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No. 1/11

Welcome to the first issue of 2011 of 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.

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

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

2011 International Year of Forests
The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.


www.un.org/en/events/iyof2011/ or www.fao.org/forestry/en

IN THIS ISSUE:

PRODUCTS

COUNTRY INFORMATION

NEWS

EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES

EVENTS

LITERATURE REVIEW AND WEB SITES

MISCELLANEOUS

 

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PRODUCTS

  • Artemisia annua: WHO looking for alternative to contain drug-resistant malaria

Source: Reuters, 12 January 2011

The World Health Organization (WHO) launched a plan on Wednesday to stop a form of drug-resistant malaria from spreading from Southeast Asia to Africa, where millions of lives could be at risk. It would cost about US$175 million a year to contain and prevent the global spread of the artemisinin-resistant parasite which first emerged along the Thai-Cambodian border in 2007, the United Nations agency said.
Artemisinin, derived from sweet wormwood, or the Artemisia annua plant, is the most potent drug available against malaria, especially when used in artemisinin combination therapy (ACT), which links it with other drugs.
The resistant — and therefore longer-to-treat — form of malaria is already suspected of breaking out along the Thai-Myanmar border and in a province of Vietnam, where tests are underway to confirm it, but the great fear is of it breaking out across Africa.
"There is a finite window of opportunity to contain artemisinin resistance before it spreads," the WHO warned in a report, "Global Plan for Artemisinin Resistance Containment".
Resistance to previous generations of anti-malarial drugs spread rapidly from the same Mekong region to India and then Africa, resulting in many deaths, according to the WHO strategy, drawn up by 100 global experts.
Malaria infects about 243 million people worldwide a year, causing an estimated 863 000 deaths, making it a major killer especially among African children.
"The urgency is increased by the fact that no other anti-malarial medicines are available that offer the same levels of efficacy and tolerability as ACTs, and few promising alternatives are available in the immediate research and development pipeline," the WHO report said.
The US$175 million being sought for containment would include some US$65 million for accelerating research and development of new anti-malarial drugs which are not based on artemisinin. Overall, some US$3 billion is spent annually on malaria control.
The rest of the funds would be used to step up monitoring of the disease and purchase diagnostic kits to detect the resistant form.
For full story, please see: http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKLDE70A1KP20110112

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  • Chestnuts: The American chestnut — past, present and future

Source: Bowling Green Daily News (USA), 25 December 2010

The American chestnuts that were once staples in rural homes are now virtually nonexistent, as are the mighty trees that harboured the nuts once upon a time.
A foreign blight obliterated billions of chestnut trees in the first half of the 20th century throughout the eastern United States, across the tree’s range. Yet once, chestnuts made up one-quarter of the standing hardwoods in the US prior to the blight’s strike.
The death of chestnuts, a favoured food source for wildlife and income for people, caused a serious shift in small-town economics and the composition of woodlands. People utilized chestnut trees for their fruit in the wintertime, and the wood was sought after for everything from caskets to telephone poles, as it had a natural resistance to rotting and warping. The bark and wood scraps from lumberyards yielded high tannin content, thus leather tanneries made use of the tree as well.
From a wildlife standpoint, the American chestnut was a more reliable mast producer than many oaks and beeches. Not only was the chestnut a reliable producer, but since it bloomed during the summer, late freezes did not affect its production like most other mast trees.
The downfall of this mighty tree apparently began in New York City, where nursery stock from Asia carrying a deadly fungus had been imported into the US. In 1904 the blight was first noticed on the grounds of the Bronx Zoo and within a few decades the fungus, to which our native trees had no resistance, had all but eliminated the American chestnut. Spread by spores carried by wind, rain and animals, the fungus attacked chestnuts through broken limbs and scarred bark, usually killing the tree slowly over a few years as the cankers spread. Presently, pure American chestnuts still succumb to the blight long before reaching maturity.
A number of organizations have sprouted in recent years in an effort to resurrect the American chestnut to its rightful place in the Eastern woodlands. The American Chestnut Foundation, along with partnering individuals and agencies, is developing a strain of American chestnuts that should be resistant to the blight. This research and testing is being done so the American chestnut can be re-established across the woodlands where it once ranked as an equal with the white oak.
The American Chestnut Foundation has carefully crossed and then back-crossed the successive generations of American and Chinese chestnut offspring, up to the point where their breeding program has a blight-resistant tree that is 94 percent American chestnut. This tree has the characteristics of the native trees, but it is hoped will be unaffected by the fungus.
For full story, please see:
http://bgdailynews.com/articles/2010/12/26/sports/sports2.txt

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  • Cork: Campaign urges use of eco-friendly cork as bottle stoppers

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer (USA), 25 December 2010

A pro-cork effort is aiming to put an eco-perspective on the popular wine stopper.
The campaign, launched by The Portuguese Cork Association and the Cork Quality Council, among others, is called "100% Cork," and aims to encourage wineries and retailers to increase their use of natural cork stoppers — and consumers to buy them.
The WWF has called the use of plastic and metal wine closures a "major threat" to Mediterranean cork oak forests because their use undermines demand for cork. That, in turn, provides an incentive to plant and maintain the Mediterranean's vast oak forests, which offset the carbon produced by 2.5 million cars every year.
Cork supporters claim that metal screw caps and plastic stoppers produce 10 to 24 times more greenhouse gases and consume as much as five times more non-renewable energy than real cork over their life cycles.
“100% Cork” also features a Facebook page and a website (www.100percentcork.org ).
The campaign is supported by Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defence Council in the USA, who says that "harvesting cork [derived from the cork oak tree Quercus suber] in a sustainable way from managed forests not only preserves jobs... it protects us from depending on petroleum and fossil fuel."
For full story, please see: http://.mercurynews.com/bay-arealiving/ci_16922721?nclick_check=1

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  • Cork: Make an early resolution to recycle your cork stoppers

Source: Kansas City Star (USA) in www.100%cork.com, 25 December 2010

If you are not artistically inclined to craft a wine cork wreath or tabletop, what do you do with cork stoppers when they start piling up? Recycle them, of course.
“People do not like to throw them away,” says Stephen Yemm, co-owner of Yemm & Hart, a Fredericktown, Missouri (USA)-based green building materials company. Yemm & Hart began collecting corks in 2004, with the goal of obtaining enough to make products from the recycled content. Not to mention saving more than 10 000 pounds of cork from the landfill thus far — more than one million single stoppers. They are now producing floor and wall tiles.
“Our goal is to create a sustainable business that also benefits the small farmers of the western Mediterranean,” Yemm says. According to the Cork Forest Conservation Alliance, cork forests in the Mediterranean support the second largest forest biodiversity on earth. Cork trees, which can live up to 300 years, are not cut down to harvest cork but are stripped by hand every 9-12 years. Recycling cork helps to promote its use. In turn, it benefits the indigenous communities and prevents desertification in the region.
For full story, please see: http://100percentcork.org/cork.php/news/article/kansas_city_star_make_an_early_resolution_to_recycle_your_corks

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  • Edible Insects produce smaller quantities of greenhouse gases than cattle

Source: Science Daily, 9 January 2011

Insects produce much smaller quantities of greenhouse gases per kg of meat than cattle and pigs. This is the conclusion of scientists at Wageningen University in the Netherlands who have joined forces with government and industry to investigate whether the rearing of insects could contribute to more sustainable protein production. Insect meat could therefore form an alternative to more conventional types of meat.
Cattle farming worldwide is a major producer of greenhouse gases. For the assessment of the sustainability of insect meat, the researchers at Wageningen University quantified the production of greenhouse gases of several edible insect species.
The results of the study were published in the online journal PLoS ONE on 29 December 2010. The research team has for the first time quantified the greenhouse gases produced per kg of insect product. The gases concerned were methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). The results demonstrate that insects produce much smaller quantities of greenhouse gases than conventional livestock such as cattle and pigs. For example, a pig produces between ten and 100 times as much greenhouse gases per kg compared with mealworms. Emissions of ammonia (which causes the acidification and eutrophication of groundwater) also appear to be significantly lower. A pig produces between eight and twelve times as much ammonia per kg of growth compared to crickets, and up to fifty times more than locusts. An additional advantage of insects over mammals is that they convert their food into meat quicker.
The study indicates that proteins originating from insects in principle form an environmentally-friendly alternative to proteins from meat originating from conventional livestock. Further research is required to ascertain whether the production of 1 kg of insect protein is also more environmentally friendly than conventional animal protein when the entire production chain is taken into account.
For full story, please see: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110107083737.htm

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  • Ginseng: Wild Ginseng disappearing from parks in the USA

Source: www.about.com, 10 January 2011

Although it is not officially endangered, ginseng populations are decreasing at an alarming rate in parks located in southeast USA. Rangers at Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky) and Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee, North Carolina) are now battling poachers.
In national forests and private property, people may dig up the plant legally if they have the landowners’ permission. But recently, poachers continue to hunt the plant in the summer. Rangers have been patrolling the backcountry to look for diggers and some have been caught. In October 2010, a major bust occurred saving 805 roots which were replanted.
The latest advance in stopping poachers has been a coded chip that is being placed on the roots of the plant to identify its location. Should it move, then rangers know it has been uprooted and can be hunted using ultraviolet light or trained dogs.
http://usparks.about.com/b/2011/01/10/wild-ginseng-disappearing-from-parks.htm

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  • Honey is behind new technique to help ulcers heal

Source: BBC News, 7January 2011

A new type of medical bandage using chemicals derived from honey is being trialled in Staffordshire, England. Early results show that the dressing produces better and quicker effects on long-term wounds than traditional methods.
Julie Stanton, a tissue specialist with the South Staffordshire Primary Care Trust (PCT), said its use could be "life-changing". She said it had had success with seven out of ten patients.
The bandage was developed by Professor Paul Davis, the man who invented the pregnancy test. Speaking to BBC Television, he explained that the honey derivative put both iodine and oxygen into a wound, using two layers of gel that slowly interact.
The iodine kills the bacteria in the wound, as does the oxygen, as it empowers white blood cells to kill the bacteria.
Speaking to BBC Radio Stoke, Julie Stanton — a specialist in tissue viability at South Staffordshire PCT — said she was pleased that the PCT was trialling the bandage.
She explained that the chemical produced by bees which is used in the dressing was integral to the success of the treatment.
She said that it was mainly being used in Staffordshire on leg ulcers and surgical wounds that aren't healing: "For people with these long-term wounds, life can be appalling and painful.  "To use something that has this positive effect can be life-changing."
Asked if she was concerned that this treatment costs twice as much as usual methods, she pointed out that the NHS spends 4 percent of its budget treating people with wounds that will not heal.
She said the results will be analyzed later in the year by the PCT, which would then re-assess its use for cost-effectiveness.
Honey has been much touted for its medicinal qualities. Scientists hope that its ingredients may also be used to combat MRSA, the “superbug” present in British hospitals.
The South Staffs PCT is one of the largest in the country covering an area stretching from Burton upon Trent to Rugeley, and including Cannock, Lichfield, Stafford, Tamworth and Uttoxeter.
For full story, please see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/stoke/hi/people_and_places/nature/newsid_9349000/9349458.stm

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  • Honey in the USA: Companies hope sourcing will stem illegal honey

