NWFP-Digest-L
No. 2/12

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A special thank you to all those who have sent me links to information for this issue.
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IN THIS ISSUE:

PRODUCTS

COUNTRY INFORMATION

NEWS

EVENTS

REQUESTS

LITERATURE REVIEW AND WEBSITES

MISCELLANEOUS

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PRODUCTS

1.         Artemisia: Malaria hopes rise as chemists produce cheap artemisinin
Source: SciDev.Net Weekly Update (23 - 29 January 2012):

The cost of the life-saving antimalarial drug artemisinin could be lowered by a third, with a new method that utilizes a waste product from the current plant extraction process, according to researchers.
Artemisinin is sourced from the cultivated plant Artemisia annua (sweet wormwood), but demand is outstripping supply because artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) are now recommended as a front-line treatment for malaria by the WHO.
The artemisinin extraction process produces around ten times as much artemisinic acid as it does artemisinin itself. But converting the artemisinic acid precursor into the chemically more complex artemisinin molecule has proved a "formidable challenge" for chemists, researchers noted.
Now, they have found a quick and easy way of converting this acid into artemisinin. They used continuous flow chemistry which involves passing chemicals down a tube to increase reaction times, efficiency and safety. This differs from traditional 'batch' chemistry where chemicals are mixed together in a large pot, and it has allowed researchers to simplify one "crucial step" required to produce the molecule.
"We have spent ten years implementing flow chemistry, currently used for oil refining, for use in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals. This technique is a totally different way of thinking about artemisinin synthesis," said Peter Seeberger, director at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Germany, and co-author of the study published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition last week (16 January).
Seeberger told SciDev.Net that one, refrigerator-sized chemical reactor can produce 200 grams of artemisinin per day, and unpublished results indicate potential yields of up to 800 g per day.
"If we scale this up, in six months we will be at a point where 400 reactors (that run continuously) will be sufficient to produce the entire world's supply. Our reactors … could shave the total cost of the drug by a third."
Kevin Booker-Millburn, a chemist at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom, said "this eye catching new research is a huge advance".
"Commercialization of this could significantly lower the cost of artemisinin with obvious benefits to many of the poorest nations of the world where malaria is endemic."
Colin Sutherland, a malaria expert from the UK's London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: "A new more reliable supply of cheaper artemisinin could resolve many of the supply problems, and by making the drugs cheaper may also reduce the problems of drug counterfeits — if the real thing is affordable, there is much less room for profiteering from fake drugs".
Large-scale production could start in as early as six months' time if negotiations with pharmaceutical companies are successful, Seeberger said.
For full story, please see: www.scidev.net/en/health/malaria/news/malaria-hopes-rise-as-chemists-produce-cheap-artemisinin.html

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2.         Bamboo: Ghana Bamboo Bikes win German government award
Source: JoyOnline, Ghana, 25 January 2012

The Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative has been selected as a winner of the 2011 Impact Business Award, in recognition of the innovativeness of its business model and environmental responsiveness.
The Award initiated by the German Government through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) rewards enterprises that apply innovative business solutions in combating Climate Change.
A total of five International Awards were available in 2011 and the Ghana Bamboo Bikes was one of the only two projects selected from sub Saharan Africa. Other winners hail from Egypt, Uganda, Cambodia and India.
Each winner is awarded with a €5,000 euro prize to be spent on expanding climate technologies and green activities. Winners also have the opportunity to present their work to influential audiences and will be rewarded at the occasion of the 15th International Business Forum in 2012.
The Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative seeks to break the status quo in the development of a bicycle industry in Ghana and train people with little or no education in the manufacturing and assembling of bamboo bikes.
The Initiative is also spearheading the production of stable, cheaper and reliable bikes in Ghana to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels whiles increasing economic activities of rural Ghanaians.
With the Award, the German government would complement the work of the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative in promoting economic development in Ghana while providing substantial environmental benefits.
Co-founded by two students, Bernice Dapaah and Kwame Kyei of the Christian Service University College and Ternopil State Medical University respectively, the initiative seeks to take advantage of the abundant raw bamboo materials in Ghana to manufacture high quality bamboo bikes suitable for export markets as well as for the road conditions in Ghana, and affordable to the poor.
The social enterprise project designs, develops and markets multi-purpose bikes for the transportation of passengers, commodities or as an ambulance.
Through the provision of a sustainable and low-carbon transport solution, Bamboo bikes aim at raising awareness about environmentally friendly habits, while increasing economic and employment opportunities of rural people - especially among youth.
The Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative won the 2011 UNEP Seed Initiative Award and the 2011 Inaugural ImagineNations Global Business Plan competition.
For full story, please see: http://business.myjoyonline.com/pages/news/201201/80285.php

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3.         Bamboo: Zambian handcrafted bamboo bicycles now on sale in Japan
Source: ROCKETNEWS24 (blog), Japan, 28 January 2012

Zambikes, a company that sells bamboo fame bicycles handcrafted in Zambia internationally and reinvests the profits locally, has finally set up shop in Japan. Zambikes employs “uneducated and underprivileged” Zambians who would normally have a difficult time finding work in a country with unemployment at over 50 percent. The bicycles use a frame composed of 95 percent bamboo and other natural materials that are all grown in Zambia near the Zambikes production facility.
In other words, those who purchase these bicycles are supporting economic development in Africa AND getting a quality, environmentally-sustainable product.
Conducting the import and sale of Zambikes in Japan is distributor Alliance Factory Inc. The company signed a contract with Zambikes last year and the bicycles were made available for general sale on 17 January of this year.
Founded in 2007, Zambikes is a social venture run in partnership with US non-profit organization Acirfa. As of 2011, Zambikes has employed more than 100 Zambians and distributed upwards of 200 bamboo bicycle frames worldwide.
Some might question the durability and comfort of a bamboo bicycle, but satisfied customers from around the world claim the bikes are as sturdy as steel and offer great shock absorption thanks to the pliability of the bamboo frame.
Zambikes also ensures that each frame is put through extensive product testing and claims there are bamboo bikes that still run great even after being ridden for more than ten years.
Source:Zambikes Japan, Zambikes International
For full story, please see: http://en.rocketnews24.com/2012/01/28/zambikes-hand-crafted-bamboo-bikes-now-on-sale-in-japan/

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4.         Bamboo: Pandas find Scots bamboo just too hard to stomach
Source: The Scotsman, 30 January 2012

Two giant pandas removed from public display at Edinburgh Zoo are suffering from a Scottish form of “Delhi Belly” as they adjust to eating bamboo grown outside their native China, according to a leading veterinary surgeon.
The UK’s only giant pandas, arrived in the capital last month, but Yang Guang, the male, became ill two weeks ago with a bad bout of colic. Tian Tian, the female, was reported to be suffering from a less serious attack at the weekend. The zoo said that Yang Guang is due to go back on view to the public today.
Mathew Brash, vice-president of the British Veterinary Zoological Society, last night said there was no great cause for concern and likened the pandas’ medical problems to a “travel tummy bug”.
“Unlike some animals pandas are complicated eaters and very particular about what they eat and need a high-fibre diet.
“Whatever the bamboo they were eating in China will be different from the bamboo they are eating in Scotland. In other words, their gut floor is adjusting to living in Scotland.
“This is all purely related to the natural bacteria in the area, on the ground and in the soil. “They are getting used to Scottish bugs, which are not bad bugs, just different bugs.”
Mr Brash added: “Settling in to a new environment depends on what sort of animal we are dealing with. Pandas are on the more delicate end of the scale and take longer to settle in. But the colic should disappear once they had settled in.”
It is expected that the pair will eat up to 18 000 kg of bamboo every year during their stay in the capital.
In November, The Scotsman reported that Edinburgh Zoo will pay around £70,000 every year to import some 85 per cent of that bamboo from a farm near Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The firm also provides bamboo for pandas in Vienna and Berlin.
With worldwide interest in the eight-year-old breeding pair, who will remain in Edinburgh for ten years, the zoo has been issuing regular updates on their health.
For full story, please see: www.scotsman.com/news/scottish-news/edinburgh-east-fife/pandas_find_scots_bamboo_just_too_hard_to_stomach_1_2085579

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5.         Bark: French maritime pine bark extract hailed as new beauty product
Source: Mailonline, 27 January 2012

A new wonder cream containing tree bark extract may have just brought us one step closer to finding the secret to eternal youth.
The extract, from French maritime pine, could slow down the signs of aging, researchers say. It was shown to improve skin elasticity by 25 per cent and hydration by eight per cent.
In tests reported in journal Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 20 healthy women aged 55 to 68 were treated with Pycnogenol, a branded supplement containing the antioxidant. They were monitored for skin hydration, skin elasticity and skin fatigue by the Leibniz Research Institute in Dusseldorf over 12 weeks.
At the end of the study, a biopsy was carried out to see the levels of hyaluronic acid - which is known to be beneficial to the skin.
For full story, please see: www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2092181/French-maritime-pine-bark-extract-hailed-new-beauty-product-women-keeps-skin-elastic.html

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6.         Bushmeat: Game reveals complex links between poverty and threats to apes
Source: Mike Shanahan, Blog, IIED, 13 January 2012

There were 50 ape experts in a room and a quick game to play to break the ice. “If you agree with the statement, go to the left side of the room,” said the facilitator. “If you disagree go to the right.”
She then unveiled eight simple words that split the room in two: “Local poverty is the main threat to apes.”
On the right side, speakers said the primary problem for orang-utans in Malaysia and Indonesia is not local people; that hunters there tend to target other species. It is the private sector that destroys the forests that both orang-utans and local people depend on, added a third speaker, and this deforestation itself creates poverty.
Someone else added that it was the wealthier people from local populations, not the poor, who were encroaching on the national park he worked at in Indonesian Borneo.
A speaker from the Democratic Republic of Congo said it was rich people in urban areas – not poor communities near forests — who fuelled the market for ape meat. Another from Cameroon said that in some places local people do hunt chimpanzees for meat but at such low levels that this is not a major threat – logging and mining activities that destroy ape habitat were bigger concerns.
The ape experts had gathered at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Bogor, Indonesia for a three day workshop on the links between great ape conservation and poverty, because it just so happens that all of the world’s great apes – gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orang-utans – live near people who are poor.
The workshop, organized by IIED (where I work) and hosted by CIFOR on 11-13 January, was designed to share lessons learned in Africa and Asia and to identify practices that benefit both apes and local communities. And while the people on the right side of the room felt that local poverty was not the main threat to these apes, those on the left side of the room — mostly from Africa — disagreed.
People kills apes because they are poor, said one. Conservation creates costs to local people and this is an issue of justice, said another. If you solve local poverty you solve a lot of problems for great apes, added a third.
Of course, the statement itself was flawed – as the workshop organizers designed it to be. In reality, the situation varies from location to location and the many threats apes face are all interconnected.
My favourite answer, though, came from one of the Indonesian experts. He said that if the ‘poverty’ in the statement referred to a lack of money then the answer was no, but that if it referred to the mind and a lack of information, then the answer was yes.
As an ice-breaker, the contentious statement did its job well. It made me wonder… if every poor person who lives near an endangered ape was suddenly ten times richer, would the apes be safer or would they just face new threats that affluence and indifference can bring?
            The workshop – webcast here – was organized as part of IIED's Poverty and Conservation Learning Group initiative with support from the Arcus Foundation, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Great Ape Survival Partnership.
For full story, please see: www.iied.org/blogs/game-reveals-complex-links-between-poverty-and-threats-apes

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7.         Camu camu promoted as Peru’s flagship product
Source: Peru this week, 24 January 2012

Camu camu, a low-growing shrub found throughout the Amazon rainforest, may add to the growing list of Peru's flagship products, following a request from authorities in Loreto.
The regional government of Loreto, in northeastern Peru, has submitted a proposal to the country's Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism, asking for the inclusion of this vitamin C-rich fruit in said list.
Norma Cordova, head of the regional office for foreign trade, tourism and handicrafts, said they expect a "positive" response from the ministry within the next months.
With the aim of promoting the production, sale and consumption of this fruit, Loreto's capital city Iquitos will host the Camu Camu Expoamazónica 2012 festival on January 27-28.
Camu-camu is a low-growing shrub found throughout the Amazon rainforest, mainly in swampy or flooded areas.
It grows to a height of about 2-3 m and has large, feathery leaves. It produces round, light orange-colored fruits about the size of lemons, which contain a significant amount of vitamin C. Its high vitamin C content has created a demand for camu-camu fruit in the natural products market.
For full story, please see: www.peruthisweek.com/news-1427-Camu-camu-promoted-as-Peru%E2%80%99s-flagship-product/

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8.         Edible insects: EU to spend 3 million Euros to promote eating insects 'as alternative source of protein'
Source: The Mail Online, 31 January 2012

