No. 2/11

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

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A special thank you to all those who have sent me links to information and to Giulia Muir for her help with this issue.
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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/iyf2011/en/
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IN THIS ISSUE:

PRODUCTS

COUNTRY INFORMATION

NEWS

EVENTS

LITERATURE REVIEW AND WEB SITES

MISCELLANEOUS

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PRODUCTS

  • Agarwood: Research breakthrough in India

Source: The Telegraph (India), 13 January 2011

In what may be termed as a path-breaking find, a team of researchers from the Rain Forest Research Institute (RFRI) in India, led by Rajib Kumar Borah, claimed to have pinpointed the fungus which causes the formation of agarwood (Aquilaria sp.), and ultimately, agar oil, used widely in the multi-million dollar global perfume industry.
Director of the institute, N.K. Vasu, said the find would lead to a more scientific and accurate method of tapping the oil and saving millions of agarwood trees from unnecessarily being felled.
“It is very difficult to understand which tree has the oil and which has not, and therefore trees are being indiscriminately cut with only a sparse growth now surviving in the wilds of Assam,” Vasu said.
Borah, head of the Forest Protection Division of the Institute, said he had applied for a patent and did not want to disclose the name of the fungus before the patent was allotted, “as there is competition, and researchers of other institutes, too, have claimed discovery of the fungus.”
The agarwood tree, popularly known as the Sasi tree in Assam, is indigenous to Southeast Asia and some other parts of the world, and its products have the biggest market in the oil-rich West Asia. One litre of agar fetches as much as US$10 000 to US$14 000.
In Assam, the trade in agarwood oil is said to be the largest informal industry. Almost every household in rural Upper Assam is engaged in extracting the oil, which is then sold to middlemen and then taken to Mumbai for onward transmission to the Gulf.
“The oil extracted from the trees of Assam is especially in great demand in West Asia as it lends a rich and strong fragrance to the aatar (perfume),” Borah said. “Nowadays, tea estates have also taken up agar plantations on fallow land and as shade trees,” he added.
The wood gains commercial value after it is infected by a fungus, which is carried by the larvae of Zeuzera conferta Walker, a stem borer. “The stem borer larvae make vertical tunnels which are the initial sites of infection. From these, the infection gradually spreads up and oleoresins are accumulated in the infected areas. The infection process takes time and the highest concentration of agar (2.5–5 kg) is usually found in trees around 50 years of age. Such agar fetches anything between Rs 50 000 and Rs 70 000/kg in the wholesale market,” Borah said.
Borah further pointed out that commercial cultivation of agarwood suffers from a paradox in that only those plants infected by the particular fungus produces the highly valued agarwood. “So even if agar trees are planted on a massive scale there is no guarantee that a commercial quantity of agarwood can be harvested. This kind of ignorance, or even greed, often results in indiscriminate felling of trees. This problem can be overcome by artificial inoculation of the fungus,” the scientist said.
For full story, please see: www.telegraphindia.com/1110114/jsp/frontpage/story_13438148.jsp

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  • Bamboo bikes factory set to put Africa into motion

Source: www.theengineer.co.uk, 27 January 2011

The first large-scale production facility of its kind in the world will soon begin producing bikes made from bamboo for the African market. Initially, Ghana-based Bamboo Bikes Limited (BBL) will produce 750 bikes for a test run at its facility in Kumasi with larger-scale production runs to follow.
Bamboo is grown locally in many regions of Africa and the manufacturing of bicycle frames does not require costly infrastructure or electricity. Bamboo-framed bicycles are lighter and stronger than steel-framed bikes, adaptable to difficult road conditions and can be easily modified for different needs, such as carrying farm loads, passengers, food, water and medicine.
The production of the bamboo bikes at BBL is a direct result of Columbia University’s Bamboo Bike Project (BBP) in New York, USA, which was established at the University’s Earth Institute to enhance access to safe, reliable and multi-purpose transportation in rural communities of sub-Saharan Africa.
The effort was supported by the Earth Institute’s Millennium Cities Initiative (MCI), which helps under-resourced sub-Saharan African cities create employment and foster economic growth. MCI was instrumental in establishing the bamboo bike investment in Ghana, attracting donors, as well as facilitating many of the operational aspects of the project.
In Ghana, BBL will be responsible for managing the production facility and supplying the labour, bamboo and bike parts for the production test run and subsequent scale-up. It will be responsible for all operational matters, as well as marketing and outreach efforts in Ghana.
Included within the many groups that could benefit from bamboo bikes are healthcare workers, students and farmers.
Read more: www.theengineer.co.uk/news/bamboo-bikes-factory-set-to-put-africa-into-motion/1007147.article#ixzz1CF8GNlSO

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  • Bushmeat: Wild chimps outwit hunters

Source: Discovery News (USA), 24 January 2011

Five male wild chimpanzees living in an African forest have figured out how to deactivate, and sometimes even destroy, snares set out by human hunters, according to scientists who watched the clever chimps in action.
The chimps' ability, documented in the latest issue of the journal Primates, demonstrates that these animals can learn without trial and error, since one mistake for them could be fatal.
The discovery also explains why wild chimpanzees living in Bossou, Guinea, suffer from very few snare-related injuries and deaths versus chimps living in other places.
"At Bossou, hunters are trying to catch cane rats," co-author Gaku Ohashi told Discovery News. "Sometimes duikers (a type of antelope) are trapped. Villagers at Bossou do not eat chimpanzees because they think of chimps as the reincarnation of their ancestors. However the snares cause indiscriminate damage, ensnaring any and all animals that come into contact with them."
Ohashi, a research fellow at the Japan Monkey Centre, and colleague Tetsuro Matsuzawa observed the Bossou chimpanzees from July 2002 to March 2003 and then again from April to September 2004. During those times, the researchers recorded six instances where five different wild male chimps took steps to deactivate snares they encountered.
One adult male chimp heard a female chimp, accompanied by her one-year-old infant, whimpering next to a duiker carcass in a snare. According to the researchers, the male chimp slapped the duiker, grimaced and then jumped away. He then grasped the snare with his hands and vigorously shook it. This same male had previously shaken another snare, causing it to break.
On another day, this male was with a few other adult chimps and a six-year-old juvenile male. When the group encountered a snare, the juvenile managed to completely deactivate the snare by causing ropes attached to it to become untied.
These, and the other documented instances, suggest the snare deactivation techniques may "have been passed down through the generations and carried on in the group as culture," Ohashi and Matsuzawa wrote.
Vernon Reynolds, a primate expert who serves as an adviser at the Budongo Forest Research Project, told Discovery News that the observations made at Bossou are "exceptional, not having been reported from any other site."
Reynolds is not sure why the male chimpanzees at Bossou have the ability to deactivate snares, while chimps elsewhere do not. Wild chimpanzees in Africa, however, seem too often exhibit concern over the devices.
Ohashi hopes better education at locations where the snares are used — parts of East and West Africa — could make hunters more aware of the unintended consequences of their actions. At Bossou, a local NGO has also started farming cane rats in the village.
"If farming cane rats provides adequate subsistence for local people at Bossou," Ohashi and Matsuzawa conclude, "then snare hunting activity for bushmeat may become less necessary and the risks facing chimpanzees should subsequently diminish."
For full story, please see: http://news.discovery.com/animals/wild-chimpanzees-deactivate-traps-110121.html

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  • Cat’s Claw: Medical Benefits of Uña de Gato, or Cat's Claw

Source: Fox News Latino, 13 January 2011

The Amazon rainforest has been targeted by pharmaceutical companies for over a century as a land of exploration for source materials of new drugs. It is also a treasure trove of botanicals for the herbal supplement industry.
Among the many Amazon botanicals that have come to light in recent years, Uña de Gato (Uncaria tomentosa), which means “cat’s claw” in Spanish, is one of the most promising of all. A woody vine, the plant earns its name due to a preponderance of sharp, claw-like thorns. Dispersed throughout Central and South America, Uña de Gato has been used for centuries by numerous native tribes.
Uña de Gato is described by Dr. James Duke in his Amazonian Ethnobotanical Dictionary as a plant used widely in Peru for anti-inflammatory, contraceptive and cytostatic purposes. In popular literature, Uña de Gato is additionally touted as an immune stimulant, and a large number of studies do in fact show that it offers significant anti-inflammatory and immune-enhancing benefits, and that constituents in the vine may help to inhibit tumour cell formation.
Uña de Gato has been known for a long time due to the explorations of Victorian era explorers. But the plant gained the attention of the European scientific community in the early 1970s when Austrian Klaus Keplinger heard of a remarkable cancer cure attributed to the use of the plant. Keplinger spent time in the Peruvian Chanchamayo region of the Amazon, and familiarized himself enough with the plant that he became one of the most important scientific authors on its uses. Since that time, researchers have plumbed Uña de Gato’s chemical secrets in search of what might account for its purported healing benefits. Analysis shows that Uña de Gato contains at least five alkaloids, and two other important groups of compounds — quinovic acid glycosides and triterpenoid saponins. In addition, the plant contains antioxidant polyphenols.
Studies conducted with Uña de Gato show that constituents in the plant possess anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, antiviral and immune-stimulating properties. The alkaloids in Uña de Gato demonstrate immune-enhancing activity by producing an increase in phagocytosis, a process by which potentially harmful materials are “eaten” by protective cells. In studies of quinovic acid glycosides in the plant, researchers observed significant anti-inflammatory activity. Additionally, these same compounds were shown to inhibit several types of common viruses. In studying triterpenoid saponins, scientists observed that these chemical agents inhibited the growth of some tumour cells.
Well-conducted scientific studies appear to validate several of the traditional uses of Uña de Gato. The plant appears to be safe and non-toxic, and is useful in cases of inflammation, compromised immunity, and viral infection. It is a significant aid to relief in cases of both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. With further research, the plant may eventually play a broader role in a complementary approach to the prevention and treatment of certain types of cancer.
For full story, please see:
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/health/2011/01/13/medical-benefits-ua-gato-cats-claw/

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  • Edible insects: “Bug Mac” — the future?

Source: AFP in www.iafrica.com, 23 January 2011

"There will come a day when a Big Mac costs €120 (US$163) and a Bug Mac €12, when more people will eat insects than other meat," head researcher Arnold van Huis told a disbelieving audience at Wageningen University in the central Netherlands.
At break time, there is a sprint for the snack tables with a spread of Thai marinated grasshopper spring rolls, buffalo worm chocolate gnache, and a seemingly innocent pastry "just like a quiche lorraine, but with meal worms instead of bacon or ham", according to chef Henk van Gurp.
The snacks disappear quickly to the delight of the chef Henk van Gurp and the organizers. But the University's Head of Entomology, Marcel Dicke, knows that changing Westerners' mindset will take more than disguising a worm in chocolate.
"The problem is here," he tells AFP, pointing at his head while examining an exhibition featuring a handful of the world's more than 1 200 edible insect species including worms, gnats, wasps, termites and beetles.
Three species — meal worms, buffalo worms and grasshoppers — are cultivated by three farmers in the Netherlands for a small but growing group of adventurous foodies.
Dicke said Westerners had no choice but to shed their bug bias, with the UN's FAO predicting there will be nine billion people on the planet by 2050 and agricultural land already under pressure.
"We have to eat less meat or find an alternative," said Dicke, who claims to sit down to a family meal of insects on a regular basis. Bugs are high in protein, low in fat and efficient to cultivate — 10 kg of feed yields 6-8 kg of insect meat compared to 1 kg of beef, states the University's research.
Insects are abundant, produce less greenhouse gas and manure, and do not transfer any diseases (when eaten) that can mutate into a dangerous human form, say the researchers.
According to Van Huis, about 500 types of insects are eaten in Mexico, 250 in Africa and 180 in China and other parts of Asia — mostly they are a delicacy.
For those who will not be swayed, there is hope for a less grizzly alternative: Wageningen University is leading research into the viability of extracting insect protein for use in food products.
For full story, please see: http://food.iafrica.com/features/700407.html
Additional story: http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/01/24/insects-on-the-menu-scientists-warn-of-animal-scarcity-experiment-with-bug-diet/

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  • Edible Insects: Reduced environmental impact compared to meat production

