No. 7/10

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  1. Bushmeat trade creates new luxury market in Europe
  2. Edible Insect taste test: From ant candy to bacon and cheese cricket
  3. Edible Insects in Japan: Author holds “insect tasting sessions” across Japan
  4. Edible Insects in Laos: Critter Cuisine could feed a nation
  5. Fungi: Japanese delicacy grows like weed in Sweden
  6. Honey used seasonal ale
  7. Honey farms risky business
  8. Medicinal plants Institutes complete first gene map of Chinese medicinal plant
  9. Medicinal plants: Indian Government to promote cultivation of medicinal plants
  10. Mulberry: Trees in the USA offer many immigrants a taste of home
  11. Rattan companies learn about sustainable farming in Laos
  12. Saffron: hard to produce and more costly than gold, but there's nothing else like it
  13. Seabuckthorn to green cold deserts in Himalayan states
  14. Seabuckthorn: Tibet boasts ancient Seabuckthorn forest
  15. Shea butter: a natural moisturizer that’s food for the skin
  16. Truffles: Insight into the world of truffles in Australia


  1. Australia: Potential Cancer drug found in rainforest
  2. France’s best honey: from Paris rooftops?
  3. Ghana: Traditional plants at risk of disappearing
  4. Guatemala: Community management of the Itza Biosphere Reserve, Peten
  5. India: Fair price for forest yield - Tribals get marketing aid
  6. India: Chitral has vast potential in NTFPs
  7. Liberian leader bans exportation of bushmeat and wild animals
  8. Mexico: Environmental education to combat illegal wildlife trade and protect biodiversity
  9. Namibia: Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum zeyheri): Odds stacked against San harvesters
  10. Nepal: The social and economic value of bamboo and rattan
  11. Russia: Governor in South Russia hopes to make delicacy of locusts
  12. Syria: Nature reserves maintain biodiversity, activate ecotourism in Tartous
  13. USA: Mild weather zaps sap of maple syrup farmers in New England


  1. Activists target corporations in the battle to save forests
  2. Biopiracy: Food giant Nestle accused of biopiracy
  3. Biomonitoring: Bees help monitor air quality at German airports
  4. China, Nepal reach historic biodiversity agreement
  5. Congo Basin forests at a “critical turning point”
  6. Free access to Earthscan journals for developing countries
  7. One billion hungry project launched
  8. “Sustainable Tourism” contributes to the Millennium Development Goals
  9. The imperatives for traditional medicine
  10. Two South American trees to obtain CITES listing


  1. “Who will own the forest?” Summit
  2.  Educational Ecotour to the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest and Machu Picchu
  3. International Conference on Current Trends in Medicinal Plant Research and Microbiological Applications
  4. 6th Caribbean Beekeeping Congress
  5. Agroforestry: A profitable land use


  1. EU scholarship on "Consequences of the international forest regime" at University of Goettingen


  1. International Network for Bamboo and Rattan Workshops


  1. Voices in the Wilderness: Contemporary Wildlife Writings
  2. Biodiversity and forest ecosystems in Europe
  3. Other publications of interest
  4. Websites and E-zines


  1. American Botanical Council
  2. Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme (NTFP-EP)


  1. Brazil rainforest logging increases malaria rates
  2. Satellite to track forests in India by 2013




  1. Bushmeat trade creates new luxury market in Europe

Source: Business Daily (Kenya), 23 June 2010

The traders sell an array of bushmeat: monkey carcasses, smoked anteater, even preserved porcupine. But this is not a roadside market in Africa - it is the heart of Paris, where a new study has found more than five tons of bushmeat slips through the city’s main airport each week.
Experts suspect similar amounts are arriving in other European hubs as well —an illegal trade that is raising concerns about diseases ranging from monkeypox to Ebola, and is another twist in the continent’s struggle to integrate a growing African immigrant population.
The research, the first time experts have documented how much bushmeat is smuggled into any European city, was published Friday in the journal Conservation Letters.
“Anecdotally we know it does happen ... But it is quite surprising the volumes that are coming through,” said Marcus Rowcliffe, a research fellow of the Zoological Society of London and one of the study’s authors.
In the Chateau Rouge neighbourhood in central Paris, bushmeat is on the menu — at least for those in the know. Madame Toukine, an African woman in her 50s, said she receives special deliveries of crocodile and other bushmeat each weekend at her shop off the Rue des Poissonieres market. “Everyone knows bushmeat is sold in the area and they even know where to buy it,” said Hassan Kaouti, a local butcher. “But they won’t say it’s illegal.”
For the study, European experts checked 29 Air France flights from Central and West Africa that landed at Paris’ Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport over a 17-day period in June 2008. Of 134 people searched, nine had bushmeat and 83 had livestock or fish. The people with bushmeat had the largest amounts: One passenger had 51 kg of bushmeat - and no other luggage. Most of the bushmeat was smoked and arrived as dried carcasses. Some animals were identifiable, though scientists boiled the remains of others and reassembled the skeletons to determine the species. Experts found 11 types of bushmeat including monkeys, large rats, crocodiles, small antelopes and pangolins, or anteaters. Almost 40 percent were listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Based on what officials seized - 188 kg of bushmeat - the researchers estimated that about five tonnes of bushmeat gets into Paris each week. They also noted that penalties for importing illegal meats are light and rarely imposed. Under French law, the maximum penalty is confiscation of the goods and a US$556 (450 euro) fine.
Bushmeat is widely eaten and sold in Central and West Africa, with Central African Republic, Cameroon and Republic of Congo being the main sources. It is typically allowed where people are permitted to hunt, as long as their prey are not endangered and they can prove the animals were killed in the wild.
A bushmeat ban is enforced in Kenya, but it is legal in most parts of the Republic of Congo, where hunters may stalk wildlife parks that aren’t heavily guarded.
Even after several outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus linked to eating bushmeat, the practice remains widespread.
Scientists warned eating bushmeat was a potential health hazard.
Malcolm Bennett, of Britain’s National Centre for Zoonosis Research at the University of Liverpool, said bushmeat had a higher risk of bacteria like salmonella and might also be carrying new diseases.
Nina Marano, chief of the quarantine unit at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said similar underground markets for bushmeat exist across America. “We have to be culturally sensitive and recognize this is important for some African communities,” she said. “But there are no regulations for the preparation of meat from wildlife to render it safe.”
The scale of Europe’s illicit bushmeat trade suggests the emergence of a luxury market. Prices can be as high as US$18/pound (30 euros/kg), double what more mundane supermarket meats cost.
For full story, please see:



  1. Edible Insect taste test: From ant candy to bacon and cheese cricket

Source: Asylum online, 21 June 2010

Many cultures across the globe incorporate insects into their diets, both as a protein source and a means of enhancing taste.
While many Americans question the practice, entomophagy (the practice of eating insects) remains a legitimate part of food culture and an ancient human tradition.
Insect candy, ant candy, “crispy crickets” are now readily available even here in the US through mail order.
Those looking for a fresher taste are encouraged to visit the Audubon Insectarium in New Orleans. Every day, the museum's Bug Appetit Cafe serves a slew of treats, like chocolate chip cookies and garden herb dip - insect-infused, of course.
Jayme Necaise, the Insectarium's director of animal and visitor programs, says "We offer a virtual bug buffet. It's really a nice spread."
Last year, the Insectarium celebrated National Chocolate-Covered Insects Day with a chocolate fountain and roasted crickets.
"The crickets are roasted off-site," says Necaise, "but we always hand-dip them right here."
Visitors can sample dips like wax worm mango chutney and meal worm salsa.
For a more authentic taste, insects can also be ordered online from Thailand Unique. The online "specialty gourmet food store” offers insect “variety packs” with bags of cooked and dehydrated grasshoppers, weaver ants, and dung beetles, as well as a pouch of mixed bugs, with bamboo worms and silkworm larva.
For full story, please see:



  1. Edible Insects in Japan: Author holds “insect tasting sessions” across Japan

Source: Daily Telegraph (UK), 14 June 2010

Green ants, hornet larvae and silkworm pupae were on the menu at Shoichi Uchiyama’s most recent event, held at a cafe in the Asagaya district of Tokyo on 8 June . And the events are becoming so popular, he said, that he has a waiting list for future insect buffets.
"I first tried this four years ago, but I have had to increase the frequency to less than one a month now because so many people want to take part," he told the Daily Telegraph.
"Everyone who came already knew that we would be tasting insects and even though some were a little nervous at first, they soon got their courage up and tried the dishes," he said. “I think they really enjoyed them."
Around 1 000 species of insects from around the world are considered to be edible and Mr Uchiyama has sampled most of them. He released a book of insect recipes in 2008 and traces his interest in insect cuisine to his boyhood in the northern prefecture of Nagano, where corner stores would sell bags of grasshoppers that had been cooked in sake, soy sauce and sugar.
Mr Uchiyama, 59, believes that insects can be the healthy and nutritious answer to the world's growing food shortages.
To raise beef cattle, he points out, takes vast areas of land and large amounts of fodder, while insects consume the things that humans will not touch and can be raised in much smaller spaces.
It helps that they are very nutritionally balanced and have little fat, he said.
Insects have been eaten for centuries, he points out, with the Chinese fond of scorpions, huge spiders considered a delicacy in parts of South America and water bugs popular in Thailand.
For full story, please see:



  1. Edible Insects in Laos: Critter Cuisine could feed a nation

Source: IRIN, 14 June 2010

After a hard day’s work, Bounpheng Wattana and his friends like nothing better with a cold beer than a mouthful of creepy-crawlies. In his opinion, insects are the ultimate organic food.
“These are local and natural foods from our country, so Lao people like this kind of food because there are no chemicals. They are natural foods,” said Bounpheng.
While tasty critters may be a popular city snack, investing in sustainable insect farming and promoting the benefits of bug-gobbling could form part of the answer to alleviating chronic malnutrition in Laos, said Vonglokham Phouvanh from FAO.
“Insects can provide a good source of protein, fats, carbohydrates, calcium, vitamins and other minerals – this is an essential part of human nutrition,” he said.
A 2007 WFP report estimated that about 40 percent of children were malnourished or stunted, one of the worst rates in Southeast Asia, while the UNDP Human Development Report 2009 indicates that 40 percent of Lao children under five are underweight.
Promoting insects could help alleviate the problem, and the potential is there – a recent FAO survey found that more than 95 percent of Laotians snack on critters. There are about 1 700 edible insect species worldwide but their nutritional benefits are a relatively recent discovery.
To capitalize on this and ensure sustainability, FAO has a programme focused on the whole chain - from bug breeding to commercialization and consumption.
Vankham Duangbutby started breeding crickets from her home in the suburbs of Vientiane five years ago and soon realized how profitable it could be.
“At first I did a little farming, just tried with two cylinders of crickets. After we found it worked we continued to farm until we had 56 cylinders. When we sell, on average, we can earn one million kip [US$115] a month,” Vankham said.
She now receives advice and equipment from FAO to help with her cricket farming.
One of the attractions of insect farming is its simplicity, Bounthavy Sisouphanthong, vice-minister of planning and investment, told IRIN.
“You don’t need to have lots of land, you don’t need lots of equipment and you don’t need that much knowledge, and then you can make a business,” he said.
Insect farming can be a lucrative venture. Neighbouring Thailand cannot satisfy its growing demand for insects and already imports from countries including Cambodia and Myanmar, FAO said.
Serge Verniau, FAO’s representative in Laos, thinks insects could play a part in tackling world poverty.
“The vision of FAO is not just to reduce chronic malnutrition in Laos, which is of course the core objective, but also to feed the grand metropolises in the future, from Calcutta to Shanghai and even New York to Rome. This great food source is also environmentally friendly to produce and needs much less energy and space than conventional meats,” Verniau said.
For full story, please see:



  1. Fungi: Japanese delicacy grows like weed in Sweden

Source:, 28 Jun 2010

DNA analysis has revealed that Japan's second-most expensive gourmet mushroom is actually pretty common in Sweden.
The hon-shimeji mushroom - Lyophyllum shimeji - costs about US$5 000/kg in Japan, and is by all accounts jolly tasty. Until this discovery, it was thought to grow nowhere else.
But, it seems, people had been trampling the things underfoot in Sweden under the impression that they were another related species.
“We were visited by a Japanese mycologist who found a fungus on a pine heath outside Skellefteå which she thought was similar to hon-shimeji,” says Henrik Sundberg, a student at the University of Gothenburg. “Using molecular techniques, we’ve now been able to show that this northern Swedish fungus is identical to the Japanese one.”
Sundberg and the lucky mycologist, Etsuko Harada, decided to investigate.           “After getting a positive response from Japanese mycologists, we became more and more convinced that we were on the trail of a Japanese delicacy,” says Sundberg.
“When we found more the following year, we started up a project to examine the fungus using molecular techniques. We were soon able to show that the Swedish and Japanese fungi are, without a doubt, identical.”
Hon-shimeji has been getting rarer and rarer in Japan, probably because of pests attacking host trees and changes in forestry. Wild hon-shimeji is currently sold only by a few specialist dealers and served at the very smartest restaurants.
But if the fabulous fungi are found in Japan and Sweden, says the team, they might grow in forests at similar latitudes everywhere else as well.
Look out for them from August through to the first frosts.
For full story, please see:


  1. Honey used in seasonal ale

Source: BBC, 22 June 2010

Honey produced within a mile of Jersey Brewery (Jersey, UK) at Bob Tompkins' hives in Swiss Valley, is being used in a new beer.
Blonde is being launched as a new seasonal ale in Jersey (UK) and the rest of the Channel Islands. The beer in Jersey will use the Swiss Valley honey, but beer in Guernsey and Alderney will feature honey from Guernsey keeper Michael Deane.
Mr Tompkins says his bees produce a delicately flavoured honey. The honey gets its flavour from the sweet chestnut, apple blossom and blackberry that grows around Swiss Valley and the Longueville area.
Paul Hurley is the Head Brewer at the Jersey Brewery and he said that honey is a nice summery ingredient. "This one is very light and is made with virtually all lager ingredients. We've got lager malt, tettnang and sarts hops which come from the continent and we've also added some honey to the coffer."
Paul said that it was nice to be able to do something for local bee keepers who have been having a "rough ride of it recently."
For full story, please see:



  1. Honey farms risky business

Source: 24 June 2010,

There is always been a little sting before the sweet reward of being a honey farmer. But this year has been a little more painful for Don Popp’s Honey Farm.
Don Popp, owner of the honey farm in Milford Township (Pennsylvania, USA) said he has been watchful of colony collapse disorder, in which bees will mysteriously leave their hives and never return. In the fall of 2009, he and his bee keeper assistant, Robyn Huston, noticed some of their 250 hives were thinning out. By the spring, 100 of them were empty, meaning 60 million bees had deserted.
“Sometimes you saw a queen bee and just a few bees left and sometimes there were none at all,” Popp said.
What causes the disorder is still unknown, though many researchers believe a combination of disease, pesticides and a lack of access to nectar may be to blame, said Barbara Bloetscher, an entomologist with the USA’s Ohio Department of Agriculture.
The devastating loss pushed Popp to take a gamble and drive to Claxton, Ga., to buy US$10 000 worth of bees — equating to about 500 pounds of insects — to populate his empty hives and hopefully breed to fill 50 new hives.
For a week, 300 hives encircled his property, while Popp looked over his new brood before splitting them up between 30 different locations across three counties. He’s hopeful the bees have bred and expanded so that he’ll collect 20 000 pounds of honey this summer.
Popp also sold some of the bees to other bee keepers in the area to replace their stocks which also were decimated by CCD. And from the calls Huston said she is received from markets and grocers as far away as Wisconsin, many other honey farmers have gone out of business, unable to afford to replace their bees.
Keeping up the bee population is much more important than just honey production. Bloetscher said one-third of all food eaten is pollinated by bees. “The best thing that people can do (to help) is plant flowers native to the area ... and watch their pesticide use,” she said.
As a 15-year veteran and Preble County bee inspector, Popp said he is confident scientists will find the answer to colony collapse disorder. In the meantime, he said as long as he can afford to replace them, his farm will stay open.
“You get upset but you don’t get discouraged because I love bee keeping, that is my passion,” he said. “And I’ve got people and stores who count on me and if I don’t produce honey they won’t have any.”
For full story, please see:



  1. Medicinal plants: Institutes complete first gene map of Chinese medicinal plant

Source: People’s Daily Online (China), 21 June 2010

Two traditional Chinese medicine institutes announced the completion of a gene map of the plant Salvia miltiorrhiza, the first of its kind, on 20 June in Beijing.
The Institute of Medicinal Plants of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences launched a program to create a gene map of Salvia miltiorrhiza in conjunction with Hutchison Whampoa Guangzhou Baiyunshan Chinese Medicine Co., Ltd. They used the second generation of high-flux sequencing techniques to check Salvia multiorrhiza's DNA order and finally finished its gene map.
The success of the gene map is seen as a step forward in the research of medicinal plants and the merger of front-line life science and traditional Chinese medicine. It promises new breakthroughs in the research of Chinese medicine.
For full story, please see:



  1. Medicinal plants: Indian Government to promote cultivation of medicinal plants

Source: Tribune News Service (India), 20 June 2010

The Hill state government in India has decided to promote cultivation of medicinal plants on a commercial scale in view of increasing popularity of traditional system of medicines. The Hill State accounts for over 7 percent of the nation’s biodiversity which - if harnessed - can help preserve vanishing herbs and also generate additional income for people.
According to a survey of the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 80 percent of the population of developing countries still relies on traditional herbs for primary healthcare needs. Keeping in view the vast potential for cultivation of some rare Himalayan herbs, the government has taken several initiatives. A separate Herbal Medicine Plant Board has been set up to carry forward such activities in a big way.
A road map has been prepared for large-scale cultivation of medicinal plants to give thrust to herbiculture under which 37 herbal and aromatic species of medicinal plants have been selected. Farmers will be able profit by cultivating these varieties of herbs from their small land holdings.
The state horticulture, forest and ayurveda departments will be involved in the programme to help farmers grow herbs on private land, forests and herbal gardens. The government is also providing technical assistance to people and cooperative societies for the purpose. The produce will be supplied to pharmaceutical companies manufacturing ayurvedic and allopathic medicines.
Flora of the state consists of around 3 500 species of plants, of which about 800 species are rich in medicinal value and 165 species are collected for commercial purposes.
The total cultivable wasteland in the state is about 123 000 hectares, and growing of herbs will go a long way in further strengthening the economy of the state. It is the largest supplier of chilgoza, kuth, dioscoria, dhoop, picrorrhiza, valeriana and ephedera in the country.
For full story, please see:



  1. Mulberry: Trees in the USA offer many immigrants a taste of home

Source: Washington Post, 7 June, 2010

The rush-hour rainstorm didn't faze Sara Shokravi as she parked in Rosslyn, Washington D.C. Ignoring the cars that splashed water onto the grass, Shokravi, a 27-year-old consultant, pulled out a plastic bag, stopped at a tree laden with red and black berries, and started picking.
It would not have been a strange sight in her native Iran, where at this time of year entire families can be seen at laying out bedsheets and shaking trees to collect the berries, which they eat fresh, dried or blended into juice. Here, she acknowledged, her foraging prompts "funny looks. This is Washington D.C. - people aren’t going to go out of their way to get something if it's not in a store."
They don't know what they're missing, say mulberry fans, most of whom are immigrants. Just the sight of fruit-laden trees can conjure up sweet memories for people who grew up in the Middle East, Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Far East.
Mir Farid Hashimi, 39, a native of Afghanistan who lives in Woodbridge, said his family makes a day of picking the berries in Maryland parks.
Yet despite its firm place in nursery rhymes, the fruit of the mulberry bush, or tree, has never caught on in the United States. One reason may be that its thin skin makes it hard to transport commercially: The berries taste best immediately after picking. The white ones are light and subtle, almost perky, but the black ones, the ones that stain fingers and lips, are luscious and dissolve on the tongue in a sweet, dusky swirl.
Most people in the Washington area do not know that. Nevertheless, most Americans, if they think about mulberries at all, see them as a nuisance. The soft berries squish underfoot, splat onto cars, and carpet sidewalks and driveways with a sticky mash that, as summer heats up, emits a cloying scent of decay. In the District, the trees are considered a weed. They grow quickly, often sprouting in untended areas, such as between chain-link fences or along highway embankments.
"I didn't even know the fruit was edible to the human," said John Thomas, associate director of the District's Urban Forestry Administration. "We allow people to remove mulberry trees without any permit because it's such an invasive tree."
The British were partly responsible for that invasion. Although the Washington area has a native red mulberry tree, the most common ones in town are descendants of trees brought over by colonists eager to compete with the silk industry of the Far East. Silkworms feed on the shiny, heart-shaped leaves, especially those on the white trees, said Alan Whittemore, a botanist at the U.S. National Arboretum.
"For many years, it was a requirement," he said. "If you owned property in the Virginia area, you were required to plant a certain number of mulberry trees each year." The experiment fizzled: Silk production required labour that was cheap but skilled, and tobacco proved more profitable.
But the mulberry trees liked Washington, and with the help of birds, who eat the berries and expel the seeds, their population swelled. They now number in the thousands.
Which is good news for people who like them, most of whom seem to have grown up elsewhere.
"The native people don't pick them," said Ephraim Melik Ausar, 50, a former Marine and rare U.S.-born aficionado who makes a point of visiting the Potomac Park trees each May and June, when they fruit. He said he occasionally shares a "fellowship moment" with other pickers:         "The people who I see are from different countries, the people with the accents."
Mulberries are not the only "secret harvest" known mostly to immigrants. Natives of East Asia flock to ginkgo trees to harvest the seeds, said Yao Afantchao, ethnic and specialty crops specialist at the University of the District of Columbia, and immigrants from West Africa gather wild amaranth to cook as a green.
In some cities, including San Francisco, New York and Portland, Ore., the trend has expanded beyond ethnic communities, with urban foraging tours pointing out such delicacies as mustard greens, edible mushrooms and snails.
For full story, please see:



  1. Rattan companies learn about sustainable farming in Laos

Source: Vietnam News Online, 29 May 2010

Nine rattan companies from Vietnam, where rattan availability has fallen dramatically due to high demand and unsustainable exploitation, visited the Sustainable Rattan Management Area in Laos earlier this month.
"I am proud and honoured to welcome the Vietnamese and Laos business sectors that are interested in sustainable rattan activities," Maychome, head of the Agriculture and Forestry Office (DAFO), Khamkeut District, Borikhamxay Province, said.
The area is maintained by DAFO and the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF).
The sustainable rattan model has proved such a success that DAFO plans to replicate it in other areas to improve local livelihoods, support poverty elimination, and achieve sustainable rattan management.
WWF plans to have this area certified by the end of 2011 and will share its successes and achievements with partners in the rattan industry around the world.
During their visit, the Vietnamese rattan executives compared notes with their hosts on the rattan trade and import-export procedures.
Vietnam imports more than 40 percent of its needs from Laos and also sources significant amounts from Cambodia. It has a significant shortage of commercially valuable rattan species like the ones available in Laos, particularly those in the rattan project areas.
"Normally we import five to seven thousand tonnes of rattan a year from Laos, but none is from sustainable management areas," Nguyen Truong Thien, director of the Au Co Rattan – Bamboo Export Enterprise, said. "After learning about WWF's rattan project, we understand more about sustainable harvesting."
WWF's Vietnam Rattan Project Manager, Vu Que Anh, said: "The important species of rattan are now rare and often bought from Laos. Rattan processors in the south of Viet Nam have now started to subcontract to northern processors, or stop operations altogether.”
For full story, please see:



  1. Saffron: hard to produce and more costly than gold, but there's nothing else like it

Source:, 29 June 2010

Saffron is the stigma of a very pretty crocus native to a strip of west Asia. The modern plant is sterile, the hard-won result of cross-breeding and human-led Darwinism. Every year, people have to dig it up, split the bulb-like corms that form part of its root and replant them. The flowers bloom in October, pushing out two or three fragile, wispy stigmas that you can only harvest by hand, and pickers work through the night to catch these at their coy, alluring best.
It's punishing, fiddly work. So saffron is notoriously the most expensive spice, its retail price, pound for pound, often exceeding that of gold.
For as long as there have been people, people have known about saffron. A dye from its stigmas colours 50 000-year-old cave paintings in what is now Iraq. Ancient frescoes on the Greek island of Santorini depict a goddess watching – or perhaps blessing – a woman picking saffron, presumably for medicine. No one knows how old this painting is: a volcano buried it in around 1500BC, and the work could have been hundreds of years old even then. Ovid wrote that Smilax changed her pursuer Crocos into a flower, leaving the red stigma as a symbol of his passion. Another myth describes Hermes, the messenger to the gods, accidentally wounding his friend Crocos: blood dripping from Crocos's head fell on the ground, where Hermes changed it into the flower. Zeus slept on a bed of saffron. The spice appears in the sybaritic verses of the Song of Solomon and in Chinese writings dating to 1600BC.
The Romans grew saffron in Gaul but when the empire fell so did the civilized taste for the spice. The Moors, to whom we owe so much in our food, reintroduced saffron to a benighted continent in the eighth and ninth centuries. Basel was the centre of the European saffron industry in the middle ages, and unscrupulous dealers would, under local law, be burned alive for selling an adulterated product. Then, as now, cheap imitations based on turmeric and safflower tempted the chancers and cheats.
Saffron's popularity had waned by the 18th century as foods like vanilla, cocoa and coffee emerged to titillate the palates of the rich. That's why comparatively few classic European dishes feature saffron – and those that do, such as paella and bouillabaisse, almost invariably come from saffron-producing regions like Provence or Valencia. Cornish saffron cake, however, is a classic English dish with an uncertain history. In this country, saffron grew most successfully in the east, particularly Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex (Saffron Walden is named after the crop that, for a time, made it rich, and a crocus still appears on its coat of arms). Nobody knows why saffron cake should have come from Cornwall. It's been posited that the Cornish, who were trading tin with foreign merchants - possibly Phoenicians - as early as 400BC, bought saffron at the time and retained it in their cooking. If this is true, England is almost unique in Europe, having cooked with saffron for more than two millennia.
Iran now produces around 90 percent of the world's saffron. The EU has tried and largely failed to persuade Afghan poppy farmers to switch to saffron – although the spice is quite lucrative and well-suited to much Afghan land, farmers earn only half as much for it as they do for opium. Producing saffron has always been difficult, and few countries do not even attempt it today.
For full story, please see:



  1. Seabuckthorn to green cold deserts in Himalayan states

Source: Bombay News.Net, 8 June, 2010

The cold deserts of the Indian Himalayas where the survival of many flora species is minimal may soon see massive plantations of seabuckthorn, a medicinally rich plant, in a move that is expected to help check soil erosion and benefit farmers economically.
A long-term national policy aims to start seabuckthorn plantation in high-altitude areas of India spanning 75 000 km² in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
The policy has been prepared jointly by scientists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Palampur-based Chaudhary Sarwan Kumar Himachal Pradesh Krishi Vishwavidyalaya.
“The Environment and Forests Ministry has decided to hold a meeting at the DRDO institute in Leh 25 June to formulate a plan of action in five Himalayan states,” Virendra Singh, a senior seabuckthorn scientist at the Vishwavidyalaya said.
“We have prepared a national policy on seabuckthorn development to address issues like soil erosion, environment conservation and integrated rural development of border areas by involving local communities in its plantation.”
He said the policy, with a 10-year and 30-year roadmap, had already been discussed with Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh and he has decided to hold the meeting this month to chalk out a plan.
“Seabuckthorn afforestation will not only help in the conservation of the Himalayas by checking soil erosion but its commercial cultivation will also be economically beneficial for farmers because of its medicinal properties.”
“Its extract is used for making life-saving drugs for cardiovascular diseases, ulcer and cancer,” Singh said. The problem of soil erosion is acute in most rivers originating from the Himalayas like the Satlej, Indus and Chenab, especially during the rainy season, he said.
Globally, some 40 countries have in the past 20 years joined the race for seabuckthorn development and its commercial utilization.
“Huge chunks of barren land in possession of forest departments in the Himalayan states would also be used for seabuckthorn plantation and it would accelerate the ecological rehabilitation of degraded mountainous lands,” Singh said. Aerial seeding, participation of the local communities in the programme and commercial utilization for the benefits of the farmers are among the issues to be discussed in finalizing the national plan, he added.
Forest ministers of the five beneficiary Himalayan states along with officials, vice chancellors, directors and seabuckthorn experts of various research and development institutions have been invited for a 25 June meeting to formulate the seabuckthorn development plan.
Vishwavidyalaya vice chancellor Tej Pratap said: “This project would bring a revolution in the rugged, cold and inhospitable Himalayan terrains.”


  1. Seabuckthorn: Tibet boasts ancient Seabuckthorn forest

Source: China Tibet Online, 1 June 2010

Along the Niangmu river valley in Cona County of Lhoka Prefecture, lies the Seabuckthorn Forest, covering 2 000 mu (over 3000 acres) with trees over 15 meters high and thousands of years old.
Seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is a kind of fruit tree with high ecological and economic value. Its root, stem, leaf, and fruit can be used as medicinal materials.
Seabuckthorn is tolerant of salt in the air and soil, but demands full sunlight for good growth. They are viewed as the sand-fixing plants.
Nyima, leader of Chomo Village in Cona County of Lhoka Prefecture, said," In ancient times, Tibetans protected the Sea Buckthorn forest, which had been called in Tibetan ‘La xin’ (the plants with souls). I hope in future, the fruits of Seabuckthorn could bring profits for local Tibetans."
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  1. Shea butter: a natural moisturizer that's food for the skin

Source: The Ecologist, 1 June 2010

Shea butter is fantastically versatile, especially the raw unrefined variety. A real skin food, it is good for dry and sensitive skin, soothing for sore, cracked skin and its anti-inflammatory properties make it useful for sunburn, itchiness, insect bites, rashes and eczema.
It is rich in natural vitamins that promote healthy skin and cell repair. You can even use it in your hair before washing as a nourishing conditioner. And because a little goes a long way, one pot will probably last you all summer.
Derived from the nuts of the African karite tree(Butyrospermum parkii), shea butter has been used as an African skincare and healing ingredient for centuries. Now a widely used cosmetic ingredient, it is an important resource and source of income for local communities.
Historically the women who gather shea nuts have received very little pay for their labour, particularly when the nuts are exported and processed abroad. Increasingly however, shea butter is available to buy as a certified Fairtrade or as a “fairly traded” ingredient.
In its most pure, untreated state, virgin shea butter looks like lumps of hard caramel ice cream. Just warm it up in your hands until it melts and softens and massage it gently into the skin.
When buying branded body butters or creams containing shea beware: not all shea is the same quality. Most shea butter on the market has been extracted with a chemical solvent and “refined” which not only removes the natural scent and color of natural shea butter but also many of its beneficial properties. The best shea is obtained using a traditional method of extraction, cold pressed without the use of solvents.
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Truffles: Insight into the world of truffles in Australia

Source:, 25 June 2010

Once a French delicacy, truffles are marching their way into kitchens and onto the plates of Perth diners with truffle farms popping up all over West Australia from Manjimup, Pemberton and Denmark to Toodyay.
Alain Fabregues, head chef at The Loose Box in Mundaring, started the hunt for truffles on his farm in Toodyay. Having planted oak trees six years ago, dogs which are specially trained to find the black fungi at their base have not yet had success. While the season has started in our South West, temperatures are not yet cold enough in Toodyay as truffles only ripen when the ground freezes.
But Fabregues knows the time will come soon enough, and he will be the only chef in WA providing truffles for his own restaurant. Fabregues says that West Australians are learning fast about these black fungi.
"We are at the beginning of our industry but people are very eager to taste," he said.
While there are many products on the market from truffle honeys to oil, he says it doesn’t compare to using the real deal at home in your cooking. And there are many simple ways to cook with a real truffle.
Nevertheless, the price is high. In France they are worth US$1000/kg but the price is double here.
Fabregues says having that exclusivity in WA is nice but eventually as supply rises price will go down, so everyone will be able to try it.
"Ten years from now we are going to have a lot more truffle in WA. Australia will definitely be a player in the international market, how big of the share we'll see."
Truffles are grown widely in Spain, France, Italy and sparsely in areas of Eastern Europe. Truffles have also started being grown successfully in Oregon in the USA, and in New Zealand.
Fabregues says China, Japan and America would be the biggest export market, as they currently buy from France. Given more favourable export agreements with Australia this could then be an easier trade and hugely beneficial for local growers.
Fabregues likens the development of the truffle in Australia to that of perfume and wine. Substances that were once quintessentially French and exclusive have become homegrown and part of everyday life.
Perth punters can experience truffles at the Mundaring Truffle Festival from 31 July  to 1 August.
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  1. Australia: Potential cancer drug found in rainforest

Source: AFP 14 June 2010

A potential cancer drug developed from an Australian rainforest plant is set to progress to human trials after fighting off inoperable tumours in pets, the company behind it said Monday.
Queensland firm QBiotics Ltd said its drug EBC-46, derived from the seeds of a tropical rainforest shrub, was ready to be tested on humans after successfully treating solid tumours in more than 100 dogs, cats and horses. "We've treated over 150 animals ... with a variety of tumours and we're prepared to move into human studies," chief executive Victoria Gordon told AFP.
Dr Gordon said the results so far indicated the drug could work to counter a range of malignant growths, such as skin cancers, head and neck cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer. She said the drug works like a detonator inside tumours, prompting inactive beneficial white cells to begin to fight and destroy the cancer.
The company has spent six years developing the drug since the previously unknown molecule in the native Australian plant blushwood (Hylandia dockrillii) was discovered, and hopes to raise enough funds to begin human trials in 2011.
Gordon said the compound proves the value of retaining Australia's tropical rainforests. "The world's rainforests are an amazing biological resource which we need to conserve and cherish," she said in a statement. "Not only may they hold the secret to many new drugs, they are the home of more than half of all other species with which we share the planet."
The Cancer Council Australia sounded a note of caution on the development, saying the company had not yet published its research. "We have yet to see the results of this research published in a scientific journal, where they would be subject to independent scientific scrutiny, which is useful in determining the rigour of the research," chief executive Ian Olver said in a statement. "While it is encouraging to see success in animals, this has not been a good predictor of success in humans," Professor Olver said. "So, it is far too early to be able to class this as a breakthrough."



  1. France's best honey: from the Paris rooftops?

Source:, 28 June 2010

Parisians and tourists enjoying a meal at one of the restaurants in the famous “Fauchon” gourmet shop in central Paris might be surprised at the freshness of the honey served with their tea and other meals.
It is fresh and delicious because it comes from the roof of the nearby Paris Opera.
The beehives atop of the Opéra Garnier are just one of an increasing set of hives sprouting atop roofs around Paris in an effort to save bees, their honey, and their impact on our food and environment.
The Opera beehives belong to Jean Paucton, 77, who still likes to climb up to the rooftop of the Opéra in the center of Paris to visit his bees. “Paris is perfect for them,” Paucton explained. “The average temperature during the year is 13oc and there are lots of gardens: the Tuileries, the Luxembourg Gardens, La Villette basin, the Bois de Boulogne…”
Paucton was not always a beekeeper. He used to be an Opéra props man. It was then that he bought his first beehive, and put it on the balcony of his Parisian apartment. But his neighbours were not too happy. “People are afraid of bees but they are actually quite nice,” Pauchton said. A friend of his told him to put the hive on the roof of the Opéra so that the bees would not bother anyone anymore.
He did so, and a few weeks later, a friend of a friend came up to take a picture of the beehive. “It turned out it was the famous French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertand!”
Pauchton laughed. “The photo was published in the French magazine Paris Match.”
Paucton’s rooftop bee-keeping idea has become a trend and now beehives are located all over Paris. They have taken up residence on the roof of the newly renovated Grand Palais on the Champs Elysée, the brainstorm of beekeeper Nicolas Géant.
Géant owns a shop where he sells beehives other Parisians. “Urban beekeeping is the future of apiculture,” he said. “Most of the beekeepers have taken their hives back to the city because they realized bees were dying 30 percent more in the countryside.”
It may seem paradoxical but pollution in the countryside is more toxic to bees than in the cities, especially in Paris. “For 10 years now, the city of Paris has banned all the chemical products from its gardens,” Géant explained.
As beekeepers, both Nicolas Géant and Paucton are well aware of the damage caused to the bees by chemical products. They try to increase the public’s awareness of their disappearance and its consequences by organizing visits of their beehives. “My goal is, and always will be, to make people understand that bees are essential to human beings.” Géant said.
The National Union of French Apiculture (UNAF) reported recently that 35 percent of food and 65 percent of its diversity directly depend on bees’ pollination. The latest data released by the organization is however not optimistic. Since 1995, 30 percent of bee colonies have been disappearing every year.
Over the past 10 years, 15 000 professional beekeepers have been forced to stop their activity. A project entitled “The bee: Environment sentinel” launched in December 2005, proved that the future of beekeeping is urban apiculture. Beehives have been placed in various French cities to preserve beekeeping and to educate people, including children, who come visit the bees.
Still, there is a tendency to think that the honey made in the city cannot be as good as that harvested in the countryside.
“They’re wrong!” Géant said. “It’s the opposite!” Analyses made on the honey of the Grand Palais showed that there were traces of dandelions in last year’s harvest. “There are lime trees, chestnuts, acacias in Paris. It’s a diversity you can’t find anywhere else,” Jean Paucton added. In the countryside, the honey is made of only one species because of single-crop farming. That is why the honey of the Opéra is known for its flavour.
The price of that taste is a bit more than US$18 for barely a quarter of a pound. In other words: very expensive.
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  1. Ghana: Traditional plants at risk of disappearing

