Untitled Document

No. 16/11

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/en
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IN THIS ISSUE:

PRODUCTS

COUNTRY INFORMATION

NEWS

EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES

EVENTS

LITERATURE REVIEW AND WEBSITES

MISCELLANEOUS

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PRODUCTS

  • Agarwood: Agar worth more than gold

Source: Shanghai Daily (China), 14 November 2011

Agar, the world's most precious aromatic substance, is far more valuable by weight than gold. The incense of kings and royalty has become the incense of choice for newly wealthy Chinese and a piece of agarwood from which it comes is very hot in the auction market.
A piece of resinous rainforest heartwood infected by fungus is one of the most highly sought-after items on the luxury market today. Ritual burning and appreciation requires a connoisseur's sense of scent and sensibility. Some is carved into jewellery or religious statues.
It is known as agarwood, agar, aloeswood, eaglewood, jinkoh and gaharu and is prized around the world. The fragrance is complex and pleasing and there are few natural analogues.
In China it is called chen xiang (literally wood with mellow fragrance). It is used in traditional Chinese medicine, aryuvedic medicine and aroma therapy, as well as various religious rituals.
Earlier this month a piece of agarwood sold for 360 000 Yuan (US$55 656) at the 1st Shanghai Fragrance and Wood Furniture Exhibition. But 20 years ago it would have fetched no more than 10 Yuan. A fragrant chen xiang bracelet of 17 beads, each 1 cm in diameter, was priced at 80 000 Yuan.
"Gold is nothing compared with chen xiang wood," says Ren Gang, Shanghai's first collector who opened Yonghe Hall, a villa containing various chen xiang artworks. Chen xiang is weighed and valued by the gram and each gram of high-quality agarwood can be priced at more than 10 000 Yuan. The current price as of last Friday was 359 Yuan/g.
Agarwood comes from aquilaria and gyrinops evergreen trees in Southeast Asia and differs according to species and region. It is produced when a tree is infected with a certain fungus and in response produces a dark, volatile, fragrant resin to combat the invasion. The heartwood, usually pale in colour, then darkens and becomes denser; the darker the wood, the richer it is in resin, hence the more valuable. Essential oil can be extracted.
Though trees are inoculated commercially to introduce the fungus, the rare natural wood is far more valuable and natural resources are scarce.
In traditional Chinese medicine, chen xiang can be processed and used to treat heart disease, nourish the stomach and warm the kidneys. It is a stimulant, a tonic and a diuretic. It has been used since ancient times to treat fatigue, stress and depression.
In China the trees only grow in limited numbers in Hui'an, coastal Fujian Province.
In response to soaring prices, trees are being cultivated and artificially inoculated with fungus in Hainan Province, which has a tropical climate.
The natural agarwood from Kalimantan, Indonesia, smells rich and deep, while agarwood from Irian Jaya has a slightly sweet and wispy aroma.
"The natural environment, climate, temperature and humidity determine everything," says curator Shi Jue, who just launched a chen xiang wood carving sculpture exhibition in Shanghai. She also initiated the chen Xiang Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection Fund. "These factors determine whether the fragrant resin or oil will be formed in decades or hundreds of years."
The more oil the wood contains, the more valuable it is.
For full story, please see: www.shanghaidaily.com/nsp/Feature/2011/11/14/Tripping%2Bout%2Bon%2Bincense/

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  • Bushmeat: Orangutans in Borneo — humans killing 750/year

Source: New Scientist, 15 November 2011

Indonesians are killing endangered orangutans at an alarming rate. At least 750 were killed in one recent year, according to a new survey.
The survey focused on Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) living in Kalimantan, the Indonesian side of the island of Borneo. Led by Erik Meijaard of People and Nature Consulting International in Jakarta, Indonesia, researchers interviewed 6983 people from 687 villages between April 2008 and September 2009 about bushmeat.
Tallying up individual accounts, they estimate that between 750 and 1800 orangutans were killed in the year leading up to April 2008. In previous years, however, things were even worse: the researchers calculate that between 1950 and 3100 were killed each year.
Interviews suggest 54 percent were killed for food and eaten by local people. Conflict between humans and orangutans also seems to be a factor: 10 percent of orangutans were said to have been killed because they were raiding crops, and 15 percent of respondents said the orangutans had come into conflict with local people.
Even without the threat of becoming bushmeat, Bornean orangutans are already endangered, with no more than 69 000 left in the wild. The main culprit is habitat loss, with expanding palm-oil plantations often blamed. The high rate of killing only adds to the pressure on the species.
73 percent of respondents knew that orangutans were protected by Indonesian law. "If people are found holding a dead orang-utan they should be prosecuted," says Ashley Leiman, Director of the Orangutan Foundation (www.orangutan.org.uk ) in London. But that is not the case, she says. Killing orangutans is illegal, but the Indonesian government rarely prosecutes or punishes perpetrators.
For full story, please see: www.newscientist.com/article/dn21170-humans-killing-at-least-750-bornean-orangutans-a-year.html

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  • Bushmeat: Orangutans in Borneo — hungry villagers slaughter orangutans Source: Jamie Betchel, Huffington Post (USA), 9 November 2011

A report detailing orangutan interactions with humans in Indonesia was released last week and is making international news. The report shows that nearly 700 orangutans were slaughtered by local villagers in Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of Borneo.
While the findings of the research are terribly sad, they are not terribly shocking. Similarly, the conservation community's response to the survey is predictable: a call for the opening of more conservation areas and stricter punishment of orangutan killers.
This call to action is standard operating procedure for thousands of conservation workers and millions, if not billions, of conservation dollars. As a conservation expert, I am all too familiar with the battle cry of the protected area. The concept is simple: we need to set up a network of safe havens for the world's most vulnerable species. In other words, keep animals safe by keeping people out. However, this solution is seriously flawed and doomed to failure for several reasons. In many cases, individuals existing on the brink of survival will resort to desperate measures to feed their families. Under such dire circumstances, the borders of a protected area are rarely a meaningful deterrent. As Suci Utami Atmoko, a field coordinator in Indonesia notes, hunger was the main reason for killing and eating the orangutans. “Some residents were desperate and had no other choice but to kill them after spending three days hunting for food.” In this case, a full 70 percent of the villagers questioned knew the orangutans were a protected or endangered species when they killed them.
It is easy to point a finger at villagers whose homes adjoin orangutan habitat. It is much, much harder to conceive of the fact that we are equally, if not more so, to blame for the likely demise of these precious primates. The impacts of hunting orangutan for bushmeat are a distant second to the significantly more intractable problem of deforestation. Deforestation on the island of Borneo is driven primarily by the timber trade and the expansion of palm oil plantations. The timber makes it way to places like China where furniture is constructed and then shipped to the U.S. to fill our homes with affordable furnishings. The palm oil is purchased by large companies for use in our foods, cosmetics, and as biofuel. Because we are fundamentally uninterested in paying more for sustainable sourced products or protesting the poor labour and production practices of international corporations, these companies will continue their detrimental practices unchallenged and high value forest habitat in places like Indonesia will continue to be destroyed for our benefit.
Until the conservation community responds to the very real crisis of species extinction with significantly more effective solutions, a lot of time and money will be wasted. Conservation must be about more than establishing protected areas and imprisoning poachers, it must be about feeding children, providing medicine, reducing the ravages of HIV/AIDS and improving access to education. It must be about job creation. It must be about educating consumers, informing trade policies, and incorporating resource use into poverty reduction strategies.
For full story, please see: www.huffingtonpost.com/jamie-bechtel/orangutans-extinction_b_1078597.html

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  • Bushmeat: New threat facing Africa’s Leopards

Source: Natural History Magazine, October 2011

Leopards (Panthera pardus), one of the smallest of their big-cat genus (lions, tigers, snow leopards, and jaguars are also members), once lived in eastern and southern Asia and all of Africa, from Siberia to the Cape of Good Hope. They are now found mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, with fragments of populations in Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Indochina, Malaysia, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and eastern Russia. Because of that decline, the species is listed as “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and, of its nine recognized subspecies, five are endangered or critically endangered, bringing the species as a whole to the brink of the next IUCN level, “vulnerable.”
“Leopards have vanished from almost 40 percent of their historic range in Africa,” says biologist and leopard specialist Luke Hunter, president of Panthera, an organization headquartered in New York that works to ensure the future of wild cats through scientific research and conservation efforts. “The decline is the result of relentless habitat loss, conflict with livestock herders, and the lucrative and illegal market for leopard skins and other body parts.”
Now, studies by Hunter and Panthera’s Philipp Henschel, as well as by scientists at the University of Oxford and mates of their numbers in places like the Seronera Valley in the Serengeti, and in fact across Africa.” have identified a new threat to Africa’s leopards: competition with human hunting for “bushmeat.” That finding comes not from Africa’s mountains or savannas, but from the rainforests of the Congo Basin. Cats and humans both target medium-size herbivores such as antelopes and bushpigs. At sites where leopards’ prey is scarce, densities of the cats are less than one-quarter of those in areas more remote from human settlements, where antelopes still roam. In the most overhunted of the project’s sites, leopards have disappeared without a trace.
“Humans throughout the Congo Basin rely primarily on bushmeat for protein, so the implications for leopards are immense,” says Henschel. “Where leopards can hang on, they are forced to switch their diets to smaller prey species and so do not reach their normal densities.”
Although the leopards themselves may be revered as totems, and so protected from direct hunting, the loss of their prey can wipe them out. “It is the ‘empty forest’ phenomenon,” says Hunter. “You can have intact forest that looks pristine but is so heavily hunted that few large mammals — and no top carnivores — can live there.”
Leopards can adapt to varied, even human-occupied environments, but live very secretive, hidden lives,” says biologist Markus Borner, director of the Frankfurt Zoological Society’s Africa Regional Office, headquartered in the Serengeti in Tanzania. “That makes leopards difficult to study, and hard for us to make estimates of their numbers in places like the Seronera Valley in the Serengeti, and in fact across Africa.”
For full story, please see: www.naturalhistorymag.com/features/022141/leopards-in-the-twilight-zone

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  • Edible insects: Humanity needs to start farming bugs for food, says UN policy paper

Source: www.cpheraldleader.com (Canada), 9 November 2011

The world population is at 7 billion and climbing. Will new food sources be needed to help feed the world's hungry? The UN further predicts the population will grow to 9 billion by 2050. With no increase in arable land, an already taxed supply of fresh water and fears of ongoing drought and harmful climate change, figuring out how to feed that many people is a top priority.
A possible new menu item to consider may be the edible and sustainable flying protein swarms all around us. In a new policy paper being considered by FAO, a Belgian entomologist is making the recommendation that the western world eat more insects.
Farming edible insects like mealworms and crickets would produce far less greenhouse gas methane and nitrous oxide than the livestock we currently farm. Insects are metabolically much more efficient making them far cheaper to feed and raise. They are high in protein and calcium, and, with over 1 000 edible species, offer a delicious variety.
In April, FAO started a pilot locust-farming project in Laos, where insect farming has been in decline due to the cultural influence of the West. 15 000 household farmers already raise locusts in Thailand, and that expertise can be transferred elsewhere.
Although not unheard of, introducing a bug-rich diet to the western world might be more of a challenge. It can start by first farming insects to feed conventional livestock; and then gradually introducing them directly to the menu for humans. Processing and grinding the meat (insects) into some sort of patty is being considered.
For full story, please see: www.cpheraldleader.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3358605

