent households living around Uganda's Mabira forest have more secure livelihoods after action which reversed a government decision to degazette the forest and convert it to sugar plantations; improved governance frameworks in Vietnam have enabled practical actions for local beneficial community forestry.
For full story, please see:


29. 'Trees of life' are vital food source
Source: BBC News, 4 August 2009

The "famine food" of trees can keep drought-hit communities alive when all other food crops fail, says Miranda Spitteler. In this week's Green Room, she argues that policy makers need to recognise the important role trees play in providing emergency food aid.

Food insecurity is a defining characteristic of life for many of the world's poorest people, exacerbated now by climate change and the rise in food prices. Emergency food aid has been the staple of international responses to crises, such as drought and famine for decades.

However, it is much better that the emergency is addressed before it happens.
Farmer Arzouma Thiombiano from eastern Burkina Faso recalls how trees saved lives in the mid 1980s. "Over 20 years ago, a big famine came but people escaped starvation by eating baobab leaves and fruit," he says.

Communities living in countries most affected by food shortages have long known about the key role that trees can play in reducing the need for conventional aid. Recognition of this by the West, and practical support for a localized tree-based solution is urgently needed.
  Widespread droughts across Africa have devastated crops this year. According to FAO, 30 countries around the world are in crisis and require help from overseas. The effects of climate change are making droughts more of a norm than an exception. This is a pattern that places some of the most vulnerable communities in an increasingly precarious position when it comes to meeting basic food needs.

In Burkina Faso, malnutrition affects nearly 40% of the rural poor. Climate change is further impacting on already fragile agricultural lands, and high food costs are affecting people's health. By the time shortages and hunger in countries like Burkina Faso reach "emergency" levels and warrant aid, families, communities, agricultural practices and lands will have suffered greatly.

The G8 summit held in Italy at the beginning of July pledged $20 billion to support indigenous food production to alleviate the need for such emergency food aid.

What is missing from this pledge is any mention of the key role that trees can play.   "Conventional" crops are often not native and require expensive inputs, significant irrigation and land preparation in order to produce a successful harvest. This means that they are more vulnerable to droughts. For smallholder farmers in Africa's drylands, a failed harvest can mean months of malnutrition and hardship.

Trees, on the other hand, often survive when other crops fail. Commonly seen by the West as "famine foods", tree foods already form a significant part of daily diets across rural Africa.  Trees provide fruits, nuts, seeds, leaves, flowers, sepals, even sap, which can all be used as food.

Take Moringa oleifera - its leaves have more beta-carotene than carrots, more protein than peas, more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk, more potassium than bananas and more iron than spinach. Data shows that nursing mothers produce more milk when they add Moringa leaves to their diet. The leaves can be dried and eaten during the hungry period, and animal fodder from trees is also vital in producing milk and meat.

This existing localized "emergency relief" is what the G8 funding must seek to strengthen.

The fight against hunger - especially in drought-hit times - must target those at the epicentre of world poverty - smallholder farmers in rural Africa.

They need support to adopt agro-forestry techniques, which boost soil fertility and provide tree food crops to supplement nutrition. They need the right environment to invest in their land, the ability to share information, and modest support at grass roots level. Training and support can help villagers earn money from things that grow on trees. This income can give them food-purchasing power when crops fail, and access to vital services, such as healthcare and education.

This approach can increase self sufficiency for both rural communities and national economies. It can increase environmental security, diversify livelihood options and reduce the vulnerability of poor households to climate change and external shocks. It can bring real, sustainable long-term returns.

In Dongo, a village in Burkina Faso, Tree Aid's Village Tree Enterprise project aims to help villagers generate income from tree products. All the participants are women.
One of their husbands explained: "During the last drought period, when my granary was empty, my wife's income contributed more than 50% of the household's income."

Projects like these provide communities with the skills and support to manage their trees. They enable people like the group in Dongo to improve their own resilience to drought, crop failure, and higher food prices.

It is time for the value of trees to be recognized at all levels internationally. Groups like the G8 must make a commitment to developing the enormous potential of agro-forestry. In so doing they present a joined up approach to resolving two of the key issues facing the world today. They will simultaneously alleviate poverty and food insecurity for people who need it most, while tackling the impact of climate change by encouraging the protection and planting of trees.
For full story, please see:


30. Vietnam succeeds in farming medicinal mushroom
Source: SGGP, 12 August 2009

The HCMC Center for Reishi and Medicinal Mushrooms Research has successfully grown the Thuong Hoang mushroom which has active elements that can help treat cancers, especially in the breast, liver, and stomach.

