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No. 8/10

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

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

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  • Bamboo: China’s bamboo industry booms for greener economy

Source: Xinhua (Beijing), 18 July 2010

China's flourishing bamboo industry is becoming one of the pillar sectors in the country's forestry industry and also a key in the country's efforts to establish a low-carbon economy, an industry leader said in Beijing.
With 5.38 million hectares of bamboo plantations and an annual increase of 100 000 hectares, China is leading the world's bamboo industry in its number of varieties, amount of bamboo reserves, as well as production output, said Jiang Zehui, co-chair of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR)'s board of trustees.
The Chinese government is also working to develop its bamboo industry to meet its goals in environmental protection and green economic development, as planting bamboo is both profitable and environmentally-friendly, Jiang said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.       An INBAR report in 2009 suggested that bamboo was proven environmentally-friendly since it draws in carbon dioxide and gives off oxygen as it grows, and grown bamboo can capture and hold more carbon dioxide than equivalent plantation trees.
To promote the development of the bamboo industry, China has encouraged technological innovations. "Nearly 200 patents have been applied to develop more uses of bamboo, which has greatly assisted in the development of the industry," said Jiang.
According to Jiang, new processing techniques have led to a variety of new bamboo products, such as raw bamboo, daily-used goods, artifacts, plates, and bamboo charcoal, which are widely used in different sectors ranging from construction, packaging, transportation and medicine to tourism.
China's bamboo industry has provided more than 35 million jobs, making the sector part of the new drive in the economic development of the world's largest agricultural country. The bamboo sector chalked up 70 billion yuan (US$10.33billion) in total output value last year.
Jiang admitted that despite all the positive signs, problems and challenges remained in the industry. "The imbalance of regional development, insufficient use of certain species and low productivity had left many resources untapped," she said. "Most of the bamboo manufacturers are small-scale. Those with an annual production of over one million yuan only account for 8 percent of the total industry," she added.
"Developing the bamboo industry is of great significance to protecting the environment and developing a greener economy," said Jiang.
For full story, please see: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2010-07/18/c_13402777.htm

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  • Bamboo: Imperiled giant pandas need replanted bamboo forests in order to reconnect

Source: Scientific American, 23 July 2010

Giant panda habitats are too fragmented and need to be reconnected in order for the endangered animals to maintain their genetic diversity, a new study shows.
The study, conducted by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the China Wildlife Conservation Association, both in Beijing, was published 23 July in the open-access journal BMC Genetics.
The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) used to live in relative isolation from humans, but the 20th century brought villages, towns, roads, dams and other projects that now prevent pocket panda populations from visiting each other and exchanging genetic materials (in other words, breeding).
The researchers visited four patches of habitat in the Xiaoxiangling and Daxiangling mountains, with a mean distance of 76km between each patch. A total of 192 fecal samples were collected and revealed 53 unique genotypes. This, the researchers say, demonstrates signs of fragmentation within the panda population.
One of the study's co-authors, Fuwen Wei from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said in a prepared statement: "These results suggest that gene flow will be enhanced if the connectivity between the currently fragmented bamboo forests is increased. This may be of importance to conservation efforts as gene flow is one of the most important factors for maintaining genetic diversity within a species and counteracting the negative effects of habitat fragmentation."
How do we get the pandas to reconnect? The researchers say that bamboo forests need to be replanted, which would give the giant pandas enough food to wander and mix their populations. Doing so will "restore population viability of the giant panda in these regions," the authors wrote in the conclusion to their paper.
No one knows exactly how many giant pandas remain in the wild, especially after the devastating earthquakes that hit Sichuan province in 2008. Next year, China will embark on its fourth national survey of giant pandas, the last of which was conducted between 1998 and 2002. As Wei discussed in a June article published in Cosmos, the survey will use some of the same molecular techniques (DNA fingerprinting) he employed in this new study to count the animals, and the survey aims to come up with a better assessment of the pandas' population in the wild.
For full story, please see:
www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=reconnect-the-pandas-says-new-study-2010-07-23

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  • Bushmeat in D.R. Congo: Bushmeat trade threatens Pygmies

Source: Associated Press in www.boston.com, 4 July 2010

Time has long stood still in the innermost reaches of northeast Congo's Ituri Forest - a remote and crepuscular world without electricity or cell phones that is so isolated, the Pygmies living here have never heard of Barack Obama or the Internet. But the future is coming, on a tidal wave of demand for game meat that is pushing an army of tall Bantu traders ever deeper into Africa's primordial vine-slung jungles.
It is a demand so voracious, experts warn it could drive some of Africa's last hunter-gatherers to eradicate the very wildlife that sustains them, and with it, their own forest-dwelling existence.
Over the last few decades, that existence has been vanishing at astonishing rates across the continent, as forests are ripped apart amid soaring population growth and legions of Pygmies are forced into settled lives on the outskirts of society.
One place - Congo's Okapi Wildlife Reserve - was supposed to be a bulwark against the onslaught, a place where commercial hunting is banned. But an Associated Press team that hiked two days to join one Pygmy band found the thriving bushmeat trade penetrating even into the protected zone.
Here - where water is still scooped from glassy streams and drunk pure from curled leaf cups, where Pygmies still scamper up treetops to savor the golden delight of raw honeycomb - lies a frontline where this continent's future is slowly erasing its ancient past, one antelope at a time.
This is the world's second-largest rainforest, home to Africa's estimated 250 000 to 500 000 Pygmies, according to Survival International, an organization which monitors their plight.
Every year, it grows smaller. According to the UN, Africa is losing 10 million acres (4 million hectares) of trees annually because of uncontrolled logging, mining and mass waves of migrants desperate for land.
The fundamental problem: Congo's population - 70 million people and counting  -  is about three times what it was three decades ago. By 2020, it could reach 120 million.
Bushmeat - animals like monkeys and especially antelope - has been a staple of the African diet for millennia. But it has never been consumed as much as now: at least 1 million metric tons (1.1 million tons) each year in the Congo basin alone, according to the WWF. Other estimates put the figure at five times that.
The result: the forests still standing are growing emptier by the day. Some have suffered 90 percent drops in wildlife, stripped so bare, hunters have been reduced to eating their own hunting dogs, says John Hart, an American conservationist who first lived among the Mbuti in the 1970s.
The shortage of game elsewhere is part of what makes the Okapi Reserve so valuable - and so attractive to traders looking for bushmeat.
Carved out of a pristine swath of the Ituri Forest in 1992, it is unique among most wildlife parks in Africa because the people living inside it - 20 000 Pygmies and Bantus - were not kicked out and were allowed to keep hunting non-endangered species for subsistence.
Only the Pygmies do so with masterful efficiency, however, giving them a near monopoly on selling off the reserve's dwindling fauna.
Surveys conducted within the Okapi for the Wildlife Conservation Society between 1995 and 2006 showed major drops in all populations of antelope, the most commonly hunted bushmeat animal. The number of blue duikers dropped 26 percent; larger red duikers 42 percent; the even larger yellow-backed duikers 59 percent.
Longtime Congo expert Terese Hart put it this way: "They're overexploiting the forest in a way that's making their own way of living impossible."
For full story, please see: www.boston.com/news/world/africa/articles/2010/07/04/in_congo_forest_bushmeat_trade_threatens_pygmies/

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  • Bushmeat in the USA: Chicago is centre of bushmeat trade

Source: United Press International, 25 July 2010

Conservationists say Chicago has become a center of the trade in so-called bushmeat, which involves smuggling animal carcasses eaten by Africans immigrants.
The Chicago Tribune said Sunday that federal wildlife agents raided an African art store last month and seized a shipment of monkey heads and dead cane rats as part of an ongoing investigation.
The federal agents had no comment on the raid; however, conservation groups say meat from endangered and possibly diseased African animals continues to turn up in immigrant communities in the United States.
The Tribune said the seizure was the latest confiscation of meat being smuggled into the Chicago area from Africa.
"It's an important subculture for a number of people," said Crawford Allan, a spokesman for TRAFFIC, an international group that monitors animal trafficking. "But it just really isn't appropriate for this to happen in the U.S. There's a major conservation impact with this kind of meat."
For full story, please see:
www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2010/07/25/African-bushmeat-seizure-in-Chicago/UPI-86511280078388/

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  • Cork: Search for export life after “great bottle stopper” debate

Source: The Financial Times, 14 July 2010

One of the more testing challenges issued recently to 40 Portuguese researchers investigating potential new uses of cork was to discover ways of making trees grow faster.
“We know this sort of thing can be done in the lab,” says António Rios de Amorim, president of the Portuguese Cork Association (APCOR). “The difficulty is to develop techniques with a practical application.”
The cork oak, or Querqus suber, takes about 25 years from planting to bear its first harvest of outer bark, which is processed to produce cork products from bottle stoppers to spacecraft insulation.
Faster-growing trees would be an important benefit to Portugal, the world’s biggest producer and exporter of cork products. The industry directly employs about 13 000 people and another 12 000 in transport and seasonal harvesting, with annual exports of about €800m (US$1.02bn). The country’s cork groves cover more than 730 000ha, accounting for about a third of all cork trees, with most of the remainder in Spain and north Africa.
Another 400 000ha are given over to vineyards, making Portugal the world’s seventh-largest wine producing country.
Vineyards and southern cork plantations characterize much of Portugal’s agricultural landscape. The two sectors are also inextricably linked in terms of trade. Cork stoppers for wine and champagne bottles account for 67 percent of Portugal’s cork exports by value, although only 25 percent in volume. Cork flooring, insulation and underlay for the construction industry make up most of the remainder.
Falling sales in both the high-end international wine market and construction damaged cork exports in 2009.
Over the past decade, however, competition from synthetic bottle closures - plastic stoppers and aluminium screw caps - has posed a bigger threat to the cork sector than recession-hit markets. Mr Amorim, who is also chairman and chief executive of Corticeira Amorim, Portugal’s leading cork company, estimates that the Portuguese industry has lost 30 percent of its export market share to alternative stoppers over the past 10 years.
The big “bottle stopper debate” has focused on two main issues: technical efficiency and price. Big supermarket chains believed that synthetic closures would help eliminate the problem of “cork taint”, a musty odour and flavour that can be imparted to wine by a chemical reaction with the cork stopper, leading to contamination with trichloranisole (TCA), a polluting compound.
Although “cork taint” only affected a tiny fraction of bottles - precise percentages have always been in dispute - the threat to sales galvanised the cork industry not only into improving the overall quality of its products, but also into substantial investment in research into new processes and techniques to reduce the incidence of TCA contamination.
“A great deal of research is under way to develop new uses for cork,” says Mr. Amorim. “New applications mean new business and investors are ready to back promising ideas.
For full story, please see:
www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c92a3308-8eb6-11df-8a67-00144feab49a.html

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  • Cork: Screw cap wine could lead to extinction of rare species and forests

