No. 14/11

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2011 International Year of Forests
The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests. or


  1. Bamboo or walnut iPhone cases
  2. Berries: Miracle berry's sour-sweet taste mystery cracked
  3. Berries: Red mulberry (Marus rubra), advantages of a wild species
  4. Ecotourism: boom can help save endangered forests, UN and partners say
  5. Edible insects: Demand is rising
  6. Honey: Chiliean rainforest honey anti-aging properties
  7. Honey: Manuka Honey shows potential for radiation-induced dermatitis
  8. Shea butter's health benefits
  9. Stevia: A promise for Sri Lanka?
  10. Wildlife: Stem cells may save rhinos from extinction



  1. Australia: World’s largest company moves interstate to meet growing demand for sandalwood
  2. Bolivia: Tension soars among indigenous groups
  3. Burkina Faso: Bonuses help reforestation take root
  4. Cameroon: Plans for palm-oil plantation in rainforests
  5. Hawaii: Ground breaking agreement seeks restoration of Koa forests
  6. India: Eco park home of rare medicinal plants gets heritage tag
  7. India: first bamboo museum to open doors
  8. Kenya: Universities seek bigger export market for mushroom products
  9. USA: Rare forest carnivore once believed extinct



  1. Africa forest restoration can protect food security, group says
  2. An elephantine problem
  3. Another two countries sign up to key UN protocol on biodiversity
  4. 'Green desert' monoculture forests spreading in Africa and South America
  5. How to monitor biodiversity for REDD projects
  6. Indigenous peoples suffer abuses in race for natural resources – UN rights expert
  7. Lessons from the world's longest study of rainforest fragments
  8. Norway-Indonesian rainforest agreement jeopardised
  9. Plant 'body clock' observed in tropical rainforest; research to aid ozone pollution predictions
  10. Repeated burning undercuts Amazon rainforest recovery
  11. South Africans, Vietnamese meet to discourage rhino poaching



  1. Training Course: Policy and Governance in the context of forestry and climate change



  1. UN Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Peoples' Issues
  2. ‘Rule of Law for Nature’ Conference
  3. 13th Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology



  1. Creating the Links: Environment, Human Rights and Poverty
  2. Other pubs of interest



  1. Suffolk man's garden 'is tropical jungle'





  1. Bamboo or walnut iPhone cases

      Source:, 24 September 2011

The Wood Camera iPhone Case, made from sustainably harvested bamboo or walnut wood, is designed to look and feel like a real camera. Each case is laser-engraved and comes with a thin felt pad to cushion your device. While plastic iPhone cases are environmentally not so hip, the walnut and bamboo materials were chosen specifically with durability and the environment in mind. It’s also lighter than plastic offerings weighing in at only 22g.
For full story, please see:



  1. Berries: Miracle berry's sour-sweet taste mystery cracked

     Source:, United Kingdom, 26 September 2011

Popping a squishy red miracle berry into your mouth is almost like hacking your taste buds. For up to an hour, the juices coat your tongue and previously sour foods like lemon and vinegar magically taste deliciously sweet.
The berry and its plant (Richardella dulcifica) grows in West Africa. While the local population has been using its miraculous properties for centuries, it was only in 1968 that the all-important protein miraculin was extracted and sold in tablets. They're now available the web and often feature in "'taste tripping" parties where brave souls dine on pickles and limes.
However, the exact mechanism that miraculin uses on your taste receptors, allowing it to magically turn sour into sweet, has been a mystery to science for almost four decades. Until now, that is, as a team of researchers from the University of Tokyo -- headed by Keiko Abe -- has uncovered the miracle berry's secrets.
The researchers used a system of cultured cells that let them test human taste receptors at various levels of acidity and alkalinity. They found that miraculin binds strongly to the sweet taste buds (specifically hT1R2- hT1R3) but -- unlike sugar or aspartame -- doesn't activate them at a neutral pH. Introduce acid, though, and the protein shifts shape in a way that "turns on" the taste bud, creating a sensation of ultra-sweet that drowns out the sour. When the sour, acidic food is swallowed, the miraculin returns to its old inactive shape and remains firmly bound to the sweet receptor for about an hour or so, lying in wait for another acidic treat.
The miraculin also toys with sweet, sugary food in interesting ways. Drop a load of aspartame after popping a miracle berry tablet and the miraculin represses your sweet receptors, making sweet foods taste bland. But in a slightly more acidic environment, the receptor's response skyrockets making aspartame taste sweeter than ever thought possible.
Miracle berries could have applications outside of novelty culinary events. "We are interested in a large-scale production of miraculin because it has a good, sucrose-like taste and combines a non-caloric property, since developing a safe sweetener for anti-diabetes and anti-obesity uses is of pressing importance," Abe told Nature News.
For full story, please see:



  1. Berries: Red mulberry (Marus rubra), advantages of a wild species

     Source: The Miami Herald, USA, 26 September 2011

For people interested in edible landscaping, here’s a tree that is native to South Florida, (USA), needs little care, produces honey-sweet fruit and attracts birds: the red mulberry (Morus rubra).
In Florida the red mulberry grows wild in dry fields, pinelands and moist woods, where it can form a thicket of rapid-growing trees. It hybridizes frequently with white mulberry. Although it grows well in South Florida, it is rarely long-lived. The tree is prone to being damaged by wind and in most cases will succumb to disease in less than 20 years.
The mulberry was used by the native people of the eastern United States for centuries. There are records of the Timucua Indians of northeast Florida using the leaves, twigs and berries to make dyes, and Seminoles using the branches to make bows. Other Indians to the north consumed the dried fruits during the winter. They would mash, dry and store mulberry fruit, then add it to water to make warm sauces that they sometimes mixed into cornbread. The Cherokee made sweet dumplings by mixing cornmeal and sugar with the fruit.  In the past, the fruit was also valued for fattening hogs and chickens but it is rarely used for that purpose today.
Instead, the tree’s main use is in landscaping. The red mulberry tree brings ample shade to Florida yards and attracts wildlife with its fruit. The small, sweet fruit is a favourite food for most birds.
Red mulberry can have both male and female trees as well as male and female flowers on the same tree. Only female trees or those with both male and female blooms will produce fruit. In South Florida, the red mulberry blooms in April and May, and fruit reaches full development from June to September depending on the cultivar. Each fruit is composed of many small drupelets.
The fruit is excellent with its honey-sweet flavour. The best way to consume it is by picking it directly off the tree and eating it out of hand — if you can fend off the birds that are competing for the same prize. The fruit contains high concentrations of sugar that makes it a good candidate for use in jams, jellies and pies.
There are many legends and folklore associated with the mulberry. In China, it is regarded as a mystic tree where the sun bird nested. In the western world, the berries, which look like small blackberries, are said to be stained with the blood of Pyramus and Thisbe of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Red mulberry is a small to medium-sized tree, with a rounded, dense canopy and short trunk. The bark is light to dark reddish-brown, separating into narrow, loose, flat strips and shallow, flat fissures. In Myanmar, the bark is used to make paper. Native Americans used the fibrous bark to make cloth, and it can still provide children with hours of craft fun.
South Florida has many selections of mulberry available, including the delicious “Fairchild” mulberry. Red mulberry can be propagated from stem cuttings, root sprouts, air-layering or by budding. Young plants need extra phosphorous to encourage good root development. The red mulberry tree is a colonized species that requires full sun to survive. Pruning and thinning can extend the fruiting season and rejuvenate the tree by maintaining size and good shape. Doing this avoids the need for more severe pruning later on.
For full story, please see:



  1. Ecotourism: Boom can help save endangered forests, UN and partners say

     Source: UN News Centre, 28 September 2011

The increasing demand for ecotourism can play a vital role in saving endangered forests, a United Nations-backed partnership said today, while also warning of the potential damaging effects if its expansion is not effectively managed.
According to the findings of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), which consists of 14 international organizations and secretariats, including the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the benefits of ecotourism flowing to local businesses are dramatically higher than those from mass tourism, providing an incentive to local communities to take care of their environment.
“Ecotourism has a far greater potential for contributing to income and livelihoods in poor rural communities than what is realized,” said FAO’s Edgar Kaeslin, a forestry officer in wildlife and protected area management.
The CPF found that standard all-inclusive package tours typically deliver just 20 per cent of revenue to local companies, while the rest is captured by airlines, hotels and large tour companies. Local ecotourism operations, however, can return as much as 95 per cent of earnings into the local economy.
The CPF also noted that ecotourism can motivate local communities to maintain and protect forests and wildlife as they see their income directly linked to the preservation of their environment.
However, it warned that ecotourism could damage forests if it grows too quickly and its expansion is mismanaged. According to a news release by FAO, ecotourism is one of the fastest segments of tourism worldwide, growing at a pace of more than 20 per cent annually – two or three times faster than the tourism industry overall, and failure to limit tourists can permanently damage fragile ecosystems.
This rapid growth can have negative effects, as there is the risk that powerful players in the travel industry may seek to dominate and squeeze out smaller local operators, resulting in the disruption of local economies and ecosystems.
The CPF stressed that to avoid this, training for local people is essential to ensure they can compete successfully for desirable ecotourism jobs. “It is crucial that local people are fully involved in the activities and receive sufficient benefits,” Mr. Kaeslin said.
Several sustainable ecotourism programmes such as the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) have already had successful results. By involving the local communities in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the gorilla population is rising in numbers.
“There is no question that is a direct result of the careful commitment to responsible tourism in East Africa that respects the gorillas and their habitat,” said GRASP coordinator Doug Cress.
For full story, please see:



  1. Edible insects: Demand is rising

     Source:, USA, 25 September 2011

Farmers from New South Wales, Australia are all geared up as the sales of their crickets, snails, mealworms and silkworms are to rise in near future after the revelation that they are the low fat foods, with low cholesterol, high in minerals and contain double protein if compared to meat and fish.
Entomophagists are the people who eat bugs and due to the rising popularity of culinary insects, it has been observed that a few farmers will be expanding the production of scorpions and tarantulas as the demand for all these bugs have been rising.
Australian Agricultural Minister Joe Ludwig's spokesperson notified that though the government has no intentions to encourage the culinary insects industry still a large number of restaurants have been involved in such cuisines and people are enjoying the food.
According to the UN, edible insects could prove beneficial for consumers as they contain large amount of nutrients.
One of the farmers producing insects said the insects are very popular among food items and some people have incorporated them in their everyday meals, so there is a need to strengthen the production as well.
Meanwhile, the European Union recently declared US$4.9 million funding to support the production and trading of these culinary insects. Also, food standards regulators have been asked to promote such insects for consumption by revealing their actual benefits.
For full story, please see:



  1. Honey: Chilean rainforest honey anti-aging properties

     Source: The Daily Mail, United Kingdom, 26 September 2011

Honey is not a new beauty discovery. When eaten, it contains digestive enzymes, vitamins and anti-oxidants which nourish the skin from inside and out. But this type of honey is particularly special.
It comes from the nectar of the Quillay, Tineo and Ulmo trees, native to the Valdivian rainforest of southern Chile. Unlike normal honey, which is pasteurised, it is packed with vitamins and nutrients and naturally contains a small amount of hydrogen peroxide, which aids the skin in the healing process, fighting three types of bacteria that commonly infect wounds including the notorious MRSA ‘superbug’.
When applied to the face or body, it can break down scar tissue and make skin more elastic — smoothing out fine lines and reducing the appearance of stretch marks.
Local Chilean tribes have used it to treat wounds and common skin ailments for centuries. “The honey has always been marketed for topical use, but we didn’t realise people would use it as a skin cream,” explains Jamie Christie, a nutritional bio-chemist and managing director of Lifeplan, distributors of Chilean Rainforest Honey.
“As well as testimonials from sufferers of such skin conditions as psoriasis and eczema, emails started to flood in from people who had tried it out as a face mask and saying that their skin looked ten years younger”. He wonders if the popularity of the product is also due to the fact that it gets results, naturally. “There is a reaction against all the chemicals you find in so many face creams,” says Christie. “Honey has no preservatives and no controversial ingredients such as parabens.”
For full story, please see:



  1. Honey: Manuka Honey shows potential for radiation-induced dermatitis

     Source: MedicalNewsToday, 24 September 2011

New findings point to a possible role for manuka honey in the prevention of clinically significant radiation-induced dermatitis in breast cancer patients. The results, from a phase 2 study reported at the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress (EMCC), show that the product may also decrease the duration of dermatitis episodes.
Nichola Naidoo, MD, Waikato District Health Board, Hamilton, New Zealand, and colleagues randomised 81 patients to either standard aqueous cream or manuka honey in a non-blinded fashion using a range of radiation schedules. The study included women with invasive breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ who were undergoing adjuvant external beam radiation therapy.  Treatments were applied twice daily from the first day of radiation therapy until 10 days after the completion of radiation therapy. The honey formulation used was a pure sterilised product with active manuka honey as the only ingredient (1g/g), unique manuka factor of 18. Toxicity was scored by visual inspection using the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) acute toxicity scale and digital photography. Independent assessment of the photographs was performed by a clinician blinded to treatment allocation.
Radiation dermatitis is a common side effect in patients undergoing irradiation of the breast and/or chest wall, with the incidence of early grade 2 reactions reported in 30 to 50% of patients. Dermatitis is due, in part, to an acute inflammatory response, with the release of cytokines, serotonin, and histamine as well as elevated levels of reactive oxidative species.
Many topical agents are used in clinical practice; however, no single agent has been proven to prevent radiation dermatitis.
Manuka honey, which is a monofloral honey made by bees in New Zealand that frequent the manuka bush known as Leptospermum scoparium, has demonstrated wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties, possibly related to its significant levels of antioxidants. The product has also been shown to be useful for healing moist desquamation and for radiation-induced mucositis.
For full story, please see:



  1. Shea butter's health benefits

     Source: Florida Courier, USA, 26 September 2011

Everyone loves smooth looking and beautiful skin. You know – skin that is clear and free of blemishes. That’s exactly why many African American households have a jar of Shea Butter stored somewhere in the medicine cabinet.
Shea butter is derived from the nut of the Karite tree, which grows throughout West Africa. African Shea butter has been utilized for centuries for its amazing ability to renew, repair and protect the skin. The name Karite means the Tree of Life, due to the many important uses that Shea butter provides for the people of that region.
Shea butter is unique because of its high content of non-saponifiable fats which act as a natural skin moisturizer. Shea butter moisturizes skin with all the essential elements it needs for balance, elasticity and tone.
Enriched with vitamins A, E and F, shea butter is very popular. Africans have used shea butter for years to protect and rejuvenate their skin. To date, Shea Butter has been effective at treating: dark scars, eczema, burns, rashes, acne, severely dry skin, chapped lips, skin discolorations, stretch marks, wrinkles, psoriasis, razor irritation and dry, damaged hair. It even offers protection from UV sun rays.
As you use this multi-purpose cream, you are likely to discover additional uses. The amount of time required for optimum results may vary with each condition.
For full story, please see:



  1. Stevia: A promise for Sri Lanka?

     Source: The Island, Sri Lanka, 26 September 2011

With recent advances in the control of infectious diseases, the so-called non-communicable diseases (or NCD’s) have come into prominence. Major ones are cardiac diseases, obesity, diabetes and cancer. In all of these, the excessive consumption of sugar has been implicated.         
The commercial prospects for sugar substitutes even at these minimum assumptions, is therefore enormous.  The latest entrant is Stevia which has the special virtue of being a "natural". In the crude form, it has been used for centuries by South American tribes (in Paraguay) as a sweetener for their herbal teas, foods and medicines. They believe it to be a cure for diabetes. The fresh leaf or dried leaf powder is used and it is called "sweet leaf" or "sugar leaf".
Of special interest to Sri Lanka is the fact that the plant is a shrub Eupatorium rebaudiana which is a close relative of the common and free growing weed of coconut plantations podisinghomaran or Eupatorium pratense so prevalent in the region.
The sweetness of Stevia is due to two alkaloids (not carbohydrates) – stevioside and rebauside. They are reported to be 200-300 times sweeter than cane sugar and have zero calories. Thus, Stevia products are considered ideal for type 2 diabetics and weight watchers.
Commercially, the product is presented as dried leaf powder, crystallized water extracts or as refined, powdered pure alkaloids. Naturally, the sweetness of the different products varies. Purification and crystallization into a white, free running powder is reportedly uncomplicated.
Sri Lanka is in search of export opportunities besides tea, rubber, coconut and minor crops. Stevia could well be an addition with promise. It is likely to grow easily, be readily processed, amenable to storage and with a sizeable local market in addition to exports. Of topical interest is that coconut in the deep South which is faced with a potentially devastating disease, may find this to be a fine opportunity to grow a close relation of a plant that until recently was one of its most worrying weeds.
For full story, please see:



  1. Wildlife: Stem cells may save rhinos from extinction

      Source: NewScientistNews, 18 September 2011

The odds aren't great for male northern white rhinos looking for love. Only two females are left on the planet, and imminent extinction does not seem to make rhinos particularly horny: the last time this captive population produced a baby was in 2000. Now, there may be a way to save this and other endangered species – with stem cells.
For the first time researchers have turned frozen skin cells from two highly endangered species – the northern white rhino and the baboon-like drill – into stem cells that can become any cell in the body, including sperm and eggs. These could be used to impregnate animals through techniques similar to in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
Stem cells have already been created from ordinary cells in people, rhesus monkeys and mice. Jeanne Loring of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, and her team has now done the same for a rhino and the drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus), a primate closely related to the mandrill, using frozen samples.
Loring's work is made possible by a menagerie on ice called The Frozen Zoo, a collection of skin cells from more than 8600 animals representing around 800 species at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, California.
The two species chosen are among the most endangered animals in the world. Bushmeat hunting and habitat destruction threaten the drill, which is found only in Nigeria, south-western Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea: between 3000 and 8000 remain in the wild. The northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) is on the brink of extinction: 2230 individuals were alive in 1960 but only seven remain today – five males and two females, all in captivity.
Using viruses, the researchers introduced four genes that are highly expressed in human embryonic stem cells into the skin cells. This reverted the animals' skin cells to their embryonic state. A few weeks later the researchers had colonies of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) for both drills and rhinos.
The researchers now hope to turn the drill iPSCs into sperm cells and the rhino iPSCs into egg cells, which could help preserve the species through techniques similar to IVF. They wouldn't need a living drill or northern white rhino to carry the pregnancy – another primate could be a surrogate mother for a drill embryo, for instance.
But turning iPSCs into gametes will be difficult. Researchers have had some success in coaxing stem cells from mice and people to become primordial germ cells – the progenitors of sperm and eggs – but producing normal germ cells is hit and miss.
“It's a huge next step to get from iPSCs to functional gametes," says Debra Mathews of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
Nevertheless, says Loring, "what we've done is create a resource and sparked an idea. People in the conservation world would never have thought of this on their own."
For full story, please see:




  1. Australia: World’s largest company moves interstate to meet growing demand for sandalwood

      Source: ABC News, Australia, 27 September 2011

The world's largest producer of Indian Sandalwood, a WA company, has bought 610 hectares of land in the Burdekin region, south of Townsville.
Tropical Forestry Services, TFS, already has about 5000 hectares of plantations established in the Kimberley. The acquisition in Queensland marks its first land purchase outside of WA.
TFS chairman Frank Wilson says the Burdekin purchase gives the company geographic diversity. "The selection of these properties occurred after extensive due diligence of soil suitability and conditions for growing Indian Sandalwood trees," he said.
Mr Wilson says demand for Indian Sandalwood in Asia is growing exponentially and could one day allow the product to become a US$1 billion export industry for Australia. He says the heartland of the company's Indian Sandalwood production will always be in Western Australia's Ord Valley but TFS will continue to look at other suitable growing areas.
Indian Sandalwood currently occupies around 45 per cent of the Kimberley's Ord irrigation scheme. The irrigation scheme is being expanded by 7500 hectares but the project director, Peter Stubbs, does not believe there will be much expansion of the sandalwood industry in Ord Stage 2.
"We'd expect there won't be too much sandalwood in this expanded area because much of the soil type is too heavy and it's not the ideal country that the sandalwood growers are after," he said. "So we'll see some expansion of sandalwood, probably in the order of 500 to 700 hectares, and that's because one of the companies, TFS, has already done a joint venture with the traditional owners of the region. "But that's only about 10 per cent of the new farming area and we're very comfortable with that."
TFS chairman Frank Wilson told guests at an economic forum in Kununurra that Indian Sandalwood could soon become the third jewel of the Kimberley, along with diamonds and pearls.
For full story, please see: feature/2956310?section=wa



  1. Bolivia: Tension soars among indigenous groups

      Source: Agence France Press, 25 September 2011

Hundreds of indigenous demonstrators in Bolivia's Amazon basin region forced the country's foreign minister to join their protest march, using him to break through a police blockade.
Protesters, who are not from Bolivia's two main groups of natives, oppose plans to build a highway through a rainforest reserve which they fear will bring migrants into the steamy lowlands they have called home for centuries.The demonstrators have been walking for weeks, and are headed for the capital La Paz.
They forced Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca -- who was trying to negotiate with the protesters -- to march with them past riot officers into an area where rival Andean highland indigenous people had settled. "They made me march. They made me do it," Choquehuanca, visibly tired after walking for about four hours, told local media. He was released near Yucumo, 10 kilometers (six miles) from the blockade near Chaparina.
"The situation is difficult," Choquehuanca said upon returning to La Paz, referring to tensions between protesters and other indigenous people who support President Evo Morales.
Bolivia is South America's only mostly indigenous nation. The Socialist president Morales is an indigenous leader himself, and favours the road project, arguing it is needed for development. The planned highway would run through an Amazon forest natural reserve where natives have lived largely in isolation for centuries.
Amazon natives fear that landless Andean Quechua and Aymara people -- Bolivia's main indigenous groups -- will flood into the area and colonize the region.
For full story, please see:



  1. Burkina Faso: Bonuses help reforestation take root

     Source:, 27 September 2011

This year Fatimata Koama and her associates received more than half a million CFA francs as a reward for planting – and looking after – 1200 trees in their small corner of Burkina Faso.
"Trees are important," says Koama. "We plant mostly exotic species, but also mango, moringa, and pawpaw trees."  Koama, who lives in the Nayala province of this semi-arid West African country, is the leader of a collective which calls itself "Magoulé", meaning "I believe" in the local San language.
Magoulé's pay-out – equivalent to about US$1200 – is just part of more than US$1.000.00 disbursed over the past two years as a strategy to strengthen reforestation efforts, according to environmental group SOS Sahel and the Burkina Ministry of the Environment.
According to a 2010 study by the environment ministry, 110,500 hectares of forest are degraded each year in Burkina Faso, about four percent of the total forested area. According to the study, valuable species like the yellow-flowering kapok, palmyra and locust bean tree are seriously threatened by deforestation.
The programme of incentives is designed to help slow this rapid deforestation; agreeing contracts that provide farmers a modest reward for looking after seedlings they plant has improved the survival rates of young trees to around 70 percent, as compared to just 10 percent in conventional reforestation campaigns.
"If a (newly-planted) tree survives for 24 months, we reward those who planted it," explains Mouni Conombo, coordinator of SOS Sahel in Nayala. "We don't pay them for all the work that goes into tending the sapling, but we encourage them, helping them understand how it is better to plant a tree and nurture it."
The environmental NGO has been working with this strategy since 2001, using donor support to pay a cash bonus to producers who care for seedlings. Their success led the environment ministry to adopt the approach as a national policy.
According to Salifou Ouédraogo, SOS Sahel's executive director, the scheme was a response to the failure of classic reforestation programmes, in which as many as nine out of every ten saplings died. "We did some research, and found this method (of paying a bonus) had been used by the colonialists to introduce cocoa and coffee in Côte d'Ivoire," he told IPS.
"At that time, villagers who were forced to plant the new cash crops would use hot water to secretly kill the cocoa and coffee seedlings. But the colonialists gave chiefs an incentive by giving them rewards such as rifles and cloth (for trees that survived). Cocoa and coffee were then accepted," says Ouédraogo.
In its contemporary form, the reward has worked out to about a dollar per tree for the Magoulé group this year, but that doesn't take into account the value of the growing trees.
For full story, please see:



  1. Cameroon: Plans for palm-oil plantation in rainforests

     Source:, 26 September 2011

New York based investment firm, Herakles has its eyes set on a 60000 square mile area of the Cameroon landscape, with the hope of turning the area into one of the world’s largest production sites of palm-oil.  In a market typically dominated by plantations based out of Asia, Herakles hopes to cash in and get a piece of this multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry.
However, many conservationists are concerned by the damage these plans will have on the already fragile environment.  Nigel Sizer, director of the World Resources Institute (WRI)’s Global Forests Initiative, explains that “Given the versatility of oil palm and so much degraded, deforested land across the tropics, surely there are better places to make this kind of investment.” Sizer’s concern does not come without warrant.
As it turns out, the proposed area happens to be considered a High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF), meaning that this rainforest is one of the most bio diverse, and vulnerable, areas in the world.  The Herakles Farm plantation is to be set up in the midst of four already protected areas of forests including Korup National Park, Rumpi Hills Forest Reserve, Bakossi National Park, and the Banyang Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary.  The Korup National Park alone is home to a wide variety of life including an excess of 600 species of trees, 200 species of reptiles and amphibians, 400 different types of birds, 1000 varieties of butterflies, 160 different mammals (including rare species of elephant, leopards, bushpigs), and the most diverse communities of primates in the world.
Additionally there are fears that this coming production will negatively affect the life and cultural infrastructure of the communities living nearby.  “Workers will migrate into the area seeking jobs and they will demand bushmeat,” explains the SAVE-Wildlife Conservation Fund in a statement.  “Hunters will have even more incentive to violate Cameroon law and harvest animals from inside the protected areas, where animal populations are still relatively abundant.”
But that is not how Herakles sees it.  According to the company, they view their presence as a welcoming boon to the local economy—providing both jobs and benefits to the many living in the Cameroon rainforests. Furthermore, Herakles has plans to bankroll the planting of “1 million oil palm trees” on behalf of their non-profit organization, All for Africa-- a seemingly grand gesture of environmental generosity.
However, what they fail to explain is these palm trees will be replacing the lush canopy already there. “All for Africa is claiming that these plantations will help thwart climate change because...their plantation will absorb ‘more than 28 million tons of carbon dioxide,’” explains an anonymous source close to the issue.  “If they were planting their oil palms over concrete parking lots, then yes, their claim would be valid.  But they are not—they are removing native forests and replacing them with a monoculture.”
As of now, Herakles is meeting with opposition in raising the $300 million necessary to begin their plans.  The problem lies in that many investors may be turned away from the idea of supporting a project that has so many environmental, political, and cultural liabilities.
For full story, please see:



  1. Hawaii: Ground breaking agreement seeks restoration of Koa forests

     Source: Maui Now, Hawaii, 2 September 2011

The Nature Conservancy and Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods entered a ground breaking agreement that aims to restore Hawai’i's dwindling koa forests. The agreement is also expected to benefit other native forests in the state.
Koa is one of the world’s most valuable tropical hardwoods, and is considered by some the “mother tree” of the Hawaiian forest.  The koa tree (Acacia koa), provided ancient Hawaiians with timber for building canoes, spears, bowls, construction materials and even fishhooks. In the forest, it creates a broad canopy, providing a protected zone for understory plants.
“As a dominant canopy tree, koa can form the framework for biological restoration,” said Sam ‘Ohu Gon III, the Conservancy’s Senior Scientist and Cultural Advisor. Populations of koa have been depleted by a combination of feral cattle, land clearing activities, and invasive pests, as well as unsustainable harvesting.
“Over time, the loss and removal of this monarch tree, with no replanting, has diminished our koa forests and the quality of other native forests,” said Suzanne Case, the Conservancy’s Hawai‘i executive director. “This partnership seeks to address both of those concerns,” she said.
Since 2008, Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods has been working to aggressively replant koa on hundreds of acres of land that was once a koa-dominated forest. The reforestation project was launched at the Big Island’s Kūka‘iau Ranch, on Mauna Kea. Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods CEO Jeff Dunster said the company operates on both a conservation model and a commercial one.
Under the conservation model, participants invest in the financing of tree planting to ensure the trees are never harvested.  Under the commercial model, trees are financed at $60 each and eventually logged with donations of $1 going to The Nature Conservancy, and $20 to the charity of the donor’s choice. Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods has promised The Nature Conservancy a $50,000 minimum contribution annually, beginning this year.
The legacy tree program also includes a scannable electronic chip that is placed in the ground where the tree is planted. The chip contains the serial number of the tree and is linked with its GPS coordinates in a database along with information on when it was planted, the name of the donor, and the name of the individual the tree was planted to honour.
All money donated to The Nature Conservancy will be used to preserve existing native forests. “It’s a partnership that is both helping to create new koa forests and preserve existing native forests,” said John Henshaw, the Conservancy’s director of Land Protection and Conservation Partnerships. “You’re not just growing a tree, you’re helping to grow an entire forest,” said Dunster.
Crews planted some 20000 trees on 40 acres in its first year, and 35000 trees on 84 acres in its second year. This winter season 150000 koa trees will be planted on 322 acres, and another 300,000 trees will be planted during the 2012-2013 season.
“Once we get the koa forest re-established, it becomes the nursery for other species. We have found elsewhere that if we can get the koa forest back, other natives reappear, including some of the native bird species,” said Henshaw.
Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods is planting other native forest species on other legacy lands, including māmane, naio, ‘ōhi‘a and ‘iliahi or sandalwood.
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  1. India: Eco park home of rare medicinal plants gets heritage tag

     Source: Bangalore Mirror, India, 27 September 2011

It’s a park which is home to rare medicinal plants, but if the local government body Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had had its way, it would have destroyed this natural carbon sink and turned it into one garnished with brick and mortar. But in a rare move, the state biodiversity board has decided to give this park in Padmanabhanagar the tag of a heritage site. The move comes on the back of an order from the High Court of Karnataka, directing the Karnataka Biodiversity Board to take control of the park.
The court’s order came in response to a Public Interest Litigation filed by 93-year-old musician Gana Kalanidhi P Sundareshan and others, mostly members of Sri Lakshmikanthaswamy Temple Trust. The Trust had developed and maintained the park since the eighties, but the BBMP had wanted to turn it into a landscaped garden, complete with tiled pathways and hi-tech lighting. This would have spoilt the delicate natural setting of the park and would have destroyed the medicinal plants. Miffed, members of the trust took their fight to court. In its order, the high court directed BBMP officials to maintain status-quo..
The verdict has brought cheer to the members of the Trust. “We are happy that the court has understood the need for such a park in a city like Bangalore,” Dr Lalithamma, a member of the trust said.  The park has more than 120 species of rare medicinal plants that cannot be found in any of the other urban parks. Most urban parks are just lawns with a hedge. The court’s direction to the bio-diversity board to maintain the park is a welcome move.”
The park, spread over a small hill of over 15 acres. Ananth Hegade Ashisara, the chairman of the Western Ghats Task Force, along with other biodiversity experts, had visited the park a month ago and had studied the plants there. He recommended that the park be declared a biodiversity heritage site.
“Even though the certificate has not yet been issued formally, we were told that it has been submitted to the high court by the biodiversity board,” another member of the trust said.
With rich species of plants, the park has facilities like a natural aroma therapy centre to cure ailments like asthma and other respiratory diseases. It is considered a natural health centre by the local community.
Previously, the biodiversity board had named the vast stretch of forest surrounding the Bangalore University a biodiversity heritage site. The heritage tag allows the board to safeguard the rich heritage, while the area enjoys the status of a reserved forest.
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  1. India: first bamboo museum to open doors

     Source: The Tribune, India, 25 September 2011

The country’s first ‘bamboo museum’ is all set to be ‘formally’ inaugurated at the Institute of Himalayan Bio-resource Technology (IHBT) in Palampur (Himachal Pradesh). The museum will house a workshop and a laboratory. It will also display bamboo products.
The cantilever-based structure has a floor area of 3,600 feet and happens to be the largest bamboo structure in the country. Built at a cost of Rs 65 lakh by the Uttarakhand Bamboo Board in 11 months, a total of 50000 bamboo poles were used to complete the structure. For the first time, bamboo was used for reinforcing the walls. Boards, woven mats and even blinds made of bamboo were used in the construction.
“The task was certainly challenging as it was a cantilever-based structure and included a central dome,” said STS Lepcha, executive officer of the board.
Bamboo in Uttarakhand and elsewhere is fast emerging as a housing substitute in areas with undulating terrains. Structural engineer Meirisiyang Pamei, who supervised the construction, told The Tribune that locally available bamboo in Palampur was used and treated on the spot in order to reduce the cost of production.
Low-cost, middle-end and even high-end houses can be constructed with bamboo, say experts. An 1,800 sq feet low- cost bamboo house is likely to cost Rs 4.5 lakh, whereas a middle-end house of the same size would come up at a cost of Rs 15 lakh. A more fancy and stronger structure of the same size may cost up to Rs 54-60 lakh.
Bamboo is flexible and corrosion resistant and structures made up of this wood can withstand earthquakes and floods too.
The board had constructed two bamboo huts at Malkoti village in Shivpuri area of Rishikesh. “Both huts, situated along the Ganges, were submerged in last year’s floods. But there was no structural damage to the huts,” said Meirisiyang. A properly treated bamboo structure can have a minimum lifespan of 30 to 40 years, claim experts. Bamboo structures need cleaning and polishing once in a couple of years. Even in areas, which record heavy rainfall, cleaning and polishing are required once in two years.
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  1. Kenya: Universities seek bigger export market for mushroom products

