Untitled Document

NWFP-Digest-L
No. 4/12

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.

You can take part in contributing to the continued success of this newsletter by sharing with the NWFP community any news that you may have regarding research, events, publications and projects. Kindly send such information to NWFP-Digest-L@mailserv.fao.org. We also appreciate any comments or feedback.

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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IN THIS ISSUE:

PRODUCTS

  1. Acmella oleracea yields miracle cure for dental pain
  2. Baobab: A “most nutritionally amazing” fruit
  3. Berries: Indian berry, “kokum,” takes aim at obesity
  4. Ecotourism: Bird-watching can help boost ecotourism industry: UN
  5. Ecotourism has spinoff for ethnic villagers in Vietnam
  6. Edible insects: Bugs for dinner?
  7. Fungi: Scientists developing “DNA Barcode” for mushrooms
  8. Honey in Nepal: More honey, more money
  9. Honey in New Zealand: Is Kanuka better than Manuka?
  10. Honey in the USA: Local, sustainable honey wine creates a buzz
  11. Maple Syrup: Why this year’s maple syrup will leave a poor taste in the mouth
  12. Shea butter: Alleviating poverty among rural women producers
  13. Spices: Cardamon cultivation impacting tropical forests
  14. Turpentine: Goodbye to turpentine?
  15. Wildlife: “Frankenstein” taxidermist sentenced to 20 months
  16. Wildlife: Elephants and Rhinos act as “gardeners” of the forest

COUNTRY INFORMATION

  1. Armenia: “Regardening of Eden” Partnership in Northern Armenia
  2. Brazil’s congress approves controversial forest law
  3. Cambodia: “App” to fight wildlife trafficking
  4. Canada: Habitat matters for wildlife species
  5. China: Giant Panda-friendly medicinal plant harvesting project wins Equator Prize
  6. Ghana: Growing Forest Partnerships documentary for national TV
  7. Indonesia: Forests remain a source of conflict
  8. Kenya: Farmer overcomes odds to thrive in bamboo farming
  9. Mozambique: Illegal hunting undermining food security and wildlife-based land uses
  10. Myanmar: Biodiversity could be casualty of Myanmar openness
  11. New Zealand: Scientists complete epic natural history of NZ
  12. Thailand: As the government plans reforestation, local voices must be heard
  13. Thailand: Saving wild medicinal plants
  14. UK: Six reasons to become an urban beekeeper
  15. Vietnam: Sustainable wild harvested medicinal plant project launched
  16. Vietnam: Beneficiaries of forests need to pay forest keepers

NEWS

  1. 9th World Bamboo Congress kicks off
  2. Forests and Women —some encouraging trends
  3. Global Guidelines on Tenure of Land, Forests and Fisheries adopted
  4. Map of Life goes live
  5. Network of knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services in Europe
  6. New agricultural biodiversity project to improve nutrition and food security worldwide
  7. Pesticide linked to honeybee deaths
  8. Report: Global biodiversity down 30 percent in 40 years
  9. Study links biodiversity and language loss
  10. Why taxonomy is important for biodiversity-based science

EVENTS

  1. International Workshop on Drylands Restoration
  2. Investing in locally controlled forestry at Rio+20: Fair Ideas
  3. Forest: The Heart of a Green Economy at Rio+20
  4. The 8th roundtable at Rio+20: Integrating forests into the global agenda on sustainable development
  5. Rio+20: The UN Conference on Sustainable Development 2012
  6.  International Sandalwood Symposium 2012

LITERATURE REVIEW AND WEBSITES

  1. Forest Peoples: Numbers across the world
  2. A Handbook of Medicinal Plants: A Complete Source Book
  3. Other publications of Interests
  4. Web sites and E-zines

MISCELLANEOUS

  1. Coconut and Mango waste could help power Asia

 

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PRODUCTS

  1. Acmella oleracea yields miracle cure for dental pain

Source: mongabay.com, 14 March 2012

The world may soon benefit from a plant long-used by indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon for toothaches, eliminating the need for local injections in some cases. Researchers have created a medicinal gel from a plant known commonly as spilanthes extract (Acmella oleracea) which could become a fully natural alternative to current anaesthetics and may even have a wide-range of applications beyond dental care.
"We could be looking at the end of some injections in the dentist’s surgery. We have had really clear result from the tests so far, particularly for peridodontological procedures such as root scaling and planing, and there are many other potential applications. The native forest people described to me exactly how the medicine could and should work and they were absolutely right," Cambridge University anthropologist, Françoise Barbira Freedman, said in a press release.
Freedman was the first westerner to live with the Keshwa Lamas indigenous tribe in Peru; they introduced her to the power of spilanthes extract, which is grown ornamentally around the world but native to the Amazon. In 1975 one of the tribe alleviated pain in Freedman's wisdom teeth by having her bite into the plant.
"During the time I have spent with the Keshwa Lamas I have learnt all about the different plants and leaves they use for everyday illnesses and ailments. I first went to Peru as a young researcher hoping to learn more about what was a secretive community who were experts in shamanism. Along the way I have learnt a great deal about natural medicines and remedies; everything from toothache to childbirth," Freedman says.
Freedman has now founded pharmaceutical company Ampika Ltd., which is linked to Cambridge University's commercial arm. A portion of proceeds from the company will also be shared among the Keshwa Lamas people, who Freedman still visits.
Beyond dental operations, the gel may also alleviate infant pain during teething. "There are a range of mucous tissue applications it could benefit, and may even help bowel complaints such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)," says Freedman.
The medicinal gel is currently in trials, but Freedman says she expects it to be on the market by 2014 or 2015.
Although the world's tropical rainforests are under assault by logging, agriculture, monocultures, cattle, and fossil fuel industries, scientists believe the forests contain an untapped medicine cabinet that could provides cures for many of the world's ailments. Currently less than five percent of the world's tropical forest plants and less than 0.1 percent of its animals have been tested for medicinal properties.
For full story, please see: http://news.mongabay.com/2012/0314-hance_acmellaoleracea.html

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  1. Baobab: A “most nutritionally amazing” fruit

Source: West Africa Trade Hub, 7 May 2012

Recently, a chef who designs recipes for giant food companies was dumbfounded after analyzing a cream-coloured powder provided to him by the USAID West Africa Trade Hub.
The baobab tree is perhaps the most recognizable tree in Africa. “It is the most nutritionally amazing natural product I have ever seen,” he said. He had discovered baobab, which is aptly called a “superfruit.” With over five times as many antioxidants as pomegranate and over seven times the fibre of leading superfruits, acai and gogi berry, baobab is starting to make a big impression on brands looking for functional, healthy and delicious ingredients.
The possibilities are endless. Baobab has a delicate sweet and citrusy taste best described as grapefruit sherbet.
“Once you try it, it speaks for itself,” said Dave Goldman, founder of Atacora Essential, a baobab producer in Benin who recently connected with several interested natural food brands at the Natural Products Expo. Companies like Atacora, based in Benin and the U.S., produce baobab powder and oil.
This year 15 African specialty food companies will showcase their products at the largest food and beverage show in North America; The Fancy Food Show, which runs from 16-19 June, creates a great opportunity for African food manufacturers to connect to the world’s largest buyers.
Baobab is also being recognized as an effective, natural ingredient for weight management (one of the largest growing segments in the specialty foods sector).
Sold on the health benefits, companies have been asking “how does it taste?” About one month ago, the USAID Trade Hub conducted a series of taste tests with health conscious consumers. They compared the taste of baobab fruit powder with acai, gogi, maca root and pomegranate powder. The results were clear and compelling: baobab ranked No.1 among the highest number of consumers.
Looking at the progression of other superfruits into the mainstream, baobab is where acai was about ten years ago. However, with a bit more marketing backbone, baobab could be hitting the mainstream in the next couple years. In the meantime if you want all those natural fibres, vitamins, and antioxidants with a taste of grapefruit sherbet, start pushing your favourite brands to add it to their lines.
For full story, please see: www.watradehub.com/activities/tradewinds/may12/baobab-most-nutritionally-amazing-coming-fancy-food-show

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  1. Berries: Indian berry, “kokum,” takes aim at obesity

Source: www.bikyabasr.com (India), 11 May 2012

Kokum, a dark red wild berry like fruit, grown specifically in the Konkan region of India is now being touted as one of the most vigorous fat-fighters by experts and botanists.
A sour fruit and standard ingredient in fish curries served along India’s south western coast, kokum also known as Garcinia indica, is poised to make it big on the global health scene.
One consistent celebrator of the kokum fruit, Miguel Braganza, organizer of the Konkan fruit festival (KFF) in Goa told Bikyamasr.com that the humble kokum is fast gaining reputation as a credible fat fighter. “The humble jokum or Bhirand Sol has already made an impact after it was found to contain the anti-obesity HCA (Hydroxy Citric Acid) in its rind,” Braganza said, adding that the three day festival which opened on 11 May exhibited and sold several varieties of the sour fruit, among other platter of fruits from the region.
“The aim of the Konkan Fruit Festival is to promote the preservation of the rich diversity of fruits in the Konkan, both native and naturalized, through their cultivation, processing and marketing as the ‘driver’ for research and improvement,” Miguel said, adding that the civic authority in Goa’s capital, Panaji, the Botanical Society of Goa as well as the Western Ghats Kokum Foundation were the driving forces of the unique initiative.
Apart from being used as a staple food ingredient, the dried rind of kokum fruit is used as a medicinal and culinary agent. The different parts of the kokum tree such as the bark, rind, pulp, juice, root and seeds have numerous health benefits and are utilized in many Ayurvedic preparations. Kokum has also been long used in Ayurveda to prevent infection, treat sores, cure ear infections, heal stomach ulcers, improve digestion, lessen arthritis pain and alleviate diarrhoea and constipation.
For full story, please see: http://bikyamasr.com/68498/indian-fat-fighting-berry-kokum-takes-aim-at-obesity/

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  1. Ecotourism: Bird-watching can help boost ecotourism industry: UN

Source: www.newkerala.com (India), 11 May 2012

Bird-watching, a popular hobby around the world, can present significant economic opportunities for countries through sustainable tourism, UNEP said on Thursday, stressing that States should increase efforts to support this growing industry.
"Birding plays a significant and growing part in the tourism industry, and creates direct and indirect economic benefits for many countries and communities, also amongst developing countries," said the Acting Executive Secretary of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, in a news release ahead of World Migratory Bird Day, which is observed on 12-13 May.
Initiated in 2006, the Day is an annual campaign organized by CMS and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) — two intergovernmental wildlife treaties administered by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which also backs the campaign – and devoted to celebrating migratory birds and promoting their conservation worldwide.
In a news release, UNEP highlighted that global spending on all areas of ecotourism is increasing by about six times the industry-wide rate of growth, and underlined the potential economic benefits of bird-watching in particular.
In the United States, for example, a survey by authorities puts the economic value generated every year by bird and other wildlife watchers at around US$32 billion in that country alone. This amount corresponds to the gross domestic product of Costa Rica, which is also a popular destination for US birdwatchers.
In Scotland, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds found that last year, between US$ 8-12 million is spent annually by tourists wishing to see White-tailed Eagles on the Isle of Mull alone, and that four per cent of jobs in Scotland are associated with wildlife tourism.
World Migratory Bird Day seeks to spotlight these benefits while also raising awareness of the importance of protecting birds, which face a series of challenges each year in their journeys.
For full story, please see: www.newkerala.com/news/newsplus/worldnews-18585.html#.T7CP6uj9MYs

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  1. Ecotourism has spinoff for ethnic villagers in Vietnam

Source: Vietnam News Service, 15 May 2012

 

Tourism will ensure stable incomes for residents in buffer zones around national parks and will ensure better protection of the parks and the wildlife they shelter.
The Long House. located near the new ethnic Stieng resettlement area in Ta Lai Commune, Tan Phu District, in the southern province of Dong Nai, was built in five months with bamboo, wood, rattan and other natural materials. It opened to visitors in the middle of February.
The house is the first community-based tourism guesthouse in the area. It was built under a project, funded by the WWF, that promotes community-based ecotourism in Viet Nam's national parks. The project has been carried out by the WWF in collaboration with the Nam Cat Tien National Park since 2008.
It directly benefits the livelihoods of local communities while conserving nature, WWF Vietnam Director Tran Minh Hien said. "Ecotourism planning in and around the park is carried out through a participatory multi-stakeholder process and is incorporated into development plans at commune, district and provincial levels," she explained.
According to the chairman of Ta Lai Commune, Dang Vu Hiep, the house offers not only cultural meaning but also economic value to ethnic groups living in the region. "Community-based tourism will create stable livelihoods for local people by helping reduce pressure on natural resources, raising people's awareness of environmental protection and promoting cultural characters of ethnic communities," he said.
The house is all set to receive visitors now. To introduce the Long House to travel agencies including adventure tour operators, project managers organized a trip few weeks ago to the national park. The community-based tourism model applied here had the participation of around 30 households.
"There are a few Vietnamese tourists who like adventure and ecotourism. But the potential to attract foreign customers is huge," said Jean-Luc Voisin, Director of the VietAdventure company. The company is major partner with the park in the project. "I believe the model will develop better in the near future. Tourists will enjoy a night in the forest, taste special food and traditional art performances by local residents," he added.
From Ta Lai Commune, 12 km from the head-office of Nam Cat Tien Park's management board, tourists can trek or go cycling through the forest. "If permitted, we would like to reopen the 60 km cycling route through the park and Ta Lai will be our stopping place," said Le Van Sinh, CEO of SinhBalo Adventure Travel company.
Project managers hope that around 4 500 visitors would visit Ta Lai each year.
For full story, please see: http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/Sunday/Features/224729/eco-tourism-has-spinoff-for-ethnic-villagers.html

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  1. Edible insects: Bugs for dinner?