Source: Telegraph Online (UK), 16 July 2010

The fashion for screw cap wines among the middle classes is destroying forests and could lead to the extinction of one of world's rarest wildcats, ecologists claim.
Cork suppliers and environmentalists are fighting back claiming the move is threatening the two million hectares of forest across Portugal, Spain, North Africa and Italy which are sustained through industry management.
The area includes the Montada forest which is considered one of the “biodiversity hot spots” of the world where some of the world's most endangered animals live including the Iberian lynx. In just 0.1 hectare of forest there can be more than 100 certified species.
Rui Simoes, a representative of Rainforest Alliance, said "It is not just about cork it is about a rich community of plants and animals that all rely on one another."
Environmentalists fear that if farmers cannot make money from cork they will replant with non-native eucalyptus trees.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has estimated that up to three quarters of the Mediterranean's cork forests could be lost within 10 years if the trend for plastic stoppers and screw tops continues.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) have also urged consumers to support the cork forests in order to sustain the huge bird population.
In the last ten years the proportion of wine bottles sealed by screw cap or plastic has grown from less than 5 percent to 30 percent of the 16 billion bottles sold every year. In the UK supermarkets, where more cheap wine is sold, screw caps can make up half the stock on the shelves.
Plastic corks have also taken off amid fears that wine sealed the old fashioned way can be tainted with fungus or ‘corked’.
But cork manufactures fear 100 000 jobs could be lost a result of the trend.
In its latest £15 million campaign, the ancient industry, that is mostly based in Portugal, is highlighting the environmental benefits of cork.
New “forest friendly cork” is also being sold to supermarkets in Britain. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) cork not only guarantees that the trees are replanted and managed in a sustainable way but that workers are treated well.
Cork is an entirely natural product made from the bark of a species of oak, that regrows every nine years.
The method of harvesting the trees over their 250 year lifespan has sustained more than two million hectares of forest for hundreds of years.
For full story, please see: www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/7894641/Screw-cap-wine-blamed-for-loss-of-forest-in-new-campaign-to-revive-traditional-cork.html

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  • Cork: Recycling cork

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (USA), 20 July 2010

A recycling group that started around wineries in Napa, California (USA) in 2008 is encouraging U.S. restaurants to gather used corks so they can be recycled into footwear. The group, called ReCORK, is backed by Amorim of Portugal, the world's largest producer of natural cork wine closures, among others.
The group has spread its operations to the East Coast and into Midwestern states in the past six months. It has about 200 drop-off locations and has collected more than 8.6 million corks so far.
Glass, plastic, aluminum and paper all have more recycling cachet than corks, said Matt Hughes, partner relations manager with ReCORK. "It's not something people traditionally think of in terms of recycling," he said. But "there's even more demand than we've anticipated. We take what would otherwise just show up in landfills, and reuse it."
ReCORK says billions of natural corks end up in the garbage each year. The recycling program is meant to help protect more than 6 million acres of cork forests that dot the Mediterranean Basin.
Calgary-based Sole, which makes socks and sandals, grinds up the cork and uses it in footwear. ReCORK is looking for other applications for the recycled cork.
"There is no reason natural wine corks should end up as garbage when recycled cork can become flooring tiles, building insulation, automotive gaskets, craft materials, soil conditioner and sports equipment," ReCORK says on its Web site.
For full story, please see:
www.ajc.com/business/recycling-group-stick-a-570474.html

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  • Cork: The growing and harvesting of cork in Andalucia (Spain)

Source: www.helium.com, 29 July 2010

The cork industry of Southern Andalucia is based on the harvesting of the outer bark from the cork oak tree, Quercus suber, which grows particularly in the region in or near the Alcornocales Natural Park.  Between mid-June and mid-August each year, the trees are harvested carefully removing the outer layer of cork but leaving the precious underlying “capa madre” or mother layer untouched.
The harvesting of cork has been a tradition in the region since the 1830s; by the turn of the century, the most productive area was the province of Cádiz. 
Harvesting cork is a highly skilful job typically requiring two years of college training though in the past, the skills were passed down among generations.  In the late forties, the cork harvest was an important seasonal source of employment.  Even before the short harvesting season, there would be work clearing the ground between the trees so that they could be accessed easily and the mules be loaded in situ.
A team of people called a cuadrilla – made up of people with different skills – harvested the cork: the corchero did the cutting, some were responsible for collecting, and others for clearing and maintaining the access routes.  In the past, these teams consisted of 15 people who would spend a fortnight in the forest, sleeping and eating there.
Today, with modern transport, the teams are smaller, often as few as four or five people, and they return home at the end of each day.  Nevertheless, cork is still transported by mule.
The cork-cutting itself is a very important industry for Andalucia bringing in millions of Euros each year to the region. 
Cork contains a very high level of tannin, the bitter chemical found in tea.  Unfortunately a high tannin content in the cork will render it unusable for corking bottles, so the cork is processed.  First it is boiled and pressed in a giant container to squeeze out the excess tannins, and then it is washed.  Cork cutters will have dark stains on their hands from the frequent exposure to tannin.
The cork is washed and pressed repeatedly until it is processed into flat sheets of varying thickness and ready for manufacture.  The corks we find in wine bottles are often composite, being made of different quality cork.  The cork industry still feeds the bottling plants of Jerez and Cádiz but there is stiff competition from Portugal, and also from the rise of plastic stoppers.
For full story, please see: http://www.helium.com/items/1889288-charcoal-in-andalucia?page=2

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  • Edible Insects proving food for thought at UK’s Swansea University

Source: BBC News Online, 27 July 2010

An insect summit is aiming to revolutionize the way we think about bugs as a sustainable source of food. It is estimated that 80 percent of the world's population include some sort of insect in their diet. Yet in the west, the idea is confined to reality TV shows.
The Royal Entomology Society conference at Swansea University will hear insect protein may be key to alleviating famine.
One man is on a mission to give us the taste for creepy-crawlies. Professor Arnold van Huis from Wageningen University in Belgium is a consultant for the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization.
He said: "Producing 1kg of meat from a cow requires 13kg of vegetable matter as feed. Yet 1kg of meat from a cricket, locust or beetle needs just 1.5 to 2kg of fodder, and produces a fraction of the CO2 emissions. The maths are quite simple. On average, in the west, we eat 120kg of meat per person. China is currently at 80kg per head and catching us up fast.”
"If five billion people eat 100kg of beef or pork, then we'll need to grow an average of 6.5 trillion kilograms of fodder per year. There just isn't enough space or nutrients in the earth to support that and the poorest people will simply starve to death,” he said.
"The good news is that, not only do insects require less food to farm, you also don't have to eat as much to survive, as they are an extremely good source of protein and vitamins," added van Huis.
Thailand has 15 000 household cricket farms bred for human consumption. In southern Africa, the Mopane worm industry is worth US$85 million, and is an important source of protein for the indigenous population.
The insects are harvested from the Mopane trees that they use as their habitat. In the Netherlands, insect rearing companies are already in business; typically they tend to breed large beetles, crickets and locusts. Locusts have to be farmed at 30 degrees, so this may be the main reason why insects are not eaten in the western world to the same extent.
However Professor van Huis said the most common misconception was that they were not tasty.
"Because of the mild climate, we're just not culturally used to eating insects, but, if they're cooked correctly, they can be delicious. Really there's no credible reason against eating them, taste-wise and nutritionally, there's no difference between insect meat and that from birds, fish or mammals,” he said.
"But in an attempt to combat the developed world's squeamishness, we're looking at ways of grinding the meat into some sort of patty, which would be more recognisable to western palates. It's also possible, though not yet commercially viable, to extract the protein, and produce a kind of meat substitute, similar to the Quorn products we're already used to."
On health grounds Professor Van Huis warns against going down The Good Life route, and harvesting your own bugs in the back garden.
Swansea University was chosen to host the summit in recognition of its ground-breaking work in the field.
For full story, please see: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-10766941

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  • Edible Insects in Laos take a bite out of hunger

Source: Voice of America, 23 July 2010

Most people try to keep insects out of their kitchens. But many of them are edible and quite nutritious.  That is, if you can get past the idea of eating something usually considered a pest. In Laos, that is not a problem, since nearly everyone likes to snack on edible insects. Now, the United Nations is encouraging even more bug-eating there to solve the country's high rates of child malnutrition.
Larrisa Brunn of the FAO admits the anti-hunger fight has entered somewhat unfamiliar territory.
"We've done a nationwide survey here in Laos and it showed that nearly 95 percent of the Lao population eats insects. So this shows how insects are part of the diet here and part of the culture, part of their nutrition," Brunn said. "So it's not like we are introducing something new, on the contrary we are working with the existing food base."
The UN hopes to fight child malnutrition in Laos with nutrient-packed bugs.
Researchers estimate that worldwide, there are more than 1 700 edible insects. In Laos, grasshoppers and crickets are among the most popular, but locals also eat beetles and grubs and insect larvae. The insects are rich in protein and fat, as well as essential vitamins like iron and calcium.  While some bugs can be eaten straight from the field, it is tastier and safer to prepare them Brunn says.
"Just like any meat, they are normally cooked.  I'm sure there are some you can eat live, but here in Laos traditionally they are cooked. The normal way they will be served is quickly deep fried but I've also tasted very traditional recipes which can be made with fish and other meats with insects added. They can be flavoured as well with cheese. So there are many ways insects can be eaten."
Insect eating has been popular for hundreds of years in the region. FAO is hoping to capitilize on that trend by raising the income of local bug collectors and increasing the yield of insect farmers. That, in turn, could lead more people to rely on the critters for their daily nutrition.  Brunn said FAO is working with the Lao government and insect aficionados to improve their yield and make it sustainable.
Part of FAO's insect campaign in Laos is to encourage traditional insect eating habits and reassure people that swallowing a silkworm is not something to be embarrassed or ashamed of.  Brunn said the bugs are an important part of culture, and a potentially important contribution to a diverse and healthy diet.
For full story, please see:
www1.voanews.com/english/news/FAO-Bugs-Take-a-Bite-Out-of-Hunger-99105094.html

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  • Fungi: Caterpillar Fungus gold rush on Tibetan plateau