Source: www.mongabay.com in Environmental News Network, 11 January 2011

The rearing of cattle and pigs for meat production results in an estimated 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. With worldwide consumption of beef and pork expected to double by 2020, alternatives are being investigated. Of these, perhaps the most notable has been the development of "in-vitro meat" which is lab-grown tissue not requiring the production of a whole organism. Initiated by NASA as a form of astronaut food, in-vitro meat production took its first steps in 2000 when scientists used goldfish cells to grow edible protein resembling fish fillets. Since then, turkey and pig cells have been used to create spam-like substances, and Time Magazine has included in-vitro meat in its list of the top 50 breakthrough ideas of 2009.
In addition to the environmental impact of current meat production techniques, scientists believe that the inevitable increase in price as population-driven demand grows will ultimately result in traditional meat products becoming unavailable to many people around the world.
However, if the idea of eating meat grown in a lab does not appeal to you, there is another option. Researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands looked at mealworms, house crickets, migratory locusts, sun beetles, and Dubia cockroaches, and for the first time quantified the amounts of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) released/kg of insect meat. They found that the amounts of gases released by insects to be much smaller than those released by cattle and pigs. For instance, mealworms produce between ten and a hundred times less greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram than do pigs. Ammonia levels also declined significantly.
For full story, please see: www.enn.com/top_stories/article/42217

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  • Fungi: San Francisco Bay Area lab working on a new breed of biofuel

Source; ABC News, 26 January 2011

Biochemists and engineers at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore (California, USA) are heeding the call of President Barack Obama to innovate and to foster energy independence from fossil fuels.
The endophytic fungus, that hails from the forests of South America, can be engineered to make anti-cancer drugs, and even the minty flavour that goes into chewing gum or breath freshener. But inside an East Bay lab, researchers say it could produce a new breed of biofuel.
"These fungi can actually excrete some of the necessary proteins that would break down the cellulosic material and then convert that, it will suck up the sugars from there, and convert that to hydrocarbon," Sandia National Laboratories biochemist Masood Hadi, Ph.D. said
The breakthrough here is that the fungus itself creates hydrocarbons without the time-consuming and costly process currently required to produce fuel for vehicles.
Sandia National Laboratories is funding this three-year, US$3 million project, and it is taking a multi-disciplinary approach — said to be unique in biofuel research. One lab is dedicated to the work with the fungus, in another they see how well it performs and at the third lab, combustion researchers test it in a new generation of engine.
"We can take the fuels that they are able to produce with their processes, understand the fundamental chemistry as well as their performance in real engines and then give the biochemists the feedback that they need to really hone their processes," Sandia National Laboratories combustion chemistry manager Tom Settersten, Ph.D. said.
Sandia believes the integrated approach will make a difference. "We can get a good idea how this fuel is going to behave say in a spark engine," Sandia National Laboratories Senior Scientist John Dec, Ph.D. said.
The fungus-generated fuel will likely be a gasoline additive at first. Later, the percentage could increase, reducing the use of fossil fuel.
For full story, please see: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/business&id=7921085

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  • Honey in the Czech Republic: Honey production up 8 percent in 2010

Source: CTK in the Prague Monitor, 17 January 2011

Honey production in the Czech Republic rose by 8 percent to 7 455 tonnes last year, Miroslav Peroutka of the Czech Beekeepers' Association (CSV) told CTK.
The growth came thanks to a higher number of bee colonies and favourable weather. The number of beekeepers increased as well compared with 2009. Last year in autumn, bee keepers prepared 528 000 bee colonies for winter, 31 000 more than a year earlier. The number of the bee colonies has thus moderately exceeded the level before the varroasis epidemic which hit domestic bee keepers hard in 2008.
"It took us three years to get to the level of 2007," Peroutka said, adding that the number of bee colonies could continue growing further.
In the past, domestic bee keepers had even 800 000 bee colonies.
The price of honey has not changed a great deal. Light honey is selling for Kc110 to Kc120/kg and dark honey for some Kc150/kg.
Most of the honey produced in the Czech Republic is sold by beekeepers directly to clients. Traders bought 1 620 tonnes of honey from bee keepers last year and most of the honey was exported.
Honey consumption in the Czech Republic has been around 0.5 kg/capita/year in the long term. Demand has grown moderately. The number of beekeepers rose by some 500 to 47 887. "This is a breakthrough; for almost twenty years the number of beekeepers was always falling," Peroutka noted.
For full story, please see: http://praguemonitor.com/2011/01/17/honey-production-8-7455-tonnes-2010

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  • Honey in India: The workers who risk their lives for honey

Source: The Independent (UK), 19 January 2011

In Pakhiralaya, India, honey costs just a handful of rupees; it is light-hued, almost liquid and, bearing only the merest floral hint, intensely delicious. Moreover, it is found and gathered from under the noses of man-eating tigers. Given the perils confronted by those who enter the tigers' lair to harvest it, it is perhaps the riskiest honey in the world.
Yet the honey collectors of the Indian Sunderbans, the vast delta of mangrove swamps and low-lying islands at the mouths of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers, find themselves at the very bottom of the heap. Despite, or perhaps because of, the hard-scrabble existences they live, they are often looked down upon by other villagers and government officials. Confronted by increasingly enforced regulations designed to protect the delta's famed tigers — as well as by the tigers themselves — it sometimes appears as if both mankind and nature are conspiring against them.
Things may slowly be changing in this landscape of endless water and large, star-filled skies. Economic changes that created an urban upper-middle class in nearby cities such as Kolkata have resulted in increased tourism to a place long considered a world apart. While such tourism carries with it a threat to the gently balanced environment, it also presents new opportunities for jobs and livelihoods. The sons of honey collectors are no longer forced to enter the forest as their fathers were.
Steadily, people are also waking up to the potential of the honey gathered in Sunderbans. While much is still sold to the government, several co-operatives have begun marketing the honey to the urban tourists who arrive on boats, eager to visit the nearby Sajnakhali tiger reserve and take back something with them.
The honey collectors try various means to protect themselves from the tigers. In recent years, the Government has provided rubber masks to collectors who pay a collector's fee. The masks, supposed to look like a human face, are worn by the collectors on the backs of their heads as they turn their attention to the honeycombs. The idea is based on the belief a tiger will never attack someone it thinks is looking directly at it as it would be unable to creep up on its prey.
In addition to the rubber masks, the efficacy of which remains the topic of debate, the collectors employ other methods, most notably asking for the protection of the forest goddess Bonbibi, who is worshipped by both Hindus and Muslims.
When the honey collectors travel into the forest — a task that is achieved by burning leaves to smoke out a hive before they can climb the tree and bring down the comb — the men will typically take with them a "tiger shaman", said to be able to communicate with the tiger and to be capable of providing protection using charms and sayings.
Increasingly, the Indian authorities are also trying to enforce regulations introduced to protect the tiger reserves from encroachment. Permits for honey collectors and fishermen are strictly regulated, and anyone found doing either without a permit faces stiff fines.
Change is slowly coming to the Sunderbans. Tourists and people seeking second homes are arriving in increasing numbers. In the past 12 months, several new guesthouses have opened in Pakhiralaya. It is expected that mains electricity will arrive soon.
Of more threat, perhaps, are plans for large-scale resorts within the Sunderbans that have recently been discussed. Annu Jalais, an anthropologist who spent more than a year living among the honey collectors, a period that formed the basis of her book Forest of Tigers, said unregulated development was causing real damage to the region.
One recent positive development has been the promotion of the region's honey by NGOs and co-operatives that have woken up to the marketing potential of a natural product collected under such testing conditions. While the collectors get just 45 rupees (60p)/kg from the Government, in the shops that sell to tourists, a large jar can sell for more than three times that sum.
While the debate about development continues, for honey collectors like Suryu Kanta Mandal, a man who every year ventures into the forest to collect honey, the matter is very simple. The growth of tourism and the arrival of new hotels and businesses have meant that his son has been able to get a job as a cycle-rickshaw driver. His son, unlike his father, his grandfather and his great-grandfather before him, has not had to enter the domain of the tiger, that most perilous of environments, simply to make a living.
For full story, please see:
www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/the-workers-who-risk-their-lives-for-honey-2187967.html

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  • Honey in India: The beekeepers

Source: Times of India, 19 January 2011

Honey production, at best, makes you think of a small cottage industry. Often, it is just one beekeeper who collects honey and delivers it at your doorstep. Jagjit Singh Kapoor, though, has turned it into a global business.
He started with five honeybee colonies in the 1980s and today his Kashmir Apiaries has 50 000 of these across the country, "from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari." The company, based in Doraha, Ludhiana, is the largest exporter of honey from India, accounting, perhaps, for as much as 80 percent of the country's total honey exports. It has a presence in more than 48 countries.
"I started with Rs 10 000 given by my father. I took it as a challenge and never looked back. There were many hurdles but I was determined and my family supported me in my journey," says Kapoor . Last year, the company recorded a turnover of Rs 280 crore , with a 35 percent growth in sales.
Kapoor set about devising his own methods, including designing driers to reduce the moisture content in honey. "And I travelled throughout the country with my wife (Parvinder Kaur) to identify flora for feeding the bees to get good quality honey."
Initially, the orders were small. Today, his company competes with rivals from China and Argentina, the two major honey exporters globally.
Kapoor's daughter Ritu, who has been involved with the business since she was 14, was conferred the “Honey Bee Queen” title at the 41st Apimondia International Beekeeping Conference at Montpellier, France, in October 2009. After several rounds of questions and interviews by a panel of judges, she officially became the brand ambassador of Apimondia, an international federation of beekeepers, with 63 member countries that meet once every two years to promote beekeeping.
The company is also working on a project to make “green” candles. These are candles made from beeswax, a by-product for beekeepers. "These candles do not leave black smoke when lit, like the synthetic wax candles. These are environment friendly.”
For full story, please see: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/The-beekeepers/articleshow/7317184.cms

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  • Medicinal plants: Sutherlandia’s safety, efficacy against HIV tested

Source: Business Day (South Africa), 14 January 2011

Scientists hope to know by the end of the year whether Sutherlandia frutescens, an indigenous plant widely used as a traditional medicine in South Africa, slows the progression of HIV.
Sutherlandia, also known as Cancer Bush, has traditionally been used to fight cancer and infections, but more recently it took off among HIV patients as South Africa’s AIDS epidemic grew.
However, there is no scientific evidence to back up claims of traditional healers and companies marketing products containing the plant. Doctors and AIDS activists are concerned that the promoters of the plant may deter patients from seeking medical care or that the plant is harmful.
Clinical trials were the best way to determine whether there was any truth to the claimed benefits of indigenous plants such as Sutherlandia, said Prof Quinton Johnson , Director of the South African Herbal Science and Medicine Institute at the University of the Western Cape."Our approach is to provide the scientific evidence for quality, safety and efficacy," he said yesterday on the sidelines of a symposium on African medicinal plants hosted by the International Organization for Chemical Sciences in Development.
Prof Johnson has been involved in research into Sutherlandia, and has already established that the plant is safe for people with early-stage HIV who are not taking any medication.
A clinical trial completed last year found that Sutherlandia was well-tolerated among the 100 volunteers who took part. Half the volunteers did not carry the virus. The next stage will establish whether Sutherlandia is an effective weapon against HIV. The study’s principal investigator, Dr. Doug Wilson, said the study was likely to be finalized later this year.
Dr Wilson cautioned that even if the research was positive, much more work would be needed before consumers would find a Sutherlandia treatment for HIV on pharmacy shelves.
Researchers would need to identify the active ingredients in the plant before they could start drug development.
For full story, please see: www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=131488

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  • Pine seeds/nuts in India: Chilgoza trees dwindling fast