Source: MediaGlobal in Traditional Knowledge Bulletin, 2 June 2010

The Fante-Akan people of Ghana have a traditional knowledge of ritual plants used to cure people of mental and physical ills, but these sacred plants are in danger of vanishing as their surrounding forests diminish.
“Certain important medicinal plants are no longer available,” Dr. Tinde van Andel, of the Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity Naturalis, told MediaGlobal. As an ethnobotanist, it is Van Andel’s job to study how cultures utilize indigenous plants and prevent such practices from being lost.
In June, van Andel will travel to Ghana to conduct fieldwork documenting the traditional knowledge the Fante-Akan people.
Van Andel warns of the many consequences that may occur if this traditional knowledge fails to be preserved: “If people do not know their useful plants anymore, or if the plants are gone, people will lose a major source of wild food, medicine, shelter, craft material, fodder, and cash income.”
Commercially valuable plants are being overharvested. As a result, the Fante-Akan people now have to walk farther in order find the medicine they need, affecting both their health and survival. Van Andel will specify priority species that are critical to the Fante-Akan people’s social wellbeing, cultural diversity, and history, which will help in the conservation of those plants.
Millions of Africans rely on traditional herbal medicine for their primary health care needs simply because they lack access to forms of Western medicine. The indigenous plants used by these cultures contain a myriad of natural chemicals, anti-biotic or anti-fungal properties, essential oils, and tannins, all of which are effective remedies.
Certain plants are also used in centuries-old traditions and rituals. The Ashanti people of Ghana use a specific tree bark to dye the clothing of someone who has died. “The colour of the dye depends on the age and social status of the deceased, each colour comes from a different type of bark,” Van Andel added. “Even Ghanaians that have migrated to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, go through great lengths to obtain this dye in Europe, so they can bury their relatives according to the tradition.”
The protection of Africa’s biodiversity is crucial to conserving the cultural heritage of people that depend on plants as part of their way of life. There are many plants that still need to be identified along with the roles they play in indigenous cultures.
“It is not only essential to preserve traditional knowledge about plants and forests, but also very important to train young scientists in the taxonomy of tropical plants,” Van Andel said. “Too few botanists or biologists are trained nowadays in collecting, identifying, and describing tropical plants.”
Identifying and protecting plants that are an important part of people’s traditions will take time, money, and cooperation between governments and academia. Van Andel acknowledged,
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  1. Guatemala: Community management of the Itzá Biosphere Reserve, Petén


Source: Eco-Index Monthly Update, April 2010

The Itzá Biosphere Reserve, granted to the Asociación para la Protección de la Biosfera Itzá, encompasses an area of 36 km² adjacent to the Tikal National Park and El Zotz-San Miguel La Palotada Biotope. Both of these sites are important for the biological and cultural conservation of the Petén, located within the Maya Biosphere Reserve. A number of communities in the area bordering the reserve, made up of migrants from other regions in Guatemala, use unsustainable farming methods that endanger fragile ecosystems and use resources in an unsustainable manner.
The main objectives of the project are to ensure natural resource and biodiversity conservation in the Bio Itzá reserve. It also aims to make a significant contribution to the conservation of natural resources and biodiversity in Tikal National Park and El Zotz Biotope, as well as other important areas in the central region of the Maya Biosphere Reserve.
Thus far, the project has contributed to strengthening the capacity of the Asociación para la Protección de la Biosfera Itzá to sustainably manage the reserve, recovering and disseminating information the Maya Itzá's ancestral knowledge about medicinal and food plants, and providing this knowledge to the communities located around the reserve. The project also prepared and executed a management plan for the reserve, constructed and developed a training center, developed a public use plan for the reserve, and strengthened the Asociación’s medicinal plant processing center and Spanish school.
The benefits obtained by the project helped to foster territorial management in neighboring communities and will help to develop the potential for sustainable production.
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  1. India: Fair price for forest yield

Source: The Telegraph, Calcutta, India, 20 May 2010

Tribal villagers who make a living out of forest produce will no longer be at the mercy of middlemen.
The government has moved to ensure a fair price for minor forest products such as tamarind, mango pulp, mahua and chiraunji this summer.
Jharkhand State Minor Forest Produce Co-operative Development Marketing Federation Limited (Jhamfcofed) has already purchased tonnes of these products from villagers.
“But more remains to be done. We will purchase 200 metric tonnes of mahua, 20 tonnes of natural gum, 50 tonnes of chiraunji nuts and 50 tonnes of half-dry mango flesh this summer,” said Ratnesh Chaturvedi, the managing director of Jhamfcofed.
The state marketing body was formed in 2007, a year after the Scheduled Tribe and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act gave villagers the right to collect minor forest produce. Jhamfcofed, however, took time to create its network and began business in 2009.
Jharkhand’s forests yield huge amounts of minor forest products, prices of which run into several crores of rupees. But the market has so far been monopolised by middlemen who purchase these products, especially from tribals, at throwaway prices.
Jhamfcofed has already purchased 88.2 metric tonnes of tamarind from villagers at a rate of Rs 20 per kg. The price in the open market is around Rs 15 a kg.
The state body has also bought 267.24 metric tonnes of mahua at a handsome rate of Rs 22 per kg and 30 tonnes of natural gum at Rs 40 a kg.
“Jharkhand has a collective minor forest produce market of Rs 700-800 crore. But, so far, we have been able to tap a market of Rs 1 crore. Large areas remain untapped,” Chaturvedi said.
Tamarind, mango, chiraunji are processed into food items like pickles. Besidesthem, forests produce millions of tonnes of amla, aloevera, karanj, saal seed et al.
Jhamfcofed sells the same to food-processing units. Chaturvedi said last year, it had earned a profit of Rs 10 lakh after doing business worth Rs 1 crore. This year, the target is Rs 30 lakh with a total investment of about Rs 2 crore
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  1. India: Chitral has vast potential in NTFPs

Source: Chitraltoday web site, 13 June 2010

Exploitation of vast resources of NTFP in Chitral can help fight poverty and raise the living standard of people. This was stated by deputy director of NTFPs of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa forest department, Iftikhar Ahmed, while addressing local field workers during his visit to Chitral.
He said efforts were in progress to exploit the resources on a sustainable basis and for this purpose a complex was being set up in the district for which land had been acquired. Mr Ahmed said the active participation of the local communities must be enlisted and a comprehensive training on natural resource management must be imparted to them.
He said that the villagers would be able to earn a livelihood by using the natural item which otherwise went waste. He described the medicinal plants in the pastures and forests, honey-bee keeping and sericulture as the potential sources, adding that forest conservation was possible only when the locals derived full advantage of the NTFPs.
Later, he visited a number of projects initiated by the department which included conservation of medicinal plants in Momy, Zafron demonstration plots in Iingjirate Drosh AND honeybee keeping activities in Kalash valley.
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  1. Liberian leader bans exportation of bushmeat and wild animals

Source: African Press Agency, 29 June 2010

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has banned the exportation of wild animals and bushmeat from Liberia.
A Foreign Ministry press statement issued in Monrovia (Liberia) on 28 June says the ban shall remain in force pending the passage of a proposed legislation to be submitted to the national legislature for enactment.
The statement said President Sirleaf is accordingly warning all those involved in the illegal exportation of bushmeat and wild animals to desist with immediate effect or face the consequences.
The statement said the ban is aimed at preserving Liberia’s wildlife as it has been observed that certain species of wild life are under threat of extinction.
The government’s ban comes in the wake of reports of an increase in cross-border trade in wild animals and bushmeat from Liberia.
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  1. Mexico: Environmental education to combat illegal wildlife trade and protect biodiversity

Source: Eco-Index Monthly Update, May 2010

Illegal wildlife trade is the third most lucrative illicit business in the world, earning more than US$20 billion. Due to its mega-diverse status and its proximity to the United States, Mexico’s biodiversity and sovereignty are threatened by the illegal wildlife trade. Chihuahua is particularly vulnerable to this illicit activity because it harbours a vast number of species that traffickers seek, and it is used as an entry point for travel to the United States.
Because of the rise of this environmental crime and a lack of enforcement capacity and environmental awareness, Colegio de Chihuahua has decided to address the issue by working with legislators and educators to learn about the illegal trade and find measures to prevent environmental crimes and protect the biodiversity of Chihuahua. The project is researching and developing databases of the species exploited in illegal wildlife trafficking to inform legislation to protect biodiversity and is preparing formal and informal educational materials for programs that promote local environmental stewardship.
The objective is to develop a database of native and exotic flora and fauna that are at risk for illegal trade within the jurisdiction of Chihuahua or are transported over land through Chihuahua to the United States. Additionally, the project aims to: (1) characterize the legal framework of the illegal wildlife trade at global, national, and local levels to develop criteria to help the Congress of the State of Chihuahua to create legislation; (2) identify the coverage of topics related to biodiversity, protection, and illegal wildlife trade to be included in the environmental education program, part of Chihuahua’s general education program, and in the public information material produced by authorities; and (3) develop educational material on illegal wildlife trade for the formal and informal environmental education programs.
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  1. Namibia: Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum zeyheri): Odds stacked against San harvesters

Source: IPS News, 8 May 2010

The Khwe, a tribe of the San people, are the original inhabitants of an area in north-east Namibia.
Nguni Diyasen, a San harvester, gently loosens the earth with a hoe and then widens the hole with her bare hands. Fifty centimetres down she uncovers the light brown root of a devil's claw. Used to treat arthritis and rheumatism, the plant also constitutes her only income.
"On average the devil's claw yields the harvesters US$50 per season. This lasts from June to October and any harvester spends as much as six weeks collecting his quota," says Johannes Litcholo of Omega village in Bwabwata National Park in north-east Namibia.
"For this we gather our children and all our belongings, load water on our donkeys and venture deep into the bush where the plants are found in sandy soils. Sometimes we encounter herds of elephants that want our water, other times harvesters are chased into trees by lions."
Devil's claw, or Xamlabo to the Khwe, has been a natural remedy for arthritis. "If your leg is bent and you can’t get it straight you use this plant," explains harvester Dickson Spreuke.
Picked up by the pharmaceutical industry in the 1960s, devil's claw was sold overseas, but no one in the community made a fortune from it.
"The trade was unregulated and unsustainable," recalls Friedrich Alpers from Integrated Resource Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) that promotes income generation for Bwabwata residents through organic harvesting of plants, tourism and trophy hunting. "Pick-up trucks would arrive in the middle of the night and pay the Khwe a dismal amount for devil's claw."
Two years ago IRDNC secured a contract between Kyaramacan, representing the 5 000 residents of the park, and an exporter that guaranteed a fair price. An organic harvesting programme trained 361 harvesters who in 2009 gathered 18 tonnes of devil's claw.
As Diyasen cuts off a tuber the size of her forearm, she explains that the vital tap root of the plant is left intact to ensure proper re-growth. The tuber is cut with a stainless steel knife to prevent contamination and laid out on a net to dry, out of reach of hungry chickens and curious predators. The hole that was dug is carefully closed up, so the plant can be harvested again in the future.
"All these measures are taken to ensure sustainable and organic harvesting, for which there is a market overseas," says Alpers.
"In 2008 the price was US$2/kg, which is quite high," adds Litcholo. "But because of the recession and stockpiling by producers last year the price halved. With an organic harvesting certificate we hope the price to get US$3/kg."
But Dave Cole, manager Indigenous Natural Products of the Millennium Challenge Account warns against inflated expectations. "I wish the harvesters would get even more, but the reality in the market is different." Indeed the offer of the exporter to the Bwabawata group for the 2010 devil's claw harvest turns out to be a disappointing US$1.30/kg.
Still, Cole argues that actively involving the harvesters as managers of a sustainable resource is the best way to build up a sustainable harvesting industry. "Organic harvesting and organizing the export industry in a way that recognizes the Khwe’s role in the production chain is vital. Only then will income from the pharmaceuticals trickle all the way back down to the community."
While there are still sizeable quantities of devil’s claw buried deep in the sandy soils of Bwabwata Park, increasing development, mass-tourism, climate change and pollution are real threats to the area's biodiversity. The Khwe could be instrumental in protecting precious natural resources, but politics and the market are working against them.
"We have so many resources, but we don’t control them," comments IRDNC field officer Andrew Ndala. "Why are our rights limited like that?"
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  1. Nepal: the social and economic value of bamboo and rattan