Source: The Guardian (UK), 17 June 2010

Amid the wreckage of the devastating earthquake that recently ripped through this corner of the Tibetan plateau, local people are rebuilding their livelihoods with one of the world's most ghoulish parasites – the caterpillar fungus.
The government has accorded extra importance this year to the annual picking season for the ingredient, prescribed in traditional medicine to cure cancer.
But the growing dependence of the local community on this remarkable fungus has prompted violent confrontations between rival pickers and is now stoking concerns that the mountain hillsides may one day be harvested empty.
The Cordyceps sinensis fungus is known locally as Yartsa Gunbu or "summer grass winter worm", named after the transformation that takes place as it devours its host, the ghost moth caterpillar, from inside out during the latter's hibernation on the mountain grasslands.
The fungus briefly grabbed the world's attention in 1993, when the Chinese national athletics coach Ma Junren credited it with the stunning success of three female runners who came from nowhere to break five world records in one competition.
Western studies suggest the fungus may protect the liver. But its benefits are already treasured in Asia, where it is prescribed by doctors and given as a luxury gift, often literally worth its weight in gold.
Thanks to the expansion of this market, the value of Yartsa Gunbu has increased more than nine-fold since 1997, creating what mycologist Daniel Winkler calls a "globally unique rural fungal economy" on the Tibetan Plateau.
This month, the government earmarked caterpillar fungus collection as one of three industries that it will focus on to revitalize the region in the wake of the 6.9 magnitude quake that struck on 15 April. Along with the export of migrant workers and Tibetan mastiff breeding, it is a mainstay of family incomes.
These yellow-brown organisms account for four out of every ten dollars (US) earned by rural Tibetans and provide a bigger boost for the economy than the combined revenue from manufacturing and mining, according to Winkler.
In recent years, Yushu - close to the border with Tibet - has been at the centre of this fungal gold rush, making it the fastest growing economy in Qinghai Province.
To improve sales, some traders employ local women to clean the dirt off of the fungi. They earn 100 yuan per day - a better income than most Chinese factory labourers - as they sit in circles on the pavement chatting and scrubbing the long, slim cordyceps with brushes.
Higher up the value chain, a strata of budding fungal entrepreneurs has emerged in recent years. Depending on the size and quality, the fungi are sold here for 25 to 35 yuan each, or about 40 000 Yuan/kg. At the end of the retail chain, the best fungi can fetch up to 360 000 Yuan/kg - more than gold.
However, in extreme cases, scarcity has led to gun and knife battles over prime fungal turf. In July 2007 eight people were shot to death and 50 wounded in one such conflict.
Last week, scientists and senior officials from the national and local government state joined a caterpillar fungus conference in the provincial capital Xining to consider how to harvest the crop sustainably despite growing pressure from consumers.
"China has conducted research on environmental management, artificial cultivation, and product development," said Gao Hongbin, Deputy Minister of Agriculture. "With scientific management and strict regulation, we can maintain the continued increase in the incomes of local farmers."
For full story, please see:
www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jun/17/fungus-tibetan-plateau

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  • Honey: A spoonful of honey is the medicine

Source: Independent (UK), 15 July 2010

Honey kills bacteria, concluded a new study published in the July edition of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal.
Dutch researchers in Amsterdam have figured out why a spoonful of medical-grade honey is good for you by testing it on various bacteria.
"All of the bacteria were killed by honey," noted the researchers.
In addition to antibacterial properties in honey, the study also showed honey has antimicrobial elements in their discovery of "bee defensin-1," described as a portion of bees' immune system that is added to the honey. 
Gerald Weissmann, MD, Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal, added, "We've known for millennia that honey can be good for what ails us, but we haven't known how it works.”
"Now that we've extracted a potent antibacterial ingredient from honey, we can make it still more effective and take the sting out of bacterial infections."
Medical-grade honey (MDG) is different from table honey and is sterile.
In the past two years it has been incorporated into various medical devices and can also be purchased in its pure form .
The full study, "How honey kills bacteria", can be accessed at: http://bit.ly/diDUVJ .
For full story, please see:
www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/a-spoonful-of-honey-is-the-medicine-2027305.html

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  • Medicinal Plants and their potential for malaria control

Source: www.mmegi.bw, 2 July 2010

A recent summit held in Nairobi, Kenya confirmed there is efficacy and substance in traditional medicines, especially for treating malaria.
“Malaria kills many people in Africa, both children and adults, despite the availability of free treatment in certain African countries. While it is true that many governments in Africa, with development partners, give free paediatric treatment for malaria, many still cannot access these facilities and resort to home treatment," says Merlin Wilcox of the Research Initiative on Traditional Anti-malarial Methods at the University of Oxford. 
Some specialists at the recent 5th Multilateral Initiative on Malaria Pan African Malaria Conference in Nairobi said medicines drawn from plants that abound in the continent could be utilized to save many people from malaria, especially those in poor settings.
Indian researcher with the Foundation for the Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions in Bangalore, BN Prakash, said Africa could draw on experiences in India where medicinal plants have been used "with great success" in the control of malaria-related deaths. Research in India has shown a 5-10 times reduction in malaria-related deaths among communities who use traditional medicinal plants like Guduchi (Tinospore coeditdia), a local medicinal plant found in India," said Prakash.  
Another special delegate Gemma Burford of the UK’s Global Initiative for Traditional Systems of Health, said that while there had been increased cases of loss of knowledge about traditional medicinal plants, student-led research could be used to preserve knowledge and create a database on these plants.
"When we carried out research involving school children in rural Tanzania about traditional Maasai medicines, we found that 48 percent of these children already had knowledge about these plants. We used [this knowledge] to create a database for the purposes of preserving the knowledge and these plants too," said Burford.  
"It is important to note that many malarial drugs are still bought from commercial pharmaceutical shops and not many of them are that cheap. Costs also involve how easy or not it is to access these government facilities, especially in Africa where medical facilities are far-flung," Burford said.  
Participants agreed that the youth ought to be taught by governments to harness the knowledge of these herbs. They said it is imperative for the younger generation to know about traditional methods of treating malaria and other diseases.  
"The biggest obstacle to use of traditional medicines is lack of interest from the youth and teaching them about these medicines would be the best way to let them appreciate their values. Development practitioners must also be persuaded to stop fighting traditional African medicine because modernity and tradition can be married to provide formidable force against malaria," added Burford.  
On the dangers and effectiveness Doumbo Ogobara, director of the Mali Malaria Research and Training Centre and a lecturer at the University of Bamako, said there should be more research to ensure the effectiveness of traditional medicinal plants in the treatment and management of malaria. 
"More research must be directed towards finding out the effectiveness of these traditional medicinal plants and their safety and efficacy because initiatives on using them could be counter-productive if this is not done. More emphasis therefore must be laid on research for plant-based prophylactics for malaria," said Ogobara.  
For full story, please see: www.mmegi.bw/index.php?sid=6&aid=3399&dir=2010/July/Friday2

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  • Seabuckthorn in Canada: Health super fruit drawing raves

Source: Winnipeg Free Press (Canada), 9 July 2010

Dauphin-area (Manitoba, Canada) farmer Chris Federowich holds up branch of immature seabuckthorn berries. He was one of the first Manitobans to try growing the berries.
It is easy to see why seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides), the latest health food superfruit, has had such a long run in Darwin's survival-of-the-fittest show.
Seabuckthorn branches have 5cm-long thorns that slash your arm like talons if you try to pick their berries. Blackbirds that normally feast on fruit trees won't go near seabuckthorn. Deer refuse to nibble its leaves.
It is also easy to understand why health food enthusiasts rave about it--one small berry contains as much vitamin C as eight oranges. But the super fruit new to North America is being ranked by some experts at the top in terms of health benefits.
The berry, which about two dozen Manitoba farmers have started growing, is rich in Omega 3 (like fish, helps prevent heart disease and stroke), Omega 6, Omega 9 and Omega 7. The latter really intrigues backers. Omega 7 is clinically proven to help heal mucus linings for women with uterine and ovary issues. Seabuckthorn is also high in Vitamins A and E (great for skin).
Genghis Khan used to feed seabuckthorn to his soldiers – and their horses – for strength and energy heading into battle. At the Beijing Olympics, seabuckthorn was the drink of the Chinese athletes.
In Canada, where the imported crop is extremely hardy, seabuckthorn was initially planted in the 1960s as shelterbelts to stop soil from blowing. The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration supplied the seed.
In the 1990s, a Canadian engineer, Colin McLoughlin, traveled to Asia and found seabuckthorn in everything from food products to skin creams and cosmetics. He toured Western Canada telling farmers he would build a processing plant if they grew seabuckthorn.
Chris Federowich and his late father, Joe, near Ashville and west of Dauphin, were among the first farmers to take the plunge a decade ago. It takes about five years before trees can be harvested for their fruit.
But Chris is discouraged by the results. The fruit trees are hardy, but farmers can't make a "buck" from seabuckthorn, he said. McLoughlin died before he could build his processing plant.
Farmers like Chris can only give the crop away to companies like Farm Genesis in Waskada for product development. If a company develops a product it can sell, it will come back to buy some.
"The problem is most people don't know it exists," said Betty Forbes, president of Northern Vigor Berries in Saskatoon, which sells seabuckthorn products from fruit leather, to skin oil and gelato. Her products are developed by the Food Development Centre in Portage la Prairie, but are not available in Manitoba.
Product development is much more advanced in Quebec, Forbes said. Growers like Federowich "need to hang on" because it takes time to establish new food products and markets.
The berry is about the size of a wild blueberry and tastes like a very, very tart orange. There are different varieties of seabuckthorn, but it is not normally a berry you eat off the branch. The colours range from red to orange to yellow, depending on the variety and the time of year.
It is difficult to harvest. You have to pull the berries very hard because the stems are strong and then the berries squish in your fingers. Farmers cut off about 70 percent of the branches, immediately freeze them, then put the branches on a vibrating machine (Federowich uses a "chicken plucker") that shakes off the frozen berries.
Winnipeg health food stores are carrying seabuckthorn products, although not from locally grown crops. Vita Health has a face cream, skin oil, and drink blended with apple and grape juice using seabuckthorn, in addition to gel caps for its antioxidants and other health benefits.
For full story, please see:
www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/health-food-super-fruit-drawing-raves-98094699.html

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  • Shea nuts: Ghana plans to double collection of shea nuts in five years

Source: www.businessweek.com, 30 July 2010 

Ghana wants to double the collection of shea nuts, which are used to make butter for cosmetics and food, in the next five years to 100 000 metric tons, the Ghana Cocoa Board said.
The state-run board, which oversees Ghana’s cocoa-growing industry as well as coffee and shea-nut production, needs US$1.5 million to “train and provide equipment for the women who are engaged in collection of the nut,” said William Quaittoo, the board’s manager for coffee and shea.
Another US$1 million is needed to help expand companies that buy the nuts from farmers, he said in an interview in the capital, Accra, yesterday. The board has asked the Ministry of Finance to give the funding, he said.
The nuts, found in the fruit of the shea tree, are collected in Ghana’s northern regions, where Accra-based Produce Buying Co. Ltd. is building a plant to process shea butter, Quaittoo said.
Shea trees are found across Central and West Africa in the dry Sahel lands, according to the West Africa Trade Hub, a U.S. Agency for International Development-funded project that works with African exporters to find markets for their products. The nuts are usually collected by women.
For full story, please: www.businessweek.com/news/2010-07-30/ghana-plans-to-double-collection-of-shea-nuts-in-five-years.htmln

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  • Wildlife: Africa study reveals keys to preserving elephants and great apes