Source: The Times of India, 25 January 2011

The chilgoza pine trees (Pinus gerardiana), which are a source of livelihood for many people in tribal areas of Himachal and form an integral part of local economy, are dwindling fast due to the reckless over-extraction of pine seed, said Rinki Sarkar, an economist and livelihood expert, based in New Delhi.
Based upon extensive research involving ethnographic and household surveys from 2009-2010 in the chilgoza belt in Himachal (including 13 villages of Kinnaur, Bharmour and Pangi, Sarkar) submitted a report to the Forest Department on the tree status on Saturday in Shimla.
Sarkar said, "I stumbled upon the chilgoza tree in 2009 on a visit to Kinnaur while doing research on common property resources and was fascinated by well-organized mechanism of collection of the pine seeds and cones and equitable sharing of the price resources of seed by the natives.''
The seeds, collected tediously, were once largely used solely for self-consumption but with the rising commercial value, peoples started auctioning the extraction process to contractors, who in turn engaged inexperienced migrant workers or labourers to extract the seeds from the cones. Excessive extraction and careless chopping of branches and twigs has led to reduction in the forest stock and prevented the natural regeneration of the trees which takes almost 10 years to grow one ft, she added. Besides uncontrolled cutting, the extensive grazing on land was also causing reduction in the regeneration of the pines, she said.
Seeking intervention of the community as well as the State Forest Department for regeneration of the species, Sarkar said innovative plantation strategies were needed to conserve species and generate awareness at the grassroots level for sustainable practices where community could be involved to protect the species from dwindling.
The development activities have seriously affected the species in the areas of Kinnaur and Bharmour, in addition to adverse climatic conditions. Pangi, which is still relatively untouched by developmental activities, still has a larger portion of chilgoza trees as compared to Kinnaur and Bharmour.
For full story, please see: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Chilgoza-trees-dwindling-fast-in-HPs-tribal-areas/articleshow/7356332.cms

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  • Pine seeds/nuts in the USA: White-bark pine and the Grizzlies

Source: Yale Environment 360, 19 January 2011

Doug Peacock has been a tireless defender of the Yellowstone grizzly for decades, but he believes the bear may now be facing its toughest threat yet.
When he returned from Vietnam in 1968, Peacock retreated to the Yellowstone where he had his first encounter with a grizzly — a mother bear who came upon him as he sat in a hot spring, looked him over, and then let him be. That incident led to what was to become Peacock’s life’s work: documenting the grizzly on film and in books (including Grizzly Years and The Essential Grizzly) and fiercely advocating for its protection.
Now Peacock is warning against what he sees as the greatest threat yet to the grizzly’s future: the loss of white-bark pine (Pinus albicaulis), a major food source for the bear. Warming temperatures in the Rocky Mountains have led to a proliferation of the pine beetle, an insect that destroys the trees, wiping out vast swaths of white-bark pine. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Peacock talks about why the demise of white-bark pine will lead to more contacts between grizzlies and people, and why the grizzly needs to be protected under the Endangered Species Act.
“In the last five years, steady warming temperatures have allowed the mountain pine beetle to move up a life zone to where the white bark pine live. The mountain pine beetle has been around a long time. Until now, it has mainly affected lodgepole pine up here, and lodgepole pine has evolved some defence to it. That same genetic material is present in white bark pine, but it has not evolved a defence. And that is because it had not been invaded before [by the pine beetle], because we had winter temperatures that reached 30, 35 below for four or five days in a row up in that high country and the larvae of the pine beetle cannot winter over. But since 2002 those temperatures have warmed to the point where the pine beetle can winter over. The last studies concluded that in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, which is a much bigger area than the national park, 82 to 83 percent of the white bark pine trees were either dead or dying. And a lot have died since,” says Peacock.
“So what we are talking about is probably the total loss of white bark pine in this ecosystem. We do not know if we are going to have any trees left in three or four years. And as far as the grizzly bear is concerned, that means the nut of the white bark pine cone is lost forever as a food source,” he added.
While some wildlife management officials are saying that the grizzlies will adapt and find other food sources to eat to replace the pine nuts, Peacock says it is a very contentious area. “White bark pine is incredibly nutritious. With the loss of the white bark pine as a food source, the carrying capacity — which is how rich the habitat is for bears — is going to be greatly diminished. And for bears to survive, basically they are going to need a much larger area to forage in,” explains Peacock.
For full story, please see: http://e360.yale.edu/feature/a_fierce_advocate_for_grizzlies_sees_warning_signs_for_the_bear_/2361/

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  • Shea: International Shea Conference to be held in Ghana

Source: www.next.com, 17 January 2011

International shea industry stakeholders will come to Accra, Ghana, for the sector's fifth annual conference on 6-7 April 2011.
The Global Shea Alliance announced that “Shea 2011: Sustainable Solutions” will feature the launch of the world's first international private sector shea alliance and expert information on virtually every aspect of the business.
"The conference facilitates connections, information exchange and business among stakeholders from across West Africa and around the world," said Peter Lovett, shea sector advisor at the USAID West Africa Trade Hub, which organizes the event with sponsorship from across the industry.
From the women's groups that collect shea nuts to the world's major buyers of nuts and butter, the conference is the only event of its kind for the industry. Researchers, civil society, public sector officials, service providers, financial institutions and transport companies will also participate.
"This event is the most significant of its kind to date, for the global shea industry," said Peter Stedman, Senior Buyer at The Body Shop International. Operators will formally launch the Global Shea Alliance at the conference, which they formed in October.
"An international alliance will allow stakeholders to work together to promote shea in international markets," said Kadijatou Lah of Mali's National Shea Federation and CEO of Lawal International, a shea exporter.
For full story, please see: http://234next.com/csp/cms/sites/Next/Money/5663836-147/international_shea_conference_holds_in_ghana.csp

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  • Spices: Spice up your health, cancer researcher advises

Source: The Globe and Mail (Canada), 23 January 2011

Bharat Aggarwal, a professor of experimental therapeutics at the University of Texas’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Centre (USA), began studying the cancer-fighting properties of curcumin — the active ingredient in turmeric — in the 1990s. Back then, he says, it was hard to get his colleagues to take him seriously; he recalls one oncologist politely shooed him out of his office when he tried to share his findings.
These days, however, his is an expanding field of research. The scientific community is discovering the medicinal powers of not just turmeric, but all kinds of spices.
In his new book, Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease, Dr. Aggarwal draws upon scores of studies to show how various spices can help prevent or treat specific ailments.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, for example, discovered that people living in India had a 51 percent lower risk of heart disease if they cooked with mustard seed oil compared with those who cooked with sunflower seed oil.
Japanese researchers found mint extracts can prevent the release of histamine, the chemical that causes allergic symptoms such as watery eyes and stuffy noses.
Scientists in Denmark found that eugenol, or oil of clove, is more effective as a blood thinner than aspirin.
Cinnamon has also been shown to improve one’s memory and ability to focus.
“When there is any kind of disease, people think drugs are the only solution. Spices are the last thing they ever think about because — especially in the Western world — it is not a part of their lifestyle,” says Dr. Aggarwal. “But spices have been used quite extensively in history. Now, we are actually providing scientific evidence that their medicinal value is indeed real and they can be used for a wide variety of diseases.”
“Depression, lack of appetite, lack of sleep, fatigue — all these symptoms are from too much inflammation and we are trying to control that with spices. You really do not need a whole lot because once you start combining a bit of this, a bit of that — then it makes it a lot easier,” he adds.
For full story, please see: www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/spice-up-your-health-cancer-researcher-advises/article1880703/

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  • Wildlife: Modern wildlife conservation efforts call for better trafficking regulations

Source: E-Magazine, 27 January 2011

In 2003, nearly 100 people across the Midwest (USA) were diagnosed with monkeypox after coming in contact with infected prairie dogs. Authorities traced the source of the sick prairie dogs to a wholesale pet store that also sold exotic African rodents. Many of the dozens of prairie dogs at the store were also ill —sneezing, coughing and underweight. The exotic rodents were consequently banned from the U.S. That outbreak offered a lesson on how diseases move from species to species, mutating in the process. It also highlighted problems arising from animal trade, and helped propagate a new field of research called conservation medicine, which seeks to identify these new diseases and find ways to prevent their proliferation across wildlife populations.
But U.S. scientists and federal agencies are grappling with how to regulate wildlife trade — and the sale of exotic and banned pets — to lessen the impact of diseases that cross from wild to domestic animals and then to humans, and how to win the cooperation of government, researchers and the pet industry before the next outbreak.
Zoonotic diseases — or those that jump from animals to humans — account for 75 percent of all emerging infectious threats, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The agency has even opened a centre to plan for and monitor such outbreaks. The National Centre for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne and Enteric Diseases estimates that approximately 60 percent of all human pathogens are zoonotic. Most of these diseases can be traced to areas where expanding human populations have pushed into surrounding ecosystems, increasing interaction among species. Researchers highlighted these trends a few years back in a study published in the journal Nature.
Wildlife trafficking is most often depicted in media coverage of airport seizures. But many animal-related disease outbreaks come as a result of legal trade. Animal trade is a robust business. In 2009, the U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Department reported 140 984 total wildlife shipments, comprised of 146 734 mammals, 940 349 reptiles, 3 291 807 amphibians, 181 908 birds and 165 198 128 fish. Recent conservation news has highlighted disappearing numbers of threatened amphibians.
Illegal trade carries its own serious consequences. A pilot study that is part of Wildlife Conservation Society’s “One World One Health” initiative began tracking samples of wildlife and wildlife products transported through main entry points in 2008. As of April 2010, researchers had uncovered at least 14 species, including rodents, monkeys and apes. In chimpanzees and mangabeys imported for food — known as bushmeat — there was evidence of two strains of simian foamy virus. The primates are both endangered and illegal to import. And simian foamy virus is a retrovirus is in the same family of diseases as HIV, the retrovirus that causes AIDS.
Although these viruses can infect humans, they are not yet known to cause disease. But it is generally known that HIV rose through human contact with nonhuman primates, says Nina Marano, veterinarian in the CDC’s quarantine branch. Just like HIV it may be able to infect people before they become sick, she says. “We want people to know that taking meat from the wild is bad for animals and bad for humans,” Marano says.
Wildlife trade has proven difficult to regulate — particularly because its regulation crosses several federal agencies. This split policing results in holes as to what each agency oversees and what diseases can be detected at the border.
“There are gaps in regulation,” says FWS Senior Wildlife Inspector Sheila Einsweiler.
“There are no comprehensive laws or approaches to monitor, report on or manage companion animal zoonoses,” states a paper led by Jamie Reaser, a senior consultant with the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. “Even within a specific sector, wildlife management for example, thorough approaches to disease surveillance and management are lacking.”
The study notes that individuals working on issues relevant to companion animal zoonoses in the agencies are competent, but that they are hamstrung by government structures. It also cites unequal distributions of resources and lack of enforcement capacity.
EcoHealth Alliance is working to broaden the scientific knowledge base when it comes to identifying species and the pathogens they carry. But data recording is flawed, shipment numbers are inaccurate and current laws fail to keep tabs on the diversity of wildlife imported.
For full story, please see:
www.emagazine.com/view/?5473

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  • Wildlife: Poaching, habitat loss taking toll on Bornean clouded leopard

Source: The Brunei Times in the Scientific American, 21 December 2010

When the Bornean clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi) was first identified as its own species in 2006, it was almost instantly added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as "vulnerable" to extinction. Just four years later evidence out of Brunei, one of the three countries on the island of Borneo, indicates increasing pressure on the rare cats that could quickly push it further toward extinction.
According to two separate reports from The Brunei Times, Bornean clouded leopards are heavily threatened both by poaching and deforestation, which is eliminating their habitat.
We often hear about deforestation on Borneo in relation to orangutans, with the news usually coming out of Indonesia, which controls nearly three quarters of the island. Brunei represents just 1 percent of Borneo, about 5 700 km².
Killing clouded leopards or selling their body parts is already illegal under Brunei's Wildlife Protection Act, but a recent investigation by wildlife experts from the University Brunei Darussalam (U.B.D.) found that people either do not know about the law or simply do not care.
"I was told by some local hunters that they would kill them and sell their skin for several thousand U.S. dollars," the University's Ang Lee Bian told The Brunei Times. Punishment for breaking the Wildlife Protection Act is one year in jail and a US$2 000 fine. The Act, which is rarely enforced or even promoted, predates the Bornean clouded leopard's scientific discovery and still refers to it as a related species — the similarly yet more simply named "clouded leopard" (N. nebulosa) — which actually does not exist on Borneo at all.
According to the WWF, Bornean clouded leopards are highly valued for their pelts and teeth — the largest of any feline species — whereas their bones are used in traditional Asian medicine. WWF reports that clouded leopard pelts have been found for sale in China, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal and Thailand.
Meanwhile, much of the leopard's forest habitat on Borneo is being cut down, both for illegal lumber and to make room for palm tree plantations (also often illegal), forcing leopards closer — if not into — human settlements. One such cat has been observed in the populous area of Mukim Labi, where it has been spotted several times during the day. "This animal is nocturnal," U.B.D. senior lecturer Joseph Charles told the The Brunei Times. "If they come down to the place [a neighbourhood], either it is hungry, could not sleep anywhere in peace [or] is very disturbed."
For full story, please see: www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=poaching-habitat-loss-taking-toll-o-2010-12-21