Source: PBS (USA), 7 May 2012

80 percent of the world's population eats insects as a regular part of their diet. Insects are rich in protein and hardly have any fat. Nevertheless, Americans' antipathy to bugs as food is well-entrenched.
Yet a fledgling movement is encouraging us to cultivate, harvest, cook and eat insects, partly as a way to save the world. Edible-insect advocates have set up food carts in San Francisco, conferences in Rome and food fairs in Bozeman, Montana to promote the idea that insects can help solve food and protein shortages and reduce the huge, expensive efforts to grow beef and pork. Insects, they point out, are much easier to grow than large animals.
And there are plenty of them. Of the 1.1 million species of insects scientists have identified and named, 1 700 are edible. They are cold-blooded creatures, which makes them much more efficient in converting energy to protein — no wasted heat.
Bugs do not use much water the way cows do. They have a hard exoskeleton and a shell with little holes used for breathing. They can also shut those holes and seal up their bodies so they do not lose water when it's hot. Other animals, including us, cannot do that; we sweat to cool our bodies. Insects are more efficient and do not waste much water.
But the big advantage of eating insects is that they are generally healthier than meat. A six-ounce serving of crickets has 60 percent less saturated fat and twice as much vitamin B-12 than the same amount of ground beef. You do not have to sell the idea to the people of Madagascar; they eat about 15 different species of insect. And other countries – including Thailand and China — consume vast quantities of bugs.
Bugs also do not spread disease to humans the way cows — think mad cow disease – or pigs can.
California Academy of Sciences entomologist Brian Fisher put it this way: “I do realize that insects have a bad rap. Most people see insects as pests or as dangerous. But it is just the opposite. Insects are less dangerous and less of a problem for humans in terms of disease. We do have concerns about disease jumping from animals like pigs and cows to humans. But there are no worries about a disease jumping from an insect to humans. The more evolutionary distant we are from our food source, the less danger there is... There is almost zero chance that any disease that affects an insect could actually impact a human after it is cooked.”
The edible-insect movement in the U.S. appears to be gathering converts. At Montana State University in Bozeman, entomologist Florence Dunkel edits The Food Insects Newsletter (www.foodinsectsnewsletter.org) and makes frequent appearances promoting the idea of eating bugs. University of California entomologist Lynn Kimsey also promotes edible insects. And others in the U.S. and other developed countries — especially the Netherlands — are pushing hard.
So far, their success is limited. No one knows exactly how many people eat insects or how many insects are consumed in the U.S. Though it may not be a lot, attention seems to be pointed their way.
For full story, please see: www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/05/bugs-for-dinner.html

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  1. Fungi: Scientists are developing “DNA-barcode” for mushrooms

Source: www.freshplaza.com, 18 May 2012

Mushrooms and fungi come in many varieties. According to estimates there are more than 1.5 million different species, with only 0.04 percent having been named. Even experienced mushroom and mould experts can only identify a small fraction of the 60 000 described species. Scientists have now developed a “DNA barcode” with the help of the Karl-Franzens University in Graz, Austria to classify mushrooms and fungi.
Comparing a short-variable part of the whole genome provides a simple possibility to classify the fungi and mould, on the basis of their DNA sequence. The researchers, by using the DNA barcodes want not only to classify fungal species hitherto unknown, but also to detect mushrooms and fungi which are harmful to humans, animals or plants.
For full story, please see: www.freshplaza.com/news_detail.asp?id=96404#SlideFrame_1

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  1. Honey in Nepal: More honey, more money

Source: Reuters Alert Net, 10 May 2012

Until recently, Shover Singh Praja often went to bed without dinner and had to work on an empty stomach, barely able to feed his family. Born to a poor family in Makwanpur district, central Nepal, Shover now earns far above the national average and has become a role model among his fellow Chepang, an indigenous ethnic group who depend on wild yams. The secret of Shover’s success? Bees.
For the last two years, Shover has looked after 55 hives and last year he netted US$1 000 selling honey, as well as hives to other keen beekeepers. Right away, the money was put to good use. "I did not get the opportunity to get an education when I was a child, but I send all my children to school now," he said.
Shover has been so successful with his bees that he has become a model entrepreneur among the Chepang, who number only about 52 000.
The Chepang often miss out on education and healthcare and parents struggle under the burden of taking care of their children, few of whom make it to school. Of those who do get to class, the drop-out rate is alarmingly high as most families just can’t afford it. Further adding to the misery, most Chepang have no legal documentation of their land ownership and live in isolation from the rest of the country.
Projects like this can be part of the solution. The potential for beekeeping in Makwanpur is huge: the flora is very supportive of natural honey production and many key species grow in abundance.
The project Shover is part of launched in 2009, when Plan Nepal (http://plan-international.org/nepal), with funding from Plan Germany, took steps to increase food security and income among 330 Chepang families by training them up on the ways of the bee and giving them 550 beehives. The novice entrepreneurs learnt all about how to connect with the local markets and a small industry was born.
For the Chepang, bees are nothing new. Many families raise bees in traditional hives made of mud or logs, but the poor quality honey this produces is difficult to sell, even at rock-bottom prices. Today, however, a new honeybee processing centre buys the raw honey from the villagers for a tidy sum and whips it into to shape to sell locally.
Man Sing Ghalan, a technician at the centre, is proud of the success. “Since our establishment we have produced 5 000 kg of honey worth US$14 471 and we are operating at a profit," he added
Having a brand name also helps. Nilejam, a well-known organization comprising four local Chepang honey cooperatives, has given its name to be used on the labels.
The increase in income means more students are in school armed with all the right stationery, said local teacher Sameer Praja.
The honey production also encourages youths to stay within the community instead of jetting off to another country to work as labourers.
Ramesh Praja, 28, cancelled his plans to go overseas. “At home, living with my family, I can earn around US$120-300 during the honey production season and US$60-180 in the off season. When I realized this, I wondered why I should go abroad to earn a wage no more than the amount of money I can earn in my very own community," he said.
Other stakeholders also see a positive future. Hem Poudyal, livelihood coordinator from Plan Nepal, says it is likely the programme will be extended to other areas.
Meanwhile, Beekeeper Hira Praja has even bigger ideas. “With more technical skills and support, Chepang honey producers could market their honey abroad.”
For full story, please see: www.trust.org/alertnet/news/nepal-more-honey-more-money

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  1. Honey in New Zealand: Is kanuka honey better than manuka?

Source: New Zealand Herald, 5 May 2012

Kanuka honey may have even more beneficial properties than its better-known cousin, manuka. Medical researcher Shaun Holt says kanuka has twice as much of the bug-killing manuka factor, than manuka itself.
His team at HoneyLab are looking at whether honey could be a useful treatment for skin conditions. "Like acne, psoriasis, eczema, you name it. Anything that bug is causing a disease in the skin, we are going to see if we can cure it because we think we should be able to."
Professor Holt says early results show honey can be very effective with those conditions.
For full story, please see: www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=10803703

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  1. Honey in the USA: Local, sustainable honey wine creates a buzz

Source: ABC News (USA), 4 May 2012

A Beverly beekeeper makes enjoying a glass of wine an eco-friendly activity.
The bees are abuzz on the roof of the Downtown Marriott Hotel. These are just a few of the 100 hives Greg Fischer keeps across the city. Some of this honey will be used by the chefs in the hotel's restaurants. Fischer will take most of it back to his small store in the Beverly neighbourhood, The Wild Blossom Meadery and Winery.
"Mead is basically wine made from honey," Fischer said.
In addition to being locally produced, the process of making the wine also benefits the earth. "Honey wine is the most sustainable wine on earth . . . because bees, to make just one bottle of honey wine, will pollinate over two million flowers. When they pollinate two million flowers, that causes those bees to germinate seeds which can turn into 20-40 million new seeds which produces that many new flowers. So it is the only one that kind of completes the cycle of nature," Fischer said.
While grape wine is by far the most popular, mead dates back to the earliest days in history. "Mead was basically the first fermented beverage on earth and it became very popular during wedding ceremonies. The bride and groom would drink mead for one moon, one lunar cycle and that is where the 'honeymoon' came from," Fischer said.
For full story, please see: http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=resources/lifestyle_community/green&id=8649168

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  1. Maple Syrup: Why this year's maple syrup will leave a poor taste in the mouth

Source: Daily Mail (UK), 17 May 2012

Record high temperatures in March are being blamed for bad-tasting syrup and a fall in supplies of up to 40 percent. Producers in the U.S. say warm weather has given their maple syrup a poor taste.
Scientists said the average March temperature of 51.1 F in the U.S. was 8.6 degrees above the 20th-century average for the month.
Some sugar maple trees, which need freezing temperatures at night to sustain sap production, have dried up early while others have produced syrup with a poor taste.
In northeastern parts of the U.S., where nearly all the country's maple syrup is produced, sugarmakers traditionally gather sap during a six-week season from late February to early April before buds appear on the trees.
But the 2012 season was cut short by the warmest March since records began in 1895.
Denise Marshall, owner of syrup distributor D&D Sugarwoods in Glover, Vermont said trees that did not dry up prematurely ended up producing poor syrup. “It was kind of a disaster,” Marshall said.
Maple syrup production has been increasing in the U.S. over the past decade as a result of new technology and a rising number of trees in production.
It takes about 40 gallons of sap, usually gathered from the tapped trees through plastic tubing using a vacuum system, to yield one gallon of syrup. Syrup unsuitable for the breakfast table is typically sold for industrial purposes such as flavouring chewing tobacco or salad dressing.
The U.S. is expected to produce 18 million pounds of syrup this year, down from 30 million pounds in 2011, according to a crop estimate report by Arthur Coombs of Bascom Maple Farms. Vermont, New York and Maine are the states which produce the most. Quebec produces about 80 percent of the world's maple syrup.
For full story, please see: www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2145832/Why-years-maple-syrup-leave-bad-taste-mouth.html#ixzz1vOwF8Itn

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  1. Shea butter: Alleviating poverty among rural women producers

Source: http://thewip.net, 10 May 2012

Marie Yoro, a shea butter producer, confirms that the backbreaking routine of producing shea butter in Burkina Faso is the same as it is in Ghana. For every product that contains a trace of shea butter, every shea nut bearing shea fruit has first passed through the hands of women like Marie. These women are literally the first link in the supply chain of shea butter.
Marie begins the process by gathering ripened fruit from her husband’s farm and the communal bush lands surrounding the village. She speaks of the fatigue and muscle soreness she experiences from lifting and carrying heavy headpans of shea fruit, weighing as much as 80 lbs. It often takes two women to load a full pan on the head, which is the way it is carried from the field back home.
Marie says that processing the nuts into butter is difficult. She must fetch large buckets of water, handle heavy branches of firewood, crush nuts with immense pestles, lift cauldrons, and beat pan- fuls of heavy paste with her hands and arms to separate the fat from the residue.
Even though collecting shea nuts and processing shea butter is strenuous work, it is also a source of pride for a craft that has been passed down through generations of rural African mothers to daughters. The women who produce shea butter have inherited a skill that turns sweat equity into food and income.
Marie not only works hard, but she and her fellow producers have proven to be ambitious and business savvy. The women of Lan village have formed an association to help each other with everything from labour to financing. When word got out of a women’s shea butter union supplying a local exporter in the regional capital, the women inquired how they could join. In 2002, their association officially became members of the union and suppliers of handcrafted shea butter to Federation Nununa.
Working with Federation Nununa gives the women of Lan village a near guarantee that they can sell a large quantity of shea butter at a competitive price, year after year. Marie emphasizes that it is better than walking two hours to the regional market every week with no guarantees of income and adds “I like selling to Federation Nununa because it is more profit for me. [They] are reliable and I can be sure to sell all my butter to them.”
With the extra income from the bulk sale of butter, Marie now provides extra food security for her family, is able to assist with medical expenses, and can afford to send all five children to school. Life has also become easier for her since Federation Nununa supplies the association with tools to facilitate processing easier — a mill, roaster, borehole to access ground water, storage room and toilet.
Since its inception in 2001, Federation Nununa has grown to a membership of over 4 500 rural women shea butter producers.
Federation Nununa is alleviating poverty by providing steady incomes to rural shea butter producers, by improving gender roles through the support of female workers, and by subscribing to environmentally sustainable business practices. This is backed by their Max Havelaar Fair Trade and Eco-Cert Organic certifications.
Recent initiatives include increasing production capacity and delivery timeliness through a semi-mechanized village production processing facility, diversifying into sesame production, turning organic waste into fuel, and launching a water reclamation project with assistance from the University of Ouagadougou.
While Federation Nununa may be enterprising for Burkina Faso’s local shea industry, it helps only a small fraction of the estimated 16 million women who produce shea butter. Africa’s “shea belt,” the only place on the planet that the shea tree grows, spans 21 countries. Improving upon, expanding, and replicating Federation Nununa’s model across the shea belt could create quite an impact, although there is not yet an easy-to-follow blue print for Federation Nununa’s success.
For full story, please see: http://thewip.net/talk/2012/05/alleviating_poverty_among_rura.html

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  1. Spices: Cardamon cultivation impacting tropical forests