Source: Yale Environment 360, 10 May 2010

A comprehensive review of threatened great apes and elephants in the tropical forests of the Congo Basin shows that the animals can thrive even in regions with logging concessions if effective anti-poaching patrols are established. The study, conducted by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, looked at elephant and great ape populations in three landscapes in and around the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in the northern Republic of Congo.
The study showed that in addition to national parks being vital to the survival of elephants and apes, areas with logging concessions also can support important populations if effective wildlife management - particularly anti-poaching patrols - is instituted.
The landscape study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, said that logging concessions near the national park that lacked effective wildlife management had very low populations of elephants and apes.
The Congo Basin is one of the world’s last remaining tropical wildernesses, but 30 percent of the region’s native forest is under contract to logging concessions.
For full story, please see: http://e360.yale.edu/content/digest.msp?id=2406

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  • Wildlife conservation projects do more harm than good, says expert

Source: Guardian (UK), 29 July 2010

Ecotourism and western-style conservation projects are harming wildlife, damaging the environment, and displacing and criminalizing local people, according to a controversial new book.
The pristine beaches and wildlife tours demanded by overseas tourists has led to developments that do not benefit wildlife, such as beaches being built, mangroves stripped out, waterholes drilled and forests cleared, says Rosaleen Duffy, a world expert on the ethical dimensions of wildlife conservation and management.
These picture-perfect images all too often hide a "darker history", she adds. Her new book, Nature Crime: How We're Getting Conservation Wrong, which draws on 15 years of research, 300 interviews with conservation professionals, local communities, tour operators and government officials, was published in July.
When wildlife reserves are established, Duffy says, local communities can suddenly find that their everyday subsistence activities, such as hunting and collecting wood, have been outlawed.
At the same time, well-intentioned attempts to protect the habitats of animal species on the edge of extinction lead to the creation of wild, "people-free" areas. This approach has led to the displacement of millions of people across the world.
"Conservation does not constitute neat win-win scenarios. Schemes come with rules and regulations that criminalize communities, dressed up in the language of partnership and participation, coupled with promises of new jobs in the tourism industry," claims Duffy, professor of international politics at Manchester University.
A key failure of the western-style conservation approach is the assumption that people are the enemies of wildlife conservation - that they are the illegal traders, the poachers, the hunters and the habitat destroyers. Equally flawed, she says, is the belief that those engaged in conservation are "wildlife saviours."
Such images, she argues, are oversimplifications. "The inability to negotiate these conflicts and work with people on the ground is where conservation often sows the seeds of its own doom," she adds.
"Why do some attempts to conserve wildlife end up pitting local communities against conservationists?" she asks. "It is because they are regarded as unjust impositions, despite their good intentions. This is vital because failing to tackle such injustices damages wildlife conservation in the long run."
Duffy stresses that her intention is not to persuade people to stop supporting conservation schemes. "Wildlife is under threat and we need to act urgently," she acknowledges. Instead, she says, she wants to encourage environmentalists to examine what the real costs and benefits of conservation are, so that better practices for people and for animals can be developed.”
Duffy focuses on what she says is the fallacious belief that ecotourism is a solution to the problem of delivering economic development in an environmentally sustainable way.
This is, she says, a "bewitchingly simple argument" but the assumption that such tourism necessarily translates into the kinds of development that benefits wildlife is far too simplistic.
"Holiday makers are mostly unaware of how their tourist paradises have been produced," she says. "They assume that the picture-perfect landscape or the silver Caribbean beach is a natural feature. This is very far from the truth. Tourist playgrounds are manufactured environments, usually cleared of people. Similarly, hotel construction in tropical areas can result in clearing ecologically important mangroves or beach building which harms coral reefs."
But the WWF, one of the four biggest environmental NGOs in the world, maintains that the loss of wildlife is one of the most important challenges facing our planet. As such, a powerful focus on conservation is necessary.
For full story, please see: www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jul/29/wildlife-conservation-projects-more-harm

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COUNTRY INFORMATION

  • Bolivia: Small scale farmers take up community reforestation

Source: The Ecologist in Amazon News, 12 July 2010

A unique community based forestry project in Bolivia aims to give farmers long-term financial incentives to keep trees standing. Arbolivia is a community-based forestry project working with a small group of farmers to stop land conversion and “slash and burn” agricultural practices that have helped see the destruction of Bolivia's forests rise at an alarming rate.
The project, created in 2007 out of a FAO pilot reforestation programme, is run jointly by Dutch investment company Sicirec and Bolivian sustainable agroforestry NGO Cetefor.
During the 1990s, Bolivia's deforestation rate more than doubled and around 270 000 he/year of forest cover are destroyed every year.
More than 1 000 smallholder farmers have signed up to participate in Arbolivia's scheme, agreeing to plant at least one hectare of their land with hardwood trees in exchange for 50 percent of timber revenues accrued at the end of the trees' 20 - 35 year maturity cycle.
John Fleetwood, co-founder of the Cochabamba Project Ltd, a UK industrial and providence society (IPS) which raises funds for Arbolivia says, “Normally, with a plantation based project, all the profits would go out to the investor, who would just pay the farmers something for maintenance.  That's what's truly different about this project.”
Granted resettlement rights by the Bolivian government in the country's lowland tropical forest, Andean subsistence farmers were left with no choice but to gradually slash and burn through their properties to make room for crops; continuing the cycle when the land would no longer yield a sufficient harvest.
Arbolivia's tree planting project is complemented by sustainable agricultural management training to enable farmers to secure a livelihood without compromising their environment.  Trained technicians are employed to advise farmers on intercropping and appropriate plant and tree species to prevent flooding and help improve the quality of the soil composition.
“‘If you don't address the root cause then there's going to be some more trees chopped down somewhere else if the farmers don't have enough income,” says Fleetwood.
Farmers are paid US$90 in annual maintenance fees for the first three years, while seeds and saplings of 14 different tree species are provided from Arbolivia's own nurseries.              Smallholders are left to decide between the planting of slow, medium, and fast growing species, on the advice of forestry technicians.  The first thinning of these trees is due for 2015.
Fast-growing trees can generate profits early on, but at a lower rate due to the inferior quality of the hardwood, whereas a higher yield is expected from the planting of slow-growing trees, such as the native almendrillo or foreign teak.
The downside for stakeholders is the waiting time of up to 30 years before they enjoy a return on their investment.  This is the reason farmers have come to treat this project as a comfortable pension or an inheritance for their children.
For full story, please see: www.amazonia.org.br/english/noticias/noticia.cfm?id=359657

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  • Brazil: Invertebrates in traditional medicines

Source: www.mongabay.com, 28 June 2010

According to a new study in Tropical Conservation Science a surprising number of invertebrates are used in Brazilian traditional medicines, which are popular both in rural and urban areas. Researchers discovered that at least 81 species from five taxonomic groups are being used to treat a variety of illnesses in Brazil.
Insect species proved to be the most popular of invertebrate curatives, comprising over half of the species found in the study.
Unfortunately four of the species used in traditional medicine also appear on Brazil's list of threatened species. For some of the species basic studies are lacking. The researchers suggest that conservation measures need to be considered for those species that are threatened and those that are in particular demand in Brazil due to concerns of overexploitation. In addition, the authors promote creating regulations to ensure sustainability.
For full story, please see:
http://news.mongabay.com/2010/0628-hance_medicinal_invertebrate.html

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  • Canada’s boreal forest primed to be world’s best-protected ecosystem

Source: Vancouver Sun, 3 July 2010

Canada’s boreal forest is on track to become the world’s best-protected ecosystem, says a paper slated to be presented this week at an international conference on conservation issues.
About 4.4 million of the country’s 5.5 million km² of boreal forest are intact, said Steve Kallick, director of the Pew Environment Group’s boreal campaign. Approximately two-thirds of that - or about 3 million km²- could be protected.
Kallick, along with colleague Gary Stewart, will present a paper Monday at the International Congress for Conservation Biology, being hosted this year in Edmonton. Their report asks whether this country’s boreal forest could become the world’s best-protected ecosystem.
“It’s already more protected, we believe, than any other intact forest ecosystem in the world - more than the Amazon, more than Siberia,” said Kallick. “But we think it’s on track to be way beyond what anybody’s anticipating for those other places.”
Yet Kallick offers a few words of caution.
“This is not all done, by any means. It’s a whole spectrum of things, from completed and approved new national parks, to lands that are subject to the Forest Products Association agreement that we signed a few weeks ago.”
That agreement - which involved 21 member companies of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) and nine major environmental organizations - is expected to lead to more sustainable harvesting practices and protection of habitat in 72 million hectares of forest. New logging and road building will be suspended on nearly 29 million hectares of boreal forest while the signatories develop conservation plans for endangered woodland caribou.
The governments of Ontario and Quebec are also working on major initiatives to protect 50 percent of their northern forests from industrial development, while the rest would only see sustainable industrial activity.
Stuart Pimm, a world-renowned conservation biologist known for his work on tropical forests, called the impending accomplishment “a globally significant effort.”
Pimm said the land involved would equate to conserving two-thirds of the Amazon. “Nobody is coming close to the scale of this project. And there are not a lot of what we call wilderness forests left. The Canadian boreal, the Amazon, the Congo, and a few other places, but no more than about half a dozen places around the world have extensive tracts of untouched forests.”
For full story, please see:
www.vancouversun.com/technology/Canada+boreal+forest+primed+world+best+protected+ecosystem/3233496/story.html

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  • Canada: NTFP potential in British Columbia

Source: British Columbia Local News Online (Canada), 19 July 2010

Wells Gray Country Community Forest director Sharon Neufeld took a bouquet of wildflowers to last Tuesday’s District of Clearwater council meeting.
“All of these flowers have uses and market value,” she said. “It took me about five minutes to collect them.”
Neufeld used the bouquet to illustrate an application from the community forest for a grant to help put on an information forum on NTFPs in late August.
“This industry could mean billions of dollars for British Columbia,” said Neufeld. “That’s just for the uses and resources they know about. There’s an enormous component they don’t know.”
Community forests are the first opportunity in B.C. to license NTFPs within a tenure, Neufeld said. Land tenure is key to developing the resource. “Why would anyone invest if there is no guarantee the product will be there?” she asked. “It’s all on crown land. What would you do if you found that all the berries from your favourite patch had been creamed? We have to work on that.”
Tied in with land tenure are First Nation issues. “They consider NTFPs their intellectual copyright,” said Neufeld. “We decided the best way would be to include them up front from the start.”
Royal Roads University would provide the key speakers for the event. That institution has taken a lead role in developing our knowledge and educating people about NTFPs, she said.
The B.C. industry at present is led by forest greens, particularly salal, that are used in decorative bouquets and so on, she said. “There used to be people who harvested bales and bales of boxwood from the Clearwater area,” she said. Royal Roads has developed guidelines so boxwood can be collected with minimal impact for deer and moose.
Another potential moneymaker is a fungus that grows on trees in the area. Apparently it has a reputation in Chinese medicine of allowing a man to live to be 200 years old and have 20 wives.
“The forest industry is unstable, which means forest communities are unstable,” she said. “Studies in other countries have shown that NTFPs can be a community stabilizer.
“It won’t be a big industry with big money, but it can bring in an alternate income. There are plenty of young people who want to live in this beautiful place and they need a way to make a living.”
For full story, please see:
www.bclocalnews.com/bc_thompson_nicola/clearwatertimes/news/98630654.html