     Source: Business Daily, Kenya, 27 September 2011

Mount Kenya University has launched a project to enhance mushroom production that hinges on value-addition and marketing to improve farmers’ earnings. The university is leading other institutions in researching on indigenous vegetables with focus on commercial farming.
The university has got Sh24 million for the programme under the Kenya Agricultural Productivity and Agribusiness Project (Kapap) supported by the World Bank. Kapap seeks to tie up research, extension services and farmer empowerment.
The head of the project, Prof John Nderitu, said value-addition and marketing of such vegetables would favour farmers and attract more into the business that Kenya has just scratched its surface. According to Prof Nderitu, who is also the university’s deputy vice-chancellor, Kenya produces 500 tonnes of mushroom annually with a farm-gate value of Sh255 million and retail value of Sh340 million. However, out of this, a paltry 16 tonnes are exported, giving the country only Sh3.9 million. Kenya imports about 81.5 tonnes of dried mushrooms worth Sh9.8 million. “While the production of mushrooms for food is a lucrative economic activity, it has not been fully exploited,” said Prof Nderitu. He told Business Daily Monday they have mounted a research that will focus on value addition, markets and how to reach them, and the types of mushroom that can serve them.
Prof Nderitu said two types -  button (agaricus bisporus) and oyster (pleurotus spp) — can do well in Kenya. A team of researchers will visit every part of the country to find out which areas can favour mushrooming farming.
Traditionally, mushroom, a fungus that grows wildly, has been recognised as food (where it is added to soups and salads), a source of medicine, and for its flavour.
The button mushroom is grown by large scale growers while oyster is preferred by small scare producers.  “If farmers can be educated about this kind of farming, some can even opt to quit other kinds of farming because mushrooms do not require much time and energy and again there is a good market,” Prof Nderitu said.
Mushroom farmers in Kenya are however faced with challenges of inadequate supply of quality spawn, poor research and failure to identify best practices and development of standards along the value chain.
Developing optimum technologies and practices along the value chain of selected indigenous vegetables (cowpeas, solanum complex, spider plant, pumpkin, Amaranth, mushrooms and French beans) among poor communities in Kenya will guide the project, he said. “If we can recruit Kenyans in the areas affected by drought often, we can go a step further in fight against famine in our country.”
Mount Kenya University is leading Egerton University, University of Nairobi, National Museums of Kenya, Bondo University College and Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI) in a partnership in studying indigenous vegetables.
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     Source: Centre for Biological Diversity, USA, 28 September 2011

The Centre for Biological Diversity and the Environmental Protection Information Centre today petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Humboldt marten under the Endangered Species Act. The Humboldt marten (Martes americana humboldtensis):  is a cat-sized carnivore related to minks and otters that lives only in coastal, old-growth forests in Northern California and southern Oregon. Because nearly all of its old-growth forest habitat has been destroyed by logging, the Humboldt marten is so rare that it was believed extinct for 50 years.
“The Humboldt marten was once common in old-growth, coastal forests in California and Oregon, but now fewer than 100 are known to exist,” said Tierra Curry, a biologist at the Centre. “These martens are in dire need of Endangered Species Act protection if they’re going to have any chance at survival.”
“Logging of old-growth forests has driven the marten to extinction across 95 percent of its historic range,” said Scott Greacen, executive director of EPIC in Arcata. “To rebuild a viable marten population, we need to restore old forest conditions, which requires moving beyond short-rotation clear-cut logging.”
The historic range of the marten extends from Sonoma County in coastal California north through the coastal mountains of Oregon. The Humboldt marten was rediscovered on the Six Rivers National Forest in 1996. Since that time, researchers have continued to detect martens using track plates and hair snares. In 2009 a marten was detected at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park by remote-sensing camera, the first to be photographed in recent times. Martens are 1.5 to two feet long and have large triangular ears and a long tail. They eat primarily small mammals, including voles and squirrels.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has 90 days to decide whether the petition presents substantial information indicating that protecting the marten under the Endangered Species Act may be warranted.
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     Source:, 23 September 2011

Restoring and preserving dry-land forests can help provide food and fertilizer on small farms and prevent the recurrence of famine in Kenya and other African countries, a research group said.
The destruction of forests and other forms of human-caused land degradation have caused more damage than drought, turning vast areas of once-grazeable and farmable land into near-desert, forestry experts from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
“Deforestation and land degradation have hindered capacities to cope with disasters and adapt to climate variability and change in the long-term,” said Frances Seymour, Director General of the group’s Centre for International Forestry Research. Research carried out by the Centre in 25 countries shows that forests serve as an important defence against poverty, providing about a quarter of household income for the people living in and around forest areas.
Famine in the Horn of Africa has put millions of people at risk in Somalia, Kenya and other countries. The United Nations estimates that hundreds of people are dying every day, more than 13 million are at risk, and a third of Somalia’s population has been displaced.
Seymour said that dry-land areas are likely to suffer more frequent and severe droughts as the climate changes, and that protecting and restoring forests in such areas should have a more prominent place in the debate about global warming.
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    Source: Times of India, 24 September 2011

A peculiar combination of socio-economic, political and strategic factors in northern Bengal and easternmost Nepal is sounding the death knell for elephants which once had a free run in this entire region that was once their unchallenged habitat.
What was, till a few decades ago, contiguous forests stretching from the Sankosh river (which roughly corresponds to the Assam-Bengal border) in the east to Kosi in east central Nepal has become fragmented by vast swathes of farmland, human habitations and military bases (in the case of North Bengal). The elephants – long range migratory animals that follow a definite route with a fixed seasonal pattern of movement – are now faced with man-made hurdles in their migration path. This forces them to stray into farmland and human habitation, bringing them into conflict with humans. Also, with the forest cover, and their fodder, dwindling, elephants are being forced to foray into farmland to devour crops that they find tastier and more nutritious, thus exacerbating their conflict with humans. Add to this the vicious backlash by humans, especially in Nepal, who think nothing of electrocuting the pachyderms or shooting them, and also the alarming development of poachers there targeting tuskers, and the 500-odd jumbos of this region face an extremely grave threat.
Till the 1960s, North Bengal had a forest cover of more than 40%; today, it has decreased by almost half to 24%. Eastern Nepal has a forest cover of a little over 12%, down from about 50% even three decades ago. In eastern Nepal's case, it was the large-scale migration of people from the higher reaches to the plains of east and south that led to severe depletion of forest cover. "The migrants were all poor people who settled down all over, cleared forests for cultivation," Sudhir Kumar Koirala, the District Forest Officer of Nepal's easternmost Jhapa district bordering India told TOI. In North Bengal, it was the huge influx from erstwhile East Pakistan from the late 1940s-and the migration peaked in the late 1960s and early 1970s-that led to the depletion of forest cover. Large army and air force bases were also set up there after the 1962 conflict with China, and given this region's geo-strategic importance and the increased threat perception from China, the defence forces' footprint in North Bengal is only increasing, thus posing more threat to forests. For instance, a firing range that came up by clearing part of a forest – an elephant corridor – in Sarugaon near Oodlabari in Jalpaiguri district a couple of years ago has, according to a recent survey carried out by the forest department, led to increased depredations by elephants which are being forced to stray out of the forest in to villages and farmlands.
An adult elephant needs 250 kg of green fodder and a hundred litres of water a day. "This is why it has to keep on moving. But with the sharp depletion in forests, and with the availability of 'better' food like maize and paddy, elephants raid farmland. The added bonus for the jumbos is the country liquor that's brewed in most villages," said Bose. "Elephants are intelligent animals with very good memories and the location of paddy or maize fields and granaries get embedded in their collective memories and they return to such spots every year," Kanchan Banerjee, wildlife squad range officer at Sukhna, told TOI. He points out that in the past, natural forests which offered a wide variety of fodder were cut down to plant teak and other trees of commercial value. "But these plantations offer no fodder and elephants cannot camouflage themselves there. So a significant portion of the existing forests that are under plantations are of no use to pachyderms," said Banerjee.
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     Source: UN News Centre, 26 September 2011

African countries have signed a key protocol to a United Nations treaty aimed at encouraging more equitable sharing of the world’s genetic resources and their benefits, as the annual UN event to promote support for global pacts and conventions resumed today.
Niger, Cape Verde each added their signatures to the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The protocol now has 61 signatories, but will only enter into force some 90 days after 50 countries have consented to be bound by it, which means they must ratify the text. So far no countries have done that.
The protocol envisages the setting up of an international regime on access and benefit sharing of genetic resources, which will lay down the basic ground rules on how nations cooperate in obtaining genetic resources, according to the administrative offices of the 193-member Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which drafted the protocol.
It outlines how benefits – for example, from when a plant's genetics are turned into a commercial product, such as medicine – will be shared with countries and communities which conserved and managed that resource, in some cases for millennia.
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     Source: The Guardian, United Kingdom, 26 September 2011