Co Duc Trong, chairman of the project to grow the mushroom in the city said that Phellinus linteus has been used in traditional medicine for a long time. This mushroom is of particular interest to researchers around the world because of its tumour-prevention properties. It only grows deep in the forest and high up in mountains and can live for tens of years.

The total global output productivity of the mushroom is just around 30 tons a year, mainly from natural sources. Only four countries have managed to farm it -- Korea, China, Japan, and Thailand. With demand being high, a kilogram costs VND4 to 10 million (US$228 to 571) and there are a lot of fakes. In Vietnam, it fetches VND4 million.

Since 2006 the center has successfully grown phellinus in sawdust made from rubber trees instead of in tree trunks like the countries do. It has so far produced around 140 kg, Mr.Trong said. This process protects the mushrooms from diseases and they are cleaner and more uniform.

It can be grown for export and for selling to drug companies, he added.
For full story, please see:  



31. 11th Annual BIOECON Conference on "Economic Instruments to Enhance the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity"

21-22 September 2009
Venice, Italy
The Conference is targeted at researchers, environmental professionals, international organizations and policy makers who are interested in working in the management and conservation of biodiversity. The Conference is focused on identifying the most effective and efficient instruments for biodiversity conservation, such as auctions of biodiversity conservation contracts, payment-for-services contracts, taxes, tradable permits, voluntary mechanisms and straightforward command and control. Special emphasis will be given to policy reforms aimed at increasing the commercial rewards for conserving biodiversity, increasing the penalties for biodiversity loss and circulating information on the biodiversity performance requirements of firms. An increasing number of businesses, which were responsible for biodiversity loss in the past, are now supporters of biodiversity conservation. Markets for organic agriculture and sustainably-harvested timber are developing at double-digit rates, while rapid growth is observed in the demand for climate mitigation services, such as the protection of forests and wetlands to absorb carbon dioxide. Bioprospecting, the search for new compounds, genes and organisms in the wild, is another biodiversity business on the rise.

Leading international environmental economists will present their latest research in two plenary sessions. The agenda also includes two panel discussions:

  • European Investment Bank session (day 1) on Valuing Ecosystem Services: the Link Between Theory and Practice
  • Conservation International session (day2) on Applying Economic Instruments to Enable People to Conserve Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
    For more information, please contact:

Ms. Ughetta Molin Fop
Fax +39.041.2711461.


32. 4th Shop the Wild Festival

3 – 4 October 2009
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
The Centre for Non-Timber Resources (CNTR) at Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC will be hosting a public market, a wonderful opportunity for producers & providers involved in British Columbia’s non-timber forest product sector to showcase their goods. 


33.Forum on non-timber forest resources

6 November 20009
Nanaimo, British Columbia
In partnership with the Canadian Forest Communities Conference, The Centre for Non-Timber Resources (CNTR) is presenting a one-day forum on non-timber forest resources. Themes will explore the values of working together, collaborative community-based research, models for MTFR-based community development, and policy and resource management.



34. Capacity building opportunity for upcoming African Conservation Biologist

From: Society for Conservation Biology

The Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) Africa Section Communications/Mentoring Program (funded by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation) is enrolling new sets of mentors and mentees to participate in the eight month mentoring program. Enrolment exercise will commence from 1st to 31st of August 2009.

The program’s goal is to increase the capacity of upcoming African Conservation Biologists to write proposals and publish their research in international peer-reviewed journals.

Interested mentors and mentees should please fill in the interest form ( Please note that SCB membership is not a requirement for enrolment; however, preference will be given to SCB members. Please send completed forms to with cc: to before 1st of September 2009.
For more information please see:


35. Position of Program Coordinator for Latin America

From: The Rights and Resources Initiative

The Rights and Resources Initiative is seeking to fill the position of Program Coordinator for Latin America. Applications accepted immediately. For application instructions and a full listing of job responsibilities, please see the PDF attached and the listing here:
Position Description
The Washington-based Program Coordinator for Latin America will ensure the strategic planning and implementation of collaborative activities with the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) Partners in Latin America designed to advance the tenure rights of forest dwellers and alleviate poverty in forest areas. The position requires effective and proactive decision-making to ensure that the activities in the Latin America region do not deviate from the goals and vision agreed to by the RRI regional team.

