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- Artemisia annua: Gene discovery could boost yield of key malaria drug
- Bamboo bikes: The ultimate eco-friendly ride
- Bushmeat: Consumption grows as forest cover declines
- Ecotourism: India’s Varanasi forests an important destination for eco tourists
- Frankincense and myrrh: Three wise men were tuned into medicinal properties
- Honey: Doctors find the health benefits of Manuka honey to be buzz-worthy
- Maya Nut (Brosimum alicastum): An ancient food for a healthy future
- Medicinal plants: 90% of people in developing world rely on medicinal plants
- Medicinal plants: Herbalists score major victory
- Moss: Jeweler creates rings embedded with live plants
- Mushrooms beat cancer
- Rattan used for transplants
- Ecuador: National park contains world’s highest biodiversity
- Eritrea: Inhabitants of Hagaz called upon to preserve historical forestry
- India: Himachal banks on sustainable forestry for enhancing livelihood means
- India: Study reveals migration of tribals from forests
- Indonesia: Wildlife trading on the rise
- Nigeria: Borno State to plant six million trees
- Philippines: Geo tagging reveals threats to forest dependent communities
- UK planning to reintroduce insects
- Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agrees to further promote integration of traditional medicine
- Chemical biology for discovery
- Forest Day 3 calls for action on REDD and forest indigenous communities
- Forest plan gets ax at CoP 15
- Ski area plans threaten Europe’s last untouched forests
- Treasure trove of nearly 300 new plants discovered by Kew experts
- Environment, natural resources and ecotourism: tools for peace building, state building and sustainable development: The Balkans in Focus, with Comparative Perspectives
- IUFRO Kuala Lumpur 2010
- CIFOR conference: “Taking stock of smallholder and community forestry: Where do we go from here?”
- Latest issue of Nature & Faune
- New working document in FAO's NWFP series
- Seed characteristics and germination parameters of Berberis aristata seeds from Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir (India).
- Other publications of interest
- Web sites and e-zines
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1. Artemisia annua: Gene discovery could boost yield of key malaria drug
Source: SciDev.Net, 12 January 2010
Genes from the plant that control its yield of the antimalarial drug artemisinin have been identified by scientists. Artemisinin is extracted from the plant, Artemisia annua. When used in combination with other antimalarial drugs it is recognised as the most effective treatment for malaria.
Demand for the drug is likely to increase dramatically as new programmes such as the Affordable Medicines Facility make it cheaper for patients to buy malaria treatments.
Researchers from the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products at the UK-based University of York have now identified genetic markers for 'fast-track breeding' that will help produce higher-yielding Artemisia annua plants.
Rather than sequence the whole genome of the plant, the team focused on parts of the genetic code called the transcriptome. "We chose to focus on the transcriptome as it represents genes that are expressed and doing something in the cell," co-author Dianna Bowles told SciDev.Net. "By focusing on these, we got an idea of the genes that may well be the most functionally relevant to artemisinin yield, such as those involved in the manufacture of artemisinin and the size and architecture of the plant," she said.
The scientists constructed a genetic map to help them find genes that correspond to relevant traits in the plants. "The results will enable people in the community [for example, those who farm the plants or manufacture the seeds] to use our data in their own breeding programmes," she added, "to generate better varieties tailored for the different growing regions in each of the developing countries".
Jacques Pilloy, of artemisinin combination therapies portal Artepal, estimates that the demand for the drug will increase from 100 tonnes now to 130 tonnes in 2013 — equivalent to 260 million treatments. But only about 1.2 percent of the plant can be converted into artemisinin, says Pilloy, so a large area of crop must be planted to obtain a small amount of the drug.
As well as increasing the amount of artemisinin available, the research will help farmers in developing countries who grow the crop, says Ian Bathurst of the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV). "If farmers can either grow more plants per hectare, or the plants they grow are higher-yielding, they should be able to reduce their price and still make a greater profit," he said.
But the continued development of other methods for producing artemisinin — for example, from yeast culture or synthetic means — is vital, said Bathurst. "In the next 3–5 years, other alternatives may become available," he added. "This will smooth out the supply chain, so in the event of a natural disaster there will be alternative supplies of artemisinin."
For full story, please see: www.scidev.net/en/news/gene-discovery-could-boost-yield-of-key-malaria-drug-1.html
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2. Bamboo bikes: The ultimate eco-friendly ride
Source: Spiegel Online, 8 January 2010
Carbon fiber and aluminum are so 2009. This year's best bicycling model is made out of bamboo and hemp. A new generation of manufacturers is coming up with some of the most environmentally friendly transport yet. Lighter, stronger, more comfortable and these bikes have also got a much smaller carbon footprint.
Craig Calfee is known as the Zen master of bamboo-bike builders. In his workshop on the Californian coast, the frame designer builds breathtaking bikes out of the fast-growing plant, the largest member of the grass family.
Bamboo is native to all of the earth's continents, including North America, and for the new bike prototype Calfee used Californian bamboo. The bamboo bikes are a much smoother ride," he says. He also found that the bike had impressive impact resistance and was tougher than carbon fiber and less prone to fracturing. These results were confirmed after the bamboo frames were tested at the EFBe bicycle testing laboratory in Germany.
And if you think that such modes of transport were something reserved for well heeled Californians with an environmental conscience, then you would be wrong. Calfee has found a whole new area of operations for his bamboo bikes: Africa.
"In developing countries bicycles are an enormously important for transporting goods and going to school or to the market," he says. And the big advantage that bamboo bikes have over steel bikes is that the raw materials to make them are growing right there.
Calfee founded Bamboosera, an initiative supported by, among others, the Earth Institute of Columbia University, which supports sustainable development benefiting the world's poor. The Bamboosero project endeavors to teach locals in developing nations how to make their own bicycles with the long term goal of eventually founding a bicycle-making business.
In February 2008 Calfee helped teach three groups in Ghana the basics of bamboo bike frame building. There are now several projects ongoing in that country. And further projects are planned, everywhere from Uganda and Liberia to the Philippines and New Zealand.
For full story, please see: www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,670689,00.html
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3. Bushmeat: Consumption grows as forest cover declines
Source: WWF, 29 December 2009
New analytical techniques have revealed that the scale of bushmeat trade in Central Africa may be much larger than originally thought, according to a study published by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.
The study, based on an analysis of food balance sheets provided by FAO’s statistical database FAOSTAT, strongly supports the view that the current situation surrounding bushmeat hunting in Central African rainforests is precarious. According to the analysis, bushmeat extraction rose considerably in the Congo Basin between 1990 and 2005, despite the overall decrease in forest cover in Central Africa.
Cameroon appears to be exceeding—by more than 100%—an estimated sustainable offtake of 150 kg of game meat per square kilometre of forest, and Gabon and the Republic of Congo are both close to this limit. The greatest rise in bushmeat production was in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the yield rose from 78,000 tonnes in 1990 to 90,000 tonnes in 2005. In the Republic of Congo, production almost doubled, from 11,000 to 20,000 tonnes per year in the same time period.
“While the FAOSTAT bushmeat data are probably underestimates and should be regarded with caution, the data are the most readily available official sources of information on production of wild meat in the Congo Basin and are valuable indicators of bushmeat production and consumption trends,” says Stefan Ziegler, Programme Officer with WWF Germany, and author of the report.
Wildlife is a significant and direct source of protein for more than 34 million people living in the Congo Basin and bushmeat hunting is a key component of many peoples’ livelihoods in Central Africa.
Earlier studies have demonstrated that bushmeat extraction increases with human population growth. However, the latest study finds that bushmeat consumption increases significantly with personal wealth too.
“Bushmeat consumption is higher in countries with large urban populations, and the increasing urbanization in the Congo region is likely to place even greater pressure on wild animal populations there,” says Ziegler, “the danger is unsustainable offtake of wild game will lead to a collapse in wild animal populations and widespread human hunger in the region”.
Unsustainable harvest levels are widely believed to be the most immediate threat to the region’s forest mammals.
“Local people have hunted in the forests for centuries, for food and for barter, but the last 20 years have seen the emergence of a commercial bushmeat market due to rural people being increasingly drawn into the cash economy,” says Nathalie van Vliet, TRAFFIC Bushmeat Strategic Advisor.
“The impacts of subsistence hunting was previously balanced by the fact of the hunting was done on a rotation basis on alternate tracts of forest areas. However, shifts in human population dynamics and socio-economic factors are leading to rising, and increasingly unsustainable demands on wild animal populations.”
An earlier WCS study found that offtake by commercial hunters in south-eastern Cameroon was ten times more per immigrant hunter than for local subsistence hunters.