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  • Edible insects: Bugs on the menu at San Francisco Food Truck

Source: www.care2.com, 7 November 2011

San Francisco (California, USA) may be on the leading edge of a new food trend: insect-based cuisine.
Don Bugito, a food truck devoted to serving what chef and owner Monica Martinez calls “pre-Hispanic” cuisine, dished up its first bug-based bites in August at the annual San Francisco Street Food Festival.
In the wake of Don Bugito’s successful August debut, Martinez was invited to host an October dinner at the Headlands Center for the Arts. Titled “Edible Insects and Other Rare Delicacies: An Insect and Mezcal Pairing Dinner,” the menu for the evening featured lake fly egg tortitas and oven toasted American cricket with fresh jicama. (A menu note assures locavores that the crickets were cultivated in California.)
Martinez is set to begin full-time operation of the Don Bugito food truck this month.
Martinez is not the only chef serving up bugs in the Bay Area. San Francisco is also home to MiniLivestock, an entomophagy promotion project founded by Rosanna Yau, a Bay-Area designer. And Daniella Martin, entomophagy blogger and host of the GirlMeetsBug YouTube channel, also hails from the region.
Why the sudden spike in American interest in insect-based cuisine? From an anthropological perspective, it might make more sense to ask why Americans do not traditionally eat bugs. Fried crickets are a common snack in Cambodia. Roasted ants are eaten in Columbia. The indigenous people of Australia consider wood moth larvae — locally called ‘”witchetty grubs” — a staple food.
In fact, worldwide, insects are a fairly common food source; it is mainly in Europe, Canada and the United States — that eating bugs maintains a strong cultural taboo.
But it may be in the planet’s best interest for wealthy westerners to get over centuries of cultural conditioning and give entomophagy a try. Promoters of entomophagy claim that insects, packed with protein and minerals, are an eco-friendly alternative to meat, and evidence from a study conducted in January by researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands lends credence to that claim.
As the world population surpasses seven billion, and a growing global middle class demands more protein on their plates, entomophagy might turn out to be much more than just a foodie trend — it could be a vital step toward a more sustainable food future.
For full story, please see: www.care2.com/causes/bugs-on-the-menu-at-san-francisco-food-truck.html#ixzz1dCXgEM94

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  • Fungi: International team to sequence genomes of fungi

Source: www.biosciencetechnology.com, 10 November 2011

With an estimated 1.5 million species, fungi represent one of the largest branches of the Tree of Life. They have an enormous impact on human affairs and ecosystem functioning due to their diverse activities as decomposers and pathogens, and their partnership with host organisms for mutual benefit. To use fungi for the benefit of humankind, an accurate understanding of what exactly they do, how they function, and how they interact in natural and synthetic environments is required.
Jason Stajich, an assistant professor of plant pathology and microbiology at the University of California, Riverside (USA), is a member of an international research team that, in collaboration with the Joint Genome Institute of the U.S. Department of Energy, has embarked on a five-year project to sequence 1000 fungal genomes from across the Fungal Tree of Life.
Called the “1000 Fungal Genomes” project, the research endeavour aims to bridge the gap in our understanding of fungal diversity.
“The overall plan is to fill in gaps in the Fungal Tree of Life by sequencing at least two species from every known fungal family,” said Stajich, a member of UCR’s Institute for Integrative Genome Biology. “Once the data is compiled, the project scientists will make use of the data as a starting point for interpreting how these organisms change and use their environment to make a living.”
Essential biological components of the global carbon cycle, fungi break down dead organic material. Collectively, they are capable of degrading almost any naturally occurring biopolymer and numerous human-made ones. Fungi hold considerable promise in the development of alternative fuels, carbon sequestration and bioremediation of contaminated ecosystems. They are important, too, in the production of drugs, chocolate, beer and some cheeses. To date, however, only about 100 000 species of fungi have been named.
“The ability to sample environments for complex communities by sequencing genomic DNA is rapidly becoming a reality and will play an important part in harnessing fungi for industrial, energy and climate management purposes,” Stajich said. “However, our ability to accurately analyze these data relies on well-characterized, foundational reference data of fungal genomes.”
For full story, please see: www.biosciencetechnology.com/News/2011/11/International-Team-to-Sequence-Genomes-of-Fungi/

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  • Fungi in the USA: Reishi, the leathery healer

Source: The New York Times “Urban Forager” Blog, 29 October 2011

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) or ling chih or lingzhi, or varnished conk, is considered a rare medicinal mushroom, though recent reports of the fungus city seems to have placed the mushroom all around New York city.
Reishi has a smooth, dark-reddish-mahogany varnished cap, with whitish edges when young, but flip it over and you’ll find a white-yellowish underside filled with tiny pin-prick pores (it is a polypore, a brown spore print).
In traditional Chinese Medicine, ling chih is considered the “mushroom of immortality” or “herb of spiritual potency” (according to Gary Lincoff’s “National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms”), and is used as an immunity boost as well as a cancer treatment.
It is edible only when very young and tender.
For full story, please see: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/29/urban-forager-reishi-the-leathery-healer/

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  • Honey in the EU: Pollen warning on honey jars

Source: Daily Mail (UK), 7 November 2011

Under new EU regulations, jars of honey will have to be marked “contains pollen” — a move experts have branded ludicrous, and say could put some British beekeepers out of business.
It will also have to undergo expensive tests to prove it does not contain unauthorized genetically modified pollen.
Until now, honey had always been considered an entirely unadulterated product for the purposes of food labelling.
But the European Court of Justice has decreed that pollen is an ingredient of honey rather than an intrinsic component. It means that products will, for the first time, have to carry a list of ingredients such as “honey (contains pollen)”.
Britain’s biggest supplier of retail honey, Rowse, said that the bill for re-labelling and testing its entire range will run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
John Howat, secretary of the Bee Farmers’ Association, which represents Britain’s 300 commercial beekeepers, said the ruling was a nuisance. “The idea that pollen is an ingredient of honey is nonsense. Pollen is integral to honey. Bees collect nectar and pollen. When they are storing it away pollen gets into the nectar and hence into the honey.’
The ruling came after a German amateur beekeeper found small amounts of GM pollen in his honey. He sued the state of Bavaria, which owned trial GM maize plots near his hives, for damaging his produce.
The UK's Food Standards Agency has written to leading industry figures to tell them what they need to do. Sandy Lawrie, head of its novel foods unit, wrote: “The Commission held meetings at the end of September with representatives from honey exporting countries and with EU stakeholders.
“The Commission's Joint Research Centre is evaluating methods for extracting pollen DNA from honey.” His case ended in the ECJ reclassifying pollen as a food ingredient, in a ruling that cannot be appealed.
Anyone who sells honey to the public, including Britain’s 40 000 amateur beekeepers, faces tests.
Suppliers whose pollen is found to be more than 0.9 percent GM must undergo full safety authorization and label their honey accordingly.
But experts say it is unlikely that any honey produced in Britain will contain that level of GM pollen — and claim scientists cannot quantify the content of pollen to that degree of accuracy.
Patrick Robinson, of Oxfordshire-based firm Rowse, said: “To say honey contains pollen is like saying peanuts contain nuts…This could be really damaging to smaller producers and beekeepers.”
“If they have to add on a £200 test for every batch of honey that they pack, it could be more than their profit and run them out of business.”
The European Commission is expected to finalize the regulations over the next year.
For full story, please see: www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2058190/EU-orders-pollen-warning-honey-jars.html#

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  • Honey in the USA: What passes for honey on U.S. shelves

Source: www.care2.com, 7 November

Food Safety News bought more than 60 samples from 10 states and the District of Columbia in a recent investigation on the quality of honey on U.S. grocery shelves . They sent the jars, jugs and plastic bears to Texas A&M University, where Vaughn Bryant, Director of the Palynology Research Laboratory, analyzed them.
Bryant is a palynologist, someone who studies spores and pollen. He is also melissopalynologist (someone who studies honey pollen).
What he learned in testing for Food Safety News should make every honey consumer wary. His key results:

  • 76 percent of samples bought at groceries had all the pollen removed.
  • 100 percent of the honey sampled from drugstores had no pollen.
  • 77 percent of the honey sampled from big box stores had the pollen filtered out.
  • 100 percent of the honey packaged in the small individual service portions from fast food chains had the pollen removed.
  • Bryant found that every one of the samples Food Safety News bought at farmers markets, co-ops and “natural” stores had the full, anticipated amount of pollen.

            Pollen-free honey may not sound like a problem, but without pollen it is not possible to trace the source. One- third or more of all the honey consumed in the U.S. is likely to have been smuggled in from China and may be tainted with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals. A Food Safety News investigation has documented that millions of pounds of honey banned as unsafe in dozens of countries are being imported and sold here in record quantities.
No pollen, no traceability, no assurance of safety. Furthermore, when pollen is filtered from honey, so are many of the health benefits such as allergy relief and the nutritional value of vitamins, minerals and trace nutrients in bee pollen.
The Food Safety News test results come just as the EU has decided to order honey producers to test for the presence of unauthorized genetically modified pollen and to identify pollen as an ingredient rather than a natural component of honey. Industry spokespeople fear the ruling will put many small-scale beekeepers and honey producers out of business.
For full story, please see: www.care2.com/causes/what-passes-for-honey-on-u-s-shelves.html#ixzz1dCY10BG9

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  • Medicinal plants: Scientists pin down active chemicals in Chinese herbs

Source: www.scidev.net, 2 November 201

Researchers are aiming to bridge the gap between Chinese and Western systems of medicine with what they say is the first database of chemical compounds found in herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine.
The database, known as Chem-TCM, will be used to help with drug development, according to researchers from the Institute of Pharmaceutical Science at King's College London, United Kingdom, and partners at the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, China, who launched it this month (18 October).
The database features more than 12 000 chemical compounds identified in more than 300 Chinese herbs, and can be searched using text searches, but also using chemical terms.
"You can even draw a picture of a chemical structure on a computer screen and the database will search for matching molecular structures and activities," said David Barlow, an expert in computer-aided drug design and delivery systems at King's College London.
Although botanical databases on traditional medicine already exist, Barlow said this database is geared "towards identifying known activities of the chemicals in Chinese medicines" and predicting activities of similar compounds.
It includes botanical and chemical information, predicted activity of the chemicals against
For full story, please see: www.scidev.net/en/health/traditional-medicine/news/scientists-pin-down-active-chemicals-in-chinese-herbs.html

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  • Saffron can help cure multiple sclerosis: Study