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COUNTRY INFORMATION

  • Argentina: Guaraní effort to strengthen culture through tourism

Source: IPS in Traditional Knowledge Bulletin, 24 January 2011

Since recovering part of their territory in 2005, an indigenous Guaraní community in the north-eastern Argentine province of Misiones is working to maintain and expand a cultural tourism initiative.
On about 265 ha of land, located a 20-minute drive from Iguazú Falls and 10 km from the city of Puerto Iguazú, people in the Yryapú community are learning computer skills and foreign languages, even as they delve deeper into their own culture.
The 75 families that live in the middle of a dense jungle coveted by tourism companies have the support of the MATE Project (Argentine Model for Tourism and Employment of Native Peoples), financed by the provincial Misiones government and the Canada International Development Agency.
The idea emerged in 2005 when representatives from Canada's Niagara College contacted the Iguazú Technological Institute, a tourism and hospitality school that forms part of MATE, and proposed to work together on indigenous cultural tourism.
The Guaraní Mbyá in the area only recently officially recovered part of their territory. Like other indigenous populations, they felt forced to abandon their traditional way of life, which in the modern world could not ensure their survival, and they were tempted to assimilate western customs and lifestyles.
The project for building appreciation of their own identity and culture reached a high point in 2008, when MATE began harnessing financial support from national and international sources. That year the Canadian NGO Friends of Yryapú was created, contributing financially to helping the indigenous landowners with the tools needed to move away from reliance on government and private aid.
Young people study ways to maintain their culture while adapting to the new realities, which includes using computers. "Today we do not live like we did in the past," Ricardo Fernández, 40, told Tierramérica. He works as a bilingual instructor in a local school and teaches students about their ancestral customs.  "This is the only way that we are going to have the resources to work and to maintain our family," he said.
Meanwhile, most get by with sales of traditional crafts: necklaces, bracelets, rings, baskets and carved wooden figures. Others work informally in nearby towns and cities. And many rely on government aid. The Guaraní Mbyá are also subsistence farmers, growing millet, sweet potato, cassava and pumpkin. They raise pigs and chickens, while hunting is limited to the occasional bird or small mammal.
The traditional style of housing, with a log structure, bamboo and mud walls, and palm-leaf roofs has been replaced by wood houses with metal or straw roofing.
Few in this community have attended secondary school. The city's schools offer basic classes only through the seventh grade. The MATE Project aims to resolve this educational deficit.
At the Mbyá Guaraní Clemência González Intercultural Bilingual School, or "School of the Jungle," the indigenous peoples live their education by sharing experiences with the instructors. They study ideas of natural and cultural heritage and learn from conferences and videos about the customs and traditions of their people.  The school already has 70 students, ages 13 to 38. Along with the students from Yryapú, there are young people from other Mbyá communities in Misiones, as well as from Paraguay and Brazil.
In addition to guided tours, visitors can buy handicrafts, as well as learn to make them. They can also take in the sounds of a children's choir and listen to stories about the past of this once-powerful indigenous nation. The revenues from these activities go to a community fund that will help sustain future enterprise as well as fund health and social services and education.
For full story, please see:
www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=54215

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  • India: Bamboo is a grass, not a tree

Source: Times of India, 21 January 2011

It is now official: bamboo is a grass. Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Monday the Prime Minister and senior Ministers had reached the conclusion, putting an end to a long-standing debate.
Positioning bamboo, the Government feels, will mark a crucial step in tackling underdeveloped areas in India, home to many tribal communities. A Home Secretary-led committee concluded that tribal communities needed to be given better rights, control and revenue from the forests they lived in or depended on and that the role of the forest departments should be reformed — they should not act as a police force that keeps tribals out of the forests.
The officials deliberated on how to increase the incomes of those dependent on forests for their earnings.
“Minor forest produce” played a key role in local economics. The Planning Commission, in turn, concluded there was nothing minor about it. It was a booming unregulated trade worth Rs 50 000 crore annually — roughly two times the total rural health budget of the country. It also discovered the small tricks the Government had played over decades to keep the tribals out of this lucrative trade.
Defining bamboo as a "tree" was one of them. Forget what taxonomists and biologists all over the world believe conclusively — bamboo is a type of grass.
The Government listed bamboo as a tree under the Indian Forest Act. This ensured that cutting bamboo, selling it or trading in it became the monopoly of the Government and gave the forest bureaucracy control over what some estimates suggest is a Rs 10 000 crore trade. Bamboo is grown over roughly nine million ha of forest area in India. The major demand for it comes from the paper and pulp industry and the housing and construction sector.
Long leases over 30 years are given over bamboo forests to contractors and industry. The leases give the state some revenue. The Government controls the trade, the industry gets cheap raw material and the people living in these forests get nothing.
In various states, the people living in or dependent on these bamboo forests get a few bamboo shafts on a subsidized rate for their housing needs; the Government continues to believe it is extending a concession. The Government is able to do so because it calls bamboo timber a “nationalized” forest product over which it holds sole rights.
Delisting bamboo from the “timber list” is the first step the Government should take towards altering this regime in favour of people. Nevertheless, it is not a huge step considering that the Forest Rights Act that UPA legislated in 2006 already defines bamboo as a non-timber forest product. So the Government is merely acknowledging that it will adhere to the laws.
It would now need to ensure that communities claim their traditional legal rights over these bamboo forests under the Forest Rights Act.
For full story, please see: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/science/Its-a-grass-not-a-tree-Bamboo-off-shoots/articleshow/7330876.cms

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  • India: Bamboo in bloom triggers famine fears

Source: Times of India, 27 January 2011

In a rare phenomenon that comes once in decades, bamboo groves have blossomed en masse in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (in Kerala state, south-west India), making for a spectacular view. However, the phenomenon has led to fears among environmentalists and forest officials that it may cause a famine in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, an international Biosphere reserve in the Western Ghats (south India), where there is the largest congregation of Asiatic elephants.
Bamboo groves blossom only once at the end of their lifespan. According to Wayanad wildlife warden V. K. Sreevalsan, the groves will start withering by the end of February; this would mean a loss of fodder for elephants and wild gaurs. The situation could be serious since February is when the seasonal migration of elephants takes place in south-west India from the dried stretches of Mudumalai, Bandipur and Nagerhole National Parks (in Karnataka state) to the evergreen forests of Wayanad. Elephants and wild gaurs cherish tender bamboo shoots and leaves, and Wayanad is known for its abundance even in peak summer.
"Normally, Wayanad forests have an elephant population of barely 300. But between February and May, at least 1 400 elephants from adjoining sanctuaries migrate here. Fodder for such a big population is limited this season since all the bamboos have started blooming and perishing ," says K G Radhakrishna Lal, assistant warden of Muthanga range.
"It would take at least five to eight years for a bamboo cluster to regain its previous form after it blooms and perishes. Though Wayanad has been seeing bamboo bloom on a small scale in the last five years, blooming on this large scale is happening for the first time in the last 52 years," says N. Badusha, a local environmental activist.
Bamboo groves in areas like Tholpetty, Begur, Chethalayam and Ponkuzhy are now in full bloom.  "We are very cautious about the situation there. The balance of the entire biosphere would be affected if there is a shortage of fodder there. It would become tough for elephants and gaurs during this season of annual migration," says P. Pushpangadhan , Mudumalai range officer.
The thorny bamboos in Wayanad forests belong to the species, Bambusa bambos, a monocarpic plant that flowers only once in its lifetime. According to Sreevalsan, their flowering circle varies from 30 to 49 years.
In states like Mizoram, bamboo blossoming on a large scale has caused social unrest as they leave behind millions of seeds, which attract rodents. These rodents enter human settlements, destroy crops and cause food shortage. However, such a crisis is unlikely in Wayanad as forest officials are allowing local tribes and settlers to collect the seeds. The seeds can be a substitute for rice and are used to make a number of delicacies. Each bamboo grove can yield 50 to 100 kg of seeds.
Local communities fear that shortage of fodder in the forests may force wild animals to enter farms. Bamboo provides a source of livelihood for many tribals who use it to make a variety of products and sell them in local markets.
For full story, please see:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Bamboo-in-bloom-triggers-famine-fears/articleshow/7369230.cms

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  • Madagascar: WWF says: keep your promise and stop illegal logging

Source: WWF International, 13 January 2011

Following the signatures of 5 000 WWF supporters on a WWF online petition to stop illegal logging of precious woods in Madagascar, WWF urges Andry Rajoelina, the President of the transitional government of Madagascar to deliver what he promised and stop illegal logging once and for all.
At a meeting with WWF representatives in October last year, the country’s President Andry Rajoelina promised to make an official declaration to stop all illegal logging of precious woods in the island’s north eastern humid forests. He declared that resources would be made available to support local authorities to implement appropriate management plans to secure the forests in the future. However, no such public declaration has been made to date, and illegal logging continues to devastate the island’s precious and fragile environment.
“Andry Rajoelina told us he wanted to stop illegal logging. He also said he wanted to call on countries who import the timber, and especially China, not to buy rosewood products anymore and is ready to co-finance actions to stop illegal logging with government funds” says Niall O’Connor, Regional Representative of WWF Madagascar and Western Indian Ocean.“Now is the time for action. WWF urges him and the Government to deliver what they promised!”
More than 20 000 ha of forests, inside protected areas, have been devastated following political turmoil in 2009, with more than 100 000 precious wood trees illegally felled in some of the richest and most diverse forests on the planet.
A further estimated half a million trees have been cut, with the heavy logs being floated downstream, causing extensive damage and species loss. The illegal activity destroys forests and the services they provide to local communities. It also affects the tourism industry that traditionally benefitted this area and which has provided local people with jobs and a regular income in the past.
Furthermore countless numbers of lemurs and other bushmeat have been butchered and eaten by loggers during their stay in the parks.
Although the Malagasy government has shown its goodwill to address the current crisis by publishing a clear ban on rosewood export, by engaging in listing precious hardwood species on CITES appendix III, unfortunately, the cutting of precious woods in Madagascar’s Northeast has not yet stopped. Exports have decreased, but exploiters are stock-piling wood in the hope of an exceptional export authorization to be made in the future. As reported by Mongabay.com, a recent field visit conducted by Missouri Botanical Garden revealed that up to 10 000 people are currently living inside the Masoala National Park, in north-east Madagascar.
The rosewood trafficking, coupled with the Government’s weakness to ban it, initiated and extended drastically the traffic of natural resources in Madagascar. Countless endemic species such as tortoises and lemurs are heavily exploited these days.
For full story, please see:
http://wwf.panda.org/wwf_news/?198893/WWF-to-Madagascars-president-keep-your-promise-and-stop-illegal-logging

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  • Mexico: Native craftswomen harness their skills

