No. 2/10

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

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A special thank you to all those who have sent me links to information and also to Giulia Muir for her help with this issue.








Indigenous Peoples





Source:  www.princeclausefund.com, 18 December 2009

The Prince Claus Fund for culture and development awarded its principal prize in 2009 to Simón Vélez (b. 1949, Manizales, Colombia), an architect whose aesthetic and technical innovations have enhanced the construction potential of bamboo and challenged mainstream architectural trends. Completing his studies at Universidad de Los Andes, Bogota, Vélez moved away from the predominant international modernist stream to focus on indigenous architectural practices. Commissioned to build a stable using bamboo – ­a material with strong roots in vernacular Colombian architecture ­– he researched the structural possibilities of the local species, Guadua.
With his partner Marcelo Villegas, Vélez invented a revolutionizing joinery method, a new system of structural support, and more appropriate methods for foundations and roofing. These innovations transform one of the world’s oldest building materials – considered substandard and suitable only for the marginalized – into a modern resource that meets the strictest international construction regulations and often outperforms steel. Bamboo’s elasticity also proves highly suitable for earthquake-prone regions.
Working with hand-drawn sketches and low-tech processes, Vélez demonstrates bamboo’s attractive versatility in the complete range of building types, from his own house in Bogota and the Nomadic Museum in Mexico City, to an ecotourism lodge in China and a prototype energy-efficient retail store in Giradot.
Vélez has successfully synthesised indigenous design, avant-garde technology and ecological processes. His book, Grow Your Own House, and his seminars and workshops demonstrate that bamboo is an efficient and aesthetic building material, with profound implications for social development and the environment. Because it flourishes in diverse climates, particularly in less developed countries, bamboo has the potential to revolutionize developing economies through low-cost construction and reduced imports. Its cultivation and processing are ecologically sound and sustainable, and it is one of the best plants for absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
For more information, please see: www.princeclausfund.org/en/what_we_do/awards/princeclausawardsimonvelez.shtml



Source: Wall Street Journal, 3 February 2010

Seventy-eight companies nationwide (USA) have received Federal Trade Commission letters warning that they may be breaking the law by selling clothing and other textile products that are labeled and advertised as "bamboo," but actually are made of manufactured rayon fiber. The letters make the retailers aware of the FTC’s concerns about possible mislabeling of rayon products as "bamboo," so the companies can take corrective steps to avoid Commission action.
"We need to make sure companies use proper labeling and advertising in their efforts to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers," said David C. Vladeck, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Rayon is rayon, even if bamboo has been used somewhere along the line in the manufacturing process."
The FTC sued several companies last year for allegedly selling products labeled or advertised as "bamboo" that in reality were made of rayon. Rayon is a man-made fiber created from the cellulose found in plants and trees and processed with harsh chemicals that release hazardous air pollution. Any plant or tree - including bamboo - could be used as the cellulose source, but the fiber that is created is rayon.
The FTC staff letter outlines the requirements for proper labeling and advertising of textile products derived from bamboo. The letter states, "Rayon, even if manufactured using cellulose from bamboo, must be described using an appropriate term recognized under the FTC’s Textile Rules. . . . Failing to properly label and advertise textiles misleads consumers and runs afoul of both the Textile Rules and the FTC Act."
In the letter, the FTC tells the companies they should review the labeling and advertising for the textile products they are selling and remove or correct any misleading bamboo references.
Along with the warning letters, the agency sent each company a synopsis of FTC decisions finding that the failure to use proper fiber names in textile labeling and advertising was deceptive and violated the FTC Act. Under the Act, the FTC can seek civil penalties of up to US$16, 000 per violation against any company that receives this information but fails to correct its advertising and labeling.
Today’s announcement comes on the heels of four FTC enforcement actions brought against companies selling rayon products that were misleadingly labeled and advertised. According to the Commission’s complaints, filed in August 2009, the companies falsely claimed that their rayon clothing and other textile products were "bamboo fiber," marketing them using names such as "ecoKashmere," "Pure Bamboo," "Bamboo Comfort," and "BambooBaby." The complaints also challenged a number of other deceptive "green" claims, including that the products retained the bamboo plant’s antimicrobial properties, were made using environmentally friendly manufacturing processes, and are biodegradable.
The FTC has a publication designed to help businesses that sell clothing and textile products that are labeled as bamboo to market their products in ways that are truthful, non-deceptive, and in compliance with the law. "Avoid Bamboo-zling Your Customers" can be found at www.ftc.gov/bamboo. The FTC also has an alert entitled "Have You Been Bamboozled by Bamboo Fabrics?" that provides useful information for consumers shopping for bamboo-based fabrics. It also can be found at www.ftc.gov/bamboo.
For full story, please see: http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20100203-713404.html



Source: New Scientist, 8 September 2009

Science is gradually making the work of illegal bushmeat traders more difficult. The DNA "ID tags" of African red river hog and 13 other species of illegally traded bushmeat animals have been added to an online database, making it more straightforward for conservationists to check the provenance of meat at markets.
The Barcode of Life database already contains the barcodes of thousands of species, but the biologists hope the new additions – which also include the spectacled caiman and the slender-snouted crocodile – will start a "bushmeat chapter" in the database.
"A genetic barcode identifies species in the same way that a product bar code in a supermarket distinguishes among brands," says Mitchell Eaton, who is based at the US Geologic Survey's Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland. Eaton and a team of scientists went to Africa to collect tissue and blood samples from wild animals and easily identifiable dead ones on sale at market stalls.
Back at the American Museum of Natural History, which supported the research, they extracted DNA from the animals and sequenced a 650 base pair mitochondrial gene known as COX1, which in mammals is used as a standardised genetic "barcode". The COX1 gene mutates fast enough to differ between species but slowly enough to be shared by individuals within a species.
This is the first time that scientists have sequenced the COX1 region in some species traded as bushmeat. "By matching the DNA sequences of animal products like meat and hide that cannot be identified to our database of genetic barcodes, conservationists will now know whether the animal killed was endangered or not," says Eaton, who has made the barcodes freely available on the database.
"Legally, if you want to take someone to court and prosecute them for selling bushmeat, you have to have genetic evidence to back you up so having a library of barcodes for illegally killed animals is an essential first step," says Mark Stoeckle, a DNA barcoding expert at the Rockefeller University in New York. "That said, sequencing DNA takes time and money and you need a lab to do it, so we're still a long way off from instant species identification."
For full story, please see: www.newscientist.com/article/dn17757-barcodes-will-stop-bushmeat-from-being-swiped.html



Source: Reuters India, 1 February 2010

Following are some key facts about cork and its main applications, from bottle stoppers to aerospace industry:

  • Cork is made from the bark of the cork oak -- the predominant tree species in Portugal. Portugal accounts for just over half of the world's cork output, producing 157,000 tonnes annually. There are also plantations in France, Spain, Italy, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia.
  • Over 100,000 people depend on cork growing and processing in these countries.
  • The bark is harvested for the first time when the tree is 25 years old. Then it is removed every 9-12 years without ever damaging the tree, which lives around 200 years. Cork obtains the qualities needed for the production of wine bottle stoppers -- its main application -- only after the third harvesting.
  • The tree's acorns are used to feed pigs that make some of the best cured ham Spain and Portugal are famous for.
  • Thanks to the cork's cell-like structure, the material is elastic, resilient and highly impermeable.
  • The ancient Greeks and Romans used cork in combination with natural resins to stopper wine and oil amphorae. Now, some 70 percent of all cork produced is used to make wine bottle stoppers. Portugal alone makes 40 million stoppers per day.
  • Ground-up cork is "baked" and compressed to make floor and wall tiles, good for acoustic isolation. Granulated cork is added to concrete for thermal insulation and reduced weight. Shredded cork is used in ablative thermal protection coating on booster rockets, including the Space Shuttle's external tank, which is jettisoned as the ship leaves the Earth's atmosphere.

For full story, please see: http://in.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idINTRE6103KA20100201?sp=true



  • Cork airplanes could prop up bottle-shocked industry

Source: www.wired.com, 4 February 2010

The old pilot’s rule of “eight hours from bottle to throttle” will take on a new meaning if researchers in Portugal find a way to make airplanes out of cork. With the wine industry turning to alternative ways of capping a bottle, Portugal is scrambling to find new markets for its huge cork industry. The country produces about half of the world’s supply of the stuff. Because the material is lightweight and naturally resistant to fire, one idea is redirecting the country’s US$1.4 billion cork industry from wine bottles to airplane parts.
The French aircraft manufacturer DynAero hopes to develop two- and four-seat planes using cork as a substitute for other composite materials, according to Reuters. While the idea of flying in a cork airplane may not inspire much confidence, we aren’t talking about a rickety ultra-light. DynAero plans to wrap a cork core with carbon fibre, much the same way lightweight plastic foams are wrapped in aircraft today.
With decades of interesting ideas having come and gone, it is surprising cork — which is used as insulation on the space shuttle’s external fuel tank — has not been used more often. DynAero, which has a factory in Portugal’s central-south Alentejo region, says the carbon fibre-cork composite could be used in airframe parts such as the fuselage and wings. The material would be lightweight and fire retardant, two important, if not obvious, factors in airplane design. Cork also is a renewable resource. The bark is harvested from the cork oak tree every nine years or so. The trees can live to more than 200 years and are not damaged by the harvesting. Such considerations make cork far more attractive than plastic.
“We know that after a few years PVC will no longer be used, certainly by us and most likely by others in the industry. It is a nightmare in terms of ecological aspects,” DynAero director Philippe Sence told Reuters. “Our idea is to sell cork-carbon parts to other firms in the future.”
For full story, please see: www.wired.com/autopia/2010/02/cork-airplane/#ixzz0fK2L6VOG