Artificial single-species forests are expanding fast in countries of the developing South, fuelled by low production costs and incentives from governments, and causing severe social and environmental impacts, warned experts from around the world who met last week in the Uruguayan capital.
The so-called "green deserts" are encroaching on the fertile soil of South America and other regions, with the proliferation of plantations of fast-growing and high water-demanding trees to be used to produce pulp and paper, and for other industrial uses, displacing local communities and threatening native ecosystems.
Many governments in the global South support this model of investment, production and consumption, which is replicated from the North, said the participants in the International Symposium on Forestation, held Wednesday 21 September, the International Day of Struggle against Tree Plantations. "Some 350 kg of paper per person a year are consumed in Europe, half of which is packaging, while in Brazil and Uruguay the average is 50 kgs per person annually," Brazilian activist Winfridus Overbeek, international coordinator of the Uruguay-based World Rainforest Movement (WRM), told IPS.
Overbeek said that in Europe as well as North America, there is no longer enough space to plant the trees required for that high level of consumption, so companies are shifting production to countries of the developing South.
In several countries of Latin America, as well as in southern Africa and in Asia, monoculture eucalyptus and pine plantations are advancing, to supply paper pulp factories. Plantations of oil palm, first established in Indonesia, are also expanding in those areas.
Guadalupe Rodríguez, a member of the Germany-based Rainforest Rescue, told IPS that "monoculture forests tend to be seen as a good thing, because they are green and pretty. But if you approach them, you won't hear a single bird, because there is nothing there, just silence. "A monoculture forest is almost like a stone quarry," she added. "In tropical rainforests, by contrast, you hear animals, water flowing, because they are full of life."
Brazil is a prime example of how the expansion of plantation forests affects local communities. There are currently around seven million forested hectares in Brazil, mainly eucalyptus, in plantations "concentrated in the country's most fertile and populous regions," Overbeek said. "We estimate that 50,000 families who used to make a living from farming have been displaced from the countryside for that reason in the southeastern state of Espírito Santo," where the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) already has 10 settlements. "They went into the eucalyptus growing areas, cut down trees, and built themselves houses, to say: 'we need this land to survive'," the WRM coordinator said. "And on 8 March, the MST brought 1,500 women together to cut down eucalyptus trees and grow food, and today, six months later, there are beans and corn growing in an area that was a monoculture forest."
The other major impact is on biodiversity. Monoculture plantations spell out death for grasslands, because light, which is essential for the prairie to grow, is blocked out, he said.
He also explained that native grasslands act like a sponge, absorbing rain and moisture so that it infiltrates into the ground, and their disappearance can lead to flooding and soil erosion. The companies planting the artificial forests in Mpumalanga, Owen said, are also killing off animals like baboons, which damage the trees in the plantations in their search for food. He said some 3,000 baboons have been slaughtered in the last 10 years in South Africa.
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     Source:, 26 September 2011

Although the international program Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) was developed in order to lower greenhouse gas emissions by protecting standing forests, conservationists have long pointed out that another result from a well-crafted REDD program could be to conserve biodiversity. But one of the difficulties of including biodiversity is how to measure the success or failure of conservation in a REDD site. A new opinion piece in's open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science analyses two effective ways to monitor biodiversity in REDD sites focusing on bats and big mammals.
"We maintain that it is necessary to assess whether the management of the REDD project areas is achieving the objective of maintaining biodiversity. It will therefore be important to monitor changes and trends in populations of the key indicator taxa," the authors write, pointing out a number of factors that should be a part of any monitoring program of biodiversity for REDD, including tracking species that indicate habitat quality (and not just endangered species), developing a methodology that could be used in any forest worldwide, and using a protocol that is cheap and requires minimal training.
Two methods that fulfil this criteria are camera trapping of large and medium-sized mammals and acoustic sampling of bats.
An increasingly popular scientific tool, camera traps take photos of passing animals, often in remote areas. "After the initial investment, [camera traps] are cost effective over time. They operate both day and night, in nearly any landscape or vegetation cover, for the life of their batteries, which can be months. They are non-invasive with minimal bias. Resulting photos are automatically date/time stamped and provide unambiguous archivable data, unlike more ephemeral data such as tracks or scat. In addition, interesting animal behaviour of scientific interest may be recorded. Resulting images often have value for education or promotional purposes," the authors write. Camera traps are being increasingly used to track the rise and fall of mammal populations worldwide, making them a good choice for measuring biodiversity.
Another way to take stock of biodiversity in forests, is to monitor bat species through acoustic sampling.  "Globally, forests are the centres of the highest bat diversity. Bats also serve as indicators of habitat quality and reflect even minor habitat perturbations," the authors write. Each bat species has a unique vocal signature, which makes it possible to document bats in the area simply by recording them.
"Systems can range from fully automated, solar powered, with remote data access and equipment management, to simpler systems that require field technicians to visit monitoring stations to retrieve data and recharge monitoring station batteries at fixed time intervals," the authors explain, adding that acoustic sampling may also be used to identify some types of birds, frogs, and monkeys, providing additional data on biodiversity.
Key to both of these systems are their relative ease. Instead of having a dozen biologists tromp through forests for days on end, these methods capture species data non-invasively and with far less effort.
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      Source: UN News Centre, 20 September 2011

Extraction of natural resources and other major development projects in or near the territories of indigenous peoples is one of the most significant sources of abuse of their human rights worldwide, an independent United Nations expert warned today.
“In its prevailing form, the model for advancing with natural resource extraction within the territories of indigenous peoples appears to run counter to the self-determination of indigenous peoples in the political, social and economic spheres,” the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples James Anaya told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
In a report based on answers to a questionnaire he distributed to governments, indigenous peoples and organizations, business corporations and other actors, he cited conflicting viewpoints on the potential adverse impact and benefits of such activities as mining, forestry, oil and natural gas extraction and hydroelectric projects in indigenous territories.
He said he had made it a priority to reconcile the differing views and courses of action to ensure the full protection of indigenous rights and promote best practices through a broad dialogue with governments, indigenous peoples’ organizations, corporate actors and international institutions, in which consensus-building would be a key element.
“The lack of a minimum common ground for understanding the key issues by all actors concerned entails a major barrier for the effective protection and realization of indigenous peoples’ rights,” he added, praising a new Peruvian law compelling private companies to consult indigenous communities before going ahead with major projects such as mining.
Among key concerns, Mr. Anaya included the gradual loss of control by indigenous peoples over lands, territories and natural resources; water source depletion and contamination for drinking, farming and grazing; the adverse effects of water and airborne pollution on overall community health; and an increase in infectious diseases spread by interaction with workers or settlers.
Another concern was the adverse impact on indigenous social structures and cultures, including alarming rates of alcoholism and prostitution previously unheard of among such peoples, imported by illegal loggers or miners, non-indigenous workers and industry personnel in specific projects, and increased traffic due to the construction of roads and other infrastructure.
“Submissions by indigenous peoples and NGOs also reported an escalation of violence by government and private security forces as a consequence of extractive operations in indigenous territories, especially against indigenous leaders,” Mr. Anaya noted. “A general repression of human rights was reported in situations where entire communities had voiced their opposition to extractive operations.”
Several governments highlighted the key importance of natural resource extraction projects for their domestic economies that reportedly account for up to 60 to 70 percent of the gross national product (GNP) in some countries, with positive benefits for indigenous peoples.
But most indigenous peoples underscored the adverse effects on their environment, culture and societies, which they said outweighed the minimal or short-term benefits arising out of extractive operations.
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     Source: Environmental News Network, 23 September 2011

For over 30 years, hundreds of scientists have scoured eleven forest fragments in the Amazon seeking answers to big questions: how do forest fragments' species and microclimate differ from their intact relatives? Will rainforest fragments provide a safe haven for imperilled species or are they last stand for the living dead? Should conservation focus on saving forest fragments or is it more important to focus the fight on big tropical landscapes? Are forest fragments capable of regrowth and expansion? Can a forest—once cut-off—heal itself? Such questions are increasingly important as forest fragments—patches of forest that are separated from larger forest landscapes due to expanding agriculture, pasture, or fire—increase worldwide along with the human footprint.
The Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (BDFFP)—begun in 1979—has started to provide general answers to these questions. As the world's longest-running and largest study of forest fragments in the world, it has more than any other area given tropical ecologists' a sense of how forest fragments, both big and small, function. Located fifty miles (80 kilometres) north of Manaus, Brazil, the study encompasses eleven fragments, spanning from 1 hectare to 100 hectares.
"The study is very ambitious in scope, covering just about every major group of organisms. We've studied everything from trees to tamarins, and army ants to ant birds," says Dr. William F. Laurance, an ecologist at James Cook University, in a recent interview with His colleague Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, biodiversity chair at the Washington DC-based Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, adds that in 32 years the research area has produced an astounding 581 publications.
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     Source: The Foreigner News, Norway, 2 September 2011