Source: MSN India, 7 November 2011

A compound found in saffron, a commonly used Indian spice, could help protect brain cells from being damaged in neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, scientists have claimed.
Researchers at the University of Alberta (Canada) who studied the ingredient, crocin, in lab models and cell cultures found that it prevents damage to cells that make myelin in the brain.
Crocin exerts a "protective effect" in brain cell cultures and other models of multiple sclerosis (MS), said Dr Chris Power who led the research. "It prevented damage to cells that make myelin in the brain," he said."Myelin is insulation around nerves. MS is characterised by inflamed brain cells that have lost this protective insulation, which ultimately leads to neurodegeneration," he explained.
The researchers, who detailed their study in The Journal of Immunology, noted that they are not yet close to a clinical trial stage, but the finding is still exciting.
It has been known for years that crocin protected neurons in certain situations, but Power and his team wanted to delve further into this area. "There are still many questions to be answered about how crocin exerts these neuroprotective effects, but this research highlights a potential treatment role for crocin in diseases involving chronic neuroinflammation — something that had not been until now," Power added.
For full story, please see: http://news.in.msn.com/international/article.aspx?cp-documentid=5574083
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  • Stevia: Sugar by another name

Source: www.indianexpress.com, 29 October 2011

Stevioside, commonly known as stevia and relatively new to the list of sugar substitutes, is used as a non-caloric sweetener in several countries. Long used in its native South America as a sweetener, stevia is extracted from Stevia rebaudiana leaves.
The leaf of the stevia plant contains certain compounds, most abundant being stevioside and rebaudioside A, that give it sweetness. These compounds are about 250-300 times sweeter than sugar but their effect on metabolism has not been completely investigated.
A number of studies have suggested that, besides sweetness, stevioside along with other compounds may also have anti-hyperglycemic (blood sugar lowering), anti-hypertensive (blood pressure lowering), anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and immuno-modulatory actions. However, more research is needed to validate these benefits.
Stevia is considered a valid substitute to regular table sugar as it is sweeter and has zero calories. According to EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) panel on food additives and nutrient sources, the acceptable daily intake of stevia was determined at 4 mg/kg body weight (measured as steviol equivalents), a level consistent with that already established by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). This intake is set with a wide margin of safety and no adverse effects have been seen in intakes of stevia 100 times greater than the acceptable daily intake.
For full story, please see: www.indianexpress.com/news/Sugar-by-another-name/866841/

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  • Truffles: Prices double as hot summer hits harvest

Source: The Guardian (UK), 6 November 2011

Bad news for British gourmands — the truffle hunters of Italy are in despair. Their famously elusive prey has been rendered even more difficult to unearth this autumn following a baking summer when temperatures hit record levels. As truffles thrive in damp conditions, the arid months of July, August and September have meant this year's harvest threatens to be one of the poorest in decades.
Even seasoned fungi-seekers have seen nothing like it, with some parts of Tuscany going 61 days without rain. For British consumers, this is bad news. The volume being imported into the UK is down 50 percent on last year, according to those in the trade.
"For the first time we can remember we are pricing truffles on a daily rather than a weekly basis because we cannot guarantee supply, they are that elusive," said Nadia Howell, a director of L'Aquila, a fine foods company which runs www.whitetruffleauction.com.
The price of the most highly prized white truffle has more than doubled. British consumers lucky enough to be able to source white truffles can expect to pay as much as £5 000 to £6 000/kg, compared with £2 000 to £3 000 last year. Even the less sought-after black truffle is selling for £400 to £500/kg in Britain, double the price of last year.
Truffles, which normally grow about 20-30 cm below ground, have a short shelf life and can be sold only for a few days after they have been picked, meaning that establishing a regular supply is a problem even when the harvest is good. Increasing demand from buyers in Asia is also helping to push prices up.
And not only is there an acute shortage of truffles, the quality is also considered poor by cognoscenti. Price can also be determined by their shape and whether they have been picked intact. But the current dearth means consumers are having to resort to buying small 5 g fragments of the fungi, the sort of pieces usually reserved for putting in oil and condiments.
As the subterranean tuber, which in Italy is found using specially trained dogs that can detect the buried treasure from 60 ft feet away, are increasingly popular as corporate gifts and Christmas presents, the absence of quality white truffles in the run-up to the festive season is a particular concern for retailers of gourmet products.
For the truffle hunters of Umbria, Piedmont, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Lazio, Abruzzo and Molise, the shortage threatens financial hardship. The white truffle season lasts only from October to the end of December. People who have a licence to seek the fungi work long hours to maximize their income, which often sustains them through the following year.
Although truffles are found in other parts of Europe, notably France, aficionados place a premium on those sourced from Italy, meaning that the country's autumn harvest largely dictates prices around the world.
For full story, please see: www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/06/truffle-prices-double-harvest?newsfeed=true

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  • Truffles: White truffle of Muzzana, Italy becomes first truffle to obtain PEFC certification

Source: Antonio Brunori, PEFC Italy, 7 November 2011

The white truffle of Muzzana del Turgnano (Tuber magnatum Pico), Udine, in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region of Northern Italy, is the world’s first truffle — harvested in the wild — to obtain the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certifications (PEFC) International Forestry Certification. The truffle is harvested in the region’s Baredi Forest which extends over some 160 ha of communal land that, before Roman times, was a part of the “Lupanica” forest.
PEFC is a meta-standard that verifies the quality of any national forestry certification schemes. PEFC endorses national schemes that can achieve a high level of performance, based on the principles set out by PEFC in Geneva.
Certification of the Muzzana Truffle is pioneered by the “Associazione Muzzana Amatori Tartufi” (Muzzana Amateur Truffle Association) led by Gianfranco Del Piccolo. It involves a system which “barcodes” each and every truffle harvested on behalf of members of the Association that adhere to the initiative. In essence, the system guarantees that PEFC-certified truffles come from the Baredi Forest, and hence are harvested in a sustainably managed forest and are of “local” origin.
“The white truffle is the most valued of all tubersand hence represents a great example of the value that local non-wood forest resources can have both for civic and for communal needs,” says Enore Casanova, President of PEFC Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The certification also ensures greater legality, in that it the harvesting permits are only granted to members who are residents and skilled in the harvest of truffles.
Muzzana’s white truffle boasts a unique odour, rendering it extremely tasty and valued in gastronomy.
For more information, please e-mail Antonio Brunori, PEFC Italia at: info@pefc.it

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  • Wildlife: Rhino horn demand leads to record poaching

Source: WWF, 3 November 2011

More rhinos have been killed in South Africa in the past 10 months than were killed in all of 2010, new poaching numbers reveal. Statistics from South Africa National Parks show that 341 animals have been lost to poaching so far in 2011, compared to a record total of 333 last year.
South Africa's grim milestone comes on the heels of an announcement by WWF last week that rhinos have gone extinct in Vietnam. The carcass of Vietnam's last Javan rhino was found with a gunshot wound and without its horn.
At a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) last year, the international community concluded that the increase in rhino poaching has been caused largely by demand for horn products in Vietnam. Law enforcement efforts, while increasing, are not yet sufficient to protect rhinos from poachers or stop the smuggling and sale of their horns by organized crime rings.
"It is hardly surprising the horn was missing from the last rhino as Vietnam is the preeminent market destination for illegally sourced rhino horns," says Tom Milliken, TRAFFIC rhino programme coordinator.
In addition to being the biggest consumer of rhino horn, Vietnam is also a major market for tiger parts and other products derived from endangered species. Populations of tigers in the country are alarmingly low and could soon follow the Vietnamese Javan rhino into extinction.
"The unfounded rumour that rhino horn can cure cancer most likely sealed the fate of the last Javan rhino in Vietnam," says Dr. A. Christy Williams, WWF's Asian rhino expert, "This same problem is now threatening other rhino populations across Africa and South Asia."
For full story, please see: http://wwf.panda.org/wwf_news/?uNewsID=202224 and
www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/04/south-africa-rhino-poaching-record-high

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  • Wildlife in Vietnam: Time running out for endangered species

Source: Vietnam News, 31 October 2011

Vietnam is among the top 16 countries in the world in terms of richness of biodiversity.
Professor Dang Huy Huynh, a zoologist who has spent nearly 60 years in forests across the country researching and protecting wild animals and chairman of the Viet Nam Zoological Society, said “it was particularly sad for me to hear the WWF had confirmed the extinction of the Javan rhino in Vietnam.”
The extinction of an entire subspecies of the rarest rhino species on earth (there are only about 40 left in Indonesia now) stands as a huge conservation failure. It is not surprising that the last Vietnamese animal was killed for its horn as Vietnam is the biggest rhino horn market in the world. The horn is being promoted as a miracle cure for life-threatening diseases such as cancer and as a detoxification tonic.
This is a wake-up call for the Vietnamese Government, which should move aggressively and decisively against the local trade in rhino horn, which is rampant, said Huynh. Viet Nam is also driving the brutal poaching of rhinos throughout Africa, he added.
Before the Javan rhino, the country lost several other species, including the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), the Malayan Tapir (tapir Tapirus indicus), the civet otter (Cynogal bennetti) and the grey ox (Bos sauveli), explains Huynh. “To be fair, Vietnam has lost only a few species so far but the population of most others has decreased alarmingly. We listed 430 endangered species in Vietnam's Red Book in 2007, 25 percent more than named in 2000, when there were thought to be 345 endangered species.”
The Indochinese tiger, the Asian elephant, the Panthera pardus leopard, the Golden-headed langur, the Saola and the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey are just a few of the high-profile and charismatic species facing the real risk of disappearing within the next 10 years.
The tiger is already ecologically extinct, which means there is no evidence of breeding.
Most of Vietnam’s native wildlife, including bears, pangolins and various unique species of primates, for example, are threatened with extinction. The trade in wildlife for medicine and food is the biggest threat to these animals.
Illegal hunting to supply the wildlife trade has driven many species in Vietnam to the verge of extinction. The profits made from the wildlife trade are second only to drug trafficking, explains Huynh.
For full story, please see: http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/Opinion/217118/Time-running-out-for-endangered-species.html