“What is clear is that management strategies to prevent over-harvesting need to be implemented and measures put in place to provide alternative sources of protein for the inhabitants of the region.”
However, the study also indicated that the development of animal husbandry may not be an ideal solution to provide substitute protein for game meat.
The study, Application of food balance sheets to assess the scale of the bushmeat trade in Central Africa, was launched today at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Bushmeat Liaison Group Meeting, currently taking place in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Further to the results of the study, TRAFFIC is encouraging countries in Central Africa to enhance enforcement efforts and establish concrete law enforcement mechanisms targeted at curbing commercial bushmeat poaching. “Central African countries can cooperate in addressing this growing problem through the development of a regional enforcement plan and creating the political will to combat commercial bushmeat poaching in regional fora such as the upcoming Yaounde +10 Summit." says Germain Ngandjui, TRAFFIC's representative in Central Africa.
For full story, please see: www.panda.org/wwf_news/news/?177302/Bushmeat-consumption-soars-as-forest-cover-declines
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4. Ecotourism: India’s Varanasi forests an important destination for eco tourists
Source: Expressindia.com, 19 January 2010
The forests of Varanasi division will now be one of the important ecotourism destinations of the state. The state Forest and Tourism department will be jointly initiating eco-tourism projects in this region as part of the Joint Forest Management Programme.
The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) will be funding one of the projects. The Tourism department has already prepared projects worth Rs 95 lakh, of which Rs 84 lakh have been approved.
According to official sources, the ecotourism project will kick-start with two projects covering the Rajdari forest range in Varanasi district and the Keenaram Sthali at Chahaniya range in Chandauli district. The state Forest Corporation will be undertaking the construction work under the eco-tourism project. The first project will include the development of the Rajdari range, which has a small lake and an island. Estimated at Rs 49 lakh, the project will witness the construction of a Nature Interpretation Centre.
Divisional Forest Officer (Varanasi) Dr P P Verma said: “The entire range has a large number of rare herbal trees, which can be of major interest to not just botany students, but also research scholars.” “There are trees in this range which are over 150 years old. Hence, they can be a major attraction for eco-tourists,” added Verma.
Apart from the centre, the project will also see nature huts, where tourists can see the lifestyle of the local tribals and also live like them taking advantage of the natural products of the forest in a sustainable way.
In the second project, Baba Keenaram Taposthali in Chahaniya range in Chandauli district will be developed. Rs 55 lakh has been allocated for the project. The department will be constructing a social forestry museum, which will give extensive details of the flora and fauna of the area. The area also has a pond, where the water is said to have medicinal properties.
For full story, please see: www.expressindia.com/latest-news/now-varanasi-forests-to-be-next-ecotourism-spot/569051/
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5. Frankincense and myrrh: Three wise men were tuned into medicinal properties
Source: Ladysmith Chronicle, Vancouver, Canada, 23 December 2009
Christmas is typically the time when frankincense and myrrh are mentioned in conjunction with the biblical story of wise men bringing the baby Jesus gifts, but the two essential oils are still in use today.
Myrrh (Commiphora molmol), and frankincense (Boswellia carterii birdwood) have had spiritual significance since ancient times as an incense to purify the air and uplift the soul as well as having medicinal properties for physical ailments.
Frankincense and myrrh both quicken the blood flow and relieve pain. The major indications for the combination of myrrh and frankincense are pain in the mid-abdominal region, and postpartum abdominal pain.
Wounds, scars, skin inflammation with blood stasis as well as traumatic injuries with pain, swelling and redness are also helped with these remedies. What perfect gifts they both can be for a woman who has just delivered a baby.
Frankincense has also been studied as an anti-tumor agent against bladder cancer. A British Medical Journal review of the data looked at all research results and found particularly notable trials related to asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, osteoarthritis, and collagenous colitis. Results of all trials indicated that frankincense extracts were clinically effective. Three studies were of good methodological quality and no serious safety issues were noted.
In addition to its anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties, myrrh has also been recognized as well as a treatment for gastric ulcers, and as an anti-tumor and anti-parasitic agent. Myrrh has been studied as a treatment against Schistosomiasis, a parasite prevalent in Egypt.
For full story, please see:
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6. Honey: Doctors find the health benefits of Manuka honey to be buzz-worthy
Source: SBWire.com, 12 January 2010
Since the dawn of time, honey has been used for medical purposes. Honey is an ideal natural medicine, mostly because of its antibacterial properties. In the mid 1940s, when antibiotics were invented, doctors assumed they were a better treatment option than honey. Even today, most western doctors are trained to believe in pharmaceuticals, not natural alternatives. However, with the dilemma of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, the medical community is desperate for other solutions.
In addition to antibiotic resistance and an array of negative side effects, antibiotics have another downside. Antibiotics are indiscriminate killers, destroying as much bacteria in the body as they can. This removes the good bacteria along with the bad. The body contains intestinal flora that is necessary for normal functioning. Honey offers a better solution by destroying only the harmful, infectious bacteria and leaving good bacteria.
There are many different types of honey. It is important to know that some honeys have more healing properties than others; this depends on the floral nectar used by the bees that produced it. Manuka Honey from New Zealand has been found to have a significantly higher level of antibacterial activity than any other type of honey.
However, even Manuka Honey should be chosen wisely. In New Zealand a rating system exists for Manuka eg: Manuka Honey with a UMF rating between 10 and 16 is ideal for medicinal use; less than UMF 10 it is not potent enough; and more than UMF 16 is too potent and usually overpriced. Using Manuka Honey without an active UMF rating is not recommended.
When using an active, medical-grade Manuka Honey, it is possible to effectively treat conditions such as sore throats, strep throat, stomach ulcers, cold and flu symptoms, acid reflux disease, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis, etc. Manuka Honey can also be used topically on the skin to treat infected wounds, acne, ringworm, cold sores, pressure sores, skin ulcers, MRSA, etc.
For full story, please see: www.sbwire.com/news/view/36502
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Source: Eco-Index, 7 January 2010
Maya Nut (Brosimum alicastrum); or Ramon, Ojoche, Masica, Ujuxte, Ojushte, Ojite, Ash, Ox, Capomo, Mojo, and Breadnut; is a delicious, nutritious, abundant Neotropical rainforest tree which provided a staple food for pre-Columbian hunter gatherers. Maya nuts are exceptionally nutritious, providing high quality protein, calcium, iron, folate, fiber, and vitamins A, E, C and B. It is also one of the best native forage species and shows great promise to provide ecological alternatives to pasture for cattle ranches in the Neotropics.
In recent history, Maya nut has been critical to rural food security; thousands of villages throughout Central America and Mexico have survived drought and famine by eating Maya nut when no other food was available.
Unfortunately knowledge about Maya nut has dropped throughout its range as globalization, export crops, and deforestation negatively impact indigenous cultures and the forests which sustain them. As a result of the loss of indigenous knowledge, people cut Maya nut trees for firewood and burn forests to plant corn, beans and other crops. The Maya nut tree is in danger of extinction throughout its range, a situation which threatens the food security of both human and animal populations.
The Equilibrium Fund’s Maya Nut program is working to rescue lost traditional knowledge about the tree for food, fodder, and ecosystem services. Since its inception in 2001, they have trained more than 8,000 women from 450 communities in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico. This program has resulted in the conservation of more than 400,000 ha. of Maya nut forests, and the planting of more than 800,000 new seedlings.
The program focuses on women as the caretakers of the family and the environment, and addresses key factors for sustainable livelihoods - socio-cultural, environmental, and economic - by creating leadership, educational, and economic opportunities for women and girls.
Its newest program, “Healthy Kids, Healthy Forests” (Bosques Sanos, Ninos Sanos) aims to provide Maya nut-based school lunches to rural children. Starting in Guatemala in 2008, we are feeding 8,124 children from 46 communities in the Petén region of Guatemala. These communities are planting more than 300,000 new Maya Nut trees as “food forests” to sustain this program in the future.
For full story, please see: http://eco-index.org/search/results.cfm?projectID=1181
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Source: The News International, Pakistan, 28 December 2009
The Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) (Pakistan), organized a joint inaugural session for two different international seminars on Thursday.
The seminar “New Trends in Chemistry” was coordinated by Dr Rakhshanda Nawaz of LCWU’s Department of Chemistry while the other “Medicinal Plants” was done by Prof Dr Ismat Naeem of the same department.
According to a WHO study presented at the seminar “Medicinal Plants”, around 90% of the population in the developing world relies on herbal remedies for their basic healthcare needs.
Prof Dr A Rehman Chaudhry from Chicago, USA, delivered a lecture on enzymes. Prof Dr MH Boskabady of Mashhad University of Medicinal Sciences, Mashhad, Iran, presented his research work on the importance and usage of saffron.
