No. 9/10

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












  • Agarwood seizure in Malaysia

Source:, 17 August 2010

In late July, enforcement agencies in the Hulu Perak district (Malaysia) successfully demonstrated how teamwork can overcome the challenges of fighting well-organized criminals who have long plundered Malaysia's forests.
In their maiden operation, six member agencies of a newly created anti-poaching taskforce raided a few premises at a jetty in Pulau Banding Perak, Jeti Mohd Shah Resort, and seized two tons of agarwood (gaharu) and 31 mahseer fish (Ikan Kelah), both high on poachers' wanted list.
This has been one of the biggest seizures of wildlife coming out of the Belum-Temengor forests thanks to the joint efforts of the Anti-Smuggling Unit, the Royal Malaysian Police, the Perak State Parks Corporation, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, the Fisheries Department and the Perak State Forestry Department.
Traffic Southeast Asia as well as WWF-Malaysia congratulated the multi-agency taskforce on their significant seizure, highlighting it as an example of an effective approach to a complex problem.
Bringing state and federal agencies together, marshalling resources, sharing information and empowering all agencies to act whatever the nature of the crime might be, is exactly what needs to done to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
The two tons of agarwood seized in Pulau Banding is just a symptom of a widespread poaching epidemic. Research shows that agarwood is among the main reasons why many poachers are drawn to forests in Malaysia. While searching for this fragrant resin, they will poach any other wildlife that comes their way.
For full story, please see:



  • Bamboo bicycles grow in popularity

Source: Detroit News (USA), 21 August 2010

Bamboo is one of the world's fastest-growing plants, adding as much as 3ft in a single day. That growth rate, along with the giant grass' sturdy hollow stalks (with a strength-to-weight ratio similar to that of steel), may explain why bamboo is being heralded by bikers, environmentalists and social entrepreneurs as a material with no carbon footprint and the potential to provide cheap wheels in poor countries.
"There is something going on with bamboo bicycles," says Jay Townley, a partner in the market research firm Gluskin Townley Group. "They're catching on with urban and commuting cyclists."
Although bicycles with bamboo frames account for only a fraction of the bicycle market, the number of bamboo bicycle start-ups is expanding.
Bamboo's distinctive texture quickly cues onlookers to a bicycle's eco-credibility (and by association, that of its rider). Unlike carbon fibre, Townley said, bamboo can be composted.
Bamboo is also relatively easy to forage, making the bikes a hit with the do-it-yourself cycling set.
"This is a sustainable material for sustainable transport," says Marty Odlin, 28, a founder of the Bamboo Bike Studio in Brooklyn.
When the studio began offering workshops on building a bamboo bike last year, Odlin would take participants on missions to cut it from patches on the property of landowners who eagerly granted permission to anyone willing to assist in taming the plant.
"It grows like a weed," Odlin said.
Because of high demand, the studio now orders bulk shipments of bamboo from Mexico.
Odlin, who is also assistant director of the Bamboo Bike Project at Columbia University, will go to Ghana to help set up a bamboo-bike factory, which could make as many as 20 000 bikes a year, selling to Ghanaians for about US$60 each.
In the developed world, well-heeled cyclists are willing to pay a premium for a one-of-a-kind bike. Nick Frey, owner of Boo Bicycles, builds and sells high-performance bamboo-frame bicycles, ranging from US$3 000 for just the frame to US$10 000 for a tricked-out racer.
"A lot of people think of bamboo as furniture or cheap fencing," says Frey, 23, who started his company last fall. "But bamboo is one of the strongest natural materials known to man."
For full story, please see:



  • Bamboo: Students discover new bamboo species

Source: 7 August 2010

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point students identified and named two new bamboo species. Biology and forestry professor Emmet Judziewicz is also credited in the discovery. The three co-authored a paper together about their findings.
Tonya Wayda and Eddie Shea are the students who identified and gave the scientific names Aulonemia austroviscosa and A. bromoides to the species. The actual bamboo samples were provided by students from Bolivia. The area where the bamboo species are from in Bolivia is likely to hold other undiscovered species. Professor Judziewicz remarked on the area’s potential:
“There are decades, if not a century of work on these bamboos, if you can get to every remote mountainside in South America and collect this group of bamboos. It is so diverse, we have barely scratched the surface on the diversity of these things.”
For example, Bolivia’s Amboro National Park is thought to have about 638 plant species, including bamboo, but there could be many more there not yet identified. Madidi National Park is several times larger, and has an estimated 4 700 plant species.
Bolivia has many identified species of bamboo. The number is at least 17, not counting the two new ones. Several of them have commercial value for people.
For full story, please see:



  • Bushmeat: Wild chimps outwit human hunters

Source: BBC News, 3 September 2010

Wild chimpanzees are learning how to outwit human hunters.
Across Africa, people often lay snare traps to catch bushmeat, killing or injuring chimps and other wildlife. But a few chimps living in the rainforests of Guinea have learnt to recognise these snare traps laid by human hunters, researchers have found. More astonishing, the chimps actively seek out and intentionally deactivate the traps, setting them off without being harmed.
The discovery was serendipitously made by primatologists Mr. Gaku Ohashi and Professor Tetsuro Matsuzawa who were following chimps living in Bossou, Guinea to study the apes' social behaviour.
Snare injuries to chimps are reported at many sites across east and west Africa where chimps are studied, with many animals dying in the traps. However, very few snares injuries have been reported among chimps studied at Bossou, which is unusual as the chimps live close to human settlements and snares are commonly laid in the area.
Now primatologists know why. While researching the chimps, Mr. Ohashi and Prof Matsuzawa, of the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University, Japan, observed five male chimps, both juvenile and adult, attempting to break and deactivate snares. On two occasions witnessed, the chimps successfully deactivated the traps set for them.
A typical snare, for example one made by the Manon people of Bossou, consists of a loop of iron wire connected by a vine rope to an arched stick, often a sapling. The sapling puts tension into the rope and once an animal passes through the wire loop, the trap is sprung and the sapling pulls it tight, around the neck or leg of an animal.
Such traps cause indiscriminate damage, ensnaring any and all animals that come into contact with them.
But male Bossou chimps have worked out how to outwit the hunters and deactivate the traps. "They seemed to know which parts of the snares are dangerous and which are not," Mr Ohashi told the BBC.
In the journal Primates, the researchers describe six separate cases where chimps were observed trying to deactivate snares.
Mostly, the chimps grasped the snare stick with their hands, shaking it violently until the trap broke.
Sometimes a chimp lightly knocked the sapling that holds the snare, before grasping it to break the trap.
But in all cases, they avoided touching the dangerous part, the wire loop.
The chimps' actions may also reveal something important about how chimps learn. The researchers speculate that the chimps may have learnt how the snares work by observing them over time, and this information has been passed down generations. During one case, a juvenile male watched an adult male deactivate a snare, before then moving in to handle it once it was safe.
The researchers caution that snares remain a significant threat to wild chimps, and they are leading conservation efforts to scan the forest for the traps and remove them. They also say that chimps in other regions do not appear so far to have also learnt how to outwit human hunters in this way.
For full story, please see:



  • Edible Insects may be the key to meeting food needs of growing global population