Source: AFP, 3 February 2010

The day when restaurants will serve garlic grasshoppers or beetle larva skewers is getting closer in Costa Rica, where scientists are "growing" insects for human consumption. Entomologist Manuel Zumbado's research into this alternative food source is inspired by practices in Africa, where insects have long been part of people's diet.
With its rainforests playing host to countless insect species, including thousands that have yet to be identified, Costa Rica is a perfect breeding ground for the work. From leaf-cutting ants to rhinoceros beetles and a dizzying flurry of butterflies, the Central American nation is also a haven of ecotourism. But is it the next hotbed of mouth-watering bugs? The food diversification program at the National Biodiversity Institute in Santo Domingo de Heredia, a small city close to the capital San Jose, looks into indigenous insect species. But it also examines mushrooms, inspired by their importance in diets from the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. At the institute, Costa Rican scientists mingle with Bhutan mycology expert Ugyen Yangchen and Elisabeth Zannou, an entomologist from Benin.
"Benin knows a lot about insect consumption and Bhutan about eating mushrooms, while Costa Rica is bringing its experience in managing biodiversity," Marianella Feoli, who manages the foundation coordinating the research program, told AFP.
In Benin, termites, grasshoppers and crickets, as well as butterfly and moth larvae are a common part of people's diet, explained Zumbado, who traveled with his colleagues to explore the phenomenon in the coastal country. "In other countries, gourmet restaurants serve insects," he noted. "In the beginning, people thought we were a bit crazy, but I think this is an alternative, not only as a survival food, but also as a cultural concept."
Esperanzas, a large grasshopper species with long antennae that abound in Costa Rica's forests and rural areas are "far more savory than shrimp" when seasoned with garlic, according to the researcher. Zumbado should know -- he has consumed scores of insects during his travels in Costa Rica and Benin.
As part of his effort to convince a skeptical public not particularly enthused at the thought of munching on crunchy creepy crawlies, the entomologist suggested first adding insect delicacies to the menus of the best restaurants in town.
For full story, see: www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hurTaxV7hSWWkygyau4oL8jHTMvw



Source: BBC News, 9 February 2010

Oman's Land of Frankincense is an 11-hour drive southwards from the capital, Muscat. Warm winters and showery summers are the perfect conditions for the Boswellia sacra tree to produce the sap called frankincense. These trees grow wild in Dhofar. A tour guide, Mohammed Al-Shahri took me to Wadi Dawkah, a valley 20 km inland from the main city of Salalah, to see a forest of them. "The records show that frankincense was produced here as far back as 7,000 BC," he says. Most of the Boswellia sacra trees grow on public land, but custom dictates that each forest is given to one of the local families to farm, and Wadi Dawkah is his turf.
Immunologist Mahmoud Suhail is hoping to open a new chapter in the history of frankincense. Scientists have observed that there is some agent within frankincense which stops cancer spreading, and which induces cancerous cells to close themselves down. He is trying to find out what this is.
"Cancer starts when the DNA code within the cell's nucleus becomes corrupted," he says. "It seems frankincense has a re-set function. It can tell the cell what the right DNA code should be.
"Frankincense separates the 'brain' of the cancerous cell - the nucleus - from the 'body' - the cytoplasm, and closes down the nucleus to stop it reproducing corrupted DNA codes."
Working with frankincense could revolutionise the treatment of cancer. Currently, with chemotherapy, doctors blast the area around a tumour to kill the cancer, but that also kills healthy cells, and weakens the patient. Treatment with frankincense could eradicate the cancerous cells alone and let the others live.
The task now is to isolate the agent within frankincense which, apparently, works this wonder. Some ingredients of frankincense are allergenic, so you cannot give a patient the whole thing.
Dr Suhail (who is originally from Iraq) has teamed up with medical scientists from the University of Oklahoma, USA, for the task. In his laboratory in Salalah, he extracts the essential oil from locally produced frankincense. Then, he separates the oil into its constituent agents, such as Boswellic acid.
"There are 17 active agents in frankincense essential oil," says Dr Suhail. "We are using a process of elimination. We have cancer sufferers - for example, a horse in South Africa - and we are giving them tiny doses of each agent until we find the one which works."
"Some scientists think Boswellic acid is the key ingredient. But I think this is wrong. Many other essential oils - like oil from sandalwood - contain Boswellic acid, but they don't have this effect on cancer cells. So we are starting afresh."
The trials will take months to conduct and whatever results come out of them will take longer still to be verified. But this is a blink of the eye in the history of frankincense.
Nine thousand years ago, Omanis gathered it and burnt it for its curative and cleansing properties. It could be a key to the medical science of tomorrow.
For full story, please see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8505251.stm



Source: New Internationalist, September 2009

The Kattunayakan are tribal people who live deep in the forests of the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve in South India. They collect and sell wild honey. Today, settlers from the crowded plains and eviction from the forest reserve threaten both their land and their traditions.
Marigan, a tribal elder, explains: ‘In the old days entire families – men, women, children, babies and old people – went deep into the forest in the honey season. We camped there for days carrying just a little bit of rice. Everything else, the forest gave us. But honey was our life. We used it as food, as medicine and what we could not consume we sold. People call us honey hunters. That’s not right. We are honey harvesters. We wait for the right time, when we will cause the least harm to the bees, to the babies inside. Only then do we speak to the bees and take their honey.’
There are five different kinds of bees in their region. But the kombu thenu (Apis dorsata) is the main one. They can harvest around 15 kg of honey from each wild hive. Like all traditional livelihoods there is a lot of ritual. Harvesting honey from domesticated bees is a skilled task. But harvesting wild honey from hives often 80 feet and more up in the air in deep jungles is another matter altogether. A variety of skills, not least very nimble tree climbing, is essential and is often learned from childhood.
The Kattunayakans, with other tribes, have been fighting eviction and encroachment for more than two decades. They recently formed the Adivasi Munnetra Sangam (AMS), a union to fight for their rights (see www.adivasi.net)
Anthropologists have extolled indigenous knowledge but it’s only recently that the world has begun to acknowledge what we can learn from them. The Kattunayakans – illiterate, living in their jungle homes, some still in caves – recognize what many of us do not. That it’s a sacrilege to kill a bee; that our very survival may depend on the smallest of nature’s creatures.
For full story, please see: www.newint.org/features/2009/09/01/tribal-peoples/



Source: Deutsche-Welle Online, 27 January 2010

European authorities have withdrawn a patent granted to a German firm on an anti-bronchitis drug derived from a South African medicinal plant. Activists say it marks a success in the fight against biopiracy. A spokesman for the European Patent Office in Munich said this week that the patent granted in 2007 to German pharmaceutical company Schwabe to develop the drug did not amount to "a discovery."
The spokesman said the techniques used by the company to extract ingredients from the roots of the Pelargonium sidoides plant native to South Africa to develop a product called umckaloabo were "sufficiently known in advance."Marketed as an African natural remedy, umckaloabo is a popular drug in Germany for treating bronchitis, colds, coughs and other respiratory ailments.
But the ruling has been welcomed by groups campaigning against biopiracy - a term that describes how corporations from the developed world take resources from developing countries to develop profit-making products such as medicines, without rewarding the countries from which they are taken.
"We're happy that the ruling takes away Schwabe's right to monopolize the use of genetic resources and traditional knowledge from South Africa," Mariam Mayet of the African Center for Bio Safety said in a statement.
While drug companies have complained that Schwabe failed to fulfill the criteria for awarding patents, activist groups have protested on ethical grounds. They say that people in Lesotho and Alice in the Eastern Cape of South Africa have historically produced tinctures from the roots of two species of pelargonium that grow in the wild to treat respiratory infections and diseases, including tuberculosis. Schwabe is accused of drawing on this traditional African knowledge to develop and market umckaloabo and reap profits without involving indigenous people.
Michael Frein, a spokesman for the German Protestant Church development service (EED), said the latest decision by the European patent office needed to be followed up by drafting legal guidelines that would prevent similar patents being granted. This, he said, needed to be done within the framework of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The 1993 agreement tries to make sure that the benefits of using natural resources for profit are shared between the exploiters and the communities from which they take their resources.
For full story, please see: www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5174318,00.html



Source: NaturalNews.com, 4 February 2010

Sutherlandia frutescens, or cancer bush, is an attractive legume with delicate red flowers pictured on the South African national postage stamp. Long used by indigenous people in South Africa to treat cancer, tuberculosis, flu, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome and AIDS, researchers have recently done successful trials with this medicinal plant. Sutherlandia is known for its adaptogenic properties, its calming effect, and its ability to assist with weight gain when given to wasting patients. No toxicity or side effect has been noted.
Growing wild in the Western Cape and in the hills of Zululand, Sutherlandia assists the body in combating disease. Many cultures in South Africa have given this plant names that recognize its life changing properties. The San people, who use it as an energy booster and anti-depressant, call it insista meaning the one that dispels darkness. Zulu traditional healers, who used it during the 1918 influenza pandemic, named it Unwele or hair because it relieves distress that causes sufferers to pull out their hair. Another South African group familiar with the use of Sutherlandia is the Tswana who call it Mukakana and know its effectiveness with gonorrhoea and syphilis. Afrikaners call it Kankerbossie or cancer bush. Another name is "the spear for the blood" meaning a powerful blood purifier.
Ethno-botanist and Zululand University Research Fellow Anne Hutchings has used Sutherlandia as well as other herbs to treat patients weekly at Ngwelezana Hospital's AIDS clinic in northern KwaZulu-Natal, and has 176 patients who claim Sutherlandia helped them. Health care workers report that Sutherlandia only works when taken in appropriate doses, and when used in conjunction with a healthy diet, avoiding alcoholic beverages, recreational drugs or anything that would damage the immune system. Importantly, while evidence indicates Sutherlandia has an anticancer effect, and stimulates the immune system, the plant should be seen as a 'quality of life tonic' rather than a cancer cure.
For full story, please see: www.naturalnews.com/028085_cancer_bush_wasting_diseases.html



Source: NaturalNews.com, 10 February 2010

Much of the land, air and water around the world have been contaminated by industrial waste and pollution. The problems are serious, but fortunately, nature has provided us with an environmental solution in an unlikely package: mushrooms. Mycelium from mushrooms has the unique ability to breakdown and detoxify a great deal of toxic industrial waste and pollution.
Mycelium is actually the fruit of a mushroom. In forests, the mycelia breakdown and recycle nitrogen, carbon and plant and animal debris; they turn the forests` waste products into rich soil.
However, Paul Stemets, a long-time mushroom researcher, discovered that mushroom mycelium also has the unique ability to break down hydrocarbons - and hydrocarbons are at the base of many industrial pollutants. Everything from pesticides to dioxins have a hydrocarbon base.
According to Stemets, mycelium can break down and detoxify biological warfare agents and heavy metals, including lead and mercury. In addition, he’s found that mycelium can remove industrial toxins from the soil, including pesticides, chlorine, dioxin, and PCBs. Many plants benefit from a relationship with mycelium, and mycelium makes up about 10 percent of many healthy soils. Trees often become more drought and disease resistant with mycelium. Mycelium can also kill many agricultural pests; it even kills problems including Staphylococcus sp. and E. coli.
For full story, please see: www.naturalnews.com/028132_detoxification_mycelium.html