For full story, please see: www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=218802
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9. Medicinal plants: Herbalists score major victory
Source: Daily Nation, Kenya, 5 January 2010
Herbalists have scored a major victory in their quest for official recognition after scientists provided evidence that some herbal medicines can cure many diseases.
The scientists from the University of Nairobi and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology have analysed 12 medicinal plants used by traditional healers in Machakos and Kitui districts in Nairobi and found most to contain healing properties against common bacterial infections, including tuberculosis.
They also confirmed the widely-held belief that the mchicha plant (Amaranthus) has properties that protect people with HIV from various opportunistic infections.
The study carried out by nine researchers from the two universities was published in the Phytotherapy Research journal. “In the past few decades, there have been intense pharmacological studies brought about by the recognition of the value of medicinal plants as potential sources of new compounds for managing diseases,” says the study.
The researchers say plants such as Aloe, Croton, catch thorn (Ziziphus abyssinica) and several others of the analysed 12 are promising candidates in the search for new cures.
However, they warn that their findings do not authorise herbalists to use the plants indiscriminately because they have to understand the correct dosage and the part of the plant to use for the best and safest results.
Citing an earlier study on the anti-bacterial properties of the croton tree which found the plant had little medicinal value, the researchers in the current study found the tree to be quite effective, a contrast they attributed to the locality of plant species, parts used, and time of collection, storage and methods of analysis.
This in essence means that a neem tree(Azardirachta indica), for example, found at the coast may not have similar medicinal properties with its counterpart growing elsewhere in the country. This should serve as a warning for many herbalists who are increasingly domesticating plants away from their indigenous habitats.
For full story, please see: www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/836624/-/voregn/-/
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10. Moss: Jeweller creates rings embedded with live plants
Source: GreenPacks, 6 January 2009
The ring collection from Jeweler Hafsteinn Juliusson wouldn’t quite qualify as eco-friendly, but it does come across as a great way to spread the green message. Rings in the jeweller/ designer’s collection come with a stainless steel base, but have the biggest jewel of them all, nature embedded at the top. These rings have Icelandic moss plants as their crowning glory, leading the way for them to be called “clash of jewellery and gardening.”
The moss, like any other plant, needs some care. The wearer would have to water them and take good care of them; pruning though, will not be necessary as the moss will not grow very noticeably during the time. If taken well care of, the moss could last for nearly six months. The innovative green rings do not come cheap though, each will cost £485 and we hope there’s a way to get that moss growing and thriving again after that six months time is over.
For full story, please see: www.greenpacks.org/2010/01/06/jeweler-creates-rings-embedded-with-live-plants/
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11. Mushrooms beat cancer
Source: The Nigerian Guardian, 14 January 2010
Mushrooms have been discovered to contain ingredients that could be used for the production of new drugs for the treatment of cancers.
Scientists have discovered how a promising cancer drug, first discovered in a wild mushroom, works. A team from the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, believes their work could help make the drug more effective, and useful for treating a wider range of cancers.
Cordycepin, commonly used in Chinese medicine, was originally extracted from a rare kind of parasitic mushroom that grows on caterpillars. The study appeared in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Nigerian researchers have also determined the protein content of three wild mushroom species growing in Owo Local Government areas of Ondo State: Termitomyces robustus (known as Ewe in Yoruba), Lentinus squarrosulus Mont (known as Tifa in Yoruba) and Lentimula edodes (known as Sheshe-Ope in Yoruba).
Over the last decade, mushrooms have been studied as a novel functional food in Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan. Mushrooms, which have been used as food from time immemorial for their taste and flavour, have in recent times been found to be highly nutritious and medicinal. They are rich in high quality protein, minerals and vitamins such as folic acid but low in fat content.
In Nigeria, wild edible mushrooms are one of the important minor forest products, which are locally traded in local market of the country. Due to their high content of protein, vitamins and minerals, mushrooms are considered as "poor man's protein".
Previous studies had asserted that the maximum protein content and the best amino acid balance are found in mushrooms just before the caps expand. It has also been established that the major food value of mushroom lies in their protein components.
The results of the Ondo State study revealed that these mushrooms are nutritiously good for consumption. In fact, previous studies had revealed that edible mushrooms contained all the essential amino acids as well as most commonly occurring non-essential amino acids and amides.
The study found that mushrooms are low in calories, have no cholesterol and are virtually free of fat and sodium. Mushrooms also contain other essential minerals like selenium, which works with vitamin E to produce antioxidants that neutralize “free radicals” which can cause cell damage.
Studies have suggested that selenium may reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, it may slow the progress of HIV/AIDS and may aid in symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatitis and asthma. Studies have shown men who eat selenium rich foods may lower their risk of prostate cancer.
For full story, please see: www.ngrguardiannews.com/natural_health/article01/indexn2_html?pdate=140110&ptitle=Scientists%20employ%20mango,%20mushroom%20to%20beat%20cancer
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12. Rattan used for transplants
Source: AllHeadlineNews, United States of America, 12 January 2010
Scientists are working on a process that turns rattan into a bone-like material that is almost like human tissue and can bond to human bone.
Italian scientists say that a method for creating replacement bones for humans might be only a few years away. Right now, the scientists are doing trials involving sheep that have had the new material implanted.
The scientists use tubular sections of rattan wood that is cut into smaller pieces and then heated in a furnace in a process that adds carbon and calcium to the wood. Then the wood is heated under pressure with a phosphate solution. After 10 days, the material is bonelike and ready to be used.
Scientists say that the material eventually fuses to bone and is capable of carrying loads without breaking, just like real bone. In addition, because rattan is porous, it is able to have blood and nerves travel through it.
Sheep with the transplanted rattan have had the material fuse to their existing bone within a matter of a few months with a barely perceptible seam. The fused rattan material has functioned just like the sheep's original bone, scientists say.
Funding for the project is being furnished by the European Union.
For full story, please see: www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7017501242?Italian%20Scientists%20Working%20On%20Process%20That%20Turns%20Rattan%20Into%20Bone-Like%20Material%20For%20Transplants
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In the midst of a seesaw political battle to save Yasuni National Park from oil developers, scientists have announced that Yasuni park in Ecuador houses more species than anywhere else in South America—and maybe the world.
"Yasuní is at the center of a small zone where South America's amphibians, birds, mammals, and vascular plants all reach maximum diversity," Dr. Clinton Jenkins of the University of Maryland said in a press release. "We dubbed this area the 'quadruple richness center.'"
The number of species inhabiting Yasuni is staggering. According to the study, published in PLoS ONE, the region breaks records for numerous taxa, including amphibians, trees, bats, and insects.
More trees grow in a single hectare of upland rainforest in Yasuni—655 species—than in the continental US and Canada combined. In 25 hectares, the number of tree species rises to 1,100. "In just one hectare in Yasuní, there are more tree, shrub, and liana (woody vines) species than anywhere else in the world," said Gorky Villa, an Ecuadorian botanist working with both the Smithsonian Institution and the conservation organization with offices in Maryland and Quito, Ecuador, Finding Species.
The same incredibly high diversity applies to amphibians, according to Shawn McCracken of Texas State University. "The 150 amphibian species documented to date throughout Yasuní is a world record for an area of this size.
However the numbers of insects in Yasuni may eclipse all of these: according to entomologist, Dr. Terry Erwin, a single hectare of rainforest may contain as many as 100,000 unique insect species. This estimate is the highest per unit area in the world for any taxa, plant or animal.
"One of our most important findings about Yasuní is that small areas of forest harbour extremely high numbers of animals and plants," said lead author Margot Bass, President of Finding Species. "Yasuní is probably unmatched by any other park in the world for total numbers of species."
In one of the park's well-studied areas, Tiputini Biodiversity Station, researchers have catalogued 247 amphibian and reptiles, 550 birds, and 200 mammals—over 100 of which are bats. The station consists of only 6.5 square kilometres but "is the richest site in the world for bats,” asserts researcher Dr Thomas Kunz of Boston University
Twenty-eight vertebrates inhabiting Yasuni are currently threatened with extinction according to the IUCN Red List, including the white-bellied spider monkey, Poeppig's woolly monkey, the giant river otter, and the Amazonian manatee. Few plants and invertebrates, such as insects, have been evaluated by the IUCN.
"What makes Yasuní especially important is its potential to sustain this extraordinary biodiversity in the long term," said Dr. Matt Finer of Save America’s Forests. "For example, the Yasuní region is predicted to maintain wet, rainforest conditions as climate change-induced drought intensifies in the eastern Amazon."