Source: The Observer, 1 August 2010

Saving the planet one plateful at a time does not mean cutting back on meat, according to new research: the trick may be to switch our diet to insects.
The raising of livestock such as cows, pigs and sheep occupies two-thirds of the world's farmland and generates 20 percent of all the greenhouse gases driving global warming. As a result, the United Nations and senior figures want to reduce the amount of meat we eat and the search is on for alternatives.
A policy paper on the eating of insects is being formally considered by FAO. The Organization held a meeting on the theme in Thailand in 2008 and there are plans for a world congress in 2013.
Professor Arnold van Huis, an entomologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and the author of the UN paper, says eating insects has advantages.
"There is a meat crisis," he said. "The world population will grow from six billion now to nine billion by 2050 and we know people are consuming more meat. Twenty years ago the average was 20kg, it is now 50kg, and will be 80kg in 20 years. If we continue like this we will need another Earth."
Van Huis is an enthusiast for eating insects. "Most of the world already eats insects," he points out. "It is only in the western world that we don't. Psychologically we have a problem with it. I don't know why, as we eat shrimps, which are very comparable."
The advantages of this diet include insects' high levels of protein, vitamin and mineral content. Van Huis's latest research, conducted with colleague Dennis Oonincx, shows that farming insects produces far less greenhouse gas than livestock. Breeding commonly eaten insects such as locusts, crickets and meal worms, emits 10 times less methane than livestock. The insects also produce 300 times less nitrous oxide, also a warming gas, and much less ammonia, a pollutant produced by pig and poultry farming.
Being cold-blooded, insects convert plant matter into protein extremely efficiently, Van Huis says. In addition, he argues, the health risks are lower. He acknowledges that in the west eating insects is a hard sell.
More than 1 000 insects are known to be eaten by choice around the world, in 80 percent of nations. They are most popular in the tropics, where they grow to large sizes and are easy to harvest.
FAO's field officer Patrick Durst, based in Bangkok, Thailand, ran the 2008 conference. Durst helped set up an insect farming FAO project in Laos which began in April. This involves transferring the skills of the 15 000 household locust farmers in Thailand across the border. "There were some proponents of a bigger dairy industry in Laos to improve a calcium deficiency," says Durst. "But this is crazy when most Asians are lactose intolerant."
Locusts and crickets are calcium-rich and 90 percent of people in Laos have eaten insects at some point, he says. Durst says the FAO's priority will be to boost the eating of insects where this is already accepted but has been in decline due to western cultural influence.
He also thinks such a boost can provide livelihoods and protect forests where many wild insects are collected. "I can see a step-by-step process to wider implementation."
First, insects could be used to feed farmed animals such as chicken and fish which eat them naturally. Then, they could be used as ingredients.
Van Huis adds: "We're looking at ways of grinding the meat into some sort of patty, which would be more recognisable to western palates."
Local treats include:

  • Thailand: Dishes include fried giant red ants, crickets and June beetles
  • Colombia: "Fat-bottomed" ants are a popular snack, fried and salted
  • Papua New Guinea: Sago grubs in banana leaves are a local delicacy
  • Ghana: Winged termites are collected and fried, roasted, or made into bread
  • Japan: Dishes include aquatic fly larvae in sugar and candied grasshoppers
  • Mexico: The agave worm is eaten on tortillas, and grasshoppers are toasted
  • Cambodia: Deep-fried tarantulas are popular with locals and tourists
  • South Africa: Locusts lend interest to the staple dish of cornmeal porridge
  • Australia: Witchetty grubs are a traditional part of the Aboriginal diet

For full story, please see:



  • Edible Insects: A solution to the meat problem?

Source: The Ecologist, 3 August 2010

The world's demand for protein will continue to rise, even as the environmental impacts of meat production become clearer. Could turning to commonly eaten insect species be the answer?
In Mexico, insects have been an integral part of people’s diet for thousands of years. When horses, woolly mammoths, camels, antelopes and other large mammals became extinct in Central Mexico around 7000 BC, people needed another steady source of protein. Insects fit the bill perfectly. The indigenous groups in Mexico had no word specifically for insects, instead referring to them as “the meat we eat.”
When Europeans arrived in Mexico, although they deigned to consume certain edible insects, especially during Lent, in general these heavy meat eaters considered eating insects a barbaric, pagan practice and believed that creepy crawlers were the devil’s helpers.
And, yet, a case could easily be made that insects are in fact man’s best friend and that humans could not survive without them. Insects perform many of the basic functions necessary to maintain life on this planet, including recycling dead organic matter, creating topsoil suitable for plant life, and aiding plants in the pollination process.
They also provide a plentiful source of food for animals and even humans.
For full story, please see:



  • Fungi: 30th Annual Mushroom Fest

Source: (USA), 23 August 2010

Probably the best mushroom harvest in years has increased enthusiasm for the 30th Annual Telluride Mushroom Festival, which began on 26 August 2010 in southwestern Colorado (USA).
The schedule featured Paul Stamets of Fungi Perfecti in Olympia, Washington (USA). Stamets, famed for his encyclopedic knowledge of the genus, Psilocybe, has pioneered a host of new uses for mycological spores from forest remediation and oil spill cleanup to nontoxic insecticides and cardboard packaging boxes you can grow. His latest book is Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World.
Keynote speaker Gary Lincoff, of the New York Botanical Garden and one of the nation’s leading mycologists, explored the topic “A Mushroom with a View: How the Marginalized became the Matrix," as well as lead forays and mushroom identification slideshows and workshop. His new book, The Complete Mushroom Hunter, has been described as “a super scientific picture-book how-to, with intelligence, wit and even philosophy woven in.”           
Since 1981 fungophiles of all sorts have come to this festival to talk about identification, growing methods, medicinal uses, forest remediation, drug scapegoating, culinary recipes, biological theory, entheogenic practice, and the way of the psychonaut.
The festival included four days of immersion in all things fungal and entheogenic, including forays, lectures, workshops, tours, movies, and tastings .
For full story, please see:



  • Honey: Bees buzzing about cities produce tastier honey, study says

Source: Daily Mail (UK) in Sify (India News Portal) 20 August 2010

Bees buzzing about cities produce tastier honey, even though their environment is typified by “concrete jungles.”
Bees feeding on lime trees, common in suburban gardens, produce a more fragrant and tastier honey than the rock-hard variety that comes from the oilseed rape in the countryside, says a UK National Trust study, a charitable organization.
It is also thought that bees buzzing around intensively-farmed fields may be falling foul of low-quality pollen and pesticides, reports the Daily Mail.
Matthew Oates, a National Trust adviser on nature conservation, said: “These are very early findings, but nonetheless, they are distinctly interesting.”
University of Worcester researchers analysed pollen samples from 10 National Trust beehives to determine which flowers the bees were feeding on and whether there was a link between the pollen and the health of the insects.
At Kensington Palace in London, the samples contained large amounts of pollen from rock rose, eucalyptus and elderberry.
Hives at suburban sites, such as the university campus, benefited from pollen from lily, blackberry and rowan trees. These samples also contained some evidence of oilseed rape.
In contrast, some of the rural hives, including those at Nostell Priory in Yorkshire and Barrington Court in Somerset (UK), contained samples that were heavily dominated by oilseed rape, with few other pollen types detectable.
There are fears that the pesticides used to spray oilseed rape and some other commercial crops are harmful to bees.
It is thought that the cocktail of chemicals disrupts the nervous systems of young bees, making them more vulnerable to disease and destroying their ability to find food and pass on the location of flowers to colony mates.  
For full story, please see:



  • Honey: Paris (France) fast becoming queen bee of the urban apiary world

Source: BBC News, 14 August 2010

Thanks to a renewed interest in apiaries, Paris (France) is fast becoming the urban bee-keeping capital of the world. The city now boasts some 400 hives and the number is growing steadily. Some are on the balconies of family apartments, others in public parks or on the roofs of famous buildings.
Cultivation of a private honey store is now de rigueur for some of the top hotels and restaurants. The famous Tour d'Argent restaurant opposite Notre Dame Cathedral has just installed hives on its roof-top, as has The Westin hotel on the Rue de Rivoli.
Driving the trend is growing public awareness of the crisis in rural bee-keeping caused by the collapse in bee numbers. Oddly, city bees are not just immune to the health problems facing their country cousins - they are also far more productive.
According to Guillaume Charlot of the association L'Abeille de Grand Paris (The Bee of Greater Paris), a metropolitan hive produces 50kg of honey in an average year, and up to 80kg in a bumper season. "A country bee-keeper is happy if he gets 30," he said.
For the past 10 years the French capital has been officially a pesticide-free zone, which may partly explain its advantage. The warmth of the city environment also promotes early breeding.
But paradoxically, the main reason for the success of urban bees is the variety of flora in the city compared with what is now present in much of the countryside.
"City people like flowers. We have parks, we have balconies, we have roadside verges, we have gardens - and we are planting them all year round with lots of different species to ensure year-round colour," said Simonpierre Delorme, who keeps bees by a railway-line in the 14th arrondissement.
"In the countryside, by contrast, these days there is often just one crop dominating an entire area. When that has finished blossoming, there is no more nectar for the local bees," he said.
By early August most rural pollination is long over, but in Paris many streets are lined with non-native Sophora trees which have just started to blossom - allowing bees to keep producing honey much later in the year.
Like other countries in Europe and the Americas, France has seen a worrying decline in bee numbers in recent years. Since 1995, 100 000 French hives have been lost and the amount of honey produced has fallen from 32 000 tonnes to 20 000. Bee mortality is three times what is considered normal.
Most experts believe a variety of factors lie behind the crisis, from the dreaded varroa mite to pesticides, diminishing biodiversity and maybe even mobile phones.
In Britain, the National Environment Research Council recently announced a US$15.6 million research project into the decline, which could have severe effects on crop production.
A century ago, there were more than 1 000 hives in Paris, but they almost totally disappeared in the decades after World War II. Among the first of the new generation was the hive installed 15 years ago on the roof of the Paris Opera, which today makes honey sold at the luxury goods shop Fauchon.
For ordinary home-owners, the rules are simple: hives must be registered with the veterinary authority and be more than 25 metres from a school or hospital.
According to Mr Charlot, the most commonly-used breed of bee is docile by temperament and stings are rare.
"We did an analysis of the honey we made here in Paris and discovered that it contained more than 250 different pollens. In the countryside there can be as few as 15 or 20 pollens," said Olivier Darne, who styles himself as an "artist and urban apiarist".
As part of his "Honey Bank" project, Darne creates bee-related art installations and organises street-tastings from his many hives - all to raise awareness about the decline of rural biodiversity.
"It is an unwelcome paradox that city bees do better than country bees. I wish it was not the case. But if you exhaust your resources, you end up with nothing - and this is what the bees are telling us," he said.
For full story, please see:



  • Medicinal plants: An ancient Chinese medicine might ease side effects of cancer treatments

Source: Nature, 18 August 2010

An age-old mixture of four herbs could spare patients with cancer some of the side effects of chemotherapy.
The cocktail comprises Chinese peonies, Chinese liquorice, the fruit of the Chinese date tree and flowers of the Chinese skullcap plant. In China, they call it “Huang Qin Tang” and have used it to treat gastrointestinal problems for about 1 800 years.
A start-up pharmaceutical company called PhytoCeutica has dubbed its proprietary pill of the blend “PHY906”, and shown in early clinical trials that the mix can combat the severe diarrhoea caused by many chemotherapy drugs, which destroy fast-dividing gut cells in addition to tumour cells.
Now, researchers at PhytoCeutica and Yale University School of Medicine, both in New Haven, Connecticut, have some early leads on how PHY906 does this, despite the fact that most of its individual chemical components remain unknown.
PHY906 still needs to prove itself in larger clinical trials. In 2004, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) eased regulations on herbal mixtures, allowing the approval of medicines that have been proved to be safe and effective, even if their individual components are not known.
The latest results for PHY906, which provide molecular details indicative of how it might repair chemotherapy-damaged guts, could help PhytoCeutica to take its herbal drug down the same road. The results are published online today in Science Translational Medicine.
But ramping up the gut's stem cells is not the only way that PHY906 combats diarrhoea, says Yung-Chi Cheng, a pharmacologist at Yale and head scientific adviser to PhytoCeutica. Chemotherapy drug irinotecan, for example, causes inflammation, which the herbal medicine seems to prevent.
Cheng's team will present phase I/II clinical trial results for PHY906 in patients with pancreatic cancer at a conference in Hong Kong next week. And Cheng hopes to get phase II and III trials going in the United States and Europe soon.
He adds that he would love to account for every last molecule in the medicine; it could even help his team to develop new drugs. However, at this stage, "the importance is for patients undergoing chemotherapy", he says. 
For full story, please see:



  • Wattle: Australia celebrates Wattle Day

Source:, 1 September 2010

Wattles have always been a part of Australia’s landscape and the lives of its people. For Indigenous Australians, wattle trees have long been a source of food, medicines, and wood for many different utensils and weapons.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Australians in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney formed associations to promote wattle as a national emblem and to advocate the recognition of a National Wattle Day. The first ever Wattle Day celebrations took place in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia 100 years ago, on 1 September 1910.
Wattle Day enthusiasm soon spread to the other states and reached a peak during World War I, when the day was used as a focus for raising money for Australia's war effort. After the war, Wattle Day continued to be associated with fundraising for charitable causes. Following World War II, however, the tradition tapered off. It was not until the 1980s that a campaign to revive Wattle Day began, led by Maria Hitchcock of the Australian Plants Society.
In 1988 the Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) was made Australia's official floral emblem, and in 1992 the Commonwealth Government formally designated 1 September as National Wattle Day.
The official Wattle Day Association suggests a number of reasons for celebrating wattle as the national emblem. Like Australians themselves, wattles are diverse - there are nearly 1000 different species of all shapes and sizes, found all over Australia, from the outback to the tropics, yet all recognisable as part of the same family.
They are resilient and hardy, with many species brightening winter or welcoming the spring with their golden blossoms, and are among the first plants to regenerate after a bushfire. What's more, wattle is not tied to a particular historical event or any one group of people - it is a unifying symbol that all Australians share.
For full story, please see:



  • Wattle: New species identified

Source: Armidale Express (Australia), 27 August 2010

In the lead up to Wattle Day on 1 September, a botanist working for the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has discovered a new species of wattle growing in a grassland in northern New South Wales (NSW, Australia).
Lachlan Copeland was contracted by the NPWS to survey vegetation in the Kirramingly Nature Reserve near the small town of Gurley, in a project to reduce weeds and was surprised to find a large species of wattle that is new to science. “As a botanist it is always exciting to find new plant species and this one appears to be extra special,” Dr Copeland said. “It is most likely just a single individual with a number of shoots growing from the roots of the tree, with some several metres away from the main trunk. The tree has been around for a while, as it is six metres in height, growing in what is otherwise a grassland.”
“It has been confirmed as a new wattle species and will be known as Acacia sp. aff. atrox, with a common name still to be decided.
“This new wattle is closely related to another endangered wattle Acacia atrox, which is only found in one location in NSW near the township of Delungra in the North West Slopes.
“As well as the new wattle species, the vegetation survey added a further 26 species of plants to the 265 species recorded for Kirramingly Nature Reserve,” Dr Copeland said.
Ranger Dirk Richards said the Narrabri area also hosted other rare and endangered species of wattle. “Bullala National Park near Moree has the endangered species Acacia jucunda, while the endangered community dominated by Acacia pendula exists in various national parks in the area.
“Finds such as these highlight the important role played by protected areas in preserving our native plants and animals for future generations.
For full story, please see:



  • Wildlife: Lion populations plummet in Uganda's parks

Source:, 19 August 2010

Lion populations across Uganda's park system have declined 40 percent in less than a decade, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
The results, based on the country's first ever carnivore survey, indicate that bushmeat poaching remains a problem in one of Africa's most biodiverse countries. Hunters poach animals that lions prey on and kill lions as a perceived threat to their livestock.
WCS says it is working to develop alternative livelihood opportunities as incentives for poachers to abandon hunting in and around Uganda's national parks.
"Conserving Uganda’s last remaining lions is a global responsibility," WCS Senior Carnivore researcher Tutilo Mudumba said in a statement. "If we outlive this iconic African species, we will have to explain what has happened to future generations - that lions had no protection, that these wild animals were unfairly judged, and are no more."
Lion populations across Africa are estimated to have fallen by roughly 80 percent over the past 100 years due to habitat destruction, loss of prey, and direct killing.
WCS found 415 lions remain in Uganda's network of national parks. 132 live in Murchison Falls National Park, the country's largest protected area.
For full story, please see:



  • Wildlife: Studies reveal prospects for linking ape conservation with poverty reduction in Africa

Source: International Institute for Environment and Development Press Release, 18 August 2010