Source: Scidev.net in Environmental News Network, 14 May 2012

Cultivation of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) a high value spice crop, can take a toll on evergreen forests in tropical countries, independent studies in Sri Lanka and India have shown. Apart from disturbing biodiversity, cardamom plantations affect water and soil quality in tropical forests, the studies said.
Researchers from Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom studying abandoned cardamom plantations in the Knuckles Forest Reserve (KFR) in the uplands of central Sri Lanka found adverse effects lingering decades after cultivation was banned.
Cardamom grows best in the shade and humidity beneath tall trees in tropical forests. But planters may thin out the canopy and clear natural undergrowth to improve yields.
While India and Bolivia lead the world in cardamom cultivation, the spice is a major foreign exchange earner for Sri Lanka. Before cardamom cultivation was banned in KFR in 1985, plantations there accounted for more than half of Sri Lanka's total production.
"We visited most parts of KFR during our three-year project period and observed very little natural forest without planted cardamom," said Balram Dhakal of the Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences at Aberdeen and lead author of a paper that appeared online in Forest Ecology and Management on 28 March.
For full story, please see: www.scidev.net/en/south-asia/news/cardamom-crops-affect-forests-studies-say.html

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  1. Turpentine: Goodbye to turpentine

Source: The Huffington Post, 5 May 2012

Many artists today link oil painting with the use of turpentine, commonly called "turps". Turpentine is the strong smell that is associated with an oil painter's studio. But turpentine causes problems for many people. As the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) notes, "turpentine is a skin, eye, mucous membrane, and upper respiratory tract irritant in humans. It may also cause skin sensitization and central nervous system, gastrointestinal, and urinary tract effects."
Often, artists will substitute odour-less mineral spirits for turpentine on the assumption that since the smell is not so strong it might be safer to use. However, turpentine, mineral spirits, and odourless mineral spirits are all regulated by several federal safety agencies. Basically, you shouldn't inhale the fumes of any of them.
There are many historical forms of turpentine, all made from the resin of trees. Perhaps the oldest, dating from the 14th century, was made from the terebinth tree (Pistacia terebinthus), a member of the cashew family. Later, various turpentines were made from pine and fir trees, including Canada balsam, made from the balsam fir (Abies balsamea), and Venice turpentine, made from the western larch tree (Larix genus). Artists valued these forms of turpentine for their resinous sap, not for their use as a solvent.
Today, what we call "turpentine" is made from distillation of the sap of pine trees, and as such it is sometimes added to cleaning products, or used as a substitute for gasoline. Turpentine solvent, sometimes called "spirits", has the opposite effect in painting from the earlier turpentines used by historical painters, thinning the paint rather than adding clarity and brilliance.
In contrast to turpentine solvent, non-toxic linseed oil has been used in painting for centuries. Linseed-flax oil has a mild odour, and in its purest form is sold in health food stores as a nutritional supplement. The odour of linseed-flax oil disappears quickly, and is not offensive. Historically, artists have also used other oils such as oil of spike lavender, which is not toxic and has a strong, but wonderful smell. Oil of spike lavender works as a solvent, but also as a diluent in the paint.
During the Industrial Revolution, turpentine was produced for much less cost than spike lavender, and artists begin to use it as a cheap alternative. Later, mineral spirits was introduced as a dry-cleaning chemical, and then artists and commercial painters begin to use it. Since that time, research has shown that mineral spirits, marketed as less-toxic than turpentine, actually causes chronic toxic encephalopathy with professional painters. In fact, the disease is called Chronic Painters syndrome. However, spike lavender does not have these problems. It has been used by artists for centuries.
As we become more aware of environmental and health issues, more artists will no doubt choose this approach, saying goodbye to the fumes.
For full story, please see: www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-maynord/art-practice-goodbye-to-turpentine_b_1479346.html

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  • Wildlife: “Frankenstein” taxidermist sentenced to 20 months

Source: TRAFFIC Bulletin, 9 March 2012

A taxidermist based in Miami Beach, Florida, has been sentenced to 20 months in jail for his role in trafficking endangered wildlife. Between late 2009 and February 2011, Enrique Gomez De Molina had attempted to import a range of wildlife species into the US without the required permits. He used the parts to create bizarre “Frankenstein” hybrids he sold as art.
The wildlife included a wide range of species including skins of kingfishers, birds-of-paradise, skulls of babirusa and orangutans, a King Cobra, a pangolin and hornbills.
After receipt, De Molina would incorporate the various wildlife parts into taxidermy pieces at a studio in downtown Miami. He offered these pieces through galleries and on the Internet for prices ranging up to US$ 80 000.
De Molina’s trafficking included numerous species and shipments, involving contacts in Bali, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Canada and China. The imports were in contravention of both CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna) and federal laws.
Despite the interception of two shipments in late 2009 that were ultimately forfeited by De Molina and abandoned, he continued to solicit protected wildlife from his suppliers via the Internet, and to select specific animals from photographs to be provided to him.
“Mr. De Molina trafficked in highly endangered species in violation of the law, disguising commercial exploitation of endangered species as artwork,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Today, Mr. De Molina has been held fully accountable for his illegal actions, which are prohibited by both U.S. and international law.”
De Molina was also sentenced to one year of supervised release to follow his prison term, a US$6 000 fine and ordered to forfeit all of the smuggled wildlife in his possession.
“The Department of Justice and US Fish & Wildlife Service are both to be congratulated for bringing this criminal to justice and for the severity of his sentence, which will send out a strong signal to others that trafficking in endangered species will not be tolerated,” said Crawford Allan, Director of TRAFFIC North America.  “Using endangered wildlife to create hideous art pieces was a crime in every sense of the word.”
For full story, please see: www.traffic.org/home/2012/3/2/frankenstein-taxidermist-sentenced-to-20-months.html

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  • Wildlife: Elephants and rhinos act as “gardeners” of forests

Source: http://zeenews.india.com (India), 12 May 2012

The progressive disappearance of seed-dispersing animals like elephants and rhinoceroses is putting the structural integrity and biodiversity of the tropical forest of South-East Asia at risk, researchers have warned. With the help of Spanish researchers, an international team of experts has confirmed that not even herbivores like tapirs can replace them.
“Megaherbivores act as the “gardeners” of humid tropical forests: They are vital to forest regeneration and maintain its structure and biodiversity,” Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, the lead author of the study, and researcher at the School of Geography of the University of Nottingham in Malaysia explained to SINC.
In these forests in East Asia, the large diversity of plant species means that there is not enough space for all the trees to germinate and grow. As well as the scarce light, seed dispersion is made more complicated by the lack of wind due to the trees that are up to 90 m high. Plant life is then limited to seeds dispersed by those animals that eat pulp. They either scatter seeds by dropping their food, regurgitating it or by defecating later on.
In the case of large seeds, “plants need a large animal capable of eating, transporting and defecating the seeds in good conditions,” as outlined to SINC by Luis SantamarIa, co-author and researcher at the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEDEA) of Spain’s CSIC Scientific Research Agency. This is where elephants and rhinoceroses come into play because they can scatter large quantities of seeds thanks to the fact that they slowly digest very little of their food.
However, habitat loss, poaching, and the conflict between elephant and man has caused a 95 percent loss in Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) historical distribution range and has left the rhinoceros just a step away from extinction: there are less than 50 Java rhinoceroses (Rhinoceros sondaicus) and 200 Sumatra rhinoceroses (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis).
According to the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), elephants are in “danger of extinction” and the two rhinoceros species are “critically endangered”.
In light of the situation, the research team evaluated the seed-dispersing capacity of another large herbivore weighing 300 kg. For cultural reasons it is not hunted and has a similar digestive system to that of elephants and rhinoceroses: the Asian tapir (Tapirus indicus).
The study allowed researchers to analyse the effect of dispersion by tapirs on the seed survival of nine different plants. This included some large plant species such as the mango tree and durian, as well as other smaller species like the “elephant apple” (Dillenia indica).
Among other outcomes, the results show that tapirs defecated 8 percent of the tamarind seeds ingested (none of which germinated) compared to elephants, who defecated 75 percent of the 2 390 ingested seeds (65 percent of which germinated).
“The Asian tapirs spit, chew or digest the majority of large seeds. This either destroys them or leaves them in the same place. As a result, they are not good dispersers for plants with large fruits and seeds,” confirmed Campos-Arceiz. In this sense, “given the role that they play they belong to a different group to elephants and rhinoceroses.”
“If these megaherbivores disappear from the ecosystem, their contribution to ecological processes will too be lost and the path of the ecosystem will change irreversibly,” explained the lead author, who goes on to state that “the most probable consequences are the change in the structure of the undergrowth and the forest and the loss of certain species.”
The study was published in the journal Biotropica.
For full story, please see: http://zeenews.india.com/news/eco-news/elephants-and-rhinos-act-as-gardeners-of-forests_774917.html

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COUNTRY INFORMATION

  • Armenia: “Regardening of Eden” Partnership in Northern Armenia

Source: Armenia Tree Project Press Release, 7 May 2012

The Armenia Tree Project (ATP) and the Acopian Center for the Environment (ACE) are joining together to initiate a new project in Margahovit Village, which is located in the Lori region of northern Armenia, and will hold a fundraising event on 6 June 2012 in New York City. Titled “Regardening of Eden,” the project is an unprecedented partnership between two of Armenia’s environmental organizations.
Focusing on the importance of trees, the protection of wildlife habitat, and proper waste management, the partnership will engage local youth and community residents in the creation of a new park, environmental education, trash collection, and recycling programs.
Since Margahovit Village does not have a park or a green zone where residents can gather and relax, ATP will establish a green territory for the community as part of this partnership. “We will organize tree plantings with local residents, schoolchildren, and other young community members,” explains ATP Director Jeff Masarjian. “In the future, we expect the community to bring benches and establish a playground, thus developing this territory into a real recreational resource.”
In addition to hands-on tree plantings, ATP and ACE will also assist with the establishment of an eco-club at the public school in Margahovit and education programs for the adult population focusing on planting and tree care, recycling, and waste composting. An important element will be a series of trainings presented by ACE on “Appreciating Birds and Protecting their Local Habitats” for schoolchildren at ATP’s Michael and Virginia Ohanian Center for Environmental Studies. Lessons will address bird identification, wintering and breeding birds of Lori, ways to preserve bird habitats, and the impact of waste on nature and the environment.
“These types of educational training sessions will help to form a sound understanding of the environment in children. It is especially significant as these training sessions are delivered to the younger generation who will one day become Armenia’s future decision makers,” explains Acopian’s nephew and ACE volunteer, Alex Karapetian. “The goal is to implement a strong understanding of nature and its value and the role human beings play in nature’s cycles. As a result it will be possible to create a new generation of children who have environmentally friendly behaviour, lifestyle, and values.”
For more information, please see: www.RegardeningOfEden.org.

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  • Brazil’s congress approves controversial forest law

Source: BBC, 26 April 2012

The Brazilian Chamber of Deputies has approved controversial legislation that eases rules on how much land farmers must preserve as forest. Brazil's powerful farmers' lobby argues that the changes will promote sustainable food production. But environmentalists say the new forest code will be a disaster and lead to further destruction of the Amazon.
The bill now goes to President Dilma Rousseff, who may use her veto to remove some clauses. Wednesday's 247-184 vote in favour of the new forest code capped a year of political wrangling. Brazil's farmers have long pushed for changes, arguing that uncertainty over the current legislation has undermined investment in the agriculture sector, which accounts for more than five percent of GDP.
Severe environmental restrictions have also forced many smaller farmers off their land, they argue. Rural producers would have "more stability and political support," said Deputy Paulo Piau, who drew up the Chamber's version of the bill. "Production and the environment will only benefit from that. With a confused law there is no benefit," he said.
But opponents said the new law was a step back. "Over the years, we have slowed deforestation and intensified production. Now we are going to modify all the things that resulted in the decrease of deforestation by changing the legislation," said Deputy Sarney Filho.
Greenpeace urged President Rousseff to veto the changes, saying: "It is unbelievable that the forest code is being eroded weeks before Brazil hosts the Rio summit (on sustainable development)."
Several former environment ministers had warned that Brazil would miss its emissions targets if the code were weakened, Greenpeace noted.
Deforestation of the Amazon has slowed in recent years, as a result of better law enforcement, with authorities using satellite images to track clearance. Under the Forest Code, which dates back to 1965, landowners must conserve a percentage of their terrain forested, ranging from 20 percent in some regions to 80 percent in the Amazon.
This provision remains, but environmentalists say other changes to the code will erode key protections. Under the new bill, farmers will be able to cultivate land closer to hilltops and riverbanks, which are especially vulnerable to erosion if trees are chopped down.
The bill also provides an amnesty from fines for illegally clearing trees before July 2008, although larger landholders would have to replant most of the cleared area or preserve the same amount of land elsewhere.
President Rousseff faces a political dilemma, correspondents say, as she seeks to combine support for economic development, but also uphold environmental pledges made during her election campaign in 2010.
For full story, please see: www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-17851237 or www.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/world/americas/brazils-president-dilma-rousseff-faces-defining-decision-over-forest-bill.html?_r=1

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  • Cambodia: “App” to fight wildlife trafficking

Source: TRAFFIC, 9 May 2012

A new iPhone app informing travellers to Cambodia about species threatened by trade and letting them take action in the fight against wildlife trafficking has been launched by a partnership that includes TRAFFIC.
The educational app developed by Wildlife Alliance, Trigger LLC, Jeff Corwin Connect and TRAFFIC provides both a catalogue of South-East Asian animal and plant species, showcases the forms in which endangered wildlife is most frequently traded, which are the most threatened and how to pick them out by their unique features.
It also features a built-in system that allows users to report the suspected illegal sale of wildlife and wildlife based products directly to Wildlife Alliance’s Rapid Rescue Team.
The app is designed to aid the ongoing efforts to preserve the region’s wildlife. It raises the profile of many wild plant and animal species that are trafficked for traditional medicine, exotic meat and pets. The information enables tourists to make responsible choices about their purchases while on holiday and gives them the opportunity to play an active role in preserving Cambodia’s natural heritage.
The app opens with an introduction by Jeff Corwin from the Animal Planet and features maps, photographs and a list of markets where visitors might see wildlife in trade. It is free to download.
For full story, please see: www.traffic.org/home/2012/5/9/app-to-fight-wildlife-trafficking-in-cambodia.html