Source: Reuters.com, 12 January 2010

Nearly 50 ready-to-wear and couture designers from 40 countries displayed sleek garments in the Thursday night show that ushered in the International Year of Biodiversity in the middle of the autumn/winter catwalk season under way in Milan, Paris, London and New York.
"We have chosen from the best in the world, the best in design, the best in ethics and the best in sustainable practices," organizer Christina Dean of the Hong Kong-based charity Green2greener told the Geneva audience.
Peter Ingwersen, a Danish fashion designer whose label "Noir" uses organic cotton fabrics from Uganda, said that consumers were increasingly concerned about the environmental and social impact of their retail purchases.
A fair trade black and white short silk dress by Edun, the ecological and ethical fashion start-up founded by Irish singer and campaigner Bono, and a pink flower-studded hemp and silk long dress by Brazil's Alexandre Herchcovitch also featured.
Concerns about climate change, loss of biodiversity and weak labour standards in textiles, particularly in Asia, have raised buyers' awareness. Some conventional processes such as scouring wool, tanning leather and bleaching, dyeing and printing fabrics use large amounts of water, energy or toxic chemicals, and emit effluents. The fashion industry has responded to demand for sustainable styles and natural fibres that look good, said Lucas Assuncao of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, known as UNCTAD.
Eco-fashion now draws in between US$150 million and $US200 million in sales per year, "an increasingly significant chunk of the market," he told a news briefing.
Anggy Haif, an Eco-Couture designer from Cameroon, has worked for 10 years with natural fibres including raffia, tree bark and wild seeds collected in the forest.
"I started because I saw that in my country modern textiles had overtaken traditional fabrics which were disappearing. It was to revive local artisanship," he said. "Today the market is in very good shape in my country and is spreading in Africa."
But the Danish designer Ingwersen said that green fashion could flame out unless consumers find goods they want to wear. "If we don't inspire our fellow designers, the end-user and fashion media, then this is going to die within two, three years. It will just have been a really fast fashion fad."
For full story, see: www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60L2OI20100122



Source: AFP, 1 February 2010

"When we look at the farmers who make a living from growing poppy we don't support the active eradication because when you eradicate their fields they don't have an income any more,” the commander of Dutch forces in Uruzgan province, Brigadier General Marc van Uhm, told AFP.
"If they can't feed their families then what we do is alienate them from us, they blame us." The Netherlands is the lead nation for NATO's coalition troops in southern Uruzgan province, one of the poorest in Afghanistan -- and the fourth biggest producer of poppy. Wiping out the crop has been part of efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. But Afghanistan still produces more than 90 percent of the opium base used to manufacture heroin worldwide -- worth some US$2.8 billion in 2009, according to United Nations figures.
The poppies, which provide rich pickings in one of the world's poorest countries, also play a large part in the corruption that plagues Afghan life at every level, from district to national government. With so many people profiting from poppies on both sides of the war, efforts to wean farmers off a crop that provides them with an income several times higher than they could earn from wheat or other mainstream produce is not easy.
The chief civil representative on Task Force Uruzgan, Michel Rentenaar, says the Dutch aim to encourage farmers to turn to alternative crops, such as saffron and fruit and nut trees. "Our effort is to supply an alternative livelihood. We have had success with introducing saffron in the province, the harvest has increased every year for the past three years.
"Saffron is incredibly expensive and its yield is about two to three times higher than poppy. But it is slow to convince farmers to change." The 2008/2009 harvest was 50kg, while this year's is expected to be almost double that, and of better quality. While the figures are small, saffron has long been the world's most expensive spice by weight and a total of some 500 farmers are now growing it in Uruzgan, with a Dutch firm buying a large chunk of the harvest. In comparison, however, 1.6 million people were involved in producing 6,900 tonnes of opium in 2009, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime says -- mostly in the southern provinces worst hit by the insurgency.
For full story, please see: www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j-97kUTwvmpDcSVFtmSvTRl5OZDw



  • Wildlife: Wild tigers in China declining - habitat destruction, poaching to blame

Source: ENN Daily Newsletter, 8 February 2010

China has an estimated 50 or fewer tigers left living in the wild, but efforts to stabilize one population in the bleak northeast are starting to pay off, a conservationist said on Monday.
Tigers once roamed huge swathes of China, right up to the now booming east coast. Their population has collapsed due to habitat destruction on the back of rapid economic development and poaching for tiger products to use in traditional medicine.
About 10 still live in the southwestern province of Yunnan, some 15 in Tibet, and 20 or so in northwestern Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, said Xie Yan, China Country Program Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society. The South China Tiger is probably already extinct, she told the Foreign Correspondents Club of China, ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Tiger, which starts on Sunday. "The number of wild tigers left in China is very depressing," Xie said. "We have less than 50 individuals in the wild. The populations in Tibet and in the south are still dropping. "The northeast tiger is now stable, and maybe increasing a little, but the number is still very small," she added.
Conservationists say the trade in skin and bones is booming in countries such as China, which has banned the use of tiger parts in medicine but where everything from fur and whiskers to eyeballs and bones are still used. Skins sell as rugs and cloaks on the black market, fetching up to US$20,000 for a single pelt.
For more information, please see: www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6171B220100208




  • Cameroon: Unique mountain area gets crucial protection

Source: Ethiopian Review, 10 January, 2010

A new park created by the Cameroonian government that encompasses the highest mountain in West and Central Africa will help protect some of the rarest ecosystems in the Congo Basin.
The government of Cameroon recently signed a decree creating the 58,178 hectare Mount Cameroon National Park, which includes the 4,095-metre high Mount Cameroon – also one of the largest active volcanoes on the African continent.
“A park of such importance will help animal populations to rebuild,” said Atanga Ekobo, Manager of WWF Coastal Forest Project, which covers the region. “It will also encourage the sustainable use of natural resources by introducing and promoting alternative sources of income to the local communities”.
Mount Cameroon is an important refuge and home to many species found nowhere else, including high numbers of plants. A very isolated population of forest elephant also lives there.
For many years, poor land-use planning, land clearance, increasing agriculture, and the bushmeat trade damaged the area’s forest resources and high biological diversity.
But if well managed, the new park will both conserve the remaining natural richness of this fragile ecosystem and improve the livelihoods of local people, according to WWF.
About 300,000 people live the area, which provides them with large amounts of NTFP, protects their water supplies and shelters sacred sites for many traditional communities.
In addition, Mt. Cameroon has a great potential for eco-tourism, according to WWF. The conservation organization expects the creation of the park will increase this potential.
“Cameroon is once again showing its will to protect and properly manage the environment,” said Natasha K. Quist, Regional Director of WWF in Central Africa. “The park has been created in an area where human activity has been intense over the years and the management plan will be developed with the participation of local villagers to define how they can still use their natural resources.”
Creation of the new Mt Cameroon National Park is the result of intense efforts and collaboration since 2007 between MINFOF (Cameroon’s Ministry of Forestry and Fauna) and WWF, with the financial support of the German Cooperation (KfW). WWF Sweden also provided specific support to track and monitor activities of three forest elephants through radio-collars.
For full story, please see: www.ethiopianreview.com/index/36852


  • Guatemala: benefits and challenges of ecological enterprises

Source: Environment & Poverty Times, September 2009

Guatemala’s northernmost region, El Petén, hosts a unique blend of natural beauty, biological diversity, and archaeological heritage dating back to ancient Mayan civilization. The Petén’s 33,000 square kilometres of relatively undisturbed lowland tropical forests shelter 95 species of mammals, among them spider monkeys and pumas, and 400 species of birds, including the iconic scarlet macaw. The region is also home to an expanding melting pot of Guatemalan citizens: indigenous descendants of the Mayans, political refugees who sought refuge during 20 years of civil war, and economic migrants from the country’s overpopulated cities and degraded highlands. A decade ago, deforestation had diminished biodiversity and threatened forest-based livelihoods in the region. Northern El Petén serves as the setting for one of the three main case studies examined in Roots of Resilience, for it is now home to successful community-run forestry enterprises whose sustainably harvested wood and NTFPs are attracting the attention of overseas buyers.
With the support and supervision of NGOs, donors and government agencies, community-owned forestry enterprises now steward more than 420,000 ha in the multiple use zone of the renowned Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR). These enterprises are each in charge of one distinct parcel of land – a concession – that the Guatemalan government has leased to them. Forest product sales from these enterprises have brought new employment, infrastructure, social cohesion and income. Between October 2006 and September 2007, the concessions produced some US$4.75 million in certified timber sales and close to US$150,000 in sales of xate (palm leaves used for flower arrangements) and other NTFPs. Under village management, biodiversity has flourished and forest fires, illegal logging and hunting have declined dramatically, while continuing unabated in neighbouring national parks. By 2000, the forest concessions in the reserve managed by these community enterprises had become the world’s largest tract of sustainably certified and community-managed forest. Many of the region’s enterprises meet the international certification standard  of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for sustainably harvested wood, and several sell high-income finished products such as decking and floor panels in addition to timber.
For full story, please see: www.grida.no/_res/site/file/publications/PET06_screen.pdf 



  • Haiti: a nation on the brink of ecological collapse

Source: Washington Post, 9 February, 2010

It is a small solace, but the terrifying 7.0-magnitude earthquake seems not to have caused any major, immediate damage to Haiti's ecosystem. According to Asif Zaidi, operations manager of the U.N. Environmental Program's Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch, there has been one small spill near a coastal oil terminal, some minor warehouse fires and a few small landslides close to Port-au-Prince, but nothing that requires a significant emergency response.
However, the earthquake is only the latest wrinkle in a much longer environmental saga. Even before this most recent disaster, Haiti was being described as a nation on the brink of ecological collapse.    The country's most pressing and visible problem is rampant deforestation. In 1923, forests covered 60 percent of the country; by 2006, they covered less than 2 percent. Although logging in the area dates to the late 17th century, when the French cleared vast swathes of virgin forest to plant sugar cane, cotton and coffee, most of Haiti's remaining trees are now being chopped down for fuel: firewood and charcoal supply 75 percent of the country's energy demands. Poverty exacerbates the problem, since wood-derived charcoal is often the most profitable commodity that can be eked out of the land. (Dwindling supplies and a high demand for charcoal have led to a rash of cross-border smuggling out of the Dominican Republic.) Satellite images of Hispaniola, the island Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic, provide a stark illustration of the contrast in deforestation between the two, and just how bad the situation in Haiti is.
Chronic erosion, coupled with unsustainable, intensive agricultural practices, also make Haiti's mountainous landscape less arable than it was -- and that contributes to food scarcity, which worsens poverty, which in turns speeds up the rate at which trees get cleared.  Something good might come of all this. Now that Haiti has the world's attention -- and some of its money -- this could be the opportunity the country needs to make long-term capital investments in such things as safer, sturdier buildings and the introduction of new, non-wood-based fuel technologies. In any event, Haiti will not be starting from scratch when it shifts from short-term crisis management to long-term environmental planning. 
For full story, please see:



  • India: Action to support 'pro-poor' forests

Source: IUCN Monthly Update, 29 January 2010

In Orissa, India, IUCN Member Winrock International India (WII) is working with local communities to better manage forests within a wider agricultural landscape.
In a zone between the Simlipal Tiger Reserve and the plain areas, WII plays an active role in the development of forest resources and livelihoods of the forest-dependent people in Orissa. Here, forests contribute about 25 % of the average income, mostly through NTFPs, of which the income from the sale of sal leaves accounts for more than 90 %.
The main activities being undertaken are strengthening community institutions by integrating formal and informal community groups through participatory resource management principles. The Orissa Forest Department supports activities relating to raising awareness of biodiversity conservation, forest protection and livelihood enhancement among the local population.
WII’s work has evolved over time from just promoting NTFP livelihoods and the conservation of forests to promoting integrated natural resource management in government planning and programmes. With the support of the Ford Foundation, this work has been extended to assist the coordination of forest protection groups and community-based organizations into a federation of local NGOs, called MASS (the Mayurbhanj Swechasevi Samkhya), which today covers around 800 villages in the district.
For full story, please see: www.iucn.org/knowledge/news/focus/2010_forest/ground/?4636/IUCN-Member-Winrock-International-India-putting-LLS-into-action-to-support-pro-poor-forests



  • Madagascar’s forests pillaged for rosewood and ebony

Source: www.mongabay.com, February 10 2010

In the aftermath of a military coup last March, Madagascar's rainforests have been pillaged for precious hardwoods, including rosewood and ebony. Tens of thousands of hectares have been affected, including some of the island's most biologically diverse national parks: Marojejy, Masoala, and Makira. Illegal logging has also spurred the rise of a commercial bushmeat trade. Hunters are now slaughtering rare and gentle lemurs for restaurants.
Furthermore, armed gangs marauding through national parks have hurt tourism, a critical source of direct and indirect income for many Malagasy, as the people of Madagascar are known. Rosewood traders have intimidated, and in some cases even beaten, those who have attempted to stop the plunder. Conservation NGOs operating in affected areas have been rendered impotent because the ruling "transition authority" — made up of the coup leaders — is now taking an active role in the logging, possibly as a means to finance upcoming elections they hope will legitimize their power grab. To this end, Andry Rajoelina, the head of the transition authority, recently authorized the export of rosewood logs, a traffic previously banned. This triggered a frenzy of logging that has gone underreported due to the regime's crackdown on the press. The perceived illegitimacy of the Rajoelina regime had led foreign donors to suspend most aid to the country, undercutting environmental protection programs and law enforcement. The situation is dire.
International uproar driven by international media attention and a campaign organized by Ecological Internet, an activist group, has managed to shut down rosewood exports since 3 December of last year by pressuring shipping companies, but stockpiles continue to build with loggers emboldened by Rajoelina's export authorization order. Traders are confident that if they wait long enough, they will eventually be able to ship the contraband timber.
A solution might be setting up an integrated moratorium-conservation-amnesty-reforestation (MCAR) program, but the challenges are daunting. Overall, the benefits of using illegally logged timber to finance community-based restoration of forests in north-eastern Madagascar potentially outweighs the alternative of allowing the timber to be exported at immense profit to criminal syndicates, politicians, and business elites. While Madagascar was long known as a graveyard for grand ideas, progress in the past decade has offered hope. In that time Madagascar went from the pariah of conservation to a model. There's reason to believe history can be repeated.
For full story, please see: http://news.mongabay.com/2010/0211-madagascar.html



  • Malaysia: Indigenous in Sarawak Rainforest win "landmark" court ruling over land rights

Source: www.mongabay.com, 21 January 2010

A Malaysian court has ruled in favour of indigenous communities in a dispute over land rights just two days after authorities "arbitrarily" destroyed 25 Iban homes in the village of Sungai Sekabai in Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo), reports the Bruno Manser Fund, a rights group. The cases had been filed by Iban and Malay communities against the Sarawak state government and an oil palm company that planned to establish an oil palm plantation on native lands.
Sarawak High Court Judge Datuk David Wond ruled that local communities have native customary rights over land claimed as state land by the Sarawak state government. In the ruling, the court said "customary practice of Malays must be given the force of law." The Bruno Manser Fund called it a "landmark decision."
See Chee How, a lawyer representing the Iban, called the decisions "a great victory for the people" and said it was "a historic day for Sarawak's native landowners."
For full story, see: http://news.mongabay.com/2010/0121-iban_sarawak.html



  • Thailand: poachers turn fungi farmers to save forests

Source: AFP, 21 January 2010

Nuan Muangchan began to illegally log rosewood as a teenager, creeping at night into Thailand's largest national park and hiding from animals and rangers to smuggle out her loot. Thailand's lush jungles are under daily attack by illegal loggers and poachers, but conservationists in the country's northeast are turning to an unlikely remedy -- the common mushroom.
A project that turns former wildlife criminals into fungi farmers is proving a surprising success, giving villagers a decent wage while helping to slow the destruction of forests in the Khao Yai National Park, a World Heritage Site. Under the scheme, set up by Thailand's Freeland foundation, Nuan now has her own business as a mushroom farmer and no longer relies on precious rosewood, prized for its perfumed sap, as her only means of regular income. And she has persuaded her 33-year-old nephew Boonrod to join her in abandoning the illegal work. Boonrod said he earns US$300 a month from his mushroom farm -- a relatively good income in this impoverished rural belt, and enough he said to stop logging.
"Once I started my own business growing mushrooms I started to get a steady income," said Boonrod. "I love the forest, I want to protect it. I feel sorry for what I did in the past."
Education levels are low in the northeastern region of Isan and most villagers are landless, with many relying on daily hire for farm or construction work to provide for their families. As well as giving potential mushroom farmers all the start-up tools they need, the Freeland foundation also trains up park rangers, who arrest an average of two poachers or loggers every week. But they said that prosecution alone has not been effective in reducing wildlife crime. "We have to use two strategies: push and pull. The rangers push the poachers out of the forest but we need to pull the villagers into an alternative occupation and convince them to change," said Mukda Thongnaitham from Freeland.
In its efforts to reduce these illegal activities, the Freeland project consulted villagers on their skills and surveyed the local market to see what would sell, before plumping for mushrooms as an alternative income source. The organic oyster mushrooms are sold at the local market and have proved so popular that the farmers cannot grow enough. "At this stage we still cannot meet the market demand so we need to expand this project to other villages," said Mukda, who hopes to begin growing yanagi or straw mushrooms, and shiitake, which can fetch a higher price.
For full story, please see: www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hvSBebzWCf7ApL7J22XPJ9yMVKxw



  • Zambia: Biodiversity and life go hand in hand

Source: AllAfrica.com, 10 February 2010

The Western province of Zambia is often referred to as an awakening giant in the Zambian economy because of its natural resource base. The discovery of huge copper deposits in the area and subsequent opening of copper mines at Lumwana, next to the capital of the province, Solwezi, have attracted a considerable amount of investment. In fact, Lumwana is now considered to have become the largest copper mine in Africa. Today, the region's ecosystem is under threat, as exemplified by the dwindling biodiversity of the West Lunga National Park.
The park is home to a profusion of rivers, large tracts of fertile land and dense forests as well as wildlife, including fish. Over the years, not only have poaching and logging depleted the natural resource base of the park, but they are threatening livelihoods, not least because tourism represents a major source of revenue for local residents. Chopping down trees for household uses has also contributed to an increase in carbon emissions.
In 2006, thanks to Zambia's Ministry of Tourism Environment and Natural Resources, the West Lunga National Park was classified as a protected area. Since the re-classification took place, the UN's Global Environment Fund (GEF) and UNDP were able to lay the foundations of sound environmental management in the park, focusing on biodiversity and livelihoods as two sides of the same coin. Through the project, local villagers are encouraged to work with the government to improve their environment and maximize their sources of revenue. The project has worked with local communities to establish policies on managing biodiversity areas. It has overseen the construction of 15 houses that accommodate wildlife scouts. The scouts are drawn from the local community, trained in law enforcement, and go out to ensure that laws on poaching, illegal fishing and logging are not violated.
It has also promoted the activities of tour guides who can organize bird watching and fishing tours, local handicrafts such as basket-weaving, production of reed mats and cane chairs woven from indigenous materials. These activities have created employment and income for impoverished communities. In addition, communities are now aware of the risks associating with chopping down trees for firewood and have been taught alternative methods to generate energy in order to avoid forest depletion. An information and awareness campaign surrounding these risks has brought about a 20 % reduction in emissions reductions that arise from logging.
For full story, please see: http://allafrica.com/stories/201002100154.html