Source: IPS in Traditional Knowledge Bulletin, 21 January 2011

It took María de los Ángeles Carrillo, a native craftswoman from Mexico, eight months to weave a decorative junco reed basket, for which she won an US$8 000 prize from the Mexican Government.
The 32-year-old Carrillo, a member of the Kumeyaay Native American people, belongs to the Grupo de Artesanos Nativos de Baja California (Group of Native Craftspeople of Baja California), which was founded in 2004 and has more than 140 members from the Kumeyaay, Paipai, Kiliwa and Cucapá communities in that north-western Mexican state.
"Before, the craftspeople had to wait for someone to visit their community to buy their products," said Kumeyaay Indian Javier Ceceña, Director of the non-profit Native Cultures Institute of Baja California, which provides backing for the group of craftspersons.
"They would wait for a long time until someone would finally show up and buy their products at a really low price. So we organized," he told IPS.
The Grupo de Artesanos Nativos de Baja California is one illustration of how Amerindian groups in Mexico are using their craftmaking skills and traditions to defend their cultures and earn incomes to improve their living conditions.
In the town of El Tajín in the south-eastern state of Veracruz, Totonaca Indians joined together in 2006 to perfect their work and improve the marketing and sales of their products, and thus boost their family incomes. "The aim was to get these women to understand that they are great artists with the skills to produce wonderful products, but that in order to push ahead, they needed someone who had a broader vision and could see a little farther, and they needed to sell in other markets with which they were unfamiliar and to which they had no access," Jessica Ramos, commercial representative of Cerámica de El Tajín, told IPS.
The Cerámica project consists of four family-run pottery workshops where 25 people — mainly women — work.  
Both the Grupo de Artesanos Nativos de Baja California and the Cerámica de El Tajín are keeping alive artistic traditions passed down from generation to generation, and use raw materials available in their communities.
From the ancestral knowledge and the hands of the Baja California artisans emerge baskets, pottery, bows and arrows, belts, sashes, bags, purses, necklaces, frames, and decorative ornaments, while the Totonaca ceramicists make serving dishes, pots, candlesticks, planters, jars, pitchers and many other products.
Mexico is the Latin American country with the largest indigenous population, variously estimated to make up between 12 and 30 percent of the country’s 110 million people (the smaller, official, estimate is based on the number of people who actually speak an indigenous language).The rest of the population is mainly of mixed Amerindian and Spanish ancestry.
In Baja California, there are a mere 2 000 indigenous people, out of a total estimated population of three million. The Native Cultures Institute of Baja California, which was founded in 1992 by U.S. anthropologist Michael Wilken, has launched projects in the areas of health, education, culture and sustainable development in the state, including scholarships for 250 indigenous students.
"It has been a huge benefit for the women to work together and see things improve for the common good," said Ramos, whose Cerámica de El Tajín enterprise has received support from the Tenaris Tamsa company, a steel pipe producer in Mexico, and from the Escuela Mexicana de Cerámica (Mexican School of Ceramics).
The craftspeople exhibit and sell their products at regional fairs. Last year, the Totonaca artisans sold more than 800 pieces, earning some US$48 000.
The Ministry of Social Development will send Congress a bill aimed at strengthening the promotion of crafts and defending the handicrafts industry from piracy. The draft law was drawn up with contributions from craftspeople's associations.
www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=54200

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  • Nepal translocates first wild tiger to new home

Source: Environmental News Network, 24 January 2011

A wild tiger fitted with satellite-collar was successfully translocated from Nepal's Chitwan National Park to Bardia National Park for the first time today, according to WWF. The translocation was led by the Government of Nepal with support from WWF-Nepal and the National Trust for Nature Conservation during the last days of the Year of the Tiger. It will further Nepal's goal of doubling wild tiger numbers by 2022, the next time the Chinese calendar celebrates the endangered species.
"This translocation — the first of its kind in Nepal — is a concrete example of our commitment to saving wild tigers using the best science available, including the application of cutting-edge technologies," said Minister of Forest and Soil Conservation of Nepal, Deepak Bohara. "I am confident that by working together the global community can reach the goals we set ourselves at the recently concluded tiger summit to save tigers to benefit people, nations and nature."
The collared tiger was an injured male rescued by park authorities from Chitwan National Park after it wandered into a hotel in the tourist town of Sauraha outside the park last September. The tiger was placed in a secure enclosure at the park's headquarters for treatment where it recovered completely. On Friday, a team of wildlife veterinarians, biologists, park staff and conservationists tranquilized the tiger and fitted it with a GPS plus GLOBALSTAR-3 satellite collar. It was transported by road more than 370 miles in a specially constructed trailer from Chitwan National Park to Bardia National Park. Today, the tiger was introduced to its new home in the fertile Babai River valley.
"The Babai valley was an ideal location for the translocation because of its vast size and available prey species, improved anti-poaching efforts, lower human-tiger conflict and good connectivity with other protected areas through the Terai Arc Landscape all the way to India’s Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary," said Krishna Acharya, Director General of Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. "Nepal is one of the countries in the world where the prospect of doubling the tiger population is quite good, if tigers are given enough space, prey and proper protection."
The satellite collar, which accurately reports the tiger's location every 30 minutes, will help scientists gain a better understanding of tiger behaviour, improve conservation interventions like anti-poaching operations and monitor the tiger adapting to its new environment.
"Today's successful translocation is a testament to the skill and expertise of Nepal's conservation community," said Carter Roberts, President and CEO of WWF-US, who participated in the operation. "To see this majestic beast released into his new home gives me hope that tigers — in Nepal and throughout Asia — can have a bright future."
For full story, please see: www.enn.com/top_stories/article/42269

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  • South Africa: Rhino poaching reaches highest ever levels in 2010

Source: WWF, 13 January 2011

A total of 333 rhinos were illegally killed in South Africa in 2010, including ten critically endangered black rhinos, according to national park officials. The yearly total is the highest ever experienced in South Africa and nearly triple 2009 when 122 rhinos were killed in the country. An additional five rhinos have been lost to poaching since the new year.
Kruger National Park, the world famous safari destination, was hardest hit losing 146 rhinos to poaching in 2010, authorities said. The park is home to the largest populations of both white and black rhinos in the country. Rhinos constitute one of the much-revered "Big 5" of African wildlife tourism, including elephants, lions, leopards and Cape buffalo.
Rhino poaching across Africa has risen sharply in the past few years, threatening to reverse hard-won population increases achieved by conservation authorities during the 20th century. The first alarming yearly spike occurred in 2008 when 83 rhinos were lost. South Africa has responded by intensifying its law enforcement efforts, and made approximately 162 poaching arrests last year.
"Many more successful convictions, backed up by appropriately daunting penalties will significantly demonstrate the South African government's commitment to preventing the clouding of the country's excellent rhino conservation track record that it has built up over the past several decades," said Dr. Morné du Plessis, CEO of WWF South Africa.
For full story, please see:  http://wwf.panda.org/?uNewsID=198877

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  • Sri Lanka: Biopiracy still exists

Source: The Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka), 19 January 2011

Although the country has many regulations to protect its biodiversity, illegal activities persist due to lack of unity of law enforcement agencies that are mandated to protect nature, Director General of the Department of Wildlife Dr. Chandrawansa Pathiraja said.
Addressing the National Consultation Workshop “Linking up with South Asia,” he stressed the need of getting all the law enforcement agencies in the country to prevent biopiracy.
“This is null if the biodiversity, including wildlife, is not conserved properly. Though we have a strong ordinance, which has amended many times in the past with strong enforcement, illegal activities persist,” he said.
The two-day workshop, which concluded yesterday, focused on Illegal Wildlife Trade. It consisted of technical and interactive sessions and provided a forum for the development of local programmes through networking, sharing and effective dissemination of knowledge and information.
For full story, please see: www.sundayobserver.lk/2011/01/16/oostory.asp?sid=20110119_04&imid=Bio.jpg&dt=%5BJanuary%2019%202011%5D

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  • Tanzania: Can the country's booming ecotourism sector ever be truly green?

Source: The Ecologist, 18 January 2011

Tourist trips to developing countries are increasing by 6 percent per year. 20 percent of these new tourists go to Africa, with Morocco, Egypt, South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania scooping up the majority. So what is driving the trend? The answer is ecotourism.
Ecotourism appeared as early as the 1960’s in Kenya, when hunters in search of game flocked to the savannas and forests, providing an economic reason for conservation. Since then, ecotourism has become the fastest growing sub-sector of the tourist industry. With an annual growth rate of between 10 and 15 percent worldwide, it is no wonder that the travel industry regards it as a sort of wonder pill. But what exactly is ecotourism and is it really as green as it is supposed to be? 
Some see ecotourism as a marketing ploy. Others regard it as a genuine effort to imaginatively dispose of waste, employ and train local people, preserve the environment and support local communities.
Ironically, it is often the smaller, independent lodges who are best at involving local communities in macro tourist initiatives but they are also the ones who find it most difficult: long-term training, secure employment and monitoring whether profits really are ploughed back into their surrounding villages is expensive and labour intensive.
Rob Barbour, of Afrika Afrika, runs four eco-camps in Tanzania. He is one of a handful of travel operators here who uses his imagination, thinking broadly, laterally and holistically. Uniquely he employs a trained, local community coordinator and the salaries he pays are higher than normal. His challenges include involving locals in the development of the camps, reducing poaching with snares and encouraging work such as beekeeping. For him, ecotourism has to include secure employment.
He says: “The promotion of ethical working practices has to come from within.  It has to come from the top. It has to be done with communities in mind. Involving local communities is not a difficult thing to do. You have to build trust and the best way to do that is to always deliver on the things you say you are going to deliver on with no exceptions. Always keep the communication channels open to the community — tell them your issues and problems and ask them to do the same.’
At the Manyara Ranch Conservancy in North Tanzania, eight years of hard negotiation have resulted in a quiet revolution: for the first time land is owned cooperatively by the Masai tribes and leased to investors through the Tanzania Land Conservation Trust (TLCT). The high end permanent luxury camp brings much needed wealth to this formerly neglected area, and locals have a say in the direction of the business through the TLCT; all without compromising the camp’s high standards.
This model has been adopted by the Mkuru Camel Camp close to Mount Meru; another Masai-run tourist initiative, overseen by NGO Oikos East Africa. In Tarangire, tourists looking at the famous Wildebeest Migrations have Dorobo Tours to thank in part for their experience. Their tireless work over the last 25 years has helped to conserve both the wildebeest and the grazing land they rely on via their hard work with local communities.
Chris and Nani Schmelling in Lake Eyasi, North West Tanzania, run one of the most radical and effective lodges in the country: Kisima Ngeda. The Schmellings work with the Hadzabe, a diminishing tribe of hunter-gatherers who eschew all forms of hierarchy, conflict and material possessions. While their disdain for materialism, mobility and flexibility can be inspiring for tourists, what is particularly impressive is the way the Hadzabe (and the neighbouring Datoga tribe) have gotten involved in the marketing and managing of their own lives as a tourist commodity.
For full story, please see: www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/out_and_about/732723/tanzania_can_the_countrys_booming_ecotourism_sector_ever_be_truly_green.html

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  • UK: Privatizing English forests could “cost millions in lost tax revenues”

Source: Guardian (UK), 13 January 2011

Plans to privatize all English woodland could cost the government millions of pounds in lost tax revenues and cancel out most of the money raised from its sale, a leading accountant has warned.
Detailed plans for the intended break-up of the 635 000-acre English Forestry Commission estate have not been published. But the effect of putting so much extra woodland on the open market in the next few years is expected to lead to a rush of corporations and wealthy people taking advantage of the tax sweeteners that already exist for forestry owners, says accountant Richard Murphy, Director of Tax Research LLP and an adviser to the Trades Union Congress and Tax Justice Network.
"This is about creating a massive opportunity to ensure that less tax is paid, which undermines the whole cause of selling off the forests. If I had a million pounds and I thought I have some risk of dying in the next few years, as part of my inheritance planning I could put it into forests. Then when I pass on, I can pass that on to the next generation without inheritance tax, so the government would lose out £400,000 in inheritance tax. I think an awful lot of people are going to be tempted to buy forests", said Murphy.
Woodland owners are presently exempt from capital gains tax, income tax and inheritance tax. But because little forest land is sold each year, opportunities to buy large quantities have been few, and the price of woodland has remained high.
That could change dramatically when thousands of woods and forests are put on the market, said Murphy.
The Commission owns or leases nearly 17 percent of all woodland in England, and is by far the largest supplier of timber. But the Government has been coy about saying how much it hopes to raise from the sale of its assets. Estimates range from £400-500m, with forest land selling for an average £3 000/ha.
Other accountants said the sale of the Commission woods would make forestry more attractive for tax reasons. "Some of the increase in value in farmland and forestry [in the past few years] has been driven by people looking to take advantage of the inheritance position. I think [forestry] is coming back on the radar scheme. It has got a tax sweetener — you are not going to go into it purely for tax reasons, but the fact is that is has got a tax sweetener," said John Whiting, Tax Policy Director, at the Chartered Institute of Taxation.
Forestry became a favourite industry to invest in the Thatcher Government of the 1980s, when a scheme allowing woodland investment to be written off against personal income tax led to a forestry boom. Wealthy businessmen, show-business celebrities and sporting personalities ploughed cash into creating vast pine forests in Scotland. The loophole was only closed off after years of campaigning by environmental groups, by which time tens of thousands of acres of ecologically fragile land had been devastated by tree planting, and hundreds of millions of pounds of tax revenue had been lost.
For full story, please see: www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jan/13/english-forests-lost-tax-revenues