Norwegian Environment and Development Minister Erik Solheim may withdraw financial support to Indonesia if authorities decide to define palm oil plantations as forests.
Head of Greenpeace Norway, Truls Gulowsen, says he thinks that calling the palm oil plantations as being part of the forests violates “the intentions of this agreement that Indonesia has with Norway”. He also states that Indonesian authorities play with “constructive definitions” in order to turn away from the agreement and use the funds to stop the deforestation. The Indonesian government’s own climate committee shows preserving the rainforest is neither cost nor climate-effective.
The agreement, worth six billion kroner, regards protecting Indonesian forests to reduce CO2 emissions. This could be in danger of being undermined because of strong Indonesian industrial interests, according to a Greenpeace report. The authorities want to use Norway’s money to develop more palm oil plantations.
Erik Solheim is attending the Forests Indonesia: Alternative Futures to meet demands for food, fiber, fuel and REDD+ conference this week. Its purpose is to discuss previously agreed Norwegian financial support for the protection of Indonesian rainforests. The minister does not believe considering palm oil plantations as rainforests corresponds with plans to reduce CO2 emissions and protecting the environment.
The Jakarta Post reports the minister saying Norway could object if palm oil producers expanded plantations under certain conditions “That is a feasible policy if it is already degraded land. We have seen some positive developments with some of the big palm oil producers wanting to adopt an environmentally friendly outlook. Some of them have accepted international verification for selling their products without destroying the forests. But that cannot replace conservation of the rainforests because rainforest cannot be cut down and then reforested.”
Indonesia’s government has since revoked legislation recognizing oil palm plantations as forest, and Minister Solheim says, “The money will be performance-based, meaning that Indonesia will receive the money when it protects the rainforests. They will simply not be given Norwegian funds if they turn rainforests into palm oil plantations.”
Norway’s Climate and Forest Initiative was launched at the UN climate summit in Bali in December 2007. Its aim is to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from the forestry sector and reduce deforestation in developing countries, internationally described as REDD+.
Several countries across the world are partners, including Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Tanzania, the Congo Basin, and Guyana.
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     Source: Science Daily, 27 September 2011

Predictions of the ground-level pollutant ozone may be more accurate in the future, thanks to new research into plant circadian rhythms. The research was led by Lancaster University, UK, and is published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Ozone is formed in the atmosphere when volatile organic compounds like isoprene -- which is emitted by some plants -- react with nitrogen oxides from car engines or industry. Ozone at ground level is very harmful to human health, may decrease crop yields, and is a greenhouse gas.
Researchers, led by Professor Nick Hewitt of the Lancaster Environment Centre, have found that the rate at which plants emit isoprene is influenced by their body clock or circadian rhythm. This 24-hour circadian rhythm, which also controls leaf movement and respiration in plants, has never before been observed operating in concert in a stand of trees. The discovery alters current estimates of plant-derived isoprene emissions. Ground-level ozone concentrations, calculated using the new isoprene emissions, are then closer to observed concentrations, going some way to resolve a long-standing deficiency in computer simulation of ground-level ozone.
Professor Hewitt said: "We spend billions of pounds trying to control ozone -- for example, by putting catalytic convertors in new cars in order to prevent emissions of oxides of nitrogen. This discovery of the circadian rhythm operating on the forest canopy scale is another step in better understanding ozone and improving our models of the atmosphere."
The researchers examined measurements of isoprene made above tropical rainforest and oil palm plantations in Sabah in Malaysia, carried out as part of a £2.5m UK/Malaysian scientific research project.
Dr Eiko Nemitz of the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology said: "Our flux measurements show that emissions of isoprene are under circadian control, strongly in the oil palm plantation and less strongly in the rainforest. These ecosystems therefore emit less isoprene than current emissions models predict."
Professor Rob MacKenzie of the University of Birmingham, who led the initial ozone modelling studies, added "Using various models of atmospheric chemistry, we show that this more complete understanding of the processes controlling isoprene emissions yields a better predictive capability for ground-level ozone, especially in isoprene-sensitive regions of the world." These regions include the south eastern US, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, parts of South East Asia and Japan.
Using computer simulations from the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, the team then compared their simulated ground-level ozone with real-life ozone measurements at 290 atmospheric monitoring sites in the US. They found that their model accuracy significantly improved when it included circadian control of isoprene emissions.
The work was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and the paper is published as part of the Royal Society's South East Asian Rainforest Research Programme.
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     Source:, 26 September 2011

The Amazon rainforest can recover from logging, but has a far more difficult time returning after repeated burning, reports a new study in's open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science. In areas where the Amazon had been turned to pasture and was subject to repeated burning, Visima trees become the dominant tree inhibiting the return of a biodiverse forest. The key to the sudden domination of Visima trees, according to the study, is that these species re-sprout readily following fires; a capacity most other Amazonian trees lack.
"Throughout much of the Amazon Basin, abandoned pastures are often dominated by species of Vismia because it is the only tree genus capable of regenerating shoots from below ground tissues. Repeated burning of pastures kills other advance regeneration," the paper's authors write.
When left to regenerate, logged Amazon areas see the return of Cecropia trees, which is similar to what happens when the Amazon sees natural disturbance. However, repeated fires suppress Cecropia trees, and favour instead Visima trees: researchers found that 100 percent of Visima trees re-sprouted after fires. But, where Cecropia trees dominate, so does biodiversity: twice as many species were found in these regenerating forests than in the Visima dominated. Visima forests therefore become what researchers dubbed a 'wasteland', while Cercopia forests held the potential to return to biodiverse rainforest.
The scientists further found that seed dispersers did not play a significantly different role in Visima over Cercopia secondary forests, as both forests saw very few species brought in by dispersers.
"Seed dispersal of mature forest species into Vismia-dominated stands is close to nil, but this is no different from dispersal into Cecropia-dominated stands where succession is not arrested. Therefore, the arresting mechanism lies in the early years following abandonment when Vismia, surviving pasture burns, becomes dominant by default," the authors explains. Visima forests can arrest any forest recovery for decades.
Given this knowledge the authors recommend new policies to dissuade burning of the forests. Instead, a logged forest should be allowed to regenerate without additional burning to turn the area into pasture.
"As most of the forest value lies in the timber extracted, clearcuts should be abandoned without conversion to pasture," the authors write, adding that, "in order to avoid extensive forest conversion into unproductive Vismia wastelands in the Amazon Basin, forestry permits for harvesting timber should include restrictions on subsequent anthropogenic degradation, such as conversion to pasture and prescribed burning."
For full story, please see:



     Source: The Washington Post, 28 September 2011

More needs to be done to dispel the myth among the Vietnamese that rhinoceros horn can cure cancer, Vietnamese officials said  after meeting with their South African counterparts about curbing rhino poaching.
This year already, 309 rhinos have been poached in South Africa, compared to the 2010 record of 333, according to the Department of Environmental Affairs. The 2010 figure was nearly triple the deaths in 2009.
Demand for rhino horn among a growing Vietnamese middle class is believed to be driving the poaching spike in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa — Vietnam’s own rhinos are nearly extinct. David Newton of TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network of the World Wildlife Fund and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, said demand in China and Thailand also was a concern, but that recently, the “vast majority” of rhino horn smuggling prosecutions involved Vietnamese citizens.
“We need to raise public awareness of the importance of biodiversity and we need to get rid of the wrong understanding that rhino horn can cure cancer,” said Kien Nguyen, a Vietnamese diplomat who took part in two days of talks with South African diplomats, conservationists and law enforcement and prosecuting authorities.
Tuan Cong Ha, a Vietnamese environmental affairs official who headed his country’s delegation in South Africa, called on medical researchers in his country to study what he called the cancer-cure “rumour” and make their findings public. He also said attempts to educate Vietnamese should be more specific, saying previous campaigns have spoken only generally of the need to protect wildlife.
Newton said rhino horn has been used traditionally in Asia to treat fever. He said the focus on cancer was new, and that Wednesday’s comments from Vietnamese officials showed they were aware of a growing problem.
The Vietnamese and South African officials said a key focus of their talks was the need to ensure that Vietnamese who come to South Africa as trophy hunters do not return and sell rhino horn on the black market. It is legal to keep rhino horn as a souvenir, but not to trade in it. Such illegal trade can lead to up to seven years in prison in Vietnam, Nguyen said.
The Vietnamese officials in South Africa on Wednesday could not provide figures for arrests and prosecutions in Vietnam.
Newton, of TRAFFIC, said Vietnam needed to be more open about the problem and what was being done to combat it.  “They’re increasingly paying attention to it, but there’s obviously a very long way for them to go,” he said in an interview.
Fundisile Mketeni, who led the South African delegation in talks with the Vietnamese, said South Africa would schedule similar meetings with Chinese and Thai officials. “All those countries have a role to play,” Newton said. “It’s absolutely urgent that South Africa does get those countries involved.”
For full story, please see:




     Source: RECTOF, The Centre for Forests and People

This course has been designed to improve country-level policy development by addressing current shortcomings in policy formulation, implementation, and review.
The course will enable you to:

  • Identify current cross-sector developments affecting people and forests
  • Critically analyze and respond to problems related to policies and institutions
  • Evaluate environmental, economic, and social aspects of forestry policy options
  • Practice effective communication of solutions, decisions, and opportunities to a wide range of forest stakeholders