Source: BBC News website, 20 January 2010

The decline of honeybees seen in many countries may be caused by reduced plant diversity, research suggests. Bees fed pollen from a range of plants showed signs of having a healthier immune system than those eating pollen from a single type, scientists found. Writing in the journal Biology Letters, the French team says that bees need a fully functional immune system in order to sterilise food for the colony. Other research has shown that bees and wild flowers are declining in step.
Two years ago, scientists in the UK and The Netherlands reported that the diversity of bees and other insects was falling alongside the diversity of plants they fed on and pollinated. Now, Cedric Alaux and colleagues from the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) in Avignon have traced a possible link between the diversity of bee diets and the strength of their immune systems.
"We found that bees fed with a mix of five different pollens had higher levels of glucose oxidase compared to bees fed with pollen from one single type of flower, even if that single flower had a higher protein content," he told BBC News.
Bees make glucose oxidase (GOX) to preserve honey and food for larvae against infestation by microbes - which protects the hive against disease. "So that would mean they have better antiseptic protection compared to other bees, and so would be more. Other new research, from the University of Reading, UK, suggests that bee numbers are falling twice as fast in the UK as in the rest of Europe.
In various countries it has been blamed on diseases such as Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV), infestation with varroa mite, pesticide use, loss of genetic diversity among commercial bee populations, and the changing climate.
The most spectacular losses have been seen in the US where entire colonies have been wiped out, leading to the term colony collapse disorder. However, the exact cause has remained elusive. A possible conclusion of the new research is that the insects need to eat a variety of proteins in order to synthesise their various chemical defences; without their varied diet, they are more open to disease.
“If you think about the amount of habitat destruction, the loss of biodiversity, that sort of thing, and the expansion of crops like oilseed rape, you've now got large areas of monoculture; and that's been a fairly major change in what pollinating insects can forage for," says David Aston, who chairs the British Beekeepers' Association technical committee.
For full story, please see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8467746.stm



Source: New Internationalist, December 2009

Ecuador has a shocking history of human and ecological devastation caused by oil extraction. Ecuador’s President Correa has challenged the international community to pay his country to leave the oil in the ground in Yasuni National Park, considered by many as the most biologically diverse forest on the planet.
Yolanda Kakabadse, member of the Presidential Commission on Yasuní, explains the Yasuni proposal: “It is based on a simple concept: that doing something about climate change is everybody’s responsibility. Ecuador is willing to partner with those countries emitting high levels of greenhouse gases to achieve a goal that would benefit everybody. The emitter countries cover the cost of keeping the oil underground, and we use the money towards objectives which are terribly important for Ecuador and for the planet. The funds would go to ensuring that not just the Yasuní but 40 key conservation areas of Ecuador are protected. That would be 38 percent of our territory, making us the leading country in the world in terms of the percentage we would be protecting. And money would go towards addressing poverty at its roots by providing local people with options to benefit economically by using the forest, not by destroying it. So it’s a social agenda, a biodiversity agenda and a climate change agenda,” she says.
“Ecuador will produce certificates called CGY: Certificado Garantía Yasuní. They will be like a bond, a legally binding document that will be given in return for contributions to this fund. If Ecuador ever breaks this deal, we would have to return the funds to the donor. But what is interesting is that we would make more money out of these non-emitted CO2 certificates than out of oil barrels. What we lose as a country if we go ahead and exploit the oil is much larger, in terms of ecological damage. We have been the first to quantify this and prove that there is a higher value for Ecuador in keeping the oil underground than in selling it.”
Finally, says Kakabadse, “The funds will go into an international trust fund that will direct the money into four activities. I mentioned the 40 protected conservation areas. Number two will be reforestation, reforestation, reforestation. Recovery of degraded land, which unfortunately we have everywhere in Ecuador – on the coast, in the mountains and in the Amazon. The third will be our energy matrix. Ecuador’s matrix today is oil, which is crazy, especially for a tropical country in the middle of the equator that has a lot of potential for wind, solar, geothermal and hydro. So we want to move into alternative energy sources. And the fourth is investment in the social agenda of local communities that live in and around the protected areas.”
For full story, please see: www.newint.org/features/2009/12/01/save-yasuni/



Source: Traditional Knowledge Bulletin, 27 January 2010

The Equator Prize recognizes community-based initiatives that demonstrate extraordinary achievement in reducing poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in the equatorial belt. As sustainable community initiatives take root throughout the tropics, they are laying the foundation for a global movement of local successes that are collectively making a significant contribution to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Prize winners receive worldwide recognition for their work as well as an opportunity to help shape national and global policy and practice in the field. The fact that the Equator Prize will be awarded in 2010 has special significance, as it is the International Year of Biodiversity.
Twenty-five community organizations will be honoured with the Equator Prize 2010 and US$5,000 each. Five of these communities will receive special recognition and an additional US $15,000. Special recognition will be given in the following categories: one for each region of eligibility (Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean), one to the initiative that best exemplifies Indigenous Peoples' use of Traditional Knowledge, and one to the initiative that best exemplifies Ecosystem-based Adaptation to Climate Change.
The Equator Prize 2010 nomination process will be open through 28 February 2010. Details on the criteria for the Prize, information on the award process, and the online nomination system can be accessed through the Equator Initiative website at www.equatorinitiative.org.



  • Copenhagen 'fails forest people'

Source: BBC News, 22 January 2010

A multi-billion dollar deal tabled at the Copenhagen climate summit could lead to conflicts in forest-rich nations, a report has warned. The study by the Rights and Resources Initiative said the funds could place "unprecedented pressure" on some areas.
Six nations offered US$3.5bn as part of global plans to cut deforestation, which accounts for about 20 % of all emissions from human activity. Campaigners warn the scheme fails to consider the rights of forest people.
The money - tabled by Japan, Norway, Australia, France and the US and UK - was made available under the UN's Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) scheme. However, delegates in the Danish capital failed to reach agreement on the mechanisms needed to monitor and manage the framework.
"One of the things that the world has learned over the years is that REDD is far more difficult than many people imagined," said Andy White, coordinator of RRI, a US-based think-tank, and one of the report's lead authors. "The forested areas of the world - by and large - have very high levels of poverty, low levels of respect for local rights, and a very low level of control among local people to shape and control their destiny. "So the rather simplistic notion that money from the rich North can control or limit deforestation was unrealistic."
REDD was developed as a global concept that would provide developing countries with a financial incentive to preserve forests. The Copenhagen conference was expected to finalize an international REDD finance mechanism for the post-2012 global climate change framework.
The RRI's report, “The End of the Hitherlands,” said that there would be "unparalleled" attention and investment in forests over the coming year. The authors said studies showed that there was the potential for "enormous profits", but this would lead to increased competition for forest resources between governments and investors on one hand, and local communities on the other. The report said that the "unprecedented exposure and pressure" on forest regions was being met by a rise in local groups setting up co-operatives and representative bodies. The authors added that it gave "nations and the world at large a tremendous opportunity to right historic wrongs, advance rural development and save forests."
For full story, please see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8473652.stm



Source: www.foresttransparency.info, 21 January 2010

Making the Forest Sector Transparent publishes the first ever Forest Sector Transparency Report Card at an illegal logging update meeting today, hosted by Chatham House in London. The Forest Sector Transparency Report Card launched by Global Witness, an environmental NGO, assesses 70 transparency indicators, evaluating the public availability of land use maps, logging contracts, and other forestry-related information in Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia and Peru, to enable a comparison between the quality, quantity, and accessibility of forest sector information provided to the public by governments in forest-rich countries.
At the launch, Global Witness Forest Campaigner David Young said: "This report card highlights best practice while also exposing the ways in which vested interests can secretly control and siphon off profit from a nation's forests. It is designed to be a tool for civil society members to put pressure on their governments to address failures of democracy and push for positive change."
The report card will be refined before the complete 2009 Annual Transparency Report is published later this year. The process will be repeated annually and expanded to cover other countries. Mr. Young concluded: "The report card provides a useful tool for civil society to improve their analysis of the issues and prioritize strategies. This is crucial to help them engage with government and the private sector and push for greater access to information and policy processes.
For full story, please see: www.foresttransparency.info/report-card/updates/196/pioneering-forest-transparency-website-launched/



Source: Independent Online UK, 9 February 2010

Hundreds of millions of tonnes of palm oil look set to be pumped into Britain's vehicles despite scientific evidence showing that chopping down rainforests to make way for plantations exacerbates climate change, according to a leaked report. The European Commission is planning to increase the amount of palm oil used in cars and power stations under the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), which is intended to reduce greenhouse gases, suggests the document.
A loophole in the draft communication from Brussels on implementation of the directive would allow almost all palm oil currently produced to be used in vehicles on British roads. The development - which campaigners warned have would lead to fresh bouts of forest destruction in Asia to meet growing global demand for the oil - comes after an intense campaign of lobbying in Brussels by Malaysian producers who feared the EU would ban imports of palm oil for energy.
Britons use 50 billion litres of transport fuel a year, 2.7 per cent of which came from biofuels in 2008-09. Palm oil, which is primarily used in food and household products, already controversially forms part of that fuel mix. The Government says it is keen to avoid use of environmentally damaging materials but admits there is insufficient data about the provenance of 42 per cent of transport biofuel used in the UK. Under the RED, passed last year, Britain and other EU states are required to source 10 per cent of petrol and diesel in road transport from renewable sources. Part of that will be accounted for by electrical vehicles but the majority is expected to come from plant-based fuels such as rapeseed, soy, palm and sugar cane.
The EC document ostensibly protects wildlife areas that could grow these plants by banning member states from sourcing fuel from greenhouse gas-sequestering grasslands, wetlands and forests. But, in a crucial exemption, the protection does not apply to habitats changed before January 2008, meaning the vast majority of palm oil produced may be used, even though much of it comes from plantations that have replaced forests in the past 15 years.
The policy is almost certain to increase demand for palm oil, which can only be grown in tropical climates in Malaysia, Indonesia and other Asian countries, West Africa and the Amazon in Brazil. Rainforests have strong carbon credentials; they suck carbon dioxide out of the air as they grow.
According to a study by Denmark's Nordic Agency for Development and Ecology, published in the journal Conservation Biology in 2008, it would take between 75 and 93 years for the benefits to the climate generated by switching to biofuels to outweigh the detrimental effects of converting rainforest to plantations.
Forests in the biggest palm oil-producing countries of Malaysia and Indonesia are rich in rare wildlife, including the orangutan and Sumatran tiger, but about 90 per cent of an area's flora and fauna are lost when the land is converted to monoculture plantations where the plants are grown in straight lines. Some palm oil producers have also been linked to human rights abuses
According to a Department of Transport study, palm oil is forecast to account for 45 per cent of Europe's biodiesel by 2020. The EC declined to comment on the draft document.
Friends of the Earth's agri-fuels campaign coordinator Adrian Bebb said: "I know the Commission officials and they're trying to get palm oil in." Robert Palgrave of Biofuelswatch said: "If you expand the palm oil business for food, fuel or cosmetics, more forest will be destroyed."
For full story, please see: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/palm-oil-deal-a-threat-to-the-rainforest-1893312.html