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COUNTRY INFORMATION

  • Botswana: Dikgosi urged to promote indigenous knowledge

Source: www.mmegi.bw (Botswana), 28 October 2011

Ntlo ya Dikgosi — an advisory body of Botswana’s parliament — have been urged to encourage local peoples to share their indigenous knowledge and skills as this may be instrumental in economic diversification.
Addressing members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi yesterday, project leader of a University of Botswana team, Dr Mogodisheng Sekhwale said indigenous knowledge may be instrumental in economic diversification, if people are willing to come forward and share what they know.
"I had tswii [water lily, traditional food plant] when we were in the Ngami area, later [the team] examined it and we found that it contains a lot of calcium, which is very good for bones. What is stopping [Botswana] from packaging it and exporting it to be used as a food supplement?" he asked.
Outside of Botswana, many have benefited from indigenous medicinal plants, Sekwale said. He cited Hoodia (Hoodia gordonii), devil's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens), and wild melon (Cucumis melo agrestis) as examples. Hoodia is a much sought-after hunger suppressant; while devil's claw is used in the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism, skin diseases and a host of other diseases.
Kgosi Phokontsi Seeletso of Tonota commended the team, but decried the fact that traditional knowledge has been often relegated to “witchcraft.”
"If we had had the foresight to record and document all these around independence, we would be better off. Right now, young people believe that traditional medicine is evil. They forget that Westerners take our plants and change them into the pills they prefer," he said. Dikgosi were also concerned about how people with the indigenous knowledge would be protected, at which Sekhwale assured them that his team had intellectual property law specialists, who would ensure that they are protected.
The National Indigenous Knowledge System (IKS) policy, moreover, is expected to improve livelihood, enhance community belonging and increase and diversify knowledge and skills.
For full story, please see: www.mmegi.bw/index.php?sid=1&aid=1067&dir=2011/October/Friday28

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  • Democratic Republic of Congo: Unsung heroes — the life of a wildlife ranger

Source: mongabay.com, 1 November 2011

The effort to save wildlife from destruction worldwide has many heroes. Some receive accolades for their work, but others live in obscurity, doing good, sometimes even dangerous work, everyday, with little recognition. These are not scientists or big-name conservationists, but wildlife rangers, NGO staff members, and low level officials.
One of these conservation heroes is Bunda Bokitsi, chief guard of the Etate Patrol Post for Salonga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In a nation known for a prolonged civil war, desperate poverty, and corruption — as well as an astounding natural heritage — Bunda Bokitsi works everyday to secure Salonga National Park from poachers, bushmeat hunters, and trappers. In his years of service as a wildlife ranger, and now chief guard, Bokitsi has not only put his life on the line, but has also been falsely imprisoned and even tortured.
"Poachers are destroying where we are living. In 2002, when I was the chief of the patrol post at Boangui, I found two poachers with guns and two big elephant tusks in the forest while I was on patrol [...] One of the poachers ran away, the other started shooting at us. I returned fire and was finally able to capture him. [We] recuperated the ivory. In situations like that, it becomes body to body. Anything can happen," Bokitsi told mongabay.com.
Bokitsi is one of the year's recipients of the Alexander Abraham award, established in part to give recognition to conservation heroes on the frontlines in Asia and Africa. Many of its awards are given posthumously to those who have lost lives in the battle to save the world's wild places. This year seven men were honoured who had lost lives in duty; nine others, including Bokitsi, also received awards.
Having worked in Salonga National Park since 1990, and lived in the area all his life, Bokitsi has seen many changes.  "There was a huge amount of poaching back [in the 90s] — park guards could be attacked in their patrol posts by poachers in broad daylight. The poachers would just take everything. The veil covering the villager’s eyes is slowly being removed. They start understanding the importance of the park as a haven where animal populations can be at ease and reproduce."
However, the ongoing poaching has left its mark.
"[There] used to be an elephant bath called Papa Baudouin — elephants used to be all over that place. Now the old bath is overgrown; no single elephant visits the place anymore," Bokitsi says.
Salonga National Park, the largest rainforest reserve on the continent, is home to an incredibly rich array of wildlife.
To read full interview, please see: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/1101-hance_interview_bunda.html

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  • Indonesia: Risks remain despite Indonesian forest moratorium: study

Source: Reuters, 30 October 2011

A two-year ban on new licenses to clear peatlands and primary forests in Indonesia risks being undermined by the small area protected by the scheme and a host of exemptions, shows a review that calls for the program to be revised.
The ban is the centerpiece of an important climate deal with Norway, signed last year, worth up to US$1 billion. A major goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, by far the largest source of emissions in Indonesia.
Improving land tenure and land planning rules are other goals of the scheme that began in May, which has met strong resistance from some miners and planters. They fear it could crimp growth by curbing access to land.
An analysis of the moratorium by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Indonesia shows large areas of forest rich in species and stores of carbon are still at risk of clearance, limiting the chances of a major cut in emissions.
Indonesia has the world's third-largest area of tropical forests, which play a major role in braking the pace of climate change because they soak up large amounts of planet-warming carbon dioxide.
Ever greater demand for land and resources such as coal, and food such as palm oil, is threatening remaining forest cover, with about 1 million ha lost annually.
CIFOR, in the study released on Friday, said while the moratorium on licenses was a good start: "Several issues are unresolved concerning the area and status of land covered by the moratorium, and hence the amount of carbon stored in the affected forests and peatlands."
It found that the total new area protected under the moratorium was, at most, 22.5 million ha, of which a third were primary forests and half were peatlands.
The study described the failure to include secondary forests and logged-over forests in the moratorium as a lost opportunity to protect, at least temporarily, a fraction of 46.7 million ha of forests rich in carbon and biodiversity.
It said millions of hectares of peatland and primary forests were still not covered by the moratorium either because of existing concessions or planned investments deemed vital to national development.
Indonesia has about 20 million ha of peatlands estimated to contain 30 billion tonnes of carbon — roughly the equivalent of mankind's total greenhouse gas emissions over three years. That explains why Indonesia and Norway are keen to preserve what is left of these vast carbon stores to fight climate change.
"The moratorium's exceptions for activities related to food and energy security create loopholes that could undermine the suspension of new concession licenses," the study says, calling for a greater focus on land swaps involving degraded land before any exceptions are granted.
For full story, please see: www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/30/us-indonesia-climate-moratorium-idUSTRE79T0OR20111030

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  • Mongolia: Protecting forests to preserve livelihoods

Source: FAO Newsroom, 7 November 2011

A FAO programme that helps local communities in Mongolia protect their forests is being seen as a model for regional action, as an Asia-Pacific forestry event gets underway in Beijing.
The Participatory Forest Management project has effectively stopped illegal logging and forest fires in 15 pilot districts since it began in 2007, and is set to go nationwide when the pilot programme ends in January 2012.
With funding from the government of the Netherlands, the project is helping Mongolians learn techniques to preserve the forest resources that are crucial to their well-being.
Community involvement in forestry management is one of the methods being touted during the 7-11 November Asia-Pacific Forestry Week event, which is organized in part by FAO.
Mongolia holds roughly 188 000 km² of forestland, occupying 12 percent of the nation’s vast landscape. Yet these forests have been shrinking, due to greater demand for timber, human-induced fires, mining, and overstocking of cattle. In the 1990s, as many as 400 km² of forest were disappearing every year.
Communities are now discovering that they can, in fact, do something. Through the project, Forest User Groups receive training in forest assessment, mapping, management planning, fire prevention and marketing of forest products. They then develop their own plans to put into action.
The project allows rural communities to tap into new sources of income. User groups clear dead trees from the forests, and sell the wood for firewood or use in construction. They also sell non-timber products like pine nuts and berries at local markets.
“We have seen in many countries in the world, and not only in Mongolia, that involving the local population is key to stopping forest degradation, but it is also a major challenge,” said FAO Chief Technical Adviser Dominique Reeb.
In the three years since the group was founded, illegal logging and forest fires have essentially disappeared.
For full story, please see: www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/94165/icode/
To view video, please see: www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-LtgZ71RJ0

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  • Nepal: Climate-vulnerable country to benefit from ambitious new initiative

Source: WWF International, 8 November 2011

A five-year program to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change and threats to biodiversity in Nepal was officially launched at a ceremony in Kathmandu today.
The Hariyo Ban program is a new investment in biodiversity conservation in Nepal. Meaning “green forests” in Nepali, this program will help to build resilience to climate change in communities and ecosystems by restoring and conserving Nepal’s forests. It will also improve the livelihoods of some Nepal’s most impoverished communities.
Climate change is emerging as a major threat to people and biodiversity of Nepal. More than 1.9 million people are highly climate vulnerable and 10 million are increasingly at risk. Biodiversity has also been affected by increased intensity and frequency of forest fires, floods and landslides. Glacier retreat in the Himalayas has increased the risk of glacier lake outburst floods, which could have devastating consequences for downstream communities, infrastructure, property and wild species.
“Nepal is one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world and the Government of Nepal welcomes the efforts being made by Hariyo Ban,” said chief guest Mr. Deependra Bahadur Kshetry, Vice-Chairman of the National Planning Commission. “The year 2011 is being celebrated as the International Year of Forests​ and the theme ‘Forests for People’ also complements the goals of Hariyo Ban, which is expected to bring positive results to the people and environment of Nepal.”
“This ambitious project recognizes that forests are the true wealth of Nepal as forests not only support the livelihoods of millions of people and provide a safe haven for endangered species but also are vital to combat the impacts of climate change,” said Judy Oglethorpe, Chief of Party, Hariyo Ban. “For WWF, this project also marks a return to the world famous Annapurna Conservation Area, which was created through the pioneering efforts of the late Mingma Sherpa and Dr. Chandra Gurung, both of WWF.”
Hariyo Ban program aims to reduce emissions/sequester over 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in the target landscapes. It also aims to provide direct capacity building and livelihoods support to 180 000 people; bring 50 000 ha of forest areas under improved management; and generate vital revenue from successful payments for environment services systems.
For full story, please see: http://wwf.panda.org/wwf_news/?202267/Climate-Vulnerable-Nepal-to-benefit-from-ambitious-new-initiative

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  • Nigeria: Cooperation, education and enforcement key to Cross River gorilla survival

Source: CIFOR Blog, 10 November 2011

Efforts to save the Cross River gorilla, Africa’s most endangered ape, received renewed hope after the UN recently approved US$4 million to help Nigeria further promote conservation and sustainable forest management.
Environmentalists welcomed the news, which will help fund the country’s National REDD+ program, but warned that cooperation and education between all stakeholders, particularly local players, is key to preserving the species.
“Gorillas and chimps are protected by national and international law, but the reality is that that does not actually happen …you have to have local buy-in,” said CIFOR Associate Jacqueline Sunderland-Groves, co-author of Remote Sensing Analysis Reveals Habitat, Dispersal Corridors and Expanded Distribution for the Critically Endangered Cross River Gorilla.
Cross River gorillas live exclusively along the remote and mountainous Nigeria-Cameroon border, but their numbers are so few that they were once thought to be extinct in Nigeria. Illegal poaching for bushmeat and loss of habitat has left only around 300 individuals in the world, making forest conservation vital to their survival. Primates are particularly vulnerable to deforestation and hunting, given their large body size and slow reproductive rate.
“It is getting more worrying now in terms of habitat fragmentation,” said Sunderland-Groves, explaining that activities, such as road building and expansion of other human development activities, were dividing land inhabited by the gorillas and isolating sub-populations. This, in turn, could lead to inbreeding and a loss of genetic variation. In addition, villages encroaching on gorilla habitat could increase any potential contact with people.
“Even if you hunt one gorilla, then you have made an impact on the population, because you only have very few animals left … and every time one goes that’s part of your genetic pool gone.”
Sunderland-Groves argues that a lack of public awareness hinders survival. As such, she advocated pushing education among local communities, citing previous experience in Cameroon where local chiefs banned the killing of Cross River gorillas after being alerted to their conservation status.
“Having a traditional law in place really did stop it [hunting]. Local people take local laws more seriously,” she said, adding, “[we need] to get the younger generations thinking about gorillas and apes and wild animals, which are normally seen as a source of food and not really something to be cherished.”
For full story, please see: http://blog.cifor.org/4756/cooperation-education-and-enforcement-key-to-cross-river-gorilla-survival/

