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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.
2011 International Year of Forests
The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.
www.un.org/en/events/iyof2011/ or www.fao.org/forestry/en
IN THIS ISSUE:
- Bushmeat: Fearing a planet without apes
- Edible insects: Insect diet may be the solution for a hungry world
- Edible insects: Locust soufflé? It’s a start
- Moringa: The miracle tree
- Moringa: Plans for “tree of life” plantation
- Wildlife: Tiger numbers could triple
- Brazil: Belo Monte dam marks a troubling new era in Brazil’s attitude to its rainforest
- Cameroon: Rangers put bushmeat poachers in their sights
- China: Illegal ivory openly on sale
- India to patent tribal medicinal knowledge
- India: Digital library to the rescue of traditional patents
- Madagascar may authorize exports of illegally-logged rosewood
- Senegal: Green wall project gathers pace
- United Arab Emirates: Abu Dhabi residents urged to respect laws on endangered species ownership
- Increased tropical forest growth could release carbon from the soil
- Meeting review: Second Regional Forum for People and Forests
- Saving land will not save species
- Governance for forest, nature and people
- Dialogue on Forests, Governance and Climate Change
- Civil Society Forum
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Bushmeat: Fearing a planet without apes
Source: The New York Times, 20 August 2011
Before our earliest ancestors arrived on the scene roughly seven million years ago, apes really did dominate the planet. As many as 40 kinds roamed Eurasia and Africa between 10 and 25 million years ago. Only five types remain. Two live in Asia, the gibbon and orangutan; another three, the chimpanzee, bonobo and gorilla, dwell in Africa. All five are endangered, several critically so. All may face extinction.
A decade ago, US Congress stepped forward with a relatively cheap but vitally important effort to protect these apes through innovative conservation programs in Africa and Asia that combined taxpayer dollars with private money. But attempts to reauthorize the Great Apes Conservation Fund have gotten stuck in Congress and may become a victim of the larger debate over the national debt.
Fifty years ago, Jane Goodall’s observations of chimpanzees’ using tools and eating meat demonstrated just how similar apes are to humans. Subsequent fieldwork has underscored this point.
Gibbons, long thought to be monogamous, occasionally mate with individuals outside their group. Orangutans fashion tools to extract seeds that are otherwise difficult to obtain. Gorillas engage in conversational vocal exchanges. Bonobos appear to have sex not only to reproduce but also to relieve stress. Male chimpanzees form coalitions to kill their neighbours and take over their territory. If all of this seems human, there is a good reason: The apes are our closest living relatives, and in anatomy, genetics and behaviour, they are much more similar to us than they are to other animals.
As our first cousins in the primate family, apes help us to understand what makes us human. But as the human population expands, ape numbers continue to dwindle. Habitat destruction because of human activity, including logging, oil exploration and subsistence farming, is the biggest concern. Hunting is another major problem, especially in West and Central Africa, where a thriving bushmeat trade severely threatens African apes. Poachers are now entering once-impenetrable forests on roads built for loggers and miners. Recently, periodic outbreaks of deadly diseases that can infect humans and apes, like Ebola, have begun to ravage populations of chimpanzees and gorillas.
Federal money may not sound like much in this era of “big science.” But those dollars have gone a long way to protect apes in countries that are desperately poor and politically volatile. The money pays for protecting habitat, battling poachers and educating local populations about the importance of these apes.
For instance, in Indonesia, where habitat loss threatens the few remaining populations of orangutans, money has been earmarked to block the conversion of forests to commercial oil palm and rubber plantations. In Congo, home to the extremely rare mountain gorilla, alternative fuels have been introduced to discourage the cutting of forests for charcoal production. In Gabon, the program has paid for law enforcement training for park rangers battling poachers. For full story, please see: www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/opinion/sunday/fearing-a-planet-without-apes.html?_r=1
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Edible insects: Insect diet may be the solution for a hungry world
Source: France 24, 17 August 2011
Mexicans eat deep-fried grasshoppers. Japanese love wasp cookies. Leafcutter ants are considered a delicacy in Colombia, as are some caterpillars in South Africa. And in Thailand people cook everything from water beetles to bamboo worms. Even though eating insects has often been dismissed as a cultural eccentricity, it might soon become one of the answers to pressing global problems like hunger and environmental destruction.
Eating insects, or entomophagy, is practised in more than half the countries in the world. There are an estimated 1 462 species of edible insects in the world, ranging from beetles, dragonflies and crickets to ant eggs and butterfly larvae, according to research by Wageningen University in the Netherlands. More than 250 species are eaten in Mexico alone.
But more than tasty snacks, insects could become a protein-rich, green and global source of food, according to FAO. The UN Organization says the projected growth of the world’s population — around 2.3 billion more people by 2050 — will require a significant increase in food production. As a result, demand for livestock is expected to double during the next four decades. However, almost 70 percent of the land in use for agriculture in the world is for livestock, meaning that the need for more grazing land would bring further deforestation. Agriculture also contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and puts a strain on valuable resources like water. Finding alternative protein sources other than livestock is therefore crucial.
FAO and scientists around the world are suggesting that insects could be a serious alternative. To begin with, insects have about the same nutritional value as beef, chicken or fish. They are easily raised in a sustainable way, since they require less land and water than cows, pigs or goats. They also reproduce at a quicker pace than mammals. What's more, people in developing countries can harvest them without owning vast properties of land or making huge financial investments.