For full story, please see: http://news.mongabay.com/2010/0119-hance_yasunibio.html
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Source: AllAfrica.com, 23 December 2009
Magistrate judges and village elders in the administrative areas of Shebeq, Adi-Omar and Adi-Arey in Hagaz sub-zone called on the inhabitants to enhance participation in preserving vegetation, as well as historical sites and relics.
They noted that in the past the area was covered by thick forests; at present, however, they are being cut down in an irresponsible way.
The head of community magistrate in Shebeq, Ms. Dehab Tekleberhan, highlighted the need to take the necessary measures against individuals resorting to cutting of trees.
Reports indicated that the area is endowed with rich relics and big trees, source of abundant products. The administrative areas of Shebeq, Adi-Omar and Adi-Arei are located 40 kilometers. south of the town of Hagaz.
For full story, please see: http://allafrica.com/stories/200912240505.html
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Sensitive to the need for conserving and expanding Himalayan green cover, foresters are making efforts to link livelihoods with management of forests by introducing new practices.
Under ‘Sanjha Van-Sanjivani Van’, one of the programs started recently, as many as 525 joint forest management committees (JFMCS) have been constituted, said a government spokesman.
These committees, under the community driven program, is planting about one crore herbal plants on 2,500 hectares, which would enable people to derive economic benefits when they are able to harvest the herbal crops.
More than 15 lakh herbal plants were given to more than 12 lakh rural and urban families for planting in 2008. On maturity, 75 percent of the income generated from herbal crops went to the joint management committee and the rest to panchayats.
Of the 165 herbal species exploited for commercial purposes, the state is largest supplier of Chilgoza, Kuth, Dioscoria, Dhoop, Picrorrhiza, Valeriana and Ephedera in the country. For marketing the herbs the State Medicinal Plant Board has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Patanjali Yog Peeth, Haridwar.
In another scheme, ‘Apna Van-Apna Dhan’ people are encouraged to grow trees on private and barren land for which 4 lakh plant saplings are being distributed free of cost, said the spokesman.
A special ‘Pipal-Bargad’ plantation drive in identified villages is also a part of an awareness drive to educate the residents about the economic value of these trees. By associated village communities, especially the elders, as many as 8,536 Pipal and Bargad trees in 3057 identified villages were planted in 2009.
For conserving and developing water resource in forest areas, a ‘Van Sarovar’ program under NREGA has been initiated whereby 200 water harvesting structures are being constructed. These forest ponds, besides providing water for wildlife, would also prove helpful in containing forest fires, he said.
To contain illegal felling and smuggling felling of trees, ‘Van Thanas’ have been constituted, six have become operational and another 10 are proposed to be setup soon.
Of the state’s total geographical area of 55,673 Km², 37,033 Km² are classified as forests which holds an estimated timber wealth of over Rs 1.5 lakh crores, said the spokesman.
For full story, please see: http://himachal.us/2010/01/13/himachal-banks-on-sustainable-forestry-for-enhancing-livelihood-means/18038/news/ravinder
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Source: Indianexpress, 14 January 2010
A recent study by a group of researchers has revealed that the migration of tribals from the forested parts of eastern Gujarat has increased, even from those places, where the forest cover was not altered.
The study said a section of tribal youths has reduced their dependence on the forests and prefer migrating to the cities. The research was carried out by experts in social sciences and scientific studies and conducted with the help of the Gujarat state and the Centre.
The findings were made public at a national workshop entitled “Changing behaviour of forests and its impact on the livelihood of tribals in eastern Gujarat”, organized by the Vadodara-based think tank, Centre for Culture and Development (CCD).
The findings showed that from areas where the forest cover remained unchanged since 1971 to 2001, migration doubled to 37.69 %.
“It appears that in recent times, the tribals are not as dependent for their livelihood entirely on the forests or forest products. They also depend on alternative sources of livelihood such as dairy farming, horticulture, and agriculture.”
This observation has to be seen in light of the continued alienation of tribals from the forests that had no way out except migrating seasonally, temporarily and permanently in search of livelihood,” the researchers said. The study was conducted with the help of satellite imagery and census reports provided by the state and the Centre.
The study further showed disparity between the census data from 1971 and 2001 and satellite imagery data from the years 1972, 1990 and 2007. “According to the 1971 census, there was 9.89 % forest cover of the total study area (eastern Gujarat) and the same had increased to 11.75 % in the 2001 census. As per the latest Working Plan (of the state government), the forest area cover in Gujarat is 11.83 %. The 1972 satellite imagery shows 21.33 % area under forest cover compared to 17.17 % in 2000.
The 1990 imagery shows 14 %, while the 2007 imagery shows 16.18 % forest cover of the total study area, the findings revealed.
The experts headed by the director of CCD, Dr Lancey Lobo further said that forest area decreased by 1 % in anticipation of claims on land to be made under the Forest Rights Act of 2006 between the period 2000 and 2007.
For full story, please see: www.indianexpress.com/news/study-reveals-migration-of-tribals-from-forests/567258/0
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Source: The Jakarta Post, Indonesia, 15 January 2010
The government is expected to handle more cases involving poaching, trading and smuggling of endangered and protected animal species in Indonesia this year, but on the other hand the fate of the forests, which function as the natural habitat of the animal species, have been further neglected, says an environmentalist.
“The handling of the cases is at a crossroads, on one hand they show a rising trend, on the other the government seems to neglect the condition of forests in Indonesia,” said ProFauna International wildlife observer Rosek Nursahid, in Malang. He added the wildlife cases should have been handled together with the forest as the habitat of the animal species and that more and more forested areas had been damaged or cleared by people, so access to wildlife poaching would be easier. “The government tends to give industries opportunities to control the forest’s function. We project that the area of wildlife habitat would be further restricted over time.”
He cited the takeover of forests in Malang, East Java, such as the R. Soerjo Community Forest Park in the Mount Arjuna area where forested areas had been converted into farms, forcing endemic wildlife species to flee the area. “We used to be able to easily find the endemic Javanese lutung monkey in the Mount Arjuna forest, but it is hard to find it in the area now.”
In its 2009 end-of-the-year report, ProFauna announced that trade in protected animal species in Indonesia was still high. The latest ProFauna survey conducted at 70 bird markets in 58 cities in 2009 indicated 183 rare and protected animal species had been traded.
From the dozens, 14 bird markets had traded in the rare cockatoo and parrot, 21 markets trading in primates, 11 trading in mammals and 13 trading in birds of prey. East Java is recorded as the province trading the most number of protected animals in the country, while the Depok Bird Market in Surakarta, Central Java, as the city trading the highest number of protected wildlife species.
The trade in protected animals in major bird markets in Surabaya, Semarang and Jakarta, is carried out clandestinely. “The protected animals are not exhibited openly, but covertly in storehouses or the traders’ houses. They would only show the animals to a real buyer,” Rosek said.
Besides Java, the trade in rare animal species also takes place in Sumatra and Bali. In Sumatra, the area the government must pay special attention to is Palembang. One of the animal trading centers in Palembang is the Pasar 16 Ilir, which trades in various species of rare animals, such as eagles, monkeys, pangolins and slow lorises. “Palembang is still the center of the pangolin trade in Sumatra.”
Bali, said Rosek, had a thriving wildlife trade, especially in green turtles. Despite a drop in the number of cases compared to before 2000, turtle smuggling to Bali continued to take place.
In 2009, ProFauna Indonesia observed a number of places which were used as smuggling routes of rare animals outside the country. They are identified as Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport and Talaud Islands in North Sulawesi. On March 8, 2009, two Saudi Arabian citizens were arrested for smuggling dozens of protected animals at the Soekarno-Hatta Airport. In October 2009, authorities foiled an attempt to smuggle 16 eagles and other animals to Japan through Soekarno-Hatta.
Talaud Islands should also be seriously focused because it is still a smuggling route of wildlife to the Philippines through the sea. Authorities foiled an attempt to smuggle 234 animals through Talaud Islands in January last year.
Based on observation by ProFauna last year, law enforcers were able to uncover 53 cases of trade in wildlife species, which value was estimated at Rp 10 billion.
For full story, please see: www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/01/15/endangered-animal-trading-rise.html
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Plans are under way by the Borno State Government to transplant six million tree seedlings to cover a 1,500 square-km shelter belt to check desertification in the state. The project will be executed in the five affected councils of Abadam, Mobbar, Gubio, Nganzai and Kala/Balge in the state.
The seedlings are being raised in nurseries to a height of one metre before the transplant.