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  • South Africa: Hungry for hoodia knowledge

Source: www.iol.co.za (South Africa), 30 October 30 2011

Hoodia gordonii, or bitter ghaap, is one of many South African indigenous plants that has been used traditionally and is now the basis of a growing commercial industry.
Bitter ghaap is a leafless, thorny succulent with fleshy stems that grows naturally in sandy plains and rocky outcrops in the semi-deserts of the Northern Cape (South Africa), Namibia and southern Angola. Its flesh-coloured flowers smell strongly of decaying meat, which attracts the flies that pollinate them.
Hoodia is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites). This Appendix includes species that are not endangered but are at risk if their trade is not controlled.
Hoodia plants are therefore strictly protected in the wild and only registered farmers are allowed to grow them and export their products.
The San people of the Northern Cape have eaten the succulent stems of bitter ghaap for thousands of years to stave off hunger and thirst, and to increase energy levels, during long hunting trips. They also carry cut-off stems as an emergency food supply in the harsh desert.
Recent research has shown that hoodia is one of the most effective appetite suppressants in the world. This research has revealed that hoodia contains a molecule that is similar to glucose. Scientists reckon that this molecule fools the body into believing that it has eaten glucose-rich food.
Research has also revealed that none of the side effects induced by other appetite suppressants, such as increased heart rate or insomnia, are produced by hoodia.
It is normally sold as capsules and is classified as a foodstuff rather than a medicine.
The San community in the Northern Cape and the CSIR have signed a benefit-sharing agreement in terms of which the San community will receive about R12 million over the next four years for the commercial use of their traditional knowledge of hoodia.
Today there is a deep appreciation of the value of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) in South Africa and many programmes have been established to promote interest in this field.
In 2004, after an initiative from the Department of Science and Technology, the cabinet adopted a National Indigenous Knowledge Systems Policy, which received international recognition at a recent World Intellectual Property Organisation conference.
The Medical Research Council has established a Lead Programme (IKS Health) to promote, develop and protect indigenous knowledge and its innovative systems of health through education, research and development.
Databases on traditional medicines, such as Tramed III, have also been created to record knowledge and make it available to everyone.
In addition, the Department of Science and Technology has established a National Indigenous Knowledge Systems Office (Nikso) to develop, protect and promote indigenous knowledge systems.
For full story, please see: www.iol.co.za/scitech/science/news/hungry-for-hoodia-knowledge-1.1167581

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  • Uganda: Oil threatens one of Africa’s most biodiverse zones

Source: Voice of America, 15 November

Plans are underway to develop commercial oil reserves found in Uganda’s lush Albertine Rift, home of the rare Mountain Gorilla. Environmentalists are worried that oil fever and inadequate legal protections could jeopardize the area’s rich biodiversity.
The Albertine Rift is a lush expanse of deep brush, forested mountains and spectacular, roaring waterfalls that runs through the heart of Central Africa. The Rift extends from Uganda’s Lake Albert to the southern tip of Lake Tanganyika. It is the only place on Earth where highly endangered Mountain Gorillas still roam. Along with gorillas, the Ugandan stretch is home to elephants, buffalo, nine national parks and four wildlife reserves. But in 2006, geologists discovered that the Albertine Rift was home to something else, as well. Oil.
With 2.5 billion barrels already confirmed, the oil in the Rift is expected to fuel an economic boom for Uganda, boosting revenues by as much as 30 percent and allowing the country to invest in things like transport, health and education. But environmentalists are concerned that in the rush to make money off oil, the Rift’s bountiful wildlife could suffer irreparable damage.
Robert Ddamulira, an oil specialist at the World Wildlife Federation, describes the Albertine Rift as the most important conservation area on continental Africa. With 80 percent of the Rift already divided up into exploration blocks, he warns that nearly the entire area will be affected by the discovery of oil.
“Oil is a big boom business. In other words, even [with] activities taking place in the neighborhood, areas around will feel the impact in terms of increased human traffic, in terms of resource demand on the surrounding areas. So you can justifiably say that about 90 percent of the Albertine Rift will be affected either directly or indirectly,” said Ddamulira.
Land clearing, road construction, noise pollution from heavy machinery, and toxic chemicals seeping into the groundwater could damage the Rift's plant and animal life. He said that one of the biggest risks in Uganda, however, is that the oil production will begin before a structural framework is in place to protect the area’s delicate ecosystem.
He said the Albertine Rift also is home to some of the poorest communities in Uganda, many of whom subsist on fishing and hunting. “Their livelihoods are intrinsically tied to the national resource conditions of the Rift. If oil poses a threat to those natural resources, it is posing a direct threat to the sustainability, and to life as we know it for the local communities there,” he said.
But Naomi Karekaho, of Uganda’s National Environment Management Authority, said the government is taking steps to protect the Albertine Rift. She said more legislation is being considered.
“Of course there’s no way you can have a refinery or oil exploration and production without constructing roads or putting pipeline for transporting it, but it is going to be done in such a way that sensitive areas are avoided. One of the mitigations measures that have been put in place is to develop a sensitivity atlas that outlines the very sensitive areas within the Grabin that, no matter what, you should take care to avoid,” said Karekaho.
For full story, please see:
www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/Ugandas-Oil-Threatens-One-of-Africas-Most-Biodiverse-Zones-133877983.html

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  • Venezuela: Cultural erosion among indigenous groups brings new risks for Caura rainforest

Source: www.mongabay.com, 14 November 2011

One of the planet's most beautiful landscapes is in danger. Deep in southern Venezuela, among ancient forested tabletop mountains known as tepuis, crystalline rivers, and breathtaking waterfalls, outside influences — malaria, the high price of gold, commercial hunting, and cultural erosion — are threatening one of world's largest remaining blocks of wilderness, one that is home to indigenous people and strikingly high levels of biological diversity.
The Caura river, which drains the Guiana Shield highlands that separate the Orinoco and Amazon River basins, is renowned for its biological and cultural richness. It, and the surrounding region, is also home to indigenous groups — including the Ye'kwana, Sanema and Jodi — who rely heavily upon local rivers for drinking water, food, and transportation. Until recently, modern impacts to the ecosystem and native cultures have been slight. But change is now coming fast to the Caura and it is not necessarily for the better, says Tarek Milleron, an ecologist who runs Caura Futures, a group that aims to support local efforts to conserve the Caura River Basin ecosystem.
Unlike adjacent parts of the Amazon where the chief dangers to the forest ecosystem are conversion to industrial agriculture and cattle pasture, infrastructure projects, and fire, one of the most immediate threats to the Caura Basin is more subtle: cultural loss among the people who have traditionally served as its protector. As native populations increasingly chase the seeming promise of affluence and convenience of urban life, the knowledge of the forest ecosystem and stewardship of its resources is forgotten. For example, in some communities Ye'kwana youths today are more likely to fell, rather than climb, a palm tree for its fruit. To some, immediate ease of access outweighs the value of multiple harvests or the ecological value of standing trees.
Caura Futures is trying to change this by taking a non-conventional approach to conservation. Instead of working to set up national parks, lobbying governments, or forming alliances with the forces that are destroying forests, Caura Futures partners with local indigenous communities and provides training and tools to safeguard traditional knowledge, improve human health, and promote good ecosystem stewardship.
Working with Ye’kwana and Sanema has given Caura Futures and local organization Caura Weichojo a good understanding of the day-to-day needs of native communities. To address the tree-felling issue, for example, Caura Futures has created new enthusiasm for the traditional practice of tree-climbing by turning it into a competition. The group provides tree climbing gear and holds competitions to promote a return to sustainable fruit harvests.
At the same time Caura Futures is working to boost retention of traditional knowledge of indigenous communities by supporting local efforts to systematically record oral histories, rituals and wisdom of Ye’kwana and Sanema elders. These efforts to form a cultural library are entirely locally contained.
To read full interview with Tarek Milleron, please see: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/1114-caura_futures_milleron.html#ixzz1drI97pCZ

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NEWS

  • Are national parks the best way to conserve nature?

Source: Bowman, D., Professor of Environmental Change Biology at the University of Tasmania, in The Conversation (Australia), 8 November 2011

Many plants and animals will become extinct in this century — millions of years of evolutionary experimentation will be abruptly terminated. This raises profound philosophical dilemmas: which species should be saved and why? Who should decide on the necessary trade-off between conservation and development? And do we have sufficient skills to conserve the remaining plant and animal species in increasingly stressed natural environments?
The approach we take now was developed in the 20th century: establish protected areas, such as national parks. In these places, society forfeits forever the right to resource development.
Outside the parks it has been pretty much open season on nature in agricultural landscapes. The bits that survived were largely protected by economic factors — habitat survived if it was not worth spending money clearing the land, and in some cases, because of an emotional attachment to uncleared bushland.
But pressure is increasing on even these remaining uncleared and unprotected landscapes. Schemes to increase agricultural production, harvest water and mine mineral deposits are all impinging on habitat preservation.
The “protected area” conservation approach has almost reached its practical and political limits.
Plants and animals and associated ecological processes do not recognize the boundaries of nature reserves. A lot of biodiversity still remains outside the protected area estate. How will we secure the future of this unprotected biodiversity?
At first blush, “off-reserve” conservation should present enormous opportunities for win-wins. However, off-reserve conservation introduces new philosophical issues about the collision of public and private rights.
Resolving these issues is creating a range of approaches which span the political spectrum, in the same way as debates about public and private education.
Approaches include restoration schemes that take a range of approaches, from restoring degraded ecosystems through to biodiversity-friendly plantations like the new carbon farming initiative. Some conservation organizations believe owning the land themselves is the key to sustaining biodiversity. Others believe partnerships with landowners are more effective.
Such partnerships can involve legal agreements where the owners forgo their rights to development. Or they might get financial incentives to maintain the condition of land.
In the future the economic benefits of development will no doubt far outweigh past commitments to conservation. Future generations who inherit land may decide to develop natural resources and legally change past agreements. This issue will be of enormous significance to communal title to land held by Aboriginal groups.
The jury is still out on what form of off-reserve conservation works best, or how best to maintain the ecological integrity of landscapes. The current protected area estate is almost certainly too underpowered to effectively conserve biodiversity in these circumstances. And it remains unclear if off-reserve conservation will be able to effectively buffer the protected area network.
For full story, please see: http://theconversation.edu.au/are-national-parks-the-best-way-to-conserve-nature-4002

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  • Endangered species list is updated