The EU will spend three million Euros to research 'the potential of insects as an alternative source of protein.' Research projects will be selected this year.
Food experts agree that insects would probably have to be disguised for European audiences, so the insect 'food' could be used as an additive in burgers and other fast food.
The UN's Food Standards Authority says of the research: 'While insects have not traditionally been used for food in the UK or elsewhere in the European Union, it is estimated that about 2.5 billion people across the world have diets that routinely include insects.
'While many insects are regarded as pests, the UN's FAO is interested in promoting edible insects as a highly sustainable source of nutrition.'
Some worms contain three times as much protein as beef per ounce, while four crickets have as much calcium as a glass of milk.
Daniel Creedon, a chef who serves ants, locusts and bees in honey at the London Archipelago restaurant, said: 'If insects start coming into the food chain they are probably going to have to be disguised. Food producers will probably get away with describing it as animal based proteins. Not many people will buy a locust burger.'
Website Treehugger said: 'It is not hard to imagine the development of an insect-based food additive that enriches burger and nugget protein levels. 'Burgers with processed insect meal could be sold by chains under claims such as "higher in protein", "healthier fats", and "eco-burger"'.
Eighty per cent of countries on Earth already eat insects, and more than 1,000 insect species are often eaten by human beings. Unlike conventional livestock, insects and bugs need little space and can be bred in sealed buildings under natural light where they live off waste, paper and algae.
The idea has previously been backed by the UN and EU as a way to tackle food shortages.
Some academics believe that the expense and environmental cost of raising livestock means that insect-eating will be inevitable – and it has been claimed that by the end of this decade, insect-eating will be widespread.
Prof Marcel Dicke of Wageningen University in the Netherlands said: 'The most important thing is getting people prepared, getting used to the idea. Because from 2020 onwards, there won't be much of a choice for us.'
For full story, please see: www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2093813/Four-legs-good-legs-better-EU-offers-3-million-Euros-research-using-insects-foods-burgers.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

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9.         Edible insects: Bug-studded menus: One diner's yuck is another's yum
Source: Molly Woulfe, nwitimes.com, 26 January 2012

The new culinary buzzword: Bugs. Adios, tequila worms. Gourmet, insect-inspired entrées are swatting such novelties aside and vying as hip-healthy alternative food sources. Even the meat-and-potatoes Midwest is biting, cautiously.
Surprise, bugs don't taste like chicken, say local fans of entomophagy (insect eating). Each of the 1 500 edible varieties has a distinct taste and texture: ants are citrusy, grasshoppers are nutty. Like tofu, stir-fry mealworms absorb the flavor of spices. Deep-fry the beetle larvae for a crunchy, curly fry-style treat.
Crickets taste like almonds and walnuts, advises Tom Turpin, professor of entomology at Purdue University in West Lafayette (USA). See for yourself. Whip up a batch of Chocolate Chirp Chip Cookies at home. Follow your own chocolate chip cookie recipe, substituting half the chips with dry-roasted, shucked crickets. "If you don't know what you were eating, you'd think, 'I just had a bit of almond,'" says Turpin, cofounder of Purdue's annual Bug Bowl.
Giant water bugs have the sweet-sour taste of green apples, says Matthew Krisiloff, a sophomore at the University of Chicago. Male bee larvae "taste like a combination of honey and bacon," adds Krisiloff, founder of Etom Foods, a student-run business exploring ways to process insects into palatable forms. The adventurous Law, Letters and Society major, 20, buys insect-ingredients online at sites including flukerfarms.com and sdwaxworms.com . He does draw the line at "stigmatized" creepy crawlers like roaches. "Flies are another example," he admits. "They'd be particularly gross."
Insects are members of the phylum Arthropoda (Greek for "jointed feet") which includes crustaceans such as shrimp, crabs and lobsters. It's one small evolutionary step from munching a bug to feasting on a wood-grilled Maine lobster.
Thus the "ick factor" and cultural taboo of bug-eating – staples of Survivor and Fear Factor vignettes – are illogical, entomologist May Berenbaum notes. "Why are insects ickier than, say, lobsters and crabs?" asks Berenbaum, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
What's certain is they're cheaper. Suppliers sell bulk live crickets and mealworms for a few bucks. As a bonus, bugs are the bee's knees in natural health food. They're low-fat, low-cholesterol and low-carb. Yet they're rich in B vitamins, calcium and iron. "Nutrition-wise, they stack up to red meat," Berenbaum says.
Take grassshoppers. According to a University of Iowa study, the jumpy critters have 20.6 grams of protein per 100 grams, close to the 27.4 grams of protein in 100 grams of ground beef. But 'hoppers contain half the amount of fat of 90/10 lean ground beef.
Edible insects are earth-friendly, too, more ecologically and environmentally sustainable than cattle, pigs and poultry. "They produce far less waste and don't generate greenhouse gases," Berenbaum observes.
Krisiloff believes Americans will spread their wings. It just takes time to educate palates. He expects eco-conscious foodies will start by adding a pinch of ground bugs to recipes – he makes killer grasshopper cookies – and advance to full-blown insect entrées. "They will transition into eating them as main dishes," the UC student says. "Right now, there's no contest."
If bug farms become a reality, insect-eaters could prevail, Turpin agrees. "All those birds, frogs and toads can't be wrong," he deadpans.
For full story, please see: www.nwitimes.com/search/?l=50&sd=desc&s=start_time&f=html&byline=By%20Molly%20Woulfe

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10.       Edible insects: Bugs seized at Santa Teresa port of entry
Source: Las Cruces Sun-News, 23 January 2012

Las Cruces. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has learned that edible bugs seized in December were Mexican stink bugs native to the state of Guerrero, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) announced in a Monday news release.
CBP agriculture specialists working at the Santa Teresa port of entry seized the four baggies of live Jumiles bugs - which are eaten live or as taco filling or sauce - and a plastic bag of roasted grasshoppers in December from a man who said he forgot to declare the edible bugs, which were located in five bags in a cardboard box. He was fined $175 and the insects, which weighed a total of 50 grams, were seized.
"Entry of live insects is closely regulated by USDA-APHIS," said Fred Hutterer acting Santa Teresa port director. "CBP agriculture specialists routinely locate and stop pests while inspecting personal belongings, food items and packaging materials. It is an important part of the CBP mission."
For full story, please see: www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-news/ci_19804450

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11.       Frankincense trees under threat in Ethiopia
Source: Press Association 23 December 2011, in SciDev.Net Weekly Update (19 December 2011 - 2 January 2012):

The production of frankincense may be halved in the next 15 years because of a massive reduction in the number of trees that produce it, according to Dutch and Ethiopian researchers.  
The aromatic resin – which is used in incense and perfume, and is one of the gifts that features in the Christmas story of the Nativity – is produced by tapping Boswellia trees, which grow in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula.
But a study of 12 Boswellia populations in Ethiopia – published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology this week (20 December) – found that their numbers could drop by 90 per cent over the next 50 years if the trees are not protected from fire, grazing and insect attacks.
Adult trees are dying as a result of fire and attack by the long-horn beetle, which lays its eggs under the bark of the tree, while seedlings are hit by fire and grazing.
"Current management of Boswellia populations is clearly unsustainable," Frans Bongers, a researcher at Wageningen University in the Netherlands told the Press Association. "Our models show that within 50 years, populations of Boswelliawill be decimated, and the declining populations mean frankincense production is doomed."
For full story, please see: www.scidev.net/en/agriculture-and-environment/deforestation/news/frankincense-trees-under-threat-in-ethiopia.html

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12.       Ginseng: Could ginseng beat the blues?
Source: Independent Online, 25 January 2012

London. Ginseng is being tested as a treatment for depression. A clinical trial is under way assessing the effects of the herb on 40 patients.
Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) is a perennial plant grown in Northern China, Republic of Korea, Japan, and Russia (mainly Eastern Siberia). The dried roots are used in many traditional medicines to treat a variety of conditions, from cancer to indigestion. It is also found in energy drinks.
Previous animal studies have shown ginseng supplements seem to affect levels of hormones and other compounds involved in depression. In the new trial at Korea University Hospital, the patients will take ginseng daily for eight weeks, and then their depression symptoms will be assessed.
Just how ginseng could work is not clear, but it is thought substances in the root called ginsenosides, which resemble steroid hormones, may raise levels of natural mood boosters.
For full story, please see: www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/could-ginseng-beat-the-blues-1.1220172

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13.       Ginseng: An unlikely root of China's prized cure
Source: China Daily, 20January 2012

After two tough years, farmers in Wisconsin (USA) deliver premium ginseng herb to Chinese consumers
It was once worth its weight in gold and reserved for emperors in ancient times, but today the use of ginseng as a cure for minor ailments is flourishing among China's booming middle class. The luxury herb, and China's lust for it, are also bringing wealth to an unlikely location in the heart of America.
Discovered more than 5 000 years ago in the mountains of China, ginseng is a multimillion-dollar business and is the golden crop in the fields of Wisconsin. Tons of ginseng are shipped back to the Middle Kingdom each year.
As stores across China fill with shoppers rushing to buy Spring Festival gifts, few realize the most popular brands have roots in the Midwest of the United States. In the basement of a Beijing department store near China's National Stadium recently, swarms of Chinese shoppers line up around a pharmacy display of American ginseng stamped with a red, white and blue crest bearing an American eagle and the words "Wisconsin Ginseng Growers' board" in bold type.
"Every year I give the best I can find to my father for Spring Festival," said Gao Feng, who was eyeing a container of large ginseng roots selling for about 150 yuan ($23.80, €18.48). He said his father, who is in his late 60s, usually mixes the bitter-tasting root into a tea to help keep him active during the cold winter.
When asked if he knew what the crest meant, the 37-year-old real estate agent said he thought it was the brand name and chose Wisconsin ginseng because he was told by a sales clerk it was among the best. Asked if he knew where Wisconsin was, Gao simply replied "no".
Creating brand awareness in a potential consumer market of more than 1.3 billion is one in a long list of challenges facing Wisconsin farmers, who produce more than 90 percent of America's ginseng, or Panax quinquefolius, as they push to reassert the Wisconsin strain in the Chinese market.
An unexpected winter storm in 2010 destroyed more than 50 percent of their ginseng crops, which take three to four years to fully mature, making their recovery a slow-going process, says Joe Heil, president of the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin. Heil, who started growing ginseng, or renshen in Chinese, 20 years ago after converting his family's dairy farm to grow the normally wild root, says unlike other Wisconsin agriculture, ginseng can only be grown on a plot of land once before the land becomes unusable for at least 100 years, which made the storm's impact particularly troublesome.
Producing about 60 000 pounds annually on his farm on the outskirts of the small farming village of Edgar, a city of about 1 400 people, Heil is one of the largest of about 130 different ginseng farms in the state.
While farmers now producing ginseng mostly own large operations dedicated to churning out the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) cure-all, two decades ago Wisconsin was rife with citizens boosting their income by toiling over small plots of their own.
The overabundance of Wisconsin ginseng farmers and Canada's new arrival into the market at the turn of the millennia quickly flooded China, where more than 85 percent of Wisconsin crops were being sold and the price of ginseng dropped to less than $10 per pound.
But in the 1990s, the pricey produce was still reserved for those able to afford the salubrious root. Wisconsin began competing with a smaller number of Chinese willing to splash on pricey roots with America's oldest rival ginseng provider – the Republic of Korea. The result was a drop in the number of farmers from 1 400 to 130 major players today.
While Heil says the storm has taken its toll, he maintains an optimistic view that the drop in Wisconsin crops is actually a turning point for production.
After suffering losses of more than half of their annual produce, the price of the crop has shot up to a record $40-$60 per pound. With the Chinese middle class' newfound ability to invest money in less-essential goods such as nutritional products, Heil says he expects to see a slight increase in the number of farmers going back to ancient Midwestern practices.
For full story, please see: www.chinadaily.com.cn/usa/weekly/2012-01/20/content_14479151.htm

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14.       Guarana: The truth about guarana
Source: MyHealthNewsDaily, 27 January 2012

Bombastically named energy drinks such as Full Throttle, Monster, Red Bull and Rockstar all contain the herbal supplement guarana. The compound is also found in over-the-counter weight loss products, and it's been marketed as an aphrodisiac. What is guarana, and does it have any physiological effects?
Guarana is a South American fruit that looks suspiciously like an eyeball, with a fleshy white fruit that surrounds dark brown seeds. These seeds are about the size of coffee beans, but they contain more than twice as much caffeine . As a supplement, guarana is considered "generally recognized as safe" by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The guarana vine originated in the Amazon basin, where local people have long taken advantage of its stimulating properties. A 17th century Jesuit missionary noted that guarana gave members of an Amazon tribe "so much energy, that when hunting, they could go from one day to the next without feeling hungry." Brazilian soft drinks have included guarana since 1909, but it only became widely used in the United States recently, when energy drinks gained explosive popularity .
Very generally speaking, whenever you see both guarana and caffeine on an ingredients list, you can read guarana as even more caffeine. Additionally, however, guarana contains tiny amounts of theophylline and theobromine (the latter is chemical that makes chocolate poisonous to dogs and cats), which are similar to caffeine, although they exert subtly different effects on the body.
Guarana also contains molecules called tannins, which some say causes the caffeine in guarana to release slowly, producing a long-lasting energy plateau. (Tannins are found in some wines, where they bring a woody flavor.) The fact that guarana does not readily dissolve in water also supposedly contributes to its long-lasting effects, but no one has conclusively shown that the body processes guarana-derived caffeine differently than the caffeine found in coffee beans or tea leaves.
The caffeine that humans seek in guarana serves a very different purpose in the wild: it's a natural insecticide that keeps plant-eating bugs at bay. Still, hungry birds can digest the fleshy, caffeine-free fruit, but the caffeine-rich seeds pass unscathed through their digestive tracts, often landing in a new location, helping give rise to a new generation of guarana plants.
For full story, please see: www.myhealthnewsdaily.com/2168-truth-guarana.html

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15.       Moringa: Miracle tree is like a supermarket
Source: Inter Press Service, 25 January 2012