Source: www.guardian.co.uk, 10 February 2010 

The living fabric of this planet - its ecosystems and biodiversity - are in rapid decline worldwide. This is visible and palpable and is variously due to commercial over-exploitation, or population pressures, or a raft of unhelpful policies, or some combination. At a very fundamental human level, however, it is due to the lack of awareness that there is a problem with human society being disconnected from nature.
Economics is blamed for much of our woes these days and credited with little so two questions need to be asked: is economics part of the problem of ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss? And is it part of the solution? The answer to the first question is a fairly obvious "yes". The economic invisibility of nature in our dominant economic model is both a symptom and a root cause of this problem. We value what we price, but nature's services - providing clean air, fresh water, soil fertility, flood prevention, drought control, climate stability, etc - are, mostly, not traded in any markets and not priced. These so-called "ecosystem services" are all "public goods" provided free. Our tendency to value private wealth creation over improving public wealth - creating a healthier natural world, for example - doesn't help.
We cannot manage what we do not measure and we are not measuring either the value of nature's benefits or the costs of their loss. We seem to be navigating the new and unfamiliar waters of ecological scarcities and climate risks with faulty instruments. Replacing our obsolete economic compass could help economics become part of the solution to reverse our declining ecosystems and biodiversity loss.
We need a new compass to set different policy directions, change incentive structures, reduce or phase out perverse subsidies, and engage business leaders in a vision for a new economy. Holistic economics – or economics that recognise the value of nature's services and the costs of their loss – is needed to set the stage for a new "green economy".
The crisis of biodiversity loss can only begin to be addressed in earnest if the values of biodiversity and ecosystem services are fully recognised and represented in decision-making. This may reveal the true nature of the trade-offs being made: between different ecosystem services (food provision or carbon storage), between different beneficiaries (private gain by some, public loss to many), at different scales (local costs, global benefits) and across different time horizons. When the value of ecosystem services are understood and included, what may have looked like an "acceptable" trade-off may appear quite unacceptable.
Conversely, benefits that were unrecognised become visible, and worth preserving. In Costa Rica, payments to farmers who conserve forests on their land rather than destroy them for low-earning pasture have become almost a national environment programme. Soil and water benefits flow to farmlands all around them. And this was funded by a small 3% tax on transport.
In India, ecological restoration and water harvesting is paid for by a national rural employment guarantee scheme, employing millions. In San Francisco and New York, ecological infrastructure is the reality: reservoirs and lake watersheds surrounded by well-managed forests provide cities with a freshwater supply. Meanwhile, biomimicry - using nature's methods to solve human problems, such as Velcro which was inspired by dog hair and burrs - is offering opportunities for innovative businesses across both developing and developed nations.
These are all examples of new economic models for government and business in which both private opportunity and "public goods" are being created and rewarded by a new partnership between business, citizens, and their government.
For more information, please see: www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2010/feb/10/pavan-sukhdev-natures-economic-model



Source: Yale Environment 360, 11 February 2010

Despite numerous campaigns by the United Nations and other organizations to stem the loss of habitat and species, the world’s biodiversity — and the ecosystem services supported by it, including carbon sequestration and flood control — is approaching what Hilary Benn, the U.K.’s environment secretary, has called “a point of no return.”
Happily, however, there is more to the story. A group of solutions is emerging under the rubric of “rewilding,” and this new movement has made considerable progress over the past decade. A Marshall Plan for the environment, rewilding promotes the expansion of core wilderness areas on a vast scale, the restoration of corridors between them (to fight the “island” effect of isolated parks and protected areas), and the reintroduction or protection of top predators.
Known by a shorthand formula — “cores, corridors, and carnivores” — rewilding was first proposed in 1998 by the founder of conservation biology, Michael Soulé, and his fellow conservation biologist, Reed Noss. It was quickly adopted by grassroots initiatives, such as the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y), a plan to protect and restore connectivity of ecosystems throughout the Rocky Mountains.
Since then, its central tenets have found their way into the programs of international conservation organizations, which have embraced “continental-scale” conservation and growing bolder in the size of their preservationist programs. As both a conservation method and a grassroots movement, rewilding has taken hold in every inhabited continent, with projects stretching from densely-populated western Europe (the European Green Belt, on the path of the former Iron Curtain) to the remote reaches of southern Africa. What’s more: it has proven an adaptable model, bringing conservation to people and places outside the traditional system of parks and protected areas that lack the resources to succeed on their own.
Encouraging new revenue streams and conservation on private lands, rewilding has achieved notable successes, along with instructive failures. In northern Kenya, an area plagued by lawlessness and drought, the Craig family turned their struggling cattle ranch into the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, protecting endangered rhinos and building a popular ecotourism business. Eleven group ranches have since joined the Northern Rangelands Trust, with eight of those creating their own conservancies, setting aside a percentage of their grazing land for wildlife and planning eco-lodges. Those with lodges have already dedicated revenue for community improvements, such as schools and medical clinics. A million-and-a-half acres of northern Kenya have thus been set aside for wildlife management, and security for people and wildlife has improved.
Conservationists in Kenya are seeing a marked improvement in formerly overgrazed areas. Elephants have rebounded from the poaching of years past, resuming their migratory routes, and the highly endangered Grevy’s zebra — which suffered severe habitat loss in recent decades — is returning to old haunts. Lewa now serves as a model for other conservancies in southern Kenya, and visitors from Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia have come to study it. A similar community forestry program in Nepal is restoring corridors there for tigers, the one-horned rhino, and the Asian elephant.
Breaking away from the standard fund-raising model — a never-ending cycle, since most money is spent immediately on short-term grants and projects — several rewilding groups have embraced the endowment as a way of supporting conservation’s long-term needs. University of Pennsylvania biologist Daniel Janzen has been instrumental in the phenomenal success of the Area de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG) in north-western Costa Rica, which accomplished what was once thought impossible by restoring former cattle ranches to dry tropical forest and rainforest. 
But rewilding’s greatest potential may lie in the creation of green jobs. ACG pioneered “parataxonomy,” providing local people with a six-month “bioliteracy” training course in collecting and processing insect specimens that could then be passed on to taxonomists for identification. The parataxonomists are valued contributors to Costa Rica’s National Biodiversity Institute and instrumental in the country’s massive effort to compile an inventory of its extraordinary biodiversity. They have served as foot soldiers in “bioprospecting,” the collection of specimens that may prove useful in medicines or cosmetics. Extracts from the quassia tree, for example, have yielded both a treatment for stomach-aches and a promising natural pesticide. The parataxonomy program has been copied in other biodiverse areas in Central Africa and Papua New Guinea.
For full story, please see: www.e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2239



Source: “Press Room,” The Earth Institute, Columbia University, 9 February 2010

The drivers of tropical deforestation have shifted in the early 21st century to hinge on growth of cities and the globalized agricultural trade, a new large-scale study concludes. The observations starkly reverse assumptions by some scientists that fast-growing urbanization and the efficiencies of global trade might eventually slow or reverse tropical deforestation. The study, which covers most of the world’s tropical land area, appears in this week’s early edition of the journal Nature Geoscience.
Deforestation has been a rising concern in recent decades, especially with the recognition that it may exacerbate climate change. Studies in the late 20th century generally matched it with growing rural populations, as new roads were built into forests and land was cleared for subsistence agriculture. Since then, rural dwellers have been flooding into cities, seeking better living standards; 2009 was recorded as the first year in history when half of human lived in urban areas.  Large industrial farms have, in turn, taken over rural areas and expanded further into remaining forests, in order to supply both domestic urban populations and growing international agricultural markets, the study suggests.
“The main drivers of tropical deforestation have shifted from small-scale landholders to domestic and international markets that are distant from the forests,” said lead author Ruth DeFries, a professor at the Earth Institute’s Center for Environmental Research and Conservation. “One line of thinking was that concentrating people in cities would leave a lot more room for nature. But those people in cities and the rest of the world need to be fed. That creates a demand for industrial-scale clearing.”
DeFries and her colleagues analyzed remote-sensing images of forest cover across 41 nations in Latin America, Africa and Asia from 2000-2005, and combined these with population and economic trends. They showed that the highest forest losses were correlated with two factors: urban growth within countries; and, mainly in Asia, growth of agricultural exports to other countries. Rural population growth was not related.
In recent years, tropical countries have been supplying growing amounts of palm oil, soybeans, sugar, meat and other processed products to distant markets abroad. Not all the products are used for food; palm oil and sugar in particular are also being converted into biofuels. Furthermore, said DeFries, as small farmers within tropical nations move away to become city dwellers, they may actually use more resources from the countryside, not less. This is because those living in cities have higher incomes—the reason most moved there to begin with—and thus tend to consume more processed foods and animal products. Pastures needed to produce meat, and large plantations and other facilities that turn out other products, in turn, require land. “Collectively, these results indicate a shift from state-run road building and colonization in the 1970s and 1980s to enterprise-driven deforestation,” says the study.
DeFries said that some initiatives aimed at halting deforestation need to be quickly shifted. For instance, some policies that focus on getting small landowners to conserve forests—a popular mechanism among governments and nonprofits at the moment—“may not be all that productive without a focus on large-scale clearing as well,” she said. “Governments will have to look at policies that intensify yields on existing high-yield fields—not clear more land,” she said.  
For full story, please see: www.earth.columbia.edu/articles/view/2635




From:  www.cenn.org, 9 February 2010

FFI is announcing a vacancy for the Project Field Coordinator, Ucyurt Landscape Conservation Project, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

  • Location: Tashkent, Uzbekistan
  • Duration of Contract: To 31st December, 2011, with potential to extend.
  • Salary: Dependent on skills, qualification and experience.