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  • Canada: Habitat matters for wildlife species

Source: The Sacramento Bee, 7 May 2012

Thirty-five Canadian wildlife species, from whales to mosses, were assessed as at risk at the recent COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) meeting in Kananaskis, Alberta, 29 April-4 May 2012. Once again, habitat loss emerged as the most common threat to Canadian wildlife, underscoring that all species, not just our own, need a healthy home in order to thrive.
Habitat loss and degradation are the most common cause of species decline worldwide and Canada's freshwater fishes are no exception. It is not just freshwater fishes that rely on streams and rivers; a very large fraction of Canadian biodiversity including birds, insects, plants and amphibians rely on healthy aquatic habitats.
Few species can match the Grizzly Bear as an emblem of Canadian wilderness. While grizzlies are at least twice as strong as the average human, in reality they are likely to pay with their lives when our two species interact. Over the past century, human-caused mortality and declining habitat have reduced the Grizzly Bear's global range by more than 50 percent. Today, Canada has a major responsibility for safeguarding remaining grizzly populations. In the southern part of their range, where they are in regular contact with humans, many populations are declining. In the north, the impacts of ongoing and escalating extraction of natural resources are a cause for concern. Considering these threats, the Grizzly Bear was assessed as Special Concern by COSEWIC. This assessment concludes a two-year process incorporating science and Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge.
While nearly all Canadians can recognize the North American Beaver, its distant relative, the Mountain Beaver is probably unknown to most. Mountain Beavers occur in Canada only in the Coast Mountains and south of the Fraser River in British Columbia. Mountain Beaver, the last living representative of an ancient lineage of rodents, was assessed as Special Concern. These beavers live in underground dens built in deep, loose soil along the edges of cool, forested streams. These sites can be degraded by forestry practices that compact the soil. Mountain Beavers are highly intolerant of heat and drought, and are especially sensitive to climate change. The Magnum Mantleslug, another wildlife species assessed as Special Concern, is similarly restricted to edges of cool streams and seepages and also faces threats from logging and climate change.
For full story, please see: www.sacbee.com/2012/05/07/4472173/habitat-matters-for-canadian-wildlife.html

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  • China: Giant Panda-friendly medicinal plant harvesting project wins Equator Prize

Source: Asian Scientist, 17 May 2012

A project to promote sustainable harvesting of wild medicinal plants in the mountains of China’s Upper Yangtze ecoregion has won the prestigious Equator Prize 2012.
The Equator Prize recognizes outstanding local initiatives working to advance sustainable development solutions for people, nature, and resilient communities in countries receiving support from the UNDP.
Over-harvesting of wild medicinal plant species is a serious conservation concern —aside from problems caused by the harvesting itself, the collectors can also have serious secondary impacts through camping within reserves, hunting, and gathering fuelwood to dry commercial quantities of medicinal plants.
Such habitat destruction and disturbance also threatens endangered wildlife, including the Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) and the Takin (Budorcas taxicolor).
Due to a 1998 logging ban and a 2000 “Grain for Green” program which discourages farming on steep slopes, households compensated for a loss of income through the collection of medicinal plants in the Upper Yangtze.
To help alleviate the environmental damage, an initiative was developed through a comprehensive collaboration between WWF, IUCN, and TRAFFIC as part of the EU-China Biodiversity Program (ECBP), which led to local producer association members, harvesters, and governmental officials receiving training in the implementation of organic wild crop harvesting practices and certification procedures, as well as application of the FairWild Standard principles.
A survey of project sites in March 2011 found incomes from medicinal plant collection had risen, thanks to the certification schemes; in one village by almost 18 percent over 2007 levels.
In the case of Schisandra berries (Schisandra sphenanthera), international and local buyers paid at least 30 percent above normal market prices for certified produce.
In 2010, more than five tons (dry weight) of Schisandra fruits were sustainably harvested of which more than three tons were sold to Draco Natural Products (DNP Shanghai) for production of a concentrated dry extract specified by U.S.-based Traditional Medicinals Inc (TMI).
The project has also scaled up from one village in the 2008 and 2009 harvests up to 22 villages in the 2011 harvest.
“This project is proving that local harvesters from villages surrounding the Giant Panda conservation area can successfully implement meaningful sustainability standards,” said Josef Brinckmann, VP of Sustainability for TMI.
For full story, please see: www.asianscientist.com/topnews/giant-panda-friendly-harvesting-wild-medicinal-plants-equator-prize-2012/

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  • Ghana: Growing Forest Partnerships documentary for national TV

Source: FAO, GFP, 4 May 2012

Ghana's Growing Forest Partnerships (GFP) has been reaching out to audiences beyond the forest sector with a brand new documentary. “Sustaining the forest and its resources,” which was aired by Ghana Television (GTV) during prime time on 30 March and Easter Monday (6 April), potentially reaching close to a million viewers.
The film takes a look at the wider socio-economic context in which Ghana's forest sector is working and explores some of the motivations (and results) of the partnership-building that has been taking place through GFP. You can read some of the quotes from the film and watch the documentary online.
For more information, please see: www.growingforestpartnerships.org/sustaining-forest-and-its-resources-growing-forest-partnerships-approach-ghana-tv-documentary

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  • Indonesia: Forests remain a source of conflict

Source: The Jakarta Globe (Indonesia), 14 May 2012

The world’s largest producer of teak, an Indonesian state-owned company on the island of Java, has again been awarded sustainable forest management (SFM) certification. But the company has a long and sometimes contentious relationship with forest communities in the area, and the forest rights of indigenous communities remain a potential cause of conflict.
“Land rights have long been a source of violence on Java,” Rhett Butler, a leading environmentalist and creator of a leading environmental news website told IRIN. Perhutani, an Indonesian state forestry company, exploits 2.4 million ha of forests in Java — 7 percent of the island area — with earnings of around US$400 million in 2011.
Although Perhutani agreed in 2011 to the voluntary process that promotes eco-friendly management in order to obtain certification, it controls a huge area of forest once used by indigenous communities, many of whom still depend on the forests for their livelihoods.
The company needs FSC certification to access high-value wood markets in the United States and Europe, said Muhammad Firman, director of the Forest Utilization Department under Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry.
SFM balances the present use of forests with their preservation for future generations. Certification started in the 1980s and is granted to forest companies by around 60 independent organizations under two main umbrella groups — Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), the world’s largest forest certification system, and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) — with 20 to 30 percent of North American and European forests having certification, and Asia lagging far behind with only 2 to 4 percent.
However, many activists believe SFM certification is geared less toward local communities than toward the environment and facilitating trade between forest companies and Western wood buyers
“When indigenous people have been denied the right to use forests in the traditional way, no ‘inclusion’ programme can fully match their loss. It is not a question of “exclusion” or “inclusion,” said Deddy Raith, from the Jakarta-based NGO, WALHI-Friends of the Earth Indonesia.
“Today, Perhutani still has full responsibility over the forests,” said Ambrosius Ruwindrijarto, president of local NGO, Telapak. “What we want is to mainstream community logging as the new trees-management regime in Indonesia.”
Martua Sirait, a policy analyst in Aceh Province for the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Center, maintains that the management of forests has ignored the customary land rights of some 40 to 60 million people since the 1960s.
Large-scale illegal loggers were often active in the forests, and local inhabitants were exposed to danger by sometimes becoming involved, or being caught in the crossfire. Between 1998 and 2008 Perhutani’s armed patrols were accused of killing 32 people and injuring 6 in the fight against illegal timber operators, The Forest Trust (TFT), a Geneva-based international charity, reported.
Perhutani lost its SFM certification in 2002 and required TFT’s assistance to define a course of action to regain it, said Scott Poynton, TFT’s Executive Director. The program, “Drop the Guns,” began in 2003, with Perhutani providing a share of timber sales and NTFPs to forest communities. In exchange, villagers took on a new role as guardians of the forests. But both parties only laid down all their weapons in 2009, which explained why the deadly fights continued until 2008, Poynton said.
Providing greater forest rights to indigenous people is a growing trend across Asia, aimed not only at safeguarding the livelihoods of villagers but also at improving environmental protection.
For full story, please see: www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/indonesia-forests-remain-a-source-of-conflict/517948

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  • Kenya: Farmer overcomes odds to thrive in bamboo farming

Source: Business Daily (Kenya), 15 May 2012

In 2004, Juvenales Njuguna bought a 50-acre piece of land in Isinya. “When I was going about looking for someone to lease the land, a neighbour advised me to try bamboo farming”. That was how the seed of his current venture at Kitil was planted.
Finding bamboo seedlings turned out to be Njuguna’s biggest challenge. “I realized that there are no bamboo seedlings around since not just anyone is authorized to transact in seeds,” he told the Business Daily.
The challenge of procurement was made worse by a ban on bamboo trading which enforced stringent penalties for those found dealing in bamboo. Unbeknownst to Njuguna, the directive made bamboo growing a preserve of the government.
Unable to find seeds and documentation on bamboo farming locally, Mr Njuguna went online. There he found a wealth of information. With adequate information and a market where he could secure seeds, he was ready to start his privately-owned bamboo farm.
The farm now employs 15 workers including some who work in a laboratory that Njuguna has set up to carry out research on bamboo farming. Today, he has bred five million seedlings and sells them mostly to farmers who grow the trees as windbreakers around greenhouses.
Njuguna grows the Oxytenanthera abyssinica variety, which is the scientific name for solid bamboo which is a drought resistant shrub and can thrive with minimum annual rainfall of between 350 and 800 mm. One acre of land can grow 100 shrubs.
Each clump consists of a full grown bamboo that sprouts up to 300 stems measuring 9 m tall and 10 cm in diameter.
Bamboo is used as fencing poles and for construction, as well as in the manufacture of tooth picks and matchsticks. It can also be used to make furniture. Bamboo foliage can be used as fodder for animals while young bamboo shots can be cooked and eaten as food. Its juice is used to make vinegar. In Western Kenya, the sap is used to make ulanzi, a local brew. Bamboo is also good source of charcoal and makes a great hedge.
For full story, please see: www.businessdailyafrica.com/Farmer+overcomes+odds+to+thrive+in+bamboo+farming+/-/1248928/1387574/-/view/printVersion/-/ctfxsiz/-/index.html

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  • Mozambique: Illegal hunting undermining food security and wildlife-based land uses

Source: TRAFFIC, 9 May 2012

A new TRAFFIC study finds that illegal hunting and the bushmeat trade have resulted in a major decline in wildlife populations in Central Mozambique, significantly undermining potential for viable wildlife-based land uses and resulting in the loss of a traditional source of protein for local communities.
The study in Coutada 9 hunting reserve found that wildlife populations in the 4 450 km² protected area in Manica province are currently less than 10 percent of what the area could support, with several species, including rhinoceroses, roan antelopes, and African wild dogs locally extirpated through illegal hunting.
Significantly reducing such illegal hunting and allowing wildlife populations to recover would allow the generation of significant economic benefits through trophy hunting and potentially ecotourism. In addition, an additional 86 tonnes of wild meat could be generated if hunting was limited to regulated harvesting based on a quota system.
“The implications for the food security of local people are obvious, while restoring wildlife populations would have clear conservation benefits too,” said David Newton, Director of TRAFFIC’s East and Southern Africa programme.
According to the report, Illegal hunting and the bushmeat trade in Central Mozambique, illegal hunting over time is now costing local communities an estimated US$ 308 000/yr in lost opportunities, while the current annual cost of anti-poaching measures amounts to US$60 000. The estimated annual loss of potential income from safari hunting totals US$1.62 million/year.
“Illegal hunting is an extremely inefficient use of wildlife resources because it fails to capture the value of wildlife achievable through alternative forms of use such as trophy hunting and ecotourism,” said Peter Lindsey, author of the new study. “By undermining earnings from wildlife-based land uses, and reducing the supply of legal game meat, illegal hunting is costing local people dearly.”
The report makes a number of recommendations, particularly aimed at both government and the hunting operators who lease coutadas in Central Mozambique. The Mozambique government is advised to conduct land-use planning and zoning in coutadas to provide for a rational alignment of wildlife areas and that used for settlement and agriculture. In addition, efforts are needed to re-stock the depleted coutada hunting blocks with wildlife to allow for viable wildlife-based land uses.
There is also a need for more effective enforcement of laws pertaining to illegal hunting. Hunting operators who lease coutadas should be “encouraged to invest in the development of sustainable and mutually profitable projects involving communities, to provide alternative livelihood options for illegal hunters,” and “required to provide a sustainable legal supply of affordable game meat to communities, as an alternative to illegally sourced supply,” says the report.
“Above all, this study amply demonstrates that planned, sustainable use of the wildlife resources available in central Mozambique makes perfect sense from a human welfare, conservation and economic perspective, but that several changes are needed to achieve these aims,” said Newton.
For full story, please see: www.traffic.org/home/2012/5/9/illegal-hunting-undermining-food-security-and-wildlife-based.html

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  • Myanmar: Biodiversity could be casualty of Myanmar openness