Currently FAO is promoting sustainable cricket farms in Laos .
For full story, please see: http://observers.france24.com/content/20110817-insect-diet-hungry-world-eating-insects-food-colombia-japan-thailand-mexico
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Edible insects: Locust soufflé? It’s a Start
Source: The New York Times, 21 August 2011
Grasshopper fajitas, mealworm fried rice, Bee-LT’s and similar delicacies will be on the menu for a public tasting buffet in October at the University of Chicago. The insect-dominated bill of fare is the idea of Matthew Krisiloff, a sophomore from California who last year founded Entom Foods, a start-up that seeks to make bugs a staple of the American diet.
“I really want to establish a dialogue about insects as a serious food possibility,” said Mr. Krisiloff, 19, who runs the company with four classmates. “We want to show that these are very acceptable flavours and tastes.”
The idea, Mr. Krisiloff said, came to him last fall in a course on contemporary global issues when he learned that by 2050 the world’s population is expected to reach nine billion, doubling the demand for meat.
“I remembered reading an obscure fact when I was younger that insects are extremely resource-efficient, and that they are eaten by many populations all over the world,” he said.
Some 80 percent of humanity eats insects, and raising them would cost the environment a fraction of what it does to raise pigs or cattle. 10 g of feed produces 1 g of beef or 3 lbs of pork, but it can yield 9 g of edible insect meat, according to Arnold van Huis, an entomologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands who has been studying entomophagy, or insect consumption, since the mid-90’s.
Ten times less methane and 300 times less nitrous oxide are emitted in the breeding of many edible insects compared with livestock, Mr. van Huis said. Nutritionally, most insect meat has about the same amount of protein, iron and vitamins as beef, but less fat.
Insects can be legally raised for human consumption because the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act categorizes insects as food, if that is their intended use.
“I am seeing a lot of people getting onto this bandwagon of eating bugs, as the environmental aspect has given it another boost,” said David George Gordon, author of “The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook,” who has advocated edible insects for 15 years.
FAO has begun promoting edible insects around the globe and categorizes 1 700 species of them. A company near Amsterdam sells pesto-flavored bug nuggets in Dutch grocery stores, and grasshoppers and other insects, usually ground, appear in appetizers and specialty cocktails in a handful of American restaurants.
For full story, please see: www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/us/21cncinsects.html
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Moringa: The miracle tree
Source: Slow Food, 17 August 2011
“Without moringa there is no life” goes the saying of the Konso people who inhabit the lowlands of southern Ethiopia, expressing the ancient link that unites them to the Moringa stenopetala plant. Called “the miracle tree” in local language, is known for its capacity to withstand prolonged periods of drought. Its cultivation, intercropped with tubers, legumes, cereals and shade plants such as coffee, allows the creation of an agro-ecological system able to preserve the properties of the land and prevent soil erosion, with the construction of terraces, creating a unique landscape in the region. The Konso throw nothing away from this plant: The edible leaves are rich in protein, iron and vitamins, the more bitter ones are used as animal fodder and the seeds serve to purify water.
For its nutritious and drought-resistant properties, Moringa stenopetala has become the object of a study that aims to extend its cultivation to areas affected by severe periodic droughts and famines. The first national conference on the cultural and agro-economic heritage of the Konso people will be held this month in Karat, Ethiopia: “Konso Cultural landscape: Terracing and Moringa”. The meeting, organized by the newly-formed Konso Cultural Centre, the NGO CISS-Ethiopia and its local parter (Konso Development Association), follows the inclusion of this landscape linked to the cultivation of moringa as a World Heritage Site of UNESCO. The conference is part of a series of initiatives at national and international levels that will focus on the moringa and the agro-forestry of the Konso.
For full story, please see: www.slowfood.com/international/slow-stories/106687/the-miracle-tree/q=414E74?-session=query_session:42F9488713f2f2A1E4SGD319CBE5
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Moringa: Plans for “tree of life’ plantation
Source: Daily News (South Africa), 17 August 2011
KwaZulu-Natal (a province of South Africa) may soon be home to a plantation of what research shows to be one of the most useful trees in the plant kingdom. Moringa oleifera, commonly referred to as the “tree of life” or “mother’s best friend” in many cultures, is native to northern India and ancient Ayurveda medicine claims that it prevents 300 diseases.
The iLembe District Municipality and Dr Samson Tesfay, a post-doctoral student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s discipline of horticultural science, are planning a plantation project for the plant. The project will harvest Moringa pods for biodiesel processing, using small-scale emerging farmers in the area.
“We hope to start the plantation within the next year,” Tesfay said.
Moringa seeds are extremely high in oil and “the tree can survive in relatively unfavourable conditions and does not require sophisticated and expensive farming methods or inputs”, Tesfay said.
Moringa trees are also extremely effective in combating malnutrition, especially among babies and nursing mothers. “Moringa leaves contain more vitamin A than carrots, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, more vitamin C than oranges and their protein quality rivals that of milk and eggs,” Tesfay said.
The tree has also been used for water purification in southern and east Africa. “The seeds are effective in removing about 98 percent of impurities and microbes from contaminated water,” Tesfay said.