Source: The Associated Press in The Washington Post, 30 December 2010

Honey companies and importers are launching a program this January to try to stop the flow of illegally sourced honey from coming into the country.
The “True Source Honey Initiative” is an effort by a handful of producers and importers looking to certify the origin and purity of the honey sold to U.S. consumers in jars and products such as cereals, snacks and glazes.
"Where food comes from has become increasingly important to people," said Jill Clark, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania-based Dutch Gold Honey, one of the partners in the True Source Honey Initiative.
Americans consume about 350 million pounds of honey per year, but domestic honey cannot meet that demand. U.S. honey producers only made 144 million pounds in 2009, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. That figure was down 12 percent from 2008.
This has created a booming market for importers — and temptation for a few who want to circumvent taxes on foreign honey.
In September, the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago announced the indictments of 11 German and Chinese executives and six companies on charges that they avoided nearly US$80 million in honey tariffs and sold honey tainted with banned antibiotics. It was the largest in a string of federal actions in the past two years directed at stopping illegal honey trade.
All the True Source Honey Initiative wants is that the countries of origin and ingredients inside the honey jar match the product, Clark said. Certification would come after a third-party annual audit that would cost honey packers and exporters US$2,000 to US$4 000. The initiative is finalizing a seal that it would offer those who pass the audits to place on their packaging.
U.S. beekeepers would not be directly subjected to an audit, Clark said.
Currently, origin labelling requirements for honey require that packaged honey bearing any combination of USDA marks or statements must also display the name or names of the one or more countries of origin.
Some states have set other standards for honey, mainly those that define "pure honey" in a bid to curb the sale of products that have that label but contain corn syrup or other additives. Florida was the first state to adopt such standards in 2009, and was quickly followed by California, Wisconsin and most recently North Carolina. Similar standards were proposed in at least 12 other states, including North and South Dakota, which account for roughly one-third of U.S. honey. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing a petition seeking a national "pure honey" standard.
The 2009 U.S. honey crop was valued at US$208 million but beekeeping in the U.S. has been on the steady decline. The U.S. is down from 6 million bee colonies after the Second World War to about 2.5 million today, Mussen said.
But some young producers are getting in the game. "I do not know a lot of young beekeepers," Matthew Cary said, laughing on a rainy December day after delivering jars of his Matthew's Honey to a nearby farmers market. The 22-year-old has 200 hives in Lindsay, Calif., a town of 11 000 people in the San Joaquin Valley. California is third in honey production after the Dakotas.
For full story, please see:
www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/30/AR2010123002512.html

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  • Honey in Uzbekistan: Beekeepers produce 3 000 tons of honey in 2010

Source: Kazakhstan News.Net, 6 January 2011

Uzbekistan has invested great efforts in developing beekeeping in the nation. According to the General Department of Forestry, nearly 6 000 farms manage some 213 487 hives.
In 2010, over 28 000 hives, 258 000 frames and other necessary materials were supplied to foster the development of beekeeping in the country. Banks also extended credit worth a total of 351.8 million soums. Additionally, more land was allocated to give incentives to expand production and enrich forage reserves for beekeepers: 54 new farms received 440.3 ha of land last year.
As a result, Uzbek beekeepers produced over 3 000 tons of honey in 2010.
For full story, please see:
www.kazakhstannews.net/story.php?rid=41798574&ht=Uzbek-beekeepers-produce-3000-tons-of-honey-in-2010

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  • Hoodia gordonii: San people's cactus drug dropped by phytopharm

Source: www.scidev.net, 20 December 2010

The development of an obesity drug from a traditional remedy used by Africa's San people has suffered a setback, after a pharmaceutical company abandoned its research — leaving prospects of a commercial product uncertain.
After years of research, UK-based pharmaceutical company Phytopharm returned its commercialization rights for an active, appetite-suppressing ingredient in the Hoodia gordonii cactus to South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) last month (30 November).
A team of CSIR scientists will now review data from 14 clinical trials on the cactus and decide whether to pursue development of a drug, according to Tendani Tsedu, a CSIR spokesperson.
The San people, inhabiting desert parts of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, chew on the stem of the cactus to suppress hunger and thirst during long hunting trips. CSIR scientists isolated and patented the active ingredient, P57, without the San people's knowledge, and licensed it to Phytpoharm in 1995. This led to a 2001 campaign by the San people to reclaim their rights, resulting in a 2003 benefit-sharing agreement with CSIR that entitled the San people to 6 percent of all royalties received by CSIR. The benefits were described as "miniscule" by a 2006 report on benefit-sharing in Africa.
Phytopharm's decision will not change the benefit-sharing agreement, according to Roger Chennells, lawyer for the San people. "The San people will still be entitled to six percent of any CSIR royalty on the drug," Chennells told SciDev.Net. Chennells added that the San people were happy with the arrangement, which has provided them with 500 000 rand (around US$73 000) in royalties since the 2003 agreement. But the real benefits will only come after commercialization of an anti-obesity drug.
Rachel Wynberg, a natural scientist and environmental policy analyst from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, said further investment is required to conduct additional clinical trials to establish the safety of hoodia.
"Many players still believe that hoodia has considerable potential, but it is critical that the final product has impeccable safety and efficacy standards," Wynberg told SciDev.Net.
For full story, please see: www.scidev.net/en/news/san-people-s-cactus-drug-dropped-by-phytopharm-1.html

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  • Medicinal plants: Passiflora incarnate named Medicinal Plant of the Year

Source: The Manila Bulletin, 24 December 2010

The passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) has been named Medicinal Plant of the Year 2011 by a University of Wuerzburg study group on the historical development of medicinal plants.
The Germany-based group noted that extracts from the plant helped to relieve nervous restlessness, mild insomnia, and gastrointestinal complaints related to nervousness, adding that trials had also shown it to be effective at easing anxiety.
Unlike many psychotropic drugs, passionflower has no muscle-relaxing effects, which makes it a good general sedative that can be taken during the day.
The group said that the most potent extracts from the plant were from its leaves. Although scientists are not sure what substances are responsible, the main effect is thought to come from chains of molecules called flavonoids that calm and lower anxiety by inhibiting certain neurotransmitters.
Passionflower is native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. More than 400 species are known, many of which have edible fruits. However, only the maracuya of the Passiflora edulis has commercial significance, the study group said.
Every year since 1999, the group has selected a Medicinal Plant of the Year on the basis of an “interesting cultural and medical history” and scientifically demonstrated medicinal effects. Ivy was the Medicinal Plant of the Year 2010.
www.mb.com.ph/articles/294684/medicinal-plant-year

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  • Shea nuts appear safe in allergy study

Source: Reuters (UK), 22 December 2010

Shea butter is in everything from diaper cream to tissue paper, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers shea nuts — from which the butter derives — to be tree nuts, and therefore potential allergens. A new study suggests, however, that shea butter poses little, if any, allergy risk to people who use products containing the substance.
The allergy triggers in other tree nuts and in peanuts are proteins. For nearly two million Americans, the immune system recognizes those proteins as harmful and launches an attack to rid the body of the molecules. If the assault is severe enough, the result can be an anaphylactic reaction marked by potentially deadly failure of the airways, although the number of deaths in the U.S. linked to nut allergies is small — about a dozen annually.
Dr. Kanwaljit K. Chawla, a pediatrician in training at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, said she became curious about the potential for shea butter to trigger nut allergies while researching the safety of baby products.
"I was looking up baby products and realized that many of the 'natural' or 'organic' products contained shea butter, including wipes, diaper creams, baby lotion and nipple cream for breastfeeding mothers. I saw that the FDA listed shea nut as something to avoid if you are allergic to tree nuts," Chawla said. "But shea nut is in everything. How is it possible to avoid it?"
Shea nuts are mostly fat, but Chawla and her colleagues decided to see if they could extract any proteins from the nuts and whether those shea proteins would provoke an immune response.
Even trace amounts of nut proteins can still pose problems for people susceptible to the substances, so Chawla's group tested the ability of shea protein to trigger an immune reaction. Using blood taken from several volunteers with known allergies to nuts, the researchers found that the principle immune molecule that would usually invoke an allergic response, immunoglobulin E, barely bound to the shea protein.
In other words, Chawla said, although shea nut in theory could be an allergy trigger, the evidence from her study suggests it is not. At least the immune system does not appear to recognize it as a nut protein.
What's more, since Americans typically do not eat shea butter — it can be an ingredient in European chocolates — the risk is likely even smaller, Chawla added.
The researchers reported their findings as a letter to the editor in the latest issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
For full story, pleases see: http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE6BL4SP20101222

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  • Vegetable Ivory: New business creates products from rainforest tagua trees

Source: www.naplesnews.com (USA), 6 January 2011

Ken and Mako Friedenberg have been in the Naples area (Florida, USA) for only a few months, but already the husband and wife team have found a following. Customers are drawn to their jewellery, watches, coat racks, accessories, home décor, collectible figurines and other products because they like the designs. Some customers have become regulars because the Friedenbergs’ product is earth-friendly, animal-friendly and sustainable non-petroleum.
Their company is called La Tagua. It comes to Southwest Florida by way of the Amazon rainforest. While many products from the Amazon previously have come under fire for being destructive, La Tagua has the opposite effect, they say.
“Our product falls off the tagua trees (in the Amazon) naturally, so there is no damage to the natural resources in harvesting the nuts of the seeds, which are the size of hen eggs,” said Ken Friedenberg. “The raw materials we use are from the rainforest and we wanted to be closer to our natural resources, which made Southwest Florida a desirable place for us to live.”
A full-grown tagua tree can grow to 65 ft and yield enormous, knobby wooden fruits. When cracked open, the fruit reveals several hen-egg sized tagua nuts, which are seeds of the tree. Tagua seeds can grow into seedlings or be carved into vegetable ivory products. In the small South American communities where they grow, tagua provides a valuable economic and cultural service for indigenous people, allowing them to exist in their traditional lifestyles.
La Tagua products closely resemble ivory, but are far less expensive than ivory and do not affect the environment negatively.
“Tagua is often referred to as vegetable ivory, but I like to call it Amazon palm ivory,” says Ken Friedenburg. Tagua vegetable ivory is virtually indistinguishable from animal-based ivory. Environmentalists, who often do not like to use petroleum-based products (plastic) or anything made from ivory, are some of the Friedenbergs’ best customers.
For full story, please see: www.naplesnews.com/news/2011/jan/06/amazon-rainforest-tagua-tree-Friedenberg-flamingo/

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  • Wildlife: Gorillas on the line