Source: Associated Press, 6 May 2012

As many as 40 000 gorgeously plumed birds known as the Gurney's pitta thrive in the lowland rainforests of economically backward Myanmar. Across the border, Thailand's last five pairs are guarded around the clock against snakes and human predators.
The bird's status is among many reasons Myanmar is regarded as one of Asia's last bastions of biodiversity, and why environmentalists view the country's steps toward opening its doors with some fear.
Myanmar has avoided the rapid, often rampant development seen in Thailand and other parts of Asia because of decades of isolation brought on by military rule. But as foreign investors begin pouring in, activists in what was once known as Burma say endemic corruption, virtually nonexistent environmental laws and a long-repressed civil society make it "ripe for environmental rape."
They hope that it will at least prove a race: pro-democracy reformers and conservationists are urging the government to put more safeguards in place against the unscrupulous eager to take advantage of their absence.
The rush is already on. Airplanes bound for Yangon, the nation's largest city, are booked up with businessmen looking for deals, along with throngs of tourists. Singapore dispatched a delegation with 74 company representatives in March while the Malaysians sent a high-level investment mission focused on property development, tourism, rubber and oil palm plantations. U.S. and European countries are not as involved because sanctions against Myanmar prevent them from starting new businesses there.
"The 'development invasion' will speed up environmental destruction and is also likely to lead to more human rights abuses," says Pianporn Deetes of the U.S.-based International Rivers Network. "Industries will move very fast, while civil society is just beginning to learn about the impacts."
Under President Thein Sein, the government last year began to loosen the military's grip on power, instituting some reforms and even allowing democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to run, and win, a seat in Parliament. Reasons for the changes remain murky, but years as an international pariah have left Myanmar poor and in need of foreign investment.
Environmentally, Myanmar is certainly no longer pristine, but it has been spared some of the wholesale ravages seen in the economically booming, more open societies across Asia.
Positioned at the core of one of the world's richest biodiversity hotspots, it's endowed with plant and animal life of the flanking Himalayas, Malay peninsula, Indian subcontinent and mainland Southeast Asia.
Only three countries in the world have more extensive tropical forests: Brazil, India and the Congo. Myanmar is home to 1 099 of Southeast Asia's 1 324 bird species, and to extensive coral reefs. Unexploited rivers, on- and offshore oil deposits and minerals abound.
"The scale is just massive. It just dwarfs everything else in surrounding countries," says Robert J. Tizard, who heads the office of the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society in Myanmar. "It could be a curse that they have so many resources."
Environmentalists say Myanmar's government, which remains dominated by the military, has an abysmal record of protecting its resources, which are often exploited by enterprises linked to generals and their cronies.
Foreign enterprises already have taken advantage elsewhere. Thai companies, particularly in the 1990s, decimated teak forests in eastern Myanmar and are poised to become major players at Dawei, a deep sea port and vast industrial estate being built by Thailand's largest construction enterprise, Italian-Thai Development. It has recently drawn protests by locals fearing pollution of what is now an unsullied region.
Activists stress that environmentally harmful projects often go hand-in-hand with human rights abuses such as forced labour and mass relocations.
"It is a double-edged sword. There will be economic development and you are going to have trade-offs with the environment," says Robert Mather, head of the IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, in Southeast Asia.
There are, he says, some grounds for optimism. Myanmar has a conservation tradition, including sound forestry practices that are lacking in many surrounding countries, and it appears eager to seek outside assistance. A number of international environmental organizations are already planning to set up there, some in partnership with the growing number of local groups. The Wildlife Conservation Society is currently the only major one with a permanent presence.
Mather says Myanmar, as "the last frontier," could play hard to get — picking only those investors with a history of transparency and environmental sensitivity.
The selection would expand greatly if economic sanctions by Western nations were lifted. The European Union announced last month it will suspend most sanctions for a year while it assesses the country's progress toward democracy, while the United States is taking a wait-and-see attitude.
For full story, please see: www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gf67EHTZ5bbBxBrcncmvhnZ9C6WQ?docId=c2bee39fb3b442a3979fad0c752cb1ca

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  • New Zealand: Scientists complete epic natural history of NZ

Source: New Zealand Herald, 18 May 2012

All species in New Zealand have been catalogued in world-first new report. The final edition of the NIWA-led New Zealand Inventory of Biodiversity is set to launch this week in Te Papa in Wellington.
Every animal, plant, fungi or micro-organism identified — more than 56 200 living species and 14,700 fossil species — ever to live in New Zealand over the last 530 million years is catalogued in its three-volume inventory.
NIWA's Dennis Gordon, who edited the inventory, said that made New Zealand the first country to catalogue “all of life through all of time”.
It had taken 19 specialists one decade to complete the 1 758 page review, he said. "Prior to this, New Zealand had a vast reservoir of undiscovered and unrecorded species. We have done the stocktake now, and by bringing it all together in this work, everybody can see what we have and we can use that information in all sorts of ways. Before the inventory, the species names were scattered throughout the scientific literature."
The New Zealand Inventory of Biodiversity was associated with a worldwide Catalogue of Life initiative which has described 1.8 million species of life.
Mr Gordon said the catalogue was born in 1997, when he decided to start reviewing New Zealand's teeming marine life. "The project grew from that point." He wanted it to spur learning in New Zealand high schools. "I would really love to see students pick up one of these volumes and say ‘Wow, I did not know we had this in New Zealand', and for that to feed an interest,"
New Zealand Inventory of Biodiversity (Volume 3) will be launched at Te Papa on 21 May. Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the inventory cover the animal kingdom, while Volume 3 deals with the remaining groups of life — bacteria, protozoans, algae, plants and fungi.
For full story, please see: www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10806783

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  • Thailand: As the government plans reforestation, local voices must be heard

Source: RECOFTC, 8 March 2012

In late February, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra announced the government would invest 3 billion baht in reforestation and preservation activities around the country, following an audience with His Royal Highness the King of Thailand in which His Majesty urged the government to focus on reforestation initiatives.
Political attention on Thailand’s forests has intensified due to concerns that loss of forest cover in rain catchment areas may have exacerbated the flooding last fall. As the Thai countryside was quite literally inundated by the worst floods in recent memory, many asked what could have been done to prevent the massive losses in property, jobs, and human life. Restoring Thailand’s forests — 20 percent of which have been lost in the past 50 years —may be one answer.
However, planting new forests may not be the panacea the government is hoping for. Concerns abound over the potential for mismanagement on the part of government officials, with many worried over the possibility of conflict should local communities not agree with government reforestation plans.
Luckily, forestry officials are keeping these considerations in mind during the planning process. Bangkok Post reports that officials recognize the need for “a drastic change in their approach … as many previous efforts failed because of corruption and lack of local input.” The Royal Forest Department has pledged to learn from past mistakes and incorporate the needs and expertise of local, forest-dependent communities in the reforestation process. RECOFTC’s former Executive Director, Dr. Somsak Sukwong, emphasized the need to resolve land conflicts if such reforestation initiatives are to succeed.
Dr. Somsak also noted that restoring forests alone will not avoid future catastrophes, explaining that forests can absorb some rainwater and contribute to a more balanced water cycle, but extreme weather events can overwhelm the capacity of forests to prevent run-off.
One area in which reforestation initiatives can have disproportionate impact during natural disasters is near the coast. In Trat Province, on the border with Cambodia, local communities are planting and preserving mangrove forests to improve their ability to weather tropical storms.
Massive mangrove root systems help mitigate the impact of extreme weather events like hurricanes and tsunamis: according to the 2007 FAO report The role of coastal forests in the mitigation of tsunami impacts, “mangroves can absorb 70-90 percent of the energy of a normal wave.” Here, too, local involvement has been key to success – the community of Pred Nai is leading a project to restore 5 000 ha of mangrove forest, and six new community-based learning centers have been founded to help local leaders train one another to manage their resources more effectively.
The Thai government’s ambitious reforestation initiative is exciting and commendable. But involving local people and ensuring their rights are respected will be integral to the success of any forest-based project. To ensure its 3 billion baht investment is used wisely, the government should take into careful consideration the local people who will both have an impact on and be impacted by this initiative.
For full story, please see: http://recoftc.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/as-the-thai-government-plans-reforestation-local-voices-must-be-heard/?utm_source=People+and+Forests+E-News&utm_campaign=4cbf28143b-People_and_Forests_E_News_April_2012&utm_medium=email

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  • Thailand: Saving wild medicinal plants

Source: Bangkok Post, 10 May 2012

About 1 800 species of wild plants currently used as key ingredients in herbal medicines are on the verge of extinction, Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri said yesterday.
Deforestation was a major cause of the problem as most of the more important herbal plants are only found in forests, he said. Many cannot be cultivated due to a lack of research in how to grow them properly, he said.
As a result, the Ministry is discussing with the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry, non-governmental organisations, and local communities efforts to jointly ensure that these important local herbs not only survive but thrive. One option under discussion is the expansion and increasing the number of so-called "herb conservation areas" where the plants are endangered. Those who encroach on or try to reclaim forests in the herbal conservation zones could face legal action brought by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.
The Public Health Ministry, meanwhile, had set aside about 76 million baht to fund projects to protect and propagate at least 50 species of herbal plants each year, said Dr Paijit Warachit, permanent secretary for public health.
The 50 plants topping the list include thaowan priang (Derris scandens Benth), chet moon phloeng daeng (Plumbago indica L.), hor saphan khwai (Reissanithia grahamii), kamlang suea khrong or birch (Betula alnoides), chan khao (Diospyros decandra), chan daeng (Dracaena loureiri Gagnep), phraya rakdam (Diospyros rubra Lecomte), saema thalai (Capparis micracantha DC.), and Kwao khruea khao (Pueraria mirifica).
Currently 20 areas have been declared plant conservation zones, said Dr Suphan Srithamma, head of the Department of Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine. Nine more forest areas will likely be added to the list of zones, he said.
For full story, please see: www.bangkokpost.com/learning/learning-from-news/292719/saving-thailand-wild-medicinal-plants

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  • UK: Six reasons to become an urban beekeeper

Source: The Ecologist, 19 April 2012

Urban beekeeping will help boost the UK's declining bee population. Here are six reasons to get involved

  • Healthy bees make a healthy planet: Bees play a crucial role in the Earth's ecosystem. They are essential for biodiversity, as they have a symbiotic relationship with flowering plants, and they are an important part of the food chain. They pollinate plants and trees, crops that we rely on as food sources, and the cotton we wear against our skins. It's even thought that they contribute to reducing exhaust fumes in cities by filtering them out of the atmosphere.
  • Bee populations are on the decline: Colony Collapse Disorder has been causing mass bee deaths over recent years and it is a widely-discussed phenomenon today, however most people who are concerned about CCD and bee health feel helpless when it comes to reducing the plight of the bees. When asked why bees are dying prematurely and in vast numbers, experts point to a combination of the varroa mite and other viruses, however the root of the problem can be attributed to a variety of factors including the way bees are currently ‘farmed', and the use of pesticides and insecticides used in modern-day agricultural practices, which have inevitably entered the bee food chain.
  • Bees need a break from being farmed like cattle: In modern agricultural practices bees are treated like commodities in the same way that factory farm animals are used for maximum output using minimal resources and space. In many countries today bees are fed sugar-water in place of their own nutrient-rich honey and confined to small, compact hives which are stacked on top of one another and designed to allow constant interference from their farmers. These large-scale bee‘keepers' use bee colonies to pollinate vast quantities of the same crop in one sitting, for example a single almond plantation, then they package them up again to let loose on the next field. Like cattle, their natural feeding habits and freedoms are restricted, and they succumb to health problems as a consequence of these unnatural practices.
  • Urban beekeeping is necessary for strengthening bee populations: The primary aim of natural beekeeping is not to harvest the products bees create, such as honey and beeswax, but to help colonies to maintain optimum health by giving them a safe, non-invasive space to ‘bee'. One of the best ways you can do this is by offering a small space in your garden to the bees. Due to the vastly differing plants available within small spaces in urban areas, bees actually thrive in busy cities and towns. According to Parisian bee artist Olivier Darne, in ‘an analysis of the honey we made here in Paris...it contained more than 250 different pollens. In the countryside there can be as few as 15 or 20 pollens'. Bees kept in urban areas are also less likely to encounter large amounts of pesticides and insecticides which are commonly used to treat crops en masse in countryside fields.
  • Backyard beekeeping does not cost you anything. It can cost virtually nothing to provide a rich habitat for a colony of bees, but the value of this colony to our planet is immense. Natural beekeeping does not require the use of the expensive equipment that is used to interfere with bee patterns, such as smoking them out to get to their honey, or donning protective suits to avoid attacks triggered by this honey ‘harvesting' (stealing). The Top-Bar beehive is designed to minimise how much the bees are disturbed by the keeper, as it allows maximum visibility of bee life without forcing them to evacuate the hive in order to observe them. With a Top-Bar hive you can get to know your bees and even closely study them without ever having to open the hive up completely.
  • Bees have much to teach us: Champion bee guardian Phil Chandler, author of The Barefoot Beekeeper advocates learning the way of the bees by observing them and literally listening to them to work out their natural patterns, for example when they are most busy and should therefore be left alone, and when they might welcome a visit from the keeper. Left to themselves, bees are harmless creatures, busy running the hive in their various allocated roles, working all day long, and serving and protecting the queen bee. All they need from you is a safe base to come back to at the end of a working day, and in return for this you get to watch the fascinating way in which these insects work together. The bee dance is simply amazing to witness first-hand.