In addition to the plantation project, Tesfay plans to conduct community-based research trials on the plant’s antioxidant compounds. “I hope to create an awareness of the value of the plant which will help to mitigate malnutrition in the community,” he said. “People today are more focused on antioxidants.” Antioxidants have a wide range of purposes, such as anti-ageing and cancer prevention.
For full story, please see: www.iol.co.za/dailynews/news/plans-for-tree-of-life-plantation-1.1119033
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Wildlife: Tiger numbers could triple
Source: Biological Conservation Newsletter, August 2011
The tiger reserves of Asia could support more than 10 000 wild tigers — three times the current number — if they are managed as large-scale landscapes that allow for connectivity between core breeding sites, a new study from some of the world's leading conservation scientists finds. The study, published in Conservation Letters, is the first assessment of the political commitment made by all 13 tiger range countries last November to double the tiger population across Asia by 2022.
The study, by Eric Wikramanayake, et al., finds that the commitment to double the wild tiger population is not only possible, but can be exceeded. However, it will take a global effort to ensure that core breeding reserves are maintained and connected via habitat corridors.
"In the midst of a crisis, it is tempting to circle the wagons and only protect a limited number of core protected areas, but we can and should do better," said Eric Dinerstein, chief scientist at the U.S. WWF and a co-author of the study. "We absolutely need to stop the bleeding, the poaching of tigers and their prey in core breeding areas, but we need to go much further and secure larger tiger landscapes before it is too late."
Wild tiger numbers have declined from about 100 000 in the early 1900s to as few as 3 200 today due to poaching of tigers and their prey, habitat destruction and human/tiger conflict. Most of the remaining tigers are scattered in small, isolated pockets across their range in 13 Asian countries.
"Tiger conservation is the face of biodiversity conservation and competent sustainable land-use management at the landscape level," said John Seidensticker of the Smithsonian Conservation Research Institute. "By saving the tiger we save all the plants and animals that live under the tiger's umbrella."
Besides poaching and habitat loss, the US$7.5 trillion in infrastructure projects like roads, dams and mines that will be invested in Asia over the next decade threatens tiger landscapes. A focus only on core sites and protected areas like reserves, instead of larger landscapes, could be seen by developers and politicians as a green light to move forward with harmful infrastructure projects outside of core sites.
The authors insist that conservationists and governments must be involved in helping design infrastructure projects to mitigate their impacts on tigers both inside core sites and in current and potential forest corridors.
For full story, please see: http://botany.si.edu/pubs/bcn/issue/latest.htm
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Brazil: Belo Monte dam marks a troubling new era in Brazil's attitude to its rainforest
Source: The Ecologist, 15 August 2011
In 1989, a major protest was held in the town of Altamira. In a memorable speech, an indigenous Kayapó woman said: “Electricity won't give us food. We need the rivers to flow freely. Don't talk to us about relieving our 'poverty' — we are the richest people in Brazil. We are Indians.”
That protest put the brakes on Belo Monte for two decades. But now, the project is on the fast track once again. The picture has changed significantly since 1989. Then, the funding was mostly international: loans from the World Bank and international companies like Lloyds of London, Midlands, and Citibank. This made the project more susceptible to international public pressure.
This time around, the dam is being funded by Brazilian government and business. The consortium that is building the dam, Norte Energia, is mainly funded by the Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES), reportedly with a push from President Dilma Rousseff, formerly Minister of Energy. Belo Monte's price tag is a substantial R$30 billion, but its actual cost is even higher. The enormous dam — it will be the third largest in the world — will both flood more than 500 square km, including parts of Altamira, and dry up more than 100 km of the Xingu River.
The particular section of the river most affected, called the Big Bend, happens to be home to indigenous and riberine communities such as the Juruna, Arara, and Kayapó. The project would cause the disappearance of entire species of birds, reptiles, and fish, and displace tens of thousands of people.
And Belo Monte is just one of dozens of giant dam projects Brazil intends to build in the Amazon region in the coming decades.
The obvious argument in favour of hydroelectric projects is that Brazil needs more energy to power its astonishing ascent. But critics say that energy could be recouped in other ways. “Brazil could be hugely more efficient in its transmission and consumption of energy,” says Brent Millikan, Amazon Program Director of International Rivers.
Where, then, will the 11 200 megawatts generated by Belo Monte go? “Belo Monte is a pretext for mining and oil exploration in the Volta Grande,” says Sheyla Juruna, a leader from the Juruna tribe.
Tucuruí, the older dam project of which Raoni spoke, was built in the 1980s on the Tocantins river to convert bauxite into aluminium. It caused major flooding along its 125-km reservoir and caused loss of forest, displacement of indigenous peoples and riverside residents, eliminated fisheries, created breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and caused mercury methylation with potentially grave public health consequences for fish consumers in urban centers like the city of Belém, says researcher Philip M. Fearnside of the National Institute for Research in the Amazon.
Without question, the dam is bringing money into the region. But this influx comes with its own problems. Celso Rodrigues, a taxi driver who's lived in Altamira 17 years, says that with the frenzy of activity around the dam, crime has risen substantially.