Cape Town. When a food crisis hits the continent, African countries tend to look to the international donor community to mobilize aid. But a fast-growing, drought- resistant tree with extremely nutritious leaves could help poor, arid nations to fight food insecurity and malnutrition on their own.
A 15-hectare plantation of the "miracle tree" with the botanical name Moringa oleifera has already started to make a positive change in the rural village of Tooseng, which is located in one of South Africa’s poorest provinces, Limpopo.
Moringa leaves are dubbed a "super food" because scientists found that they contain the calcium equivalent of four glasses of milk, the vitamin C content of seven oranges, the potassium of three bananas, three times the amount of iron found in spinach, four times the amount of vitamin A found in a carrot and twice the amount of protein in milk. It is like a supermarket on a tree.
Mavis Mathabatha, a former school teacher from Tooseng, has been working hard to set up a Moringa farm over the past three years that will produce enough leaves to make a positive difference in her community and further afield. "I want to make an impact in my area, province and across the country through this project," she explains.
In 2009, she started harvesting, drying und grinding Moringa leaves from the first few trees she had planted, to sprinkle them on the meals provided to about 400 poor children at the local Sedikong sa Lerato (meaning "Circle of Love" in Sesotho) drop-in centre.
The centre feeds children from households with a combined income of less than $250/month, which includes practically all boys and girls in Tooseng, a community suffering from high rates of unemployment, poverty, food insecurity and low diet-diversity, malnutrition and HIV-infection.
"The results were visible almost immediately. The health of the children improved in a short period of time," says Elizabeth Serogole, the drop-in centre’s manager who works closely with Mathabatha. She says many children had been showing signs of malnutrition, like open sores on their skins, which started to heal soon after the children regularly ate the leaves.
Supplementing their meals with Moringa also notably increased children’s ability to ward off new illness and infection and boosted their mental development, Serogole adds: "Most can now better concentrate at school." All it needed was one teaspoon of leaf powder a day.
Dr. Samson Tesfay, a postdoctoral scholar at the South African University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Horticultural Science Department, confirms that Moringa is truly a multi-purpose wonder.
"The Moringa plant is unique in that every part can be utilised for beneficial purposes. It has medicinal, therapeutic, nutritive and practical uses. It is extremely effective in combating malnutrition," says Tesfay. In addition, Moringa’s immature pods were full of essential amino acids.
Moringa leaves can also be used for medicinal purposes, to treat skin infections, lower blood pressure and blood sugar, reduce swelling, heal gastric ulcers and to calm the nervous system, Tesfay further explains. The plant, which is native to northern India, has been used in Ayurveda medicine for centuries and is said to prevent 300 diseases.
Moreover, the seeds of the tree can be used to purify water in rural areas where access to clean drinking water is difficult and often a cause for disease. "The seeds are effective in removing about 98 percent of impurities and microbes from contaminated water," says Tesfay.
The slender tree with drooping branches is non-invasive, needs little water and grows fast, reaching a height of three metres within a year. It even grows steadily in Tooseng, in South Africa’s northeast, an arid region that has been suffering from repeated lack of rainfall in recent years.
"The tree can survive in relatively unfavourable conditions and does not require sophisticated and expensive farming methods or inputs," explains Tesfay.
Moringa could thus indeed become a widely used hunger prevention method, food experts say, as it can grow in all of the world’s subtropical areas, where droughts and malnutrition are prevalent – in most parts of Africa, Central and South America, the Middle East and South-East Asia.
Since 2009, Mathabatha has built up her Moringa plantation little by little. After she heard about the multiple benefits of the tree, she applied for a grant from regional funding agency Southern Africa Trust, which help her to set up her own plantation. Today, she is the proud owner of 13 000 Moringa trees.
But Mathabatha did not stop here. She wanted to share her discovery of Moringa’s nutritious benefits with others and has therefore distributed more than 6 000 Moringa seedlings to poor families in various communities around Tooseng, together with a nutrition education campaign.
"Planting and distributing Moringa is a holistic approach to deal with the problem of food insecurity," Ashley Green-Thompson, who managed the project grant, explains why the SAT decided to finance the project. "The level of household food insecurity is one of the key indicators of poverty, and it’s very high in this region."
Today, Mathabatha’s farm produces and packages up to 10 000 tonnes a year of Moringa leaf powder, which is distributed not only within South Africa, but also exported to Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho. "I am hoping to further extend my market in the next few years. There is a lot of interest in my product," Mathabatha says.
But it is the urge to help much more than the desire to make money that motivates Mathabatha to expand her business. At the cost 60 cents per 40 grams of leaf powder – which lasts one person for about a month – the 52-year-old business woman puts affordability clearly before profits.
For full story, please see: http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=106539

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16.       Mulberries: Uganda to export silk to Iran
Source: New Vision, Uganda, 26 January 2012

Uganda is set to start exporting the silk worm to Iran. Mohammad Ali Mousavi, the chairman of Iran-Uganda Establishments, said the production of silk from the 1 000-hectare farm in Kisozi, Gomba district is set to start next month.
Mousavi said over 500 000 mulberry trees had been planted over a period of ten years. The silkworms feed on the leaves of the mulberry tree to produce silk.
“Now is the time to reap. The investment is worth $9m (about sh27b),” he said. “Once we start, we shall be producing at least 1 500 tonnes for exportation to Iran.”  
Mousavi said about 5 000 jobs will be created once production kicks off. “We have 14 000 hectares, but we are currently utilizing only 1 000. We hope to increase production this year,” he said.
The multibillion investment is an initiative of the Iran Agro Industrial Group. Mousavi said if production hits full capacity, Uganda will be among the top producers of silk in the world. China is the number one silk producer, followed by India, Thailand, Republic of Korea and Iran. “We shall focus on setting up modern factories to process the silkworm,” he said.
Mousavi said Uganda will be exporting silk worth $200,000 (about sh560m) every year once production commences, adding that the country’s climate was conducive for silk production. “Whereas we can produce silk only once a year in Iran, in Uganda, we can produce it seven times,” Mousavi said. Mousavi started investing in silk production in Uganda in 1992. “We have the capacity of producing 30 bags of egg worms from just one hectare of land,” he explained.
Silk, a natural protein fiber, can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae that feed on leaves of the mulberry tree.
The shimmering appearance of silk is due to the triangular prism-like structure of the silk fiber, which allows silk cloth to refract incoming light at different angles, thus producing different colors.
“Textile manufacturing will be possible with this silk produced from the moth of caterpillars,” Mousavi said. “Silk’s absorbency makes it comfortable to wear in warm weather. Its low conductivity keeps warm air close to the skin during cold weather.”
“Once the investment grows and we get government support, we can start producing upholstery, wall coverings and carpets,” Mousavi said. 
For full story, please see: www.newvision.co.ug/news/628610-Uganda-to-export-silk-to-Iran.html

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17.       Mulberries: Silk no longer reels out happiness for farmers in India
Source: Deccan Chronicle, India, 21 January 2012

Fifty-year-old Rangamma, a landless silk farmer from Jalamangalakur village near Ramanagara (India) looks defeated as she comes to terms with the price her silk cocoons have fetched at the auction at the Ramanagara Cocoon Market, the largest in Asia.
The cocoons having sold for only Rs 171/kg, Rangamma, who grows mulberry on leased land, gets to take home a paltry Rs 4 626 for the little over 27 kg she brought to the auction.
“I will grow three more crops this year. But if the price keeps slumping, how can I feed my family of four when I need to pay Rs 15 000 annually to cultivate mulberry on my leased land,” she wails.
There are many more distraught mulberry growers like Rangamma at the bustling cocoon market, which auctions about 50 000 kg of cocoons daily and sees 3 000 licensed cocoon dealers and thousands of farmers arrive not only from Ramanagara, Kanakapura, and Channapatna in the state, but also from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
The slash in import duty on raw silk from 33 percent to 5 percent last March has wiped the smiles off the faces of nearly 10 lakh silk farmers of the state, who are having to battle rising expenditure and dipping incomes.
Their misery is compounded by the low minimum support price (MSP) of Rs160/kg of cocoon extended by the government which is nowhere near their cost of production of around Rs350/kg. Things were even worse some months ago when the cocoon price crashed to Rs70/kg.
With the selling price slumping below the basic cost of production, the farmers are being pushed into a debt trap, which they have no way of escaping. Small farmers are in deeper trouble, having to cope with crop loss, poor quality yield, crashing markets and an emerging labour shortage. Many are now migrating to cities for jobs – a trend that clearly does not augur well for the state’s silk rearing industry.
Visit Ankanhalli, where most families have been engaged in silk rearing for generations, and you see the change creeping in everywhere. While Gopalakrishnaiah, a small farmer is preparing to sell his cocoons at the auction in a couple of days, the family is expecting the worse.
“We manage to get a yield of 1 200 kg/year, but get little profit out of it. We will be forced to take a loan to run the family,” says his wife Sujata. Seeing the family’s troubles, their 19-year-old son Manu, a first year BA student, is no longer interested in farming and hopes he can break with tradition and choose a different occupation.
Narasimhe Gowda, a farmer from Hulibale village in Kanakapura regrets quitting his PWD contractor’s job as he has to deal with acute labour shortage and rising labour costs. Unlike Chikkabyregowda, a progressive farmer, a majority of farmers coming to the cocoon market have no alternative occupation or lucrative crop to fall back on.
All they can look forward to is more uncertainty in the future.
For full story, please see: www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/cities/bengaluru/silk-no-longer-reels-out-happiness-these-farmers-432

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18.       Sea buckthorn: Keep your patients smiling with a tiny Tibetan berry
Source: Gerald P. Curatola, Dentistry iQ, 24 January 2012

Throughout my search for nature’s power nutritionals, my personal discovery of the intense biodynamic power of the tiny berry fruit of sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.), a multipurpose wonder plant, harvested high in the Tibetan Himalayas, ranks among the best. The incredibly high antioxidant properties of the sea buckthorn berry, along with its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties and its ability to be immune-supportive, make this an outstanding superfood to improve oral health.
Largely unknown to many in the Western medical community, the use of sea buckthorn for medical application has been widely known and revered by Tibetan doctors dating back to the Tang Dynasty (617-907). Its beneficial properties are also acknowledged in ayurvedic medicine as far back as 5000 BC. The subject of intensive research by Chinese, Russian, and Indian scientists, sea buckthorn oil has even been used to reduce the risk of radiation burns for Russian astronauts working in space.
Quite possibly the most fully balanced fruit on the planet, the sea buckthorn berry can be considered a “multivitamin” all by itself, containing 190 biologically active nutrients. These include vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D, E (tocopherols), K, P, carotenoids, flavonoids, amino acids, phenols, folic acid, organic acids, and 20 mineral elements. A rich source of essential fatty acids (or EFAs), sea buckthorn oil is the only known plant in the world to contain omega 3, 6, 7, and 9 together.
The benefits of this über-fruit have been documented in more than 130 scientific studies, including its vitamin C content, which is 10 times greater than oranges; sea buckthorn has nearly as much vitamin E as wheat germ, three times more vitamin A than carrots, and four times more superoxide dismutase (SOD), the most important enzyme to prevent free radical damage to cells, than ginseng.
In 1939, renowned dentist and nutrition pioneer of the early 20th century, Dr. Weston Price, published a famous text titled, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: A Comparison of Modern Diets and Their Effects. In his research, Price theorized that as non-Western cultures and peoples abandoned indigenous diets and adopted Western patterns of living, they also increased typically Western diseases, especially oral disease.
He reasoned that Western diets were deficient of key vitamins and minerals, especially EFAs (essential fatty acids), which were necessary to prevent those diseases. He even declared a “dietary shortage of fat-soluble vitamins” a “great national problem.” Dr. Price’s observations ring surprisingly true today. Study after study has shown the origins of oral disease — both gum disease and tooth decay remain in epidemic incidence — due to nutritional deficiency, especially of key antioxidants necessary for proper cellular function.
Research has proven that the problems of oral disease are not confined to the mouth, but have been shown to have ravaging effects on many of the body’s organ systems and systemic wellness. Dr. Price would be relieved to have known of the Western emergence of sea buckthorn oil — venerated by Tibetans as “the Holy Fruit of the Himalayas.”
For full story, please see: www.dentistryiq.com/index/display/article-display/3965130533/articles/dentisryiq/clinical/2012/01/Keep_your_patients_smiling_with_a_tiny_Tibetan_berry.html

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19.       Sea buckthorn oil used by dentists as natural remedy
Source: Dentistry iQ, 18 January 2012

Chicago, Illinois, USA. The high antioxidant properties of sea buckthorn oil, along with its inflammation response properties and its ability to be immune-supportive, make this a “super fruit” to improve oral health.
Dr. Gerald P. Curatola, clinical associate professor in the Division of Cariology and Comprehensive Care at New York University College of Dentistry, uses sea buckthorn oil as his “secret weapon” for maintaining the oral health of patients. The oil combats gum and dental issues due to its high omega, antioxidant, and other nutritional content, that helps support the immune system.
SeabuckWonders, a division of Health King Enterprise and Balanceuticals Group, features a line of oils and soft gels made with certified USDA organic sea buckthorn by strict U.S. and European standards. SeabuckWonders harvests sea buckthorn from the Himalayan region. The climate in the Tibetan Plateau has equipped the fruit with extraordinary bio-defence mechanisms that provide many wholesome nutrients and health benefits.
The Tibetan terrain holds 90 percent of the world’s wild sea buckthorn forests. This area provides a higher concentration of Omega 7 than any other region due to sea buckthorn's natural adaption to the area's high altitude, strong ultraviolet radiation, severe cold, heat, and barren soil.
“In our 15 years of experience producing the highest quality sea buckthorn oils, we have discovered that the green farmers of Tibet harvest the best quality product,” said Xingwu Liu, founder of SeabuckWonders.
Within Tibetan, Chinese, and Mongolian cultures, sea buckthorn is highly regarded as a powerful tonic and is often referred to as "God Sent Medicine’ or ‘Liquid Gold."
For full story, please see: www.dentistryiq.com/index/display/article-display/6695622918/articles/dentisryiq/industry/2012/1/super-fruit.html