Speaking yesterday at the Gubio Nursery, Commissioner of Environment, Abdulkadir Abubakar Kaza'a, lamented that desertification had encroached upon farmlands, forest lands and oases, which the people rely on for their livelihoods. He said since the 1983/84 drought, desertification has been moving southwards at the rate of 600 metres per year, fearing that any delay in the completion of the shelter belt could displace more communities
The commissioner disclosed that all boreholes in Damasak, Gubio and Nganzai were being reactivated to ensure regular supply of water for the transplanted seedlings in the belt.
However, Kaza'a observed that the six million seedlings might not adequately cover the shelter belt, hinting that the three state nurseries would have to raise more for the desert reclamation project.
The commissioner also disclosed that the state government would employ more forest guards to protect existing trees from illegal logging and firewood merchants. The guards, according to him, would patrol the shelter belt and grazing reserves already gazetted by the state government.
For full story, please see: http://allafrica.com/stories/200912290335.html
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Modern technology has exposed several threats brought by mining to Palawan’s rich environment that could also affect the lives of several indigenous peoples living in the province, a group supporting ethnic groups said on Friday.
Citing a study by Unesco on the threats of mining in Palawan, the group Ancestral Land/Domain Watch (ALDAW) said that the presence of mining companies poses a threat to the lives of local people in the province.
The study revealed that of the 1.47 million hectares of Palawan, as much as 50 percent of the land is being occupied by 354 mining tenements. The mining sites also occupy more than 90 percent of indigenous peoples’ lands, ALDAW national coordinator Artiso Mandawa said.
“Presently, there is only one existing Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) in the province and we have recorded 10 CADT applications being processed and about 60 percent of the ancestral domains have yet to be applied for delineation process,” said Mandawa. “Mining operations in the province poses serious threats to indigenous peoples communities in asserting their rights to land,” he added.
The study used the technology known as “geo-tagging,” where a global positioning system connected to a digital camera was used to mark specific areas in Palawan that would show the adverse impacts of mining on the province.
The study covered the Bulanjao range, the hinterlands of Ipilan (Brooke’s Point Municipality) and around the eastern side of the Gantong range.
The study was conducted by experts from the Centre for Biocultural Diversity (CBCD) of the University of Kent in the United Kingdom headed by Dr. Dario Novellino, a CBCD anthropologist and Visiting Research Associate of the Institute of Philippine Culture of the Ateneo de Manila University, and ALDAW.
The study revealed that several mining explorations in the province were situated in areas known to be “Core Zones” of maximum protection.
Novellino said that under the Ecological Critical Areas Network (ECAN) Guidelines of the Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan (Republic Act 7611), “core zones” are defined as “areas above 1,000 meters in elevation, virgin forests or primary growth forests, areas with steep gradient (above 50 percent slope), and critically threatened/endangered habitats and habitats of rare endangered species or habitats of Palawan local endemic species of flora and fauna.”
Particularly, the study revealed that at Brooke’s Point Municipality, affected areas of mining include a watershed area known to provide potable water to the local indigenous communities.
“Their sustenance totally depends on the available forest resources, and it consists of a heterogeneous economy where sustainable swidden cultivation is integrated with foraging and the collection of NTFPs,” Novellino said.
“The geo-tagged images have revealed that the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) areas of MacroAsia Corporation overlap not only with the traditional territory of the local indigenous communities but also with the ‘Core Zones’ of maximum protection,” he added.
Groups have expressed alarm over the results of the geo-tagging study. Haribon executive director Blaz Tabaranza said that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources should act quickly on the results of this study.
“The government must take the recommendations of the research seriously, or we might face a potential ecological crisis in one of the last frontiers of biodiversity in the Philippines,” Tabaranza said.
For full story, please see: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20100115-247476/Geo-tagging-reveals-Palawan-mining-threats
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When one thinks of reintroducing wildlife, one usually thinks of big charismatic mammals, such as wolves or beaver, or desperate birds like the Californian condor. But the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in Scotland is going one step further to save the UK's unique ecology with plans to reintroduce four species of dwindling insects.
While RSPB's focus is on birds, the organization works with all kinds of British wildlife. "No conservation organization worth its salt concentrates on just one species and ignores all others," explains Lloyd Austin, RSPB Scotland's head of conservation policy, in a press release. "2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity and that chimes perfectly with our efforts to protect whole ecosystems on our reserves from the smallest bug to the tallest tree
Plans are in place to reintroduce the dark bordered beauty moth, which is only known from only three locations in the UK, all of them unprotected. Living up to its name, the moth is a lovely species: tawny yellow with brown on its wing's edges. RSPB is working with Butterfly Conservation to establish a breeding program for eventual rerelease.
RSPB is also working with Scottish Natural Heritage to reintroduce the pine hoverfly in 2011. The fly only breeds in rotting hollow tree stumps, which are largely missing in the UK due to forestry practices.
In addition, the RSPB is working on projects to release field crickets into the Surrey and Sussex heathlands, and return the short haired bumblebees to Kent.
"Conservation is about much more than simply stopping damaging activities to protect what is there. We have a duty to take positive action to restore species that have been lost. We have the ability to enhance and improve our existing habitats and countryside, and we are actively engaged in trying to achieve that," Austin said.
The RSPB has successfully reintroduced birds in the past, but insect reintroductions are proving to be an entirely different animal.
"Releasing invertebrates brings all kinds of new challenges as they can be very sensitive to even the slightest changes in habitat. We will need to keep a close eye on how they are faring and make sure we continue to provide the right conditions for them," said Dr. Robert Sheldon, Head of Reserves Ecology at RSPB Scotland.
For full story, please see: www.enn.com/top_stories/article/40936
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21. Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agrees to further promote integration of traditional medicine
Source: The Philippine Star, 7 January 2010
With traditional medicine often the most widely available and affordable source of health care in the region, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed to promote further integration of traditional medicine, complementary and alternative medicine into health care services as a part of comprehensive national health systems.
ASEAN came up with an Action Plan and Declaration on Traditional Medicine, following the Conference on Traditional Medicine in ASEAN Countries, in Bangkok, Thailand recently. In the “Bangkok Declaration on Traditional Medicine in ASEAN,” member states agreed to generate and share evidence-based information on traditional medicine knowledge and practices by promoting and communicating widely and appropriately throughout the region and other partners and to harmonize national technical requirements and regulations as part of their commitment to ensure safety, efficacy and quality of traditional medicine.
ASEAN also vowed to develop specific activities to enhance collaboration in traditional medicine by involving practitioners and providers, industries, non-profit and professional organizations, the academe, communities as well as partner organizations as key partners.
ASEAN said this is part of putting into operation the actions stipulated in the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community (2009-2015) to facilitate research and cross-country exchange of experience in promoting the integration of safe, effective and quality traditional medicine, complementary and alternative medicine into the national health care system, and across other sectors.
They cited the WHO specific objectives in Traditional Medicine Strategy for 2002-2005 to support countries to integrate traditional medicine into national health care systems, promote the safety, efficacy and quality of traditional medicine by expanding the knowledge-base on traditional medicine, increase the availability and affordability of traditional medicine, as appropriate, with an emphasis on access for poor populations, and promote therapeutically sound use of appropriate traditional medicine by providers and consumers.
The regional bloc acknowledged that traditional medicine is often the most widely available and affordable source of health care in ASEAN. “Recognizing that ASEAN member states possess an abundance of untapped and newly discovered herbal and medicinal plants and other natural resources, as well as indigenous traditional knowledge and practices which have evolved from different ethnological, cultural, geographical, philosophical backgrounds, and the need to ensure sustainable management of biological diversity,” ASEAN said.
ASEAN welcomed the support of the Nippon Foundation through a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the ASEAN Secretariat to assist member states in promoting traditional medicine.
ASEAN secretary-general Dr. Surin Pitsuwan said one-third of the population in developing countries lacks access to modern and standard medical care where accessibility to safe, effective and quality traditional medicine will be important.
“The provision of safe and effective traditional medicine could be a critical tool for increasing access to health care systems in many of our ASEAN countries. However, we have to ensure the safety, efficacy and quality of traditional medicine by putting in place harmonized standards, appropriate quality control system and common regulations in ASEAN,” Surin said.
For full story, please see: www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=538589&publicationSubCategoryId=75
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Source: Indianexpress.com, 19 January 2010
Betel nut, known to be carcinogenic, has the potential to promise cure for patients prone to Alzheimer’s, said Prof K S Rangappa of the University of Mysore, while presenting his research paper on the concluding day of the four-day long international conference on ‘Chemical Biology for Discovery’ organized by the Indian Society of Chemists and Biologists at the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI).