According to the coordinator of local NGO Movimento Xingu Vivo Pará Sempre (Xingu Alive Forever Movement), Antonia Melo, the town has suffered with the growth of urban occupations and homeless populations. “With the installation license of Belo Monte, the situation is bordering on a public calamity,” she says.
Inside Brazil, there is much resistance to the dam, if not in the highest echelons of government. Objections have been raised on scientific, legal, and economic grounds.
After the approval of the license to build Belo Monte on June 1, protests were held all over Brazil. Internationally, the dam has been criticized by everyone from Amnesty International to Hollywood celebrities.
In April, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recommended to Brazil that it take urgent action to guarantee the rights of indigenous peoples before going ahead with dam construction, as required by the Brazilian Constitution as well as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization.
For full story, please see: www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/1016666/belo_monte_dam_marks_a_troubling_new_era_in_brazils_attitude_to_its_rainforest.html
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Cameroon: Rangers put bushmeat poachers in their sights
Source: CNN, 17 August 2011
In the dense rainforest of eastern Cameroon a team of rangers is on the hunt for poachers.
The group is cracking down on the commercial trade of bushmeat, a problem that now extends beyond the country's borders.
"It is the main problem we face, but with time we will succeed," said Deng Deng National Park ranger, Julius Tanyi.
The bushmeat trade in Cameroon is illegal, but enforcement is low and profits are high.
Animals caught in the rainforest by poachers are often smuggled by train from the rural areas to the cities. But the threat to wildlife is becoming greater as the meat is sent further afield.
A study published last year estimated that each week around five tons of illegal African bushmeat is smuggled through Paris Charles de Gualle airport in France.
The rangers scour the forest for clues left by poachers looking to turn threatened species into bushmeat. "On these types of expeditions we look for bullets, we look for traps that people set and animals too," Tanyi explained. "We see if they (animals) are curious or if they are still running away from us— if they run away from us, it means they are threatened."
The meat can be found for sale at a market close to the park. Roger Fotso, from the Wildlife Conservation Society, says most of the meat for sale comes from the rainforest he is trying to protect. As soon as he arrives at the market a group of meat sellers runs away with everything. But Fotso still finds animals such as monkey for sale there.
"Monkeys reproduce really slowly and it is really serious to have people taking away that many of them," Fotso explained.
In local markets bushmeat can fetch between US$10-15 but in urban centres like the capital Yaoundé, sellers can charge double. And as Cameroon continues to urbanize the problem is getting worse.
Fotso says there is a new breed of consumer in the city that buys the meat for prestige instead of sustenance.
"It is quite expensive, so it is more about luxury than really having the need for that bushmeat," he said. "This is taking away from the people in the rural areas where bushmeat is for local consumption but this is commercial."
"Very often people tend to point the finger at the rural poor, but they are not the problem. The problem is the middlemen who come from the cities with money, with cartridges, with guns and professional hunters," Fotso continued.
For full story, please see: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/08/17/cameroon.bush.meat.conservation/
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China: Illegal ivory openly on sale
Source: The Ecologist, 17 August 2011
Elephants, while revered in some cultures as highly emotional and intelligent creatures, are prized elsewhere purely as a commodity. The long-held desire for elephant ivory has fuelled an industry which has placed both of the earth’s two species of elephants — Asian and African — on the IUCN red list, the former listed as endangered and the latter as vulnerable.
In China, a deeply rooted cultural emphasis on ivory as a status symbol — coupled with the recent exponential growth of the consuming class — has created a demand for ivory that is the highest in the world.
Just ahead of this week’s meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the international body created to protect wildlife from over-exploitation, the findings of an investigation into the illegal ivory trade in China were released by the NGO Elephant Family. The report details the rampant sale of illegal ivory throughout the cities of Guangzhou and Fuzhou as well as the complete lack of policing and enforcement.
Despite a 1989 CITES ban on the international sale of new ivory, there are still several types of ivory that are considered legal in China when accompanied by proper documentation: antique ivory, or that which is already carved and in circulation; mammoth ivory, which comes from the extinct relatives of modern elephants; and ivory that was included one of two CITES-certified “one-off” sales in 1999 and 2008. In the UK and throughout the EU, however, only antique ivory dated before 1947 is legal for purchase.
In both of the CITES internationally approved sales, the ivory came from southern African nations, who insisted it was sourced from natural mortality or culling, not poaching. The intent of these sales was to provide the Asian markets (Japan and China) with a legitimate source, thereby reducing the demand for poached ivory. Esmond Martin, an expert on the ivory trade who co-authored the recent report, says that it was China's status as a buyer, and not the African nations selling the ivory, that concerned him most.
In the recently released report, Martin found evidence to back up that claim. In the city of Guangzhou, 61 percent of the nearly 6 500 retail ivory items surveyed were illegal and lacked legitimate ID cards. In addition, there were many cases of mammoth ivory being mixed with elephant ivory, the latter being smuggled in and then passed off as the former.
“Several vendors openly said their ivory was new and illegal”, the report states. “This suggests that official inspections and confiscations have not taken place in most shops”.
The illegal ivory mentioned in the report is largely being smuggled from Africa, Martin says. Unlike in Asia, there is very little internal demand for ivory in Africa, so most of it gets exported. According to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), the year 2009 saw a record number of seizures of illegal ivory being smuggled into East Asia, a trend that has continued over the past two years.