African countries with populations of endangered apes could do more to ensure that conservation activities bring benefits in the fight against poverty, according to two reports published by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and partners.
The reports reveal important lessons from across the continent that policymakers and conservation groups can use to boost both biodiversity and the livelihoods of poor communities.
"Wherever you find apes in Africa you also find people living in poverty," says Dilys Roe, a senior researcher at IIED. "Efforts to conserve apes have great potential to also reduce poverty but the actual, or perceived, negative impacts of conservation may result in local antipathy - or even outright hostility - to conservation efforts."
Africa's apes - the bonobos, chimpanzees and gorillas - are our closest living relatives. IUCN classes them all as endangered or critically endangered because of hunting and deforestation.
Early efforts to conserve these species in strictly controlled protected areas often led to conflict with local communities who were restricted from accessing forest resources they had used for generations.
One report, set in Uganda, highlights how resistance from the surrounding communities seriously threatened the ability of the authorities to manage two national parks after they were set up in 1991 to protect mountain gorillas.
In response, the government and NGOs adopted a range of "integrated conservation and development" strategies, which aimed to both create benefits for local communities and reduce their reliance on resources within the parks - and hence their negative impact on the gorillas' habitat.
Based on 15 years of experience, the report reveals that many have achieved successes but often in different ways to what was planned. The study also found, however, that to maximize both conservation and development outcomes such initiatives will need to have a greater positive impact on the poorest households.
"Integrated conservation and development has come under some criticism in recent years," says the report’s lead author Tom Blomley. "We found that the long term engagement of a range of development and conservation organisations working in a joint manner appears to have addressed both objectives."
The second report expands the focus beyond Uganda and highlights initiatives that seek to link ape conservation with poverty reduction in 18 African nations.
Activities range from simple outreach initiatives that aim to improve local attitudes to conservation, to initiatives that give communities decision making power over natural resource management and ways to benefit from them.
"These conservation initiatives are making a concerted effort to address poverty issues, but surprisingly few of them seem to explore whether or not they have been successful by measuring or reporting on the results of their efforts," says Chris Sandbrook, who headed the review.
Many initiatives exist, such as those that promote agriculture as an alternative to living off forest resources and, conversely, those that promote sustainable use of forest resources and so create incentives for conservation. But there are many missed opportunities and factors that can limit efforts to link great ape conservation and poverty reduction.
For full story, please see:



  • Wildlife: Terrible price for wildlife trade laid bare

Source: University of Manchester (UK), 16 August 2010

A new book published this month (Nature Crime: How We’re Getting Conservation Wrong) accuses Governments and NGOs of increasingly giving tacit approval to widespread human rights abuses in the name of wildlife conservation in Africa.
Professor Rosaleen Duffy from The University of Manchester blames endemic poaching and human rights abuse on rapacious consumer demand for Ivory, medicines, ornaments, foodstuffs, clothing, bushmeat and caviar - among other products.
The academic, who has worked extensively in the continent, describes how mercenaries and park rangers are able to kill Africans found without permission in national parks.
Many shootings, she says, are carried out with impunity, whether the intruders are commercial poachers or impoverished local people hunting for food. “If we examine the idea of a war to protect wildlife carefully, it is clear that it is used to justify highly repressive and coercive policies against the world’s most marginalized and vulnerable people,” she said.
But despite these extreme measures, demand continues unabated - especially for bushmeat, where loggers, miners and road builders are driving demand as well as the African Diaspora.
The academic based in the University’s School of Social Sciences said: “The idea of a “war to save biodiversity” has taken hold; conservation organizations and their supporters have increasingly backed military-style campaigns to prevent poaching.
“Consumer demand from rich communities in Europe, America and China is the root cause of the problem and this is rarely tackled by governments and NGOs.
“The use of deadly force is now common, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa where international pressure to save high-profile species is intense.
“The development of nature-based tourism has meant many of these species are definitely worth more alive than dead.
“International NGOs do have genuine commitment to wildlife conservation, but their actions can be more like those of companies engaged in diamond and oil extraction.”
To add insult to injury, the only legal rights to hunt - in many cases - are held by wealthy European and American sport hunters on trips organized by international safari businesses.
Such unfairness results, she said, in local acts of resistance such as cutting fences, hunting wildlife, setting traps and snares, and refusing to cooperate with conservation agencies.
She added: “Subsistence hunting remains a criminal act in many parks and these often marginalised and poor people continue to be treated in exactly the same way and face the same penalties as commercial poachers.
“Surely, conservation agencies risk alienating the very people who live with wildlife, and who may well hold the key to securing wildlife populations for future generations to enjoy.” 
For full story, please see:




  • Cambodia: Grant enables Cambodian village to reap ecotourism benefits

Source: United Nations News, 26 August 2010

Funds from a global environment grants scheme implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will enable an indigenous community in one of Cambodia's poorest provinces to build an ecotourism project at a lake recently returned to them from private ownership.
The mostly indigenous ethnic Kuoy residents of Romchek village in northeast Preah Vihear province are to receive a share of almost US$20 000 in grant money from the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Small Grants Programme, according to a press release issued by UNDP.
They will invest the money in environmentally sensitive visitor sites in the pristine forestland around the Choam Prei lake.
The lake, used by the Kuoy as a cattle-grazing site and as a water and food source, was returned to the 213 families of Romchek from private ownership this year after a process that involved the local, provincial and central Government.
A plan to develop the 70-acre lake into a site for hosting tourists was approved in June by GEF’s Small Grants Programme.
“The site has a lot of potential for the entire village,” said Ly Setha, a project officer for a provincial civil society organization, Ponlok Khmer, that will channel funds from the small grant into ecotourism projects for the area.
“Villagers hope there will be a spill-over from the tourists coming every year that will allow them to earn income by selling local products, and that will help them improve their livelihoods,” said Mr. Setha.
The two-year project aims to accommodate tourists to carry out conservation-related research, or to experience the wild animals and plant life around the lake. Activities include production of publicity material, building campsites, and training community members to become tour guides.
Ponlok Khmer was already running a programme that employed villagers to repair the lake’s drainage and water level and to improve it as a fish spawning ground.
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17. Finland: Popularity of forestry work as hobby increases
Source:, 19 August 2010

Finns’ interest in picking berries and mushrooms has been predicted to drop due to urbanization. Not so, says a new study by the Finnish Forest Research Institute.
To many, picking berries and mushrooms is an age-old tradition. It has been predicted that lingonberries and chantarelles will rot in the forests with the ageing of today’s grandmothers and fathers. International studies have also shown that the popularity of traditional hobbies wanes hand in hand with urbanization.
Not so in Finland. According to the preliminary results of the most recent study “Recreational Use of Forests”, the popularity of mushroom and berry picking has increased. Doing forestry work as a hobby has actually increased in popularity.
“We expected that interest in berry and mushroom picking would have decreased since the previous study carried out ten years ago,” says Ms. Tuija Sievänen, Researcher at the Finnish Forest Research Institute.
These preliminary results are based on data gathered last year, which was a good year for berries and mushrooms. Further data to be gathered this year might alter the final results. Sievänen says that the widespread culture of having a summer cottage is the key to the popularity of traditional skills and hobbies. She believes that summer cottages are the places where children learn the skills of picking berries and mushrooms, too.
”Youngsters say they can identify berry species and know the kind of places where they should go look for them”, Sievänen says.
According to the new figures, 15 percent of Finns say forestry work is among their hobbies. A decade ago, it was listed as 10 percent.
Forestry work is also carried out more often: twelve, thirteen times a year. Ten years ago the figure was less than ten times a year.
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18. Indonesia and US launch biodiversity centre in Bali
Source: The Independent (UK), 15 August 2010

Indonesia and the US launched Tuesday a biodiversity research centre on the holiday island of Bali to further studies of the archipelago's rich and diverse species.
The Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center (IBRC), funded by USAID, is a collaboration between three local universities and Old Dominion University in Virginia and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
IBRC chief researcher from UCLA Paul Barber said it was a strategic move because Indonesia was still behind on the number of researchers and biodiversity studies despite its abundance of potential research material.
"The centre will significantly enhance Indonesia's capacity to study its own biodiversity," Barber said.
One of IBRC initiators Gusti Ngurah Mahardika said the centre would serve as a focal point for biodiversity research, training and species collection.
"IBRC is the magnet that will attract Indonesian and international scientists to carry out researches focusing on biodiversity," Mahardika said.
"These researchers will employ the latest technology and methods in molecular genetics to gain understanding on the intricate nature and formation of Indonesia's biodiversity." he said.
The centre is based in Udayana University's Biomedic Lab in Denpasar where 60 Indonesian and US scientists make up the core researchers.