The Program Coordinator will proactively coordinate the Latin America Program within a dynamic environment of shifting priorities, overcoming impediments and solving problems, while maintaining effective communication with Program Directors, and effective teamwork with staff and coalition Partners and Collaborators. The Program Coordinator will fulfill these responsibilities through a broad range of duties, including both technical and administrative tasks.
The ideal candidate will possess:

  • High level of analytical skills;
  • Working knowledge of issues and debates surrounding community forestry, conservation and social organizations; and rural development
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, capacity to work in a team and to demonstrate initiative;
  • Availability to travel;
  • Advanced degree in natural resource management, anthropology, geography, international relations, or related field;
  • Complete fluency in English and Spanish essential, fluency in Portuguese a plus;

For more information, please visit the following link:



36. New publication from FAO’s Forestry Department
From: Marco Boscolo, FAO,

Dijk, Kees van & Herman Savenije. 2009. Towards national financing strategies for sustainable forest management in Latin America: Overview of the present situation and the experience in selected countries. Forestry Policy and Institutions. Working Paper 21. FAO, Rome.

This recently published study on the status, experiences and perspectives of forest financing in Latin America emphasizes that one of the main challenges facing countries in their efforts to reduce forest degradation and deforestation is the need to make good forest management more commercially competitive and make forests themselves more economically attractive. Promotion of investment in management and in payment for the goods and services produced by forests, and also ensuring that total earnings are a fair reflection of the real costs and benefits of their sustainable production is key.

There is a growing awareness that traditional views, policies, sources and amounts of forest financing have been insufficient and inefficient in achieving SFM. The potential role of innovative market arrangements is the object of growing attention, and a range of promising new financing sources, instruments and mechanisms (especially regarding payment for environmental forest services) and capital market instruments is now appearing, and these can help to generate additional financial resources. It is also increasingly being realized that stand-alone financing mechanisms are less effective and sustainable than those set within a broader and more reliable institutional and policy and political framework. It is concluded that comprehensive National Forest Financing Strategies (NFFS) could be adopted, encompassing the financing of investments (including incentives), payment for goods and services, and risk mitigation mechanisms.

This synthesis study on the financing of forest management in Latin America emerged from the joint efforts of two initiatives: (a) the FAO/IUCN/CCAD project Financing strategies and mechanisms for sustainable use and conservation of forests - Phase I: Latin America, financed by the Netherlands; and (b) the ACTO/DGIS-BMZ/GTZ regional programme Sustainable use and conservation of forests and biodiversity in the Amazon region, co-financed by the Netherlands and Germany. The present document is based mainly on studies carried out in 19 Latin American countries to review the current state and perspectives of forest management financing.
The document is available in Spanish and English and can be downloaded from: and Further information on forest financing is also found.
For further information contact the authors: Kees van Dijk (, Herman Savenije (, or Marco Boscolo, coordinator at FAO (


37. Other publications of interest
From:  FAO’s NWFP Programme

Abensperg-Traun, M. 2009. CITES, sustainable use of wild species and incentive-driven conservation in developing countries, with an emphasis on southern Africa. Biol. Conserv. 142(5):948-963.

Copenheaver, C.A., Predmore, S.A., and Askamit, D.N. 2009. Conversion of rare grassy openings to forest: have these areas lost their conservation value? Nat. Areas J. 29(2):133-139.

Crepaldi, Maria Otávia Silva and Peixoto Ariane Luna. 2009. Use and knowledge of plants by “Quilombolas” as subsidies for conservation efforts in an area of Atlantic Forest in Espírito Santo State, Brazil Biodiversity and Conservation doi: 10.1007/s10531-009-9700-9

Dostalova, A. 2009. Tree seedlings: how do they establish in spontaneously developed forests? A study from a mountainous area in the Czech Republic. Biodivers. Conserv. 18(6):1671-1684.

Fritz, Ö., Niklasson, M., and Churski, M. 2009. Tree age is a key factor for the conservation of epiphytic lichens and bryophytes in beech forests. Appl. Veg. Sci. 12(1):93-106.

Garrido, G.; Rodeiro, I.; Hernandez, I.; Garcia, G.; Perez, G.; Merino, N.; Nunez-Selles, A.; Delgado, R. 2009. In vivo acute toxicological studies of an antioxidant extract from Mangifera indica L. (Vimang). Drug and Chemical Toxicology, 32(1): 53 – 58.

Laborde, J., and Thompson, K. 2009. Post-dispersal fate of hazel (Corylus avellana) nuts and consequences for the management and conservation of scrub-grassland mosaics. Biol. Conserv. 142(5):974-981.