Source: G-Magazine (Australia), 10 January 2011

Each and every time your mobile phone rings, a mineral ore called coltan enables the call to be made. Coltan, which coats the tiny capacitor inside most mobile phones, is mined in central Africa with devastating flow-on effects: the deforestation of primate habitat and butchering of animals to the point of endangering species.
Eighty percent of the world's reserves of coltan are found in the Congo. This same region is home to the mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) and Grauer's gorilla (Gorilla beringei grauer — formerly known as the eastern lowland gorilla). As mining operations expand to meet escalating global demand for coltan — clearing the country's lush forest — the habitat of these gorillas and at least ten other primate species is being destroyed, and with it their food sources. In addition to these threats to their survival, the increased human population in mining areas has led to these primates being hunted for bushmeat.
UNEP reported a 90 percent decline in the number of Grauer's gorillas in eight national parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) between 1996 and 2001. The IUCN classifies mountain and Grauer's gorillas as endangered and estimates their respective populations as being 680 and 16 900 individuals.
Andrea Edwards, formerly a primate keeper at Melbourne Zoo, has spent the last 18 months in the Congo as the co-manager of the Lwiro Primate Rehabilitation Centre. She and 29 local Congolese staff have over 100 chimpanzees and monkeys in their care. Some have been orphaned; many are injured. Every animal has reached the sanctuary because they have been caught up in the bushmeat trade or the mining of coltan, gold and diamonds.
Edwards reports animals that come to the rehabilitation centre are presenting with hepatitis, measles and common colds, which can be life-threatening, as their immune systems are not equipped to deal with human diseases.
And it is not only the animals that are suffering; communities are being plundered. UN Security Council reports have implicated illegal mining and smuggling of coltan in funding the military occupation of the DRC. Much of the ore is being smuggled over the eastern borders of the country by militias to Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, fuelling conflict in the DRC, while prisoners-of-war and children are often forced to work in the illegal mines. The Democratic Republic of the Congo Permanent Mission to the United Nations (DRCPMUN) reported that the Rwandan army had made an estimated US$250 million over a period of 18 months from the sale of coltan, though no coltan is mined in Rwanda.
Miners working for legal operations are paid well in comparison with workers elsewhere in the DRC. According to the DRCPMUN, the average Congolese worker makes US$10 a month, while a coltan miner can make anywhere from US$10 to US$50 a week.
If manufacturers of mobile phones and other electronics were to buy coltan only from legally mined sources it would stamp out illegal trade; however, this is easier said than done. Edwards explains that, while certified coltan can be sourced, most of it has originated in the Congo and been shipped to another country like Rwanda, where it is certified before being sold, making it very difficult to track its origins.
Recycling coltan is a proven way to reduce demand for the ore and reduce the destructive consequences of illegal mining. Melbourne Zoo, in conjunction with the Jane Goodall Institute, has launched the “They're Calling You” campaign, encouraging Australians to donate their old phones. So far the campaign has raised US$50 000, with 50 percent going to the Jane Goodall Institute and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.
Mobile phones, however, are only one of many electronic devices containing coltan. According to the AMTA, tantalum capacitors are critical components in computer motherboards, computer disc drives, video camcorders and engine control units and are used right across the electronics, chemical and defence industries.
For full story, please see: www.gmagazine.com.au/features/2382/gorillas-line

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  • Wildlife: The best hope for apes is the best hope for us, say primatologists

Source: www.mongabay.com, 15 December 2010

Distinguished conservation luminaries, eminent primate experts, ape-suited bucket wielders, a group of African drummers and nearly 1 500 people gathered in London last week for an evening of talks to shine the spotlight on the plight of apes and the forests in which they live, sending a strong message to the climate negotiators hammering out a REDD+ mechanism in Cancun.
Hosted by conservation heavyweight Sir David Attenborough, “Hope 4 Apes” was something of a reunion of the first “Hope 4 Apes” event that took place ten years ago to raise awareness of — and funding for — ape conservation.
While primates are still faced with the old problems of habitat loss and poaching that concerned conservationists a decade ago, these are now set within a new context of the wider threat of climate change, as “Ape Alliance” chairman Ian Redmond OBE points out. “You can have the best anti-poaching patrols, the best protected areas and the best ecotourism around apes, but if it stops raining the forests will die and the apes are dead. And so climate change, and the things we do to stop climate change, are what we now have to highlight.”
The importance of apes is undeniable; they play a critical role in regenerating the forests in which they live, and upon which we depend. 1.6 billion people rely directly on forest resources, while all life on Earth benefits from the ecosystem services provided by forest ecosystems. Tropical and sub-tropical forests house over half of all species on Earth and act as critical carbon sinks, absorbing one fifth of man-made greenhouse gases each year. These forests are dependent on fruit-eating animals such as primates to regenerate the seeds of as many as 95 percent of tropical tree species.
Palm oil was the other prevailing theme of the evening. Orangutan expert Dr Birute Galdikas pleaded with the audience to check ingredients of the products they buy in the supermarket. Palm oil is not only a problem for Orangutans, but also for gibbons, the so-called lesser apes. Aurélien Brulé, or “Chanee” (Thai for gibbon) as he has become known, talked of how the industry is threatening the “forgotten apes” often left out of conservation discussions in favour of the better-known great apes: gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans.
Disease and the illegal pet trade are also grave threats to gibbons, yet Brulé is refreshingly optimistic; he spoke of the many new research initiatives and conservation projects that are springing up in support of gibbons as well as the increasing public awareness of them.
For full story, please see: http://news.mongabay.com/2010/1215-moses_primates.html

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  • Wildlife: Orphaned gorillas find a safe haven

Source: CNN International, 17 December 2010

In a remote, rural area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has opened the country's first rehabilitation centre for Grauer's gorillas. Called GRACE (Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education), the centre's goal is to teach orphaned gorillas how to survive in the wild as a new, self-sufficient "family," with the longer-term goal to release them into a natural habitat in a neighbouring forest in the Congo Basin.
These young gorillas are physically and emotionally fragile, most having suffered from extremely traumatic conditions and experiences. Many have been violently taken from the forest by poachers, intent on selling them either as bushmeat or for the animal trafficking trade.
The pioneering young orphans were airlifted to GRACE by a helicopter donated by MONUC, the United Nations peacekeeping force in the DRC — a first for a UN mission. Travelling by road would have been almost impossible due to poor infrastructure and potential trauma to the animals.
Mapendo, Amani, Kighoma and Ndjingala were all originally snatched from the forest and their families by poachers. They are all Grauer's gorillas, a subspecies related to the Mountain gorilla, but live exclusively in eastern DRC.
Sandy Jones is the confiscated gorilla rehabilitation manager for the Dian Fossey Fund and now the manager of GRACE. "All of the gorilla species are endangered because Congo is so unexplored they have not done a real census on how many Grauer's gorillas there are," she says. "But at the rate at which we know they are being killed and the forest is being destroyed we are really concerned that if things are not stopped and changed now they can be wiped out very soon."
The GRACE centre is the first facility of its kind in east Central Africa. It has room for up to 30 young gorillas to live in species-typical groups and roam through 350 acres of natural habitat.
For full story, please see: http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/africa/12/17/grace.gorillas.congo/

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COUNTRY INFORMATION

  • Bolivia: Environmental services payments to conserve forests

Source: Eco-Index Monthly Newsletter, 4 January 2011

Although Bolivia is one of the countries with the most water per capita in the world, water distribution is not uniform and many regions suffer from water shortages, which lead to serious conflicts that affect agricultural production in communities that are located in the lower watershed. Many blame water scarcity on deforestation in the upper watershed. Because of a lack of policies that give local and national government a mandate to protect water resources, it has not been possible to develop effective measures to stop the improper use of forest resources and guarantee the water supply for farming families that depend on water to produce their goods.
In around 2004, organizations in the communities of Valles, located in the Grande River upper watershed of the department of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, turned to Fundación Natura Bolivia to help resolve their water supply problems. Their goal was to reach consensus among stakeholders to accept and understand the water scarcity crisis, understand the relationship between forests and water, and to understand why rivers are drying up and to determine possible economic implications.
Fundación Natura gathered extensive socio-economic information. In the case of Los Negros watershed, the need to determine the appropriate remuneration for the opportunity cost of not cutting the forest for agriculture was expressed during negotiations between the upstream and downstream communities. For this reason, Fundación Natura Bolivia implemented a reciprocal water use agreement that promotes mutual understanding between stakeholders about the sustainable management and conservation of cloud forests, which provide a range of environmental services that benefit society and that also forms a level of trust between communities in the upper and lower watersheds to work together to conserve the forests, protect water sources and aspects that are essential to the region’s agricultural productivity.
Efforts were made to change the behaviour of local residents along the watershed line to create integrated sustainable management and protection systems for the cloud forest in the upper watershed and encourage them to become water producers and to mitigate the floods that are recurrent during the rainy season. The change in attitude was possible through education, training, and participatory analyses that supported Natura's basic hydrological, biological, and socio-economic studies. Once this information was disseminated, discussed, and understood by stakeholders, negotiations began to determine the individual contributions needed to ensure resource sustainability.
From Fundación Natura’s experience, it became clear that local farmers will embrace a development and conservation project when it produces a direct economic benefit, when their friends and colleagues are interested in it, and when they trust the project managers. Building trust in Bolivia is not achieved through costly scientific studies and consultancies, but rather from long-term contracts, discussion, and negotiations with participants.
Fundación Natura’s efforts are slowly demonstrating results; each year more families join the Organization’s efforts and the number of acres conserved increases. They have established a socially accepted environmental services fee as a way to demonstrate locals’ responsibility in the protection of forests and the environmental services that are vital for community development.
For more information, please see: http://eco-index.org/search/results.cfm?projectID=1087

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  • Bolivia: With sugar short, country looks to honey, stevia

Source: The Associated Press in Bloomberg News, 22 December 2010

Sugar is short in Bolivia, so President Evo Morales is urging the country to look elsewhere for its sweets. Morales says the government is encouraging production of honey and stevia (Stevia rebaudiana), and says officials will handle selling and exporting it.
Morales said at a news conference Wednesday that "capitalism has left us a food crisis," though his communist ally Cuba has just produced its worst sugar harvest in more than a century. Morales also says the government will build a sugar mill to help overcome the shortage, which is allegedly one of the factors feeding inflation in the South American country.
For full story, please see: www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-22/with-sugar-short-bolivia-looks-to-honey-stevia.html

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  • Bolivia: Strengthening the organizational capabilities of indigenous communities in natural resources management and conservation

Source: Eco Index Monthly Update, 4 January 2010

http://maps.gstatic.com/intl/en_ALL/mapfiles/mapcontrols2.pngThe Wildlife Conservation Society-Bolivia (WCS-Bolivia) and the Tacana Indigenous Council (CIPTA-Consejo Indígena del Pueblo Tacana) joined forces in carrying out a project to strengthen the organizational capabilities of CIPTA and its communities to advance the sustainable conservation of natural resources, promote equity between men and women, and appreciation of the Tacana culture.
Several community initiatives were carried out as part of this project, e.g.: (1) weaving with cotton, jipipapa palm, and miti mora root, carried out by the Buena Vista Organization of Female Crafts makers; (2) establishing criollo cacao nurseries in Tumupasa by the Cacao Grower’s Association in the Tumupasa community; and (3) developing ethno-ecotourism in the Macahua community.
Regulations within and outside the community for the use of natural resources, internal zoning, and the practical experiences in the design and implementation of sustainable management projects were key factors in designing a natural resource management strategy that promoted production alternatives that are compatible with sustainable management in the Tacana territory. This strategy permitted the consolidation of the eastern border of Madidi National Park and the Madidi Managed Natural Area, with a proposal for the rational use of the territory's land, biodiversity and natural resources.
So far, the project has successfully: (a) designed a methodology to develop regulations for natural resource use at the community level and training on how to design resource management projects for communities and resource users; (b) developed a methodology to facilitate the creation of communal regulations and project design for groups of natural resource users; (c) trained five people in the application of the methodology, which has ensured that the Tacana Indigenous Council will have trained staff to continue these types of activities after the project has ended; (d) published two educational brochures to reinforce the training workshops in the communities and visited 20 communities of the Tacana ancestral community lands to provide training in the formulation of community regulations and projects; (e) supplied radio equipment to three Tacana communities; and (f) purchased a locally-made boat and outboard motor in the community workshops.
http://eco-index.org/search/results.cfm?projectID=695

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  • Brazil: Biopiracy crackdown results in US$59M in fines for companies