19. Madagascar: UNESCO recognizes threat to rainforest
Source: World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), 4 August 2010

UNESCO has placed the Atsinanana Rainforest in Madagascar on its list of World Heritage in Danger sites because of an ongoing government-influenced illegal logging crisis and continuing lemur bushmeat consumption in some of the national parks that are part of the forest.
UNESCO in a statement noted that despite a decree outlawing the exploitation and export of precious woods, Madagascar continues to provide export permits for illegally logged rosewood and ebony. It also said that other countries that have ratified the World Heritage Convention are known destinations for this timber.
WWF’s Regional Representative in Madagascar Niall O’Connor said he welcomed the reclassification. “The impact of illegal logging of precious woods on many forest sites, including the world heritage site of Antsinanana, is devastating for biodiversity, for livelihoods and for the world, as we continue to lose the unique biodiversity of the island of Madagascar,” O’Connor said.
“With UNESCO reclassifying the site as a World Heritage Site in Danger, the world should stand up and see the ongoing environmental destruction ongoing in Madagascar, and increase both pressure and support for immediate action. We need to both protect the unique environment for Madagascar and the critical services they provide to the majority of the population who struggle to seek out a subsistence living from the natural resources.”
With the recently submitted proposal to list all Malagasy precious woods under protections of the UN’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an important step has been taken to regulate trade and gain transparency. However, the situation remains far from being solved, O’Connor said.
Madagascar’s Atsinanana rainforest, says the UNESCO statement “contains globally outstanding biodiversity and have an exceptional proportion of endemic plant and animal species. The level of endemism within the property is approximately 80 to 90 percent for all groups, and endemic families and genera are common.”
“The situation is not just an environmental disaster, it is a pending humanitarian disaster, and we need to address this now” says O’Connor.
Other sites added to the World Heritage in Danger list during the annual meeting, held in Brasilia, Brazil late last month included: the US' Everglades National Park, Georgia’s Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery, and Uganda’s Tombs of Buganda Kings.
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20. Myanmar creates world's largest tiger reserve
Source:, 5 August 2010

Myanmar has announced that Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve will be nearly tripled in size, making the protected area the largest tiger reserve in the world. Spanning 17 477 km, the newly expanded park is approximately the size of Kuwait and larger than the US state of Connecticut.
After years of illegal hunting and a decline in prey the reserve may hold as few as 50 tigers, yet experts hope with protection the population could bounce back. The park holds many other species including some 370 bird species.
Besides the tiger, which is listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List, the area contains a number of threatened species, including the Indo-Chinese leopard (Near Threatened), clouded leopard (Vulnerable), Malayan sun bear (Vulnerable), Himalayan black bear (Vulnerable), sambar deer (Vulnerable), a wild bovine known as the gaur (Vulnerable), Asian elephants (Endangered), and the Rufous-necked hornbill (Critically Endangered).
"I have dreamt of this day for many years," said Alan Rabinowitz in a press release. Rabinowitz is the head of the cat-conservation group “Panthera” and leader of the first biological expedition into Hukaung Valley in 1997. During this expedition Rabinowitz discovered a new mammal: the leaf deer, the second smallest deer in the world.
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21. Singapore in final stages of developing world's first City Biodiversity Index
Source: Channel News Asia, 3 September 2010

Singapore is in the final stages of developing the world's first City Biodiversity Index. The self assessment tool aims to assist cities in benchmarking their biodiversity conservation efforts.
Stakeholders are hopeful that the index will be adopted internationally when it is discussed at the Convention on Biological Diversity's 10th Conference of Parties meeting in Nagoya, Japan next month.
Planting trees and building park connectors are some examples how a city like Singapore conserves its biodiversity.
Three hundred experts from Singapore and abroad, who are attending the Hitachi Eco Conference, are looking at ways on how to push the conservation message.
For land-scarce Singapore, it can be a tricky issue.
Singapore National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said: "While Singapore is blessed with a rich natural heritage, we face the dilemma in maintaining a careful balance between biodiversity conservation and other competing needs to meet our needs, social and recreational objectives. "With a limited space of 710 km², we need to pay particular attention to land use planning to make sure that every piece of land is well -used.
So the proposed City Biodiversity Index aims to be a comprehensive measuring tool. More than 30 cities like London and Paris have completed or are in various stages of test bedding the index that has over 20 assessment indicators.
But just how did Singapore fare?
Dr Leong Chee Chiew, deputy CEO, N Parks and Commissioner of Parks and Recreation, said: "I would say that we are okay. I think as Singapore goes, we know that there are certain areas that we are strong in, and areas that we need to improve in.
"Each of us can do our part to reduce the fragmentation, increase the natural linkages between habitats and ecosystems, so that the conservation strategy of Singapore will not be confined to nature reserves."
The index has since been fine-tuned to make it more applicable to cities with different characteristics.
Dr Leong said: "It gives a lot of scope for cities to pick up on areas on what they can improve on, and that gives us hope that it will be adopted. We hope that with the adoption in October, we can move to the next phase of training and working with the Convention to help cities use it."
If adopted, cities are likely to be assessed every three or four years.
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22. Tanzania’s Serengeti Highway plan could destroy major carbon sink
Source: Ecologist, 13 August 2010

The Tanzanian President has vowed to go ahead with controversial plans to construct a major road through the Serengeti, despite fierce opposition from environmentalists and the tourism industry.
The 480km road will link the Lake Victoria area with eastern Tanzania and, according to the Tanzanian government, bring essential economic development to the region - linking remote communities to the major road network, allowing transport of people and goods and connecting farmers with markets.
However the project has attracted criticism from environmental groups which fear the effects on the ecosystem could be devastating and may even result in huge releases of carbon into the atmosphere.
The road will bisect the path of the renowned “great migration” of wildebeest and zebra, when each year millions of animals migrate between the Tanzanian Serengeti and Kenyan Masai Mara in search of fresh water sources.
“Recent calculations show that if wildebeest were to be cut off from these critical dry season areas, the population would likely decline from 1.3 million animals to about 200 000,” said Dagmar Andres-Brümmer of the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), who have been heavily involved with Tanzania National Parks for over 50 years.
“This would mean a collapse to far less than a quarter of its current population and, as a consequence, most likely the end of the great migration,” he added.
Andrew Dobson, Professor of Conservation Biology and Infectious Disease Ecology at Princeton University, who has worked in the Serengeti since 1986, said this decline in wildebeest numbers could indirectly destroy the region's function as a major carbon sink.

“If the wildebeest population declines by even 50 percent it could lead to an increase in the fire frequency in the park, as less grass would be eaten - this could flip the entire system from a major carbon sink into a major source of carbon.”
Environmentalists are also concerned about the consequences of increased road kill for threatened species such as cheetahs, for which even a marginal increase in mortality rates could lead to disastrous population decline, as well as increased poaching, and the spread of disease and invasive plants.
UNESCO and IUCN said they were “seriously concerned” about the highway, which could see the national park lose its status as a World Heritage Site.
The Tanzanian government says the road will improve access for tourists and boost local economies, but some local communities have raised concerns about the potential impact the road could have on the availability of already-scarce pasture for cattle, which is their main livelihood.
Opponents of the project are pressing for an alternative route that bypasses the national park to be considered by the government. According to FSZ, the proposed alternative southern route “will serve five times as many people as the planned Northern road and fulfil the same needs for linking major regional centres.”
For full story, please see:


23. UK critically short of fungi experts
Source: The Scotsman (UK), 7 September 2010

Their specialist knowledge saved the life of author Nicholas Evans, who suffered severe kidney failure after eating a poisonous mushroom picked on a Scottish estate.
Now, scientists have warned that there is a critical shortage of mycologists - experts in identifying and studying fungi - and have called for urgent funding to train new recruits.
Leading Scottish mycologist Dr David Minter has launched the first fungus conservation organisation - in a bid to raise awareness of the importance of the species and attract more young scientists to the field.
Experts believe that only 7 percent of the world's fungi species have been identified - leaving more than 90 percent as yet undiscovered. Fungi are used in the production of foods including red wine, chocolate and bread, as well as medicines such as penicillin - while scientists are also investigating the possibility of using certain types of fungus to help clean up oil spills such as the five million barrel leak in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year.
"Some fungi are beneficial for humans, others are not," said Dr Minter. "But there are much more positive aspects to fungi than people think."
Dr Minter said that the number of mycologists working at the main UK hubs of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh and London's Kew Gardens had halved since he began working in the industry in the 1970s. "The UK Government was first warned that there was a shortage of mycologists in the 1940s and the situation has gotten worse and worse ever since," he added.
"There are around 4 000 species of birds in the world and 1.5m different fungi, but we have 200 times as many bird experts in this country as we have mycologists."
There is currently only one full-time fungus expert working at the Botanic Gardens while Dr Minter is an associate research mycologist at the organisation.
Dr Minter has launched the International Society for Fungal Conservation with the support of 50 scientists from around the globe
Professor Mary Gibby, director of science at the Botanic Gardens, said: "Fungi are important to all our lives, not just providing us with bread, beer and medicines, but fundamental to the functioning of our planet."
For full story, please see:


24. USA’s ginseng harvest begins
Source: News and Sentinel (Virginia, USA), 31 August 2010

Virginia’s annual ginseng digging season is scheduled to start Wednesday.
A native plant of West Virginia, ginseng grows in all 55 counties of the state but is prevalent in cool, moist forests, said officials with the West Virginia Division of Forestry.
This perennial herb is highly prized for its large, fleshy roots that grow from two to six inches in length and one-fourth to one-half inch in thickness.
''Some use it as a tea,'' said Robin Black, technical assistant with the West Virginia Division of Forestry. ''It is also used as an energy boost. If you look at your energy drinks, normally there is ginseng in it.
''Vitamins with an energy boost contain it. Many of your natural weight loss supplements will have it in it to assist with energy. In some Eastern beliefs, Asians believe if it looks like a person it will help the whole person. So those are the most prized roots if they look like a man they will help the whole body.''
Ginseng is slow growing with seeds taking two years to germinate. The age of a ginseng plant generally can be determined for the first three to five years by the number of its leaves, or prongs.
Ginseng roots must be dug only when the plant has three or more prongs (with no fewer than 15 leaflets) indicating the plant is probably at least five years old and capable of producing fertile berries.
The berries of the plant must be red in colour indicating they are mature. Younger plants have smaller roots and little or no financial value.
West Virginia law mandates that anyone digging ginseng is required to replant the seeds from the parent plant in the spot where it was harvested.
Diggers, often called "sangers," have until 31 March of each year to sell to a registered West Virginia ginseng dealer or have roots weight-receipted at one of the Division of Forestry weigh stations.
A weight receipt is a record of the ginseng dug during the current year and the individual wants to hold it over to the next digging/buying season. Possession of ginseng roots is prohibited from 1 April through 31 August without a weight receipt from the Division of Forestry.
Every year the state has problems with people digging ginseng prior to the season. ''This does not allow the berries to ripen and be viable for planting and regenerating the species,'' Black said.
For full story, please see:


25. Vietnam’s bamboo honoured throughout the world
Source: Voice of Vietnam News, 25 August 2010

Phu An Village, the largest bamboo ecological reserve in Southeast Asia, has been announced as one of 25 winners of the 2010 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Equator Prize.
The village is a joint project between Binh Duong province and Ho Chi Minh City National University, France’s Rhone Alpes Region and the Pilat Natural Park in France.
The ecological reserve in Binh Duong province has a collection of about 130 species of bamboo belonging to 17 varieties. Among them are rare and precious varieties from each region in the country such as ivory bamboo and yellow-striped bamboo.
The 10ha reserve also includes a museum made from bamboo displaying many kinds of tools, utensils and musical instruments made from bamboo, and a research area for scientists and students who want to learn about bamboo and how to grow and develop this tropical tree.
The Phu An Bamboo Village is likely to turn into an Asian bamboo reserve, said Dr. Gabriel de Taffin, the regional director of the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) in Southeast Asia.
The Equator Prize is an award for initiatives to conserve natural resources that meet the goals of poverty reduction, community development, gender equality, environmental protection in a sustainable manner.
The winners of the Equator Prize 2010 Prize will be honoured at a major event at the American Museum of Natural History on 20 September, 2010. Representatives from the winning communities will also take part in the Community Summit dialogue space, to be held in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
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26. Zambia is Africa’s largest exporter of honey
Source: 2 September 2010, Zambia Post

Zambia has emerged as Africa’s largest exporter of honey and bee products to the European Union and the USA with supply to those markets projected at 1 000 tonnes by the end of this year.
The country will host the second Africa’s Apiculture Expo (APIEXPO 2010) next month, which is expected to attract more than 1 000 delegates and exhibitors.
Addressing the press in Lusaka on Tuesday, Zambia Agribusiness Forum executive Director Felix Chizyuka said the country was likely to grow the honey industry five-fold in the next five years.
“We expect to export in excess of 1 000 tonnes of liquid honey into Europe, Middle East, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and the United States,” Chizyuka said. “At the moment Zambia is the leading exporter of honey in the whole of Africa.”
Chizyuka said currently, the country has 50 000 people deriving their livelihood on honey and bee products.
He said the price of the commodity had attracted more people to the sector with honey selling at K3 500 per kilogram from K1 500 three years ago.
Announcing Zambia’s hosting of the APIEXPO 2010, ApiTrade chief executive officer Bosco Okello said it was unfortunate that Africa only had a one percent share of the US$200 billion-rich honey sector.
Housed in Uganda, ApiTrade , a regional organization that specializes in promoting Africa’s Apiculture sector, has partnered with COMESA’s Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) to convene the APIEXPO 2010.
“Today we know that honey bees contribute over US$200 billion to the global economy through honey and other bee products which are marketed widely and globally,” Okello said. “We are convinced that Africa should benefit immensely from this opportunity, given its vast natural vegetation and healthy bee population.”
He said the region hoped to use the APIEXPO 2010 to attract global attention to the sector and to broker business deals that will help the continent penetrate new markets.
Speaking earlier, Dr John Mukuka from ACTESA said his organization would support the seed multiplication activities by small-holder farmers, including the support of Moringa tree production that enhanced honey production in Zambia and other landlocked COMESA member states. The Moringa tree increases quality of honey and is a good source of nectar for honey production. He said ACTESA, who are targeting 40 percent of women in the honey programme, would address issues of micro-finance and agro-dealership to build capacity in the next year.
For full story, please see:



27. Europe: Bioenergy crops should respect environmental sustainability
Source: European Consumers for the Promotion of Sustainable Energy in Europe Media Release, 1 August 2010

The increase of biofuel cropping systems may lead to cultivation escapes of invasive taxa with subsequent negative effect on native biological diversity, especially on the Mediterranean area. The Standing Committee of the Bern Convention (the Council of Europe Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats) has hence adopted advices to reduce impacts of potentially invasive alien plants being used as biofuel crops on species biodiversity and natural ecosystems, according to the Recommendation No. 141, 2009.
The Italian Institute for Environmental Protection (ISPRA), prompted the recommendation with a report submitted to the Bern Convention, also drawing attention to the fact that sustainable development and environmental benefits can be jointly achieved only when biofuel crops are farmed in an environmentally sustainable manner.
In addition EU Directive (2009/28/EC) “on the promotion of the use of renewable energy” calls on states to monitor the impact of biomass cultivation, such as through land use changes, including displacement and introduction of invasive alien species and other effects on biodiversity.