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  • Fiji’s honey potential

Source: www.fijitimes.com, 18 June 2010

Fiji has the opportunity to increase honey production because of increasing demand both locally and abroad.
Agriculture officer for apiculture Kamal Prasad said the production was around 400 tonnes annually, which was still short of full potential.
"Fiji will demand around 800 tonnes of honey annually for the next five to eight years and this in turn will also allow for some exports," said Mr Prasad.
He said Fiji had a potential for 50 000 beehives but only 11 000 hives were on the ground.
"A 750ml bottle honey is sold at US$7-$10 on retail while other variable packs range from US$7-$15," said Mr Prasad.
In a recent government-funded project, a honey machine was bought. This was funded by government's Import Substitution Programme (ISP) and cost US$19 288.
He said the machine, which was bought from India, would enable Food Processors Fiji Limited to be the main processor of quality honey in the Central and Eastern divisions. In addition, he said that the machine would also benefit about 500 bee farmers from Vanua Levu who had been trying to secure a good market for their honey.
"This machine will remove any debris from honey and will also reduce its moisture level to around 20 percent," said Mr Prasad. "This process will qualify the honey to meet international standards thus creating a bigger impact on the markets."
FPFL chief executive officer Brij Lal said more awareness-raising campaigns on honey’s health benefits needed to be carried out to help develop the local market. Mr Lal said awareness would increase and the economic spin-off benefits would be spread among the rural sector.
"All our livestock, dairy, vegetable, and crop farmers must be trained to set up hives on their farms as it provides food security and creates an integrated income base," he said.
"With our costs added in, we wholesale at around US$10-$12. FPFL is demanding more honey, but quality control is a priority," he said.
Head of the Ministry of Agriculture, Joketani Cokanasiga, said through the assistance FPFL would also support the growth of the local honey industry by promoting import substitution and also be able to expand the honey market by targeting local and overseas niche markets.
"Most importantly this venture will achieve our common goal of food security and bring about changes to the livelihoods of the rural people," he said.
For full story, please see:
www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=150392

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  • Indonesia: Wildlife trafficking hubs identified

Source: www.mongabay.com, 21 July 2010

The bulk of illegally traded wildlife moves through two "triangles" that span the Indonesian archipelago, an ecologist told scientists attending a meeting convened in Sanur, Bali by the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.
Ani Mardiastuti, a researcher at the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB), said Indonesia has two major smuggling circuits - the Manado-Ambon-Sorong Triangle in eastern Indonesia and the Medan-Palembang-Pontianak Triangle in the western part of the archipelago - and several hub cities, including Jakarta, Medan, and Surabaya. While significant quantities of wildlife are consumed domestically, substantial volumes are destined for Asian markets, including China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Japan.
Ani said the trade varies by region. In the Medan-Palembang-Pontianak Triangle, animal parts for traditional Chinese medicine, rare plant species, and endangered wildlife are commonly traded; in the Manado-Ambon-Sorong Triangle the trade is dominated by marine life and live animals like parrots, reptiles, insects, and small mammals for the pet market.
In remote regions,  trade is facilitated by the movement of containers, which arrive carrying essential foodstuffs and return with wildlife. Most wildlife is carried by ship - smuggling by air has diminished in recent years, according to Ani.
Ani said the trade – which according to ProFauna, a conservation group, is worth nine trillion Rupiah (US$990 million) – is difficult to control due to porous borders, lack of awareness among consumers and authorities, and high value of wildlife products. Ani added that the Indonesian government, with support of NGOs, has increased wildlife enforcement in recent years, seizing contraband and leveling fines on traffickers.
For full story, please see: http://news.mongabay.com/2010/0721-wildlife_trade_indonesia_atbc.html

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  • India: Traditional knowledge of indigenous plant lost

Source: India PR wire, 27 May 2010

A study released in May documents how traditional knowledge of a medicinal plant known only to an indigenous tribe in India was mishandled by the Indian government.
Government and corporate actions resulted in the loss of the plant to the world, even to the indigenous people to whom its value was originally known.
The study, written by Dr. Mohan Dewan, covers this unfortunate chain of events from both a practical and legal perspective in, "Socioeconomic Changes Effected by Intellectual Property Rights - the Indian Perspective."
A tribe of 20 000 individuals known as the "Kani" in the southern state of Kerala orally passed from generation to generation the medicinal value of the plant known as Aarogyappacha.
When Indian scientists learned the value of the plant, the uses of its compounds were licensed to a biotech company who made and sold products in India and the U.S. However, in subsequently implementing questionable Indian intellectual property laws, all parties lost the value of the plant, even the country itself.
Dr. Mohan Dewan, a patent and trade mark attorney and litigator for more than 35 years, is owner of the Indian firm R.K. Dewan and Company. Previously, he was Department Chair of the Intellectual Property Law Department of the University of Natal in South Africa.
Dr. Dewan's study is published on the website, http://beyondthefirstworld.com.
The paper is an extract copyrighted from the forthcoming book "Intellectual Property, Innovation, Management in Emerging Economies" edited by Ruth Taplin and Alojzy Z. Nowak.
For full story, please see:
www.indiaprwire.com/pressrelease/biotechnology/2010052751882.htm

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  • Japan: Beekeepers add buzz to Tokyo’s urban jungle

Source: AFP, 14 July 2010

Tokyo's Ginza district is usually abuzz with shoppers and office workers, but high above its skyscrapers nature-lovers have created a home for real busy bees - the ones that make honey.
It is part of a project to bring a slice of natural back to the centre of the world's largest urban sprawl, a cityscape home to more than 30 million people that stretches far beyond the horizon.
Eleven storeys above the heart of the Tokyo concrete jungle - with its beehive office partitions and swarms of suit-clad worker-bees - enthusiasts have stacked up beehives dripping with golden honey.
Satoshi Nagai, 49, a beekeeper who has taken a break from his desk at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities, says the honey is largely organic because pesticide use has been banned in Tokyo city parks and gardens including the Imperial Palace, about 1.5 kilometres away, where the bees collect much of their nectar.
The beekeepers may be an odd sight in the Japanese capital, but they are not the only urban farmers - on a rooftop just blocks away, barefoot farmers were wading through almost knee-high mud to plant a wet rice field.
Projects such as these have gained attention here this year as Japan readies to host a 193-nation international conference on biodiversity, which aims to find ways to stem the world's massive species loss.
The 10th meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity will be held in the central city of Nagoya in October to discuss a pressing environmental issue that has received less attention in recent years than climate change.
Animal and plant species are disappearing around the world at the fastest rate known in geological history, and most of these extinctions are tied to human activity, says UNEP. Species under threat include 21 percent of all known mammals, 30 percent of known amphibians and 12 percent of known birds, according to the IUCN. The Earth is now losing a species about once every 20 minutes, estimates the non-profit group Conservation International.
Honeybees are a case in point in Japan.
The price of honeybees has doubled in recent years after imports were banned to prevent the spread of parasites, and as local populations declined in a phenomenon that beekeepers have blamed on pesticide use.
Because of the shortage of bees that help pollination, farmers have reported that fruits don't grow well enough to satisfy urban consumers.
"We've received a number of complaints from beekeepers that pesticides kill honeybees," said Kazuo Kimura of the Japan Beekeepers Association.
Japanese scientists taking part in the biodiversity meeting have discussed ways to convince Japan's highly urbanized public how important biodiversity is.
"Urban beekeeping and rice growing are good examples of how human beings can reshape their relationship with nature," said Kazuhiko Takeuchi, director of the Institute for Sustainability and Peace at the UN University in Tokyo.
For full story, please see:
www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5inCN4eB1unTkZfxXj03wcxkvnBuQ

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  • Swaziland: Swazi-produced honey being imported from South Africa

Source: Swazi Observer, 18 June 2010

Honey produced in Swaziland is allegedly being imported back into the country from South Africa.
The Government has since issued a stern warning to those who export or import Swazi produced honey back into the country. “Honey produced in Swaziland that finds its way into South Africa and back again into our market is not ‘playing by the rules’ and will be dealt with accordingly,” said Prime Minister Dr Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini.
He said the industry was facing a lot of challenges such as the threat of disease, in particular the American Foul Brood disease which is rampant in a number of neighbouring states.
“Strict control measures are in place, but all importers of honey must ensure that they obtain the necessary certification at the time of taking delivery of honey in whatever form or quantity,” he said yesterday during a honey competition prize presentation ceremony at Mphophoma Conference Centre. “Our inspection processes must ensure that this is adhered to strictly.”
The PM said there was now a need for registration of beekeepers. He said the industry was vulnerable to theft and it would be of great assistance if community leaders could get the message across that honey produced through formal beekeeping, as opposed to wild store, should not be viewed as available for consumption to any passer-by.
He added that it was evident that the government extension service would need to be upgraded to provide expert assistance to beekeepers and thus enable them to improve their yields quite significantly.
The PM said another matter that required resolution was the supply relationship between producers and commercial processors. “Relatively little goes to the processor and the formal market, and a lot remains that has to be imported. I propose that these two groups go into dialogue on this issue as a matter of urgency,” he added.
“What I can venture to advise is that all of the existing price issues are capable of being resolved to the satisfaction of everyone if we can achieve a quantum leap in volume of production, thereby achieving the economies of scale.”
www.observer.org.sz/index.php?news=14167

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  • Tanzania: Project saves mountain forests for future generations

Source: www.allafrica.com, 27 July 2010

UNDP has successfully finalized a seven-year biodiversity project that saved thousands of hectares of fragile forestland on a mountain range in northeast Tanzania, a region that the Government has nominated for recognition as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The project for the Eastern Arc Mountains, financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), was last month concluded after an independent evaluation reported at least 10 000 hectares of forest saved from destruction and a 10 percent reduction in the rate of forest loss.
River flows from the Eastern Arc are very important, providing the main source of water for at least one quarter of Tanzania's population. They also power more than half the country's electricity. Water, hydropower and NTFPs from the area generate over US$175 million every year.
The project came about because an estimated 70 percent of Eastern Arc's rich and unique forestland had been destroyed due, among other reasons, to crop shifting and timber harvesting. Only about 5 400 km² of forest remained on the mountains which span a total land area of 23 000 km².
UNDP worked on the project with a range of stakeholders - including the Government of Tanzania, NGOs, academic bodies and village administrations - to develop a conservation strategy and help community-based conservation initiatives.
A focus site as part of the US$5 million project was the Uluguru native reserve, in the Morogoro region, a popular tourism destination and home to more than 100 plants and various birds, mammals and amphibians found nowhere else on Earth.
The strategy adopted by the Government covers the period to 2017 and prioritizes areas including control of forest fires, enforcement of protection for reserves, taking action against illegal logging, mining, poaching and grazing, creating alternative fuel sources, and spreading awareness about the importance of conservation.
For full story, please see: http://allafrica.com/stories/201007210002.html