Source: Reuters in www.mongabay.com, 31 December 2010

The Brazilian government is stepping up anti-"biopiracy" measures and imposing substantial fines on companies which make use of rare plants or animals without giving adequate compensation to Brazil or its indigenous communities.
Brazil's unique species have been exploited for centuries by businesses which often make fortunes while overlooking local communities. For instance, the slime from Kambo frogs, found in the Amazon state of Acre, has been used by pharmaceutical companies to develop anti-inflammatory drugs without granting Acre residents any of the profits. In the 1960s, the hypertension medication Captopril was developed by the US drug company Squibb (now Bristol-Myers Squibb) using the venom of the Brazilian viper (Bothrops jararaca). The venom causes a sudden, massive drop in blood pressure and was used by Indigenous populations on their arrowheads. It should be noted that actual snake venom and frog slime are not used in the manufacturing of these drugs.
Brazil's anti-biopiracy initiative began in 2001 with a ruling creating the current laws which control species use. The government will expand the program with a project called "Operation New Direction", which may hike up fines to US$29 million with a possible loss of patents for companies found to be using species which they have not registered.
"Given that (fighting biopiracy) is a new process and that Brazil has one of the biggest reserves of biodiversity in the world, I think most of this activity is illegal, and we are going to find those people," Bruno Barbosa, of the environmental oversight agency Ibama, told Reuters.
One of the largest fines imposed so far has been on the cosmetics company, Natura. The Brazilian company was fined US$12.4 million for allegedly including unregistered genetic material in its products. Natura denies any wrongdoing and is appealing the fine.
"The company will appeal all of the legal actions, because it is sure it complied with the fundamental principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity," Natura said in a statement. "Natura has been a pioneer in Brazil in reaching agreements to share benefits with traditional communities."
Critics say that the anti-biopiracy measures often make it impossible to ship samples abroad for medical analysis which could provide benefits for all. Zoological research can also be hindered, inciting skepticism that the rules are applied too generally.
"The current law is very vague on a lot of points, it ends up classifying everybody as illegitimate," Raul Telles do Valle who works with ISA, a think tank on social and environmental issues, told Reuters. "Just passing out fines under the existing framework is not going to solve the problem." He believes that the measures should be more concerned with determining how to compensate local populations from collective knowledge passed down over generations.
However, Barbosa maintains that the fight against biopiracy is important to preserving sensitive environments and promoting fair profit distribution. "This is going to enable concrete alternatives that substitute destruction of the ecosystem for new economic mechanisms," he told Reuters.
For full story, please see:
http://news.mongabay.com/2010/1230-morgan_biopiracy_brazil.html

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  • Brunei Darussalam: Cultivating Gaharu (Agarwood) trees to prevent their extinction

Source: Brunei Times, 29 December 2010

Importing and cultivating gaharu trees (Aquilaria sp.)will prevent them from extinction. The demand in agarwood-made products has resulted in the depletion of wild gaharu trees and they are now considered to be endangered, said Acting Director of Malaysia's Oud Agarwood Enterprise Mohd Ruslan Osman. Developing cultivated species of the gaharu, which is protected in Brunei, will prevent wild trees from being harmed, he told The Brunei Times.
Mohd Ruslan was speaking at the Mukim Tanjong Maya Local Products Festival on Monday, which saw the launch of the Aquilaria subintegra species imported from Malaysia. The imported species promises more yield of resin in a shorter time to help increase productivity of the gaharu industry in Mukim Tanjong Maya.
He explained that resin is what makes the gaharu tree valuable because the valuable gaharu oil is extracted from the resin. Sometimes people illegally chop down wild trees and find out there is no resin, Mohd Ruslan said.
"This is wasteful and it is a loss because wild trees can take decades to grow," Mohd Ruslan said.
He explained that cultivated trees are guaranteed to contain resin because they are injected with a vaccine that stimulates resin production. Therefore, with cultivated trees, there will be no unnecessary wasteful cutting of the trees. Furthermore, the harvesting of resin from cultivated trees happens in phases, slowing down the depletion of trees, Mohd Ruslan said.
Although the cultivated trees will eventually die off as more parts of it are chopped off to extract resin, the trees will be replaced, Mohd Ruslan said. Cultivated trees take less time to mature, from about five to seven years, unlike the wild trees.
He said that Oud Agarwood Enterprise in working together with the Mukim Tanjong Maya Consultative Council to educate Tanjong Maya residents interested in the gaharu business on proper methods of cultivating the plants through workshops and consultation.
For full story, please see: http://brudirect.com/index.php/2010122936190/Local-News/cultivating-gaharu-trees-to-prevent-its-extinction.html

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  • Brunei Darussalam: Promoting agarwood and other non-wood-based trade

Source: Brunei Times, 3 January 2011

The Government’s Forestry Department is aiming to strengthen the non-wood-based industries of the Sultanate this year.
In an interview with The Brunei Times, Director of Forestry Hj Saidin Salleh said that his Department would continue to promote and encourage local entrepreneurs to venture into sustainable activities such as nature tourism, ecotourism and biotechnology, including production of agarwood (Aquilaria sp.), or gaharu.
The Department was created to conserve, manage and develop forest resources for the social, economic and environmental benefits of the country through sustainable forest management."In the past we managed to create sustainable wood-based industrial activities; many of these industries still survive to this day. They have been operating for more than 80 years now" he said.
The official noted that towards late 2010 the community began to see the potential and the economic importance of forest trees like the gaharu tree. Huge profits are possible from the gaharu's fragrant oil extract. For example, Gaharu extract which can be made into various products such as lotions, perfume oil and soap, is an industry generating US$1.2 billion in Singapore. Its leaves can also be made into green tea.
Due to their economic significance, the trees are often chopped down and stolen for their valuable resin. The official said that the Department was "eager in leading the way to promote gaharu", adding that emphasis would not only be given to the economic activities for this year but would also focus on enforcement activities, which at the moment was only at 11 percent capability.
For full story, please see: http://brudirect.com/index.php/2011010236401/Local-News/promote-non-wood-based-trade.html

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  • China's pandas need old forests to thrive: study

Source: Reuters, 12 January 2011

China's giant pandas need not only bamboo, but also ancient forests to thrive in the wild, a study in western China has found.
The Chinese researchers hunted for panda grounds in forests in Sichuan province and marked out 1 116 habitats after finding the animals' faeces and foraging sites. They analyzed common traits in these habitats and found that they were mostly located in forests that were at least 100 years old.
"Previously, we thought slope was a very important factor, but from this study, forest age emerged as the most important reason, as important as the presence of bamboo," said Fuwen Wei, Deputy Director of the Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.
Wei and colleagues, who published their findings in The Royal Society journal Biology on Wednesday, believe pandas use large trees as "maternity dens". "Old forests offer many maternity dens which are necessary for panda reproduction. Where big trees are felled, there are no more maternity dens," Wei said in a telephone interview.
A 2004 census by the Worldwide Fund for Nature revealed there were 1 600 pandas in the wild. Considered a national treasure, the panda is seen as having come back from the brink of extinction while remaining under threat from logging, agriculture and China's increasing human population.
http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKLDE70A1KP20110112

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  • Ghana: Business software helps rural women in shea butter industries

Source: www.winshuttle.com, 16 December 2010

Since last year, SAP data management software (a business computer software) has been used in an initiative designed to help improve living conditions and incomes for women in rural Ghana. A recent case study report issued by Stanford University indicates the project has met many of its targets.
The project, a collaboration between SAP and international non-profit PlaNet Finance, employs micro-financing in order to assist women working in the shea nut harvesting and shea butter industries.
The Stanford University case study found the Ghanaian women’s income from their work increased between 59 and 82 percent. In addition, the study observed a stronger sense of belonging, improvement in transferable business management skills and higher quality of product output.
The initiative employs SAP data management software to manage and process orders. SAP Rural Market Connection fosters greater traceability and transparency and enables buyers to interact directly with producers.
www.winshuttle.com/news/sap-sustainability-news/sap-software-helps-rural-women-in-ghana-11203

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  • Kenyan herbal plant among new species under study in 2010

Source: The Nation (Kenya), 20 December 2010

A Kenyan plant that grows in the Aberdares Mountains has found its way in the 2010 plant discovery highlights. The plant commonly known as “Osigawai” in the local Maasai language or by its biological name, Medicinal aubergine (Solanum phoxocarpum,) was under study by a group of botanical scientists in London.
It is described as a shrub or small tree that grows at high altitudes in Kenyan and Tanzanian mountains and can grow up to 6m tall, and has unusual long, yellow, pointed fruits and mauve flowers.
The plant was discussed and recognized as a new species by Kew botanist Dr Maria Vorontsova during an expedition to Kenya’s Aberdare mountainous cloud forests in April 2009.
These “discoveries” however do not appear to give credit to residents — in Kenya’s case, the Maasai — who most probably made the original discovery centuries earlier.
Osigawai, for example, is used medicinally by local people, but Kew scientists say it may be poisonous. The scientists are part of the Royal Botanic Gardens which is a scientific institution with collections of living and preserved plants, of plant products and botanical information.
Other uses of the plant include as a hedge (recorded in 1939) and as a fruit (recorded in 1965). The roots are boiled in water and the liquid mixed with a broth and taken as a remedy for gonorrhoea. The ripe dry fruits can also be roasted and then ground to a powder, and mixed with butter to give to infants.
It is possible that the Maasai know its existence and have probably used it for medicinal purposes. However, nobody knows what kinds of animals eat the fruits of the osigawai plant.
The plant is amongst others described by scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London during their botanical studies. Other plants recognized by the group of scientists include a plant whose genome is 50 times the size of the human genome — so large that if this line of genetic code was to be stretched out, it would be taller than the tower of Big Ben in London. Known as Paris japonica, scientists warn that plants with such large genomes may be at greater risk of extinction as biologists believe they are less able to adapt to environmental changes.
The research team also discovered a new tropical mistletoe plant known as Helixanthera schizocalyx, and identified it as a new plant in science. Butterfly specialist, Colin Congdon, spotted the mistletoe in the dense foliage near the summit of Mount Mabu. Mistletoes are “hemi-parasitic”, meaning they take some of the nutrients they need from other plants.
For full story, please see: www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/1076000/-/11gl92az/-/

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  • Peru: New species abound, but so do threats

Source: AFP, 27 December 2010

Each year, a new bird is found and every four years a new mammal discovered in the Peruvian Amazon, a haven for biodiversity where conservation and danger often go hand in hand.
Although Peru is known for its Andes mountain range, the Amazon actually covers 60 percent of the country's territory. It is a hotbed of bio-activity and is home to 25 000 species of plants — 10 percent of the world's stock.
Thanks to the Amazon, Peru has the world's second-largest bird population (1 800 species) and is among the top five countries for mammals (515 species) and reptiles (418 species).
This year alone, scientists stumbled upon a previously unknown leech and a new type of mosquito.
The animal population has grown in recent years, adding a mini poison dart frog with a fire-red head and blue legs (Ranitomeya amazonica), a purple-throated Sunangel hummingbird (Heliangelus viola) and a "tyrannosaurus leech" with eight teeth (Tyrannobdella reina).
More than 1 200 new species of plants or animals have been discovered in 10 years in the Amazon, according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature. But paradoxically, the novel species are often discovered during the very activities that threaten the Amazon the most. "Most of these discoveries do not happen during scientific expeditions, which are often costly. They most often come when workers are digging exploration sites for oil, mining or lumber companies," said WWF Peru's Amazon program director Michael Valqui. "This type of discovery is also simultaneously endangering the species that is being discovered in its one and only habitat."
Peru, home to one of the biggest forest lands — 700 000 km² — is also a magnet for resource extraction. The number of concessions granted has doubled since 2006 to cover 16 percent of the territory, according to the Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Latin America.
At the same time, Peru boasts of being on the cutting edge of conservation, with 15 percent of its territory under protected status. "And we are aiming for 30 percent," said Environment Minister Antonio Brack.
Environmentalists, though, worry about the future of biodiversity and the species living outside these protected zones. "There are no clear signals as to what the country intends to do to protect biodiversity," said Ivan Lanegra, representative of the influential government-funded Peruvian ombudsman office. Gerard Herail of France's IRD research and development institute (Institut de recherché pour le developpment) in Lima noted that "a mining or hydrocarbons firm is not innately destructive. The key is whether or not it is 'clean'," or uses cleaner methods and technologies.
More species are disappearing than are being discovered around the world, noted Ernesto Raez, who heads the Sustainable Development Center at Cayetano Heredia University in Lima. "In other words, species are disappearing before we discover them," he added.
Twenty-one species remain in "critical danger" of extinction in Peru, according to 2004 numbers, including the short-tailed chinchilla (Chinchilla brevicaudata) and the sharp-eared bat (Tompoeas ravus). The leaf-eared mouse (Phyllotis andinum) is believed to have already disappeared.
For full story, please see: www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g_3zOtgQRjjeXOrm-Ds2PlylB39Q?docId=CNG.081ed8ef951580bf2ea69716935b211d.441