28. Protect nature for world economic security, warns UN biodiversity chief
Source:, 16 August 2010

Britain and other countries face a collapse of their economies and loss of culture if they do not protect the environment better, the world's leading champion of nature has warned.
"What we are seeing today is a total disaster," said Ahmed Djoghlaf, the secretary-general of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. "No country has met its targets to protect nature. We are losing biodiversity at an unprecedented rate. If current levels [of destruction] go on we will reach a tipping point very soon. The future of the planet now depends on governments taking action in the next few years."
Industrialisation, population growth, the spread of cities and farms and climate change are now all threatening the fundamentals of life itself, said Djoghlaf, in London before a key UN meeting where governments are expected to sign up to a more ambitious agreement to protect nature.
"Many plans were developed in the 1990s to protect biodiversity but they are still sitting on the shelves of ministries. Countries were legally obliged to act, but only 140 have even submitted plans and only 16 have revised their plans since 1993. Governments must now put their houses in order," he said.
According to UNEP, the Earth is in the midst of a mass extinction of life. Scientists estimate that 150-200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal become extinct every 24 hours. This is nearly 1 000 times the "natural" or "background" rate and, say many biologists, is greater than anything the world has experienced since the vanishing of the dinosaurs nearly 65m years ago. Around 15 percent of mammal species and 11 percent of bird species are classified as threatened with extinction.
Djoghlaf warned Britain and other countries not to cut nature protection in the recession. In a reference to expected 40 percent cuts to Britain's department of the environment spending, he said: "It would be very short-sighted to cut biodiversity spending. You may well save a few pounds now but you will lose billions later. Biodiversity is your natural asset. The more you lose it, the more you lose your cultural assets too."
He urged governments to invest in nature. "If you do not, you will pay very heavily later. You will be out of business if you miss the green train."
Mounting losses of ecosystems, species and genetic biodiversity is now threatening all life, said Djoghlaf. In immediate danger, he said, are the 300 million people who depend on forests and the more than 1 billion who live off sea fishing.
"The loss of biodiversity compounds poverty. Destroy your nature and you increase poverty and insecurity. Biodiversity is fundamental to social life, education and aesthetics. It is a human right to live in a healthy environment."
For full story, please see:


29. UN welcomes moves to enhance protection of Africa's traditional knowledge
Source: Xinhua (China), 2 September 2010

The UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has welcomed the adoption by member states of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) of a new legal instrument that seeks to protect African traditional knowledge and folklore.
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry described the adoption in Swakopmund, Namibia, earlier this month, of the Swakopmund Protocol on the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Folklore as "an historic step for ARIPO's seventeen member states, and a significant milestone in the evolution of intellectual property."
The Protocol, which is designed to preserve and protect the use of Africa's diverse knowledge systems and cultures for the continent's sustainable development, will enter into force following ratification by six ARIPO member states.
Developed by African experts over a six year period, the Swakopmund Protocol is a response to the misappropriation and misuse of the continent's traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.
The Protocol was developed in coordination with a similar instrument prepared over the same period by the Organization africaine de la propriete intellectuelle (OAPI), which was adopted in July 2007.
In a statement, Gurry underlined WIPO's readiness to respond to requests from ARIPO and OAPI member states for support in the development of national laws for the protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.
For full story, please see:


30. Where conflict meets conservation
Source: Nature, 27 August 2010

Conflict carries massive environmental costs. But apart from high-profile cases such as Rwanda's mountain gorillas, the impact of war on animals and biodiversity remains a largely unexplored and underfunded area, despite the United Nations naming 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity'. Now, with the launch of the first specialist centre to investigate the issue, all that could change.
Concerned about the lack of academic research in the field of conflict in relation to biodiversity, academics from the Department of War Studies at King's College London established the Marjan Centre for the Study of Conflict & Conservation on 2 July.
“I had an intuitive interest in this area, and we were concerned that the study of the impact of war was very human-centric, quite understandably, because humans are both the cause and victims of war. But up until this point, no attention whatsoever - at least in the academic sense - has been given to what the impact of war, conflict and political instability is on animals and the environment. Also, I think popular opinion is moving in relation to how we understand the role and place of animals in society,” said Michael Rainsborough, the centre's academic director.
According to Rainsborough, implications of war on wildlife include organized poaching gangs, as well as semi-starving people hunting down animals for bushmeat either for their own survival or to sell on, exacerbating pressures on animal species.
“If you think about the difficulties many African states face with respect to weak civil institutions and conflicts over resources, part of the resource base to be exploited is likely to be animal populations. Needless to say, this has gone on for a long time, but we can be more conscious of it, and we can see it all leads, ultimately, to the threat of species' disappearance,” says Rainsborough.
“We are also beginning to see that certain countries are becoming increasingly conscious that if they do not defend their sensitive animal populations from poaching and exploitation, they are going to damage tourism. Governments are increasingly deploying their own armed forces to protect animals against poaching gangs,” he adds.
“In Botswana, 10 percent of the army is actually committed to animal protection, because it had a severe problem with elephant poaching. And there are still large areas of Mozambique that are heavily mined because of the civil war, so you have whole areas that are relatively untouched by humans and large animals. But the impact of that has been incredible growth in flora - apparently it's some of the most amazing you will find anywhere,” explains Rainsborough.
The fledgling centre is developing fast, with the former Director-General of the World Society for the Protection of Animals, Peter Davies, elected chair of the management committee last week.
For full story, please see:



20th Session of The Committee on Forestry (COFO)
4-8 October 2010
FAO HQ, Rome, Italy
The Committee on Forestry (COFO) is the highest Forestry statutory body of the FAO. The biennial sessions of COFO (held at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy) bring together heads of forest services and other senior government officials to identify emerging policy and technical issues, to seek solutions and to advise FAO and others on appropriate action. Other international organizations and, increasingly, NGOs participate in COFO. Participation in COFO is open to all FAO member countries.
For more information, please contact:
Forestry Department, FAO
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00153 Rome, Italy
Fax: (+39) 06 570 53152
E-mail: [email protected]


15th International Forestry and Environment Symposium
University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka
26-27 November 2010
The 15th International Forestry and Environment Symposium organized by the Department of Forestry and Environmental Science of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura will be held under the theme of “Developments in Forestry and Environment in 2010.” This symposium is forum for researchers and other stakeholders in Forestry and Environment sectors to present their research findings and experience and networking with policy makers and industry.
Topics discussed will include:
• Forest and Natural Resource Management
• Waste Management and Pollution Control
• Biodiversity Conservation and Management
• Climate Change
• Socio-Economics of Natural Resources
• Sustainable Energy
For further information, please contact:
Symposium Organising Committee
Department of Forestry and Environmental Science
University of Sri Jayewardenepura
Sri Lanka
Tel: +94 (0) 11 2804685
Fax: +94 (0)11 2801604
E-mail: [email protected]



IUFRO Seeks Executive Director
Source: IUFRO

IUFRO is seeking to appoint an Executive Director to serve as its chief executive officer based at its Headquarters in Vienna, Austria, located at the Austrian Federal Research and Training Centre for Forests, Natural Hazards and Landscape. The Executive Director works closely with the IUFRO President and the IUFRO Board to oversee and service the work of the Union, develop and promote policies and position statements related to and based upon global cooperation in forest science, coordinate and serve the Union’s international networking and cooperation activities, actively recruit new members and promote the retention of existing members, and manage the Secretariat and Headquarters operations in cooperation with the host institution (BFW).
To be considered for the Executive Director position, candidates must be able to demonstrate leadership, management, and diplomatic skills consistent with a senior international appointment. A doctoral degree is preferred, but candidates with other degrees will be considered if their experience and other qualifications are exceptional. The optimal candidate will have had significant management experience at a senior level, preferably in a multicultural, international research or academic environment. Candidates should be familiar with forest science and the international fora in which forest policies are debated.
The newly appointed Executive Director will formally take up the office on 1 November 2010 or as soon as possible after this date.
Applications should be sent so that they reach the IUFRO President elect no later than 30 September 2010.
Applications and queries related to the position should be addressed to:
Director-General, Prof., Dr. Niels Elers Koch
IUFRO President elect
Danish Centre for Forest, Landscape and Planning
University of Copenhagen
Rolighedsvej 23
DK-1958 Copenhagen
Tel.: +45 3533 1515
Mobile: +45 2123 0742
Fax: +45 3533 1517
E-mail: [email protected]



34. UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative Annual Progress Report 2009
Source: Henrike Peichert, UNDP-UNEP Poverty Environment Initiative

The Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is a global UN-led programme that supports country-led efforts to mainstream poverty-environment linkages into national development planning. The Annual Progress Report 2009 provides a comprehensive overview of PEI's activities and achievements to date at the country level. The report highlights continuous lesson learning at country level, delivering on transformative targets, supporting the evolution of the PEI programmatic approach, living with climate change adaptation and measuring the longer-term impact of PEI. Comprehensive country fact sheets for on-going country programmes and the ones under preparation are included as annexes for easy information. The report is available at:


35. Other publications of interest
From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

Blomley, T., Namara, A., McNeilage, A., Franks, P. Rainer, H., Donaldson, A., Malpas, R., Olupot, W., Baker, J., Sandbrook, C., Bitariho, R., Infield, M. 2010. Development and Gorillas? Assessing the impact of fifteen years of integrated conservation and development in South Western Uganda. UK: International Institute for Environment and Development.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are two afromontane forests considered as extremely important biodiversity areas, with global significance, due to their population of highly endangered Mountain Gorilla. Threats to the two parks include uncontrolled exploitation of forest resources as well as fire damage and the indirect pressures of demand for land. Gazettement of the parks in 1991 caused high levels of conflict and resistance from the surrounding communities, seriously threatening the ability of the protected area authority to manage the parks. In response to these conflicts and threats, a range of “integrated conservation and development” (ICD) strategies have been applied in and around Bwindi and Mgahinga. This report summarises the findings of a study which aimed to test the effectiveness of these strategies in reconciling biodiversity conservation and socio-economic development interests. It confirms the validity of the assumption that linking local people to a resource and helping generate a steady stream of benefits increases willingness to manage and protect that resource, over the long term but notes inconclusive evidence that providing “alternative” livelihoods is an effective conservation strategy.