Magige, F.J., Holmern, T., Stokke, S., Mlingwa, C., and Røskaft, E. 2009. Does illegal hunting affect density and behaviour of African grassland birds? A case study on ostrich (Struthio camelus). Biodivers. Conserv. 18(5):1361-1373.

Menton, M. C. S., F. D. Merry, A. Lawrence, and N. Brown. 2009. Company–community logging contracts in Amazonian settlements: impacts on
livelihoods and NTFP harvests. Ecology and Society 14 (1): 39.
Abstract - As a result of government-sponsored colonization, more than 500 000 km2 of the Brazilian Amazon is managed by settlement households. By law, 80% of this land must remain as standing forest. In this study, we examine the potential for timber harvesting through company–community partnerships (CCPs) as a means to increase forest-based revenue without compromising household use of non-timber forest products (NTFPs). Using participatory rural appraisal, resource diaries, and household questionnaires, we study the impacts of CCP logging contracts on livelihoods, including household income and NTFP harvests. Our results show that annual household income from the CCP logging is equivalent to more than eight years of household gross income from agricultural production. We also found that there were no significant differences in NTFP harvests between households with CCP logging and those without. In CCP-logging communities, households caught 11.9 ± 13.6 game animals, totaling 74 ± 88 kg of game meat. In the communities without CCP, households caught 9.5 ± 13.0 game animals, totaling 73 ± 172 kg of game meat. Annual forest fruit harvests averaged 9.8 ± 13.2 kg in CCP-logging communities and 13.5 ± 15.9 kg in non-CCP communities. Overall, the CCPs brought improvements in household income without compromising NTFP harvests.

Nascimbene, J., Marini, L., Motta, R., and Nimis, P.L. 2009. Influence of tree age, tree size and crown structure on lichen communities in mature Alpine spruce forests. Biodivers. Conserv. 18(6):1509-1522.

Pareek O. P &   Sharma Suneel 2009 Underutilized Fruits and Nuts


38. Web sites and e-zines
From:  FAO’s NWFP Programme

Live interactive web events from sustainability experts.
Beginning on 19 August  2009, Earthscan will offer a free one-hour webcast on a different topic each month, giving viewers the opportunity to learn from, and interact with, leading authorities from a range of different fields.

The audio presentations will be accompanied by illustrative slides and viewers will have the opportunity to contribute to discussions by submitting questions during the events. The subjects covered will include all of Earthscan’s specialties, including business, climate change, energy, the built environment and natural resource management.

The first Earthcast, entitled Carbon Markets and Climate Change Mitigation, will be broadcast on 19 August 2009 when the authors of Carbon Markets and Voluntary Carbon Markets debated the effectiveness of market based mechanisms in helping to mitigate climate change.

The second Earthcast, entitled Sustainable Business Practice: Process and Implementation, will be broadcast on 30th September 2009. Join the authors of The ISIS Agreement, The Step-by-Step Guide to Sustainability Planning and The Business Guide to Sustainability for an event that presents different yet complementary methods of providing sustainability training.
For more information and to register please visit:



39. Cosmetic company finds alternatives to palm oil
Source: Tree Hugger, 10 August 2009

LUSH Cosmetics is washing its hands off palm oil, and is encouraging other multinational corporations to lather up to something else. Found in food products, biofuels, and many cosmetics, palm oil has been pilloried for the destruction of rainforests in Southeast Asia and driving the endangered orangutan to the brink of extinction.

The bodycare purveyor—which is phasing palm oil out from its headily aromatic collection of soap and shampoo bars, shower jellies, body butters, and fizzing bath bombs—is now selling a newly formulated soap that is completely palm-free.
  As part of its nationwide campaign against palm oil, LUSH is writing to the top 300 companies that use the ingredient, including Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and Nestle, to urge them to look for alternatives. Any company that reformulates its products to remove palm oil will get a year's supply of LUSH soap for its headquarters.

For the past three years, LUSH has worked to develop a soap base that does not contain palm oil. All new soaps are made with this palm-free base, a move that the company estimates reduces the amount of palm oil it uses by 133,000 pounds per year, or the equivalent of 36.3 acres of primary rainforest.

Traces of palm oil still remain, however, because the ingredient is also used to make common soap additives like sodium stearate and sodium lauryl sulfate, which LUSH obtains from third-party suppliers. The company says it's working with its vendors to find out how much palm oil is in these ingredients and what surrogates exist.

The cosmetics industry uses 6 to 7 percent of the global supply of palm oil, but the biggest consumer of the ingredient is currently food, with one out of every 10 items in the supermarket aisles—including chips, breads, biscuits, and margarine—containing the ingredient.