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  • Somalia fosters trade in frankincense and myrrh

Source: www.globalpost.com, 25 December 2010

In the mist forests of the Golis Mountains in northern Somalia, stumpy trees grow as if anchored to the mountainside by some unknown force. From the hand-slashed bark of these stubborn, spiky trees leak droplets of a gum that hardens into a chewy resin. These aromatic gums are the biblical frankincense and myrrh. Harvested and dried, they have been highly valued trade items for thousands of years. The gums are simply processed and exported. They look like dirty little stones, and they find their way out of Somalia's wild north and into European perfumes, Christian churches, Arabian households and Chinese medicines.
Myrrh is extracted from the Commiphora myrrha tree that grows on the lower slopes. Frankincense comes from the Boswellia carteri tree that grows at higher altitudes. Both are used in herbal medicines, essential oils and perfume, not to mention religious ceremonies.
Lesser known in the Western world is "maidi" a type of frankincense that is extracted from the Boswellia frereana tree and is popular in the Arab world as a naturally scented chewing gum. This high quality gum — pure white in colour — is sought after and sells for US$12/kg, six times the price of the best inedible frankincense.
Somaliland is the northern territory of Somalia that functions largely independent from the war-torn south, although it is not officially recognized as an autonomous country. The production and trade in the aromatic gums of frankincense and myrrh is an important economic activity for Somaliland.
Guelleh Osman Guelleh, general manager of Beyomol Natural Gums in Hargeisa, told GlobalPost that he exports 330 000 pounds of frankincense and myrrh every year. Much of his product is distilled abroad for use in perfumes. “The main market for us is in southern France, in Grasse; 90 percent of what we sell goes there to be used in perfumes,” said Guelleh who studied in the United Kingdom before returning to Somaliland in 1999 to set up his gum exporting business.
The only processing done in Somaliland itself is sorting and grading the gums according to size and colour but Guelleh hopes that will change, one day. “It is a technical issue because it is not a simple process to distil for the perfumery industry. You need to show reliability of quality and consistency of supply; you need to be able to process the same way the French do,” he said.
Nevertheless, exporting the unrefined gums alone is a profitable enterprise earning Guelleh up to US$60 000 a year. Overall Somaliland's economy is estimated to be worth US$50 million, of which 95 percent is exports of livestock.
Other regions where frankincense and myrrh are produced include parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and the Arab peninsula.
For full story, please see: www.globalpost.com/dispatch/africa/101021/somalia-somaliland-trade-frankincense-myrrh

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  • Sudan: Southern Sudan's wildlife treasure

Source: Steve Sanderson, CEO, Wildlife Conservation Society in CNN, 9 January 2011

This Sunday, more than three million people in Southern Sudan are expected to vote in a referendum to create a nation in Eastern Africa. As they do, there is a historic opportunity, perhaps unprecedented, for wildlife conservation, sustainable natural resource management and environmentally friendly ecotourism to be integrated into the nation-building process.
Land-use issues loom large in the election. Vast oil deposits in Southern Sudan account for roughly 98 percent of the region's revenues and will come under the south's management if it becomes a separate country. The White Nile flows through Southern Sudan toward Khartoum, adding water to the region's resource issues.
The hidden jewel in this unique landscape is its stunning wildlife. Before civil war broke out in 1983, Southern Sudan boasted some of the most spectacular and important wildlife populations in Africa and the world's second-largest wildlife migration of some 1.3 million antelope. Large populations of buffalo, antelope, elephants and chimpanzees were neglected and presumed lost during the two-decade war.
At the request of the provisional government of Southern Sudan, the Wildlife Conservation Society surveyed the country for wildlife in 2007, thanks to funding from USAID and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The magnificent antelope migration and vast tracts of savannas, wetlands and woodlands remained largely intact.
The Government's task now is to establish conservation and sustainable natural resource management as part of the region's development strategy. The case for conservation is clear: The protection of parkland and wildlife must be a rallying point for Southern Sudan. Animal migrations, along with pristine savannah and wetland habitat, could become one of the greatest tourism attractions in Africa and a key component of Southern Sudan's growth and economic security.
Local communities live off the land and depend upon its management for their livelihoods. Integrating conservation in land-use planning offers hope to those most in need.
A sound conservation and resource management agenda will secure centuries-old wildlife migrations, along with great savannas and wetlands, for all humankind. Just as important, it will enable the people and government of Southern Sudan to move toward a free and stable democratic nation.
http://edition.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/01/08/sanderson.sudan.wildlife/

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  • Switzerland looks forward to Year of Forests

Source: www.swissinfo.ch, 6 January 2011

Almost a third of Swiss territory is covered by forest. These forests act as protection against natural hazards for settlements, the transport network and power lines. They are home to some 26 000 species of plants, animals and fungi, about half Switzerland’s flora and fauna. They are a popular recreational area and also play an important role in reducing climate warming by binding CO2 and filtering rain water, helping to make it fit to drink.
“Swiss law ensures that its forests are exploited in a natural and sustainable way, so that future generations can also benefit from what it has to offer,” says the new website launched by Switzerland in honour of the International Year of Forests.
Andreas Götz, Deputy Director of the Environment Office, said Switzerland could “present itself as an international model” since its laws have for many years encouraged sustainability while keeping the forests as natural as possible.
The new web site, launched by the Swiss Environment Office, describes different ways in which forests are important (www.wald2011.ch).
www.swissinfo.ch/eng/news_digest/Swiss_look_forward_to_Year_of_Forests.html?cid=29181770

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  • Uganda: Biodiversity projects start to benefit rural women

Source: Women’s E-news, December 2010

When Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, a Ugandan wildlife veterinarian, investigated the source of scabies outbreaks in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda a few years ago, she did not just study humans. She also studied gorillas.
It turned out that water scarcity had created unhygienic conditions for the local people, who live far from water, with little chance to launder their clothes. They would leave dirty, scabies-infested clothes in the fields and gorillas would pick them up, play with them, and infect themselves.
Kalema-Zikusoka, founder of “Conservation Through Public Health”, a Kampala-based gorilla research and advocacy group that puts human social needs at the centre of biological conservation, first enlisted park employees and local health officials to improve sanitation and waste disposal. She sought treatment of numerous maladies — scabies, tuberculosis and dysentery — through mobile rural health clinics and community-based workers, including traditional healers. This helped protect the gorillas from becoming re-infected.
The project also promoted income-generating livestock-breeding activities, which helped lower local resentment of environmentalists as people who cared more about animals than people.
Today, with healthy human and gorilla populations, the park is now open for gorilla tourism, which brings income to help run schools, clinics and maintain roads. To date, over 1 500 rural residents have received counselling on health and family planning via home visits, according to Conservation Through Public Health’s web site.
Kathleen Mogelgaard is senior advisor on population, gender and climate at Population Action International, a Washington-based advocacy group. In an era of climate change, Mogelgaard said it makes sense to work on three issues — population, health and environment — at the same time. It "offers a lot of potential to make people less vulnerable," she said in a recent phone interview.
The approach also can benefit the maternal health of women in remote areas. Such women often fall off the map of large-scale public-health planning, which prioritizes large population centres where funding can benefit the greatest numbers. "It does not make cost-effective sense to them to capture 100 family planning users when you could capture 20 000," said Linda Bruce in a recent interview. Bruce directs a five-year development-policy project on improving biodiversity along with human health at the Coastal Resources Centre, part of the University of Rhode Island.
Cara Honzak is senior program officer for population, health and environment at the World Wildlife Fund-US. She co-authored a WWF manual on designing population-health-environment programs, or PHE as the tri-pod issues are known in development policy lingo.          Honzak says PHE linkages can be mainly conceptual. Conservationists and health workers, for example, may simply endeavour to understand each others' overlapping work and goals. The linkages can also be as small and concrete as health workers sharing a boat or small plane to reach an under-served population in a remote area. Or, like the scabies project at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the approaches may be critically linked.
"Integration has not been in fashion for many years," says Terri Lukas, PHE Program Manager at the WWF-US.
Lukas said development workers in the early 1980s used an integrated approach in agricultural and health, but it fell into disuse when lawmakers' questions about quantifiable results were hard to answer in a vacuum of measurable data. Funding drifted towards single-sector projects, whose results are easier to measure.
For full story, please see: www.womensradio.com/articles/Biodiversity-Projects-Start-to-Benefit-Rural-Women/7929.html

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  • USA: Food foragers find fun and cash amid the wild fungi

Source: USA Today, 12 January 2011

Hunting may get more attention as a primal human endeavor, but for Connie Green, there is something even deeper and older: gathering.
"I think it triggers something in people's brains that we are hard-wired for," she says. It "involves the joy of finding food, and it is really quite beyond our control in some way."
Green is a professional forager. She makes her living gathering wild foods in the woods and selling them to chefs, stores and the occasional very lucky person. Her tramps through Northern California yield delicacies such as mushrooms, ferns, elderflowers, salad greens, juniper berries and rose hips. Some, especially some of the mushrooms, can go for hundreds of dollars a pound.
To share the thrill of that hunt — and a taste of the thrill — Green and chef Sarah Scott have written The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes.
For more information, please see:
www.usatoday.com/yourlife/food/2011-01-12-Mushrooms12_ST_N.htm?csp=34news

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  • USA: Leaked document exposes risks to bees and insects from pesticide

Source: The Ecologist, 3 January 2011

Biotech giant Bayer CropScience is seeking approval for a neonicotinoid pesticide whose use poses a potential “long-term toxic risk” to honeybees and an “acute and chronic risk” to freshwater invertebrates, according to a leaked document from the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA).
Neonicotinoid pesticides are a comparatively new group of synthetic chemicals used as a coating for agricultural seeds and in pot plants. The chemicals spread throughout the plant and into the nectar and pollen to kill insects attacking the plant. Bayer is seeking approval from the EPA to allow the use of the neonicotinoid Clothianidin, an insecticide, on cotton and mustard seeds.
Campaign groups including the Soil Association and Buglife claim the use of neonicotinoids on crops expose insects to levels of the chemical that is enough to weaken their immune system and in the case of bees, affect their ability to forage and breed.
“At the levels people were recording in the field when then applied to bees in a laboratory it had a significant impact on their behaviour,” said Buglife CEO Matt Shardlow. “It is not the same as killing them but enough to stop them foraging and so they will die out.”
Although not recommending a ban, EPA scientists said existing Bayer-funded field studies on the impact on aquatic life, from the leaching of the chemical into the soil, and honey bees were inadequate. They cited an incident in Germany in 2008 where clothianidin, not properly applied to sweetcorn seeds, was allowed to drift off from seed planting equipment killing millions of honeybees.
Bayer rejects EPA and campaigners’ fears and say only those insects biting into the plant and trying to destroy it would be adversely affect. “Bees drink the nectar and pollen but the levels they are exposed to are extremely tiny and well within safety limits,” said spokesperson Dr Julian Little. Aquatic life would also be unaffected, he said, as only a small amount of the chemical could come off the surface of the seed once it had been applied and therefore the amount of leaching would be minimal.
A number of campaign groups, including Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and Buglife said they would now be putting renewed pressure on government agencies in the US and Europe to ban neonicotinoids in 2011. “The tide is turning against these chemicals but the decision-makers appear reluctant to step in,” said Shardlow.
For full story, please see:
www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/708990/leaked_document_exposes_risks_to_bees_and_insects_from_bayer_pesticide.html