For full story, please see: www.theecologist.org/how_to_make_a_difference/wildlife/1325215/six_reasons_to_become_an_urban_beekeeper.html

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  • Vietnam: Sustainable wild harvested medicinal plant project launched

Source: TRAFFIC, 9 April 2012

TRAFFIC, in co-ordination with the Bac Kan Forest Protection Department (FPD), has launched its first project in Vietnam to protect plants that rural communities rely upon for traditional medicine. The plants targeted by the project are threatened by unsustainable harvesting and habitat destruction.
The project in the South Xuan Lac Species and Habitat Conservation Area in northern Viet Nam will implement the FairWild Standard, guidelines drawn up to ensure the sustainability of wild medical and aromatic plant harvesting.
FairWild incorporates principles of ecological and social responsibility providing a worldwide framework for implementing a sustainable, fair and value-added management and trading system for wild-collected natural ingredients and products thereof.
South Xuan Lac was chosen for its unique floral composition, local communities’ use of medicinal plants and evidence of uncontrolled harvesting.
The project will be implemented jointly with the Bac Kan FPD and the People Resources and Conservation Foundation (PRCF) with support and funding from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF).
Working with local harvesters, traders and the government, TRAFFIC and PRCF will apply FairWild principles to conserve biodiversity and improve the livelihoods of local community’s dependent upon the plant products. Ultimately, the project aims to develop a model that can be applied throughout Viet Nam. TRAFFIC will help train local workers in wild plant resource management, harvest monitoring, sustainable collection and value addition processing techniques.
“A variety of medicinal and aromatic plant species are widely used and traded throughout northern Viet Nam. Unfortunately market pressures are driving harvesters to use ever increasingly unsustainable techniques that reduce both the volume and quality of these resources in the forest and hence places many of these species under threat” said Michael Dine, Chief Technical Officer of PRCF’s Vietnam and China Programmes.
There are an estimated 50 000-70 000 plant species that are traded and used for the creation of medicinal products throughout the world, the majority of them obtained through wild collection.
In Vietnam growing demand and habitat destruction are putting wild plant populations at risk and negatively affecting the health and economic livelihood of rural communities that depend upon the sale and use of these plants. Additionally, increasing use of traditional medicines in China has seen vast quantities of plants sourced from Vietnam transported to the Chinese market, putting further strain on wild plant populations.
“Despite their importance to health and livelihoods, relatively little investment has been made in assessing the conservation status of most medicinal plant species or in developing more sustainable harvest and trade practices,” said Mr Dine.
“Vietnam needs to change this, and make the protection of medicinal plants a priority that balances both the means to facilitate local level economic development and biodiversity conservation.”
In 2008-2010, TRAFFIC successfully implemented a FairWild Standard medicinal plant project in Cambodia that established a model for sustainable resource use of two medicinal and aromatic plant species within a community protected area. The project helped to create market links between local communities and medical and aromatic plant traders that resulted in increased income for local harvesters and biodiversity protection.
The four plant species chosen for this project are: Amomum villosum Lour and Amomum xanthioides var. xanthioides, native to Indo-China and South China. Both are used in over 60 different traditional medicine products in Viet Nam as an antipyretic and diuretic. Alpinia malaccensis and Alpinia latilabris, native to Eastern India to South China. Both species are used to treat stomach problems throughout Vietnam.
For full story, please see: www.traffic.org/home/2012/4/9/traffic-launches-sustainable-wild-harvested-medicinal-plant.html

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  • Vietnam: Beneficiaries of forests need to pay forest keepers

Source: VietNamNet Bridge, 8 May 2012

The Quang Nam provincial authorities have announced the establishment of the Forest Protection and Development Fund, and signed the contracts on providing forest environmental services with 13 organizations in the locality. The fund aims to mobilize different resources for forest protection and development.
The model of paying fees for forest services was carried out on a trial basis in the mountainous commune of Ma Cooih in Dong Giang district of Quang Nam province.
Vo Viet Cuong, GASF — Winrock International Project Director, the organization that initiated the model, said that there were two subjects that received pay for the forest environment services, including the A Vuong preventive forest’s board of management and selected households, which were assigned to protect the forests.
Every household was assigned to take care and protect 20 ha of forests, for which they received 270 000 dong/ha/yr. This meant that every household would earn 5.4 million dong/year.
According to the Quang Nam Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, the enterprises using the forest environment services, mostly hydropower plants, paid 35 billion dong in service fees to the forest owners (the board of management of the forests, afforestation yards, resident communities, households and individuals).
It is expected that the service users would pay 58 billion dong in 2012.
The service fee is conceived as a part of the production cost for calculating the sale prices, 20 dong/kwh for hydropower plants, 40 dong/m³ of water and 1-2 percent of the total turnover of tourism revenue. The money would be put into the provincial fund for forest protection and development which would be paid to the organizations and households that protect the forests.
Cuong believes that this is a very reasonable mechanism which can protect forests effectively for a long term, because it ensures the fairness in the work allocation in the society. Once upstream forests are protected, not only hydropower plants’ water reservoirs and local residents can be safe from calamities, but people and construction works in the lowland can also be protected.
For a long time, lowlanders have enjoyed the values of the forests, such as the fresh air and clean water sources, while the highlanders, who have to spend time and effort to protect forests, and do not benefit from their work.
Therefore, Cuong said, it would be fair if lowlanders pay highlanders for their efforts to protect forests, and service users pay to service providers. In fact, hydropower plants, water plants or travel firms are not the fee payers, because the fees are taken into account in calculating production costs and sale prices.
Vu Phuc Thinh, Director of the Board of Management of the A Vuong preventive forest, also thinks that the mechanism is the best solution to protect forests. Since local residents receive money in exchange for their efforts, they consider forests as their assets and always try to fulfil their duty of protecting the forests.
For full story, please see: http://english.vietnamnet.vn/en/environment/22000/beneficiaries-of-forests-need-to-pay-forest-keepers.html

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NEWS

  • 9th World Bamboo Congress kicks off

Source: World Bamboo Organization, 24 April 2012

The 9th World Bamboo Congress (WBC) kicked off at the University of Antwerp, opening with fantastic keynote presentations by Johan Gielis, Marc van Montagu, Lynn Clark, Walter Liese and Masatoshi Watanabe. Over 250 people were in attendance.
The program list is still available on the WBC website for those who want to see it, and the live-streaming is still available at: http://mediasite.ua.ac.be/mediasite/Catalog/pages/catalog.aspx?catalogId=a354e151-942d-46af-8b2c-9a66f8f05f8f.
The official proceedings and papers submitted for publishing are also available for download on the WBO website, as well as the power point presentations as shown at the WBC.
For more information, please see: http://worldbamboo.net/world-bamboo-congress/9th-wbc-proceedings-now-available-for-download/

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  • Forests and women – some encouraging signs

Source: Carol Colfer, Senior Associate, CIFOR, 24 April 2012

Despite decades of research, many of the problems identified in the 1970s and 80s persist: the invisibility of women’s forest-related work for policymakers, extension personnel, and even researchers; the inattention throughout the value chain to the forest products women use; a lack of women’s voices in policymaking, as well as in household decisions related to forests; the inadvertent but adverse effects on women of well-meaning forestry programs.
The recent special issue on “Forests and Gender” (International Forestry Review) is a breath of fresh air. While the scientific forestry community has been receptive to studies of women’s forest-related work, they have found some of our more theoretical and qualitative studies a hard slog. The use of terms such as ‘hegemony’, ‘symbolic representation’, ‘alterity’, and ‘habitus’ render such studies inaccessible to foresters.
This special issue, however, is written in accessible language and addresses important theoretical and practical topics that have passed under the collective radar screen. The authors address women’s active, if informal, forest management roles (for example, Bose, Brown, Lewark et al., Shackleton et al., Shanley et al.). Each paper goes beyond simple documentation to address broader issues.
Shackleton et al. use cases from three African countries to demonstrate variability across countries and NTFPs with regard to value chain stages and differing gender impacts. The value chain theme is also addressed by Purnomo et al, who conducted action research among Javanese furniture producers. These papers suggest to policymakers and forest researchers the importance of following forest products beyond the forest, of thinking and acting with processes and processing in mind. Bose examines the effects of the recently enacted Forest Rights Act on two tribal communities in northern India. Besides showing common unintended adverse effects on women, she brings to light a common and potent pattern that is rarely discussed: members of the more male-dominant culture unthinkingly inserting their own assumptions about gender roles into a much more egalitarian social system, with potentially long-lasting adverse effects. Important implications of her study include both the need for further and more in-depth social research in forest communities, as well as further introspection among policymakers about their own assumptions.
Some authors studied policies directly. Lewark et al. assess the impacts of forest and NTFP certification on women in two communities in Nepal, finding generally positive perceptions thereof.
Although there is little doubt that gender encompasses a range of “wicked problems”, this collection accompanies some encouraging trends: 1) the global research community’s increased sophistication in dealing with the holistic nature of gender issues; 2) the development of global mandates such as the Millennium Development Goals, several of which feature gender; 3) the growing acceptability of participatory approaches (needed to deal with the diversity and constraints in addressing women’s issues); and 4) a healthy, if early, recognition of men’s roles in gender issues.
For full story, please see: www.cifor.org/online-library/polex-cifors-blog-for-and-by-forest-policy-experts/spanish/detalle/article/1230/forests-and-women-some-encouraging-signs.html

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Global Guidelines on Tenure of Land, Forests and Fisheries adopted

Source: IISD Reporting Services, 11 May 2012

The 38th Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) endorsed the new Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. The new guidelines outline principles and practice for governments to refer to when making laws and policies on land, forest, and fisheries rights. They aim to promote food security and sustainable development by improving access to resources and protecting stakeholders' rights.
The CFS is a global platform for discussions on food security issues, hosted by FAO and made up of governments, UN agencies, civil society organizations, agricultural research centers, financial institutions, private sector groups and philanthropic foundations. The consultation process to develop the guidelines began in 2009, initially led by FAO.
FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva noted that the guidelines represent a shared vision on giving poor and vulnerable populations secure and equitable rights to access land and other natural resources. The guidelines were developed partially in response to "land-grabbing," and acknowledge that investment is essential to improve food security, but also that safeguards should be in place to protect tenure rights, as well as to protect human rights, livelihoods, food security and the environment. The guidelines also address issues related to accessibility and affordability of registration systems, managing forcible eviction, rights of indigenous communities, responsible agricultural investment, dispute resolution and urban expansion.
The implementation of the guidelines will be up to countries that have endorsed the guidelines, with support and assistance being offered by the FAO. FAO anticipates development of technical handbooks to help countries adapt the guidelines to local context.
For full story, please see: http://uncsd.iisd.org/news/global-guidelines-on-tenure-of-land-forests-and-fisheries-adopted/

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  • Map of Life goes live

Source: Nature, 10 May 2012

Map of Life (www.mapoflife.org) — an interactive resource for global biodiversity analysis — launches today, promising a new era in the visualization of species distributions.
On first glance, Map of Life may seem just one more in the dozens of biodiversity databases online, but it has a novel capability — a web-mapping tool that integrates disparate data types, from single-occurrence records in museum collections to expert-derived ranges found in field guides.
Funded in part by the US National Science Foundation, Map of Life will soon allow users to add or update species data, thereby becoming the first two-way portal of biodiversity information.
“Map of Life is more than a sum of its parts; what is transformational is that these different data types cross-inform each other and help us piece together the most transparent, robust representations of species distribution yet achieved,” says co-creator Walter Jetz, a conservation biologist at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.
The tool grew out of Jetz’s own need to combine his data with existing data sets to best understand how bird biodiversity patterns could inform conservation efforts. But stitching together all the records takes up an enormous amount of time.
The demo release of Map of Life will focus on terrestrial vertebrate and fish species — combining 150 million point-occurrence records from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), an intergovernmental warehouse of digitized species data, expert range maps from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and regional presence/absence checklists from the World Wildlife Fund, as well as a few individual scientists' databases. The team plans to add data for plants, trees and selected invertebrate groups later this year.
The demo version has two main features. Users can search for a species name to see a map of all the species-distribution records, and can generate a species list of all the animals recorded within 50–1 000 km of a specific spot on the planet.
Map of Life still faces a major hurdle — gaining traction in biodiversity circles. For the site to have widespread utility it will require much more data, but unless users are convinced of the site’s usefulness, they may not take the time to contribute their own data.
“There is a bit of cynicism in the community because everybody knows far too many biodiversity data have been created in different places with different protocols,” says Georgina Mace, a population biologist at Imperial College London and the current chair of the scientific committee of Paris-based DIVERSITAS, an international biodiversity research programme.
For full story, please see: www.nature.com/news/map-of-life-goes-live-1.10621

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  • Network of knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services in Europe

Source: http://phys.org.com, 18 May 2012

A group of European experts on biodiversity are gathering from the 21 to the 23 May 2012 in Brussels, Belgium in order to further improve the transfer of biodiversity knowledge from the scientific community into the policy sphere. These experts will take part in a project funded by the European Commission: "BiodiversityKnowledge."
BiodiversityKnowledge is an initiative by researchers and practitioners to help all actors in the field of biodiversity and ecosystem services to make better informed decisions. This project aims at developing an open network of knowledge in Europe on biodiversity and ecosystem services (NoK). After developing the first prototype for such a network with the help of some targeted consultations, the project now engages with a broad range of knowledge holders invited to share their experience and contribute to this European conference.
Developing such a network approach comes at a crucial time for biodiversity policy in Europe. With the 2010 biodiversity targets missed and new actions for 2020 now to be implemented across Europe, policy demand for better knowledge-based decisions continuously increases. Also, Europe needs to prepare for supporting the newly established Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) via its broad range of experts in the field.
Participants of the conference represent various scientific disciplines, policy sectors and civil society and will get involved through participatory workshops to discuss the network approach, its components and processes. Their comments will help improve the model that will be tested on several case studies.
For full story, please see: http://phys.org/wire-news/98791690/a-network-of-knowledge-on-biodiversity-and-ecosystem-services-in.html