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20.       Wildlife: Good news for rhinos in Nepal
Source: ARKive.org in ENN Daily Newsletter, 12 January 2012

There are currently five recognized species of rhino, three of which are found in Asia and two in Africa. All rhino species are poached for their horns, which are sold on the black market for use in traditional Chinese medicine. Despite being made of keratin, the same protein as that found in human hair and nails, rhino horn is sold for a staggering amount, and gram for gram is currently twice as expensive as gold.
With the number of rhinos lost to poachers in a single year in South Africa rising to a record 448 in 2011, the good news from Nepal is extremely welcome.
Nepal is home to approximately 534 of the world's 2 500 Indian rhinos, the remainder of which are found in India. Also known as the greater one-horned rhino, the Indian rhino is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
With three of the world's five rhino species classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, conservation efforts are more important than ever. Sadly, 2011 also brought with it the news of the extinction of two rhino subspecies, the Vietnamese rhino and the western black rhino.
Yet the latest news from Nepal demonstrates how well-managed, targeted conservation action can contribute to the survival of a species. Asian species expert at WWF, Barney Long, is pleased with the results of the conservation efforts in Nepal, "This is the first time in 29 years that Nepal has gone an entire year without a single poached rhino, and it's a testament to the efforts of the Government of Nepal, WWF and many partners."
For full story please see: www.enn.com/top_stories/article/43840

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21.       Wildlife: 'Dracula' monkey comes back from the dead in Borneo
Source: Daily Mail Online, 20 January 2012

An 'extinct' monkey has been rediscovered in the rainforest of Borneo by an international team of scientists on a new expedition.
One of the rarest and least known primates in the world, Miller's Grizzled Langur, has been found alive – it was thought the species had been wiped out in 2004. The species has a distinctive dark face and white, Dracula-esque 'collar' of fur. Some of the only photos in existence of the rare animal were snapped by camera traps and have provided the first solid evidence that it is still alive.
The endangered monkey was discovered living in the Wehea Forest, East Kalimantan, Borneo, a largely undisturbed rainforest where it was previously not known to exist.
Brent Loken, from Simon Fraser University Canada, said: 'While our finding confirms the monkey still exists in East Kalimantan, there is a good chance that it remains one of the world's most endangered primates.' 'I believe it is a race against time to protect many species in Borneo. It is difficult to adopt conservation strategies to protect species when we don't even know the extent of where they live.'
The Miller's Grizzled Langur is part of the small primate genus Presbytis, found across Borneo, Sumatra, Java and the Thai-Malay Peninsula. In Borneo, it was only found in a small corner of the county's north east and its habitat has suffered from fires, human habitation and conversion of land for agriculture and mining.
But the team of scientists stumbled upon the monkey when trekking through the 38,000 hectare rainforest which contains at least nine known species of non-human primate, including the Bornean orangutan and gibbon.
Mr Loken’s team spotted the primate by watching mineral licks where animals congregate and setting up camera traps in the areas west of its previously recorded geographical range. He said: 'It was a challenge to confirm our finding as there are so few pictures of this monkey available for study.' 'The only description of Miller's Grizzled Langur came from museum specimens. Our photographs from Wehea are some of the only pictures that we have of this monkey.'
Dr Stephanie Spehar, from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, added: "East Kalimantan can be a challenging place to conduct research, given the remoteness of many remaining forested areas, so it isn't surprising that so little is known about this primate.
'We are very grateful to our local partners.
'This discovery represents the hard work, dedication, and collaboration of Western and Indonesian scientists, students, NGOs, as well as local communities and government.
The team's findings are published in the American Journal of Primatology.
For full story, please see: www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2089024/Extinct-monkey-discovered-alive-Borneo-rainforest-exhibition.html#ixzz1kSw2LlLv

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22.       Wildlife: Sumatran elephant population plunges; WWF calls for moratorium on deforestation
Source: Mongabay.com, 24 January 2012 in ENN Daily Newsletter, 25 January 2012

The Sumatran elephant subspecies (Elephas maximus sumatranus) was downgraded to critically endangered on IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species on Tuesday, prompting environmental group WWF to call for an immediate moratorium on destruction of its rainforest habitat, which is being rapidly lost to oil palm estates, timber plantations for pulp and paper production, and agricultural use.
"The Sumatran elephant joins a growing list of Indonesian species that are critically endangered, including the Sumatran orangutan, the Javan and Sumatran rhinos and the Sumatran tiger," said Dr. Carlos Drews, Director of WWF’s Global Species Programme, in a statement. "Unless urgent and effective conservation action is taken these magnificent animals are likely to go extinct within our lifetime."
By IUCN estimates, the population of Sumatran elephants has declined by more than 50 percent since 1985. During the same period, Sumatra lost nearly 70 percent of its lowland forest — the preferred habitat for elephants. The loss has been particularly steep in Riau province, where remaining lowland forests are increasingly at risk of conversion for industrial plantations. WWF says that less than 20 percent of Riau's 1985 population of elephants remains.
"Riau Province has already lost six of its nine herds to extinction. The last surviving elephants may soon disappear if the government doesn’t take steps to stop forest conversion and effectively protect the elephants," said Anwar Purwoto of WWF-Indonesia. "Forest concession holders such as pulp and paper companies and the palm oil industry have a legal and ethical obligation to protect endangered species within their concessions."
Pulp and paper suppliers operating in key elephant habitat include Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings (APRIL) and Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), according to environmentalists. The paper giants have been criticized recently for ongoing conversion of natural forests for plantations, although both maintain their activities are legal under Indonesian law.
For full story, please see: www.enn.com/top_stories/article/43897

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COUNTRY INFORMATION

23.       Afghanistan: Killing heroin with saffron
Source: IPS in Real Change News, 25 January 2012

Weaning Afghanistan’s poppy farmers away from growing the raw material for the bulk of the world’s illicit heroin has never been easy, but Kashmir’s saffron cultivators may have the answer. A high-value crop, saffron has long been seen as a counter-narcotics candidate, but the idea has a chance of coming to fruition with expertise from farmers in India’s Jammu and Kashmir state who produce the finest saffron anywhere.
An agreement between the agriculture ministries of the two countries paved the way for a 25-member delegation from Afghanistan to visit Jammu and Kashmir in November 2011 and see how the state’s success with saffron can be emulated.
After touring Pampore, the main center for the saffron industry, located 14 km east of Srinagar, delegation chief Naseem Atai told IPS that he was hopeful of a “change of choice” in his country.
“           Once our farmers grow saffron in the manner of their Kashmiri counterparts, they will certainly find it a profitable agricultural activity and they may ultimately give up growing poppy,” Atai said. “We have seen how Kashmiri farmers are earning good dividends by growing saffron. We can do the same for Afghanistan if we adopt the same methods and techniques.”
Afghan farmers, said Atai, have already been growing saffron since 2000 in Heart province near Iran’s border, “but the yield and quality are not good since the farmers have no expertise or access to good technology.”
Iran and Spain are the two other countries where saffron is grown, with Iran producing 85 percent of the world’s supply. But, the quality of Kashmiri saffron — essentially the dried stamen of the flower — is considered to be far superior to that grown elsewhere in the world.
Saffron is sought for the aroma, color and flavor it gives to rice and other food. It has also been used for centuries in medicines and as a natural pigment.
S.A. Nahvi, who heads the central government’s saffron mission in Jammu and Kashmir, said that the state’s saffron production has been improving with the introduction of superior cultivation methods and technology. “We have already modernized 355 hectares out of the 4 000 hectares under saffron,” Nahvi said. “Over the last few years there was a decline in production, but that has been reversed.
One reason why saffron has high value is that the production involves much labour before and after harvesting. The blossoms need to be picked in the early mornings as they open, and then transported with care to the homes or factories where the stigmas are separated from the flowers.
Depending on the variety, some 400 000 or more stigmas may go into making 1kg of saffron. The work must be done by hand and since it calls for nimbleness, the industry holds out employment prospects for large numbers of women.
Saffron is considered the world’s costliest spice, and Kashmiri varieties currently fetch $3 600/kg although prices in recent years have gone as high as $6 000/kg.
According to Nahvi since the soil and climatic conditions in Afghanistan are similar to that in Kashmir, “they shouldn’t have any problems growing this crop if they adopt similar methods and techniques.”
Kashmir’s agriculture minister Ghulam Hassan Mir said that Afghan delegations will continue to visit Kashmir to learn about saffron cultivation as well as other horticultural products. “The Afghan government has indicated that it is keen to wipe out poppy cultivation and we are very much interested in helping them achieve their objective,” he said.
Support from India to prop up various sectors of Afghanistan’s economy was formalized under a “strategic partnership agreement” signed in New Delhi during a visit by Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the first week of October 2011. That agreement came even as the United Nations Drug Control Agency released the report of a survey that showed land under poppy cultivation in Afghanistan increasing as a result of rising opium prices on the one hand and economic hardships faced by Afghans on the other. According to FAO, while Afghanistan’s National Drug Control Strategy aims to eliminate illicit opium poppy cultivation by 2013, the U.N. survey found that poppy is now grown in 17 of the country’s provinces.
“Cultivation of poppy has devastated our agriculture and reputation. Our country is now known more for poppy and conflict than for any positive activity. We want to change that,” said Asadullah Aurakzai, a member of the delegation.
For full story, please see: www.realchangenews.org/index.php/site/archives/6214/

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24.       Kenya: Use the law to protect traditional knowledge
Source: Cathy Mputhia, Business Daily, 15 January 2011 in Traditional Knowledge Bulletin

I sat through an interesting discussion on bio-prospecting vis-à-vis protection of indigenous rights. Most people took the view that local communities lose in terms of revenues and opportunities of commercially exploiting the bio-resources to larger corporate and foreign entities. It is alleged the big firms exploit traditional knowledge and get revenues and royalties from patenting information which does not belong to them.
This may seem to be the case but a quick analysis of the law shows the State does indeed protect local communities from such exploitation. The Constitution expressly protects indigenous communities and the environment. It is enshrined in the Bill of Rights that every Kenyan citizen has a right to enjoy the environment and a right to have it protected for the benefit of future generations.
Article 69 of the Constitution ensures protection of indigenous rights by imposing an obligation on the State to ensure sustainable exploitation of natural resources and equitable sharing of benefits. The Article also provides for the protection of intellectual property in indigenous knowledge.
Even before the new Constitution, there were laws to protect indigenous communities from exploitative bioprospecting. The Environment Management and Co-ordination Act of 1999 contains provisions to this regard. Under Section 50, the Authority shall prescribe measures to ensure protection of biodiversity and specifically provides for the protection of indigenous people’s rights. Therefore, the indigenous community is adequately protected under statute from illegal bio-prospecting.
Many potential bio-prospectors engage the local community in the project and also set out the benefits available to the locals, including building of schools and other infrastructure. To avoid too many conflicts, it is advisable for any person to have a plan guarantees the community benefit.
The Constitution makes it easy for a member of the community to challenge the prospecting activity on grounds that the project does not guarantee equitable distribution of resources.
It has been argued that many corporate entities not only prospect illegally but go on to secure intellectual property rights in form of patents, over illegally acquired information. Perhaps it might have happened in the past, but before one is awarded a patent they must prove that there was an inventive step and that the idea was new.
Therefore, one cannot patent bio-resources. The only thing one can successfully patent is an invention linked to a bio-resource.
For full story, please see: www.businessdailyafrica.com/Use+the+law+to+protect+traditional+knowledge+/-/539444/1306150/-/item/0/-/siq31u/-/index.html

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25.       India: Indian sandalwood production set to lose home ground edge
Source: Livemint, 26 January 2012