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  • Vietnam: The potential of medicinal plants

Source: Vietnam News Online, 13 July 2010

Vietnam imports over 85 percent of its medicinal ingredients and herbs to produce medicines; despite the country being home to various kinds of medicinal plants, reports Drug Administration of Viet Nam.
"Vietnam currently has 3 800 medicinal plants that can produce medicines, with the World Health Organisation confirming that the country is home to 200 precious medicinal herbs," said Health Deputy Minister Cao Minh Quang.
The country annually produces some 3 000 - 5 000 tonnes of medicinal materials.
However, Quang said, the exploitation, production and trade of the medicinal materials had yet to take advantage of domestic resources.
According to health ministry statistics, there are over 300 units producing medicines from domestic materials, but only ten of them meet the WHO's Good Manufacturing Practices - part of a system covering the manufacture and testing of active pharmaceutical ingredients, diagnostics, pharmaceutical products and medical devices.
He added over-exploitation had caused the loss of some domestic materials that had been unique to Vietnam.
For example, the vang dang plant (Coscinium fenestratum) was widely found in central Binh Phuoc Province's Phuoc Long District a few years ago but now could hardly be seen after being over-harvested.
Medicinal herbs in Vietnam were mainly grown, processed and traded by private businesses, making it difficult to meet standards, Quang said.
The administration also warned about quality of the medicinal materials when most of the materials were illegally imported.
Domestic pharmaceutical producers wanted to reduce production costs by purchasing domestic medicinal materials but faced insufficient supply, said Nguyen Tien Hung, general director of Medical Products Import Export Joint Stocks Company.
He said it was necessary to offer incentives for growing, processing and using medical herbs. Relevant authorities needed to improve their management of medicinal plant growing and trading.
For full story, please see: http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/Social-Isssues/201469/VN-medical-herbs-need-more-oversight.html

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NEWS

  • Biopiracy: New Online Observatory for African Inventions and Discoveries launched

Source: University World News, 4 July 2010

An Online Observatory for African Inventions and Discoveries has been launched, aimed at encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship to help meet the continent's development challenges.
The initiative was announced at a UN Economic Commission for Africa's Science with Africa conference, Science, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, held from 23-25 June in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The commission's Science with Africa Initiative is driving the project.
The online observatory aims to recognise African scientific innovations and discoveries and to facilitate their transformation into commercial assets, goods and services - particularly through increasing Africa's share of the world's patents, which are a key part of the knowledge economy.
Through fostering university-industry partnerships the observatory will boost scientific outputs and help Africans better manage, harness and capitalise on the benefits of their scientific knowledge.
In particular, the observatory will help to reduce biopiracy, currently rampant on the African continent. Biopiracy has emerged as a term to describe the ways that corporations from the developed world claim ownership of, free ride on, or otherwise take unfair advantage of, the genetic resources and traditional knowledge and technologies of developing countries.
For instance, the medicinal or nutritional properties of many African plants potentially offer enormous economic benefits, which have put patents for naturally existing plants at the centre of an ethical, commercial and legal global debate.
One vivid example of biopiracy, as provided in the UN Economic Commission for Africa's Call for Applications document is the Hoodia gordonii, a spiny succulent growing in arid regions with high saline soils, such as the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa.
For centuries the plant has been used as food by indigenous people. Further, one of the oldest tribes traditionally used the stems of hoodia as an appetite suppressant when undertaking long hunting trips.
But the plant's benefits were also discovered in the 1970s by South African soldiers occupying Angola, who observed that once a person had consumed some of the plant they could forgo food for several days.
In 1996, scientists at the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research were able to isolate the plant extract with the properties already known by the bush people, and recommended it as a supplement to reduce caloric intake.
In 1997, Phytopharm laboratory bought the licence to develop and market hoodia and today several biotech giants, including Pfizer and Unilever, share the benefits. Only since 2009 have the local people been eligible for any financial compensation for their traditional knowledge.
Thus a key focus of the online observatory will be on increasing awareness and sensitising African policy-makers, technologists, scientists and venture capitalists about the economic benefits to be derived from marketing African traditional knowledge from biological resources.
www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20100702184808507

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  • http://timeslog.indiatimes.com/timeslog.dll/topcnt?CHUR=timesofindia.indiatimes.com&randomno=0.3134639404560203Biopiracy: India foils Chinese bid to patent medicinal plant

Source: Times of India, 24 June 2010

India has foiled a major Chinese biopiracy bid to patent the use of medicinal plants “pudina” (mint) and “kalamegha” (andrographis) for the treatment of H5N1 avian influenza or bird flu.           The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), with the help of India's Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), dug out formulations from ancient Ayurveda and Unani texts, like “Cakradattah”, “Bhaisajya Ratnavali”, “Kitaab-al-Haawi-fil-Tibb” and “Qaraabaadeen Azam wa Akmal”, dating back to the 9th century, to show that both “pudina” and “kalamegha” have been widely used in India for ages for influenza and epidemic fevers.
After receiving exhaustive evidence from CSIR that confirmed India's stand, the European Patent Office (EPO) on 10 June cancelled the decision to grant a patent to Livzon, a major Chinese pharmaceutical company, on the medicinal properties of pudina and kalamegha for treating bird flu.
It all began when on 19 January 2007 Livzon filed a patent application at EPO claiming usefulness of pudina and kalamegha for the treatment of bird flu to be novel. Impressed with the data, EPO decided to grant patent to Livzon on 25 February, 2010.             However, on 27 April, the director of TKDL Dr V K Gupta wrote to the EPO informing the examiners that the medicinal properties of pudina and kalamegha have been long known in Indian traditional medicine.
The letter said "In the TKDL, there are several references where andrographis and mint are used for the treatment of influenza and epidemic fever. Hence, there does not seem to be any novelty or inventive step involved in the claims."
Following the letter, the EPO set up a three-member panel to study the evidence. On 10 June, the panel decided to cancel the Chinese patent claim.
TKDL is a collaborative project between CSIR and Union health ministry's department of Ayush.
In 2000, a TKDL expert group estimated that about 2 000 wrong patents concerning Indian systems of medicine were being granted every year at the international level, mainly due to the fact that India's traditional medicine knowledge existed in languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Arabic, Urdu, Tamil etc. These were neither accessible nor understood by the patent examiners at the international patent offices.
For full story, please see: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-foils-Chinese-bid-to-patent-pudina/articleshow/6084091.cms

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  • Does greater biodiversity help or hinder the world's poorest people?

Source: Nature,15 July 2010

The conservation of biodiversity is often touted as a win-win solution both for the environment and for the world's poorest people, who rely on vanishing natural resources for food and income.
But several studies presented at a meeting of the Zoological Society of London last week challenged the largely anecdotal evidence linking conservation projects with a reduction in poverty. Instead, researchers argued, the financial or employment opportunities that arise from conservation efforts all too often go to more affluent people in local communities. "If poverty reduction is your objective for a conservation project, it's not a good focus," says social scientist Craig Leisher, a senior adviser to the Nature Conservancy, a conservation agency in Arlington, Virginia. "There are better ways to do it."
The studies also highlighted the lack of good-quality empirical data on biodiversity and poverty alleviation, and showed that ineffective conservation strategies are being implemented as a result. "There is too much policy based on anecdotal evidence," Leisher says.
“If poverty reduction is your objective for a conservation project, it's not a good focus.”
However, some researchers are attempting to address this shortfall. For example, Brian Belcher, director of the Centre for Non-Timber Resources at Canada's Royal Roads University in Victoria, British Columbia, presented the results of a project that has been assessing the contribution of NTFPs (such as food and traditional medicines) to household income in more than 360 villages across 26 countries, including Ghana, Peru and China.
The project, which started in 2004 and is due to be completed next year, has so far found that forest products contribute an average of a quarter of local people's income, although that contribution varies from 10 and 60 percent between the sites studied.
Belcher explains that most forest products are readily available to poor people because they have a low economic value. Higher value forest products tend to require more work or equipment to gather, and are therefore taken by people who are already more affluent and able to make an investment in the resources they need to exploit the forest.
In the short term, he adds, conservation projects can actually limit people's access to forest resources by rendering their normal methods of gathering food illegal, thus worsening their circumstances. Where access is permitted, local officials often charge people a fee to exploit the burgeoning resources.
In a separate survey, Leisher and his colleagues reviewed more than 400 studies and documents on projects that sought to conserve biodiversity and alleviate poverty. He and his team found that about 150 of these showed at least some evidence that the projects had benefited the poor. These included projects on mangrove restoration and agroforestry.
But more often, the team found, projects had little or no economic benefit for the poorest people. And like Belcher's study, there was ample evidence that wealthy households were more likely to participate in and benefit from conservation initiatives. Leisher adds that control sites are rarely used in project assessments, meaning that any reduction in poverty cannot be directly attributed to conservation efforts.
Meeting co-organizer Matt Walpole, head of ecosystem assessment at the United Nations Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, UK, says that conservation agencies have been naïve about the contribution that biodiversity can make to poverty reduction, and that they need to be more rigorous in assessing costs and benefits.
But Katrina Brandon of Conservation International, a non-profit conservation agency headquartered in Washington DC, disagrees, saying that agencies have been "optimistic" in trying to address both conservation and development objectives.
Conserving biodiversity often acts as a "critical safety net" that prevents poor people from falling further into poverty, she explains, particularly during periods when people are most vulnerable, such as when crop harvests are low.
For full story, please see: www.nature.com/news/2010/060510/full/news.2010.222.html#comments

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  • First-of-its-kind map details the height of the globe's forests