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  • New agricultural biodiversity project to improve nutrition and food security worldwide

Source: UNEP Press Release in Traditional Knowledge Bulletin, 9 May 2012

Placing renewed emphasis on sustaining the natural variety of crops and animals contributing to agriculture, including neglected yet nutritious traditional foods, can improve food security and address growing global concerns over poor nutrition and its negative health effects, officials said at the launch of a new international project at the World Nutrition Rio Congress 2012.
The Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition Project aims to address the narrowing variety of people's diets, with nutritionally-poor processed foods dominating the dinner table. This trend has led to a raft of health issues worldwide. One third of the world's population suffers from hunger and micronutrient malnutrition, while obesity and diet-related chronic illness have reached critical levels.
The diversity of crops and their wild relatives, trees, animals, microbes and other species contributing to food production — known as agricultural biodiversity — can counter these trends, according to Emile Frison, Director General of Bioversity International, which is coordinating the project to further research and promote the links between biodiversity and good nutrition.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF), the world's largest public funder of international environmental projects, is supporting the multi-country project led by Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Turkey. Bioversity International is coordinating the project with implementation support from UNEP and FAO.
In addition to researching biodiversity's role in nutrition, the US$35 million project, supported by the GEF with US$5.5 million and contributions from partner governments and international agencies, aims to provide information on the nutritional and health benefits of traditional food sources to the four partner countries.
The results will enhance the development of policies and regulatory frameworks that promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of often-neglected and forgotten traditional foods, which are often more nutritious and better adapted to local environments, thus having less impact on ecosystems.
Examples of these foods, some of which have gained global popularity, are:

  • Indigenous leafy vegetables such as amaranth leaves, cleome and nightshade, which are now acknowledged as significant sources of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants
  • Lycopene-rich guava varieties, acerola and pitanga. In Brazil, which already has a great deal of biodiversity in its food supply, these former garden fruits are now commercially produced and processed. Another nutrient-rich fruit from Brazil and elsewhere is the popular açaí berry.
  • Food condiments and spices, which have recently been reported to have anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, and anti carcinogenic properties. Spices also contribute to daily intakes of iron, zinc and calcium.

Arugula (or rocket), a nutritious vegetable once collected as a wild food, and quinoa, an extremely nutritious grain-like crop from the Andes, have both found wide-scale acceptance in the grocery aisles and on restaurant tables throughout the world as a healthy and tasty food. Quinoa holds particular promise in that it is highly adaptable to different climatic and geographic conditions. The UN has declared 2013 to be the year of the Quinoa.
The project is consistent with the Cross-Cutting initiative on biodiversity for food and nutrition, which was adopted by the CBD at the eighth Conference of the Parties in 2006, recognizing the importance of the links between biodiversity, food and nutrition.
For full story, please see: www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=2678&ArticleID=9120&l=en&t=long

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  • Pesticide linked to honeybee deaths

Source: E-Magazine, 8 April 2012

The last several years have witnessed one of the most dramatic impacts on insect life in modern history. At least one- third of U.S. honeybee colonies have died out in the past six years. Initially, the phenomena baffled scientists. But several new studies indicate that they may be honing in on a potential cause: overuse of pesticides. In particular, researchers now say that they suspect a class of pesticides known neonicotinoids, including the widely-used insecticide imidacloprid, which are used primarily in corn fields. Introduced in the early 1990s, these insecticides have sharply increased in popularity and virtually all corn grown in the United States is treated with them.
This class of nicotine-based chemicals are designed to become an intrinsic part of the plant and when insects ingest them, the chemicals target their nervous system, resulting in paralysis and death.
The wider use of the insecticide corresponds with the proliferation of genetically-modified corn and both coincided with the start of colony collapse disorder, according to a new paper that will be in the June issue of Bulletin of Insectology, by Chensheng Lu, an associate professor of environmental exposure biology at Harvard School of Public Health, along with members of the Worcester County Beekeepers Association in Massachusetts.
The Harvard researchers concluded that these pesticides are likely to blame for colony collapse disorder. Commercial beekeepers first began reporting the mass collapse of bee colonies in the mid-2000s. The decline varied depending on region and some areas saw 90 percent of their bees die. At the outset, other culprits, including fungus, mites, viruses, bacteria, were suspected as the root problem.
But evidence against neonicotinoids such as imidacloprid has steadily accumulated.
“From the ecological and apicultural perspectives, the results from this study show a profound and devastating effect of low levels of imidacloprid in high fructose corn syrup on honey bee colonies,” said the soon-to-be-released paper in Bulletin of Insectology. The paper also found that 94 percent of hives whose bees had been fed corn syrup laced with the pesticide died off entirely within less than six months.
The approval of neonicotinoids in the U.S. has long been controversial. Leaked Environmental Protection Agency memos, published by Wikileaks in December 2010 showed that the agency had been asked to revoke the pesticide’s approval in part because it was suspected as the root of colony collapse disorder. But the E.P.A. failed to act.
Now, an emergency petition, filed by 30 beekeepers and national environmental groups that includes Beyond Pesticides and the Center for Food Safety, has been filed. That petition targets just one form of the pesticide, focusing on field studies that the petitioners argue were inadequate.
Scientists say that pinning down the source of colony collapse disorder has been especially difficult because bees are exposed to so many toxic chemicals. One study, from 2010, was able to identify 121 different pesticides and related products that were found in bees, wax, pollen and beehives.
Pesticides are also not the only potential culprit. Scientists have investigated the possibility that fungus, mites, viruses, and bacteria are responsible. Bees become susceptible to a wide range of problems when they are weakened by other conditions, so researchers kept searching for the root problem even when mites or viruses were discovered in some collapsed colonies.
“The significance of bees to agriculture cannot be underestimated,” said Chensheng Lu, lead author of the Harvard study. “And it apparently does not take much of the pesticide to affect the bees. Our experiment included pesticide amounts below what is normally present in the environment.”
For full story, please see: www.emagazine.com/daily-news/pesticide-linked-to-honeybee-deaths/

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  1. Report: Global biodiversity down 30 percent in 40 years

Source: Environmental News Network, 15 May 2012

The world's biodiversity is down 30 percent since the 1970s, according to a new report, with tropical species taking the biggest hit. And if humanity continues as it has been, the picture could get bleaker.
Humanity is outstripping the Earth's resources by 50 percent — essentially using the resources of one and a half Earths every year, according to the 2012 Living Planet Report, produced by conservation agency the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Colby Loucks, the Director of conservation sciences at WWF, compared humanity to bad houseguests. "We are emptying the fridge, we are not really taking care of the lawn, we are not weeding the flower beds and we are certainly not taking out the garbage," Loucks said.
The biannual Living Planet report is designed to call attention to the Earth's "invisible economy," said Emily McKenzie, the Director of the WWF's Natural Capital Program. Natural resources — and the rate at which humans burn through them — rarely appear on policymakers' balance sheets, McKenzie said.
But humanity is essentially in debt to Mother Earth, conservationists find. As of 2008, the most recent year for which data is available, humans were outstripping Earth's biocapacity by 50 percent. Biocapacity is the amount of renewable resources, land, and waste absorption (such as sinks for carbon dioxide) the Earth can provide. In other words, it takes the planet 1.5 years to restore what humanity burns through in a year.
For more information, please see: : www.enn.com/top_stories/article/44400 or hwww.huffingtonpost.com/robert-walker/imperiling-people-posteri_b_1518774.html

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  1. Study links biodiversity and language loss

Source: BBC News, 13 May 2012

The decline of linguistic and cultural diversity is linked to the loss of biodiversity, a study has suggested. The authors said that 70 percent of the world's languages were found within the planet's biodiversity hotspots.
Data showed that as these important environmental areas were degraded over time, cultures and languages in the area were also being lost.
The results of the study have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
"Biologists estimate annual loss of species at 1 000 times or more greater than historic rates, and linguists predict that 50-90 percent of the world's languages will disappear by the end of the century," the researchers wrote.
Lead author Larry Gorenflo from Penn State University, in the US, said previous studies had identified a geographical connection between the two, but did not offer the level of detail required.
Dr Gorenflo told BBC News that the limitation to the data was that either the languages were listed by country or there was a dot on the map to indicate the location.
"But what you did not know was if the area extended 2 km or 200 km, so you really did not get a sense of the extent of the language," he explained.
"We used improved language data to really get a more solid sense of how languages and biodiversity co-occurred and an understanding of how geographically extensive the language was."
He said the study achieved this by also looking at smaller areas with high biodiversity, such as national parks or other protected habitats. "When we did that, not only did we get a sense of co-occurrence at a regional scale, but we also got a sense that co-occurrence was found at a much finer scale," he said.
"We are not quite sure yet why this happens, but in a lot of cases it may well be that biodiversity evolved as part-and-parcel of cultural diversity, and vice versa."
In their paper, the researchers pointed out that, out of the 6 900 or more languages spoken on Earth, more than 4 800 occurred in regions containing high biodiversity.
Dr Gorenflo described these locations as "very important landscapes" which were "getting fewer and fewer" but added that the study's data could help provide long-term security.
"It provides a wonderful opportunity to integrate conservation efforts — you can have people who can get funding for biological conservation, and they can collaborate with people who can get funding for linguistic or cultural conservation," he suggested.
"In the past, it was hard to get biologists to look at people.
"That has really changed dramatically in the past few years. One thing that a lot of biologists and ecologists are now seeing is that people are part of these ecosystems."
For full story, please see: www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18020636

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  1. Why taxonomy is important for biodiversity-based science

Source: Terry Sunderland, CIFOR, 2 May 2012

Taxonomy usually refers to the theory and practice of describing, naming and classifying living things. Such work is essential for the fundamental understanding of biodiversity and its conservation. Yet the science behind delimiting the natural world into “species” is often neglected, misunderstood or even derided in some quarters.
Whether we realise it or not, we are all inherent taxonomists. We classify things around us much in the same way as taxonomists distinguish between species; by assigning similar objects into recognizable groups. In the kitchen we separate our cutlery by knife, fork and spoon and would not dream of putting an onion or a potato in the fruit bowl. In fact our lives are filled with the need to separate and classify the many different objects that surround us.
It is the same with biodiversity. Most people concerned with biodiversity conservation commonly use the term “species” without a clear understanding of what separates one species from another, and why. This is where the science of taxonomy plays an integral role. Species are distinguished from each other in a number of ways. Although the definition of species has been the cause of significant historical debate, put simply, species are organisms usually recognized as morphologically distinct from other groups.
Despite the on-going biodiversity crisis, the number of new species described per scientist has not increased in the past 60-70 years. This is having a huge impact on conservation science. Many species will become extinct before they are described and we remain continually unaware of the total numbers of species that comprise global biodiversity. This is acknowledged by the Convention of Biodiversity and its signatories as a “taxonomic impediment”.
Even for groups of organisms that have considerable utilitarian value, there remain uncertain frameworks for classification. For example, the rattans of Africa, in common with their Asian relatives, form an integral part of subsistence strategies for many rural populations as well as providing the basis of a thriving urban-based industry, employing many thousands of people. However, the development of the rattan resource has, until recently, been hindered by a lack of basic knowledge of the exact species used, their ecological requirements and the socio-economic context of their utilisation.
A long-term study of the rattans of Africa has culminated in the publication of a taxonomic monograph of these climbing palms. Taxonomic work of this kind is not purely an academic exercise. In the case of African rattans, it is an essential basis for the conservation, development and management of the resource itself. It is important that the differences between species are clearly understood so that we know which species are of commercial importance and how they can be distinguished from other species that are not utilised and why. This knowledge is essential in order to undertake meaningful inventories of commercially important species and to be able to assess the potential of each species for cultivation and sustainable management. A structured taxonomic framework also ensures that any experimental or development work undertaken is replicable.
In short, taxonomy provides the basic foundations of conservation practice and sustainable management of the world remaining resources. It is perhaps time to better integrate the science of taxonomy back into the conservation world to meet the global biodiversity challenge that we currently face.
For full story, please see: http://blog.cifor.org/8746/why-taxonomy-is-important-for-biodiversity-based-science/

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EVENTS

International Workshop on Drylands Restoration
Kokya, Turkey
28-31 May 2012
From 28 to 31 May 2012, FAO, in collaboration with the Turkish Ministry of Forest and Water Affairs and the Turkish International Cooperation Agency (TIKA) will organize an international workshop on “Building forest landscapes resilient to global changes in drylands: Analysis, evaluation and documentation of lessons learnt from forestation and forest restoration.” The workshop is being held in response to recommendations by FAO member countries to develop operational guidelines for the restoration of degraded forests and lands within the difficult environmental and socio-economic framework conditions in arid zones, for the benefit of the local populations.
For further information please contact:
Nora Berrahmouni
Forestry Officer (Arid Zones)
Forest Assessment, Management and Conservation Division
Forestry Department, FAO
Tel: + 39 06 570 52938
Cell: + 39 3492375915
E-mail : nora.berrahmouni@fao.org
www.fao.org/forestry/aridzone

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Investing in locally controlled forestry at Rio+20: Fair Ideas
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
16-17 June
IIED and partners will be holding a two-day conference in Rio de Janeiro in preparation for Rio+20. This will include a session jointly hosted by the G3 and IIED entitled: “Locally controlled farm-forestry: a firm foundation for fair green economies?'
For more information and to register go to: www.iied.org/fair-ideas-shaping-solutions-for-sustainable-planet-1617-june