It is particularly aimed at Senior- and middle-level government officials and civil society representatives working on forest policy issues
For more information, please contact:
RECOFTC - The Center for People and Forests
P.O. Box 1111, Kasetsart Post Office
Bangkok, 10903, Thailand
Phone: (662) 940-5700     
Fax: (662) 561-4880, 562-0960
[email protected]



New York, USA
21 – 23 November 2011
The Inter-Agency Support Group (IASG) was established to support and promote the mandate of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues within the United Nations system. Its mandate was later expanded to include support indigenous related mandates throughout the inter-governmental system. It allows the UN system and other intergovernmental organizations to analyse recommendations made by the Forum with a view to facilitating comprehensive and coordinated responses to the UNPFII.
This year its annual meeting is hosted and organized by UNFPA in New York.
The FAO Liaison Office in New York has agreed to participate on behalf of FAO and will report on general progress during one of the sessions.
For more information, please contact:
Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
United Nations, 2 UN Plaza
Room DC2-1454
New York, NY, 10017
Tel: 1 917 367 5100     
Fax: 1 917 367 5102
[email protected]



Oslo, Norway
9 – 11 May 2012
The year 2012 marks a number of watershed points in international environmental affairs: The 40th anniversary of the adoption of the Stockholm Declaration, the 30th anniversary of the UN World Charter for Nature and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the 25th anniversary of the Brundtland Report, and the 20th anniversary of both the Rio Declaration, Agenda 21, and the UNCED Conventions: the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
In June 2012 world leaders will gather once again in Rio de Janeiro for the Earth Summit 2012 to secure renewed political commitment to the global agenda of sustainable development.
This is an appropriate point in time for reflection on the legal status of nature, how environmental goods and services are valued and taken into account in decision-making, and the implications of the rule of law in this respect.
Deadline for presentation of abstracts (300 words) is 1 November 2011.
For more information, please contact:
Dr. Juris Christina Voigt, LL.M.(Envir) Associate Professor
University of Oslo
The Faculty of Law
Department of Public and International Law
P.O.Box 6706, St. Olavs Plass
0130 Oslo
Tel.: 0047-228-50246
[email protected]



Montpellier, France
20 – 25 May 2012
For two decades, the International Society of Ethnobiology (ISE) has actively promoted and supported the inextricable linkages between biological and cultural diversity and the vital role of Indigenous and local peoples in stewardship of biological diversity and cultural heritage, which includes recognition of land and resource rights, as well as rights and responsibilities over tangible and intangible cultural and intellectual properties. The ISE is committed to understanding the complex relationships which exist between human societies and their environments. A core value of the ISE is the recognition of Indigenous peoples as critical players in the conservation of biological, cultural and linguistic diversity.
Building on the traditions of past ISE congresses, this Congress yet again will bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants from around the world to tackle the key issues of our times. The Congress will include a wide range of formats for people to share their knowledge, ideas and experiences, ranging from talking circles, to film viewings and discussions, cultural performances, field trips, oral presentations and poster sessions. The Congress is designed to be highly interactive and participatory, and to foster a commitment by participants to building understanding and trust.
The call for individual contributions is now open, the deadline for submitting is 31 October  2011.
For more information, please contact:
Congress ISE 2012
Campus CNRS
1919, route de Mende
34293 Montpellier cedex 5, France
Tel :  (33) 467613315     
Fax : (33) 467613336
[email protected]




     Source: International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Papers and Speeches from an IUCN Environmental Law Programme (ELP) Side Event
at the 3rd IUCN World Conservation Congress (WCC) held in Bangkok, Thailand, 17–25 November 2004
The importance of environmental law to achieve good governance and thereby conserve the environment and its ecosystems has been repeatedly demonstrated and remains unquestioned. The further development and improvement of environmental legislation is crucial for a successful environmental conservation strategy. However, new legislation cannot, on its own, be the ultimate solution to stop future environmental degradation. At the same time, improving the implementation and enforcement of existing laws must not be neglected. In other words, environmental laws, regardless of how “good” they might be, are nothing but empty shells unless their effective implementation is secured.
The adoption of environmental laws must be complemented by an efficient judiciary that people can rely on to adjudicate evolving disputes. Clear linkages between sustainable and equitable economic development on the one hand and the existence of a functioning legal and judicial system on the other hand have been proven. Unfortunately, lack of exposure to environmental law by members of the judiciary may hinder its implementation.
Appropriate training of judges is clearly required. Such training must focus among others on jurisdiction in environmental law, its special instruments and problems of enforcement, as well as related scientific knowledge which is necessary to sensitize judges for environmental cases.
Besides its role as the guardian of the rule of law, the judiciary can also play the part of a decision-maker and opinion-former. However, judicial activism to advance or improve environmental law is seen differently in legal systems such as the common law or Roman law systems.
Finally, the empowerment of affected people to exercise and insist on their rights is equally important for the implementation of environmental law. In this regard, an obstacle exists in the unbalanced power structures in many parts of the world, with strong interest groups who degrade the environment for mostly economic profits on the one side and people suffering from environmental degradation who are voiceless, poor or unorganized on the other side. A rapidly evolving means to overcome this barrier is Public Interest Litigation (PIL). Nevertheless, insufficient rules on public access to and sharing of environmental information, as well as unclear legitimacy and legal standing of the organizations involved in PIL processes are problems that remain unsolved in many countries.
These are just a few topics among many cutting-edge themes regarding the importance and role of the judiciary in environmental conservation. Through this publication a wide community of readers is given the chance to benefit from the fruitful outcomes of the discussions held by environmental law specialists from around the world at the IUCN Judiciary Day in November 2004. IUCN stands ready to further share its experience where needed and to help influence and strengthen the role of the judiciary at national or international levels to achieve the crucial goals of sustainable development and nature conservation.
Available from: IUCN Publications Services Unit
219c Huntingdon Road, Cambridge CB3 0DL
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1223 277894
Fax: +44 1223 277175
E-mail: [email protected]



  • Other publications of Interest

      From: NWFP Programme

Amechi, Emeka Polycarp. 2009. Poverty, Socio-Political Factors & Degradation of the Environment in Sub-Saharan Africa. Law, Environment and Development Journal 1075(2)

Avocc.vou-Ayisso, Carolle; Sinsin, Brice; Adcbgbidi, Anselme; Dossou, Gatien; Van Damme, Patrick. 2009. Sustainable use of non-timber forest products: Impact of fruit harvesting on Pentadesma butyracea regeneration and financial analysis of its products trade in Benin. Forest ecology and management. 257(9):1930-1938

Bawankule, D. U.; Dayanandan Mani; Anirban Pal; Karuna Shanker; Yadav, N. P.; Sachidanand Yadav; Srivastava, A. K.; Jyoti Agarwal; Shasany, A. K.; Darokar, M. P.; Gupta, M. M.; Khanuja, S. P. S. 2009. Immunopotentiating effect of an ayurvedic preparation from medicinal plants. Journal of Health Science. 55(2):285-289.

Krishnan, Peringattulli Narayanan; Decruse, S. W.; Radha, R. K. 2011. Conservation of medicinal plants of Western Ghats, India and its sustainable utilization through in vitro technology. In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology - Plant. 47(1):110-122.

Pei, Shengji; Zhang, Guoxue; Huai, Huyin. 2009. Application of traditional knowledge in forest management: Ethnobotanical indicators of sustainable forest use. Forest ecology and management. 257(10):2017-2021.

Matsushima, K.; Minami, M.; Nemoto, K. 2008. Usage of edible wild plants in Bhutan. Journal of the Faculty of Agriculture, ShinshuUniversity. 45(1/2):49-54.

Tisdell, Clement A. 2011. Core issues in the economics of biodiversity conservation.  Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1219(1):99-112.

Vandebroek, Ina. 2010. The Dual Intracultural and Intercultural Relationship between Medicinal Plant Knowledge and Consensus. Economic Botany. 64(4):303-317.

Youn, Yeo-Chang. 2009. Use of forest resources, traditional forest-related knowledge and livelihood of forest dependent communities: Cases in South Korea. Forest ecology and management. 257(10):2027-2034.




     Source:, United Kingdom, 27 September 2011

A novice gardener from Suffolk, UK,  has turned his yard into a tropical jungle. Andrew Brogan's 0.4 acres of land contains rare plants with giant leaves, three ponds which may have pond liners, palms, tree ferns, a wooden walkway and lilies. He has been performing garden watering on this location for seven years after moving to the cottage in Henstead in 2004.
Mr Brogan explained that the project began when he started looking into hardy flowers from exotic regions, adding that he had no significant previous experience. The 50-year old said he made up the design as he went along.
Mr Brogan also bought a neighbouring field to expand his garden and opens the land to the public every year, with its most recent visiting day falling on September 25th.
For full story, please see:




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last updated:  Monday, April 30, 2012