Rangappa said a molecule derived from arecoline — found in betel nut — can prove vital in tackling Alzheimer’s. “Arecoline is a heterocyclic molecule and we found a new class of its derivatives. One of these derived molecules has shown significant activities against Alzheimer’s dementia,” said Dr Rangappa. He added: “In Alzheimer’s, plaques of a protein called beta amyloids get accumulated in the brain. The molecule helps reduce plaques in patients,” explained Dr Rangappa.
Besides this, scientists from Rajasthan presented their discovery of an anti-diabetic and dislipidemic application of a grass found in Udaipur region of the state. The grass, called Ghamra or Dhaman, has been widely used by local tribal groups for treating various liver-related ailments. “The herb was already known for having hepatoprotective (liver related) usage. But the tribals also used it for wound healing. On conducting research, we found the plant has tremendous anti-diabetic, dislipidemic as well as anti-impotency benefits,” said Dr Hemant Pareek of Rajasthan University.
He added: “A detailed study of parts of the plant is yet to be taken up and the mechanism of action needs to be understood.”
A third research paper presented in the conference was on usage of safflower seed extracts for pyohhrea (periodontal disease). The flower, commonly called Kusum or Kusumbh, found in parts of Maharashtra and known to have bone regeneration benefits apart from various other medicinal usages, was used by Dr Monica Bansal, a dentist at Banaras Hindu University in periodontal diseases. “We conducted a clinical trial in which we used safflower seed extract absorbed in sponge to graft the wound of pyorrhea. The results were encouraging with around 62 percent defects healed — which is double the success rate found in normal patients,” said Dr Bansal.
For full story, please see: www.indianexpress.com/news/betel-nut-has-potential-to-cure-alzheimers-disease-mysore-study/569052/0
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Source: CIFOR, 14 December 2009
As agreement nears on incorporating forest mitigation into a new climate protection accord, close to 1,500 forestry experts, policy makers and activists gathered in Copenhagen to urge politicians to make the most of a once in a lifetime opportunity to conserve forests and contribute to climate change mitigation, a policy option usually referred to as REDD+ .
Elinor Ostrom, who received the Nobel Prize for economics in Oslo last week, made a passionate call for local communities to be fully recognised as part of the process for developing and implementing REDD+. There is a risk that the process will become far too ‘top down,’ she told a packed plenary session. ‘Simple formulas may sound good, but they don’t have the desired result. Such has been the case, for example, with the classical top-down approach of establishing government protected forest areas. Far more effective are approaches that gain the trust of indigenous communities, respect their rights, and involve them in forest use and monitoring, practices that are positively associated with maintenance of forest density.’
Participants also emphasised the role forests should play in helping communities adapt to climate change. There is a lack of awareness about how ecosystem-based adaptation can be a cost-effective solution to climate-induced environmental stress. Synergies need to be sought between the role of forests as agents of climate change mitigation and their role in adaptation. There was wide support for a ‘Marshall Plan’ for forest-based adaptation.
But caution was also urged. Many challenges lie ahead if REDD+ is to be successfully implemented, according to the principles of the 3Es: efficiency, effectiveness and equity. In voting sessions, delegates saw a lack of equity as a major barrier to successfully implementing REDD.
‘The poll highlights the challenges ahead for implementing REDD+, said Markku Kanninen, a senior scientist at CIFOR. ‘Those include the need to protect the rights of local and indigenous communities, and ensure a fair distribution of benefits.’
‘Discussions at Forest Day 3 highlighted the need for broad-based participation in REDD+ schemes,’ said Frances Seymour, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), one of 15 centres supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). ‘Forestry ministries cannot achieve forest emission reductions without the cooperation of ministries covering areas such as agriculture, mining, planning and finance. Local governments and communities also have critical roles to play in the design and implementation,’ Seymour said.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), if properly managed, tropical forests could absorb as much as 1 billion tonnes of carbon per year and preserve habitats for thousands of plant and animal species.
“It’s now clear that without action on forest-related emissions, the international community has no chance of keeping global warming below the 2 degree threshold,” said Seymour. “Exceeding that threshold would have catastrophic implications for hundreds of millions of people. Reaching a deal on forests could buy time for other emissions measures to come on stream.”
REDD+ is seen as a crucial part of a new global climate pact, and there is increasing convergence among decision makers and interest groups over how the mechanism should be implemented at the national level and below. A major outcome of FD3 has been to contribute to the building of consensus among the broad range of actors in the forest sector and beyond on how REDD+ can be successfully implemented globally and nationally to ensure it contributes to climate mitigation and sustainable forest management and development.
“With a potential agreement on the horizon, and a growing consensus about what needs to be done, the forestry community is now mobilising to realise the potential of REDD+ on the ground,” Seymour said.
It was clear however that enshrining the rights of indigenous people was crucial to the scheme’s success, but also a moral obligation since 1.6 billion people rely heavily on forests for their livelihoods.
For full story, please see: www.cifor.cgiar.org/Headlines/Global+leaders+address+Forest+Day.htm
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Source: China Daily, 19 December 2009
A plan to protect the world's biologically rich tropical forests was shelved early Saturday after world leaders failed to agree on a binding deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Delegates scrapped plans for a comprehensive climate agreement that would have included the deal to pay poor countries to protect their forests. The program is known as REDD for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation.
REDD gets punted along for another year," said Kevin Conrad, executive director of the Coalition of Rainforest Nations, which includes many of the 40 tropical countries that would take part in the program. "It's depressing," he said. "It means I've got to spend another year ... coming to meetings and talking about the same things."
The cutting of trees for logging and to clear land for plantations or cattle ranches is blamed for about 20 percent of global emissions. That's as much carbon dioxide as all the world's cars, trucks, trains, planes and ships combined.
About 32 million acres (13 million hectares) of forests are cut down each year -- an area about the size of England or New York State, according to the Eliasch Review. Deforestation for logging, cattle grazing and crops has made Indonesia and Brazil the world's third- and fourth-biggest emitters.
"The failure of the UN process to agree on a system to fund and regulate the protection of the world's forests means that business as usual logging and forest conversion will continue," said Stephen Leonard of the Australian Orangutan Project. "No treaty means that forest destruction will continue unabated, forest dependent peoples rights will not be protected and endangered species will continue down the path to extinction."
REDD would be financed either by wealthy nations or by a carbon-trading mechanism - a system in which each country would have an emissions ceiling, allowing those who undershoot it to sell their emissions credits to over-polluters.
For full story, please see: www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2009copenhagenclimate/2009-12/19/content_9203486.htm
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25. Ski area plans threaten Europe’s last untouched forests
Source: WWF, 27 December 2009
Plans for new skiing areas in the region around the Carpathian Mountains and the Balkans threaten to harm major protected areas that house some of Europe’s last remaining untouched wilderness.
New developments and expansion plans for existing facilities for downhill skiing are in the works across many parts of the region, particularly in Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Ukraine.
In theory, potential conflicts between nature conservation and development – including for ski tourism – should be mediated by procedures such as Environmental Impact Assessments and the European Union’s Article 6 of the Habitats Directive, which provide a system for evaluating potential impacts on nature and identifying solutions and measures to mitigate negative impacts.
In practice, however, these safeguards are of limited effect and in the face of intense pressure from economic and political forces, nature conservation is often given short shrift.
The Carpathian Mountains are Europe’s last great wilderness area – a bastion for large carnivores, with some two-thirds of the continent’s populations of brown bears, wolves and lynx. They are also home to the greatest remaining reserves of old growth forests outside of Russia.
Meanwhile, the Balkan Mountains and the Rila-Rodope Mountain Range in Bulgaria contain outstanding natural features that are of global importance, including the Rila and Pirin National Parks, which have been recognised, respectively, as a certified PAN Parks wilderness area and a UNESCO World Heritage Park.
“It is striking how little climate change and sustainability appear to be entering calculations for many of the new ski area,” said Andreas Beckman, Director of WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme. “Already, rising temperatures and decreased precipitation and snow cover is causing problems for many facilities, with some poor recent ski seasons.”
A glance at the Alps should raise questions about the wisdom of pouring investments into ski areas in the Carpathians. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, as many as two-thirds of Alpine ski areas could go out of business according to current projections for climate change, while Alpine areas lower than 1,500 m are facing a very uncertain future. In fact, a 2004 report concludes that alpine ski regions in Slovakia at 1,150-1,500 meters above sea level may be uneconomic by 2030.
Construction of ski facilities of course can have very significant impact on habitats and species, not only due to removal of forest cover and other vegetation to make way for ski runs, access roads and infrastructure, but also due to fragmentation of habitats and wildlife avoidance. Secondary effects such as the abstraction of water for artificial snow production and deterioration of environmental conditions due to heavy tourist flow concentration can also have heavy impacts for biodiversity and nature values.