Source: The Himalayan, 25 June 2010

Bamboo and rattan have both social and economic value in Nepal. They are used to make furniture such as chairs, sofas, book cases, television stands, baby carriers, baskets and mats.
“Rattan is an excellent material for making walking sticks,” said Ramji Prashad Timilsina, proprietor of Swoyambhu Garden Service and Bamboo Nursery. In addition, people eat rattan fruits. The material is also used for decorating homes, said Timilsina.
Recently an extensive survey was carried out based on Multiple Research Methodology (MRM), which consisted of Key Informant Survey (KIS), Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA), and Sample Survey (SS) techniques, said Rajendra B Joshi of the Department of Forest Research and Survey (DFRS). The objective of the survey was to assess major production areas, production quantities, marketing and utilization records, especially from primary sources, added Joshi.
Out of the 75 districts of Nepal, 73 are known to have one or more species of bamboo and at least 25 districts have rattan plants.
Altogether 11 genera and 53 species of bamboo and two genera and eight species of rattan were found in Nepal.
Most of the raw materials are imported, Shrestha said. Around 20 well established firms have registered revenue of Rs 17 million, of which bamboo and rattan account for 25 percent.
A range of products are manufactured and 20 sampled firms in the Kathmandu valley provide direct employment to about 45 people. Rattan furniture has a substantial market in the urban areas of Nepal, said Shrestha.
“The variety of bamboo and rattan products means that their marketing agencies need some familiarity with these products,” said Swoyambhu Man Amatya of DFRS. “There is a need for economic instruments to value these products realistically to either attract investment or promote international trade,” said Amatya.
According to Amatya, the lack of a clear cut government policy and suitable marketing infrastructure are the two most important constraints for the bamboo and rattan sector of Nepal.
“Some of the most developed bamboo-based industries are the pulp and paper factories,” said Sanu R Silpakar, an interior design consultant at Unas Interiors and Wood Seasoning.
However, the paper factories not only need to be provided with incentives to use bamboo as raw material but should also be encouraged to develop their own bamboo plantations, said Silpakar, who is also the president of Interior Designers’ Association Nepal.            Good marketing infrastructure should be developed to address the issue of lack of awareness about price of bamboo and rattan products, said Silpakar. According to him, technology transfer from neighboring countries such as India and China is vital to develop improved production systems and processing facilities.
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  1. Russia: Governor in South Russia hopes to make a delicacy of locusts

Source: RIA Novosti News Agency (Russia), 29 June 2010

The governor of Astrakhan region in southern Russia proposed on Monday exporting locusts, killed to protect crops, to Asian countries as a delicacy.
Swarms of locusts have been attacking crops in the Astrakhan region of southern Russia since 25 May. The regional government has declared a state of emergency amid fears the insects may destroy more than 50 000 hectares of crops.
"I saw a report yesterday on how many millions we spend annually on the fight against locusts and I thought maybe we can make it a profitable business, because people in dozens of countries around the world eat locusts," Alexander Zhilkin wrote on his internet blog.
Zhilkin suggested that locusts could be dried, salted, frozen and exported, or sold to Thai or Chinese restaurants.
The official believes that this may be an ingenious solution to the problem.
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  1. Syria: Nature reserves maintain biodiversity, activate ecotourism in Tartous

Source: Syrian Arab News Agency, 22 June 2010

Nature reserves play an important role in achieving sustainable development and preserving the stability and balance of the environment in the coastal Syrian Province of Tartous.
They also provide a suitable environment for conducting scientific research and protecting the biological diversity.
Tartous Province is famous for its natural and artificial forests which extend over the western cliff of the coastal mountains as the Province embraces four nature reserves; East al-Shaara, al-Nabi (Prophet) Matta, Qarkafti and al-Kahf (Cave) Forest.
The Director of the Biological Diversity and Nature Reserve Department in Tartous, Hiba Salhab said the reserves were established because they enjoy a rich biological diversity as they host various rare plants, while surrounded by several archaeological monuments.
Salhab pointed to the key role of the reserves in activating ecotourism, while preserving these natural areas.
She underlined the importance of forests in the reserves in cleaning the air of pollutants and industrial gases.
The Director of Tartous Forest Department, Hassan Salih said "the reserve of 'East al-Sharaa' was established for preserving oak and terebinth trees in addition to protecting rare plant species such as maple, Syrian pear, Fir trees and some species of oak trees." The reserve was established with the aim of preserving the mountainous ecosystem and the forests in the area and protecting the endangered animals.
The reserve also aims at increasing animal diversity in the area and protecting the perennial medicinal and seasonal plants. It is also a destination for ecotourism.
Medicinal plants also grow in the reserve, such as thyme, wild garlic, hyssop, dandelion, narcissus, Artemisia and lilies.
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  1. USA: Mild weather zaps sap of maple syrup farmers in New England

Source: USA Today, 28 June 2010

New England beachgoers may have reveled in the warmth, but the unusually tepid spring was a problem for maple syrup producers. The quick warm-up this spring switched sugar maple trees from sap producing to bud popping, lowering maple syrup production.
In New York, there was a 30 percent decline in maple syrup production from last year, and Maine's production dropped 22 percent. In Vermont, maple syrup production suffered a 3 percent drop.
In addition to New England states, New Jersey, New York and Michigan had their warmest springs on record, and nationally, it was the 20th-warmest spring on record.
Globally, this year is on track to be the warmest ever recorded.
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  1. Activists target corporations in the battle to save forests

Source: in Amazon News, 25 June 2010

Large corporations, not small-scale farmers, are now the major forces behind the destruction of the world’s tropical forests.  From the Amazon to Madagascar, activists have been directing their actions at these companies — so far with limited success.
The image of rainforests being torn down by giant bulldozers, felled by chainsaw-wielding loggers, and torched by large-scale developers has never been more fitting: Corporations have today replaced small-scale farmers as the prime drivers of deforestation, a shift that has critical implications for conservation.
Yet while industrial actors exploit resources more efficiently and cause widespread environmental damage, they also are more sensitive to pressure from consumers and green groups.  As a result, activists have more power today than ever to affect corporate behavior and slow the dizzying pace of tropical deforestation worldwide.  That power has been on display in recent months, as campaigns by environmental groups have forced major corporations to stop doing business with companies accused of widespread deforestation.
Unilever, the consumer products conglomerate, and other corporations recently cancelled contracts with palm oil producers in Indonesia after investigations by Greenpeace and the BBC revealed that these companies were engaged in illegally clearing forests.  Late last year and early this year, a campaign by ecotourism companies and the conservation group, - a Web-based activist group - succeeded in forcing some European companies to stop trading in rare rosewood illegally logged in Madagascar.
And since Greenpeace released a report last summer linking deforestation by cattle ranchers in the Amazon to major consumer products, including Burger King hamburgers and Nike shoes, the fallout has been profound.  Now, major buyers of Amazon beef and leather goods, including Wal-Mart, are insisting on new sourcing policies in Brazil requiring full traceability and transparency from their suppliers to ensure that cattle products are not coming from former rainforest.
These developments illustrate an important shift in the battle waged by conservation groups to slow the destruction of tropical forests.  Yet such success stories are not as clear-cut as they might appear at first glance.  In many cases, after an initial victory by environmentalists, the forces driving deforestation have regrouped and are seeking ways around corporate boycotts.
For decades, deforestation was mostly driven by poverty - poor people in developing countries clearing forests or depleting other natural resources as they struggle to feed their families.  Government policies in the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s helped drive this trend by subsidizing agricultural expansion through low-interest loans, infrastructure projects, and ambitious colonization schemes, especially in the Amazon and Indonesia.
But over the past 20 years, this has changed in many countries due to rural depopulation, a decline in state-sponsored development projects, the rise of globalized financial markets, and a worldwide commodity boom.  Deforestation, overfishing, and other forms of environmental degradation are now primarily the result of corporations feeding demand from international consumers.
Wal-Mart, Nike, and Timberland - all identified in the report as buying leather products or meat that came from cattle raised on deforested Amazon land - immediately announced new sourcing policies requiring full traceability and transparency from their suppliers to ensure beef and leather products weren’t coming from former rainforest.  Under pressure from their customers and the government - which threatened billions in fines - Brazilian cattle producers, processors, and traders fell into line, declaring moratoriums on deforestation.  The hottest commodity in the Brazilian Amazon became credible supply-chain management, spawning a rush to develop certification systems and land registries for “responsible” ranches.
“The industry - from Nike and Adidas to the slaughter plants - is under pressure to have a clean supply chain,” said John Carter, a rancher who runs Alianca da Terra, a Brazilian NGO developing a certification system for the cattle industry.  ”Greenpeace essentially created a federal mandate that everyone had to come into compliance via a land registry.  Greenpeace changed the game.”
For full story, please see:


  1. Biopiracy: Food giant Nestle accused of biopiracy

Source: International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, 31 May 2010

Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, is facing allegations of biopiracy after it applied for patents involving two plants found in South Africa without having negotiated permission to use them with the South African government.
In what they have dubbed the “rooibos robbery,” the Berne Declaration, a Swiss advocacy organization, and Natural Justice, a South African environmental group, are accusing Nestlé of having violated South African law and the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD).
At issue are two plants found in South Africa, rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) and honeybush (Cyclopia spp), both of which are commonly used to make herbal teas. Nestec, a Nestlé subsidiary, filed four international patent applications for using the plants or extracts from them to treat hair and skin conditions such as acne, wrinkles, and hair loss. A fifth application sought patent protection for using rooibos as an anti-inflammatory.  It is seeking patent protection in a large number of countries around the world, including South Africa.
Benefit-sharing is a key issue
According to Natural Justice and the Berne Declaration, the South African Biodiversity Act — the country’s implementing legislation for the CBD - requires companies to get a permit from the government if they intend to use South African genetic resources for research or patenting. These permits can only be obtained with a benefit-sharing agreement.
In a press release, Natural Justice and the Berne Declaration said that South Africa’s department of environmental affairs told them that Nestlé never received permits to use rooibos and honeybush.
“Based on the information provided,” the groups said, “it is clear the patents of Nestlé and the research on which they are based are in contradiction with South African law and the CBD.”
Nestlé this week rejected the accusations. According to a report in the South African newspaper Business Day, company spokesman Ravi Pillay said that Nestlé had neither sourced the plants in South Africa nor done research on them there. South African suppliers had provided rooibos and honeybush extracts and material to two Nestlé research facilities in Switzerland and France, which then used it for basic research on active ingredients.
Following this research, he said, Nestec filed several patents to protect its research results, which showed potential benefits for consumers. “Nestec has not filed any patent relating to the plants themselves, or extracts of the plants. Nestlé has not made any commercial use of these patents, and has no plans to do so in the near future,” he added.
Pillay said that if Nestlé decided to use the patents commercially, it would comply fully with the benefit-sharing provisions in South African law.
However, Johanna von Braun of Natural Justice in Cape Town said that, under South African law, the commercial phase of bioprospecting begins once a patent application has been filed. At this early phase, a permit - which would include a benefit sharing agreement and a material transfer agreement - has to have been submitted regardless of where the research takes place, she said.
There is a lacuna in international patent law about who owns genetic resources once they have been removed from their country of origin. The Convention on Biological Diversity clearly specifies that genetic resources are under national sovereignty. But it is less clear about Nestlé’s responsibilities vis-a-vis genetic resources from another continent supplied to it in Europe.
South African law, however, is quite clear: it specifies that all indigenous biological resources are those historically from South Africa.
Since 2002, parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity have been negotiating an international regime on access and benefit sharing. This would create firmer rules about the use of genetic resources, including so-called “ex situ” resources that are no longer in their country of origin.
“The Nestlé case highlights the urgent need of a new protocol that prevents the misappropriation of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge,” said Kabir Bavikatte from Natural Justice.
For full story, please see:



  1. Biomonitoring: Bees help monitor air quality at German airports

Source: New York Times, 28 June 2010

Airports in Germany have come up with an unusual approach to monitoring air quality. The Düsseldorf International Airport and seven other airports are using bees as “biodetectives,” their honey regularly tested for toxins.
“Air quality at and around the airport is excellent,” said Peter Nengelken, the airport’s community liaison. The first batch of this year’s harvested honey from some 200 000 bees was tested in early June, he said, and indicated that toxins were far below official limits, consistent with results since 2006 when the airport began working with bees.
Beekeepers from the local neighborhood club keep the bees. The honey, “Düsseldorf Natural,” is bottled and given away as gifts.
Biomonitoring, or the use of living organisms to test environmental health, does not replace traditional monitoring, said Martin Bunkowski, an environmental engineer for the Association of German Airports. But “it’s a very clear message for the public because it is easy to understand,” he added.
Volker Liebig, a chemist for Orga Lab, who analyzes honey samples twice a year for the Düsseldorf and six other German airports, said results showed the absence of substances that the lab tested for, like certain hydrocarbons and heavy metals, and the honey “was comparable to honey produced in areas without any industrial activity.” A much larger data sampling over more time is needed for a definitive conclusion, he said, but preliminary results are promising.
Could bees be modern-day sentinels like the canaries once used as warning signals of toxic gases in coal mines?
Assessing environmental health using bees as “terrestrial bioindicators“ is a fairly new undertaking, said Jamie Ellis, assistant professor of entomology at the Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory, University of Florida in Gainesville. “We all believe it can be done, but translating the results into real-world solutions or answers may be a little premature.” Still, similar work with insects to gauge water quality has long been successful.
Emanuel Fleuti, head of environment services for Zurich Airport, said he is confident about the biomonitoring work the German airports are doing with bees, as the results are consistent with traditional air quality monitoring in Europe.
“If you look at the honey, it’s perfectly fine,” Mr. Fleuti said, adding that he often gets jars of it when he visits Germany. “It’s good honey.”
For full story, please see:



  1. China, Nepal reach historic biodiversity agreement

Source: WWF, 9 June 2010

China and Nepal have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on environment and biodiversity conservation. The agreement was made between the State Forestry Administration of the People's Republic of China and the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation of the Government of Nepal.
The WWF notes that this is a historic moment for both countries as their governments have joined hands for the first time to promote cooperation in the field of biodiversity conservation, management of forest resources and protection of wildlife.
The two countries agreed to implement the obligations of international multilateral environmental agreements and conventions to protect the environment and conserve biodiversity.
For full story, please see:



  1. Congo Basin forests at a “critical turning point”

Source: Thinking Beyond the Canopy (CIFOR), 20 April 2010

Deforestation has remained relatively low in the Congo Basin, the world’s second largest topical forest expanse, but is likely to increase as the region looks to economic development, a new report warns.
“The Forests of the Congo Basin: State of the Forest 2008”, released in late 2009, states that the Congo Basin forest is at a “critical turning point.”
“Because there’s been very little development in the Congo Basin, forests have been protected by default,” says Robert Nasi, CIFOR scientist and co-editor of the report. “It is the one area with a low rate of deforestation. But it’s also an area with weak government, lots of land development, lots of resource development and lots of people looking for land and resources.”
A key objective of the report is to provide regional decision makers with up-to-date information to assist with strategic planning.
The new trend of making payments to stakeholders for the environmental services that forests provide, may be essential to balance development and conservation, the Report notes, but challenges remain immense in the face of weak governance and infrastructure.
The vast forest ecosystems of the Congo Basin cover some 160 million hectares across six nations: Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Only the forested terrain in the Amazon Basin is larger.
Unlike the Amazon rainforest, the ecosystems are still intact and functioning, as indicated by the presence of elephants, great apes and other large animals; the Amazon has long since lost its terrestrial megafauna. Studies cited in the Report note that the Congo Basin hosts exceptional species diversity and is among the world’s richest areas in vertebrate and plant species.
The area is also home to more than 90 million people, most of whom subsist by harvesting forest products or through small-scale slash-and-burn shifting agriculture - a practice that uses the forest for expansion.
Deforestation of the dense tropical forest is estimated in the Report at a relatively low average rate of 0.17 percent. However, forests represent a major source of economic revenue, in both formal and informal sectors, and the easing of the civil war in DR Congo has brought economic opportunities.
Accompanying these opportunities are great environmental risks, as forest management takes place against a background of widespread impoverishment - and the population is expected to double in the next 20 years.
“With 73 percent of people living below the poverty line, the development needs are huge,” says the lead editor of the Report, Carlos de Wasseige of CIRAD, head of the Central Africa Forest Observatory (FORAF) coordination unit in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Balancing economic development with sustainable forest practices and conservation is a major challenge facing the region.
Accepting the “sustainable yet multiple use of forest resources” is an important step to winning support for intervention strategies, de Wasseige says.
While the complex problems are local, the issues remain global because of the effects increased deforestation and forest degradation could have on climate change.
“The whole world should be involved in searching for solutions that improve the livelihoods of Central African people while preserving forests,” de Wasseige says.
For full story, please see:



  1. Free access to Earthscan journals for developing countries

Source: Earthscan

Earthscan is delighted to make a selection of their development journals free to access for researchers and academics in developing countries through the Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE) and the Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA) databases. The Earthscan journals included in the initiative are: Climate and Development);Climate Policy); the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability; and Environmental Hazards: Human and Policy Dimensions.
More about the free access initiatives:
Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE) is an initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Yale University. Its mission is to improve the quality and effectiveness of environmental science research, education and training in low-income countries through benefiting local public and non-profit institutions in those countries.
Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA) is administered by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). Its mission is to enable developing countries to gain access to an outstanding digital library collection in the fields of food, agriculture, environmental science and related social sciences. Institutions that benefit are not-for-profit national academic, research or government institutions in these countries.
* Each Programme accepts registrations separately from institutions only in Band 1 and Band 2 countries. The programmes do not accept registrations from individuals. Eligible institutions are: universities and colleges, research institutes, professional schools, extension centres and experiment stations, teaching hospitals, government offices, local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and national libraries.
To check whether your institution is eligible, and to register for the program, please visit:
For more information, please contact:
Joe d'Angelo
Journals Co-ordinator
Earthscan Ltd
+44 (0)20 7841 1940
joe.d’[email protected]
Visit our Journals website at:



  1. “One billion hungry project” aims to blow whistle on hunger

Source: FAO Newsroom, 11 May 2010

A global campaign on behalf of the world’s one billion people living in chronic hunger was launched in a ceremony at FAO’s headquarters in Rome, Italy on Tuesday 11 May, with parallel events taking place in cities across the world.
From Paris to New York to Yokohama - hundreds of thousands are signing FAO’s online petition calling on people to “get mad” at the fact that still today, some one billion people suffer from hunger.
The online petition calls on national and international leaders to move the eradication of hunger to the top of the political agenda.
“One child dies every six seconds and 5 million children every year,” said FAO’s Director-General Jacques Diouf.
"We should be extremely angry for the outrageous fact that that our fellow human beings continue to suffer from hunger. If you feel the same way, I want you to voice that anger. All of you, rich and poor, young and old, in developing and developed countries, express your anger about world hunger by adding your names to the global 1billion hungry petition at," he said.
If the world continues at the current pace of hunger reduction, the Millennium Development Goal of halving the percentage of hungry people by 2015 will not be met.
Of the estimated one billion hungry people, 642 million live in Asia and the Pacific, 265 million in Sub-Saharan Africa, 53 million in Latin America and the Caribbean, 42 in the Near East and North Africa and 15 million people in developed countries.
FAO estimates that global agricultural production needs to grow by 70 percent if the projected global population of 9 billion people that will inhabit the planet in 2050 are to be fed.
The "1billionhungry project" is fully supported by a number of civil society organizations and NGOs who will promote the campaign through their own networks.
Katia Maia, Head of Oxfam's Food and Agriculture Campaign, says "It is a huge injustice that more than one billion people go to sleep hungry every night and we welcome FAO's focus and commitment on this issue."
FAO hopes the petition will spread through social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
A yellow whistle - a symbol of the petition - is emblematic of FAO’s whistle blowing campaign.
British actor Jeremy Irons, US Olympic athlete Carl Lewis, and French football player Patrick Vieira were among the personalities participating in the launch.
For more information, please see:



  1. “Sustainable Tourism” contributes to the Millennium Development Goals

Source: Turbo News, 23 June 2010-06-25

With only five years left until the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the United Nations has launched the MDG Report 2010 calling for accelerated progress to reach the 2015 deadline. As the UN Specialized Agency for Tourism, UNWTO is firmly committed to fostering the tourism sector’s contribution to development.
Tourism accounts for 45 percent of the exports of services of least-developed countries and is a major job generator for many of the world’s most vulnerable populations. Indeed, in 2009, emerging economies received 410 million international tourism arrivals, a 47 percent share of the global total, and US$306 billion in international tourism receipts, 36 percent of the global total. As such, the industry can play a significant role in the achievement of the MDGs, in particular MDG 1 - Eradication of Poverty, MDG 3 - Gender Equality, MDG 7 - Environmental Sustainability, and MDG 8 - Global Partnerships for Development.
Maximizing tourism’s contribution as a main driver of economic growth and development, UNWTO is currently implementing numerous programs to reduce poverty, fight gender inequality, and foster sustainable development.
The Sustainable Tourism-Eliminating Poverty (ST-EP) is UNWTO’s long-term program aimed at reducing poverty through developing and promoting sustainable forms of tourism. To date, UNWTO has implemented over 90 ST-EP projects in 31 countries. UNWTO is also actively involved in several projects funded by the MDG Achievement Fund, an international cooperation mechanism financed by the government of Spain to speed up progress towards the goals. The projects focus on areas such as the promotion of rural tourism to alleviate rural poverty and supporting the development of small tourism businesses.
UNWTO is also actively promoting sustainable tourism, one that makes optimal use of environmental resources, maintains essential ecological processes, and conserves natural heritage and biodiversity, in the pursuit of MDG 7 - Environmental Sustainability. This year in particular, within the framework of the UN International Year for Biodiversity, World Tourism Day 2010 (WTD) will take place under the theme "Tourism and Biodiversity". Highlighting tourism’s role in conserving biodiversity, WTD also raises awareness of how continued biodiversity loss hampers efforts to meet other MDGS, especially those related to poverty, hunger, and health.
For full story, please see:



  1. The imperatives for traditional medicine

Source:, 30 June 2010

Integrating modern and traditional medicine requires breaking down the legal and regulatory barriers that disadvantage the poor.
Before the colonial age, medicine across the tropics was almost entirely confined to traditional remedies and practices tailored to local cultures and natural resources.
Then the arrival of missionaries and colonialists in Asia, Africa and America brought modern scientific techniques and medicines that were used to serve the colonial imperative of promoting Christianity, commerce and “civilization.”
The introduction of modern medicine has certainly been successful on one level. The colonial powers were much more adept at controlling epidemics, deploying mass vaccination programmes against smallpox, for example, and removing tumours and cataracts.
But colonial-era medicine has left another legacy — the marginalization and downgrading of traditional medicine. Colonial powers promoted their values over traditional practices, establishing modern medicine as officially superior. In many African countries, for example, herbalists were not forbidden to practice but they were largely considered inferior or ignored, and traditional divination, sorcery and witchcraft were outlawed.
This marginalization of traditional medical practices was later reinforced through organized healthcare systems and hospitals built on developed country models, which have continued to dominate the health systems of all countries.
But, in the race to meet the Millennium Development Goals, combat increasing drug resistance and tackle new diseases, traditional medicine is making a comeback. Governments, drug companies, researchers and international aid organizations increasingly recognize the value of traditional medicine and its practitioners -  as a source of potential new blockbuster drugs and as alternative providers of primary healthcare.
The WHO's Beijing Declaration in 2008 marked a milestone in acknowledging the need to integrate traditional medicine into national health systems.
But achieving this is no easy task, not least because modern health systems are built on the legal and procedural frameworks inherited from the developed world. They may serve the purpose of advancing and propagating modern medicine but they are not necessarily conducive to promoting traditional practices.
One example is the stringent intellectual property regime. It cannot easily cope with the traditional approach to medical knowledge, which is commonly owned and freely handed down through generations.
The tightly defined tests for safety and efficacy that are a hallmark of drug regulation are another constraint. They have been developed to test standardized drugs at fixed dosages and rely on being able to identify active ingredients and provide easily reproducible results. But traditional medicines are inherently diverse, both in how they are formulated and dispensed.
In Africa, according to South African drug development expert, Kelly Chibale, the first step must be to create a database and physical collection of natural products from traditional medicine. Modern methods of screening, assessment and preclinical pharmacology can then be applied to develop commercial products.
If modern science can be used to explore traditional medicines, so too can it be used to reinforce the knowledge systems that support them. Antony Taubman, head of intellectual property at the World Trade Organization, argues that the latest information technologies are well suited to characterizing the local and cultural context of traditional medical knowledge and of preserving and transmitting it for use in modern practice.
But integrating modern and traditional medicine extends beyond simply applying modern methods to ancient knowledge. Traditional medicine experts, Bhushan Patwardhan and colleagues, call for an integrative knowledge system that recognizes the epistemological differences between traditional medicine and modern science and establishes norms for cross-cultural interactions.
The developing world has many examples that show that modern and traditional medicine need not clash - from Chinese hospitals that provide herbal therapy alongside conventional medicine to Ecuadorian clinics where modern general practitioners work alongside traditional “yachaks” (shamans).
But for the two systems to work in greater harmony on a large scale, we need a global effort to break down the legal, regulatory and conceptual barriers that support the promotion of modern medicine at the expense of traditional practices.
This means, for example, maintaining an active debate within the World Intellectual Property Organization about access and benefit sharing to ensure that the originators and custodians of traditional medicine get the respect, recognition and equitable share of the benefits they deserve.
It also means building on the WHO's work to adapt systems of regulation, testing, training and licensing or certification with methodologies that suit traditional medicine.
Integrating modern and traditional medicine is a major challenge. But, given the growing recognition of the limitations of modern medicine, it is one that the global community must rise to if we are to improve public health in the developing world
For full story, please see:



  1. Two South American Trees to obtain CITES listing

Source: Cropwatch Newsletter, June 2010

The Environment News Service reported on 19 March 2010 that two South American trees, over-exploited by essential oil traders for the perfumery and cosmetics market, will be listed under Appendix II, the 15th Conference of the Parties (CoP15) Meeting of the Convention in International Trade (CITES) in Doha, Quatar.
Trade controls (international commercial trading strictly by CITES export or re-export permit only) were stated to apply within 90 days for Aniba rosaedora (Brazilian rosewood) proposed for listing by Brazil, which would apply to logs, sawn wood, veneer sheets, plywood, and the essential oil, but excluding finished products packaged and ready for retail trade, and for Bulnesia sarmientoi (holywood) from the Gran Chaco region of Central America (proposed for listing by Argentina). Bulnesia sarmientoi is the species from which guaiacwood oil, acetylated guaiacwood oil and guaiyl acetate are produced, and the Appendix II listing would apply to logs, sawn wood, veneer sheets, plywood, powder, and “extracts”, but excluding finished products packaged and ready for retail trade.
The CITES website posting now sets out the revised Appendix I,II and III species listings post the CoP 15 Meeting, and indicates that trade controls for these ingredients will enter force on 23 June 2010. In the EU, the annexes to Council Regulation EC 338/97 re: Protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein, are expected to be modified accordingly as well as in the US.
Cropwatch has long drawn attention to the decline in the ecological status of rosewood trees in Brazil and many essential oil users, interested in the sustainability of ingredient use, have subsequently volunteered to stop purchasing the essential oil. Unfortunately there is always the unethical element of the trade which will carry on using unsustainable species up until the point at which it is actually illegal to do so, and possibly even after that. Cropwatch has previously named and shamed some major rosewood oil users, but they have seemed too set in their ways to take any notice of environmental arguments.
The status of holywood (guaiacwood) trees in the Gran Chaco National Park which stretches across W. Paraguay, N. and N.E. Argentina and S.E. Bolivia was recently updated by Cropwatch in its Updated List of Threatened Aromatic Plants Used in the Aroma and Cosmetic Industries. Guaiacwood essential oil is actually a brownish paste melting at 45ºC, and up to now its acetylated derivatives have occupied an important place in the perfumer’s palette.
But will these listings really make any real difference? A CITES Appendix I listing would have been far more effective, especially in the case of the rosewood tree, whose survival has been much more in the hands of the lawless loggers than anything else. Rosewood oil from unlicensed stills deep in the forest continues to find its way into the essential oils market, although some imported batches show unusual compositions, suggesting adulteration prompting queries about the species it was sourced from, or if it is 100 percent derived from the named botanical species as stated.
As for guaiacwood, there is some confusion over the legal definition of the term “extracts”. Will guaiacwood oil from Paraguay continue to be legally available with the correct documentation and permits, or is it just Argentinean origins which will become unavailable? Time will tell, but these CITES listings are, at least, a step in the right direction.
For full story, please see:




“Who Will Own the Forest?” Summit
Portland, Oregon, USA
20-22 September 2010
Forestland is attracting interest from institutional investors wanting diversification, an inflation hedge and an alternative to stocks and bonds. Join the professionals as they discuss the drivers, trends, challenges and opportunities to investing in this unique asset class. This is North America's best attended annual event on forestland investing, to be held at the World Forestry Center, in cooperation with University of Georgia's Center for Forest Business
For more information, please contact:
World Forestry Center
4033 SW Canyon Road
Portland, Oregon 97221
E-mail: Sara Wu [email protected] 



Educational Ecotour to the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest and Machu Picchu
7-17 October, 2010
The nonprofit American Botanical Council (ABC) has announced its annual "Pharmacy from the Rainforest" Botanical Medicine Workshop and Ecotour, which will take place in Amazonian Peru and the Andes Mountains.
Since 1994, ABC has partnered with the Amazon Center for Education and Environmental Research (ACEER) to co-sponsor this exciting educational ecotour for health professionals, researchers, industry members, and laypersons. This year's tour is also co-sponsored by West Chester University in Pennsylvania.
The trip's first destination is Puerto Maldonado, capital of the Madre de Dios region, which is a tributary of the upper Amazon. Participants will visit the local market, where they will have a chance to view medicinal herb stands and discuss traditional remedies. Educational workshops will feature information on medicinal plants, plant diversity, and ecosystems within the rainforest.
For more information, please contact:



International Conference on Current Trends in Medicinal Plant Research and Microbiological Applications
27 – 29 October 2010
Alexandria, Egypt
The Egyptian Botanical Society and the Botany & Microbiology Department, Faculty of Science, Alexandria University are organizing an International Conference on trends in medicinal plant research and microbiological applications. The two main objectives of this conference are (1) Elucidating the recent research trends in the field of cultivation, safety control, diversity, conservation, biotechnology, cytogenetics and phytochemistry of medicinal plants; and (2) Revealing diversity of pathogenic microorganisms as well as industrial and marine microbiology.
The Conference will tackle eleven major themes, including: (1) new aproaches in cultivation of medicinal plants; (2) safety control art of herbal medicine, (3) environmental stresses on medicinal plants and (4) ecology, diversity and conservation of medicinal plants, among others.
For more information, please contact: 
Prof. Dr. Salama M. El-Darier
E-mail: [email protected]
Tel: +2 0127430854
Fax: +2 033911794



6th Caribbean Beekeeping Congress
8-13 November 2010
Convened by the Government of Grenada and the Grenada Association of Beekeepers, in collaboration with the Association of Caribbean Beekeeping Organizations, this is a unique opportunity to share the latest apicultural information, ideas and experiences throughout the Caribbean and wider region.
For more information, please contact:
Email: [email protected]
Proceedings of previous Caribbean Congresses are available at



Agroforestry: A profitable land Use
4-8 June 2011
University of Georgia, USA
The 12th North American Agroforestry Conference, Agroforestry: A Profitable Land Use, will be held 4-8 June, 2011 with the Association of Temperate Agroforestry (AFTA).
Dr. Dennis Garrity, Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre, will be a featured speaker during the opening plenary session.  Recognized as the international leader in agroforestry research and development, the Centre promotes global recognition of the key role trees play on farms.
For more information, please contact:
Carla Wood, Conference Office Director
University of Georgia
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Athens Conference Office
202 Hoke Smith Building
Athens, GA 30602, USA
Phone: 706-583-0347
Email: [email protected]




  1. EU scholarship on "Consequences of the international forest regime" at University of Goettingen/Germ

Source: Forest Policy Info Mailing List, 2 June 2010

The Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctoral Programme invites applications on questions relating to national consequences and effects of international forest policy and the international forest regime. Under the theme "The international forest regime as driver for sustainable national forest policies" applicants are invited to submit relevant research proposals until 1 October 2010.
For more information, please contact:
Lukas Giessen: [email protected]




  1. International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) Workshops

Source: INBAR

INBAR are organizing the following two workshops:

  1. International Training Workshop on NTFPs Industrial and Commercial Development,

Zhejiang Province, China
7-27 September 2010
The development of NTFPs is identified as one of the most significant solutions for the conflict between forest sustainable management and local community socio-economic development. It does not only include NWFP utilization, but also other resources derived from the sustainable management of the forests, such as ecotourism which utilizes the unique geographical features of the forest area.  China is well-known worldwide for its traditional and developed NTFP industry.  The NTFP development of China is a combination of sustainable resource cultivation, high-efficient industrial processing and smooth marketing networks.  NTFPs and their production has become one of the supporting pillars of the economic development in the forest areas in China. 
This workshop is sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and co-organized by the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) and the Lin Modern Forestry Technology Service Center (LMFTSC).  This workshop is dedicated to promoting the exchange of NTFP development technologies and products through providing a platform for China and the other developing countries to learn from each other. Participants at the workshop will not only be provided with opportunities to learn the experiences and technologies of China, but also share with other countries information in the development and utilization of NTFP, sustainable development, management of forests and the production, utilization and marketing technologies of NTFPs.

  1. International Symposium on Integrated Sustainable Livelihood Development in Mountain          Forest Areas

Zhejiang Province, China
22-25 September, 2010
With abundant forests, water and natural resources, hills and mountainous regions are often havens of biodiversity and the birthplaces of cultures. In many nations, especially in those that are developing rapidly, hill and mountain people are some of the poorest, in part due to the destruction of forests, degeneration of their ecosystems, frequency of natural disasters and undeveloped economies. In China, hills and mountains cover 69 percent of the whole land area and of the 592 counties that are classified as poor, 490 are located in mountainous areas (83 percent). There is a pressing need to increase the capacity of hill and mountain peoples to adopt and promote measures for economic and environmental development, and to explore an integrated sustainable developing model.
Systematic development of ecosystems and social economics in China and many other countries has been very successful and has produced many new development models, such as that of Zhejiang Province in China. With thirty years of work since the 1970s reforms, the County’s environment and economic policies has brought balanced and sustainable improvements to the lives of the local people.
There are successful examples of integrated development in many other areas of the world too; the symposium will be dedicated to sharing successful stories and learning from each others' past experiences,
For more information, please contact:
Jin Wei
Public Awareness Officer
8, Futong Dong Da Jie, Wangjing, Chaoyang District
P. O. Box 100102-86, Beijing 100102, P. R. China
Tel: +86-10-64706161 ext. 310
Fax: +86-10-64702166
E-mail: [email protected]




  1. Voices in the Wilderness: Contemporary Wildlife Writings

Source: Tropical Biodiversity Group, 23 June 2010

This book brings together over 20 distinguished figures in the field - naturalists, scientists, and authors, whose writings paint a vivid picture of India's amazing wildlife, from the charismatic tiger to the `lowly' caterpillar. The spectrum of articles and essays is as varied as the country's biodiversity, reflecting a deep knowledge of and love for the subject. The collection carries an undertone of conservation, but is essentially a celebration of India's fascinating wildlife that will appeal not just to wildlife enthusiasts but also acquaint the uninitiated to the joys and mysteries of nature.