Roughly 90 percent of the world’s palm oil comes from Malaysia and Indonesia, and the United Nations estimates that palm oil plantations are "now the primary cause of permanent rainforest loss." If action is not taken, 98 percent of the rainforests in Malaysia and Indonesia could vanish in only 15 years.
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40. Flying frogs and the world's oldest mushroom: a decade of Himalayan discovery
Source: Environmental News Network, 10 August 2009

A pretty ultramarine blue flower which changes colour in response to temperature, a flying frog and the world's oldest mushroom preserved in amber are among the 350 new species discovered in the Eastern Himalayas over the past 10 years. But experts warn the new discoveries are under pressure from demand for land and climate change.

A report published today by the WWF, The Eastern Himalayas – Where Worlds Collide, lists 242 new types of plants, 16 amphibians, 16 reptiles, 14 fish, two birds and two mammals and 61 new invertebrates. The cache, quality and diversity of species newly discovered between 1998 and 2008 make the mountainous region one of the world's most important biological hotspots.

The WWF is asking the governments of Bhutan, India and Nepal to commit to cooperate on conservation efforts in the geographic region that transcends the borders of the three countries to protect the landscape and the livelihoods of people living in the Eastern Himalayas.

Population growth, deforestation, overgrazing, poaching, the wildlife trade, mining, pollution, and hydropower development have all contributed to the pressures on the fragile ecosystems in the region, the report says. Only 25% of the original habitats in the region remain intact and 163 species that live in the Eastern Himalayas are considered globally threatened.
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41. New Artificial bone made of wood
Source: Environmental News Network, 10 August 2009

A new procedure to turn blocks of wood into artificial bones has been developed by Italian scientists, who plan to implant them into large animals, and eventually humans.

Wood-derived bone substitute should allow live bones to heal faster and more securely after a break than currently available metal and ceramic implants.

The researchers chose wood because it closely resembles the physical structure of natural bone, "which is impossible to reproduce with conventional processing technology." "Our purpose is to convert native wood structures into bioactive, inorganic compounds destined to substitute portions of bone," said Anna Tampieri, a scientist at the Instituto Di Scienza E Techologia Dei Materiali Ceramici in Italy.
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42. USA: Proposed biomass plant would run on trees killed by pine beetles

Source: Biomass Magazine, 7 August 2009

U.S. Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.), the U.S. Forest Service and the Denver Water Board are behind a proposal to build a biomass plant in Vail, Colo., fueled by lodgepole pine trees killed by Mountain pine beetles.

Hayden, Cary & King Paper Co., Darien, Conn., proposed the combined heat and power (CHP) development project and has applied for a U.S. DOE technology development and demonstration grant, according to Andrew King, president of the company. The estimated cost of the gasification/pyrolysis project, 28-megawatt thermal, 6-megawatt electrical, is about $20 million, he added. If built, the 18,000-square-foot facility would sit on an industrial site adjacent to the community’s maintenance facility, he said.

A feasibility study will be conducted, according to Stan Zemler, Vail Town Manager, to address elements like environmental issues, among others. “There is so much discovery that needs to be done here,” he said. “There are always things that surface about emissions.” A sustainable supply is a very significant factor in the feasibility study and there’s decent confidence in the supply over the next 10 years, he said, adding that there are recognizable barriers.

Pine beetles have wreaked havoc in forests recently, especially in Colorado, where it’s estimated that 80 to 90 percent of the lodgepole trees will be killed before the epidemic is over, according to Zemler. “The pine beetle infestation is pretty dramatic,” he said. Vail is a good location for the plant, King said, because of the amount of dead trees and its reputation as a world-class resort. “If you can do it in Vail, you can pretty much do it anywhere,” he said. The demonstration project will displace about 17,000 tons of greenhouse gases.

Nearby Holy Cross Energy has expressed interest in purchasing the electricity produced at the 18,000-square-foot plant and supplying it to the grid to power local households, providing the plant meets certain qualifying facility definitions, according to a letter of interest submitted by Holy Cross. The water produced could be used for domestic hot water and heat, King said, or for hotels, snow melting, or chilling for air conditioners in the summer.

“The most striking part is what this particular project will accomplish,” King said. The three main objectives are demonstrating total thermal efficiency; surpassing California’s emission standards; and exhibiting sustainable forestry while creating a market for trees killed by pine beetles. 
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last updated:  Thursday, September 24, 2009