“What you have in Africa is an unregulated ivory market where the majority of buyers in those markets are foreigners. They are not African”, Martin said.
At the CITES standing committee meeting being held in Geneva this week, discussions about the possibility of furthering the international ivory trade will continue. It is expected that in the next two years, other African nations will request the permission for more one-off sales, like those that occurred in 1999 and 2008.
While the impact this has on elephants is devastating, decimating both populations and habitats, Martin says it has a profound human effect as well, similar to conflict minerals such as “blood diamonds.”
“The illegal ivory trade has terrible effects on African nations. There are armed conflicts going on over this”, Martin says. “It is a human problem not just an animal problem.”
For full story, please see: www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/1019180/illegal_ivory_openly_on_sale_in_chinese_cities.html
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India to patent tribal medicinal knowledge
Source: www.scidev.net, 12 August 2011
India plans to scientifically validate and patent traditional knowledge of medicinal plants in the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal, home to some of the world’s oldest tribes.
As a first step, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is preparing a community biodiversity register (CBDR) of medicinal plants used by local communities, including threatened indigenous tribes such as the Jarawas, Onges and Sentinelese.
Several original island species of plants and animals are also threatened due to intrusions by a mix of people — rice farmers, timber merchants, academics and defence personnel.
A 2010 UNESCO dossier on the islands noted that the Jarawa Reserve, an area of exceptional biodiversity, has become open to intrusion with “enormous implications for both the biodiversity of the reserve and the Jarawas themselves.”
The Asian tsunami, triggered by the 26 December 2004 earthquake, devastated the Andaman and Nicobar islands, tilting the archipelago to submerge some areas and lift others.
Under a US$84 000 project, ICMR’s centre on the islands started a CBDR in September 2010 to document traditional herbal cures for 34 illnesses.
So far, the CBDR has listed 124 plants, after ICMR scientists interviewed 42 traditional knowledge healers from 11 of the 15 villages on the Car Nicobar group of islands.
“The registry has details of the traditional healthcare practitioners, the names of the plants (tribal and botanical), description of the parts of the plant used, type of preparation, mode of use and usage for various diseases,” Paluru Vijayachari, ICMR Regional Director, told SciDev.Net
Vijayachari said ICMR would also help local tribal communities patent preparations and remedies and safeguard their intellectual property rights.
For full story, please see: www.scidev.net/en/news/india-to-patent-tribal-medicinal-knowledge.html
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India: Digital library to the rescue of traditional patents
Source: Times of India, 8 August 2011
Success achieved India in staving off attempts on its traditional knowledge is in part due to efforts by Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in initiating Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) project.
TKDL is an Indian digital knowledge repository of traditional knowledge, especially medicinal plants and formulations used in Indian systems of medicine. Indian traditional knowledge dates back a good 10 000-12 000 years and is slowly going away due to the lack of documentation, said V. Prakash, former director of Mysore-based Central Food
Technological Research Institute (CFTRI). TKDL has succeeded in digitizing at least 30 percent of such knowledge.
CFTRI is one among 19 national science laboratories in India that are on board the TKDL project. Prakash said the TKDL project is aimed at scientifically documenting India's traditional knowledge base. This database will help put an end to indiscriminate rush to patent items, he said.
The database compiled so far is made available to lawyers in Europe and USA for a fee, so that they do not recklessly apply for patents, he said. It is better to stop the process before it stands rather than challenge it in courts outside India at a later stage, as it happened in case of turmeric, he said.
Digitizing traditional knowledge for TKDL is a painstaking effort. But it is worth it, given that it is providing leverage to India to defend itself in case of attempts to patent products that are indigenous to the country.
Information is digitized in various formats orally, through video and the gaps in knowledge are filled up with help from science. Even information given by individuals on traditional knowledge backed by scientific proof is acknowledged, he said.
For full story, please see: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-08-08/mangalore/29863621_1_tkdl-traditional-knowledge-digital-library-patents
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Madagascar may authorize exports of illegally-logged rosewood
Source: Rhett Butler, Mongabay.com, 24 August 2011
A meeting scheduled for August 25th between rosewood traders, the Ministry of Forest and Environment, and other government officials may determine the fate of tens of millions of dollars' worth of rosewood illegally logged from Madagascar's rainforests parks.
The meeting, which will take place in Sambava in northern Madagascar's SAVA region, may facilitate the resumption of rosewood exports from Madagascar despite an official ban on the trade, raising fears among conservationists that protected areas will again be targeted by illegal loggers. Madagascar's national parks — especially Makira, Marojejy, and Masoala in the northeast — were hard hit by logging during the political crisis that followed the 2009 military coup that displaced Madagascar's democratically-elected president.
"Allowing the remaining rosewood stock to be exported would be equal to green-washing of the illegal trade, and protected areas would become an open-trade source for [logging]," said a conservationist who has worked extensively on the rosewood logging issue but requested anonymity.
The source added that rosewood traders are exerting heavy pressure on the transition authority that currently controls Madagascar to lift the export ban on rosewood.
The outcome of the meeting could have implications for a $52 million dollar World Bank loan that aims to shore up funding for biodiversity conservation, which has largely evaporated in the aftermath of the coup. The World Bank is said to be weighing support for "a transparent and accountable way to sell the rosewood directly on the international markets" as a means to provide additional finance for conservation, but any signs that authorities are moving ahead without proper safeguards could dash the loan, according to the conservationist.