Santalum ablum, the Indian sandalwood tree, is the source of a fragrance that permeates much of daily life in the country – from bathing soaps to religious practice and even crime.
While there are several indigenous varieties, Indian sandalwood is prized for being the most potent, with a 90 percent content of the active ingredient santalol. In contrast, Australian sandalwood oil has only 38-39 percent santalol content. Not surprisingly, India dominates production worldwide, with nearly 85 percent of the supply of Indian sandalwood coming from the southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
But this statistic masks a crisis that the Indian sandalwood industry has been in the grip of for the past decades. Annual production has fallen from a high of 4 000 tonnes in the early 1970s, to less than 300 tonnes today.
And, an Australian company could emerge soon as the largest producer of Indian sandalwood, all of it grown on plantations Down Under. This could happen as early as next year if things go according to plan for TFS Corp. Ltd, based in Western Australia. “At this stage, we expect the first harvest to occur in the 2013 calendar year, although we expect only a relatively small harvest of around 50-100 ha”, said TFS chief financial officer Quentin Megson in reply to an email questionnaire. TFS currently has 25 sq. km of Indian sandalwood plantations.
Megson confirmed TFS will be supplying Indian sandalwood oil for the chewing and flavouring industry, besides the European, the US and the West Asian fragrance markets. He declined to quantify this output in terms of weight, but sandalwood experts estimated the sandalwood harvest at 450-900 tonnes, easily outstripping India’s production of 300 tonnes in 2011.
Megson projects TFS will harvest around 50-100ha for the first few years, but from 2020 onwards this will increase to 1 000ha per year. Since 1999, TFS has been developing the largest Indian sandalwood plantation found anywhere in the world.
The company’s interest in Indian sandalwood was an outcome of successful trials by the Australian government in the early 1980s.
Indian sandalwood is a highly adaptable species that grows in varying soil conditions and weather, amid temperatures ranging from 5oC to 50o C.
Indian sandalwood’s dire situation in its country of origin can be attributed largely to government policy. The decline in domestic production is primarily due to overexploitation and stringent regulations, said H.S. Anantha Padmanabha, a retired official of the Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Bangalore, and a consultant to TFS.
Indian sandalwood oil was a prime source of foreign exchange in the 1970s and 1980s, and this led to the indiscriminate felling of sandalwood trees. The late Veerappan was one of those who participated in the sandalwood smuggling racket that led to the trees dwindling.
There was no move to replenish the tree stock, which tied in with the other reason for the shortage: the complex set of regulations that govern sandalwood in India. “In the three states with the largest population of sandalwood trees – Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala – short-sighted policy, some of which goes back to the era of Tipu Sultan, has disincentivized the cultivation of sandalwood,” Padmanabha said.
Until 2001 in Karnataka and 2002 in Tamil Nadu, sandalwood trees were the property of the state government, regardless of where they grew. (This is a practice that is followed for other tree species as well, especially those that are highly valued and dwindling in number because of similar exploitation.) Sandalwood trees can now be owned by planters, but can only be sold to the state forest department.
“Unless the government liberalizes the sandalwood market, there will be no increase in sandalwood cultivation in the southern states,” said Padmanabha. “The shortage in Karnataka is so severe that there have been no sandalwood auctions in the state for the past two years.”
There is some recognition of this at the government level. State-owned Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Ltd, maker of Mysore Sandal Soap, has launched a Grow More Sandalwood campaign that involves the company entering into agreements with farmers.
It has already signed memoranda of understanding for nearly 2 500 acres of sandalwood cultivation and hopes to sign up more farmers soon, said Venkatesha Gowda, deputy general manager (research and development). Farmers will grow the trees and sell them to the company once they’re ready to be harvested.
Gowda estimates planting 500 sandalwood trees on 1ha over a period of 15 years will cost Rs.48 lakh. The net profit, at a conservative estimate of Rs.3 500 for 1kg of wood, would be as much as Rs.2.76 crore. But it will take at least 10-15 years for the sandalwood to be ready for harvesting. Until then, India may have to yield leadership to Australia.
The sandalwood grown there will be as potent as that harvested in India, said Megson. But Gowda said, “Indian sandalwood grown here will be superior. There are too many variables for anyone to get it right.
For full story, please see: www.livemint.com/2012/01/25224049/Indian-sandalwood-productionse.html?atype=tp

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26.       India: 1.89 lakh hectares covered under National Bamboo Mission
Source: NetIndian, 20 January 2012

The National Bamboo Mission, launched in 2006-07, has achieved coverage of 1.89 lakh ha in different parts of the county against the target of 1.76 lakh ha set for the period. Out of this, 1.33 lakh ha are in forest areas and 56,000 ha are in non-forest areas, an official press release said here today.
An area of 47 000 ha of existing bamboo plantation has been improved for higher productivity. As many as 1 194 nurseries have been established in different states to supply quality planting material, it said.
According to the release, the Centre has spent Rs 485.39 crore on the Mission since its inception. The total allocation for the Mission for the period 2006-07 to 2011-12 is Rs 568 crore. 
The Mission was launched in 27 states to harness the potential of bamboo crop. The key objective of the mission is to increase the productivity of bamboo from 3 tonnes per ha to 20 tonnes.
The major thrust areas include setting up nurseries for production and distribution of quality planting material, area expansion, rejuvenation of old and unproductive plantation, pest and disease management, bamboo markets and dissemination of latest knowledge thorough workshops, seminars and training programmes. 
For full story, please see: http://netindian.in/news/2012/01/20/00018370/189-lakh-hectares-covered-under-natioal-bamboo-mission

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27.       Indonesia: Kalimantan declared as lungs of the world
Source:  TEMPO Interactive, 20 January, 2012

Jakarta. Indonesia has issued a regulation that sets aside for biodiversity and conservation purposes almost half of Kalimantan, to become the “lungs of the world.”
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on 5 January has stipulated the policy in a decree. “At least 45 percent of Kalimantan has been established as the lungs of the world,” stated the policy, as quoted by www.setkab.go.id  on Thursday.
The government, according to the website, has asserted that the policy was made in order to preserve the biodiversity in the conservation area of the tropical rainforests, and that local ecosystems are protected.
The decree will also regulate government policies linked to the provision of 45 percent of Kalimantan’s areas as the lungs of the world. Some policies to be implemented are the preservation of areas with biodiversity and species endemic to the area; the development of ecosystem corridors between conservation areas; the strengthening and rehabilitation of protected areas which have been degraded; and the control of cultivation activities which may potentially disrupt the protected areas. “In addition, in Kalimantan, the government will develop hydroelectric power, mini-hydro power, wind power, and solar power plants.”
For full story, please see: www.tempointeractive.com/hg/nasional/2012/01/20/brk,20120120-378589,uk.html

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28.       Malaysia: 500 000 agarwood trees for a greener Malaysia
Source: New Straits Times, 20 January 2012

Half a million agarwood trees will be planted throughout the country under Tesco Stores (M) Sdn Bhd's Greener Earth Tree Planting programme.
Tesco Stores and the Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB) recently inked a Memorandum of Understanding to plant the trees in the next three years. Partly funded by the sale of plastic bags on Saturdays, the programme is part of  Tesco's Greener Earth initiative. The MoU was signed by Tesco Malaysia chief executive officer SungHwan Do and MITB director-general Dr Jalaluddin Harun and was witnessed by MITB chairman Datuk Madius Tangau.
Do said Greener Earth was Tesco's latest initiative to protect the environment while engaging customers. "Through this programme, Tesco and MITB will plant 160,000 trees this year and 170,000 in 2013 and 2014 respectively," said Do, who added that Tesco would spend RM4 million on the project.
"This is our way of helping the country to achieve its target of planting 26 million trees by 2014," he said.
On 17 December 2011, Tesco and MITB planted more than 1 000 trees in Taman Wawasan, Putrajaya.
Do said Tesco was planning to conduct at least two road shows each year to create awareness on conservation and environmental protection among its customers and the public. Datuk Madius said Tesco's initiative would contribute towards reafforestation efforts and keeping at least half of the country under forest cover. "It is hoped that there will be many more similar collaborations between the corporate sector and the government," he said.
For full story, please see: www.nst.com.my/streets/central/500-000-trees-for-a-greener-malaysia-1.34517

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29.       Oman: Amur cork tree is the largest tree in Oman
Source: Oman Daily Observer, 27 January 2012

Muscat. The Macho in the Wilayat of Liwa, Northern Al Batinah Governorate is the oldest tree in the Sultanate.
Also known as Amur cork tree it is considered to be the largest tree in the Sultanate, with a huge trunk of around 3 m in diameter. Its roots are 10 m deep.
The fruit of the Macho tree are uneatable but the locals have a strong belief that the fruit is an excellent painkiller for toothache.
This ageing tree is famed all over the Sultanate: tourists and residents flock to Wadi Al Zuhaimi where it is located to look at the tree, which has become a key tourist landmark.
For full story, please see: http://main.omanobserver.om/node/80987

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30.       Rwanda: Rain forest in Rwanda's main natural forest in danger of extinction 
Source: Xinhua News Service, 20 January 2012

Kigali. Nyungwe rain forest in the southwestern region of Rwanda is progressively disappearing, findings released in Kigali by a team of researchers from the National University of Rwanda revealed.
According to the findings made available to Xinhua in Kigali, the main threat to the forest is the abundance of a harmful plant, scientifically known as Serochochys scadens. "In the past, this plant was eaten by elephants and buffaloes," the report said on Monday. Today only five elephants are believed to remain in the Kamiranzovu swamp located in the neighboring area, while the buffaloes have literally disappeared.
Another menace to the Nyungwe rain forest is the lack of abundant rainfall compounded by encroachment on the forest by the population.
If no immediate measures are taken to preserve the high-altitude forest (3 000 m above sea level), Nyungwe faces the same fate as Gishwati forest in northwest region which has been destroyed by farmers.
After cattle breeders, potato farmers and charcoal burners took their activities to the forest, Gishwati was left treeless after more than a million Rwandans have returned to their country in search of land to farm, after the genocide against Tutsis in 1994.
In a bid to save Nyungwe forest from extinction, the government has decided to declare it a national reserve where tourism would be directed to supporting conservation efforts and research. In July 2011, the government of Rwanda had fully entrusted the management of the Nyungwe natural reserve to a British forestry company, New Forests Company (NFC).
The reserve, situated in the south-west, covers a land mass of 11,000 hectares.
The British company plans to invest in the establishment of a number of manufacturing industries for building materials, including the construction of a modern factory in the forest to manufacture office equipment.
For full story, please see: http://in2eastafrica.net/rain-forest-in-rwandas-main-natural-forest-in-danger-of-extinction/

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31.       South Africa: Poor prefer NTFPs during a crisis
Source: allAfrica, 18 January 2012

According to the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), a recent study finds that the sale and use of NTFPs is the one of the most common coping mechanisms in times of crisis to help vulnerable households in two of South Africa's poorest provinces cope.
The study found that while all of the households that were sampled relied, to some extent, on NTFPs as part of their livelihood portfolio, as many as 70 percent also reported using the safety-net function of NTFPs in response to a range of crises.
Kinship was found to be the top coping strategy chosen by both wealthy and poor households, and poorer household cited the use or sale of NTFPs as the second most commonly adopted coping strategy.
"This highlights that in addition to the more regular use of NTFPs, they play an important role in helping households weather specific crises" said Fiona Paumgarten, CIFOR scientist and co-author of the CIFOR study conducted in collaboration with South Africa's Rhodes University. "The safety-net function of these NTFPs doesn't manifest specifically in the increased use of resources they already use but might manifest through using resources which are not normally used or selling NTFPs which are not normally sold," she said.
Surveying both poor and wealthy households over a two-year period, researchers looked at a range of dynamics and drivers of use and sale of NFTPs. In both areas studied, over-utilization of NFTPs and increasing population densities meant that these resources are becoming scarcer. This has implications on the possible safety-net option of NFTPs, Paumgarten said. "It undermines overall livelihood security, especially as alternatives are limited, a situation that is unlikely to change in the immediate future as ongoing service delivery failures and high rates of unemployment persist."
For full story, please see: http://allafrica.com/stories/201201190746.html

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32.       Suriname forest reveals 46 new species
Source: DAWN.com, 27 January 2012

Paramaribo. A “cowboy frog” and a “crayola katydid” are among 46 new species that have been discovered in the dense forests of the tiny South American nation of Suriname, scientists said Wednesday.
The caramel-colored frog displays white fringes along its back legs and a spur on its heels, while the unusual katydid earned its nickname from the striking hues on its body and wings.
Other discoveries included a 5cm catfish, and larger catfish covered with a spiny armor to protect it against predators in the piranha-filled river.
The findings were made by an expedition of international scientists, indigenous people and university students as part of a three-week river expedition organized by Conservation International.
The journey took them along the Koetari and Sipaliwini rivers, where they also found intriguing new rock carvings, or petroglyphs, along the border with southern neighbor Brazil.
The petroglyphs were found on caves near the Trio village of Kwamalasamutu, a site that Conservation International is helping local communities preserve as an ecotourism destination. In 2000, Werehpai cave petroglyphs were discovered in the same area and scientists believe it is the oldest known human settlement found in southern Suriname.
According to Conservation International Suriname director Annette Tjon Sie-Fat, the findings will play a vital role in preserving and managing the area as a cultural heritage site and as unique destination for tourists.
The environmental group hopes the Suriname government will develop laws to protect the country’s biodiversity, in order to preserve untouched areas and prevent them from being given away as concessions for mining or timber.
In 2007 a similar expedition in Suriname resulted in the discovery of 24 new animal species.
For full story, please see: www.dawn.com/2012/01/27/suriname-forest-reveals-46-new-species.html

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33.       USA: Forest Service grants $52.2M to protect working forests, rural economies
Source: PR Web (press release), 20 January 2012