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Forest: The Heart of a Green Economy at Rio+20
Ribalta Eventos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
18 June 2012
This event is aimed at highlighting the role of forests and forest industries in building the green economy and fostering rural development at the resource base – the two key themes of Rio+20. Increasingly the climate-smart management of forests and the wise use of trees are seen as a collaborative effort between the public and private holders of forests, large and small private enterprises and local communities. NGOs play an important role in encouraging appropriate levels of conservation and environmental protection. Participants will learn more profoundly how the forest sector can actively and concretely contribute to a more sustainable future for society.
On-line Registration is open until 11 June 2012 at: www.bracelpa.org.br/greenheart/newform.html.
For further information, please contact:
Mr. Jukka Tissari
FAO Advisory Committee on Paper and Wood Products FAO Forestry Department
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla - 00153 Rome - Italy
Tel. +39 06 57054179 – Fax +39 06 57052151
Mobile: +39 349 2375552
E-mail: Jukka.Tissari@fao.org
Skype: jttissari
www.fao.org/forestry/trade/76571/en/

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The 8th roundtable at Rio+20: Integrating forests into the global agenda on sustainable development
19 June 2012
Royal Tulip Hotel, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In June 2012, one of the most important environmental gatherings in a generation will take place in Brazil – Rio+20. Organizers have identified seven key issues to form new sustainable development goals: jobs, energy, cities, food, water, oceans and disasters. Forests, however, have been largely excluded from most of these key issues — with only one mention in the description of “food”.
While it is important that the Rio+20 meeting explore new ground in addressing the emerging problems of the 21st century, forests must remain high on the agenda in 2012. Forests make important — but underappreciated – contributions toward solving many of the problems that are on the table at these discussions. And it is critical that Rio+20 deliver a global message that forests matter.
To ensure that this message is delivered, CIFOR will coordinate one of the most important conferences on forests alongside the Rio+20 summit. Forests: The 8th Roundtable at Rio+20 will discuss new research findings — and remaining knowledge gaps — and their policy implications for integrating forests into the solutions to four key challenges to progress toward a green economy: Energy, food and income, water, and climate.
For more information, please see: www.cifor.org/fileadmin/fileupload/events/Rio-concept-note-19032012.pdf

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Rio+20: The UN Conference on Sustainable Development 2012
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
20-22 June 2012
In 1992, countries gathered in Rio de Janeiro to develop a plan to rescue the environment. Twenty years on, the UN is leading the global effort to revisit those decisions. Through the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in 2012 — also referred to as “Rio+20” — leaders will return to Rio to review progress, affirm ongoing efforts and design new ways to meet the most urgent needs of the planet and its people.
The main objectives will be to: secure renewed political commitment to sustainable development; Assess the progress and implementation gaps in meeting already agreed commitments; and address new and emerging challenges.
For more information, please see: www.fao.org/rioplus20/en/

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International Sandalwood Symposium 2012
21-24 October 2012
Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
The International Sandalwood Symposium is a four-day, stand-alone meeting to be held at the East-West Center’s Conference Center located at the University of Hawai’i. It is designed to bring together a diverse international group of participants interested in the scientific research, conservation, ethnobotany, commercialization, and other aspects of sandalwoods from the world’s leading experts to students, landowners, land managers, business people, and the general public. There will be a variety of ways to participate in the meeting, including field trips, public lectures and workshops, presentations, poster and discussion sessions.
For more information, please contact:
Danica Harbaugh Reynaud, Ph.D.
Founder and Executive Director
International Sandalwood Foundation
Mail: PO Box 2924, El Cerrito, CA 94530 USA
Email: danica@sandalwoodfoundation.org
www.sandalwoodfoundation.org

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LITERATURE REVIEW AND WEB SITES

  1. Forest Peoples: Numbers across the world

Source: Forest Peoples Programme, 8 May 2012

By providing estimated figures for indigenous and forest peoples’ populations in countries and regions across the globe, this new Forest Peoples Programme report seeks to raise awareness of the existence of peoples who primarily depend on forests for their livelihoods, and to enhance their visibility as key actors and rights-holders in the management and use of forests and forest resources. These figures may serve as a useful reference in advocacy for the recognition of forest peoples’ legal and human rights.
To view publication, please see: Web: www.forestpeoples.org

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  1. A Handbook of Medicinal Plants: A Complete Source Book

From: Riddhi International (India), 16 April 2012

This book describes more than 1 346 medicinal plants found in the world and includes vernacular names, descriptions, distribution, part use, utilization, active principles, agronomic practices and 870 colour photographs. Separate chapters on organic farming, bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides used for sustainable cultivation of medicinal plants, tips for medicinal plants cultivation and multi-tier agriculture systems of medicinal plants are featured.
The book also includes complete addresses (including E-mail addresses) of research institutes and agencies, NGOs, importers and exporters, traders and commission agents, growers, seeds and planting materials suppliers, medicinal gardens, books, analytical testing facilities, market news services, and important web sites of the world.
For more information, please see: www.riddhionline.com/collections/frontpage/products/a-handbook-of-medicinal-plants-a-complete-source-book

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51. Other publications of Interest
From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

Chilalo, M. and Wiersum. K.F. 2011. The role of NTFPs for livelihood diversification in Southwest Ethiopia. Ethiopoian e-Journal for Research and Innovation Foresight. 3 (1): 44-59.

Fernandez, M. V. Barroetavena, C. Bassani, V. Rios, F. 2012. Profitability of the edible mushroom Suillus luteus exploitation for timber producers and for rural families in the Andean region of Chubut province. Bosque. 33: 1, 43-52. 23 ref.

Garcia, C.A.; Bhagwat, S.A.; Ghazoul, J.; Nath, C.D.; Nanaya, K.M.; Kushalappa, C.G.; Raghuramulu, Y.; Nasi, R.; Vaast, P. Biodiversity conservation in agricultural landscapes: challenges and opportunities of coffee agro-forests in the Western Ghats, India. Conservation Biology. Vol. 24 (2): 479-488.

Gauli, K.; Hauser, M. 2011. Commercial management of non-timber forest products in Nepal's community forest users groups: who benefits? International Forestry Review, Volume 13, Number 1, March 2011 , pp. 35-45(11)
Abstract: Forest policies in Nepal encourage community forest users to commercialize NTFPs for income generation. This study sought to understand the ability of forest users to increase their household income benefit through commercial NTFP management by conducting a multiple linear regression analysis. Furthermore it compares the income generation potential of traditional to enterprise-oriented approaches. Results indicate that, in the enterprise-oriented approach, low wealth category households derived income benefits only when they had equitable access to forests and a reliable market. The findings also show that, under the traditional approach, income benefits are the highest for rich households and the least for female-headed poor households. In contrast, the enterprise-oriented approach strengthens the role of disadvantaged poor households. The study concludes that commercialization of NTFPs does not automatically result in equitable income benefits for everyone, whereas, locally crafted rules and norms do.

Gutíerrez-Vélez, V, DeFries, R, Pinedo-Vasquez, M, Uriarte, M, Padoch, C, Baethgen, W, Fernandes, K & Lim, Y. 2011. “High-yield oil palm expansion spares land at the expense of forests in the Peruvian Amazon”, Environmental Research Letters. Vol. 6: 4. Link: www.cifor.org/nc/online-library/browse/view-publication/publication/3764.html

Hines, K.N. 2011. Effects of ecotourism on endangered northern Bahamian rock iguanas (Cyclura cychlura). Herpetol. Conserv. Biol. 6(2):250-259.

Houehanou, T.D., Kindomihou, V., and Sinsin, B. 2011. Effectiveness of conservation areas in protecting Shea trees against hemiparasitic plants (Loranthaceae) in Benin, West Africa. Plant Ecol. Evol. 144:267-274.

Kamins, A.O., Restif, O., Ntiamoa-Baidu, Y., Suu-Ire, R., Hayman, D.T.S., Cunningham, A.A., Wood, J.L.N., and Rowcliffe, J.M. 2011. Uncovering the fruit bat bushmeat commodity chain and the true extent of fruit bat hunting in Ghana, West Africa. Biol. Conserv. 144(12):3000-3008.

Lyons, J.A., and Natusch, D.J.D. 2011. Wildlife laundering through breeding farms: illegal harvest, population declines and a means of regulating the trade of green pythons (Morelia viridis) from Indonesia. Biol. Conserv. 144(12):3073-3081.

Majić, A., de Bodonia, A.M.T., Huber, Ð., and Bunnefeld, N. 2011. Dynamics of public attitudes toward bears and the role of bear hunting in Croatia. Biol. Conserv. 144(12):3018-3027.

McLaughlin, D.W. 2011. Land, food, and biodiversity. Conserv. Biol. 25(6):1117-1120.

Tollefson, J. 2012. Farm Focus for saving Trees. Nature: 483: 517-518.

Sébastien Le Bel, Amon, Murwira, Billy, Mukamuri, René Czudek, Russell Taylor and Mike La Grange. 2011. Human Wildlife Conflicts in Southern Africa: Riding the Whirl Wind in Mozambique and in Zimbabwe, The Importance of Biological Interactions in the Study of Biodiversity, Dr. Jordi López-Pujol (Ed.), InTech.
The chapter is part of a bigger book entitled “The Importance of Biological Interactions in the Study of Biodiversity”, recently published as an Open Access Book by InTech. The text referrers to the experiences gained with two FAO projects in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Link: www.intechopen.com/books/the-importance-of-biological-interactions-in-the-study-of-biodiversity/human-wildlife-conflicts-in-southern-africa-riding-the-whirl-wind-in-mozambique-and-in-zimbabwe

Shackleton, S.; Paumgarten, F.; Kassa, H.; Husselman, M.; Zida, M. 2011. Opportunities for enhancing poor women’s socioeconomic empowerment in the value chains of three African non-timber forest products (NTFPs). International Forestry Review. 13 (2): 136-151.
Abstract: The value chains of three internationally important dry forest NTFPs, namely gum arabic, gum olibanum (frankincense) and honey from Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Zambia respectively, were assessed in terms of the roles played by women and the benefits they obtain from their involvement. Women perform a variety of functions at different stages in the value chains, but their roles tend to be poorly visible and inadequately acknowledged, largely because they are either operating in the informal sector, are part-time employees, or carry out their activities at home between family responsibilities. Where women’s roles are more prominent, this is primarily due to gender orientated interventions by external agencies. Several constraints to fostering women’s empowerment were identified, with some easier to overcome than others. Particularly difficult to address are gender based, social-cultural barriers. Suggestions for enhancing women’s benefits include: greater recognition of informal markets, the opportunities and constraints associated with them, and their position relative to export markets; improved support for collective action where this can provide women with greater voice, negotiating power, and help with economies of scale; more targeted training that addresses areas identified by women as useful and important to them; time-saving technologies and support systems such as child care; and creating greater gender awareness amongst stakeholders.
Link: www.cifor.org/nc/online-library/browse/view-publication/publication/3525.html

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  1. WEB SITES and E-ZINES

From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

FAO’s Forestry Information Centre web sites
www.fao.org/forestry/site/library
www.fao.org/forestry/23207/en/

New Mountain Partnership web site
This new website includes, among others, the following features: “Regions in action” blog, enabling FAO’s decentralized hubs to post news and articles from the regions; a “featured member” section, changing with each refresh page, giving visibility to members; a “reserved area,” exclusively for members comprising an electronic Forum for strategic discussions involving all members; a “resources” page to download meeting documents and enable users to comment on blog postings, as well as direct access to member data to autonomously update information, and social media linking to the Mountain Partnerships Flickr and YouTube channels; and a “Focus Areas” page, enabling easy search of contents throughout the website, according to thematic tags.
www.mountainpartnership.org/

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MISCELLANEOUS

53. Coconut and mango waste could help power Asia
Source: Scidev.net, 22 March 2012

Researchers in the United States say agricultural waste from coconut and mango farming could generate significant amounts of off-grid electricity for rural communities in South and South-East Asia.
Many food crops have a tough, inedible part which cannot be used to feed livestock or fertilize fields. Examples of this material — known as “endocarp” — include coconut, almond and pistachio shells, and the stones of mangoes, olives, plums, apricots and cherries.
Endocarp is high in a chemical compound known as lignin. High-lignin products can be heated to produce an energy-rich gas that can be used to generate electricity.
The researchers identified high-endocarp-producing regions of the world — and noted that coconut and mango agriculture account for 72 percent of total global endocarp production. Coconut production alone accounted for 55 percent. Most coconut endocarp comes from South and South-East Asian countries, including Bangladesh, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.
They then overlaid these findings with energy consumption data to identify communities with little access to electricity, who could benefit from endocarp-based energy.
"We noticed that production was unevenly distributed around the globe, which could make a very significant contribution to the energy budget in some countries like Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and the Philippines, [as well as] regions of India," Tom Shearin, co-author and a systems analyst at University of Kentucky, United States, told SciDev.Net.
Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (21 February), the researchers said endocarp bioenergy could meet up to 30 percent of total energy needs in Sri Lanka, 25 percent in the Philippines, 13 percent in Indonesia, and 3 percent in India.
Shearin said endocarp was preferable to crop-based biofuels as it had no value as a food item. "Its exploitation as energy source does not compete with food production," he said.
Wais Kabir, executive chairman of the Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute, told SciDev.Net that most of the country's agricultural waste, including non-edible by-products, was already used to generate bioenergy.
The researchers acknowledged that efforts to scale up infrastructure to deliver decentralised bio-energy in developing countries would face economic, technical and social challenges.
Advocates of an endocarp-based energy sector would also have to persuade investors that it would be financially viable.
For full story, please see: www.scidev.net/en/climate-change-and-energy/renewable-energy/news/coconut-and-mango-waste-could-help-power-asia.html

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last updated:  Friday, May 25, 2012