Source: Science Daily, 21 July 2010

Using NASA satellite data, scientists have produced a first-of-its kind map that details the height of the world's forests. Although there are other local- and regional-scale forest canopy maps, the new map is the first that spans the entire globe based on one uniform method.
The work - based on data collected by NASA's ICESat, Terra, and Aqua satellites -should help scientists build an inventory of how much carbon the world's forests store and how fast that carbon cycles through ecosystems and back into the atmosphere. Michael Lefsky of the Colorado State University described his results in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
The new map shows the world's tallest forests clustered in the Pacific Northwest of North America and portions of Southeast Asia, while shorter forests are found in broad swaths across northern Canada and Eurasia. The map depicts average height over 5 km², not the maximum heights that any one tree or small patch of trees might attain.
Temperate conifer forests - which are extremely moist and contain massive trees such as Douglas fir, western hemlock, redwoods, and sequoias - have the tallest canopies, soaring easily above 40m. In contrast, boreal forests dominated by spruce, fir, pine, and larch had canopies typically less than 20m. Relatively undisturbed areas in tropical rain forests were about 25m, roughly the same height as the oak, beeches, and birches of temperate broadleaf forests common in Europe and much of the United States.
Scientific interest in the new map goes far beyond curiosities about tree height. The map has implications for an ongoing effort to estimate the amount of carbon tied up in Earth's forests and for explaining what sops up 2 billion tons of "missing" carbon each year.
Humans release about 7 billion tons of carbon annually, mostly in the form of carbon dioxide. Ofthat, 3 billion tons end up in the atmosphere and 2 billion tons in the ocean. It's unclear where the last two billion tons of carbon go, though scientists suspect forests capture and store much of it as biomass through photosynthesis.
There are hints that young forests absorb more carbon than older ones, as do wetter ones, and that large amounts of carbon end up in certain types of soil. But ecologists have only begun to pin down the details as they try to figure out whether the planet can continue to soak up so much of our annual carbon emissions and whether it will continue to do so as climate changes.
For full story, please see: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100720162306.htm

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  • Illegal logging of tropical forests in decline

Source: AFP, 15 July, 2010

Illegal logging of tropical woodland has fallen sharply, providing welcome news in the fight against climate change and a lifeline for a billion poor people who depend on forests for survival, a report released Thursday said.
Since 2000, international efforts to stem the illicit felling of trees has spared some 17 million hectares in three countries alone, amounting to a preserved area larger than England and Wales, the London think tank Chatham House said.
In Brazil, which contains more than a quarter of the planet's tropical cover, outlaw logging over the last decade dropped by between 50 and 75 percent, mainly due to stricter laws and tougher enforcement.
The rate of decline in Indonesia was 75 percent, and in Cameroon pirate logging was cut in half.
But in two other countries covered by the study, the level remained roughly unchanged over the same period. In Ghana, the problem continues to be endemic, accounting for around two-thirds of overall timber production. And in Malaysia, illegal harvesting still represents 14 to 25 percent of total output, the lowest of the five nations under review.
Overall, illegal logging remains a serious challenge. In 2009, a total of 100 million cubic metres were illegally harvested in these countries alone.
The stakes are high, said lead author Sam Lawson. "Up to a billion of the world's poorest people are dependent on forests, and reductions in illegal logging are helping to protect their livelihoods," he said.
The findings also highlight the critical role of forests as a bulkhead against global warming: deviation from “business as usual” has kept at least 1.2 billion tonnes of heat-trapping CO2 from leaking in the atmosphere, he said.
Globally, about 130 000 km² of mainly tropical forests were lost every year over the last decade, according to FAO.
The Chatham House study estimates that five consumer nations – the United States, Japan, Britain, France and the Netherlands – together purchased 17 million meters³ of illegal timber in 2008 worth about US8.4 billion dollars.
For full story, please see: www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i3Li728IS3PEC4gScciObjHVrN0w

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  • Putting communities back in charge of their forests

Source: The Ecologist, 29 June 2010

What can western countries learn from their less industrialized counterparts about returning woodlands and forests to productive, profitable, local control?
Most post-colonial governments have kept forests under their own guardianship. “Colonial systems were modelled on forest management in Britain and Germany where departments were set up to serve national interests,” says Tom Blomley, a community forestry expert in East Africa. “These ideas were transferred to Africa - lock, stock and barrel.”
Many post-colonial governments have also failed to manage their natural resources effectively. Typically, the few capture the benefits of forest resources and the many lose out. Politicians may access logging permits through “influence” (at the expense of local people). Revenues from forestry sales may be remitted to central government while local people bear the burden of living next to forests they cannot use - losing their crops to forest wildlife.
To tackle rural poverty and reduce encroachment, some countries have looked to devolution. Tanzania is a leader in the move from centralised forest management. “The country has unique circumstances,” Blomley says. Former president Julius Nyerere's socialism (Ujamaa) was based on the agrarian reforms of Chairman Mao. As a spin-off, Ujamaa created village governments with authority over local land and resources.
For full story, please see:
www.theecologist.org/investigations/society/524267/putting_communities_back_in_charge_of_their_forests.html

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  • Scientists possibly unlock biodiversity door

Source: www.physorg.com, 15 July 2010

Looking for the answer to why the tropical Amazonian rainforest has more bird, plant and insect life than Canada’s Vancouver Island’s temperate rainforest has been like looking for a needle in a haystack. That is until now.
Canada’s Simon Fraser University research associate paleontologist Bruce Archibald has spent the past decade investigating the question. He and his colleagues may have finally found the answer: it is the difference between summer and winter temperatures.
Climate is obviously different in the tropics, but it is not that simple, says Archibald. “Which particular climatic factor in the tropics might be responsible for high diversity?” ponders Archibald.
“There’s not only more heat and light, but also much lower seasonal variation in temperature, where the average temperature of the hottest and coolest month may vary by only a few degrees. These factors tend to change together as you travel away from the equator toward the poles, leaving it difficult to separate their individual effects on diversity.”
But Archibald and his colleagues found a way. They began by trapping myriad insects in Costa Rica’s hot, low-seasonality jungle and in the cool, high-seasonality Harvard Research Forest in Massachusetts, USA.
Then, to separate the possible effects of heat and light from seasonality, they took the novel approach of adding paleontology to their study.
“We compared samples of modern insects with fossil insects from the 52.9-million-year-old McAbee site near Cache Creek, B.C. (Canada), which had an average yearly temperature similar to that of southern B.C. today, yet had low seasonality like the modern tropics,” says Archibald. “The amazing preservation of its fossil community makes it a rare spot of international importance and a crucial window into the past, one through which we can see the modern world in a new way that offers answers that might be otherwise difficult to find.”
The scientists’ moment came when they found that ancient McAbee had insect diversity at least as high as the modern tropical Costa Rican jungle.
“This indicates that it’s low seasonality, not greater heat and light, that promotes the modern tropics’ high diversity,” explains Archibald.
Their findings also imply a startling idea: that the world may be less diverse now than it was 52.9 million years ago, when low seasonality extended globally into high latitudes. Their research is published this month (July) in the journal Paleobiology.
Archibald and his research team may have solved a biodiversity conundrum that has puzzled scientists since the late 1700s when naturalist explorer Alexander von Humboldt discovered the tropics’ amazing biodiversity. Scientists have posed more than 100 hypotheses to explain the conundrum.
For full story, please see:
www.physorg.com/news198387559.html

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  • Trees a low-cost solution to air pollution and biodiversity loss in cities

Source: Environmental News Network, 4 July 2010

Native woods and trees in urban areas, including gardens, provide haven for wildlife, reduce air pollution, surface run-off and flooding
Reversing the declining numbers of native trees and woods in cities would provide numerous benefits at 'relatively little cost', says a report from the UK’s Woodland Trust.
As well as access to green space, the report, “Greening the Concrete Jungle”, says trees provide a wide range of free ecosystem services including reducing the risk of surface water flooding and improving air quality that could save millions in flood defence and healthcare costs.
The UK has one of the world’s highest rates of childhood asthma, around 15 percent, particularly amongst lower socio-economic groups in urban areas. Research shows asthma rates among children aged four to five falls by a quarter for every additional 343 trees per square km, as they help keep the air clean and breathable and reduce ambient temperature.
Trees are also able to reduce the pressure on the drainage system during flooding. The University of Manchester has shown that increasing tree cover in urban areas by 10 percent reduces surface water run-off by almost 6 percent.
A major international study published earlier this year, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), put the global value of services provided by forests and biodiveristy at between £1.2-2.8 trillion a year.
For full story, please see: www.enn.com/top_stores/article/41507

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  • UN agency marks 35 years since key accord on wildlife trade regulation

Source: www.un.org, 1 July 2010

Proper regulation of wildlife trade is needed to ensure the continued survival of animals and plants in the wild, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) urged today as it marked the 35th anniversary of a key international agreement.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) aims to ensure that the international trade in products made from wild animals and plants - in fields such as medicine and fashion -  does not threaten their survival.
“While not a single one of some 34 000 CITES-listed species has become extinct as a result of international trade until now, growing pressures on biological resources make regulating global wildlife trade even more relevant today,” said CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon.
The CITES-list includes diverse species ranging from orchids to mahogany timber.
On the occasion of the accord’s anniversary, the CITES Secretariat launched web-based Trade Data Dashboards, to make available trade data from annual reports of the countries that are party to the agreement.
Users can search for the trade of a certain species group or general trade per country, as well as special categories, such as “top 10 trading partners” and “trade volume over time.”
The CITES Secretariat is administered by UNEP, which is also marking this year as the International Year of Biodiversity.
The UN agency released a report last month showing that the preservation of biodiversity through the restoration of ecosystems can generate wealth, create jobs and become a vital means of alleviating poverty.
Calling CITES part of a “transition to a resource efficient 21st century green economy,” UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UNEP, Achim Steiner, described the treaty as visionary.
“It was able to put practical trade rules in place for the use of terrestrial and marine species, before the global boom created by the liberalization of trade and the acceleration of transactions via [the] Internet,” he said.
For full story, please see: www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=35216&Cr=&Cr1 =

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EVENTS

World Bamboo Day
18 September 2010
World Bamboo Day is a day of celebration to increase the awareness of bamboo globally.  Where bamboo grows naturally, bamboo has been a daily element, but its utilization has not always been sustainable due to exploitation.
The World Bamboo Organization aims to bring the potential of bamboo to a more elevated exposure - to protect natural resources and the environment, to ensure sustainable utilization, to promote new cultivation of bamboo for new industries in regions around the world, as well as promote traditional uses locally for community economic development.
For more information, please visit: http://worldbambooday.org/wbd-2010-activities/world-bambooday-2010/

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Forest Day
Cancun, Mexico
5 December 2010
The Collaborative Partnership on Forests and the Government of Mexico, through the National Forestry Commission, are pleased to announce that registration for Forest Day 4 is now open.
Forest day is a global platform for anyone with an interest in forests and climate change to come together and exchange their views. It brings together outstanding thinkers, speakers and innovators to share their passion for forests and the rights of those who depend on them. Forest Day aims to inform and engage world leaders, scientists, donors, journalists, policy makers, community leaders and activists.
The goal of this year’s Forest Day is to build on the momentum of past forest days and heighten global awareness of the role forests play in mitigating and adapting to climate change.
Forest Day is designed to inform and engage world leaders, scientists, donors, media, policy makers, nongovernmental and intergovernmental groups organisations, leaders of indigenous people and communities that rely on forests, and climate negotiators.
For more information, please contact:
E-mail: cifor-forestday@cgiar.org
www.forestday.org

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International Mountain Day 2010
11 December 2010 
Worldwide