The U.S. Forest Service announced today that it is granting $52.2 million for 17 conservation and working lands projects across the U.S. in 2012.
The Forest Legacy Program has protected 2.2 million acres through public-private partnership using federal and leveraged funds of more than $562 million. The program works with private landowners, states and conservation groups to promote sustainable, working forests. Forest Legacy is an important component of the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative’s goal of conserving rural working farms, ranches, and forests by accelerating locally-driven landscape conservation priorities.
"The Forest Legacy Program helps keep working forests working across the country," said Chief Tom Tidwell. “These projects will support rural economies and American jobs while protecting some of our most beautiful landscapes for our children and grandchildren.”
Intact forest lands supply timber products, wildlife habitat, soil and watershed protection, aesthetics, and recreational opportunities. However, as these areas are fragmented and disappear, so do the benefits they provide. Roughly 57 percent of the nation's forests are privately owned yet the country has lost 15 million acres of private working forests in the last ten years with an additional 22 million acres projected to be at risk from development, wildfire and other threats in the next decade.
The Forest Legacy Program uses a competitive process to strategically select ecologically and socially important projects facing the greatest threat of conversion to other land uses. Projects that protect clean air and water, provide recreation, protect wildlife habitat, supports large-scale land conservation partnerships, and provide forest-related rural jobs receive strong consideration.
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Recreational activities on our lands contribute $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.
For full story, please see: www.prweb.com/releases/2012/1/prweb9121540.htm

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34.       USA: CDC acts to stem threat of exotic viruses from 'bushmeat'
Source: The Seattle Times, 21 January 2012

Untold thousands of pounds of monkey parts, giant African rats and other illegal "bush meat" slips into the United States each year – a taste of home for immigrants who smuggle it in, but the nation's disease detectives are launching an expanded effort to test such wild meat for potentially dangerous viruses.
Bloody, raw, smoked or dried, untold thousands of pounds of monkey parts, giant African cane rats and other illegal "bushmeat" slips into the United States each year.
For some of the Washington, D.C. area's African residents, the meat is a taste of home, a treat for the holidays and reunions. "It's a delicacy, for special occasions," said Sambourou Diop, a Gabonese national living in the region, who sampled bush meat in his West African homeland but has not eaten it here.
For the nation's disease detectives, though, bloody bags of wild meat could mean big trouble. They're worried about exotic viruses causing a deadly outbreak – or, in the worst case, an AIDS-like pandemic.
That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), after a two-year pilot study, launched an expanded effort to test confiscated bushmeat for potentially dangerous viruses.
The virus that causes AIDS jumped from chimpanzees to humans at least three times early in the 20th century, sparking a worldwide crisis that has killed at least 25 million people. And in 2003, an unknown virus leapt from bats to civet cats to people in southwest China. The virus then spread to 29 countries and killed at least 774 people. It was dubbed SARS, for severe acute respiratory syndrome.
Infectious-disease experts are convinced those two viruses moved into humans via the butchering, handling and eating of infected meat. And they're all but certain that other scary viruses lurk in the world's wildlife.
"We're in the dark with risks," said Kristine Smith of the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance. "We know there are risks out there, but we aren't able to quantify them."
Beginning in 2008, Smith, a wildlife-health expert, aided the CDC on a pilot project to test bush meat confiscated at Dulles International Airport near Washington, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, and airports in Houston and Atlanta.
The effort netted heads, arms and other pieces of two chimpanzees (an endangered species), seven monkeys and 35 rodents, mostly giant cane rats. It is illegal to bring any of those animals into the United States.
Also found were three exotic viruses, although they do not appear dangerous to humans. Two of the viruses are in the same broad family as the viruses that cause herpes in humans. The third, simian foamy virus, was found in seven monkeys and one of the chimpanzees. That virus has been on CDC's radar for a few years because, like HIV, it is a retrovirus. It insinuates itself into the host's DNA, where it persists, perhaps for a lifetime.
To date, there are no signs that simian foamy virus makes people sick, the CDC's Brian Switzer said. But the agency is keeping tabs on 130 people infected with it. Most are laboratory or zoo workers who handled monkeys and apes, or blood or tissue from the primates.
"We're looking at whether these viruses are transmissible to close contacts, spouses, children, and so on," Switzer said.
With modest funding of $59 740, the CDC is expanding virus testing nationwide to bush meat confiscated at 18 of the agency's 20 quarantine stations, typically located at airports. The CDC official who heads up the effort, Nina Marano, said the program's funding is uncertain beyond this year.
Some experts are worried that efforts to stem the bushmeat trade are too meager.
For full story, please see: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2017293501_bushmeat22.html

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35.       Zimbabwe: FAO commissions study on indigenous plants
Source: The Zimbabwean, 11 January 2012

The Food and Agriculture Organization is to produce an inventory of the Top Ten underutilized plants with commercial potential for smallholder production. Bio-Innovation Zimbabwe, an innovation hub acting to develop new business opportunities using indigenous plants, was recently commissioned to produce the report.
Gus Le Breton, BIZ Chief Executive Officer, says the study will focus on plants that can be used for medicines, food, bio-fuel, cosmetics, herbal teas, dyes, construction, gums, resins and essential oils. “As we begin rebuilding Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector, we have the opportunity to position ourselves strategically in the global market as the first choice suppliers of an array of unusual African natural ingredients and products,” said Le Breton.
“We need to play to our strengths, and our biodiversity is one of them. The biggest obstacle to developing this potential is our own mindsets – perceptions that there’s no market for them, or that they are second-rate because they’re ‘traditional’ and therefore not modern, or simply ignorance on the part of consumers and/or policy-makers.”
In terms of domestic consumers and policy-makers (both of whom are now actively considering the implications of the “Proudly Zimbabwean” commercial drive) and in terms of the international market (with its focus on natural, on Africa and on ethical trade), the time has never been better, he added.
Key points include short lead-time for commercialization, ease of domestication/cultivation, suitability for marginal dry-land areas, building on existing, abundance of geographic spread, existing markets and multiple marketing opportunities including availability of skills.
Among the 250 useful plants already identified are: baobab (Mauyu), pig weed (Mowa), prickly cucumber (Magaka), finger millet (zviyo,) makoni tea (musvisvinwa), mobola plum, (hacha/chakata), marula (mapfura), groundnuts (Nyimo) and pepper bark (muranga).
But Le Breton says the potential of these species will not be realized unaided and there is need to identify the unique selling points of each and facilitate concentrated investment in product development, trial marketing, consumer awareness and production and yield trials.
Many foreign countries have capitalized on indigenous plant species such as kiwi fruit (New Zealand), macadamia nut (Australia), acai (Brazil), argan oil (Morocco), shea butter (Burkina Faso) and rooibos (South Africa.
For full story, please see: www.thezimbabwean.co.uk/life/environment/55562/fao-commissions-study-on-indigenous.html

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NEWS

36.       Conserving biodiversity hotspots 'could bring world's poor $500bn a year'
Source: The Guardian, 20 January 2012

Some of the world's poorest people would be half a trillion dollars a year better off if the services they provide to the rest of the planet indirectly – through conserving natural habitats – was given an economic value, a new study has found.
Many of these valuable habitats and species are under threat, but the people who live in these areas lack the means to improve their conservation, according to a new study in the journal BioScience.
If poor people were paid for the services they provide in preserving some of the world's key biodiversity hotspots, they could reap $500bn. There are some fledgling schemes that could help to raise this cash – for instance, the United Nations-backed system called Redd (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), which uses carbon trading to generate cash to preserve trees – but so far they are small in scale.
The benefits of safeguarding these habitats, such as providing valuable services from food, medicines and clean water to absorbing carbon dioxide from the air, are more than triple the costs of conserving them, the researchers found.
Will Turner, vice–president of Conservation International and lead author of the study, said: "Developed and developing economies cannot continue to ask the world's poor to shoulder the burden of protecting these globally important ecosystem services for the rest of the world's benefit, without compensation in return. This is exactly what we mean when we talk about valuing natural capital. Nature may not send us a bill, but its essential services and flows, both direct and indirect, have concrete economic value."
He said that preserving areas of highest biodiversity should be the priority. "What the research clearly tells us is that conserving the world's remaining biodiversity isn't just a moral imperative - it is a necessary investment for lasting economic development. But in many places where the poor depend on these natural services, we are dangerously close to exhausting them, resulting in lasting poverty," said Turner.
Many of the benefits of conservation, so-called "ecosystem services", are invisible – for instance, maintaining wooded land can help to prevent mudslides during heavy rainfall, and provides valuable watersheds that keep rivers healthy and provide clean drinking water, as well as absorbing carbon dioxide from the air. These benefits are not assigned an economic value, however, so that chopping down trees or destroying habitats appears to deliver an instant economic return, when in fact it is leading to economic losses that are only obvious when it is too late.
The study, entitled ´Global Biodiversity Conservation and the Alleviation of Poverty´, was led by a team from Conservation International, and co-authored by scientists at NatureServe, the US National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. They looked in particular at 17 of the world's most important areas for biodiversity.
They found that some of the ecosystem services accrued to the local people themselves – for instance, using forests as sources of food, medicines and shelter – while the rest are regional or global.
The study follows on a growing body of work from the past decade that has sought to place a value on ecosystem services, as a way of ensuring that they are accounted for in economic policy. If nature is not economically valued, many scientists have argued, it is more prone to being destroyed.
Russell Mittermeier, president of Conservation International and a co-author, said: "We have always known that biodiversity is foundational to human wellbeing, but we now have a strong case that ecosystems specifically located in the world's biodiversity hotspots and high-biodiversity wilderness areas also provide a vital safety net for people living in poverty. Protecting these places is essential not only to safeguard life on earth but also to support the impoverished, ensure continued broad access to nature's services, and meet the UN millennium development goals."
He called on governments to integrate the conservation of nature into economic and poverty-alleviation policies, in order to value these services better.
For full story, please see: www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jan/20/conserving-biodiversity-poor-economic-value

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37.       FAO forestry launches first multimedia iPhone app
From: Forestry Department, FAO

iFOn: Forestry taps into the iPhone market . Users receive news, videos, statistics and interactive maps
FAO’s Forestry Department has launched the Organization’s first multimedia app, designed to bring its work on forests and forestry to a growing generation of iPhone and iPad users.
The iFOn FAO Forestry App can be downloaded free from the Apple App store and provides users with news, videos, select publications, interactive maps showing world forest statistics, and a quiz, all navigable with a touch-screen wheel.
It also includes a ‘donate’ button that takes users to the website of FAO’s TeleFood fundraising programme – which uses public contributions to finance small-scale agriculture, livestock and fisheries projects that help poor families produce more food.
“This project increases our potential capacity to communicate FAO forestry’s message to over 100 million users of iPhones and over 20 million users of iPads,” said forestry officer Lauren Flejzor (lauren.flejzor@fao.org), who came up with the idea along with colleague Magnus Grylle.
“We’re hoping students and people in public and private organizations with an interest in forestry will start downloading the app so that they can have the information at their fingertips.”
Flejzor said the project had been a collaborative effort, with work from graphic designer Gabriele Marcelli and support from the IT and procurement departments.
“There is huge potential here for FAO to utilize apps as problem-solving, data collection, fundraising and communications tools, and we hope our product will act as a gauge for the potential development of similar products,” she added.
A second version scheduled for mid-year will provide updated information on the forestry department’s work and allow users to donate specifically to forestry-related TeleFood projects.
The app was financed by the Innovation Fund, which invests in creative ideas that lead to savings and increased efficiency in the Organization, and was backed by Forestry Department Assistant Director-General Eduardo Rojas-Briales.

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38.       Geology has split the Amazon into two distinct forests
Source: Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 19 January 2012

The common view of the Amazon is that it is one massive, unbroken forest. This impression is given by maps which tend to mark the Amazon by a large glob of green or even by its single name which doesn't account for regional changes. Of course, scientists have long recognized different ecosystems in the Amazon, most especially related to climate. But a new study in the Journal of Biogeography has uncovered two distinct forest ecosystems, sharply divided, caused by millions of years of geologic forces.
"We look at a boundary of over 300 km between two geological formations, the Nauta Formation and the Pebas Formation," lead author Mark Higgins with Duke University told mongabay.com. "The forests of these two geological formations differ by almost 90 percent in their plant species and this turnover occurs in under 2 km. So, we see an abrupt and almost complete change in plant species between the two formations."
The major difference in the two Amazonian forests, which split in northern Peru, is soil fertility: the Pebas Formation is 15 times more fertile than the Nauta. This means that the two forests support very different plant species.
On the poor soils, the plants invest very heavily in roots and leaf defences, to acquire and hold onto scarce nutrients; while on rich soils, the plants are free to invest heavily in height and competition for light," explains Higgins, who says the different ecosystems are easily identifiable.
"While the Pebas Formation forests look like your typical tall rainforest, the poor-soil Nauta Formation forests are a different matter completely. In these forests [...] the ground is often covered by a spongy mat of roots up to 10 cm in depth. Sprouting from this root mat you can find hundreds of tiny roots climbing up small palms and saplings, looking for nutrients in leaves caught above the ground. At times I felt that if I stood still long enough they'd start climbing me too. Due to their strong investment in roots and in leaf defences, these trees invest much less in height and girth, and the forest is generally shorter with many small stems. Sometimes, the canopy in these forests opens up completely and the ground is dominated by massive ground-dwelling bromeliads. Really weird stuff."
The distinct nature of the forests is so strong that it can be viewed in satellite images. Higgins says their findings add a new layer to current understanding of Amazonian ecosystems.
The identification of such broadly different ecosystems should also play a role in conservation efforts argues the paper. For example forests in the bizarre Nauta Formation have been largely ignored to date both by conservationists and researchers.
"These poor-soil forests are distributed across northern Peru, but are essentially unknown and severely underrepresented in existing protected areas," explains Higgins. "One of the most common plant species found on these poor soils was previously unreported in Peru prior to our work, and we have found populations of bird species that are otherwise unknown except for small patches in northern Peru. In short, we believe that many of these rare species will turn out to be widespread. The new Nanay River Protected Area in northern Peru is a good start, but our findings suggest there is much more to be done. Luckily, mapping and protecting these unique ecosystems could be achieved in months rather than decades given the tools we describe."
Higgins adds that conservation should be more focused on protecting the great variety of the world's ecosystems, instead of simply pursuing protection of charismatic habitats that draw considerably more attention and dollars.
Citation: Mark A. Higgins, Kalle Ruokolainen, Hanna Tuomisto, Nelly Llerena, Glenda Cardenas, Oliver L. Phillips, Rodolfo Vasquez and Matti Rasanen. Geological control of floristic composition in Amazonian forests. Journal of Biogeography. 2011. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2699.2011.02585.x.
For full story, please see: http://news.mongabay.com/2012/0119-hance_twoamazons.html#ixzz1k0JN3paP