Source: United Press International, 8 November 2011

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), based in Switzerland, says its update of an endangered species list indicates "the health of biodiversity."
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species contains more than 61 900 species reviewed, the group said in a release Thursday.
"This update offers both good and bad news on the status of many species around the world," Jane Smart, Director of the IUCN Global Species Program, said. "We have the knowledge that conservation works if executed in a timely manner, yet, without strong political will in combination with targeted efforts and resources, the wonders of nature and the services it provides can be lost forever."
The IUCN and its partners worked to expand the number and diversity of species assessed, improving the quality of information in order to obtain a better picture of the state of global biodiversity, the group's release said.
"The IUCN Red List is critical as an indicator of the health of biodiversity, in identifying conservation needs and informing necessary changes in policy and legislation to drive conservation forward," Jean-Christophe Vie, Deputy Director of IUCN's Global Species Program, said.
For full story, please see: www.upi.com/Science_News/2011/11/10/Endangered-species-list-is-updated/UPI-43971320980954/#ixzz1dfebQ9cZ

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  • Global population passes 7 billion, crowding out imperilled animals, plants; species face mass extinction

Source: Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) in ENN, 1 November 2011

The world population hit 7 billion people Monday, accelerating the global extinction crisis for animals and plants imperilled by overpopulation’s effects on habitat, water, air and other natural resources. The Center for Biological Diversity launched a new national campaign, 7 Billion and Counting, highlighting this milestone and the connection between staggering human population growth and the massive extinction of plant and animal species.
“The conversation cannot be avoided any longer,” said Amy Harwood, coordinator of the 7 Billion and Counting campaign. “There has never been a more pivotal time to talk about the devastating effects of the population crisis on plants and animals around the world.”
As part of the 7 Billion and Counting (www.7billionandcounting.org) campaign, the Center has launched a video ad in New York City’s Times Square, inspired activists around the country to host events highlighting this critical issue and unveiled a new interactive map that offers information on endangered species in every county in the United States.
The Center also just released a report on the top 10 U.S. species facing extinction from pressures directly related to overpopulation. Species like the Florida panther and Mississippi gopher frog are rapidly losing habitat as the human population expands, while others are seeing their habitat dangerously altered and are facing demise from consumption demand.
The Center is the only environmental group with a full-time campaign highlighting the connection between runaway human population growth and the ongoing extinction crisis. The world’s population has doubled since 1968; the UN predicts it will hit 10 billion by century’s end. Meanwhile, dozens of species go extinct every day.
“As the human population grows and the rich countries consume resources at voracious rates, we are crowding out, poisoning and eating all other species into extinction,” said Harwood. “If it is not stopped, we will find ourselves on a very lonely planet devoid of any sense of the wild world this place once was.”
For full story, please see: www.enn.com/press_releases/3867
To view video ad, please see: www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/overpopulation/7_billion_and_counting/psa1.html
To view interactive map, please see: www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/overpopulation/T_and_E_map/index.html

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  • Global biodiversity to decline dramatically: Unanimous agreement among scientists

Source: mongabay.com, 9 November 2011

The thylacine, the dodo, the great auk, the passenger pigeon, the golden toad: these species have become symbols of extinction. But they are only the tip of the recent extinction crisis, and according to a survey of 583 conservation scientists, they are only the beginning. In a new survey in Conservation Biology, 99.5 percent of conservation scientists said a serious loss in biodiversity was either “likely”, “very likely”, or “virtually certain”. The prediction of a significant loss of species is not surprising — scientists have been warning for decades that if global society continues with business as usual the world will suffer from mass extinction — what is perhaps surprising is the practically unanimous expectation that a global biodiversity decline will occur.
"Understanding the degree of consensus within the scientific community will help policy makers to interpret scientific advice, improving the likelihood of successful of conservation initiatives," said study author Murray Rudd with the University of York. "The extremely high level of consensus demonstrated by these results underlines the urgency of preventing further damage to the natural world."
In addition, nearly 80 percent of respondents agreed that it was “virtually certain” that human activities were accelerating species loss. Deforestation, habitat loss, climate change, pollution, overexploitation for food or medicine, disease, and invasive species are among a few of the big drivers of biodiversity decline worldwide.
Around half of the researchers (50.3 percent) would like to see criteria laid out for “conservation triage”. Conservation triage is a controversial idea whereby conservation priorities — much like triage in an emergency room — would be more strictly determined given limited funds and resources. The idea, however, portends that some species would be allowed to go extinct without conservation-efforts because their situation would be perceived as too dire to “waste” resources.
According to the IUCN Red List, over 19 000 species are currently classified as Vulnerable, Endangered, and Critically Endangered. However the Red List has only had the capacity to date to analyze around 3 percent of the world's known species. Even more alarming no one knows just how many species inhabit Earth with estimates ranging from 3 million to 100 million (currently almost 2 million have been described).
For full story, please see: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/1108-hance_survey_extinction.html#ixzz1dOVMflWO

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  • Forest protection efforts faltering, experts say

Source: Reuters Alert Net in People and Forests E-Newsletter (RECOFTC), 13 October 2011

Curbing climate change by paying to protect the world’s forests has proved much more challenging than first expected — mainly because of rising demand for forest land to grow food, widespread economic recession and failing efforts to create a global carbon market.
But growing recognition that people who live in and near forests are their most effective protectors means that their communities may be in line for a bigger share of forest carbon payments, a development that could boost the sustainability of forest protection work worldwide, experts at a forest and climate finance conference said this week in London.
“Rights (of forest communities) must be protected not just to comply with international human rights standards but because that is the way to preserve the forest,” said Justin Kenrick, an Africa policy adviser with the Forest Peoples Programme, which advocates for forest dweller rights.
Emissions from deforestation and damage to forests represent about 12 to 18 percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide, which are driving climate change. Cutting forest emissions has been seen as a relatively easy way to slow global warming.
The idea was that rich nations would pay poorer tropical forest countries to keep their trees standing and get credits for emissions reductions in exchange.
But that effort – known as REDD, has been difficult to make work. The structure of REDD is still being negotiated in bogged-down U.N. climate talks, and pilot efforts around the world — particularly in major forest countries such as Indonesia and Brazil — have run into a slew of challenges.
One is lack of funds. The government of Norway last year committed US$1 billion in funding to help Indonesia protect its forest. But as economic troubles plague the world, foreign aid — one source of start-up money for pioneering REDD efforts — is stagnating in many countries.
Private carbon markets, expected to provide the biggest share of financing, have also shown limited interest in forest carbon, in part because there is little prospect of a global cap on carbon emissions that would make carbon credits more valuable and widely traded.
So far, the amount of forest carbon under smaller trading programmes is the equivalent of just 20 days emissions by Indonesia, an amount that is little more than “a drop in the ocean”, said Jeffrey Hatcher, Director of global programmes at the Rights and Resources Initiative, a Washington-based coalition working on forest tenure issues.
The biggest threat to forest protection may turn out to be rising demand for food. By 2050, scientists estimate world food production will need to rise by 70 percent to meet population growth and increasing demand, even as climate-driven extreme weather makes growing food harder in some parts of the world.
Those predictions are already fuelling large-scale land purchases in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions, and will likely drive farmers and investors increasingly toward forested land. One way to help deal with “grabs” for forest land and forest carbon rights is to work now to ensure forest communities have formal rights to their land and trees.
Recent studies show that ownership and management of forests by local people who depend on them leads to greater levels of protection.
For full story, please see: www.trust.org/alertnet/news/forest-protection-efforts-faltering-experts?utm_source=People+and+Forests+E-News&utm_campaign=a212ef074a-People_and_Forests_E_News_October_201110_3_2011&utm_medium=email

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  • Honeybees, the new urban dwellers

Source: The Guardian (UK), 10 November 2011

Major cities around the world such as London, New York, Hong Kong and Paris are encouraging bees to set up home in the city. Rooftops, small urban gardens and even balconies are providing potential safe-havens for honeybees, our newest and, in many ways, most-important urban dwellers.
The future of mankind is dependent on the survival of the bee. Honeybees are responsible for pollinating 80 percent of our food crops worldwide, therefore risks to their health threaten our own food security. Many medicines, an enormous part of our textile industry and, of course, perfumes and cosmetics also rely on flowers and plants that are pollinated by bees.
In short we have the honeybee to thank for the basic components of our daily lives, from the food we eat and the drugs we need, to the clothes we wear — and that's without beginning to consider items of luxury.
However, the honeybee population has decreased by 30 percent since 2008 and the reasons for their poor health are multifaceted. Today the rural environment poses severe health risks to bees through intensive farming methods and the use of pesticides.
"Mono crop" farming means that many bees now have a "mono pollen diet". This could be detrimental to their health as pollen provides bees with protein; as each pollen variety contains different nutrients that are needed to maintain good health, missing out on certain nutrients leaves bees vulnerable to diseases.
Bees that miss out on a balanced diet can also become more susceptible to parasites, such as the varroa mite, or colony collapse disorder, which is believed to be caused by a combination of fungal and viral infections. Such threats mean the honeybee could potentially have a better chance of survival in urban environments.
City living potentially provides a rich and varied source of pollen that gives bees all the nutrients and enzymes they require for their good health.
Bees that live in the city may also benefit from new kinds of beehive designs that have been created specifically for urban bees.
This growth in the urban honeybee population, and the need for it to be encouraged, calls for not only new type of homes which are suitable for beekeeping, but also a complete re-examination of our relationship with honeybees where they live beside us and we welcome their presence.
For full story, please see: www.guardian.co.uk/what-future-urban-living/honeybees-vital-role-cities-towns-beekeeping?newsfeed=true

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  • Indigenous people are key to conserving forests: World Bank study

Source: www.ibtimes.com, 11 November 2011

The indigenous tribes of tropical rainforests and other protected areas from across the world can help conserve forests when they have right to use the forests and are not forced out, according to new World Bank study.
Funded by the World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group, the study suggests that deforestation and forest fires are reduced when local inhabitants continue living in protected areas.
The reduction of rates of deforestation contributes to mitigation of levels of climate change and may also provide development benefits, according to the authors of the study, published online in PLoS ONE journal.
"These results suggest that forest protection can contribute both to biodiversity conservation and CO2 mitigation goals," wrote the authors.
The World Bank study reiterates that biodiversity need not be protected at the expense of excluding local inhabitants from access to forest resources.
In fact, according to satellite data shown in the study, the rate of deforestation was lowered by about 16 percent, between 2000 and 2008, in protected areas inhabited by tribals not assimilated into mainstream civilizations.
"Experts are finally waking up to the fact that upholding indigenous peoples' right to remain on their land is the best way to guarantee forest conservation," commented Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International, an organization working for tribal people's rights worldwide.
For full story, please see: www.ibtimes.com/articles/247719/20111111/indigenous-people-key-conserving-forests-world-bank.htm

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  • Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative launched