“Ski developments must not be permitted in protected areas, especially in national parks and core areas of any other protected area, in High Conservation Value Forests and High Nature Value Farmlands,” said Erika Stanciu, WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme, Forest and Protected Areas Team Leader. Careful consideration should be given to valuable natural and traditional landscapes. Developments in Natura 2000 sites must respect provisions of EU’s Article 6 of the Habitats Directive.”
For full story, please see: www.panda.org/wwf_news/news/?184562/Ski-area-plans-threaten-Europes-last-untouched-forests
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26. Treasure trove of nearly 300 new plants discovered by Kew experts
Source: The Independent, UK, 22 December 2009
A massive tree that is a relative of the pea yet rises more than 135ft above the ground is among a treasure trove of plants and fungi discovered by botanists.
It is one of a "bumper crop" of almost 300 new species discovered in the past 12 months by scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew (UK). They include colourful blooms such as orchids and passion flowers, giant trees, a yam reputed to cure cancer and a range of plants that have the potential to be cultivated as valuable crops.
The tally by Kew botanists this year accounts for more than one in seven of all new plants and fungi recorded around the world.
"We are turning out stuff all the time," said Dr Aaron Davis, a coffee plant specialist. "And there are all sorts of groovy things this year. Looking back on this year it's not just the number we've found that is special but the type of species we've found. It has surprised us. We have big canopy plants, numerous coffees, numerous palms and yams, and many orchids and indigos. "The public perception is, 'Surely you know all the palms and coffee and big canopy plants by now?' But obviously we don't."
Most finds have been made in tropical areas of the world where many more types of plant and fungus grow than in cooler regions.
The biggest new species to be discovered in 2009 by Kew botanists was the tree Berlinia korupensis, which is related to a pea. It boasts pods that grow a foot long and explode when ripe to hurl the seeds across the forest floor far from the parent tree. It was found in the Korup National Park in Cameroon, but only 17 specimens were pinpointed, making it critically endangered.
Two other big trees, Talbotiella velutina and Lecomtedoxa plumosa, were also discovered in the Cameroon rainforests. both grow to 100ft tall.
In South Africa botanists discovered the "cancer cure" yam (Dioscorea strydomiana), which is held by locals to have healing properties. Despite being known locally it had escaped identification by scientists. Only 200 of the plants have been pinpointed, and Dr Paul Wilkin, Kew's yam expert, said: "This is the most unique and unusual yam I have come across, and probably the most threatened."
An unexpectedly small plant was a knee-high dwarf eucalyptus in Australia named Eucalyptus sweedmaniana which, along with a second, Eucalyptus brandiana, was discovered by Professor Stephen Hopper, Kew's director. He said: "It is not widely known that 2,000 new plant species are discovered worldwide each year. Kew's botanists make a very significant contribution to this total. These new discoveries highlight the fact that there is so much of the plant world yet to be discovered and documented. Without knowing what's out there and where it occurs, we have no scientific basis for effective conservation."
The number of new species was counted and announced as part of Kew's 250th anniversary celebrations. Scientists exceeded their hopes of making 250 discoveries – one for each year. The country where the most new species were discovered by Kew experts in 2009 was Tanzania with 67, followed by Borneo with 62 and Madagascar with 32.
The smallest of the new species discovered by Kew this year was a fungus in Australia that rots wood but is less than a millimetre thick. "They are small but they perform a vital role in decomposition of plant material and recycling of nutrients," said Dr Brian Spooner.
Researchers found 38 new species of orchids, of which 13 came from Mount Kinabalu, Borneo's highest mountain. A further 15 were found in other parts of Borneo, where they are threatened by logging and plant hunters. Another new bloom is a type of passion flower from Brazil, Passiflora cristalina, which is bright red with an egg-shaped fruit.
The biggest of 24 new species of palms was Cyrtostachys bakeri, from Papua New Guinea, which reached more than 80ft high. The majority of new palms, 20 of them, were found in Madagascar, where they are threatened because 200,000 to 300,000 hectares of forest are destroyed annually.
Other discoveries with commercial potential include 14 species of indigos and their relatives, a type of plant that has been used for dyes for centuries.
For full story, please see: www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/treasure-trove-of-nearly-300-new-plants-discovered-by-kew-experts-1847215.html
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29 January 2010
Columbia University, New York
The Center for International Conflict Resolution in partnership with the Italian Ministry for Environment Land and Sea seek to engage a selection of high-level practitioners, academics and policy-makers in a multi-disciplinary exploration of key issues related to sustainable development, environmental policy-making and peace building in the Balkans. The purpose of this one-day symposium is to explore cutting edge issues in a multi-disciplinary and comparative framework in order to improve existing policies, strengthen activities where needed, and to offer comparative approaches and insights from around the world.
The international symposium will have a case study on 'Natural Resources and Ecotourism: tools for sustainable development in Montenegro'. The session will explore the role that natural resources and ecotourism can play in contributing to development practices that are both sustainable and inclusive. Furthermore, the session will explore the role that environment, eco tourism and natural resources can play in furthering constructive and strengthened relations with the European Union.
For more information, please contact:
e-mail: [email protected]
Telephone: +1 (347) 835 7418
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IUFRO Kuala Lumpur 2010
8 -12 March 2010
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
IUFRO Kuala Lumpur 2010 is the joint conference of IUFRO Working Parties 2.04.01 (Population, Ecological and Conservation Genetics) and 2.04.10 (Genomics) and will be hosted by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). The conference includes invited and contributed presentations and posters, discussion sessions, workshops, satellite and business meetings and an in-conference tour.
- To provide a platform for exchange of ideas and information amongst researchers and practitioners in forest genetics, breeding and conservation.
- To discuss and evaluate the latest approaches and techniques in forest genetics research and management of forest genetic resources.
- To promote international co-operation and networking amongst practitioners and researchers involved in forest genetics, breeding and conservation.
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CIFOR conference: “Taking stock of smallholder and community forestry: Where do we go from here?”
24 - 26 March 2010
Conference sessions will be organized to maximize comparisons of key topics drawing from cases in temperate and tropical forests from around the world. The workshop will be multidisciplinary, and papers may be presented from biophysical, socio-economic, policy or development perspectives. Particularly welcome are papers that compare or synthesize research across countries or regions, but country-level comparisons will also be considered. Each paper should close with a section aimed at answering the question, where do we go from here?
Topics include, but are not limited to:
- Relations between local forest practices and environmental, forestry or multisectoral policies and regulations
- Organizational patterns, institutions and governance concerns, including tenure and rights
- Practices, knowledge, particularly the interactions between local and extralocal systems (professional forest knowledge, NGOs, scientific knowledge)
- Management and marketing issues regarding timber, NTFPs and multiple-use management, including relations with the private sector and new certification mechanisms (ecolabeling, fair trade, and geographical origins)
- Gender issues
- Property, legitimacy or rights issues
- Approaches and methods for supporting smallholder and community forestry (NGOs, extension services)
- The role of the state and NGOs
For more information please contact:
Ms Laurne Anne Feintrenie
e-mail: [email protected]
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LITERATURE REVIEW AND WEB SITES
From: FAO’s NWFP programme
The relevance of mangrove forests to African fisheries, wildlife and water resources is the theme of the latest issue of Nature & Faune (Volume 24, Issue No. 1). It includes a collection of 14 diverse articles highlighting different aspects of mangroves - from the lush natural stands and enrichment planting, to the various uses of the mangrove ecosystems. The Special Feature highlights an original work from Cameroon, which provides good insight into mangrove ecosystem management from community to national level. The ‘Country Focus’ explains how Madagascar’s wildlife, water resources and fisheries entwine with its mangrove ecosystems. And challenges of managing mangroves in the Red sea area (North East Coast of Africa) are among the many issues visited.
To access it online and to read past issues, please visit our website: www.fao.org/africa/publications/nature-and-faune-magazine/.
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From: FAO's NWFP programme
A new volume has been added to FAO’s NWFP Working Document series – No. 8: The poor man’s carbon sink. Bamboo in climate change and poverty alleviation, by Maxim Lobovikov, Yiping Lou, Dieter Schoene and Raya Widenoja.
Bamboo, best known by many as food for giant pandas, has been overlooked in the current climate change regime. Bamboos are missing from the Marrakech Accords definition of forests, as well as from IPCC Assessments and IPCC Guidelines for greenhouse gas inventories and reporting. Botanically not trees but grasses, and related to wheat, rye, barley, corn, and sugarcane, bamboos cannot, verbatim, form forests consisting of trees, as defined by the Kyoto Protocol. Nevertheless, with good reason they have been dubbed the “poor man’s timber”. The label conveys a near perfect match of bamboo to the goals of the Clean Development Mechanism in forestry, namely, poverty reduction and carbon sequestration.