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39.       New biodiversity map of the Andes shows species in dire need of protection
Source: EurekAlert (press release), 26 January 2012

The Andes-Amazon basin of Peru and Bolivia is one of the most biologically rich and rapidly changing areas of the world. A new study published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Ecology has used information collected over the last 100 years by explorers and from satellite images which reveals detailed patterns of species and ecosystems that occur only in this region. Worryingly, the study also finds that many of these unique species and ecosystems are lacking vital national level protection.
Endemic species are restricted to a specific area and occur nowhere else. These species are especially vulnerable to climate and environmental changes because they require unique climates and soil conditions. This makes them an ideal indicator for measuring biodiversity.
A multinational team from the United States, Bolivia, Peru and other countries mapped a wide range of ecosystems in Bolivia and Peru, from the wetlands of Beni savanna and the Iquitos várzea, to the bone dry xeric habitats of inter-Andean valleys, and the cool and humid montane forests along much of the eastern Andean slope. Over 7 000 individual records of endemic species locations for 115 birds, 55 mammals, 177 amphibians and 435 plants were combined with climate data (WorldClim), topography (NASA's SRTM), and vegetation (NASA's MODIS satellite sensor), resulting in species distribution maps, accurate to 1km.
Analysis of the maps showed that the highest concentration of endemic birds and mammals was along a narrow band of the Andes mountains, between 2500 and 3000m above sea level. Endemic amphibian species peaked at 1000 to 1500m and were especially concentrated in southern Peru and northern Bolivia. One of the areas that had the highest levels of 'irreplaceability' and the highest number of species for birds and mammals is an unprotected region surrounding the small World Heritage Site of Macchu Pichu (Cordillera de Vilcabamba, Peru).
Disturbingly, the authors found that a total of 226 endemic species have no national protection and about half of the ecological systems have 10 percent or less of their range protected. Additionally only 20% of the areas with high numbers of endemic species and 20% of the irreplaceable areas are currently protected.
Dr Jennifer Swenson, from Duke University, who led the research said, "Biodiversity in the Andes is under threat from oil and gold mining, infrastructure projects, illegal crops, and many other activities. There is already evidence of species migrating upslope to keep up with climate change in this region. Conservation across the Andes needs urgent revising and we hope that our data will help protect this incredibly unique region."
For full story, please see: www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-01/bc-nbm012512.php

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40.       Trees near homes boost incomes, sequester carbon
Source: SciDev.Net Weekly Update (16 - 22 January 2012)

A form of small-holder agroforestry in which trees are planted around the home, maximising the land left available for cash crops, may prove the best balance between sequestering carbon and making money by farming other crops, a study has found.
There has been a proliferation of projects that encourage small-scale farmers to adopt tree planting as part of efforts to sequester carbon from the atmosphere to help mitigate climate change.
But there is a conflict of policy interests because trees can take up land used for growing cash crops, thereby reducing farmer's profits. In many cases there are no payments for planting trees and, even where there are, the money does not match the lost profits from crops.  
Researchers from the UK’s London School of Economics (LSE) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, assessed seven different tree-planting systems in the N'hambita Community Carbon Project, in rural Mozambique, for the value of crops and the amount of carbon sequestered.
These included planting trees in fruit orchards; in dedicated woodlots; within or around their agricultural fields; or around the house on land not previously used for agriculture.
The researchers found the optimum balance between carbon sequestration and raising farmers' incomes to lie in 'homestead planting', where trees were planted around the house.
The density of trees was lower than in a woodlot, but still higher than in other systems, and suitable trees included mango and cashew, which had the potential to provide income though sales of fruit and timber.
Charles Palmer, lead author and a lecturer at the LSE, said farmers who grow both trees and cash crops earn two sources of income: carbon payments and the returns from cash crops.
"Based on prices received for VERs [Verified Emissions Reductions, or carbon offsets], the carbon payments are, relative to cash crop returns, small anyway, hence contributing less to incomes," he said.
Eike Luedeling, a climate change scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, told SciDev.Net that, while including diverse agroforestry options in carbon sequestration activities may lower the carbon storage potential, it can make carbon sequestration attractive to farmers.
"The net carbon storage potential — a product of sequestration potential and number of farmers doing it — may thus well be higher for agroforestry options, because they are much more likely to be adopted."  
The researchers say that this is the first in-depth study of a land-use project in Africa that includes cash crops in the carbon sequestration strategy.  They say few carbon sequestration projects are located in Africa, although the benefits from such projects could have relatively greater impact there than in other, richer developing regions.
The study was published in this month's edition of Land Use Policy
For full story, please see: www.scidev.net/en/agriculture-and-environment/forestry/news/trees-near-homes-boost-incomes-sequester-carbon.html

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EVENTS

Second World Conference on Organic Beekeeping
19-25 March 2012
San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico
All people interested in beekeeping (beekeepers, researchers, organizations, traders... are warmly invited to come and share experiences and opinions, present recent data, debate about social and environmental values in their work, debate about urgent topics like genetically modified organisms and how they affect beekeeping, show pictures, videos or recipes, and much more.
For more information, please contact the organizing committee:
Colegio de la Frontera Sur
San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México
Tel +52 (967)674 – 9000 ext. 1426 or 1743
Email: abejas@ecosur.mx
www.ecosur.mx/abejas/

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“Shea 2012: Shared Value”
23-27 April 2012
Cotonou, Benin
With rising global interest in shea, the African shea industry is growing at an unprecedented rate. Prices for shea have increased by a staggering 50 percent since 2006 as the shea-producing industry has forged connections and built on its strength. Now, industry stakeholders will focus on positive impacts to communities and strengthening sustainability at the sixth annual shea conference, which is being hosted by the Global Shea Alliance. “The industry is expanding so rapidly – this is a critical time for shea,” said Gilles Adamon of Natura, a Benin shea butter producer.
Shea nuts grow on wild trees that are critical to maintaining environmental sustainability in the West African Sahel region. Harvested mainly by some four million women in the region, it is a significant and growing source of income for families and communities. A 2010 USAID study showed that for every $1 000 of sheanuts sold at the farmgate level, US$1 580 in additional household income is generated in the local economy. A major aim of the Shea 2012 conference is to highlight and strengthen the shea industry’s focus on the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.
With 12 000 tons in processing capacity and 35 000 tons of shea nuts harvested for export each year, Benin is an ideal place for industry stakeholders to identify new investment opportunities that will benefit business and local communities.
Shea 2012 will bring together leading stakeholders from across the shea value chain. Producers, researchers, processors and international brands will have opportunities to connect at business-to-business networking events and social forums. Experts on shea will present on such key issues as emerging innovations in processing technology, standards and certification, and supply chain logistics.
“We see our annual participation in the Shea conference as critical,” says Monica Hjorth of AAK, the world’s leading trader of shea nuts. “It allows us to discuss the most important issues in an industry that has such a huge impact on the world.”
After launching the Global Shea Alliance at Shea 2011 in April, industry stakeholders are developing the vision for the industry. The Alliance connects hundreds of companies across the sector, providing a platform for advocacy, promoting shea worldwide, and helping to set quality standards across the industry. “The Alliance has brought together the entire industry to build strength and forge collaborations for the positive development of the shea industry worldwide,” said Eugenia Akuete, President of the Global Shea Alliance.
Shea, which is used widely in food products, is also growing in popularity for its benefits as a natural cosmetic as well as emerging research suggesting health benefits of its natural oils.
For more information, please contact:
Joe Lamport, USAID West Africa Trade Hub
Ghana: +233 302 773 393
Email: jlamport@watradehub.com
www.watradehub.com or www.globalshea.com

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“Forest for People”
22-24 May 2012
Alpbach, Tyrol/Austria
The conference is one important part of the new IUFRO strategy based on six thematic areas. The aim of this conference is to build a systematic body of knowledge about “forest for people” and its various facets, including possible future trends and challenges.
This conference and the following up process want to integrate not only the knowledge across all divisions but include the knowledge outside IUFRO.
The main themes of the conference are:

  • Livelihoods - issues of agro-forestry, food security, fuels, poverty alleviation, and human dislocation
  • Health, Recreation and Tourism - issues of human health, recreation and nature-based tourism
  • Urban and Rural Landscapes - issues of ecosystem services, economic benefit and development, spaces and places for living
  • Culture and Education - issues of perceptions of forests, spiritual character, education, historical tradition and practice, communication and governance

            The conference is organized by the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU)Vienna, Department of Landscape, Spatial and Infrastructure Sciences.
For more information, please contact:
Institute of Landscape Development, Recreation and Conservation Planning
Univ. Prof. Dr. Ulrike Pröbstl
Peter-Jordanstr.65, A-1180 Wien, Austria
Tel.: +43 1 47654-7247,
Fax: +43 1 47654-7209
Email: ffp2012@boku.ac.at
http://ffp2012.boku.ac.at/

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2012 INBAR Bamboo Tour
19-30 June 2012
Zhejiang, Sichuan and Guangdong, China
The objective of the annual bamboo study tours is to share the experience of Chinese bamboo development and to promote bamboo development in other countries. The tours commenced in 2005 and have run annually since 2007. They are very popular and are targeted to those wishing to gain a better understanding of the potential and practice that bamboo-based development have to offer, based on the China experience. You can read the reports of 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 bamboo tours and see some photos of the tours.
The 2012 Bamboo Tour will visit Zhejiang, Sichuan and Guangdong province. The cost in China is $2300/person covering accommodation, food, transportation and entrance tickets in China during 19-30 June. Participants should cover their international flights and the domestic flights to Hangzhou and from Guangzhou as well as travel insurance and visa fee.
In Zhejiang we will visit some leading bamboo flooring manufacturers such as DASSO (who produced the bamboo fire-proof ceiling in Madrid international airport, which won the 2006 Sterling prize. DASSO is producing bamboo interior veneer for 70,000 BMW cars per year and 45m long bamboo wind turbine blades), producer of strand woven bamboo lumber and floor), companies for bamboo concrete form and firber board, bamboo curtain and mat and bamboo shoot processing, bamboo extract like flavonoid, bamboo beer), Wenzhao, the biggest bamboo charcoal company (charcoal and vinegar) and the China Bamboo Charcoal Museum, the only bamboo charcoal museum in the world, some primitive processing workshops (bamboo strips) on community level, companies for bamboo furniture, bamboo processing machine and Anji bamboo product market(hundreds bamboo products including bamboo clothes). We will also visit the biggest bamboo botanic garden in the world, Anji Bamboo Garden, which has more than 300 bamboo species plus four giant pandas, and Chinese Bamboo Museum in this garden; High-yield bamboo plantation, bamboo film production base (e.g. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and eco-tourism sites, ornamental bamboo nursery. We will visit some bamboo research institutions like Zhejiang Agro-Forestry University (visiting bamboo products showroom, bamboo charcoal, bamboo tissue culture lab). We try to dialogues with local politicians and experts on bamboo sector policies and technology, which encourage the enterprisers to invest in other bamboo production countries such as Africa, Asia and America.
In Sichuan province, we will visit Wangjiang bamboo park (near 200 tropical bamboo species), Living Water Park(which shows waste water treatment by plants and biotechnology and won UNEP award), Chengdu Giant Panda Center (more than 100 pandas!), world famous Dujiangyan irrigation system, 2008 Earthquake Museum, INBAR bamboo handicrafts training base and China Bamboo Weaving Museum in Qingshen.
In Guangdong province, we will visit a bamboo museum, tropical bamboo plantation, tropical Bamboo processing etc and famous Lankun Bamboo Ecotourism hotel and South China botanic garden(including collection of many tropical bamboos).
For more information, please contact:
Ms. Li Xin and Dr. Fu Jinhe
International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR)
8, Futong Dong Da Jie, Wangjing, Chaoyang District
P. O. Box 100102-86, Beijing 100102, P. R. China
Tel: +86-10-64706161 ext. 208
Fax: +86-10-64702166
E-mail: xli@inbar.int  and jfu@inbar.int
Website: www.inbar.int or www.inbar.int/show.asp?BoardID=171&NewsID=798

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REQUESTS

45.       Request for information: Salix tetrasperma (willow) and Zizyphus nummularia
From: H. Umair Masood Awan, awan48@gmail.com

 
I am looking for research papers that discuss the silvicultural techniques of the Salix tetrasperma (willow) and Zizyphus nummularia. Can anybody help?
Thanking you in advance!
H. Umair Masood Awan

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LITERATURE REVIEW AND WEB SITES

46.       Forests: Medicine for body and soul
Source: Hannu Raitio, Coordinator of IUFRO Task Force For Health, (DG Finnish Forest Research Institute, Metla) in IUFRO Spotlight, 3 February 2012