Article continues: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0822-madagascar_rosewood_meeting.html
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Senegal: Green wall project gathers pace
Source: www.scidev.net, 12 August 2011
Senegal is planting its latest batch of seedlings for Africa's “wall of trees” initiative this week — the first planting since a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the project was signed in May.
The Great Green Wall project involves planting a living wall of trees and bushes more than 7 000 km long and 15 km wide, from Dakar, Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east, to protect the semi-arid Sahel region from desertification.
The project is in its fourth year in Senegal, with planting taking place in Labgar, Mbar Toubab, Tessekere and Widou. The 1 500-strong workforce began planting this week (8 August) and hopes to plant 1.65 million seedlings by 15 September. Since 2008, Senegal has planted nearly eight million seedlings for the wall.
Pape Sarr, Technical Director for the Senegalese project, told SciDev.Net that the species selected for planting are economically viable and drought resistant. They are also protected by law in Senegal and cannot be felled without government permission, he said.
The wall was initiated by the African Union (AU) in 2007, through its New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). In June last year, the AU created the Pan African Agency of the Great Green Wall to monitor and coordinate the project in the different countries, and provide and share information.
Marcel Nwalozie, Director of NEPAD's West Africa Mission, told SciDev.Net: "One of the things we are trying to do [through the MoU] is [create] a scientific advisory panel, because the Great Green Wall is not going to just be a wall of trees." The project could also help improve livelihoods of the communities around the wall, he said.
His office, Nwalozie added, is currently looking into different initiatives to improve the soil, which would also help improve livelihoods of local communities.
Matar Cisse, Director-General of the Senegalese Great Green Wall Agency, said efforts were in place to maintain the plants after harvesting.
"The World Food Programme provides food for work to the communities that are hosting the programmes where the walls are being planted. These communities were given the responsibility to maintain these trees that are being planted. We have small irrigation systems that these communities use to water the plants and [they will also] protect them from animals."
For full story, please see: www.scidev.net/en/news/-green-wall-project-gathers-pace-in-senegal.html
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United Arab Emirates: Abu Dhabi residents urged to respect laws on endangered species ownership
Source: www.ameinfo.com, 18 August 2011
The Environment Agency in Abu Dhabi (EAD) is urging UAE residents to respect UAE Federal Law on the selling and owning of any endangered species, in line with its international commitment to the protection of threatened animals and plants.
The UAE became a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), which is a voluntary international agreement, in 1990. Subsequently national law was strengthened further with the ratification of Federal Law No. 11 of 2002 Concerning Regulating and Controlling the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which also mandated the Ministry of Environment and Water as the enforcer of the federal law.
CITES is aimed at protecting species of animals and plants that are endangered by trade. CITES covers a range of live animals and plants as well as an array of wildlife-related products, including certain food products, exotic leather goods, wooden musical instruments and medicines with components taken from wildlife or flora. Agarwood, from which Oud is extracted, features in the list of plants governed by the Convention.
H.E Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of EAD, comments: "The UAE is a nation of animal lovers. Certain species are intrinsically linked to our natural heritage and this is something of which we should be rightfully proud. However, we need to understand that there are clear laws in place about how one can own wild and endangered animals and in what circumstances, for the sake of the animal, its human handler and the broader community too."
Al Mubarak continues: "What many of us do not realize is that the illegal wildlife trade is one of the main causes of species extinction in the wild. So while people often buy these animals as a result of their appreciation for their beauty and character, they are in fact threatening the future of the species. This means that the acts of a few are in danger of denying our future generations the chance to appreciate the value of these beautiful animals too."
Globally, the world wildlife trade is estimated to represent an estimated US$10 billion (AED 36.5 billion) industry. It is thought to be the second largest factor in decline of biodiversity, after habitat destruction or loss. For example, the global tiger population is estimated to have fallen 97 percent in the last decade, in part due to trends in big game hunting, use of tiger body parts in traditional medicine and the emergence of private collections for affluent individuals.
For more information, please see: www.ameinfo.com/273265.html
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How effective are protected areas in conserving biodiversity?
Source: Terry Sunderland, Senior Scientist, CIFOR, POLEX, 24 August 2011
Traditional means of conservation have entailed the annexation of land where human activities are strictly controlled or curtailed: so-called "fortress conservation". There remain today strong advocates of biodiversity conservation through the establishment of protected areas where the social and economic costs of exclusion are regarded as a necessary means of protecting biodiversity for the greater global good. However, such advocacy has also led to a highly contentious and polarized debate about the impacts of protected areas on local communities, where issues such as human rights, social justice and economic disenfranchisement are often brought to the fore.
Are the trade-offs that result in excluding people from their lands and the resulting social and economic costs an acceptable price to pay in terms of achieving effective biodiversity conservation? Experience suggests not, but where is the data?
A recent paper by Porter-Bolland et al. examines the effectiveness of strict protected areas (IUCN categories I-IV) compared to formally community-managed forests where "multiple use takes place under a variety of tenure, benefit sharing and governance schemes". In this instance, they define "effectiveness" as a change in forest cover over time.