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  • USA: Bumblebees experiencing serious declines

Source: ENN, 6 January 2010

Many US bumble bee populations have declined significantly over the past few decades, with certain species dropping off by as much as 96 percent. While the decline is linked to low genetic diversity and disease, an underlying cause remains uncertain.
Scientists from multiple U.S. universities studied eight bumble bee species from across the country for three years, paying special attention to changes in their distributions, genetic diversity, and infection rates. Their report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to comprehensively survey bumble bee populations in the U.S.
Bumble bees are important pollinators worldwide. Many wild ecosystems rely on bumble bees to ferry pollen from one flower to another. Their robust size, long tongues, and buzz-pollination method (high-frequency buzzing which encourages flowers to release their pollen), also make them highly efficient pollinators of crops.
Reports in Europe preceded those in the U.S. Of 19 species of true European bumble bees, three are locally extinct and eight are in serious decline, leaving only four widespread species in the entire region. Habitat loss, climate change, and pathogenic infection are thought to contribute to European declines.
The U.S. team, led by University of Illinois entomologist Sydney Cameron, compiled a database of more than 73 000 museum records and compared them to current population assessments determined through intensive surveys of more than 16 000 specimens at 400 sites. The study was the first national large-scale survey of bumble bee population health and found that four of the eight species studied had declined by as much as 96 percent, and that their ranges had shrunk by 23-87 percent.
For full story, please see: www.enn.com/wildlife/article/42199

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  • Vietnam: Bamboo, rattan suppliers cap prices

Source: Vietnam News Agency, 23 December 2010

Vietnam's bamboo and rattanware suppliers plan to enhance their competitiveness by keeping export prices unchanged over the next six months and focusing on "green" materials sourced from sustainable plantations.
According to the "Vietnam Sourcing Report: Bamboo & Rattanware", 66 percent of interviewed suppliers said they would not change their export price quotations for the next six months, while the remaining planned to keep price hikes to a maximum of 5 percent.
Nearly 90 percent of local suppliers interviewed for the report expected export to increase by at least 10 percent over the next 12 months, the report said.
About 40 percent of suppliers will release new designs with decorative patterns in the coming months as part of efforts to become more competitive, while an equal percentage of local makers will focus on raw materials sourced from sustainable plantations that are managed in an environmentally friendly manner.
"Vietnamese bamboo and rattanware makers have the great advantage of using raw materials from their own plantations, instead of having to rely on imports," said Vu Ngoc Khiem, programme manager of the Kearny Alliance's Developing Country Export Assistance Programme.
The report said half the suppliers would target the EU market.
The local makers featured in the report currently employ over 7 000 workers.
The report was published by the US-based non-profit foundation Kearny Alliance that helps businesses in developing economies.
For full story, please see: http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/Economy/206975/Bamboo-rattan-suppliers-cap-prices.html

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NEWS

  • Biodiversity: Boundless, priceless — and threatened

Source: The Guardian, 1 January 2011

Continental Europe is home to more than 125 000 known species of terrestrial and freshwater animal, and each year another 700 newly described species join the list. That sounds like good news to mark the end of 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity. It may not be. The planet buzzes with life, most of it unidentified and an alarming proportion of it now vulnerable to extinction. That is why the UN has declared 2011 to be both the International Year of Forests and the launch of an International Decade of Biodiversity, with a new intergovernmental panel of expertise.
French researchers pointed out in November that the inventory of European fauna is incomplete and that they cannot begin to guess what the total might be. Yet Europe is where taxonomy and ecology began: from Beijing to Bradford, from Windhoek to Wisconsin,
creatures have formal Latin names because Latin was the scholarly language of the first systematic catalogue of the living world little more than 250 years ago.
Biodiversity is all we have. Living things provide humankind's food, fabric, fibre and pharmaceuticals; they fertilize and pollinate crops, generate oxygen and recycle water. The wealth of nations is built upon biodiversity: even the oil, coal, peat, chalk and flints dug from the ground were once living tissue. So the case for the conservation of life's variety ought to be obvious. But biodiversity is a problem in four parts. We do not know, cannot identify, and cannot even begin to count most of the creatures upon whom we depend; nor do we know how these unidentified species interact with and depend upon each other; yet we are extinguishing this richness at a rate perhaps unparalleled in the 3.5bn year history of life on Earth; and we have as yet no master plan with which to address any of these challenges.
Right now one fifth of the planet's known vertebrates and one fifth of its named flowering plants are vulnerable, threatened or heading for extinction, but these represent only a small fraction of all that there is to conserve. If biodiversity is still unfinished business in the continent in which research began — and which is still home to most of the world's expertise — then things look ominous for those places so much richer in wildlife and so much poorer not just in money but in scientific investment: those countries with the coral reefs, mangrove swamps, rainforests, savannahs and dry uplands that are home to the greatest diversity.
There are of course vital projects – the Census of Marine Diversity, the Barcode of Life, IUCN red lists and so on. But they do not add up to global determination, and so far these initiatives do not address one taxonomic riddle: confusion about how many species have been "discovered" and named more than once.
Meanwhile, the most conservative estimates suggest that creatures fashioned by millions of years of evolution are being extinguished at a rate a thousand times faster than, for example, at the end of the Ice Age, and that as the human population grows in the next 90 years, this extinction rate is predicted to increase by a further tenfold. Such problems cannot be solved in a year, or a decade. But perhaps, with serious political investment, a concerted global effort can at last begin.
For full story, please see: www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/01/biodiversity-conservation-change-editorial

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  • Green School: Bali school makes sustainability a way of life

Source: The New York Times, 2 January 2011

Half a world away from Cancún, Mexico, and the international climate change talks that took place there last month, a school in Indonesia is staging its own attempt to save the planet.
It is small-scale and literally grassroots — and possibly in some respects more effective than the tortuous efforts of politicians to agree on how to stop global warming.
In the midst of the lush, steaming jungle of Bali, along a pitted road, past scattered chickens and singing cicadas, “Green School” has two dozen buildings made of giant bamboo poles. There are no walls, and there is no air-conditioning, just gracefully arched roofs, concrete floors and bamboo furniture. There is a big, grassy playground, complete with goalposts made of bamboo; a bamboo bridge across a rock-strewn river; vegetable patches; and a mud-wrestling pit.
More than 200 children from 40 countries, including Indonesia, are learning math here, as well as grammar, science, business studies, drama and Bahasa Indonesia, the official language spoken in Indonesia, a country of 240 million.
The students, whose levels range from kindergarten to 10th grade, are also learning to grow and thresh rice and how to make ceramics and paper from materials found on the school site.
Green School, the brainchild of John Hardy and his wife, Cynthia, is also realistic and practical, designed to give children not just a sense of how to live sustainably, but also to leave them ultimately with the skills to enter academic institutions anywhere in the world. “We want to create future green leaders — we need green leaders,” said a sarong-clad Mr. Hardy, picking his way along a dirt path last month. “We want to teach kids that the world is not indestructible.”
Mr. Hardy is an entrepreneur, and the upmarket jewellery business he and his wife built over the years was worth enough, by the time they sold it in 2007, to allow the Hardys to set up the Green School.
Environment-studies courses and nature excursions have, of course, long been popular in U.S. and European schools. But Green School, Mr. Hardy and its teachers believe, is unique in that it completely immerses children in a world of sustainable practices throughout the school day — with the non-flush compost toilets, the (easily bearable) lack of air-conditioning and the fact that virtually everything in the school is created from bamboo, rather than steel, glass and concrete.
“There are lots of schools that have elements of ‘green’ teaching, but I do not think that anyone has been ambitious or foolhardy enough to try anything on this scale before,” said Ben Macrory, a New Yorker who moved to Bali in 2008 to take on the job of Green School’s head of admissions and whose 4-year-old daughter, Maggie, attends the school. “Every experience the children have here is about how to live with only a minimal impact on the environment.”
Mr. Hardy says he is convinced that the Green School concept can work elsewhere, too, and he hopes the school will be the blueprint — or “greenprint” — for more.
For full story, please see: www.nytimes.com/2011/01/03/business/energy-environment/03iht-green.html?_r=1&src=busln

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  • Google Earth now features 3-D trees

Source: www.mongabay.com, 29 November 2010

Google has populated several major cities with more than 80 million virtual trees based on an automated process that identifies trees in satellite images. The realistic 3D representations are based on actual tree species found in urban areas. For example, San Francisco's Golden Gate Park has nearly a dozen species, including Green Ash, various maples, and cypress, while Tokyo's Yoyogi Park, Shinjuku Gyoen and the Akasaka Imperial Grounds contain Ginkgo, Flowering dogwood, and Cherry trees, among others. New York City, Davis, Berlin, Athens, and Chicago are also represented. More than 40 tree species are currently included.
But Google has also extended realistic tree coverage to sites in some of the world's most biologically diverse forests. Working with environmental organizations involved in its Google Earth Outreach program, Google has modelled trees in East Africa, the Brazilian Amazon, and coastal Mexico. Google hopes the initiative will help highlight the groups' efforts to protect endangered forests and generate sustainable livelihoods for communities.
In Brazil, Google worked with the Surui tribe and the Amazon Conservation Team to model some of the most "culturally significant" trees in the Surui's tract of Amazon rainforest. These include the acai palm, known for its protein- and antioxidant-rich fruit; the Moriche palm, an important source of food; the cacao tree, used to produce chocolate; the Cashew tree; and the Brazil Nut, among others.
Meanwhile in Kenya, Google Earth populated five sites run by the Green Belt Movement with the native tree species that communities are using to reforest degraded landscapes. In Mexico, Google Earth worked with CONABIO, Mexico's National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity, to model mangrove forests, which serve as nurseries for marine life and protect coastal regions from erosion.
The latest version of Google Earth includes two other major new features: integrated "Street View", which enables users to zoom from space directly to an on-the-ground view of a place, and improved access to historical imagery, which allows viewers to see how locations have changed over time. Historical imagery can be particularly useful in the context of deforestation. For example, a Google Earth user viewing the area surround the Surui territory can see forests disappear over time as loggers and ranchers move into the region. Today the Surui forest is an island in a largely deforested landscape.
For full story, please see: http://news.mongabay.com/2010/1129-google_earth_trees.html

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  • New UN platform for biodiversity