Imagine a doctor who, rather than advising the usual: "Take these pills daily for the next two weeks," says instead: "Take long walks in the forest daily for the next two weeks. That should get you back to normal."
Okay, that's a bit fanciful. But, it may not be too big a stretch.
There is a growing body of scientific research that suggests forests and other natural, green settings can reduce stress, improve moods, curtail aggressiveness and – possibly – even strengthen our immune systems.
Medical and health care costs are a skyrocketing financial burden in many, if not all, countries around the world – often funded through taxation or other common responsibility arrangements.
Policy makers are increasingly looking at prevention as a cost-effective alternative to medical treatment. Anything that has the potential to reduce those costs – including long walks in the forest – deserves a long, hard look.
For example, numerous studies have shown that people recover faster and better after stressful situations in natural, green environments. Blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the level of stress hormones are reduced in green environments and ADHD symptoms in children are similarly reduced when they play in green settings.
Now, in a 2011 publication: Forests, Trees and Human Health, 160 scientists from 24 European countries, with contributors from Asia, Australia, Canada and the United States have delved deeply into the question of whether forests and forest management help in the promotion of healthier lifestyles and improved mental health.
The publication's focus is primarily on health priorities defined within Europe, however it also draws on research from North America and elsewhere and has worldwide relevance.
While continued research is needed to further our knowledge in this area, it seems clear right now that anyone involved in making policy decisions in the medical, social, natural resources, forests or urban land-use planning areas cannot afford to ignore the relationship between a green environment and human health.
For more information on Forests, Trees and Human Health, please go to: www.springer.com/life+sciences/forestry/book/978-90-481-9805-4

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47.       Other publications of Interest
From: NWFP Programme

Ahumada, J.A., Silva, C.E.F., Gajapersad, K., Hallam, C., Hurtado, J., Martin, E., McWilliam, A., Mugerwa, B., O'Brien, T., Rovero, F., Sheil, D., Spironello, W.R., Winarni, N., and Andelman, S.J. 2011. Community structure and diversity of tropical forest mammals: data from a global camera trap network. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. London. [Biol.] 366(1578):2703-2711.

Balslev, H. 2011. Special Issue: Neotropical palm. Botanical Review. 77: 4, 327-646.
AB This special issue provides information on the legal and administrative regulation of palms and other non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia; palm harvest impacts in North-Western South America; species diversity and growth forms in tropical American palm communities; disturbance and resilience in tropical American palm populations and communities; palm uses in Northwestern South America; trade in palm products in North-Western South America; and palm management in South America.

Bauer, E.M., and Bergmeier, E. 2011. The mountain woodlands of western Crete - plant communities, forest goods, grazing impact and conservation. Phytocoenologia 41(2):73-105.

Chan, K.M.A., Hoshizaki, L., and Klinkenberg, B. 2011. Ecosystem services in conservation planning: targeted benefits vs. co-benefits or costs? PLoS ONE 6(9):e24378.

Idu, M., Erhabor, J. O., Timothy, O.and Osazuwa, E. S. 2011. Ethnodermatological study among the Itsekiri people of Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria. Journal of Plant Development Sciences. 3: 1/2, 67-73. 23 ref.
AB Ethnodermatological data were collected from the Itsekiri people of Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State between February and September, 2009. The study was carried out in 3 communities (Okorode-Itsekiri, Okorode-Urhobo and Ogbejaw) within the Local Government council Area. The data were gathered from 15 randomly selected traditional healers/herbalists with the aid of a structured questionnaire. A total of 30 of medicinal plant species belonging to 21 families and 30 genera were of ethnodermatological importance for the treatment of 17 skin diseases. Herbs and trees form the most used growth form and the fruit being the most cited plant part in a greater number of the remedy preparations. Most of the remedies were prepared from a single plant source with other ingredients and a few common plants. The contributions of this study towards the understanding, documentation and safeguarding of indigenous knowledge and the possible utilization of the plants for greater economic uses were also highlighted.

Kahraman, A., Došan, M., and Celep, F. 2011. Salvia siirtica sp. nov. (Lamiaceae) from Turkey. Nord. J. Bot. 29(4):397-401.

Lopez-Toledo, L., Horn, C., Lopez-Cen, A., Colli-Diaz, R.and Padilla, A. 2011. Potential management of Chamaedorea seifrizii (Palmae), a non-timber forest product from the tropical forest of Calakmul, southeast Mexico. Economic Botany. 65: 4, 371-380. 29 ref.

Koura, K., Ganglo, J. C., Assogbadjo, A. E. and Agbangla, C. 2011. Ethnic differences in use values and use patterns of Parkia biglobosa in Northern Benin. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 7: 42, (7 December 2011). 45 ref.

Mastura Mohtar et al. 2011. Proceedings of the Seminar on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants. “Harnessing the Tropical Herbal Heritage: Recent Advance in R&D and Commercialization” 3–4 August 2010. Forest Research Institute Malaysia.

Merlin Franco F. and D. Narasimhan. 2012. Ethnobotony of The Kondh, Poraja, Gadaba and Bonda of the Koraput Region of Odisha, India. D.K. Printworld, ISBN: 9788124606193
This book discusses the history and importance of ethnobotany with specific reference to four tribal communities of Odisha, India. It begins with an account of the nature of the tribes involved in the study. Based on participatory fieldwork, it presents an insider’s account of the tribal culture and its relationship with plants. It provides the ethnobotanical descriptions of 210 species of plants belonging to 77 families, presenting their local names, origin and the medicinal, cultural, culinary, economic, ecological uses of the species. It takes up study of the plants used by tribes in the drug-based and spiritual healing processes, elaborating the philosophies behind knowledge transmission such as divination, hereditary, discipleship and kinship. Related aspects such as disease diagnosis, diet restrictions and rituals are depicted in detail. There is a special chapter on forests and non-timber forest products (NTFPs) that details the efforts of communities in forest conservation, their land-use patterns, forest classification systems, list of NTFPs and their harvest-consumption patterns.

Nagaraja, B. C., Raj, M. B., Kavitha, A. and Somashekar, R. K. 2011. Impact of rural community harvesting practices on plant biodiversity in Kudremukh National Park, India. The International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services and Management 7: 1, 69-74. 37 ref

Nilsson, K.; Sangster, M.; Gallis, C.; Hartig, T.; de Vries, S.; Seeland, K.; Schipperijn, J. (Eds.). 2011. Forests, Trees and Human Health. Springer. ISBN 978-90-481-9805-4

Richerzhagen, C. 2011. Effective governance of access and benefit-sharing under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Biodivers. Conserv. 20(10):2243-2261.

Schindler, S., Curado, N., Nikolov, S.C., Nikolov, C., Kret, E., Cárcamo, B., Catsadorakis, G., Poirazidis, K., Wrbka, T., and Kati, V. 2011. From research to implementation: nature conservation in the Eastern Rhodopes mountains (Greece and Bulgaria), European Green Belt. J. Nature Conserv. 19(4):193-201

Schumann, K., Wittig, R., Thiombiano, A., Becker, U., and Hahn, K. 2011. Impact of land-use type and harvesting on population structure of a non-timber forest product-providing tree in a semi-arid savanna, West Africa. Biol. Conserv. 144(9):2369-2376.

Torre, L. de la, Valencia, R., Altamirano, C. and Ravnborg, H. M. 2011. Legal and administrative regulation of palms and other NTFPs in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. (Special Issue: Neotropical palm.) Botanical Review. 77: 4, 327-369. 56 ref.
AB Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) derived from palms and other plants are economically and culturally important to a large part of the more than 240 million people who live in the forest areas of developing countries. The sustainable extraction of NTFPs is increasingly regarded as an important part for forest conservation strategies. This paper provides an overview and comparison of existing statutory legislation with respect to the extraction and trade of NTFPs in four Andean countries and discusses its adequacy with respect to ensuring legal and sustainable extraction and trade of NTFPs. The related legal framework surrounding indigenous peoples' rights, traditional knowledge and access to genetic resources is also reviewed. Forest laws are primarily concerned with the regulation of timber. Hence, legal and administrative frameworks to regulate the extraction and trade of NTFPs are fragmented and ambiguous. By providing an overview over the existing legal situation, this paper seeks to inform and open debates about ways to improve the regulation of the extraction and trade of NTFPs in the region.

Vargas, R., Reif, A., and Faúndez, M.J. 2011. The forests of Robinson Crusoe Island, Chile: an endemism hotspot in danger. Bosque 32(2):155-164.

Vodouhe, G. F., Coulibaly, O. and Sinsin, B. 2009. Estimating local values of vegetable Non-timber Forest Products to Pendjari Biosphere Reserve dwellers in Benin. IUFRO World Series.23.  Economic Botany 63-72. 30 ref

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WEB SITES and E-ZINES

Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010 (FRA2010) database
An interactive on-line database for FRA 2010 is now available. The main module has options to use multiple output formats providing easier, more flexible access to FRA data.
www.fao.org/forestry/fra/fra2010/en/

MekongInfo website.
The re-designed MekongInfo is more user-friendly and focuses on sharing and featuring documents about environmental issues, society, culture, and economic development in the Mekong River Basin.
http://mekonginfo.org/

Heniz Beck endorses FAO’s Amazon publication - YouTube
A video of Chef Heinz Beck endorsing “Fruit trees and useful plants in Amazonian life”, no. 20 in FAO’s NWFP publication series is now available on YouTube
www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX2gqSPzOB4&feature=related

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MISCELLANEOUS

48.       Include trees in climate modelling, say scientists
Source: SciDev.Net Weekly Update (9 - 15 January 2012)

Jakarta. Current climate models and projections may be inaccurate because measurements are based on guidelines that do not include the effects of trees on the local climate, according to agroforestry experts.
This in turn may be hindering effective adaptation by local farming communities, as the true effect of climate change on their crops is not accurately captured.
Trees can influence many of the climate factors predicted by modelling, and their effects should be added to climate maps, scientists from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) said in a book, How people and trees can co-adapt to climate change, launched last month (1 December).
According to the book, enhancing tree cover for agricultural purposes is a good adaptation mechanism. "Modifying tree cover in agricultural landscapes to adjust micro-climates for crops has a long history," the book says, citing examples of Sahel parklands, where trees protect grain crops from excessive heat and maintain soil moisture; South-East Asian coastal zones, where intercropping with coconut has a long tradition; and mountain slopes, where 'shade trees' are used to help with cocoa, coffee or tea farming.
But it adds that "none of this has yet made it into national climate-adaptation planning".
Following the guidelines of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), global weather stations collect climate data on open ground — away from trees, said Meine Van Noordwijk, an editor of the book. The collected data are then used for climate modelling and projections.
But trees can affect the local climate in a region, for example by reducing the maximum temperature and increasing humidity, said Van Noordwijk. Depending on where the weather station is placed, with respect to the tree canopy, the data may be different and this might produce different results, he said.
"Unfortunately … climate scientists have not made much effort to quantify [the effects of trees]. By not looking at that, we are missing a large opportunity to understand how we can adapt."
Rizaldi Boer, executive director of the Centre for Climate Risk and Opportunity Management in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said that the logic behind the WMO standards was to avoid tree canopy effects on the measurements. Climatologists still include the effects of land coverage around the station in their models, he added.
The ICRAF book also deals more generally with the importance of tree cover for climate change adaptation and rural livelihoods. This was welcomed by Novrida Masli, a climate change policy specialist from Indonesia, who said it could motivate local adaptation.
"Until now, our government has mostly focused on the mitigation, not the adaptation," Masli said, adding that the ideas in this book may help change that.
For full story, please see: www.scidev.net/en/agriculture-and-environment/forestry/news/include-trees-in-climate-modelling-say-scientists.html

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49.       Weird carnivorous flower devours worms underground
Source: ENN Daily Newsletter, 12 January 2012

A worm measuring only 1mm in length scoots its way through relatively massive grains of white sand. The worm, known as a nematode or roundworm, is seeking lunch in the form of bacteria. Suddenly, however, its journey is interrupted: it is caught on a large green surface. Unable to wiggle free the worm is slowly digested, becoming lunch itself for an innocuous purple flower called Philcoxia minensis.
As bizarre as this scenario sounds, a new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) outlines the subterranean predatory behaviour of the Philcoxia minensis in the Brazilian cerrado. Employing sticky leaves that grow under the sand, the flower is able to catch tiny roundworms for sustenance in a low-nutrient environment.
In order to prove that the plant was actually ingesting the roundworms, scientists brought Philcoxia minensis into the lab and fed them roundworms containing Nitrogen-15, a stable isotope. After leaving the roundworms to their fate for two days, the researchers sampled the flower's leaves and had them tested for Nitrogen-15. The test came back positive, proving that the flower had indeed ingested the worms.
The researchers believe the plants have evolved this unique ability – the first time a carnivorous plant has been found employing stick leaves underground – in order to survive its harsh environment.
"Philcoxia minensis is found in relatively low flat areas, where water likely persists after rain. All shrubs and cacti avoid these areas, although they are common elsewhere in the immediate vicinity," the authors write, arguing that the plant is able to colonize this area due to its ability to eat roundworms.
Given the new discovery, the researchers believe it's worthwhile to explore other plant species for hidden meat-eating behaviours.
For full story, please see: http://news.mongabay.com/2012/0109-hance_philcoxia.html#ixzz1j5WFEHGv

 

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last updated:  Monday, April 30, 2012