  1. Biodiversity and forest ecosystems in Europe

Source:, June 2010

Forests offer much more than Sunday walks, clean air and water, wild birds and mushrooms. In addition to being home to numerous species, forests are vital to the overall health of our environment. The European Environment Agency's (EEA) new short assessment provides an overview of their state and their main threats.
Fifth in the series of “10 messages for 2010”, the EEA's assessment on forest ecosystems finds that while their overall area remains stable, woodlands face a variety of threats. Besides unsustainable management practices, air borne pollution and climate change, forests are also threatened by fragmentation due to rapidly spreading urban areas and transport networks. Both the healthy functioning of forest ecosystems and the biodiversity they foster are at risk.
Forests protect soil from erosion, regulate water flows and capture carbon from the atmosphere. Around and within urban areas, they are essential for providing fresh air, reducing dust and noise. They also serve as microclimate buffers against urban heat.
The wellbeing of numerous plants and animals, including many species protected by European Union legislation, is directly linked to forest ecosystems. Moreover, forest patches also play a critical role in facilitating species' movements through their connectivity with other ecosystems.




  1. Other publications of interest

From:  FAO’s NWFP Programme

A. Byg, J. Salick and W. Law. 2010. Medicinal plant knowledge among lay people in five eastern Tibet villages. Human Ecology 38:2.
Abstract: Tibetans in five villages in the Mount Khawa Karpo area of the Menri (Meili Xueshan in Chinese) range, Northwest Yunnan, People’s Republic of China, were interviewed about their knowledge of a number of medicinal plants and their uses. There was large variation in people’s knowledge with significant differences among the villages and between men and women. Most of the reported knowledge focused on a small number of commercial plants and their uses. In comparison with Tibetan doctors, villagers generally knew fewer applications and focused on general health remedies.

Amend, A., Fang, Z.D., Yi, C., and McClatchey, W.C. 2010. Local perceptions of Matsutake mushroom management, in NW Yunnan China. Biol. Conserv. 143(1):165-172.

Ashton, P.S. 2010. Conservation of Borneo biodiversity: do small lowland parks have a role, or are big inland sanctuaries sufficient? Brunei as an example. Biodivers. Conserv. 19(2):343-356.
Chapman, C.A., Chapman, L.J., Jacob, A.L., Rothman, J.M., Omeja, P., Reyna-Hurtado, R.,

Barlow, J., Gardner, T.A., Louzada, J., and Peres, C.A. 2010. Measuring the conservation value of tropical primary forests: the effect of occasional species on estimates of biodiversity uniqueness. PLoS ONE 5(3):e9609.

Carlos De Wasseige, Didier Devers, Paya de Marcken, Richard Eba'a Atyi, Robert Nasi and Philippe Mayaux. 2009. The forests of the Congo Basin: State of the forest 2008. Luxembourg: The Publications Office of the European Union.
This is the third edition of the report. It was produced under the umbrella of the Central African Forests Commission. This initiative was made possible by the active contributions of forest administrations in the six countries involved and their partner institutions. It was funded by the European Commission, US Agency for International Development, France Coopération Internationale, the German Federal Ministry of Cooperation and Development, UNESCO and Central African Forest Ecosystems. Partners in this initiative are CIFOR, Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD) and Forest Resources Management at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL).

De Lacerda, A.E.B., and Nimmo, E.R. 2010. Can we really manage tropical forests without knowing the species within? Getting back to the basics of forest management through taxonomy. Forest Ecol. Manag. 259(5):995-1002.

Dutschke, Michael. 2010. Forestry, Risk and Climate Policy. Göttingen, Germany: Cuvillier Verlag.

El-Niweiri, M.A.A., and Moritz, R.F.A. 2010. The impact of apiculture on the genetic structure of wild honeybee populations (Apis mellifera) in Sudan. J. Insect Conserv. 14(2):115-124.

Hartter, J., and Lawes, M.J. 2010. Tropical tree community shifts: implications for wildlife
conservation. Biol. Conserv. 143(2):366-374.

Kaschula, S.A., and Shackleton, C.M. 2009. Quantity and significance of wild meat off-take by a rural community in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Environ. Conserv. 36(3):192-200.

Mikkelsen, Cæcilie (Ed.) 2010. The Indigenous World 2010. International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs.
This yearbook contains a comprehensive update on the current situation of indigenous peoples and their human rights, and provides an overview of the most important developments in international and regional processes during 2009. It includes region and country reports covering most of the indigenous world, and updated information on international and regional processes relating to indigenous peoples. Sections of relevance to TK include the reports on the CBD and the UNFCCC. A number of country reports also include sections of relevance. For instance, the report on Tuvalu includes a section on climate change and women, highlighting that “women are the standard bearers of the traditional knowledge that explains our natural world. However, anxiety is increasing when food fails to appear in places it has been found since time immemorial.” The report on Indonesia highlights legislative developments, including the 2009 law on protection and management of the environment, which gives the central, provincial and district governments the authority to develop policies on the procedures for recognizing the existence and rights of indigenous peoples in connection with the protection and management of the environment. In this, indigenous peoples’ empowerment should be achieved through indigenous knowledge-based environmental management systems. The report on South Africa includes reference to a newspaper that has become a medium for giving exposure to Khoekhoe and San/Bushmen’s culture, heritage and knowledge, local poets and short lessons in indigenous language learning and medicine

Minden, V., Hennenberg, K.J., Porembski, S., and Boehmer, H.J. 2010. Invasion and management of alien Hedychium gardnerianum (kahili ginger, Zingiberaceae) alter plant species composition of a montane rainforest on the island of Hawai'i. Plant Ecol. 206:321-333.

Minden, V., Jacobi, J.D., Porembski, S., and Boehmer, H.J. 2010. Effects of invasive alien kahili ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum) on native plant species regeneration in a Hawaiian rainforest. Appl. Veg. Sci. 13(1):5-14.

Rainey, H.J., Iyenguet, F.C., Malanda, G.A.F., Madzoké, B., Dos Santos, D., Stokes, E.J., Maisels, F., and Strindberg, S. 2010. Survey of Raphia swamp forest, Republic of Congo, indicates high densities of Critically Endangered western lowland gorillas Gorilla gorilla gorilla. Oryx 44(1):124-132.

Reunanen, P., Fall, A., and Nikula, A. 2010. Biodiversity and ecological forest-cover domains in boreal landscapes. Biodivers. Conserv. 19(3):665-678.

Ricketts et al. 2010. Indigenous lands, protected areas, and slowing climate change
PLoS Biology.
Abstract: Indigenous lands and protected areas; designed to protect indigenous rights, livelihoods, and forest biodiversity; also store billions of tones of carbon. Yet, deforestation still occurs within these areas. This paper examines the opportunities REDD may present to provide extra funding to strengthen and protect these lands.

Robinson, Daniel F. The Biological Patent Predicament: Camu Camu, Kakadu Plum and Açai. Traditional Knowledge Bulletin. 30 April 2010.
Abstract: Concerns about the patenting of biological materials and the extracts of plants, microbial or animal products has heightened in recent years as the life science industries expand and as international legal agreements condone the intellectual property protection of these materials across the globe. This article discusses benefit-sharing and patent issues related to three different plants and their fruits: Camu Camu, Kakadu Plum and Açai. Access and benefit-sharing regulations, with a specific focus on Australia, are also addressed.

Olson, D., Farley, L., Patrick, A., Watling, D., Tuiwawa, M., Masibalavu, V., Lenoa, L., Bogiva, A., Qauqau, I., Atherton, J., Caginitoba, A., Tokota'a, M., Prasad, S., Naisilisili, W., Raikabula, A., Mailautoka, K., Morley, C., and Allnutt, T. 2010. Priority Forests for Conservation in Fiji: landscapes, hotspots and ecological processes. Oryx 44(1):57-70.




  1. Web sites and e-zines

From:  FAO’s NWFP Programme

The new web site of the German funded FAO project “Enhancing the Contribution of Non-Wood Forest Products to Poverty Alleviation and Food Security in Central African Countries” (GCP/RAF/441/GER) has been launched. The website is integrated in the NWFP homepage from FAO’s Forestry Department and provides information on the project, its objectives and activities in Congo, Gabon and Central African Republic in English and French. We present the team, partners like COMIFAC and topics related to the project and provide a news feed.
For more information, please contact:
Juliane Masuch
Cadre Associé de la FAO
Yaoundé, Cameroun
Projet Renforcement de la sécurité alimentaire en Afrique Centrale à travers la gestion durable des produits forestiers non-ligneux.
Tel : 00237-22-202 472
Cell : 00237-703 11 300
Fax: 00237-22-204 811
E-mail:  [email protected]
Skype:  Juliane Masuch
UNEP-WCMC, with support from the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), has launched a new website highlighting the potential for actions on reducing emissions from land use change to secure additional important benefits for biodiversity and ecosystem services (co-benefits). The website demonstrates the utility of spatial analyses to assist decision makers in identifying areas where high carbon, high biodiversity priority, and ecosystem service values overlap, which represent opportunities for securing co-benefits. It showcases UNEP-WCMC’s recent work with in-country partners on developing such analyses and includes an interactive mapping tool that allows users to explore the spatial relationships between carbon and co-benefits.
For more information please contact: [email protected]   

UN Data
The United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) launched a new internet based data service for the global user community. It brings UN statistical databases within easy reach of users through a single entry point. Users can now search and download a variety of statistical resources of the UN system.

Is an Independent Watchdog for Natural Aromatic Products used in the aroma (fragrance/cosmetics, flavour, aromatherapy), traditional herbal medicine & phytochemical industries.




American Botanical Council
Founded in 1988, the American Botanical Council is a leading international nonprofit organization addressing research and educational issues regarding herbs and medicinal plants. ABC's members include academic researchers and educators; libraries; health professionals and medical institutions; government agencies; members of the herb, dietary supplement, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries; journalists; consumers; and others in nearly 70 countries. The organization occupies a historic 2.5-acre site in Austin, Texas where it publishes the quarterly journal HerbalGram, the monthly e-publication HerbalEGram, HerbClips (summaries of scientific and clinical publications), reference books, and other educational materials. ABC also hosts HerbMedPro, a powerful herbal database, covering scientific and clinical publications on more than 220 herbs. ABC also co-produces the "Herbal Insights" segment for Healing Quest, a television series on PBS.
Fore more information, please contact:
P.O. Box 144345
Austin, TX 78714-4345
Tel: 512-926-4900.



Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme (NTFP-EP)
The NTFP-EP is a collaborative network of over 50 non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations in South and Southeast Asia. They work with forest-based communities to strengthen their capacity in sustainable management of natural resources.
E-mail: [email protected]



  1. Brazil rainforest logging increases malaria rates

Source: AFP, 17 June 2010

Logging of tropical forests can boost the incidence of malaria in the surrounding area by nearly 50 percent, according to new research tracking deforestation in Brazil's Amazon.
The study examined 2006 data tracking malaria rates in 54 Brazilian health districts and high-definition satellite imagery showing the extent of logging of nearby forests.
"It appears that deforestation is one of the initial ecological factors that can trigger a malaria epidemic," said Sarah Olson, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at the Nelson Institute, Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment.
The clearing of tropical forests can increase malaria rates because it creates conditions that are favorable for the Anopheles darlingi mosquito, the primary malaria carrier in the Amazon, according to Olson.
"The deforested landscape, with more open spaces and partially sunlit pools of water, appears to provide ideal habitat for this mosquito," she said, noting that the Anopheles darlingi mosquito is even known to displace other mosquitos that are less likely to transmit malaria.
The research, published Wednesday in the online issue of the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, shows that relatively small changes to the forest can have major effects on the health of the local population.
"A 4 percent change in forest cover was associated with a 48 percent increase in malaria incidence in these 54 health districts," Olson said.
The area examined by the study, a stretch of the Amazon close to Peru, is typical of many other tropical rainforest zones in Brazil, suggesting deforestation elsewhere could produce the same increase in malaria.
The message from the research, Olson said, is that conservation of tropical forests may be more beneficial for human health that had been thought.
Olson and senior author Jonathan Patz of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health hope their study can be replicated to track the relationship between environmental factors and the spread of malaria.
The disease infected an estimated 500 000 Brazilians annually across the Amazon basin from 1997 to 2006.
For full story, please see:



  1. Satellite to track forests in India by 2013

Source: 20 June 2010

The quality of life and infrastructure in Pune and 64 other cities across the country will soon improve as the “National Mission on Sustainable Habitat” has been approved by the Prime Minister.
Disclosing this during a public consultation on the “National Mission for A Green India”, Union minister for the environment and forests also said that the first Indian forestry satellite will be launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) in 2013.
The mission aims at making the 65 cities, which are also covered under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), climate resilient by improving their green cover, Ramesh said. “The level of urbanisation is high in states like Maharashtra, Gujarat Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The mission seeks to promote energy efficiency as an essential component of urban planning,” he added.
For full story, please see:




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last updated:  Thursday, May 3, 2012