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  • USA: Fungi foragers

Source: The Press Democrat (California, USA), 18 January 2011

For those who rarely venture into the woods, the rolling hills and forests of the US’s North-west coast appear dormant in the winter, a blank slate waiting for spring to bring them back to life.
But for professional foragers with keen eyes and palates — such as Connie Green, head huntress of Wine Forest Wild Mushrooms in Napa (California) — the wet winters of Wine Country usher in an endless season of bounty, producing wave after wave of mushrooms.
“Three weeks after the rains start, our mushrooms come to life, and they will continue well into April,” Green said in a phone interview from her home high in the Mayacmas between Sonoma and Napa counties. “It begins with porcini (Boletus edulis), and then chanterelles (Cantharellus genus), and then the black trumpets(C. cornucopioides), and the hedgehogs (Hericium erinaceus) and yellow-feet (e.g. Craterellus tubaeformis).”
For Green, who recently published The Wild Table cookbook with Napa Valley chef Sarah Scott, this year's steady stream of storms has been a gift beyond her wildest dreams.
“Last year and this year are particularly good mushroom years,” she said. “We have had a great deal of water.”
At this time of the year, Green is harvesting mostly black trumpets and hedgehogs, yellow-feet and chanterelle mushrooms in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties. She sells her wild fungi to almost every high-end chef in Wine Country.
“It seems like something trendy and new here ... but now we are more like the rest of the world,” she noted. “If you would say, ‘It is a fabulous food trend' to a Russian, they would laugh, because they have been doing it for centuries, as have the Chinese and the Mexicans.”
Although the deep-seated fear of mushrooms stems from a very real danger — toxic mushrooms such as the death-cap(Amanita phalloides) resemble some edible species — amateurs can avoid disaster by foraging with an expert or a knowledgeable club, Green said.
“The Sonoma County Mycological Association is a very vibrant mushroom society with a very strong culinary bent,” she said. “They are always hunting and cooking, and in January, they give a three-day camp.”
Green was infected with the food-hunting plague at an early age. She grew up on her grandmother's farm in Florida, where she routinely foraged for blueberries and other precious, wild crops.
After moving to the mountains overlooking Yountville (Napa Valley) more than 30 years ago, Green started foraging for wild foods for her own kitchen table. “I was as surprised as anyone to find that what made me truly happy was crawling around the woods finding absurd quantities of chanterelles,” she wrote in The Wild Table. “By 1980, this passion was spilling over and into restaurant kitchens.”
While Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino are all rich mushrooming zones, certain mushrooms flourish in the various habitats within that zone. “There is a habitat at the coast that has black-trumpets and hedgehogs, to a good 15 miles inland,” Green explained. “Then, in the interior valleys with the live oaks and the hardwood forest, there are the chanterelles and porcinis”.
For full story, please see: www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20110118/LIFESTYLE/110119528?Title=Fungi-Foragers

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  • Vietnam: Locals to manage Hue’s forests

Source: Vietnam News Agency, 15 January 2011

The central province of Thua Thien-Hue has decided to expand allocation of forest management to local residents, following the success of a pilot project initiated in 2000. The Provincial People's Committee said it would expand its forest management and protection project from a single village managing 405 ha to several communities managing nearly 11 000 ha of forest.
In 2000, to prevent residents in Thuy Yen Thuong Village in Phu Loc District's Loc Thuy Commune from illegal logging, the Phu Loc District Forest Protection Bureau in consultation with the provincial People's Committee allocated 405 ha of natural forest in the village for local villagers to manage and protect.
Under the decision, villagers would protect the area in accordance with the law and have certain rights to forest resources as an income source for a period of 50 years. The allocated area consisted of reasonable quality forest that was about one-fifth of the village's total forest area.
Thua Thien-Hue was the first province to initiate such a project. Before 2000, up to 90 percent of the villagers had been involved in illegal logging activities. Since the project began, they have managed the forest well and no illegal logging has been reported. Every day, villagers do security and maintenance patrols and harvest NWFPs, such as honey and fish, allowing them to earn an average income of VND20 000-30 000 a day per person.
Huynh Ngoc To, head of the village's Forest Protection Team and a former illegal logger, said the Provincial People's Committee recently decided to allow villagers to harvest nearly 100 m³ of wood as part of their income for doing forest management and protection.
"This not only helps 450 households in the village eliminate poverty in a sustainable way but also changes their awareness of responsibility in forest protection," To said.
From now to 2020, the Provincial People's Committee plans to allocate 30 000 ha of natural forest and forestry land for communities to manage.
For full story, please see: http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/Agriculture/207672/Locals-to-manage-Hue%E2%80%98s-forests-.html

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  • Vietnam: Cultivating the nation's forests

Source: Vietnam News, 26 January 2011

Vietnam is aiming to improve the quality of its forests and their productivity during the next five years. The State hopes to boost forest coverage, but acknowledges that it will be a tough task.
The Forestry Sector's Support Partnership's annual meeting held yesterday in Ha Noi was told that forests now cover 39.5 percent of the country's area, which has significantly contributed to improving and protecting Vietnam from the effects of climate change.
FAO’s regional Senior Forestry Officer Patrick Durst said Vietnam's contribution to forest coverage was "very encouraging". "For the first time ever, we [the world] are slowing down the pace of deforestation in many countries, and in some key countries, including here in Vietnam, forest coverage is increasing," he said.
The Vietnamese Government will increase the size of its forests during the next five years to make greenery account for 42 percent of the country's area by 2015.
Nguyen Nghia Bien, Director of the Forestry Directorate's Planning and Finance Department, said the future task would not be an easy job. "In easily accessible areas, we have already planted trees, but now only the very difficult and remote areas are left," said Bien.
The Director said it was a must to improve the quality and production capacity at plantations and in natural forests. "Now we are concentrating more and more on forest quality — how to enhance the health and the vitality of the forests and the richness of the forests, including biodiversity and benefits for the local people," said Durst.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hua Duc Nhi Nhi, however, said the sustainable management of forests was by no means an easy job. "We should never think reforestation and taking care of forests will make us rich, we are doing this for the sake of the environment," said Nhi.
For full story, please see: http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/Agriculture/207959/Cultivating-the-nations-forests.html

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NEWS

  • Accords to preserve forests fail to address real challenge, Report says

Source: Yale Environment 360, 24 January 2011

Global accords that aim to prevent the destruction of the world’s most vulnerable forests are doomed to fail because they do not address the core issues spurring deforestation, particularly the rising demand for food crops and biofuels, according to a new report.   Policymakers pay too much attention to the role of forests as a store of carbon dioxide, the International Union of Forest Research Organizations said, and not enough to the fundamental challenge to forest management — that deforestation is the result of economic pressures imposed from the outside.
The panel criticized the United Nations program known as REDD because it seeks a global, top-down solution to deforestation. “Our findings suggest that disregarding the impact on forests of sectors such as agriculture and energy will doom any new international efforts whose goal is to conserve and slow climate change,” said Jeremy Rayner, a University of Saskatchewan (Canada) scientist and chairman of the panel.
With Africa and South America losing 18.3 million acres of forest (7.4 million ha) annually, the panel said a significant shift in policy worldwide is needed.
The report, produced by 60 international experts, will be presented at a UN forum this week.
http://e360.yale.edu/digest/accords_to_preserve_forests_fail_to_address_real_challenge_report_says/2768/

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  • IUCN to advance implementation of “new conservation paradigm”

Source: Traditional Knowledge Bulletin, 14 January 2011

New Zealand. The Sharing Power Conference, organized by the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP), IUCN, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa (a tribal authority), Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi (a tribal university), and Victoria University of Wellington, held in Whakatane, New Zealand, on 13 January 2011, addressed issues related to decentralization in the governance and management of biocultural resources, and enabling indigenous peoples and local communities to have greater rights and responsibilities in governance and management of the landscapes and ecosystems they live in and near. It included a high-level dialogue between indigenous peoples’ representatives and the IUCN, aiming at finding concrete ways in which IUCN will effectively implement various resolutions and recommendations in favour of indigenous peoples adopted at IUCN Congresses.
According to a press release by the Forest Peoples Programme, IUCN agreed to advance and review the implementation of such resolutions, dubbed the “new conservation paradigm,” which are crucial for ensuring that conservation practices respect the rights of indigenous peoples and their full and effective participation in policy and practice.
For full summary of Conference, please see:
www.forestpeoples.org/topics/participatory-resource-mapping/news/2011/01/press-release-international-union-conservation-na

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  • Securing the rainforest riches of Borneo

Source: WWF (UK), 24 January 2011

We are well on our way to stopping the destruction of Borneo’s forests. But we need to make sure this conservation work continues.
The vast island of Borneo contains Asia’s largest surviving tropical forest. It is an Aladdin's cave of biodiversity — where an average of three new species have been discovered every month for the past 15 years. Orang-utans, pygmy elephants, Sumatran rhinos and clouded leopards share the forest with more than 600 bird species and 15 000 types of plant — as well as half a million indigenous people who depend on the forest for food and shelter.
But over the past few decades, huge swathes of Borneo’s forests have been cut down for timber and to make way for oil palm and paper pulp plantations. Now only half of Borneo’s original forest cover remains. WWF has been fighting to prevent further destruction.
WWF saw a breakthrough in 2007 when the island’s three governments — Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia — agreed a plan to safeguard their natural heritage. With our support, they committed to protect, manage and restore 220 000 km² of forest — almost the same area as the UK.
This agreement now needs to be turned into reality; but given that WWF resources are limited and so much of this huge forest area is under threat, our efforts are currently focused on protecting areas with especially high conservation value.
WWF are working with businesses in key sectors — timber oil palm, mining and financial investment – to minimize the impact of their activities on the ground. And it is also encouraging key international buyers of timber and palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia to commit to using only sustainably-produced goods.
This year Borneo’s governments will launch a “greenprint” for conserving the island’s biodiversity, reducing CO2 emissions and stopping deforestation. It is all part of a plan to move towards a “green economy” where governments, businesses and communities recognise the value of Borneo’s different habitats. WWF anticipates that conservation and sustainable development objectives will be integrated into their national economic plans.
To support this, the organization is demonstrating that responsible forest management protects the natural resources, like timber and water, on which businesses rely. As part of this process, WWF is working with companies to connect two important protected areas and protect river catchments in eastern Borneo.
For full story, please see:
www.wwf.org.uk/news_feed.cfm?4543/Securing-the-rainforest-riches-of-Borneo

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  • Traditional medicine/knowledge: Mobile health applications gain acceptance