Source: www.undiversityworldnews.com, 9 January 2011

The UN General Assembly has approved the creation of an Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, or IPBES, aimed at harnessing scientific knowledge in fighting the destruction of the ecosystem.
The new body is modelled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and UNEP. UNESCO is one of the organizations involved in creating IPBES.
In a statement on 21 December, the UN agency said: "The main objective of IPBES is to promote awareness among political decision-makers and the general public of the disastrous consequences of biodiversity loss. The aim is to ensure that scientific knowledge about the very rapid disappearance of a great number of vegetable and animal species and the erosion of ecosystems leads to concrete measures. IPBES is intended to facilitate this process."
The UN General Assembly resolution to create a platform that would place the issue of biodiversity at the top of the international political agenda came five years after a global conference at UNESCO on biodiversity and governance laid the groundwork for negotiations culminating in the formation of IPBES.
As a way forward following the landmark decision, environment ministers will attend a governing council of UNEP and Global Ministerial Forum in Kenya next month where decisions concerning the first IPBES plenary meeting as well as the location of the new body's secretariat will be decided.
For full story, please see: www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20110107102024469

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  • Recognizing the economic benefits of nature in 2011

Source: BBC News, 9 January 2010

The world is waking up the fact that it can no longer sit back while the planet's natural resources, and the species that depend upon them, are systematically destroyed. The economic and human costs of inaction are simply too great. Much of the groundwork has been laid, which, for the first time in history, has begun to quantify just how expensive the degradation of nature really is.
A recent United Nations study entitled the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) put the damage done to the natural world by human activity in 2008 at between US$2tn (£1.3tn) and US$4.5tn — at the lower end, roughly equivalent to the entire annual economic output of the UK.
And in October last year in Nagoya, Japan, almost 200 countries negotiated 20 specific targets with the express aim of "taking effective and urgent action to halt the loss of biodiversity". Among these included massively increasing areas of protected oceans, halving the rate of loss of natural habitats and preventing the extinction of threatened species.
Binding commitments are not due to be signed until February next year, but over the next 12 months momentum will really begin to build upon many of the targets set out in Nagoya.
One of the most important areas will be the development of the reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation programme, or REDD, under which forest owners are effectively paid not to cut down trees. This is seen as one of the key ways in which the essential carbon storage capacity of the world's forests can be preserved.
Another major breakthrough at Nagoya was an agreement on what is called Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS), whereby companies share the benefits of discoveries made in developing nations. For example, a bioprospecting firm that finds a new plant that is then used in pharmaceuticals will have to negotiate with the country in which it made the discovery to share the commercial benefits from the drug.
"This may take the form of a cash payment, or an undertaking to create employment, for example in research and development, in that country," explains Chris Knight, assistant director of forestry and ecosystems at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Not only will this agreement have a major impact on pharmaceuticals companies, but it will help ensure the continued discovery of vital drugs in developing countries that will be more open to foreign companies using their natural resources.
This year will also see real momentum gathering for the value of nature to be reflected in national accounts. With trillions of dollars being lost to the global economy each year through the destruction of the Earth's natural resources, the World Bank and individual national accounting bodies are working to find the best way in which this money can be accounted for. Only then will the true value of the services that nature provides — for example vital pollination for crops by bees and storm protection from mangrove swamps — be identified. Only then can proper mechanisms be put in place to protect these so-called ecosystem services.
India has already announced its intention to incorporate natural capital into its national accounts by 2015, and "others will hopefully agree by the end of the year to a framework [to follow suit]", says Mr Sukhdev, leader of the TEEB study.
TEEB has so far completed two case studies focusing on the impact of deforestation on the Chinese construction industry and of the drying up of the Aral Sea on the local cotton industry. Mr Sukhdev says between 500 and 1000 such case studies are needed before natural capital can begin to be widely incorporated into national accounts.
This year is the one in which the foundations for much of research will be laid, research that will help to hammer home just what a vital role nature plays in the global economy.
For full story, please see:
www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12146425

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  • UN dedicates 2011 to Forests’ Health

Source: Our Amazing planet (USA), 3 January 2010

The UN General Assembly declared 2011 to be the International Year of Forests to raise awareness about how to improve the health of all types of forests, which cover 31 percent of the Earth's land surface, according to an environmental group that's behind the initiative. The International Year of Forests will officially begin on 24 January with the UN forum on the topic in New York
The world's forests support the planet's diverse creatures, and keeping forests robust could also help humanity achieve some of its biggest goals: reduce poverty, curb climate change and achieve sustainable development, according to a statement from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
"'Forests 2011 will be an international celebration of the central role of people in the management, conservation and sustainable development of our world's forests," said Julia Marton-Lefèvre, the IUCN Director-General. "The air we breathe, the food, water and medicines we need to survive, the variety of life on Earth, the climate that shapes our present and future — they all depend on forests. 2011 must be the year when the world recognizes the vital importance of healthy forests to life on earth — for all people and biodiversity."
Throughout 2011, the IUCN will highlight new research findings, promote restoration work and build upon recent successes of the international 2010 REDD-plus (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) agenda.
Home to 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity and 300 million people, forests provide livelihoods for 1.6 billion people, almost a quarter of humanity, according to the IUCN.
Forests store more carbon than the amount currently in the atmosphere. Saving them is the quickest and most cost-effective means of curbing global emissions, some scientists say. Halving these emissions between 2010 and 2200 would save an estimated US$3.7 trillion, according to the IUCN.
For full story, please see:
www.ouramazingplanet.com/united-nations-dedicates-2011-year-of-forests-110103-0920/

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EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES

  • INBAR seeks consultant to evaluate bamboo project

From: Fu Jinhe, Senior Programme Officer & Regional Coordinator of East Africa, INBAR

The Project “Bamboo as sustainable biomass energy: A suitable alternative for firewood and charcoal production in Africa” commenced in March 2009. The project is designed to provide a suitable alternative for firewood and charcoal production in Ethiopia and Ghana. The project is financially supported by the European Commission and the implementing agency is the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR).
The overall objective of the Project is to increase the use of bamboo as a source of energy for the poor of Ethiopia and Ghana thereby providing a more sustainable, environmentally friendly and economical option to firewood and wood charcoal. The specific objectives are to: (1) develop over a four year period the bamboo resource base in Ethiopia and Ghana so that appropriate varieties are available for long-term firewood and charcoal use, (2) develop over a four year period a small-scale private bamboo firewood and charcoal sector to ensure appropriate supply for target populations, and (3) put into place the institutional support needed for bamboo to be widely adopted as each country's primary source of energy for the poor, through development of appropriate policies, capacity building and awareness raising.
The main objective of the mid-term evaluation is to make an overall assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency with which the project is being implemented and, in particular, to provide a detailed assessment of the achievements made and overall results obtained so far.
The consultant will evaluate the project implementation, performance, effectiveness, efficiency and impact in Ethiopia and Ghana;
Minimum required education/skills/experience: advanced degree in development studies, business studies, social studies  or similar relevant disciplines; ten years professional experience; demonstrated experience with project management and monitoring/evaluation of projects financed by international donors, preferably the European Union; excellent English writing and presentation skills; Literate in MS Office (word, excel, powerpoint) and other data processing software; Fluency in written and spoken English, knowledge of one or more local languages is an asset.
The assignment will take place in Ethiopia and Ghana. Review of documents and report writing can be home based Field work will take place at the project sites in Ethiopia and Ghana.
The assignment is expected to start in mid March, 2011 and shall be completed by 30 April 2011.
Applications will be accepted until 10 February 2011. All applications will be acknowledged, however, only short-listed candidates will be contacted.
Please send a cover letter with your Curriculum Vita by email to: jfu@inbar.int 
For more information, please contact:
FU Jinhe, Ph.D
Senior Programme Officer & Regional Coordinator of East Africa
Project Manager of EC Bamboo Biomass Energy Project
Coordinator of IUFRO 5.11.05 Bamboo and Rattan
International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR)
8, Futong Dong Da Jie, Wangjing, Chaoyang District
P. O. Box 100102-86, Beijing 100102, P. R. China
Tel: +86-10-64706161 ext. 208 Fax: +86-10-64702166
E-mail: jfu@inbar.int 
www.inbar.int
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EVENTS

Reminder: UN Forum on Forests: Ninth Session
24 January-4 February 2011
United Nations Headquarters, New York, USA
In accordance with its multi-year programme of work for the period 2007-2015, the overall theme for the Ninth Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF9) is “Forests for people, livelihoods and poverty eradication” with the following sub-themes: (a) community-based forest management; (b) social development and indigenous and other local and forest-dependent communities, including forest and land tenure; and (c) social and cultural aspects.
The General Assembly, moreover, proclaimed 2011 as the International Year of Forests (IYF) and further requested the secretariat of the United Nations Forum on Forests of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs to serve as the focal point for the implementation of the year in collaboration with Governments, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), regional and sub-regional organizations and processes, as well as relevant major groups. IYF will be launched during the high-level segment of the Forum’s ninth session.
For more information, please see:
The United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat
DC1-1245, One UN Plaza
New York, NY 10017, USA
Tel: +1-212-963-3401
Fax: +1-917-367-3186
www.un.org/esa/forests/session-access.html

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International Conference on Natural Products
Institut Universitaire de Technologie à Castres, Toulouse, France
24-27 May 2011
This International Conference will tackle the following themes: extraction processes, analytical techniques, quality control of natural products, formulation and properties of natural-product-based compositions, synthesis on natural products and testing, insects and plants, biomass valorization and organic waste transformation.
The preliminary programme of the Conference is available online at www.naturalproducts.fr/2.html.
For more information, please contact:
Universite Toulouse III-Paul Sabatier
118 route de Narbonne 31062
Toulouse Cedex 9
Tel: +33 (0)5 61 55 66 11
E-mail: patrick.sharrock@iut-tlse3.fr
www.naturalproducts.fr/2.html

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LITERATURE REVIEW AND WEB SITES

44.       Wild Edible Fruit Plants of Eastern India
From: Dr.A. K. Mahapatra, Regional Plant Resource Centre, 25 November 2010

The Regional Plant Resource Centre, an Organization of the Government of Orissa, India has just published Wild Edible Fruit Plants of Eastern India. The book is authored by Dr. A.D. Mahapatra and Dr. P.C. Panda and includes an inventory and ethnobotanical use of 150 wild edible fruits plants found in Eastern India, namely in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
For more information, please contact: rprcbbsr@gmail.com

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  • Latest Issue of Traffic Bulletin available online

From: Bryony Morgan, TRAFFIC International & FairWild Foundation Secretariat

The journal of the TRAFFIC network, TRAFFIC Bulletin, is the only journal devoted exclusively to issues relating to international trade in wild plants and animals. Provided free of charge to over 4 000 subscribers and freely available from the TRAFFIC website, it is a key tool for disseminating knowledge of wildlife trade and an important source of information for those in a position to affect change and improve awareness.
This issue of the TRAFFIC Bulletin covers NWFPs, the launch of the New FairWild Standard, outcomes of the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties to CITES, among other subjects.
To download the Bulletin, please visit: www.traffic.org/traffic-bulletin/traffic_pub_bulletin_23_1.pdf

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  • BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management

From: Jenny Sigalet, Centre for Livelihoods and Ecology (Canada), Jenny.Sigalet@RoyalRoads.ca

The BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management (JEM) is a peer-reviewed electronic and print journal published by FORREX Forum for Research and Extension in Natural Resources. JEM informs readers about innovative approaches to sustainable ecosystem management, and provides a forum for commentary on current issues and challenges.
Aimed at decision makers in the policy, management, and operational realms, as well as practitioners, professionals, researchers, and natural resource users, JEM extends research results, indigenous knowledge, management applications, socio-economic analyses, and scholarly opinions.
For more information, please see: www.forrex.org/publications/jem/jem.asp.

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  • Other publications of Interest

From: NWFP Programme

Bihari, Bipin. 2009. Bamboos: From forests to farmers. India: Oriental Enterprises.