Although the authors admit that measuring land cover change is a crude indication of environmental integrity, changes in forest cover and the drivers of change have become a relatively robust indication of the effectiveness of land use types for conserving biodiversity, particularly as remote sensing technology has become more widely available and accessible.
Porter-Bolland et al. compare case studies trawled from the literature that cover the three main tropical regions, Latin America, Africa and Asia. Their findings make for compelling reading. They also reinforce earlier findings by other scientists that show that greater rule-making autonomy at the local level are associated with better forest management and livelihood benefits.
Porter-Bolland et al. provide clear evidence that on the whole, community-managed forests performed better than protected areas in having lower annual deforestation rates and experienced less variation in rates of forest cover loss. They conclude that protected areas may not be the most effective means of biodiversity conservation, and are certainly not the most socially equitable or economically advantageous means of preservation.
What accounts for these findings, given that community-based forest management itself has recently been scrutinized in terms of its own relative effectiveness? Firstly, it may be telling that the majority of the protected areas cited in the case study (90% of them) are managed by national governments. Government support for conservation is often characterized by limited funds and capacity, leading to poor enforcement. As such, local non-compliance with protected area regulations is often the norm and many suffer some sort of encroachment.
In addition, the majority of the cases used in the analysis are from Latin America where strong social movements have led to more "people-friendly" tenure and governance arrangements and, arguably, more effective community management of natural resources.
Many researchers and practitioners have long recognized that a more resilient and robust conservation strategy should embrace a range of land use types in which social and economic needs of local people, as well as tenure rights and local capacities are recognized. However, as the size and extent of protected areas expands annually, the recognition of human needs and incorporation of rights into land-use planning processes are often not taken into account.
With the onset of REDD+ projects, incorporating local people into the management of natural resources from design to implementation will be fundamental to achieving effective outcomes and where the hard trade-offs between biodiversity conservation
For more full story, please see: www.cifor.org/online-library/polex-cifors-blog-for-and-by-forest-policy-experts/english/detail/article/1222/how-effective-are-protected-areas-in-conserving-biodiversity.html
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Increased tropical forest growth could release carbon from the soil
Source: Science Daily, 14 August 2011
A new study shows that as climate change enhances tree growth in tropical forests, the resulting increase in litterfall could stimulate soil microorganisms leading to a release of stored soil carbon.
The research was led by scientists from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the University of Cambridge, UK. The results are published online in the journal Nature Climate Change.
The researchers used results from a six-year experiment in a rainforest at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, Central America, to study how increases in litterfall — dead plant material such as leaves, bark and twigs which fall to the ground — might affect carbon storage in the soil. Their results show that extra litterfall triggers an effect called “priming” where fresh carbon from plant litter provides much-needed energy to microorganisms, which then stimulates the decomposition of carbon stored in the soil.
Lead author Dr Emma Sayer from the UK's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said, "Most estimates of the carbon sequestration capacity of tropical forests are based on measurements of tree growth. Our study demonstrates that interactions between plants and soil can have a massive impact on carbon cycling. Models of climate change must take these feedbacks into account to predict future atmospheric carbon dioxide levels."
The study concludes that a large proportion of the carbon sequestered by greater tree growth in tropical forests could be lost from the soil. The researchers estimate that a 30 percent increase in litterfall could release about 0.6 tonnes of carbon/ha from lowland tropical forest soils each year. This amount of carbon is greater than estimates of the climate-induced increase in forest biomass carbon in Amazonia over recent decades. Given the vast land surface area covered by tropical forests and the large amount of carbon stored in the soil, this could affect the global carbon balance.
For full story, please see: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110814141445.htm
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Meeting review: Second Regional Forum for People and Forests
Source:Traditional Knowledge Bulletin, 16 August 2011
The Second Regional Forum on Community Forestry that took place earlier this month in Bangkok, Thailand — Key to Solving Current and Emerging Challenges — discussed the further expansion of people-centred forestry in the years ahead. A broad range of social and community forestry issues were addressed, from the origins of the movement and government decentralization to gender equity and REDD+. In a keynote speech, ASEAN Social Forestry Network Secretariat Chairperson Haryadi Himawan emphasized the important role of local people in sustainable forest management and the importance of supporting the livelihoods of some of the poorest and most vulnerable populations in Asia.
Francisco Chapela from Rainforest Alliance reported that nearly all remaining forestland in Mexico and Guatemala is managed by indigenous people, who have an incentive to conserve their forest resources. A “Knowledge Fair” highlighted local and country-specific experiences and lessons learned in community forestry. Forum participants drafted a call for action, which will be released soon for action at other fora to mark the International Year of Forests and at the Durban climate conference.
For more information about the conference, please see: www.recoftc.org/site/resources/Second-Regional-Forum-for-People-and-Forests.php
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Saving land will not save species
Source: The Environmental Magazine, 16 August 2011
In the scientific community, it is common knowledge: We are in the midst of a mass extinction period. Species are disappearing from the planet at rates 100 to 10 000 times faster than the average rate of the past 500 million years. Since habitat conservation began in the 1800s, the belief has been that preserving plots of land and ocean will help curb the planet’s rapid biodiversity loss. But a new study published in the Marine Ecology Progress Series reveals that this belief is seriously flawed.