A full CV and contact details for two referees, should be sent to:
Suzanne Tom, Projects Manager - Eurasia, Fauna & Flora International, 4th Floor, Jupiter House, Station Road, Cambridge CB1 2JD or emailed to eurasia@fauna-flora.org.
Please mark your application ‘Project Field Coordinator, Eurasia’.
For more information, please see: www.fauna-flora.org




Latin American and Caribbean indigenous and local community fourth capacity building workshop on the CBD: Mesoamerican Region

4 – 6 March 2010
Guatemala, Guatemala
This fourth capacity building workshop for indigenous and local community representatives on effective participation in the CBD processes, with a focus on Article 8(j) (traditional knowledge) and access and benefit-sharing, aims specifically at building and strengthening capacity for indigenous and local community women.  
For more information, please contact:
United Nations Environment Programme 413 Saint-Jacques Street, Suite 800, Montreal, QC H2Y 1N9, Canada Tel : +1 514 288 2220, Fax : +1 514 288 6588;
E-mail: secretariat@cbd.int



Global Shea 2010: Maximizing quality, expanding markets

16-19 March 2010
Bamako, Mali
Global Shea 2010 is the most important annual event of the shea industry. From pickers to processors, researchers to buyers, Global Shea 2010 will put you in touch with people working in every part of the industry. The agenda includes presentations on production development and marketing; business planning and improved management; research, development and production; building new markets; and advocating sustainable practices, among others.
For more information, please contact:
Dr Peter Lovett, West Africa Trade Hub Shea Sector Expert, West Africa Trade Hub, c/o USAID, P.O. Box 1630, Accra, Ghana;
E-mail: plovett@watradehub.com or info@globalshea.org



2010 INBAR Bamboo Tour across China

12-22 May 2010
Sichuan, Zhejiang and Shanghai
The 2010 Bamboo tour across China will last 11 days and include a visit to the EXPO Shanghai 2010, as well as to numerous bamboo manufacturers, community processing workshops, eco-tourism sites and villages and bamboo museums across Zhejiang and Sichuan province. The tour will also include visits to communities dependent on NTFPs like gingko, hickory and traditional dry bamboo shoots.
For more information, please contact:
Dr. Fu Jinhe: jfu@inbar.int



Forests for the Future: Sustaining Society and the Environment

23-28 August 2010
Seoul, Republic of Korea
Established in 1892, the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO) is one of the world's oldest and largest international institutions, counting more than 700 member institutes and universities in 110 countries. The 23rd World Congress of the IUFRO—held every four to five years—will convene in Asia for the third time in its history to discuss the following themes: “Keep Asia green;” forests and climate change; frontiers in forest and tree health; forest environmental services; biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of forest resources; forests, communities and cultures; emerging technologies in the forest sector; forest products and production processes for a greener future; and forests, human health and environmental security.
Fore more information, please contact:
IUFRO Headquarters – Secretariat
International Union of Forest Research Organizations 
Mariabrunn (BFW), Hauptstrasse 7
A 1140 Vienna, Austria
Tel.: +43-1-877 0151-0
Fax: +43-1-877 0151-50
E-mail: office@iufro.org
www.iufro2010.com or www.iufro.org



Thirteenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons (IASC)
10-14 January, 2011
Hyderabad, India
The theme of this event, hosted by the Foundation for Ecological Security,is: Sustaining Commons: Sustaining our Future. The Conference will provide opportunities for academics, researchers and practitioners to exchange ideas, knowledge and experience. Multiple forms of participation are envisaged at this global meeting. The Conference will deal with physical common resources such as forests, grazing resources, protected areas, water resources, fisheries, coastal commons, lagoon commons, irrigation systems, livestock and commons as well as new commons such as information commons, cultural commons, genetic resources, patents, climate, etc.
For more information, please contact:
Subrat Singh
Foundation for Ecological Security,
PO Box-29, NDDB Campus,
Anand, Gujarat-388001
Tel: 91 2692 261239/261402
Fax: 91 2692 262087/262196
E-mail: subrat@fes.org.in
For updates: www.iasc2011.fes.org.in




  • NEW UN Policy Brief on Sustainable Use of NTFPs

From:  www.news.agforinsight.com, 7 February 2010  

A new policy brief discusses laws and policies relevant to sustainable and equitable NTFP use. The policy brief is a collaboration between the United Nations University - Institute of Advanced Studies (via the Traditional Knowledge Initiative), Centre for International Forestry Research, People and Plants International, Environmental Evaluation Unit, University of Cape Town and the Insitute for Culture and Ecology. It draws from the book Wild Product Governance: finding policies that work for non-timber forest products to be published by Earthscan in 2010 as part of the “People and Plants” series.
People have long developed and depended upon useful species from diverse ecosystems. Even today, botanical NTFPs provide critical subsistence and trade goods for forest and other communities. In many areas, NTFPs are the main source of cash to pay school fees, buy medicines, purchase equipment and supplies, and even buy food. However, NTFPs have been both overlooked and poorly regulated by governments.
Despite wide variations in cultural, economic and political conditions, experiences with NTFP law and policy are remarkably similar around the world, and are characterized by common regulatory features. This finding applies to both developed and developing countries, and includes regions that still have strong traditional and subsistence use of NTFPs and those that may have reduced their dependence on NTFPs, but have recently ‘rediscovered’ natural products.
Case studies which contributed to this project include those from Bolivia, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, China, Fiji, Finland, India, Mexico, the Philippines, southern Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. Important lessons for policy makers, NGOs, community groups, and others working with NTFPs include the need for better information, simplification, clarity, and consistency in NTFP policy frameworks.
For more information, please see: http://news.agforinsight.com/2010/02/un-policy-brief-on-sustainable-use-of.html



From:  IWGIA, 10 December 2009

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a culmination of a centuries-long struggle by indigenous peoples for justice. It is an important new addition to UN human rights instruments in that it promotes equality for the world's indigenous peoples and recognizes their collective rights.
The Declaration is the fruition of the work of scores of individuals over more than 25 years of protracted and intense negotiations. In a first for multi-lateral human rights negotiations, indigenous peoples, as rights-bearers, sat alongside UN and governmental leaders and diplomats, driving the recognition of their rights under international law. 
The authors of this collective book, of interest to the specialist as well as the general public, were for many years intimately involved in the Declaration process. It tells the story of the Declaration from the inside, detailing its history, negotiations, content and broader significance.  Contributions come from the world over ranging from indigenous activists, to members of the Human Rights Council and its various working groups and mechanisms, as well as UN and governmental officials who engineered the process from beginning to end.
For more information, please see: www.iwgia.org/sw153.asp



From:  IWGIA, 18 January 2010

Indigenous peoples contribute extensibly to humanity's cultural diversity, enriching it withmore than two thirds of its languages and an extrordinary amount of its traditional knowledge.
There are over 370 million indigenous people in some 90 countries, living in all regions of the world. The situation of indigenous peoples in many parts of the world is critical today. Poverty rates are significantly higher among indigenous peoples compared to other groups. While they constitute 5 per cent of the world's population, they are 15 per cent of the world's poor. Most indicators of well-being show that indigenous peoples suffer disproportinately compared to non-indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples face systemic discrimination and exclusion from political and economic power; they continue to be over-represented among the poorest, the illiterate, the destitute; they are displaced by wars and environmental disasters; indigenous peoples are dispossessed of their ancestral lands and deprived of their resources for survival, both physical and cultural; they are even robbed of their very right to life.
Although the state of the world's indigenous peoples is alarming, there is some cause for optimism. The international community increasingly recognizes indigenous peoples' human rights, most prominently evidenced by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous peoples themselves continue to organize for the promotion of their rights. They are the stewards of some of the world's most biologically diverse areas and their traditional knowledge about the biodibversity of these areas is invaluable. As the effects of climate change are becoming clearer, it is increaslingly evident that indigenous peoples must play a central role in developing adaptation and mitigation efforts to this global challenge.
The State of the World's Indigenous Peoples is the result of a collaborative effort, organized by the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The Chapters were written by independent experts.
For more information, please see: www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/index.html



From:  Traditional Knowledge Bulletin, 2 February 2010

A new report, entitled “Conservation Value of the North American Boreal Forest from an Ethnobotanical Perspective,” describes the deep botanical and ecological knowledge that Canada’s Aboriginal peoples have gained over thousands of years of using the boreal forest as grocery, pharmacy, school and spiritual centre. It notes that the value of the forest to Aboriginal peoples in terms of subsistence foods alone could reach up to $575.1 million. Many other values have yet to be quantified. According to the report, forest-related traditional knowledge held by Canada’s Aboriginal peoples offers western scientists a vitally important information source.
With the boreal forest facing increasing threats from climate change, habitat loss and fragmentation, and invasive species, such TK is more important than ever.
The report also suggests that much more indigenous mapping of the boreal forest has taken place than previously understood. Scientific information has been encoded in indigenous peoples’ languages and is passed on through stories and place names.
According to CBD Executive Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf, the report is a major contribution to the celebration of the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity.
For more information, please see: www.cbd.int/doc/press/2010/pr-2010-02-01-ethnobotany-en.pdf



From:  FAO’s NWFP Programme

Bhattacharyya, R., Asokan, A., Bhattacharya, P., and Prasad, R. 2009. The potential of certification for conservation and management of wild MAP resources. Biodivers. Conserv. 18(13):3441-3451.

Brooks, T.M., Wright, S.J., and Sheil, D. 2009. Evaluating the success of conservation actions in safeguarding tropical forest biodiversity. Conserv. Biol. 23(6):1448-1457.

Chazdon, R.L., Peres, C.A., Dent, D., Sheil, D., Lugo, A.E., Lamb, D., Stork, N.E., and Miller, S.E. 2009. The potential for species conservation in tropical secondary forests. Conserv. Biol. 23(6):1406-1417.

Fifanou, V., Coulibaly, O., Greene, C., and Sinsin, B. 2009. Estimating the Local Value of Non-Timber Forest Products to Pendjari Biosphere Reserve Dwellers in Benin. Economic Botany. 63(4): 397-412.

Fisher, M. 2009. 2010 and all that-looking forward to biodiversity conservation in 2011 and beyond. Oryx 43(4):449-450.

Fisher, Z.S.Y., Cartwright, S., Bealey, C., Rayaleh, H.A., McGowan, P., and Milner-Gulland, E.J. 2009. The Djibouti francolin and juniper forest in Djibouti: the need for both ecosystem and species-specific conservation. Oryx 43(4):542-551.

Henson, A., Williams, D., Dupain, J., Gichohi, H., and Muruthi, P. 2009. The Heartland Conservation Process: enhancing biodiversity conservation and livelihoods through landscape-scale conservation planning in Africa. Oryx 43(4):508-519.

Johnson, A., Vongkhamheng, C., and Saithongdam, T. 2009. The diversity, status and conservation of small carnivores in a montane tropical forest in northern Laos. Oryx 43(4):626-633.