The United Nations General Assembly has designated 11 December, from 2003 onwards, as “International Mountain Day”. It is observed every year with a different theme relevant to sustainable mountain development. FAO is the UN Organization mandated to lead observance of International Mountain Day.
The theme for International Mountain Day 2010 is “Mountain minorities and indigenous peoples”. It aims to raise awareness about indigenous peoples and minorities who live in mountain environments and the relevance of their cultural heritage, traditions and customs.
This year’s International Mountain Day provides an apt occasion to reflect on how important it is to promote and preserve traditional knowledge, including sciences, agricultural practices, responses to global change, medicines and health practices, fauna and flora, oral traditions, crafts and arts.
For more information, please visit: www.fao.org/mnts/intl_mountain_day_en.asp

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REQUESTS

  • Request for information: Non-wood based paper

From: Andrew Loos

I am looking for a US manufactured #20 copy paper produced from non-wood based pulp, such as bamboo or hemp. Does this exist?
Please contact:
Andrew Loos
Email: aloos@bradnersmith.com

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EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES

Training course on "Indigenous and Tribal Peoples: Rights and Development"
International Training Centre of the ILO
Turin, Italy
11-15 October 2010
This year’s edition of the course entitled "Indigenous and Tribal Peoples: Rights and Development" aims to strengthen international, national and local capacity to promote and apply indigenous peoples’ rights and to integrate indigenous peoples’ rights and perspectives into development frameworks.
The course is designed for all those who are involved in the promotion, design or development of policies, strategies and projects that directly concern or affect indigenous people, such as: civil servants from government institutions concerned with tribal and indigenous affairs; members of national human rights commissions; representatives of indigenous peoples and their organizations; representatives of NGOs concerned with indigenous issues; and officials of bilateral and multilateral agencies concerned with indigenous issues.
In order to facilitate sharing of experience among different regions of the world, the course will be held in English and Spanish, with simultaneous interpretation.
For more information, please contact:
Tzehainesh Teklè
Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work Programme
International Training Centre of the ILO
Viale Maestri del Lavoro, 10
10127 Turin (Italy)
E-mail: ils-fpr@itcilo.org
Fax: 0116936906

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“Project Architecture: Planning for Impact” (Online course)
Center for Sustainable Development
7 September-18 October 2010:
This course will take the project concept developed in the previous course and transform it with a powerful set of management tools into a project for presenting to donors. Logframes, detailed budgets, schedules and compelling fact sheets: these tools will communicate to donors, staff, and stakeholders exactly what you are going to accomplish, and lead the effective management of the project once funded.
For more information, please contact:
Tim Magee, Executive Director
Center for Sustainable Development
724 Via Santo Tomas
Claremont, CA  91711, USA
OR
6ª Avenida 1-40 zona 14 - Edificio Bonaire 1001
Ciudad Guatemala, Guatemala 01014
E-mail: Online.Learning@csd-i.org .
www.csd-i.org/online-learning/ .

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LITERATURE REVIEW AND WEB SITES

  • Trees are the Answer

Source: Forest Policy Info Mailing List, 26 July 2010

Greenpeace co-founder and former leader Dr. Patrick Moore, an ecology PhD, challenges our common assumptions about forests and forestry.
Written for the expert and novice alike, this book will entertain and enlighten by taking you behind the scenes, showing you forests and forest management in a way you've likely never seen before.
Illustrated with beautiful photography, this is a must have book for anyone interested in how forests can help us solve some of today's toughest environmental challenges from climate change to green building, renewable biofuel energy to paper and product recycling.
For more information, please visit: www.treesaretheanswer.com.

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  • Other publications of interest

From:  FAO’s NWFP Programme

Alves, R.R.N., Souto, W.M.S., and Barboza, R.R.D. 2010. Primates in traditional folk medicine: a world overview. Mammal Rev. 40(2):155-180.

Antons, C. 2010. The role of traditional knowledge and access to genetic resources in biodiversity conservation in Southeast Asia. Biodivers. Conserv. 19(4):1189-1204.

Chidumayo, Emmanuel N. And Davison J. Gumbo. 2010. The Dry Forests and Woodlands of Africa: Managing for Products and Services. UK: Earthscan.
This book provides a current baseline of knowledge on the current resources of the Dry forests and woodlands, their use and value, and possible means to manage them towards sustainable development into the future. It poses a challenge to policy makers and resource managers to make integrated and sustainable resource management a reality to resources users who depend on good governance and the dry forest resources for their livelihoods and prosperity under threats of environmental change

Colchester, Marcus and Jean La Rose. 2010. Our Land, Our Future - Promoting Indigenous Participation and Rights in Mining, Climate Change and other Natural Resources Decision-making in Guyana. Final report of the Amerindian Peoples Association/Forest Peoples Programme/North-South Institute project on “Indigenous perspectives on consultation and decision-making about mining and other natural resources: toward community strengthening, dialogue and policy change.  Link: www.forestpeoples.org/documents/s_c_america/guyana_our_land_our_future_jun10_eng.pdf

Duffy, Rosaleen. 2010. Nature Crime: How We're Getting Conservation Wrong. USA: Yale University Press.

European Environment Agency. 2010. Web of knowledge, web of life, web of wonder (Fungi). “Our Natural Europe” Series. Denmark: European Environment Agency.

Gaoue, O.G., and Ticktin, T. 2010. Effects of harvest of non-timber forest products and ecological differences between sites on the demography of African mahogany. Conserv. Biol. 24(2):605-614.

Gardner, Toby. 2010. Monitoring Forest Biodiversity: Improving Conservation through Ecologically-Responsible Management. UK: Earthscan.

Kumar, V.S., Jaishanker, R., Annamalai, A., and Iyer, C.S.P. 2010. Ensete superbum (Roxb.) Cheesman: a rare medicinal plant in urgent need of conservation. Curr. Sci. 98(5):602-603.

Lamarque, F., Anderson, J., Fergusson, R., Lagrange, M., and Osei-Owusu, Y. 2009. Human-wildlife conflict in Africa - causes, consequences and management strategies. Rome: FAO.
Abstract: In Africa, conflicts between humans and wildlife have become more frequent and severe over recent decades. This FAO Forestry paper was published to facilitate the coexistence of humans and wildlife and assist communities in applying best management practices. With a focus on large herbivores and carnivores such as elephants, lions, baboons and crocodiles, the book presents the issues, describes different methods of conflict management and outlines a three-step framework for decision-making.
Link: www.fao.org/docrep/012/i1048e/i1048e00.htm

Nijman, V. 2010. An overview of international wildlife trade from Southeast Asia. Biodivers. Conserv. 19(4):1101-1114.

Oldekop, J.A., Bebbington, A.J., Brockington, D., and Preziosi, R.F. 2010. Understanding the lessons and limitations of conservation and development. Conserv. Biol. 24(2):461-469.

Rist, J., Milner-Gulland, E.J., Cowlishaw, G., and Rowcliffe, M. 2010. Hunter reporting of catch per unit effort as a monitoring tool in a bushmeat-harvesting system. Conserv. Biol. 24(2):489-499

Slieker, Denis and Jos van Assendelft. 2010. Our Balancing Act: The real value of ecosystems. Netherlands:The Forest Enterprise Foundation.
The book emphasizes the need to put a monetary value on the services provided by ecosystems (eg forests) in order to provide a business case against unsustainable conversion.The ecosystem services that need to be priced include biodiversity, carbon sequestration, water purification and supply, food supply and more.
Link: www.theforestenterprise.com.

The Accra Caucus. 2010. Realising rights, protecting forests: An Alternative Vision for Reducing Deforestation. UK: The Accra Caucus.
Abstract: In this report, the Accra Caucus proposes an alternative vision for achieving the objective of reducing deforestation, arguing for policies and actions that would tackle the drivers of deforestation, rather than focusing exclusively on carbon. Drawing on case studies from organizations with experience of working with forest communities, the report highlights problems linked to the implementation of REDD, and suggests ways in which policies to reduce deforestation can actually work on the ground. Through case studies, the report highlights three critical components: full and effective participation; secured and equitable land rights; and community-based forest management. In the case study on Ecuador, it is noted that while REDD+ calls for critical scientific expertise, a technical approach cannot become the basis for exclusion of other forms of knowledge, such as traditional knowledge, values and rights. Technical experts need to learn about the rights, values, practices and knowledge systems of their civil society counterparts and forest communities. Among the benefits of community forest management, it is noted that communities have local and ancestral knowledge which allows them to adopt specific practices for particular locations that are more effective than blanket “scientific” approaches.
Link: www.rainforestfoundationuk.org/files/Accra_Report_English.pdf

 

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  • Web sites and e-zines

From:  FAO’s NWFP Programme

Plants for the Planet
The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) highlights the importance of plants and the ecosystem services they provide for all life on earth, and aims to ensure their conservation. The GSPC has 4 main objectives: (1) To halt the current and continuing loss of plant diversity; (2) to harmonise existing plant conservation initiatives; (3) to enhance the ecosystem approach and focus on vital role of plants in ecosystem functioning; (4) and to provide a pilot study for the CBD on setting targets. To pledge support, please visit:
www.plantsfortheplanet.com/

Database on Brazilian wood
This database has been designed to be used by the forest industry and the public to help divulge Brazilian woods in both domestic and international markets. It will encourage the commercialization of those species not well known in the market and allow forest management to be carried out with a greater number of species. The hope is that it will contribute to increasing the economic viability and lead to sustainable forest management.
www.ibama.gov.br/lpf/madeira/

Forest Day
Forest day is a global platform for anyone with an interest in forests and climate change to come together and exchange their views. It brings together outstanding thinkers, speakers and innovators to share their passion for forests and the rights of those who depend on them. Forest Day aims to inform and engage world leaders, scientists, donors, journalists, policy makers, community leaders and activists.
www.forestday.org

“Wiki” Website on wood used to produce musical instruments (In Portuguese)
www.mundoflorestal.com.br/mediawiki/index.php/P%C3%A1gina_principal

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MISCELLANEOUS

  • Study Finds link between climate and the size of bird bills

Source: Yale Environment 360, 23 June 2010

The size of a bird’s bill is linked to climate because of the role that bills play in maintaining body temperature, according to a new study. After examining 214 species of birds — including toucans, parrots, Canadian gamebirds, and penguins — researchers at the University of Melbourne (Australia) and at Brock University in Canada found that birds with larger bills tend to be found in warmer climates, while birds
A toucan that has to deal with colder climates has evolved smaller bills. “This suggests that there is an evolutionary connection between the size of the birds’ bills and their role in heat management,” said Matt Symonds, professor of zoology at the University of Melbourne and lead author of the study, published in the journal American Naturalist. While Symonds said it is possible that large bills evolved to get rid of excess heat to prevent overheating in the birds’ bodies, he said it is more likely that colder temperatures impose a constraint on bill size. The research, he said, affirms an ecological theory known as Allen’s rule, which predicts that appendages like limbs, ears, and tails evolve smaller in cold climates to limit heat loss.
For full story, please see: http://e360.yale.edu/content/digest.msp?id=2475

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last updated:  Thursday, May 3, 2012