Boyle, S.A., and Smith, A.T. 2010. Can landscape and species characteristics predict primate presence in forest fragments in the Brazilian Amazon? Biol. Conserv. 143(5):1134-1143.

Dlamini, Cliff S. and Coert J. Geldenhuys. 2010. Quantities and Values of Selected Forest Foods Harvested by Eight Villages Adjacent to Natural Woodlands in Four Ecological Zones of Rural Swaziland. Diss. University of Stellenbosch. South Africa.

Dlamini, Cliff S. and Coert J. Geldenhuys. 2010. The Potential Impacts of National, Regional and International Plicies and Legislation on the Sustainable Forest Management for NTFPs: A Swaziland Case Study. Diss. University of Stellenbosch. South Africa.

Dlamini, Cliff S. and Coert J. Geldenhuys. 2010. Towards the Development of a Theoretical Framework for the Sustainable Management of NTFPs: A Swaziland Case Study. Diss. University of Stellenbosch. South Africa.

Dunham, K.M., Ghiurghi, A., Cumbi, R., and Urbano, F. 2010. Human-wildlife conflict in Mozambique: a national perspective, with emphasis on wildlife attacks on humans. Oryx 44(2):185-193.

Eaton, M.J., Meyers, G.L., Kolokotronis, S.O., Leslie, M.S., Martin, A.P., and Amato, G. 2010. Barcoding bushmeat: molecular identification of Central African and South American harvested vertebrates. Conserv. Genet. 11(4):1389-1404.

Gryzenhout, Marieka. 2010. Pocket Guide: Mushrooms of South Africa. South Africa: Random House Struik.
Neither plant nor animal, mushrooms or fungi are mysterious organisms that range in size from microscopic to over a metre wide. Fungus groups are amazingly diverse and in South Africa alone there are estimated to be more than 171 500 species. This book features a selection of the species more commonly found in the region, and will enable enthusiasts to identify these mushrooms in the field.

Knapp, E.J., Rentsch, D., Schmitt, J., Lewis, C., and Polasky, S. 2010. A tale of three villages: choosing an effective method for assessing poaching levels in western Serengeti, Tanzania. Oryx 44(2):178-184.

Mery, G., Katila, P., Galloway, G., Alfaro, R., Kannien, M., Lobovikov, M., and Varjo, J. (eds). 2010. Forest and Society - Responding to Global Drivers of Change. IUFRO World Series: Volume 25. Vienna: International Union of Forest Research Organizations.[email protected]/Locatelli_atal_2010_Forests_and_Adaptation_CC_IUFRO.pdf

Pardo-de-Santayana, Manuel; Pieroni, Andrea and Puri, Rajindra K. (eds). 2010. “Ethnobotany in New Europe: People, Health and Wild Plant Resources.” Environmental Antrhopology and Ethnobiology. Vol.14. Oxford: Berghahn Books.
Abstract: The study of European wild food plants and herbal medicines is an old discipline that has been invigorated by a new generation of researchers pursuing ethnobotanical studies in fresh contexts. Modern botanical and medical science itself was built on studies of Medieval Europeans’ use of food plants and medicinal herbs. In spite of monumental changes introduced in the Age of Discovery and Mercantile Capitalism, some communities, often of immigrants in foreign lands, continue to hold on to old recipes and traditions, while others have adopted and enculturated exotic plants and remedies into their diets and pharmacopoeia in new and creative ways. Now in the 21st century, in the age of the European Union and Globalization, European folk botany is once again dynamically responding to changing cultural, economic, and political contexts. The authors and studies presented in this book reflect work being conducted across Europe’s many regions.

Sandbrook, C. and Roe, D. 2010. Linking Ape Conservation and Poverty Alleviation: The Case of the Great Apes. UK: International Institute for Environment and Development.


36. Web sites and e-zines
From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

CITES Trade Data Dashboards
This website was launched on occasion of the 35th anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention. It is a new, interactive and dynamic way of viewing trade data submitted by CITES.



37. Beaver born in UK wild for first time in four centuries
Source: Environmental News Network, 17 August 2010

Scottish conservationists say the first beaver born in Britain in nearly 400 years emerged from its lodge last month, a significant step in the reintroduction of the species that was hunted into extinction centuries ago.
Officials with the Scottish Wildlife Trust say at least two young beavers, known as kits, were born eight weeks ago as part of a two-year effort to reintroduce the creatures to Knapdale forest, located on the Kintyre peninsula in western Scotland.
After three of 11 beavers introduced to the forest since 2008 had gone missing, another pair was added this spring. A field officer with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland first observed the young beavers venturing out of the family's lodge to forage for food.
Simon Jones, project manager for the wildlife trust, called it a "fantastic" step in re-establishing wild beaver populations in the UK. "We can now begin to see how a small reintroduced population starts to naturally establish itself in the wild," he said.
The successful repopulation of beavers in Scotland is being watched closely in southern England and Wales, where naturalists are also trying to reintroduce the species that centuries ago was hunted for its pelts and oil.
For full story, please see:


38. Trees may have killed off the mammoth
Source: Science Daily in Environmental News Network, 18 August 2010

A massive reduction in grasslands and the spread of forests may have been the primary cause of the decline of mammals such as the woolly mammoth, woolly rhino and cave lion, according to Durham University scientists.
The findings of the new study challenge the theory that human beings were the primary cause of the extinction of mammals through hunting, competition for land and increased pressure on habitats.
The research is part of the most comprehensive study to date of Northern Hemisphere climate and vegetation during and after the height of the last Ice Age, 21 000 years ago. It shows that, over a huge part of the Earth's surface, there was a massive decline in the productivity and extent of grasslands due to climatic warming and the spread of forests.
These habitat changes made grazing much more difficult for large mammals and dramatically reduced the amount of food available for them. The changes in grassland quality and availability coincided with increases in the distribution and abundance of modern man, Homo sapiens, ensuring a time of wide-scale upheaval for herbivorous mammals and other mammals that preyed on them.
The decrease in productivity and extent of grassland is likely to have been the major contributor to the extinction of many large mammals across most of northern Eurasia and north-western North America by about 11 400 years ago, the onset of the present warm interglacial period.
For full story, please see:


39. New species of monkey discovered in remote Colombian Amazon
Source: Yale Environment 360, 12 August 2010

A new species of titi monkey has been discovered in the Colombian Amazon, according to a report in the journal Primate Conservation. Scientists from the National University of Colombia say they discovered the monkey, dubbed the Caquetá titi (Callicebus caquetensis), during an expedition in the Department of Caquetá near the border with Ecuador and Peru, a region that until recently had been difficult for researchers to study because of the presence of insurgent groups.
The new species was discovered during a 2008 expedition but only announced this week. The creature, which is about the size of a cat, has a grayish-brown coat and a bushy red beard on its cheeks, but does not have a white bar on its forehead like most other species of the Callicebus monkey.
“This discovery is extremely exciting because we had heard about this animal, but for a long time we could not confirm if it was different from other titis,” said Thomas Defler, one of the scientists credited with discovering the monkey. Unfortunately, researchers say the species is likely endangered because of the loss of its forest habitat for agricultural uses, and estimate that fewer than 250 Caquetá titi monkeys exist. The discovery is one of many new species of animals that have come to light in recent years.
For full story, please see:



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last updated:  Thursday, May 3, 2012