Today, natural habitats are being preserved at a growing rate, as national parks, wildlife refuges, game reserves, marine protected areas and wildlife sanctuaries. There are already over 100 000 such protected areas, covering about 7.3 million miles² of the earth, but it still falls drastically short of the 30 percent total coverage that scientists say will help preserve species and their habitats. Only 5.8 percent of land and 0.08 percent of oceans are currently protected. And the report clearly shows that while conservation area is increasing worldwide, biodiversity is declining just as rapidly.
Even if land and ocean protection were all it took to curb biodiversity loss, the system is riddled with problems that have yet to be resolved. For one, most land-based preservation areas are less than 1 km², which is not enough space to sustain larger species, according to the study. These pockets of preserved land are also isolated, with no land bridges for migrating species and broader ecosystems. Land protection helps with habitat loss and exploitation, but it cannot prevent other factors driving species loss, like invasive species, pollution to natural resources and the impacts of climate change.
When actually put into practice, protected land is just as flawed as the concept behind it. Governments are chronically under-funded — by up to US$18 billion a year, according to the report — and cannot maintain the protection needed for areas of conservation. This opens up lands to poaching, illegal logging and fishing, habitat destruction, and more. These areas are only protected on paper, and that is not enough.
The report suggests that, rather than focusing so narrowly (and ineffectively) on protected areas, we should focus on the epidemic problems of overconsumption and human overpopulation. But Camilo Mora, another co-author of the report from the University of Hawaii, emphasized that the paper is not an attack on the conservation movement. “We are definitely not saying we should not protect areas,” he told BBC. “The problem is that we are investing all our human capital into those areas.” The report itself provides no suggested solution to the problem, but by improving conservation efforts, as well as addressing broader, underlying causes of biodiversity loss, there may still be some hope.
For full story, please see: www.emagazine.com/daily-news/saving-land-wont-save-species/
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Governance for forest, nature and people
24 October-4 November 2011-08-16
Growing recognition of civil society concerns and their inclusion in the development agenda of international agreements and conventions such as Agenda 21, CBD, UNFF and others, provided the first experiences in interactive policy in the 1990s. Increasingly, interactive policy approaches such as national forest programmes are also recognised as a way of improving sector governance.
The course — organized by the Wageningen University Centre for Development Innovation in the Netherlands — aims to introduce experienced decision and policy makers in government and civil society to concepts and practical methods for managing larger processes of policy development and their implementation with involvement of relevant stakeholders and interest groups in society.
A special focus of the course is the facilitation of social learning among individuals, groups and/or organizations within the speciﬁc context of national forest programmes or comparable sector wide approaches.
The course will analyze and share experiences with ongoing policy developments in South-East Asia, such as the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) programmes, decentralization and national forest programmes, to explore tools and methods that ensure inclusion of actors at local, regional, and national levels and improve the ownership and commitment for their implementation.
For more information, please see:
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Dialogue on Forests, Governance and Climate Change
The Hague, The Netherlands
7-8 September 2011
The Rights and Resources Initiative and Oxfam are organizing a “Dialogue” that will identify common approaches to dealing with the interconnected global challenges of responding to the food crisis, forest loss and degradation, the recent rise in global “landgrabbing”, the need to drive additional investment into agriculture, and adaptation to climate change. The meeting will bring more focused attention to the interconnection between forests, agriculture, the rights of producers and affected populations, and the growing global demand for agricultural land and products. By bringing together the communities of practice that deal with different but interrelated issues, the Dialogue will consider issues such as agriculture as a driver in forest loss and degradation, the role forests play in providing food for the rural poor, as well as the implications of the global effort to meet the challenge of feeding nine billion people by 2050 without destroying the natural resources on which all people, but in particular rural and forest dwellers rely for their livelihoods and food security.
This event is open to the public and free of charge.
For more information, please contact:
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Civil Society Forum
Abu Dhabi, UAE
11 December 2011
Through the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI), the Government of Abu Dhabi is organizing a global summit devoted to the issue of greater access to environmental and societal information.
The Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD) will host the Eye on Earth Summit on 12-15 December 2011 in Abu Dhabi, in partnership with UNEP. The Summit will be preceded by the civil society forum, organized by UNEP.
The purpose of this Civil Society Forum is to provide an opportunity for up to 150 Civil Society representatives to bring together prior to the summit and to prepare and consolidate their inputs into the event, to promote the international agenda for improved access and ability to use and leverage environmental data and information for the benefit of all communities of our global society. Participants to the Civil Society Forum are also invited to participate in the Eye on Earth Summit itself.
In order to participate in the Civil Society Forum and/or the Summit itself, all interested Major Groups and civil society representatives need to pre-register at www.unep.org/civil-society. Approved participants will receive a formal invitation from the Abu Dhabi Government by early September 2011 which will indicate possible financial support for travel and accommodation.
The agenda for the Civil Society Forum is currently under preparation and will be made available in due time on the following website: www.unep.org/civil-society
For further information, please contact:
Jose de Mesa: Jose.Demesa@unep.org or
Alexander Juras: Alexander.Juras@unep.org
The Major Groups and Stakeholders Branch
P.O. 30552 Nairobi, Kenya
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Schroeder, Doris; Pisupat, Balakrishna. 2010. Ethics, Justice and the Convention on Biological Diversity. Kenya: UNEP. 47 p.
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