Käffer, M.I., Ganade, G., and Marcelli, M.P. 2009. Lichen diversity and composition in Araucaria forests and tree monocultures in southern Brazil. Biodivers. Conserv. 18(13):3543-3561.

Li, H.M., Ma, Y.X., and Liu, W.J. 2009. Clearance and fragmentation of tropical rain forest in Xishuangbanna, SW, China. Biodivers. Conserv. 18(13):3421-3440.

López-Pujol, J., and Ren, M.X. 2009. Biodiversity and the Three Gorges Reservoir: a troubled marriage. J. Nat. Hist. 43(43-44):2765-2786.

Milne, S., and Niesten, E. 2009. Direct payments for biodiversity conservation in developing countries: practical insights for design and implementation. Oryx 43(4):530-541.

Persha, L., and Blomley, T. 2009. Management decentralization and montane forest conditions in Tanzania. Conserv. Biol. 23(6):1485-1496.

Poulsen, J.R., Clark, C.J., Mavah, G., and Elkan, P.W. 2009. Bushmeat supply and consumption in a tropical logging concession in northern Congo. Conserv. Biol. 23(6):1597-1608.

Remis, M.J., and Hardin, R. 2009. Transvalued species in an African forest. Conserv. Biol. 23(6):1588-1596.

Ribeiro, M. M. 2008. Modelling the factors influencing the commercialisation of paper mulberry bark (Broussonetia papyrifera): A supply chain analysis of a non-timber forest product in Oudomxay, Laos. Vienna: Verlag Guthmann-Peterson.
Available online: www.amazon.de/Modelling-influencing-commercialisation-Broussonetia-papyrifera/dp/3900782156#

Ribeiro, M. M., & Zwirner, W. 2009. Applying Participatory Processes: Findings from a Supply Chain Analysis on the Commercialisation of Paper Mulberry Bark in Laos. Systemic Practice and Action Research, (December 10, 2009).
Available online: www.springerlink.com/content/63524m71143q8pq4/

Rist, J., Milner-Gulland, E.J., Cowlishaw, G., and Rowcliffe, J.M. 2009. The importance of hunting and habitat in determining the abundance of tropical forest species in Equatorial Guinea. Biotropica 41(6):700-710.

Rist, Janna; Rowcliffe, Marcus; Cowlishaw, Guy; Milner-Gulland, E.J. 2008. Evaluating measures of hunting effort in a bushmeat system. Biological conservation. Aug. 141(8)
Abstract: The negative impact of bushmeat hunting on prey species has been frequently claimed, but little thought has been given to how the level of hunting should most appropriately be measured. Current methods range from qualitative descriptions to quantified measures, and in many cases these are used to infer the biological impact of hunting, when they are in fact economic measures of the effort invested by a hunter. The choice of measure used has important implications for correctly attributing observed levels of prey abundance to a particular level of hunting, and for the use of hunting statistic data as an index of abundance. Using information from over 200 hunter follows and eight hunting camp diaries collected over a 15 month period in Equatorial Guinea, we investigate how hunting effort is most appropriately measured. We explore the use of time as a measure of effort, the effect of hunting method and compare hunter and prey perspectives of catch, in order to investigate the possible sources of bias associated with different measures. We show (1) that total time measures can be biased, overestimating biologically relevant effort; (2) that quantifying trapping effort is problematic due to variable trap checking rates, variable trap group composition and species trap specificity; and (3) that economically relevant measures of catch, taken from the hunter perspective underestimate the true biological impact of   hunting. To our knowledge this is the first study to investigate and explicitly quantify the sources of bias that exist between different hunting effort measures. Our results have important implications for how future studies should measure hunting effort in order to assess properly the biological impact of bushmeat hunting, but further comparative studies are needed to investigate the existence of biased effort measures in a range of hunting systems.

Rochon, Caroline; Parcb, David; Khasa, Damase P.; Fortin, J. Andrcb. 2009. Ecology and management of the lobster mushroom in an eastern Canadian jack pine stand. Canadian journal of forest research. Nov. 39(11).
Abstract: The lobster mushroom, an organism resulting from the infection of Russula spp. by Hypomyces lactifluorum (Schwein.) Tul. & C. Tul., is common to Canadian boreal forests and has good commercial potential. Within a Pinus banksiana Lamb. stand managed for mushroom production, this study aimed to (1) document carpophore productivity (density, biomass per area) during three seasons, (2) compare productivity among three forest conditions (trails, forest strips between trails, and unmanaged forest), (3) establish ecological parameters related to productivity, and (4) define microhabitats where carpophores are present by using soil and vegetation descriptors. Mushroom density tended to be higher on the trails than under the canopy, but fresh biomass was higher in forest strips except in 2006 when midsummer precipitation was low. Trail management did not increase mushroom production but maintained it during periods of reduced precipitation. Productivity was positively related to the abundance of shade-intolerant plant species and to extractable ammonium, and negatively related to soil pH. Within the present study conditions, microhabitats suitable for the presence of carpophores had low pH, high available phosphorus, low Kalmia angustifolia L. cover, and small canopy gaps with shade-intolerant species. This study was the first step toward understanding the ecology and impacts of forest practices on the lobster mushroom.

Rudel, T.K., Defries, R., Asner, G.P., and Laurance, W.F. 2009. Changing drivers of deforestation and new opportunities for conservation. Conserv. Biol. 23(6):1396-1405.

Wilmé, L., Schuurman, D., & Lowry II, P.P. 2009. A forest counterpart fund: Madagascar’s wounded forests can erase the debt owed to them while securing their future, with support from the citizens of Madagascar. Lemur News 14: In press.

Xu, H.G., Tang, X.P., Liu, J.Y., Ding, H., Wu, J., Zhang, M., Yang, Q.W., Cai, L., Zhao, H.J., and Liu, Y. 2009. China's progress toward the significant reduction of the rate of biodiversity loss. BioScience 59(10):843-852.



From:  FAO’s NWFP Programme

Advancing the Application of Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) for Effective Low-Cost Forest Restoration
A new web portal has been launched by the FAO to highlight the importance of restoring degraded forests through simple, cost effective interventions to assist natural regeneration. 

Torah flora
Torahflora.org is a Web site devoted to Biblical and Talmudic botany, the study of plants and nature in Torah and Jewish tradition. To receive announcements of new articles on Torahflora.org and related events such as botanical garden tours and public speaking events by Biblical and Talmudic botanist Dr. Jon Greenberg, please send an e-mail to jon@torahflora.org





Source: Amazon News, 28 January 2010

It's barely eight in the morning and already the dusty oil town of Lago Agrio, on the fringes of the Ecuadorian Amazon, is sweltering.  Its name means "sour lake" in Spanish, after the hometown of Texan oil company Texaco – a fitting name for an area of once-pristine rainforest that has been decimated in the pursuit of oil.  So severe is the environmental damage here that experts have called it an "Amazon Chernobyl."
But the people of Lago Agrio and its surrounding area have been fighting back.  Sixteen years ago, 30,000 Ecuadorians began legal action against the US oil company – now owned by Chevron – they hold responsible.  Early this year, from the town's tiny courtroom, a lone judge will deliver a verdict on their class-action case.  If the judge rules in favour of the Ecuadorians, Chevron could face damages of US$27.3bn, making it the biggest environmental lawsuit in history.
A Chevron spokesperson said: "What is being missed, even by well-intentioned people, is that the responsibility for the lack of potable water, insufficient access to proper health care, and malnutrition now affecting the people of the Oriente lies squarely with the government of Ecuador, which has failed to properly address these serious challenges for decades."  The company says there is no increased incidence of cancers in the oil-producing areas, that "poor sanitation" contributes to local health issues.
Chevron, which took over Texaco nine years after its operations in Ecuador were taken over by Petroecuador, denies responsibility for the damage.  A Chevron spokesperson said: "Regrettably, Crude has only scratched the surface of the Ecuador story – it is long on emotion but short on fact.  We recognise that the people of the Oriente face legitimate health concerns.  Where we part company with the film-maker is about responsibility.  The health issues in the Oriente are not related to Texaco Petroleum's former operations."
The claimants consider the clean-up work performed by Texaco to be unsatisfactory, and cleaned only a small fraction of the hundreds of abandoned waste pits which Texaco had created, without touching the polluted groundwater, rivers and soil.  For each oil well drilled, two to five accompanying waste pits were dug directly into the ground to dump the toxic sludge of drilling muds, waste oil and chemical-laced "produced waters" that come out of the ground when drilling for oil.
Almost all the afectados live within 500m of a leaky pit and many of the chemicals, such as benzene and chromium, seeping out the pits are known carcinogens.
Even if the case goes their way, the claimants won't personally receive a single cent, any award instead going on carrying out a proper remediation, on health services, and for installing clean water systems.  But, although the lawsuit is due to reach a verdict soon, according to Berlinger, Chevron has promised a "lifetime of litigation" and observers estimate that, with appeals, it could continue for at least another 10 years.
For full story, see: www.amazonia.org.br/english/noticias/noticia.cfm?id=340921



Source: Environment and Poverty Times. Sept. 2009. Issue No.6

“Economists like the concept of efficiency, and the Happy Planet Index is the ultimate efficiency ratio – the final valuable output divided by the original scarce input,” Professor
Herman Daly, University of Maryland. In an age of uncertainty, society globally needs a new compass to set it on a path of real progress. The Happy Planet Index (HPI) provides
that compass by measuring what truly matters to us – our well-being in terms of long, happy and meaningful lives – and what matters to the planet – our rate of resource consumption. The HPI brings them together in a unique form which captures the ecological efficiency with which we are achieving good lives. This report presents results from the second global HPI. It shows that we are still far from achieving sustainable well-being, and puts forward a vision of what we need to do to get there.
The current economic and ecological crises have discredited the dogmas of the last 30 years. The unwavering pursuit of economic growth – embodied in the overwhelming focus on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – has left over a billion people in poverty, and has not notably improved the well-being of those who were already rich, nor even provided us with economic stability. Instead it has brought us straight to the cliff edge of rapidly diminishing natural resources and unpredictable climate change. We need to see this current crisis as an opportunity. Now is the time for societies around the world to speak out for a happier planet, to identify a new vision of progress, and to demand new tools to help us work towards it. The HPI is one of these tools.
For full story, see: www.grida.no/_res/site/file/publications/PET06_screen.pdf




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last updated:  Friday, February 26, 2010