Source: Business Daily, 18 January 2011

Mganga is a mobile phone application that was developed by Kenyan PhD student Shikoh Gitau and won her the Google Anita Borg award last year.
The mobile health application that will record, catalogue and map out traditional medicine and knowledge is among the over 200 million mobile-health platforms in use today.
Mobile phone applications are expected to increase threefold by 2012, according to a recent report from Pyramid Research.
The report “Health Check: Key Players in Mobile Healthcare” says these applications will spur innovation in healthcare delivery and is becoming a new revenue stream for telecoms companies in the developed world.
“Healthcare solutions that are delivered via mobile technology are creating a new frontier of innovation that is driving down costs, increasing access, and improving quality of care,” said Denis Culver, analyst and author of the report. These applications are mainly designed to help people stay healthy, support patients living with certain diseases, increase health literacy, manage medical information and support compliance.
In the developed world, people pay for the applications to help manage their various health ailments such as diabetes. However, in Africa the technology is mainly on designing healthcare products or data collection applications to support healthcare.
Personal Digital Assistant (PDAs) for health data collection is the earliest technology intervention in Africa and is still being used along with smart phones. This includes the AED-Satellife project in Uganda that allows health workers to collect public data at the community level, send it through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or infrared to a health care centre before being sent through the local network to a main server. The correct prognosis is then sent back to the clinicians.
In South Africa, Cell-Life is a programme that uses mobile technology to improve the lives of people infected and affected by HIV.  
Kenya has a support system for HIV and AIDS patients which sends a message every morning to various people to encourage them to take their medicine.
Access and archiving traditional medicine is the main motivator for the development of Ms Gitau’s Mganga application, which is still being researched and at a design stage.
“While we complain of inadequate doctors, many Kenyans do consult a traditional healer or makes use of some traditional healing practices, including taking some herbs,” she said in an interview with Business Daily, adding that the application will take advantage of this knowledge using mobile phones to collect, access and disseminate this information.
“We also aim at having a web portal that people can use.”
For full story, please see:
www.businessdailyafrica.com/Mobile%20health%20apps%20gain%20acceptance%20in%20developing%20nations/-/539444/1091206/-/view/printVersion/-/4jq0snz/-/index.html

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  • Trek East: Exploring and conserving North America’s wildlife corridors

Source: Environmental News Network, 24 January 2011

Starting 3 February, a group of wilderness enthusiasts are embarking on an epic adventure across the eastern seaboard of North America. The scope of the adventure may even blow away the revered Appalachian Trail. The conservation non-profit group, “Wildlands Network” is launching writer and explorer John Davis on a 4 500 mile journey from the southern tip of Florida to the Gaspe Peninsula in Canada.
Firstly, the mission of the wilderness journey is to explore the remaining wild areas along the visioned Eastern Wildway. Secondly, it is to encourage the creation of a network of people and organizations who share the common goal of conservation. At every stop along the way, there will be gatherings of these wilderness visionaries in support of the mission.
The journey will take a zigzagging path through 13 states and two Canadian provinces. Almost all of the 4 500 miles will be muscle powered. This includes hiking, biking, walking, running, kayaking, canoeing, and skiing.
The main focus of the trek is the issue of North America's wildlife corridors. The problem is that they are all fragmented by highways, agriculture, or suburban developments. The habitat connectivity, which is necessary for wildlife to thrive, simply does not exist. The preservation of wildlife is important so that natural ecosystems can perform their services and so future generations can enjoy them.
The journey will travel through many of the remaining wild areas in the eastern half of the continent. The wilderness crusaders will be met by supporters at every step of the way who want to help connect the natural landscapes which they treasure. The ultimate goal is to create an “Eastern Wildway,” a wildlife corridor big enough for wild ecosystems and human ecosystems to thrive together.
The journey, known as TrekEast, will be led by John Davis, founder of “Wildlands Network,” past editor of Wild Earth magazine, writer, and naturalist.
For more information, please see: www.wildlandsnetwork.org/ or
www.enn.com/top_stories/article/42270

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  • UN International Year of Forests

Source: UN-REDD Newsletter, 15 January 2011

The Director of the United Nations Division on Forests and head of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) Secretariat, Jan McAlpine, highlights the role the International Year of Forests will play in bringing critical attention to the world's forests.
The United Nations General Assembly designated 2011 the International Year of Forests (Forests 2011) to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.
Throughout Forests 2011, events will be organized around the world at the national, regional and local level. All events will capture the message of Forests 2011 — a celebration of the many wonders of forests and their special relationship to the people who depend on them. There are great success stories the world over of people sustainably managing their forests for shelter, food, income, medicine and clean water; for income, trade, sustenance and a way of life. These stories exist and are plentiful.
A central event of Forests 2011 is the International Film Festival, launched in conjunction with the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival in Wyoming, USA. We received more than 170 films submissions from more than 25 countries across six categories. Each film had a unique story to tell, stories that can help inspire and encourage action.
One film, “The Man Who Stopped the Desert,” followed the story of Yacouba Sawadogo, an illiterate peasant farmer from Burkina Faso, Africa, who transformed the lives of thousands across the Sahel region of Africa. Through an ancient agricultural planting technique that he pioneered on his own, Sawadogo brought trees to a barren land, helped them grow and flourish and improved the lives of all in that region.
UNFF Secretariat will also be running a “Forest Heroes” campaign, to help highlight the stories of those whose dedication to forests and forests issues deserve special recognition. Throughout Forests 2011, nominations will be accepted and winners announced, having their stories shared with the world through the Forests 2011 website.
Part of the power of the International Year of Forests is that it is a global event, with events organized by many different governments and groups. While the UNFF has been designated as the focal point for implementation of Forests 2011, the central idea is “we provide the platform, you provide the action,” and we have received many pledges to action.        Germany is holding their launch event during the International Green Week in Berlin from 21-30 January. China is holding a national tree planting day on 12 March. Israel will launch its “Green Belt” seedling planting program. Schools, museums and other organizations are holding Forests 2011 exhibits. These events are but a few of the countless activities being held throughout Forests 2011.
Forests 2011 will be an unprecedented opportunity to bring attention to forests throughout the world. The spotlight on forests and climate change, and particularly the growth of REDD+ with crucial support from the UN-REDD Programme, has provided extensive political commitment and financial resources for forests. At the same time, Forests 2011 provides the opportunity for increased visibility of forests and their importance among the wider public, both in developed and developing countries. Through this linkage, Forests 2011 and REDD+ are helping us work in synergy to ensure that forests are sustainably managed in the near future so that present and future generations can continue to enjoy the wonders of the world’s forests.
For full story, please see:
www.un-redd.org/Newsletter15/2011_IYF/tabid/7069/Default.aspx

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  • UN Año Internacional de los Bosques

Source: www.eluniversal.com, 10 January 2011

El 20 de diciembre de 2006, la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas aprobó la resolución por la que se declaraba el 2011 como el Año Internacional de los Bosques. Esta celebración resultará útil para tomar mayor conciencia de que los bosques son parte integrante del desarrollo sostenible del planeta debido a los beneficios económicos, socioculturales y ambientales que proporcionan. Con este fin, se promoverá la acción internacional en pos de la ordenación sostenible, la conservación y el desarrollo de todo tipo de bosques, incluidos los árboles fuera de ellos.
Entre las actividades conmemorativas del Año Internacional de los Bosques figura el intercambio de conocimientos sobre estrategias prácticas que favorezcan la ordenación forestal sostenible y el retroceso de la deforestación y la degradación de los bosques.
Con objeto de facilitar la organización de estas actividades, se alienta a los gobiernos a que establezcan comités nacionales y centros de coordinación en sus países respectivos, y a que aúnen sus esfuerzos a los de las organizaciones regionales e internacionales y las organizaciones de la sociedad civil. La Secretaría del Foro de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Bosques (FNUB) será el centro de coordinación designado para la puesta en práctica del Año Internacional de los Bosques.
Es la segunda vez que se asigna a los bosques su propio «año internacional». La primera fue en 1985, cuando el Consejo de la FAO pidió a todos los Estados Miembros que concedieran un reconocimiento especial a los bosques en el curso del año a fin de centrar la atención mundial en la necesidad de conservar y proteger los bosques; despertar la conciencia política y pública en lo relativo a los recursos forestales; identificar y poner de relieve los factores que amenazan a estos recursos forestales; y movilizar a la población, y en especial a los jóvenes, para que participasen en actividades orientadas hacia la protección de los bosques.
For full story, please see:
www.eluniversal.com.co/cartagena/ambiente/2011-a%C3%B1o-internacional-de-los-bosques-1934

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  • UN forum to consider social development linked to forests opens in New York

Source: UN News, 24 January 2011

Countries from around the globe have gathered at UN Headquarters in New York for the start of a forum on strategies to help the world’s forests promote social development, improve livelihoods and contribute towards global poverty eradication.
The UN Forum on Forests (UNFF), which is made up of all the UN’s 192 countries, runs for two weeks and aims to emphasize the role and responsibilities of people who depend on forests at a time when forests are threatened by unsustainable practices and economic crises.
“Forests are the intersection of all aspects of human life — forest history, at its core, is about the changing relationships between people and forests,” said the Director of the UNFF Secretariat, Jan McAlpine. “At this session of the Forum, we must listen to these lessons from our natural history, and incorporate the voices of the people into forest policies to build a sustainable future for both forests and people.”
At the Forum, policies and programmes related to forest-dependent communities, land tenure, and other social and cultural aspects of forests will be discussed.        Representatives will also take part in the launch of the International Year of Forests on 2 February, aimed at broadening public understanding of the role that healthy forests play around the world.
Forests cover about 31 percent of Earth’s surface — or just under four billion ha —according to the FAO. An estimated 13 million ha of the world’s forests are lost every year, mainly as a result of converting forest land to other uses.
More than 60 million people are employed by forest-based industries and the annual value of wood removed from forests is estimated to be over US$100 billion.
At least 1.6 billion people directly depend on forests for their livelihoods, the majority of them poor inhabitants of areas next to forests; while an estimated 60 million people, mainly members of indigenous and local communities, live in forests.
www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=37363&Cr=forest&Cr1=

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EVENTS

Shea 2011: Sustainable Solutions 
Accra, Ghana
6-7 April 2011
Shea nuts come from millions of trees growing in the Sahel, an arid region stretching from Senegal to Uganda. As many as four million women sustain their livelihoods by collecting the nuts, which then become shea stearin or olein, an ingredient par excellence for specialty fats used in confectionary and natural cosmetics.
The sector’s fifth annual conference, organized by US AID West Africa Trade Hub — Shea 2011: Sustainable Solutions — will feature the launch of the world’s first international private sector shea alliance, the Global Shea Alliance, and expert information on virtually every aspect of the business.
From the women’s groups that collect shea nuts to the world’s major buyers of nuts and butter, the conference is the only event of its kind for the industry. Researchers, civil society, public sector officials, service providers, financial institutions and transport companies will also participate.
Online registration for the conference is now open.
For more information, please contact:
Joe Lamport, Communications Manager
USAID West Africa Trade Hub
Jubilee House
4th Street, Kuku Hill
Osu Accra, Ghana
Tel: +233 244 340 748
E-mail: jlamport@watradehub.com
www.watradehub.com or www.globalshea.com

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2011 INBAR Bamboo Tour to China
19-30 June 2011
China
The objective of INBAR’s annual bamboo study tours is to share the experience of Chinese bamboo development and to promote bamboo development in other countries. The 2011 Bamboo Tour will include visits to Zhejiang and Sichuan province, with the possibility of attending the 2011 Xi’an International Horticultural Exposition.
The tour will include visits to some leading bamboo flooring manufacturers, such as: DASSO (who produced bamboo fire-proof ceiling in Madrid international airport); Yafeng (who produces strand woven bamboo lumber and floor); Yongyu (bamboo floor); Shengbang (bamboo concrete form and fibre board); Xieqiang (bamboo curtain and mat); Kangxing bamboo shoot processing company; Shenshi Bio-product company (bamboo extract like flavonoid, bamboo beer); Wenzhao, the biggest bamboo charcoal company (charcoal and vinegar) and the only China Bamboo Charcoal Museum in the world; some primitive processing workshops (bamboo strips) on the community level; Huachun bamboo furniture company; Jitai bamboo processing machine company; and Anji bamboo product market (hundreds bamboo products including bamboo clothes).
The tour also includes visits to: the biggest bamboo botanic garden in the world, Anji Bamboo Garden, which has more than 300 bamboo species plus two giant pandas,; the Chinese Bamboo Museum; high-yield bamboo plantations; a bamboo film production base; ecotourism sites; an ornamental bamboo nursery; Baisha ecotourism village; and finally companies and communities producing NTFPs like ginkgo, hickory and traditional dry bamboo shoots.
The cost of attending the tour in China is US$2100/person including accommodation, food, transportation, domestic flights and entrance tickets etc.
Reports from the 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009 bamboo tours are available online.
For more information, please contact:
Dr. Fu Jinhe, INBAR
 No. 8, Fu Tong Dong Da Jie, Wang Jing Area
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100102, P.R. China
Tel: +86-10-6470 6161
Fax: +86-10-6470 2166/ 3166
E-mail: jfu@inbar.int
www.inbar.int/Board.asp?Boardid=89