An electronic version of this document will be available shortly from our NWFP home page. Hard copies are available free of charge from FAO’s NWFP Programme at the address on the first page or by sending an e-mail to [email protected].
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32. Seed characteristics and germination parameters of Berberis aristata seeds from Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir (India).
From: Dr. Majid Ali
Indian Barberry (Berberis aristata) is an endangered medicinal shrub of Western Himalaya. It is a large, thorny, deciduous shrub found in rare and sporadic conditions in shady ravines, field boundaries and depressions in between 1,800 to 2,800 m amsl. Its wood, root bark and extract are being used for preparation of valuable medicine “Rasount”, which is used in eye infection, diarrhoea, jaundice and skin diseases (Chauhan, 1999). The population of this species has decreased alarmingly due to over exploitation of its roots. It is a very hardy shrub and can grow well even on marginal and poor soils and is ideal for the afforestration of wastelands. It is also suitable for planting as a hedge or fence because of presence of strong thorns. Unfortunately; the farmers have not been able to make use of this plant because of their ignorance about this plant and absence of suitable propagation techniques.
For more information, please contact:
Dr. Majid Ali
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33. Other publications of interest
From: FAO’s NWFP Programme
Balme, G.A., Slotow, R., and Hunter, L.T.B. 2009. Impact of conservation interventions on the dynamics and persistence of a persecuted leopard (Panthera pardus) population. Biol. Conserv. 142(11):2681-2690.
Bedward, M., Ellis, M.V., and Simpson, C.C. 2009. Simple modelling to assess if offsets schemes can prevent biodiversity loss, using examples from Australian woodlands. Biol. Conserv. 142(11):2732-2742.
Caro, T., Jones, T., and Davenport, T.R.B. 2009. Realities of documenting wildlife corridors in tropical countries. Biol. Conserv. 142(11):2807-2811.
Chai, S.L., Tanner, E., and McLaren, K. 2009. High rates of forest clearance and fragmentation pre- and post-National Park establishment: the case of a Jamaican montane rainforest. Biol. Conserv. 142(11):2484-2492.
Fargione, J.E., Cooper, T.R., Flaspohler, D.J., Hill, J., Lehman, C., McCoy, T., McLeod, S., Nelson, E.J., Oberhauser, K.S., and Tilman, D. 2009. Bioenergy and wildlife: threats and opportunities for grassland conservation. BioScience 59(9):767-777.
Garcia-del-Rey, E., Fernández-Palacios, J.M., and Muñoz, P.G. 2009. Intra-annual variation in habitat choice by an endemic woodpecker: implications for forest management and conservation. Acta Oecol. 35(5):685-690.
Gooden, B., French, K., Turner, P.J., and Downey, P.O. 2009. Impact threshold for an alien plant invader, Lantana camara L., on native plant communities. Biol. Conserv. 142(11):2631-2641.
Hall, J., Burgess, N.D., Lovett, J., Mbilinyi, B., and Gereau, R.E. 2009. Conservation implications of deforestation across an elevational gradient in the Eastern Arc Mountains, Tanzania. Biol. Conserv. 142(11):2510-2521.
Kappes, H., Delgado, J.D., Alonso, M.R., and Ibáñez, M. 2009. Native and introduced gastropods in laurel forests on Tenerife, Canary Islands. Acta Oecol. 35(5):581-589.
Lander, T.A., Harris, S.A., and Boshier, D.H. 2009. Flower and fruit production and insect pollination of the endangered Chilean tree, Gomortega keule in native forest, exotic pine plantation and agricultural environments. Rev. Chil. Hist. Nat. 82(3):403-412.
Maas, B., Putra, D.D., Waltert, M., Clough, Y., Tscharntke, T., and Schulze, C.H. 2009. Six years of habitat modification in a tropical rainforest margin of Indonesia do not affect bird diversity but endemic forest species. Biol. Conserv. 142(11):2665-2671.
Mimura, M., Barbour, R.C., Potts, B.M., Vaillancourt, R.E., and Watanabe, K.N. 2009. Comparison of contemporary mating patterns in continuous and fragmented Eucalyptus globulus native forests. Mol. Ecol. 18(20):4180-4192.
Osland, M.J., Pahl, J.W., and Richardson, C.J. 2009. Native bamboo (Arundinaria gigantea [Walter] Muhl., Poaceae) establishment and growth after the removal of an invasive non-native shrub (Ligustrum sinense Lour., Oleaceae): implications for restoration. Castanea 74(3):247-258.
Overton, J.M., Barker, G.M., and Price, R. 2009. Estimating and conserving patterns of invertebrate diversity: a test case of New Zealand land snails. Divers. Distrib. 15(5):731-741.
Parviainen, M., Marmion, M., Luoto, M., Thuiller, W., and Heikkinen, R.K. 2009. Using summed individual species models and state-of-the-art modelling techniques to identify threatened plant species hotspots. Biol. Conserv. 142(11):2501-2509.
Reich, P.B. 2009. Elevated CO2 reduces losses of plant diversity caused by nitrogen deposition. Science 326(5958):1399-1402.
Scarnati, L., Attorre, F., De Sanctis, M., Farcomeni, A., Francesconi, F., Mancini, M., and Bruno, F. 2009. A multiple approach for the evaluation of the spatial distribution and dynamics of a forest habitat: the case of Apennine beech forests with Taxus baccata and Ilex aquifolium. Biodivers. Conserv. 18(12):3099-3113.
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34. Web sites and e-zines
From: FAO’s NWFP Programme
The British Species Wiki
The British Wildlife Wiki is brought to you by The Woodlands Wildlife Council. The aim is to make a concise British Wildlife Encyclopedia that include all the species of the British Isles that anyone can edit.
To sign up and join this community please visit: http://thewwcbritishwildlife.wikia.com/wiki/British_Wildlife_Wiki
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35. Rare rhinos relocated from Czech Republic to Kenya
Source: NPR News, United States of America, 29 December 2009
This month, conservationists in the Czech Republic and Kenya launched an audacious bid to save one of the world's rarest animals: the northern white rhinoceros. Four of the last eight known northern whites in the world, two male and two female, were packed into wooden crates and sent from a Czech zoo to Kenya, where scientists hope they will get down to the business of breeding.
The rhinos arrived at Nairobi's main airport at 3:30 a.m. on 19 December. Hamish Currie prowled the tarmac directing trucks, tractors and a giant crane as the animals came off the 747. "The trip went very well; they're all relaxed," said Currie, who directs the Back to Africa program, which helps return zoo animals to the wild. "But obviously we want to get them on the road as soon as possible and reduce their stress. So the trucks are waiting now and we're going to load two onto a truck with a crane, fasten them down and get out of here." The rhinos were headed to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy near Mount Kenya to see if the climate and terrain will encourage them to breed.
Some rhino conservation groups refused to back the project because of its costs – well in the hundreds of thousands of dollars – and because they thought the trip might kill the animals. It took three hours for a staff of dozens to put the crates onto two flatbed trucks for the 200-mile journey north.
The rhinos were sent to Kenya in a desperate effort to save their subspecies, which was hunted to extinction by poachers in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. No northern whites have been seen in the wild since 2005.
Unlike other rhinos, northern whites breed poorly in captivity, possibly because of their small zoo enclosures. These four will be released into a fenced-off, 1,000-acre slice of the Ol Pejeta reserve.
Dana Holeckova, the Czech zoo director who pushed for the rhinos' relocation, says black rhinos have been bred successfully in captivity, but white rhinos breed only seldom and nobody knows why. "For the northern white, we have no time," she said. "And that is why this is the last chance for [them to] survive, the last chance for the normal breeding, the last chance for rhino love and rhino children."
Scientists have high hopes for the 9-year-old female rhino named Fatu, who is in perfect health. When handlers opened her crate door at the reserve, Fatu panicked. She wheezed and snorted for her mother, who had already been offloaded. Jan Szarek, Fatu's keeper who flew in from the Czech Republic, coaxed her out with lullabies and a crust of brown bread.
Once in their new pens, the rhinos seemed calm. That's partly thanks to Berry White, a British rhino handler who helped get the animals used to their crates in the Czech Republic and came along for the journey. She's been dubbed the "Rhino Whisperer" for her way with the animals. "They do love a lot of fuss and attention, like horses really," White says. "Rhinos respond well to love and being scratched, so the whole name of the game is to make them as chilled out as possible."
A rhino named Suni snuffled around his pen, munching hay and checking out the photographers on the other side of a wooden fence. The question now is whether the females of his own species will express the same interest in him.
For full story, pleas see: www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121980888&ft=1&f=1007
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