Source: IISD Reporting Services, 3 November 2011

EcoAgriculture Partners is carrying out the programming and planning for the international initiative on "Landscapes for People, Food and Nature" together with a group of eight co-organizers partners. This three-year collaborative initiative aims to scale up successful strategies that improve livelihoods and food security, conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services, and help address climate change.
The initiative partners include: the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Bioversity International, FAO; UNEP, and the UN University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS).
The initiative includes a global review to synthesize perspectives on an integrated farming landscape. This will be complemented by a series of dialogues to be launched in March 2012 at ICRAF headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. A third focus of the initiative will be action and advocacy to promote policy, investment, capacity building and research agendas developed through the global review and dialogue series. The co-organizers are working at the landscape level in over 60 countries to promote integrated agriculture-ecosystem-climate initiatives. The initiative will provide input into the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), the UN Frameowrk Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and FAO's Committee on World Food Security and regional platforms.
For full story, please see: http://biodiversity-l.iisd.org/news/landscapes-for-people-food-and-nature-initiative-launched/?utm_source=lists.iisd.ca&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Biodiversity+Update+-+7+November+2011+-+Biodiversity+Policy+%26+Practice

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  • UNEP Tree Campaign reaches 12 billion milestone

Source: IISD Reporting Services, 8 November 2011

UNEP has announced that over 12 billion trees have been planted in 193 countries under the Billion Tree Campaign. The milestone was reached following a tree planting campaign carried out in Kenya by the Green Africa Foundation, which has planted over 24 million trees to date.
According to UNEP, the Campaign is active in all UN member States, including the newest State of South Sudan, which joined the Billion Tree Campaign in September 2011. China and India have planted the highest number of trees, with 2.8 billion and 2.1 billion trees planted respectively. Under the Billion Tree Campaign, individuals and organizations can pledge to plant trees as part of the Campaign.
The Billion Tree Campaign aims to improve the quality of life in communities worldwide through the multiple benefits provided by trees, including tackling climate change through carbon sequestration, contributing to local economies through products such as timber, and providing ecosystem services such as soil regulation, erosion control and cultural values.
For full story, please see: http://biodiversity-l.iisd.org/news/unep-tree-campaign-reaches-12-billion-landmark/?utm_source=lists.iisd.ca&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Biodiversity+Update+-+11+November+2011+-+Biodiversity+Policy+%26+Practice

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EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES

  • FAO seeks Director, Forest Economics, Policy and Products Division

From: FAO NWFP Programme, 15 November 2011

FAO seeks a Director for its Forest Economics, Policy and Products Division (FOE). FOE is responsible for all results, programmes and activities related to the development of effective forest policies, governance and forest tenure institutions; the analysis of the production, consumption and trade of forest products and services; social, cultural and economic aspects of forests; and the development and utilization of forest products and forest-based enterprises, including wood and non-wood products.
In particular, the Director will:
• advise the Assistant Director-General, Forestry Department, and FAO representatives at the regional and national levels on matters relating to the Division’s fields of activity;
• ensure liaison and coordination with and supply information, guidelines and support to FAO members, UN and specialized agencies, other global, regional and national bodies and various segments of the Organization, both at headquarters and decentralized offices;
• exercise overall management responsibility, including planning, for the Division’s programme of work, ensuring quality control, progress monitoring and reporting as well as cost-effective use of financial and human resources, within the framework of the FAO Strategic Framework and the Medium Term Plan, as per results-based management principles;
• ensure the technical quality of the field programme through the appraisal of field projects, identification of programmes and projects in collaboration with its decentralized structures;
• provide specialized support, on request from the Technical Cooperation Department, in the formulation or implementation of projects preferably through its decentralized structures; ensure appropriate liaison with donor countries and organizations;
• provide technical support to Forest Statutory Bodies of FAO, like the Regional Forestry Commissions and the Committee on Forestry (COFO);
• develop and provide technical guidance and support to special action programmes and, in collaboration with the Forestry Assessment, Management and Conservation Division and regional policy assistance groups, provide advice and assistance to governmental policies and strategies;
• promote and coordinate actions in the divisional field of activity through collaboration efforts including technical cooperation among developing countries;
• represent the Organization in high-level meetings and other relevant events dealing with the Division’s mandate of activities;
• provide guidance and leadership in interdepartmental interdisciplinary bodies related to the work of the Division.
Applications, including a full curriculum vitae and Personal History Form should be submitted by 30 November 2011 to the Director, Human Resources Management Division
(CSH), FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153, Rome, Italy or sent by email
to: senior-vacancies@fao.org or faxed to +39.06 5705 5131.
For more information, please see: www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/VA/pdf/FO_253_11_en.pdf

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  • FAO seeks Forestry Officer (Wood Products), Forest Economics, Policy and Products Division

From: FAO’s NWFP Programme, 15 November 2011

FAO’s Forest Economics, Policy and Products Division seeks a Forestry Officer (Wood Products). Under the overall supervision of the Director, the incumbent will maintain, coordinate and enhance the programme on wood products development, working with partner institutions such as the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), focusing on small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries, countries with emerging economies and countries in transition. In particular, the incumbent will:
• formulate, monitor and technically backstop projects concentrating on product and process design, budgeting and accounting, production and business plans, skills and safety at work, investing in appropriate technologies, quality assurance, compliance with demands of legality and certification, and market development for wood products;
• provide technical advice to member countries in the development of policies, legislation, partnerships/networks and institutional frameworks that facilitate the development of SMEs;
• develop and maintain contacts with donors and other development partners and contribute to resource mobilization to support the programme;
• analyse the current situation, trends and perspective developments for wood products in order to improve the SMEs contribution to sustainable forest management, climate change mitigation, food security, rural jobs and livelihoods as well as rural economic development;
• contribute to the development, application and dissemination of appropriate technologies and best practices for wood processing;
• participate in the development and analysis of international statistics on the economic, financial and social contribution of SMEs to support policy development and promote equal access to critical business inputs in the sector;
• develop training materials; organize and participate in training workshops, international meetings and seminars;
• facilitate knowledge exchange and dissemination and foster partnerships with relevant international and regional organizations, including educational and training organizations;
• perform other related duties as required.
Deadline for application is 30 November 2011.
To apply, please visit FAO’s iRecruitment web site at www.fao.org/employment/irecruitment-access/ and complete the on-line application

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  • World Forest Institute (WFI) International Fellowship Program (6-12 months)

From: Chandalin Bennett, International Fellowship Program Manager, November 2011

The WFI Fellowship brings professionals in natural resources — such as foresters, environmental educators, land managers, NGO practitioners, and researchers — to conduct a practical research project at the World Forestry Center. In addition to their specific projects, Fellows participate in weekly field trips, interviews and site visits to Northwest forestry organizations, parks, universities, public and private timberlands, trade associations, mills, and corporations. The Fellowship is a unique opportunity to learn about sustainable forestry from the Pacific Northwest forestry sector, and to work with colleagues from around the world. Fellowships are open to any country, and there is a matching grant from the Harry A. Merlo Foundation. Over 90 Fellows from 25 countries have participated to date.
Applications are accepted year-round.
Fellowship benefits include:

  • Opportunity to develop the contacts and skills necessary to advance your professional career
  • Conducting a project on a forestry or related natural resource topic of your choice
  • Visits and field tours to public and private forestry organizations
  • Working with forestry colleagues from around the world
  • The Harry A. Merlo Foundation provides a matching grant that covers 50 percent of the Fellowship fee (applicants are responsible for the other 50 percent plus additional visa and travel costs)
  • Monthly stipend ~ US$ 1000/month (net taxes)
  • Public transportation pass provided

For details, including application instructions, please contact:
Chandalin Bennett
WFI Program Manager
World Forest Institute
4033 SW Canyon Rd.
Portland, OR 97221
Tel: +503 488 2137
Fax: +503 228 4608
E-mail: cbennett@worldforestry.org
http://wfi.worldforestry.org/

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  • NTFP Coordinator (¾ Time Contract Term Position — 15 Months)

From: Centre for Livelihoods and Ecology, Royal Roads University, Canada, 17 November 2011

The Manitoba Model Forest, a not-for profit organization, is seeking an energetic individual to facilitate the development of a thriving NTFP business sector in eastern Manitoba (Canada). The NTFP sector is growing rapidly in many regions of Canada. It is estimated that this industry will provide over US$1 billion annually to the Canadian economy in the next few years. Business opportunities can include harvesting raw materials, manufacturing and marketing.
The NTFP Coordinator will be based in Powerview-Pine Falls, Manitoba. Responsibilities include:

  • working with communities and individuals in the region to build awareness on NTFP business opportunities, through public presentations and workshops and one-on-one meetings;
  • developing an inventory of existing and potential NTFP entrepreneurs;
  • developing an inventory of types of NTFPs that can be produced/marketed from regional forests;
  • assisting Manitoba Model Forest NTFP trainers and partners in offering general and specific training opportunities;
  • assisting in business development by linking entrepreneurs with business development agencies, buyers and marketing agencies;
  • keeping up-to-date on NTFP markets, trends and new product development;
  • conducting a feasibility study for the development of a regional harvester and marketing cooperative;
  • conducting a feasibility study for the development of a regional NTFP processing and marketing centre; and
  • creating an electronic and printed NTFP business directory.

To apply, submit a resume and covering letter by 9 December 2011:
Manitoba Model Forest Inc.
P.O. Box 6500
Pine Falls, MB R0E 1M0
Tel: +204 340-5013
E-mail: bdube@mymts.net
For more information, please see: www.manitobamodelforest.net/MBMF_NTFP_Coordinator_Employment_Opportunity.pdf

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EVENTS

Amazon Evening: A South-South Exchange with Africa
Durban, South Africa
2 December 2011
In this half-day conference on the sidelines of the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (CoP), experts on the Amazon Basin, home to the world's largest tropical forest and dozens of REDD+ pilot projects, will meet with scientists from Africa, home to the second-largest tropical forest, to share experiences and discuss challenges and opportunities for the coming years.
The conference is jointly hosted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Fundação Amazonas Sustentável (FAS, Amazonas Sustainable Foundation).
This will be the second Amazon Evening. The first was held on the sidelines of COP16 in Cancún in 2010 and was attended by about 300 international stakeholders.
To register, please contact:
Luiza Lima
FAS, Amazonas Sustainable Foundation
Rua Álvaro Braga, 351
Parque Dez de Novembro
Manaus - AM | 69055-660
Tel: +92 4009 8900
Email: luiza.lima@fas-amazonas.org.
www.fas-amazonas.org/pt/

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Forest Day 5
Durban, South Africa
4 December 2011
Forest Day, now in its fifth year and always occurring on the sidelines of the UNFCCC COP, has become one of the most influential annual global events on forests. This year, it will seek to inform the UNFCCC global agenda and forest stakeholders on ways to implement an international REDD+ funding mechanism that produces social and environmental benefits, above and beyond avoided emissions. The event will have a particular African focus, looking at the tropical forests of the Congo Basin and elsewhere, and the continent's wide expanses of dry forest areas. CIFOR convenes Forest Day on behalf of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests.
For more information, please contact:
CIFOR
P.O. Box 0113 BOCBD
Bogor 16000
Indonesia
Telephone: +62 251 8622 622
Fax: 62 251 8622 100
E-mail: CIFOR-FORESTDAY@cgiar.org
www.forestsclimatechange.org/events/forest-day/forest-day-5.html