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LITERATURE REVIEW AND WEB SITES

41.       State of the World’s Forests
From: NWFP Programme, 3 February 2011

The State of the World's Forests reports on the status of forests, recent major policy and institutional developments and key issues concerning the forest sector. It makes current, reliable and policy-relevant information widely available to facilitate informed discussion and decision-making with regard to the world's forests.
The ninth biennial issue of State of the World’s Forests, published at the outset of 2011, the International Year of Forests, considers the theme “Changing pathways, changing lives: forests as multiple pathways to sustainable development”. It takes a holistic view of the multiple ways in which forests support livelihoods. The chapters assembled for this year’s State of the World’s Forests highlight four key areas that warrant greater attention: regional trends on forest resources; the development of sustainable forest industries; climate change mitigation and adaptation; and the local value of forests. Considered together, these themes provide insights on the true contribution of forests to the creation of sustainable livelihoods and alleviation of poverty.
www.fao.org/forestry/sofo/en/

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42.       Major conservation biology textbook now free online
From: www.mongabay.com, in Amazon News, 20 January 2011

A highly regarded conservation textbook is now available online for free. Conservation Biology for All, a book edited by Navjot S. Sodhi of the National University of Singapore and Paul R. Ehrlich of Stanford University (USA), has been posted on mongabay.com, an environmental science and conservation news site, as a free download.
The authors, together with the publisher, Oxford University Press, expect open access to greatly increase the reach of the book, which was published last year.
Conservation Biology for All includes chapters on a range of topics including deforestation, extinction, ecosystem services, fragmentation, invasive species, climate change, overexploitation, biodiversity, fire, and conservation.  More than two dozen authors contributed to the book.
For more information, please see: www.amazonia.org.br/english/noticias/noticia.cfm?id=376042 or www.mongabay.com/conservation-biology-for-all.html

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43.       World Bank Book links natural resources management with wealth of nations
From: IISD News, 20 January 2011

The World Bank has released a book titled The Changing Wealth of Nations, which contends that most countries are relatively highly dependent on natural capital initially, and the ones that progress most successfully are those that manage their assets for the long term and reinvest in human and social capital as well as in building strong institutions and systems of governance.
The book is a follow-up publication to the 2006 book Where is the Wealth of Nations? It extends the principles of wealth accounting to include dimensions that go beyond the standard Gross Domestic Product (GDP) calculations undertaken by finance ministries. It presents, for the first time, a set of “wealth accounts” for over 150 countries for 1995, 2000 and 2005, which allow a longer-term assessment of global, regional and country performance in building wealth.
The book is part of an initiative by World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick called the “Global Partnership for Ecosystems Valuation and Wealth Accounting”. It brings together a group of developed and developing countries to test out and implement expanded measures of natural wealth and their inclusion in countries’ national accounts. A key goal is to properly value ecosystem services, such as coastal protection from mangroves and hydrological services from forests.
For more information, please see: http://biodiversity-l.iisd.org/news/world-bank-book-links-natural-resources-management-with-wealth-of-nations/?referrer=biodiversity-update

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44.       Other publications of Interest
From: NWFP Programme

Gonzalez, R. Treasure, T., Wright, J., Saloni, D., Phillips, R., Abt, R. and Jameel, H.. 2011. Exploring the potential of Eucalyptus for energy production in the Southern United States: Financial analysis of delivered biomass: Part I. Biomass and bioenergy 35: 755-766.
Abstract: Eucalyptus plantations in the Southern United States offer a viable feedstock for renewable bioenergy. Delivered cost of eucalypt biomass to a bioenergy facility was simulated in order to understand how key variables affect biomass delivered cost. Three production rates in two investment scenarios were compared in terms of financial analysis, to evaluate the effect of productivity and land investment on the financial indicators of the project. Delivered cost of biomass was simulated to range from US$55.1 to US$66.1 per delivered Mg (with freight distance of 48.3 km from plantation to biorefinery) depending on site productivity (without considering land investment) at 6 percent IRR. When land investment was included in the analysis, delivered biomass cost increased to range from US$65.0 to US$79.4 per delivered Mg depending on site productivity at 6 percent IRR. Conversion into cellulosic ethanol might be promising with biomass delivered cost lower than US$66 Mg. These delivered costs and investment analysis show that Eucalyptus plantations are a potential biomass source for bioenergy production for Southern U.S.

Gonzalez, R., Treasure, T., Wright, J., Saloni, D., Phillips, R., Abt, R. and Jameel, H. 2011. Converting Eucalyptus biomass into ethanol: Financial and sensitivity analysis in a co-current dilute acid process. Part II. Biomass and bioenergy 35: 767-772.

Huai, H.Y., Zhang, B., Liu, H.S. 2008. Ethnobotany of wild edible plant resources in periodic markets in Jinping Autonomous County of Miao, Yao, and Da. Acta Botanica Yunnanica. 30: 5, 603-610

Kuhlman, T. Coulibaly, K. Yago, E. L. Michels, R. Berg, J. van den. 2010. Les arbres fruitiers saheliens dans l'economie rurale. Cas du Burkina Faso et du Mali. Landbouw Economisch Instituut.55:104.

Moreno, A., Pulido, M.T., Mariaca, R., Valadez-Azua, A., Mejia, P. Gutierrez, Y.T. (Eds). 2010. Sistemas biocognitivos tradicionales: paradigmas en la conservación biológica y el fortalecimiento cultural. Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo, Asociación Etnobiológica Mexicana y Sociedad Latinoamericana de Etnobiología. México.

Mutenje, M. J. Ortmann, G. F. Ferrer, S. R. D. 2011. Management of non-timber forestry products extraction: local institutions, ecological knowledge and market structure in South-Eastern Zimbabwe. Ecological Economics. 70: 3, 454-461.

Ninan, K.N. (ed). 2010. Conserving and Valuing Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity: Economic, Institutional and Social Challenges. UK: Earthscan.
Abstract: This book comprehensively addresses the economic, social and institutional difficulties in conserving biodiversity and the ecosystem services that it provides. It covers a wide range of issues such as biodiversity, ecosystem services and valuation in the context of diverse ecosystems such as tropical forests, marine areas, wetlands and agricultural landscapes, non-timber forest products, incentives and institutions, payments for ecosystem services, governance, intellectual property rights and the protection of traditional knowledge, management of protected areas, and climate change and biodiversity.
The book spans the globe with case studies drawn from a cross section of regions and continents including the UK, US, Europe, Australia, India, Africa and South America.
www.earthscan.co.uk/?tabid=102498

Perera, J. (ed). 2009. Land and Cultural Survival The Communal Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Asia. Asian Development Bank.
Abstract: This book focuses on indigenous peoples and their communal land management. The analyses it contains explore how some Asian countries recognize indigenous peoples’ environmental interests and land rights, and engage them in the development discourse. Collectively, the chapters examine how some Asian countries have introduced laws, regulations, and institutional mechanisms to safeguard and promote indigenous interests in areas such as natural resources, communal land management, and consultative decision making. These analyses are supported with case studies and timely critical reflections.
www.adb.org/Documents/Books/Land-Cultural-Survival/land-cultural-survival.pdf

Rives, J. Fernandez-Rodriguez, I. Rieradevall, J. Gabarrell, X. 2011. Environmental analysis of the production of natural cork stoppers in southern Europe (Catalonia-Spain). Journal of Cleaner Production. 19: 2/3, 259-271.
Abstract: The wine industry has developed greatly over recent years, and it could be stated that what was once a traditional industry has become a very productive and technical sector. One aspect that has not been studied until now is the cork stopper, despite the fact that most wine bottles are sealed with this product, and practically all corks are produced in the Iberian Peninsula.
            This study presents the environmental analysis of the production of natural cork stoppers, using life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology. The research was supported by data from four Catalan representative companies and all the stages involved in the production after the forest management have been taken into account. The purpose of this research was to provide reference data for the Catalan cork industrial sector (Northeast Spain), and also contribute to deciding which aspects of natural cork stopper production must be improved and further researched. Another objective of this research was to emphasise and demonstrate that LCA methodology could be an interesting tool for improving traditional industry, from a cleaner production perspective.
Results could be used by other sector companies to analyse and compare themselves with in order to know if they could improve their production with the current available technology. Impact assessment results indicate that the manufacturing stage was the stage causing the greatest impact, but also an evaluation of the influence of the initial transport from the forest reveals that this stage could notably increase the impact when raw cork was moved from distant forests.

Scott, S. & Green. C. 2010. The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes. USA: Studio.
Taking readers into the woods and on the roadside, The Wild Table features more than forty wild mushrooms, plants, and berries — from prize morels and chanterelles to fennel, ramps, winter greens, huckleberries, and more. Each section features enchanting essays capturing the essence of each ingredient, along with stories of foraging in the natural world.

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45.       WEB SITES and E-ZINES
From: NWFP Programme

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/ and www.fao.org/forestry/iyf2011/en/

Laos NTFP Wiki
This wiki has been created to allow all NTFP lovers an opportunity to learn more about and contribute to the growing body of knowledge about NTFPs in Laos. Lao people of all ethnicities have been using, managing and protecting NTFPs for hundreds of years. NTFPs are a key component to all aspects of life in Laos and most Lao people can name hundreds of different types of NTFPs and their uses. NTFPs provide an important source of nutrition and food security to the vast majority of rural people in Laos. They are also an important source for medicines and products used for everyday use. NTFPs are also a key part of the rich biological diversity found in Laos.
www.tabi.la/lao-ntfpwiki/?Itemid=39

Save forests. Save ourselves: BirdLife Community
www.birdlife.org/community/2011/01/save-forests-save-ourselves/

New FAO Policy Support web site
This new web site highlights the work carried out by the FAO Policy Support team, which consists in providing resources for policy making in agriculture, rural development and food security and assisting FAO member countries in: (i) identifying, formulating, monitoring and evaluating policies and strategies; (ii) identifying and analysing the root causes of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; (iii) enhancing dialogue at all stages of the policy process; (iv) improving knowledge on development issues; and (v) developing capacity of public institutions dealing with policy issues.  
This site is aimed especially at anyone involved in policy making processes: policy analysts and advisors, government ministries, practitioners, academics and students. All our material is freely available for download.
www.fao.org/tc/policy-support/policy-support-home/en/

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MISCELLANEOUS

  • Plants go down and not up

Source: Environmental News Network, 27 January 2011

When it gets warmer vegetation and animal life adapt and change. Different populations move in from warmer climes to former colder climes. One widely held assumption is that it gets colder as the elevation gets higher so that as the climate gets warmer, life that has adapted to a warmer environment will go higher pushing the colder based life forms out. In a paper published 20 January in the journal Science, a University of California (USA) researcher and his co-authors challenge a widely held assumption that plants will move uphill in response to warmer temperatures. Between 1930 and 2000, instead of colonizing higher elevations to maintain a constant temperature, many California plant species instead moved downhill an average of 260 ft.
Many forecasts say climate change will cause a number of plants and animals to migrate to new ranges or become extinct. That research has largely been based on the assumption that temperature is the dominant driver of species distributions. However, Greenberg (an assistant project scientist at the UC Davis Centre for Spatial Technologies and Remote Sensing) said the new study reveals that other factors, such as precipitation, may be more important than temperature in defining the habitable range of these species.
The findings could have global relevance, because many locations north of 45 degrees latitude (which includes the northernmost United States, virtually all of Canada and Russia, and most of Europe) have had increased precipitation in the past century, and global climate models generally predict that trend will continue, the authors said.
He added that the study underlines the importance of an investment in basic science, as the results are based on historical data collected by the U.S. Forest Service in the 1930s.
There are many factors that affect how plant life will respond to environmental change. Temperature and precipitation are just two variables.
Changing environments are therefore expected to lead to changes in life cycle events, and these have been recorded for many species of plants.
It is likely that indirect impacts are to be equally important in determining the response of plants to climate change. A species whose distribution changes as a direct result of climate change may invade the range of another species for example, introducing a new competitive relationship. These indirect factors are also affected by climate change and will have impact on how the plant environment will respond.
For full story, please see: www.enn.com/top_stories/article/42286
 
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last updated:  Monday, April 30, 2012