Chaves, C. &L. Manfredi, C. S. 2010. Medicinal trees from riparian forests along Canoas River: potential use in restoration projects. Revista Brasileira de Plantas Medicinais. 12(3): 322-332.

Collen, B., Purvis, A., and Mace, G.M. 2010. When is a species really extinct? Testing extinction inference from a sighting record to inform conservation assessment. Divers. Distrib. 16(5):755-764.

Dhakal, B., Bigsby, H., and Cullen, R. 2011. Forests for Food Security and Livelihood Sustainability: Policy Problems and Opportunities for Small Farmers in Nepal. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 35:86–115.

Hassan, S., Jehangir, K., Kiramat, K., Hazrat, S., Muhammad, E. 2010. Constraints and opportunities for sustainable livelihoods and cash income generation from NTFPs in the mountains of northern parts of Pakistan. Acta Botanica Yunnanica. 32: 2, 167-176.
Abstract: Pakistan′s forest resource base is mostly found in the mountains of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) supporting the livelihood of the rural poor and providing different ecological services. The present study was, therefore, initiated with the aim to evaluate different constraints and opportunities for sustainable livelihoods and cash income generation from NTFPs in the mountainous area of NWFP, Pakistan during 2008. Information was collected through questionnaire and interviews during field trips. A total of 117 NTFPs species have been recorded which are being used locally for various purposes such as fuel wood, fodder, medicinal plants, vegetables, mushroom, agricultural tools making, furniture, thatching, shade, fencing/ poles, ornamental purpose and animal products. The majority of plants are multi-functional like Pinus wallichiana provides timber, firewood, torch wood, the leaves/small branches are used as thatch for roofing, split logs are used for fencing and the decomposed needles are collected as humus for agricultural fields. These products were widely used by the indigenous community supporting their livelihood. The study proposes protection and sustainable management of these valuable resources for rural livelihoods, which might be useful for developing regional strategies of sustainable management of forest resources.

Hegland, S.J., Dunne, J., Nielsen, A., and Memmott, J. 2010. How to monitor ecological communities cost-efficiently: the example of plant-pollinator networks. Biol. Conserv. 143(9):2092-2101.

Knight, A.T., Cowling, R.M., Difford, M., and Campbell, B.M. 2010. Mapping human and social dimensions of conservation opportunity for the scheduling of conservation action on private land. Conserv. Biol. 24(5):1348-1358.

Liese, W. & Silbermann, S. Bamboo Charcoal: Properties and Utilization. 2010. Magazine of the American Bamboo Society. Vol. 31: Issue 6.
Abstract: Bamboo is one of the most important sources of energy for cooking and heating in many tropical and subtropical regions. The culms by themselves, however, are not good combustible material: they do not store well, they burn fast and tend to produce dense smoke while burning. Bamboo charcoal offers an alternative to bamboo culms for stored energy. For over 1 000 years charcoal has been produced and utilized, primarily in China, and exported either in its basic form or as various manufactured products. International organizations should promote the production and use of bamboo charcoal and its by-products. In this contribution we present methods of preparation as well as describe properties and usage of bamboo charcoal and its important by-products, including bamboo vinegar, bamboo gas and bamboo ash.

Newton, P., Watkinson, A.R. & Peres, C.A. 2011. Determinants of yield in a non-timber forest product: Copaifera oleoresin in Amazonian extractive reserves. Forest Ecology and Management:2 (255-264).  
Abstract: Developing sustainable extractive industries in otherwise intact tropical forest regions requires a sound understanding of the production potential of key resource populations. The oleoresin extracted from Copaifera trees is an economically important non-timber forest product harvested throughout the lowland Amazon basin. We studied oleoresin extraction from four species of Copaifera trees with known harvest histories within two contiguous extractive reserves in western Brazilian Amazonia. We conducted a large-scale experimental harvest of 179 previously unharvested Copaifera trees, in both seasonally flooded (várzea) and adjacent unflooded (terra firme) forests. The likelihood of trees yielding any oleoresin was principally determined by their species identity: C. multijuga was the only species to regularly yield oleoresin (70 percent of trees). Yield volumes varied both amongst species and forest types: C. multijuga (restricted to terra firme forest) had the highest mean yield of 505 ml, whilst C. guyanensis produced higher volumes of oleoresin in várzea (139 ml) than terra firme (15 ml) forest. Intraspecific differences were driven mainly by tree size. To assess extraction sustainability, we reharvested a sample of C. multijuga trees and compared the oleoresin production of 24 conspecific trees that had been initially harvested one year previously with that of 17 trees initially harvested three years previously. Reharvested trees produced just 35 percent of the oleoresin volume compared to that when originally drilled, but this response was not affected by the time interval between consecutive harvests. We demonstrate that, within a population of Copaifera, both morphological and environmental factors restrict total productivity; consideration of these factors should inform sustainable management practises. We additionally raise methodological considerations that may improve the comparability of studies.

Swaisgood, R.R., and Sheppard, J.K. 2010. The culture of conservation biologists: show me the hope! BioScience 60(8):626-630.

Walston, J., Robinson, J.G., Bennett, E.L., Breitenmoser, U., da Fonseca, G.A.B., Goodrich, J., Gumal, M., Hunter, L., Johnson, A., Karanth, K.U., Leader-Williams, N., MacKinnon, K., Miquelle, D., Pattanavibool, A., Poole, C., Rabinowitz, A., Smith, J.L.D., Stokes, E.J., Stuart, S.N., Vongkhamheng, C., and Wibisono, H. 2010. Bringing the tiger back from the brink - the six percent solution. PLoS Biol. 8(9):e1000485.

Zhu, L.F., Zhan, X.J., Wu, H., Zhang, S.N., Meng, T., Bruford, M.W., and Wei, F.W. 2010. Conservation implications of drastic reductions in the smallest and most isolated populations of giant pandas. Conserv. Biol. 24(5):1299-1306.

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  • Web Sites

From: NWFP Programme

100% Cork
A web site dedicated to promoting the use of the more environmentally-friendly cork as bottle stoppers, instead of plastic and aluminium screw caps that consume fossil fuels and use at least five times more energy per ton to produce.
www.100percentcork.org

Earth Wire
EarthWire, an environment news service introduced by UNEP/GRID-Arendal in 1999, provides a daily overview of the environment as reported in the media. Collecting environmental news from across continents, the service largely depends on the availability of media on the Internet
www.earthwire.org/africa/about.aspx

International Year of Forests:

  • UN/FAO: The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.

www.un.org/en/events/iyof2011/ or www.fao.org/forestry/en

  • IIED’s International Year of Forests Blog: The UN has declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests — although more than a billion forest-dependent poor will probably not see it that way. Spiralling global demand for food, energy, fibre and water spell trouble for these people’s forests.

www.iied.org/sustainable-markets/blog/tick-tock-%E2%80%94-it%E2%80%99s-year-forests

  • Switzerland launches new web site for the International Year of Forests: The Swiss Environment Office has launched a web site as part of the United Nations International Year of Forests, focusing on the major role forests play. The new site, in German, French and Italian, describes different ways in which forests are important. It also has a calendar of events being held during the year.

www.wald2011.ch

Pakistan Forest Digest
The Pakistan Forest Digest is published by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) Islamabad in collaboration with NCCR (North-South) Switzerland. It covers the forest related news published in leading national and local newspaper. It is published in Urdu and English. For hard copies of the Urdu version, please send an e-mail to forestd@sdpi.org.
http://nccr-pakistan.org/publications.html#literature2

UNEP-RONA launches new web page
The United Nations Environment Programme’s Regional Office for North America (UNEP RONA) is pleased to announce the launch of a new web page that focuses on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) in the North American Region. 
Sustainable consumption and production is about providing goods and services to meet basic needs of the world without compromising the already burdened environment. SCP aims to do “more and better with less,” by reducing resource use, degradation and pollution along the life cycle of goods and services, while increasing quality of life.
The new web page highlights SCP success stories from North America and serves as a platform for information on SCP in the region. It showcases the work underway on SCP in the UNEP RONA office and in the North American region and provides links to work being undertaken both at the United Nations and by other stakeholders.
www.rona.unep.org/about_unep_rona/scp/index.html.

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MISCELLANEOUS

  • UK: Primary school bee project published by Royal Society

Source: BBC News, 22 December 2010

A study of bumblebees by a group of Devon children (in southwest England) has become the first primary school project to be published in a Royal Society scientific journal.
The children, aged between eight and 10, discovered that bees could be trained to recognize colour patterns. They worked with a professional scientist, but he said the paper was "entirely conceived and written" by the pupils from Blackawton School.
The editor of the journal, Biology Letters, said it was a "world first". The children from Blackawton tested bees to see if they could learn to use different colour patterns to find their way to sugar water, while avoiding salt water.
They detailed their principal findings in the paper: "We discovered that bumblebees can use a combination of colour and spatial relationships in deciding which colour of flower to forage from. We also discovered that science is cool and fun because you get to do stuff that no-one has ever done before."
Some of the children's results tables were published in the journal
The Royal Society said the subject area was generally poorly understood, and the children's findings were a "genuine advance" in the field. "This paper represents a world first in high quality scientific publishing," said Professor Brian Charlesworth, editor of Biology Letters.
"I hope that it will inspire other groups to realize that science is not an exclusive club but something that is available for everybody."
The children worked with Beau Lotto, a neuroscientist from University College London. He edited together the detailed description of the methods and conclusions, which is published in the journal, from discussions he recorded with the children.
"Real scientific work is full of uncertainty — that is why it is so exciting — but I find that this is what is lacking in education, where subjects are too often presented as a series of dull factual certainties," Dr Lotto said.
A commentary by two scientists, LT Maloney & NH de Ibarra, concluded that the experiments were "modest in scope but cleverly and correctly designed and carried out with proper controls. They lack statistical analyses and any discussion of previous experimental work, but they hold their own among experiments carried out by highly trained specialists," the scientists added. They said the pupils had had "light supervision" from Dr Lotto and their teacher.
For full story, please see: www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12051883

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  • Toxic culture leads to destruction of ecosystem: Vandana Shiva

Source: Economic Times (India), 28 December 2010

Environmental and social activist Vandana Shiva called today for a nationwide ban on the pesticide endosulfan, which has caused serious health hazards in Kerala (south-west India). "Fortunately, we have a ban on the pesticide in Kerala. But there should be a nationwide ban on endosulfan," she said, inaugurating the first Biodiversity Congress here.
Shiva said a "toxic culture" was leading to "total destruction" of the ecosystem in the country. In Punjab, the number of cancer patients was going up with the increase in the use of pesticides in farms, she said.
"Biodiversity is not just about some plants. It is about the very web of life and about how ecosystems work. Biodiversity is the very foundation of an economy that is perennial," she said. Warning that the rise of monopolies in the field poses a threat to biodiversity, she said just like cotton has become a symbol of slavery with the arrival of BT cotton, monopolies had now started out in the banana and rice sectors.
"The developed countries are designing what they call green economy which is essentially a bio-mass economy and are putting it as a model. Countries like India should articulate with vigour our own biodiversity to protect our ecosystem and knowledge system," she said.
Shiva said economy, democracy and cultural diversity of a country was dependent on biodiversity. Since the introduction of liberalization in the nineties, 250 000 farmers had committed suicide in the country, she said.
Farmers are being forced to buy genetically-engineered seeds and pesticides, Shiva said, adding, "The combination means indebtedness, which leads to suicide. It is the result of a twisted way of thinking about both nature and economy."
For full story, please see:
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/et-cetera/toxic-culture-leads-to-destruction-of-ecosystem-vandana-shiva/articleshow/7178285.cms

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last updated:  Monday, April 30, 2012