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Eye on Earth Summit
Abu Dhabi, UAE
12-15 December 2011
This summit presents an opportunity for scientists, policymakers and governments to work together to define the key challenges and solutions related to environmental data access and sharing.
Facilitated by Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) and hosted by Abu Dhabi Environment Agency (EAD) in partnership with UNEP, the Eye on Earth Summit will strengthen existing efforts for unified, global solutions to the issues that preclude access to data and information on the environment.
For more information, please contact:
Nick Nuttall
UNEP Division of Communication and Public Information Acting Director and Spokesman
United Nations Avenue, Gigiri
PO Box 30552, 00100
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel. +41 795 965 737
Email nick.nuttall@unep.org
www.eyeonearthsummit.org/

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LITERATURE REVIEW AND WEB SITES

43.       FAO Releases Training Package for Community Forest Enterprises
From: FAO Forestry Department News, 28 October 2011

The Community-based Forest Enterprise Development programme of FAO has released a training package on Market Analysis and Development (MA&D). The manual is the result of 10 years of input from partners implementing MA&D in developing countries.
MA&D is a participatory training methodology that aims to assist rural people in developing sustainable forest-based enterprises that both generate income and conserve tree and forest resources. In the MA&D approach, local people are the principal decision makers on matters such as financing, developing business plans, and sustainable management and enterprise operation. MA&D stresses linkages between social and environmental concerns, as well as with the technological, commercial and financial aspects of small enterprise development.
The training package provides for a preliminary phase to set the context, followed by four successive phases to: assess the existing situation and define opportunities; carry out surveys to identify products, markets and enterprise ideas; prepare an enterprise development plan and strategies for sustainability; and support the start-up phase of the enterprise.
For more information, please see: www.fao.org/forestry/enterprises/en/

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44.       New UNEP Report tracks the changing global environment over the past two decades
From: Reuters Alert Net, 1 November 2011

The environmental changes that have swept the planet over the last twenty years are spotlighted in a new compilation of statistical data by UNEP, released today in a report entitled "Keeping Track of our Changing Environment: From Rio to Rio+20".
The report is produced as part of UNEP's "Global Environmental Outlook-5" (GEO -5) series, the UN's most authoritative assessment of the state, trends and outlook of the global environment. The full GEO-5 report will be launched next May, one month ahead of the Rio+20 Conference taking place in Brazil.
UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, said, "Today marks the deadline for governments, business and civil society to submit their submissions for how Rio+20 can deliver a transformational outcome in terms of accelerating and scaling-up sustainable development for now seven billion people".
"The indicator report gets us all back to basics, underlining the rapid buildup of greenhouse gases to the erosion of biodiversity and the 40 percent increase in the use of natural resources-faster than global population growth. But the report also underlines how, when the world decides to act it can dramatically alter the trajectory of hazardous trends that threaten human well-being-action to phase-out ozone damaging chemicals being a spirited and powerful example," he added.
Through data, graphics and satellite images, the UNEP report offers wide-ranging information on a number of key issues, including forests, food security and land use, population, and energy, among others.
To read the full report, please see: www.unep.org/GEO/pdfs/Keeping_Track.pdf

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  • Other publications of Interest

From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

Ahenkan, A., and Boon, E. 2011. Non-timber forest products farming and empowerment of rural women in Ghana. Environment, Development and Sustainability.13: 5, 863-878. 50 ref.

Carvalho, S.B., Brito, J.C., Crespo, E.G., Watts, M.E., and Possingham, H.P. 2011. Conservation planning under climate change: toward accounting for uncertainty in predicted species distributions to increase confidence in conservation investments in space and time. Biol. Conserv. 144(7):2020-2030.

Côté, I.M. 2011. Conservation biology: the many ways to protect biodiversity. Curr. Biol. 21(12):R468-R470.

Francisco-Arriaga, F. Guerrero Garcia-Rojas, H. R. Kido-Cruz, A., and Cortes-Zava, M. T. 2011. Income generated by forest resource harvesting in Pichataro, Michoacan, Mexico. Agricultura, Sociedad y Desarrollo. 8: 1, 107-117. 20 ref. [Spanish]

Hanif, M. A. Al-Maskri, A. Y. Al-Mahruqi, Z. M. H. Al-Sabahi, J. N. Al-Azkawi, A. Al-and Maskari, M. Y. 2011. Analytical evaluation of three wild growing Omani medicinal plants.
Natural Product Communications. 6: 10, 1451-1454.

Khan, A., and A. Jamil Khan. 2011. Market survey of useful plants in the mountain region of Abbottabad District Pakistan. World Applied Sciences Journal. 14: 4, 510-513. 17 ref.

Lima, P. G. C. Coelho-Ferreira, M. Oliveira, R. 2011. Medicinal plants at fairs and public markets of the Sustainable Forest District of BR-163, Para state, Brazil. Acta Botanica Brasilica. 25: 2, 422-434. 46 ref. [Portugeuse]

Parrotta, J.A. and Trosper, R.L. (eds) 2012. Traditional Forest-Related Knowledge: Sustaining Communities, Ecosystems and Biocultural Diversity. Springer, IUFRO, The Christensen Fund, World Forests. Vol. 12.
Abstract: This book examines the history, current status and trends in the development and application of traditional forest knowledge by local and indigenous communities worldwide. It considers the interplay between traditional beliefs and practices and formal forest science and interrogates the often uneasy relationship between these different knowledge systems. The contents also highlight efforts to conserve and promote traditional forest management practices that balance the environmental, economic and social objectives of forest management. It places these efforts in the context of recent trends towards the devolution of forest management authority in many parts of the world. The book includes regional chapters covering North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Australia-Pacific region. As well as relating the general factors mentioned above to these specific areas, these chapters cover issues of special regional significance, such as the importance of traditional knowledge and practices for food security, economic development and cultural identity. Other chapters examine topics ranging from key policy issues to the significant programs of regional and international organisations, and from research ethics and best practices for scientific study of traditional knowledge to the adaptation of traditional forest knowledge to climate change and globalization.

Poongodi, A. Thilagavathi, S. Aravindhan, V. Rajendran, A. 2011. Observations on some ethnomedicinal plants in Sathyamangalam forests of Erode district, Tamil Nadu, India.
Journal of Medicinal Plants Research. 5: 19, 4709-4714. 19 ref.

Meijaard E, Buchori D, Hadiprakarsa Y, Utami-Atmoko SS, Nurcahyo A, et al. 2011. Quantifying Killing of Orangutans and Human-Orangutan Conflict in Kalimantan, Indonesia. PLoS ONE 6(11).

Monteiro, J. M. Ramos, M. A. Araujo, E. de L. Amorim, E. L. C., and Albuquerque, U. P. 2011. Collection and commerce of the Myracrodruon urundeuva Allemao bark in the semi-arid region of northeastern Brazil. Bioremediation, Biodiversity and Bioavailability. Special Issue 1, 100-102.

Moupela, C. Vermeulen, C. Dainou, K., and Doucet, J. L. 2011. African walnut (Coula edulis Baill.): An unknown non-timber forest product. Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Societe et Environnement. 15: 3, 485-495. [French]

Nyiramana, A., Mendoza, I., Kaplin, B.A., and Forget, P.M. 2011. Evidence for Seed Dispersal by Rodents in Tropical Montane Forest in Africa. Biotropica. 43 (6) Ref 654-657.

Silva, E.B. and May, P.H. 2011. Experience of forest and organic certification in the Kayapo community through the Helpdesk for Sustainable Business program of Amigos da Terra - Amazonia Brasileira. Bioremediation, Biodiversity and Bioavailability. Special Issue 1, 108-112.

Rudd. M. 2011. Scientists' Opinions on the Global Status and Management of Biological Diversity. Conservation Biology.

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  • WEB SITES and E-ZINES

From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

Rainforest Alliance Photo Contest
The 2011 Rainforest Alliance "Picture Sustainability" Photo Contest received a breathtaking array of submissions that celebrate ecosystems and the people and wildlife that depend on them.
Please view web site to vote: http://my.rainforest-alliance.org/site/PageNavigator/photocontest2011_vote.html&autologin=true

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MISCELLANEOUS

  • Italy: Plans for “vertical forests” taking place

Source: Independent (UK), 29 October 2011

Forward-thinking architects are coming around to the view that inner-city tower blocks and woodland can be combined and are incorporating both in their latest designs.
Plans for "vertical forests" — 25-floor buildings, flecked with balconies full of bushes and small trees — are sprouting up in several European countries.
Fittingly, Milan, the continent's design capital but also one of western Europe's most polluted cities, is leading the way with the construction of two green towers. The Bosco Verticale (vertical woods) project, due to be completed in 2015, consists of two residential blocks, 110 m and 76 m in height, set in the Isola neighbourhood just north of the city centre. The towers will house a total of 900 trees, ranging from 3 m to 9 m in height, plus thousands of shrubs and flowering plants.
Stefano Boeri, the architect responsible for the design, says that together the buildings will provide the city with the equivalent of a further 10 000 m² of woodland. The layer of foliage around the apartments is supposed to produce humidity, absorb CO2 and dust particles, produce oxygen and shield the building from traffic noise. Energy recycling systems that generate power from sunlight and wind should produce "dramatic" energy savings. The designers say that the plants provide shade in the summer and allow more light through during the winter months after they have shed their leaves.
But all that environmental technology does not come cheap. Prices at the exclusive development will start at €750 000 for 100 m², near the ground, rising to €1.2 million for flats with spectacular views across the city.
Michele Brunello, an architect working with Stefano Boeri, agreed that the apartments under construction were at the luxury end of the market.
"By highlighting how the use of plants and trees can make the environment healthier and more beautiful maybe we can encourage similar developments elsewhere."
And Milan's residents certainly know that new ideas are needed: thick smog regularly envelops the city and its levels of toxic PM 10 soot frequently breach EU safety levels.
Architects in other populous, compact continental cities with chronic traffic and pollution problems are also turning to green skyscrapers to help the environment. In Valencia the planned Torre Huerta will feature balconies with trees and the use of solar cells. In Barcelona, the helical Stairscraper, in which the roof of each apartment will house the garden of the dwelling above it, is due for completion by the end of 2015.
But the problem of how to keep the foliage looking good — and doing its job — has yet to be resolved. Mr Brunello said plans for gardeners to descend, like window cleaners, on rigs outside the Bosco Verticale are being ditched in favour of "garden-freeclimbers" — think Spiderman armed with clippers and green-fly spray.
For full story, please see: www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/italy-takes-treehouses-to-a-whole-new-level-2377431.html

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last updated:  Monday, April 30, 2012