No. 14/10

Welcome to FAO’s NWFP-Digest-L, a free e-mail journal that covers all aspects of non-wood forest products. Back issues of the Digest may be found on FAO's NWFP home page:

You can take part in contributing to the continued success of this newsletter by sharing with the NWFP community any news that you may have regarding research, events, publications and projects. Kindly send such information to [email protected]: We also appreciate any comments or feedback.

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

Since this is the last issue of 2010, we would like to wish all our readers a very happy and healthy 2011!



  1. Bamboo: Fight climate change with bamboo, says campaign group
  2. Bamboo in India: Social forestry to popularize use of bamboo to save trees
  3. Bamboo in The Philippines: Trade sways to winds of change
  4. Edible Insects next on the menu in the quest for food security
  5. Edible Insects: Insectos se convierten en una alternativa real contra el hambre
  6. Ginseng: Not so bitter
  7. Maple Syrup: Maple trees in dire straits, say researchers
  8. Medicinal plants: Study says some herbs could help fight HIV
  9. Medicinal plants in Sri Lanka: Nearly 10 percent of medicinal herbs endemic
  10. Medicinal plants in the UAE: Herbal formula to undergo clinical tests
  11. Truffles: Macau tycoon pays US$330 000 for two truffles
  12. Wildlife: Census finds increase in critically endangered mountain gorilla population
  13. Wildlife: Jane Goodall saves chimpanzees using microcredit
  14. Wildlife: World Bank President announces Wildlife Premium Market Initiative


  1. Argentine shepherds, farmers protect forests from soy
  2. Australia: Patent fight erupts over Kakadu plum
  3. Australia: Arcadian turpentine forest in good hands
  4. Canada: Two provincial parks created in Manitoba
  5. Democratic Republic of Congo: UN urges ban on oil drilling in gorilla park
  6. Eritrea: Better honey production obtained in Adi-Keih sub-zone
  7. Finland: Agreement reached with Sámi reindeer herders
  8. India’s Kashmiri saffron growers see red
  9. Indonesia: Historic Indonesian forest protection deal at risk from industry
  10. Nigeria: Government to create one million jobs from Moringa plant
  11. Oman: Sniffing out the Frankincense Coast
  12. Rwanda: One-third of forest cover coming seven years ahead of schedule
  13. UK: British Beekeepers’ Association to stop endorsing bee-killing pesticides
  14. UK: Scotland invests in green projects
  15. Vietnam: Aid for thousands in four poor provinces


  1. 35 000 new species “sitting in cupboards”
  2. Biodiversity: More species means less disease
  3. Bring back lost and degraded forests
  4. Climate agreement reached in Cancun, Mexico
  5. EU Commission adopts Communication on honeybee health
  6. International Year of Biodiversity honoured as Best Global Environmental Campaign
  7. New Google Earth technology allows tracking of environmental changes
  8. Scientists aim to map and save endangered habitats
  9. Swedish-led team “rewrites” Amazon history
  10. UNFF celebrates upcoming International Year of Forests 2011


  1. Request for contributions to the next issue of Non-wood News
  2. Reminder: Request for information: Siltimur (Zanthoxylum oxyphyllum)


  1. IASC 2011: Sustaining Commons, Sustaining our Future
  2. Western Huckleberry Forum, Cranbrook, BC, Canada


  1. Unasylva on Forests, People and Wildlife
  2. Environment State and Outlook Report for Europe released
  3. Other publications of interest


  1. European Butterfly populations plummet as meadows and grasslands decline
  2. UK: Gene bank for rare fruit species




  1. Bamboo: Fight climate change with bamboo, says campaign group

Source: AFP, 2 December 2010

World leaders pondering the conundrum of climate change should think of bamboo, a group promoting the versatile grass said at the UN talks in Cancun, Mexico on Wednesday.
Cheap, fast-growing and immensely strong, bamboo provides an answer to surging carbon emissions, generates income for the rural poor and helps tackle housing shortages, the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) said.
"Bamboo is a remarkable resource for driving economic development, and is readily available in many of the world's poorest countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America," said Coosje Hoogendoorn, INBAR's Director General. "It helps support the livelihoods of more than 1.5 billion people, generates more than US$5 billion in annual trade and can grow up to 1 m a day."
"Bamboo housing has been around for centuries, but many people do not understand its full potential and still see it as the poor man's timber," said Alvaro Cabrera, INBAR's regional coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean. "In fact, bamboo is stronger for its weight than steel, it is cheaper than timber, uses far less energy in processing than concrete and can dance in earthquakes... Bamboo should be referred to as the wise man's timber."
INBAR, a 13-year-old organization based in China, is an inter-governmental organization, gathering 36 countries under a treaty, that also fosters fair-trade and development schemes involving bamboo and rattan.
It made its pitch on the sidelines of the UN talks in Cancun taking place from 29 November to 10 December, where countries wrestled for solutions to climate change.
In addition to providing livelihoods for people, bamboo forests would be an invaluable weapon against carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal greenhouse gas, through photosynthesis, INBAR said.            In addition, bamboo roots reduce soil erosion, preventing hillsides and riverbanks from washing away in floods and landslides.
Hoogendoorn told AFP that the group was working on a certification scheme whereby bamboo would be sold with a label proving that it came from a sustainable plantation and allowed other species to thrive. Even so, certification "is complex and very difficult," she admitted. One of the biggest destroyers of biodiversity is monoculture crops grown on huge spaces on soil treated with pesticides and fertilizers.
Natural bamboo forests, as opposed to plantations, are a haven for many species of wildlife, including the giant panda. World trade in bamboo and rattan is more than US$5 billion a year, with China, Indonesia and Vietnam the three biggest sources, INBAR said.
For full story, please see:



  1. Bamboo in India: Social forestry to popularize use of bamboo to save trees

Source: Times of India, 29 November 2010

Skill-building and improving the existing bamboo cover in the state will be the focus for 2010-11 under the National Bamboo Mission in Maharashtra, India. The state directorate of social forestry has chalked out plans after receiving a grant of Rs 2 crore.
“We are working on maintaining the existing bamboo plantations in the forest and non-forest areas of the state. The plan is also to deal with low-quality varieties of bamboo and conducting training workshops for farmers throughout the year," said SWH Naqvi, Director of Social Forestry, Maharashtra.
The National Bamboo Mission was introduced in the state in 2007. So far, social forestry has planted bamboo on more than 500 ha of forest land and over 300 ha of non-forest land.
The Konkan Bamboo and Cane Development Centre (KONBAC), known for manufacturing high-end bamboo furniture and handicrafts, and imparting training, will also conduct five state-level skill-building and training workshops for farmers, and for organizations in the state and the North East that specialize in bamboo products, throughout the year. "The idea is to help farmers, who are cultivating and are interested in cultivating bamboo to make optimum use of this produce,” said Naqvi.
Currently, over 20 indigenous and exotic varieties of bamboo are being cultivated in various nurseries across the state. Seedlings grown in these nurseries will be put on field trial in a couple of years. "We will be seeing which bamboos species can adapt to the climatic conditions in different parts of the state," he added.
He said the ultimate aim is to facilitate maximum use of bamboo thereby reducing dependence on trees, especially for furniture and other products usually derived from wood.
For full story, please see:



  1. Bamboo in The Philippines: Trade sways to winds of change

Source:, 27 November

Bamboo as a cottage industry is hardly remarkable. It is stable but thrives exclusively on niche markets, as well as in themed interior and landscape designs. But the global movement to mitigate the impact of climate change and global warming may bring the bamboo to the forefront of alternatives to environmentally intensive practices.
Industry stakeholders believe that bamboo may soon become an alternative to lumber. “This suggests a trade-off to logging and the massive clearing of forests for timber products that tends to upset climate regulatory mechanisms,” says Professor Dante Chichioco, a forest products engineer and dean of the College of Forestry at the Benguet State University (BSU), The Philippines.
“If we can reduce the amount of timber extraction by locals and logging concessions because another material offers a viable alternative, then we would have contributed highly to global warming and climate change mitigation while promoting local livelihood and businesses,” Chichioco says.
Encouraging producers and consumers to shift attitudes is not just a movement that is being spurred by Chichioco under the Cordillera Bamboo Development (CBD). In the village of Baun Bango in Central Kalimantan, locals have begun to cultivate and harvest rattan for their livelihood because it is hailed as the “material of the future.”
In a recent seminar, anthropologist Padmapani Perez said rattan, a raw material commonly grown in Southeast Asia, has been reintroduced as an economically viable industry among indigenous peoples that can take the place of logging. Perez says the program was spurred through the support of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Chichioco’s bottom line is that bamboo is widespread and thriving whether these are cultivated or in the wild. “Bamboo can reach maturity in three to five years,” he says. “There is a faster cycle of harvest and production that cannot be replicated in timber production where a tree can take decades to reach full maturity.”
For now, Chichioco says, bamboo propagation will not replace efforts at reforestation. However, the options offered by bamboo for those that depend on trees for livelihood is serious enough to merit attention from organizations such as the Philippine Bamboo Foundation, the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan, and the Resources Centers for Participatory Learning and Action.
For full story, please see:



  1. Edible insects next on the menu in the quest for food security

Source: The East African (Kenya), 30 November

According to Prof Monica Ayieko, a nutrition expert at Bondo University in Kenya, insects such as termites and mayflies can be favoured by weather conditions brought about due to climate change and need to be promoted as food.
Prof Ayieko has made dough and butter from the insects, a method she has patented and which has gained popularity in the US. “We managed to change the way insects look on the table during the project. Besides pastries, we can also make samosas and sausages out of them,” she said.
According to Prof Ayieko, the changes in weather patterns have led to an increase in insects, including some species that had been thought to be extinct, such as the onyoso, a popular species among the Luo people (an ethnic group of East Africa).
Even though insects have been used as food in many Kenyan societies, she says the major challenge will be to popularize them. According to her, many people have chosen to follow the Western culture and thus view insects as a meal for the poor, so acceptability will depend on those who are aware of the benefits of insects convincing the others.“We have to make people understand the importance of these insects in order to change their attitudes,” she said.
In her research on climate change and the abundance of edible insects in the Lake Victoria region, Prof Ayieko states that studies in several parts of the world indicate that consumption of insects is becoming popular in many parts of the West, besides rural Africa.
For full story, please see:



  1. Edible Insects: Insectos se convierten en una alternativa real contra el hambre

Source: El Tiempo, 17 November 2010

Para muchos son animales que hay que exterminar, para otros son alimento diario y exquisito. Se espera que para el año 2050 la población mundial llegue a superar los 9 000 millones de personas, un número que colapsará las fuentes de alimentos.
Ante la situación de la que ya infinidad de científicos vienen alertando desde hace tiempo, expertos de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Agricultura y la Alimentación (FAO) han decidido promocionar estos animales, tan denostados en algunas civilizaciones y tan requeridos desde hace siglos en otras, como fundamento de nutrición.
Responsables del Programa de Insectos Comestibles del Departamento de Bosques de la FAO, en Roma, insisten en que no se puede ignorar la eficiencia de los insectos como productores de proteínas, en detrimento de otros animales que se incluyen en la dieta tradicional, pero de los que no todos pueden participar y que, además, provocan graves problemas medioambientales.
Desde hace siglos muchas culturas han mantenido a los insectos como base de su alimentación. En la actualidad, 36 países de África, 29 de Asia y 23 en América consumen alrededor de 527 tipos de insectos diferentes. Entre los más comunes se engloban estos cuatro grupos: escarabajos; hormigas, abejas y avispas; saltamontes y grillos; y por último, polillas y mariposas.
Julieta Ramos Elorduy Blázquez, profesora e investigadora del Instituto de Biología de la Universidad de México, ha dedicado más de tres décadas al estudio de los insectos y sus virtudes alimenticias. Para ello, ha convivido con distintas tribus de México y extraído los conocimientos de estos pueblos para los que los insectos son una tradición gastronómica legendaria.
México es uno de los países con mayor consumo de insectos en su dieta común. Se sabe de su uso culinario desde hace 500 años. Los primeros españoles que se establecieron allí enviaban a los reyes de España ilustraciones de esos pequeños animales que eran consumidos, entre los que se encontraban chapulines (saltamontes), abejas, avispas y escarabajos, todos ellos con el nombre en la lengua que cada pueblo hablaba.
Julieta Ramos nos explica que "en la actualidad, se sigue consumiendo en todo el país, sobre todo en las áreas rurales. Incluso, hay algunos insectos que han alcanzado precios muy elevados, como es el caso del gusano blanco del maguey, que cuesta $US500/kg, el peso de 1.666 gusanos, aunque es una cantidad difícil de obtener dada su escasez".
El valor nutritivo de los insectos es mayor que el resto de las proteínas animales, sostiene la bióloga, "porque los insectos tienen ciclos de vida mucho más cortos que los que tiene una res".
Su contenido en proteínas es comparable al de la carne y su cantidad de fibra es aún mayor. Son ricos en ácidos grasos poliinsaturados de cadena corta, hierro, calcio, vitaminas del grupo B y minerales, por lo que su desarrollo de forma industrial podría ser una importante fuente de alimentación para aquellos países cuyos habitantes sufren de desnutrición.
Para Ramos "es una alimentación que sirve para cualquier país porque los insectos se reproducen geométricamente, es decir que siempre habrá más generaciones de insectos que de vacas, aunque el tamaño sea diferente. Pero a la vaca se le tiene que dar de comer ocho gramos de comida para ganar uno de peso, y los grillos, por ejemplo, necesitan menos de dos gramos para un engorde similar.
Además, las reses apisonan las tierras y no las dejan ser productivas, y el vaho de su respiración genera una gran cantidad de CO2 (dióxido de carbono) que provoca el cambio de la atmósfera, porque nunca ha habido pastos tan grandes como los que hay ahora para obtener carne".
A pesar de la idea generalizada que se tiene de los insectos en algunos países desarrollados, donde están asociados a la suciedad, en Estados Unidos hay empresas dedicadas exclusivamente a su comercialización; en Montreal, Canadá, cada año se realizan festivales de degustación y en otros países europeos, como España, han abierto sus puertas restaurantes en los que los insectos son los únicos protagonistas de sus platos. Aunque su comercialización masiva parece todavía lejana, llegado el momento esta sin duda será mucho más amplia.



  1. Ginseng: Not so bitter

Source: Science Daily, 8 December 2010

"Consumers like to see ginseng on a product's ingredient list because studies show that it improves memory, enhances libido, boosts immunity, and alleviates diabetes. But the very compounds that make ginseng good for you also make it taste bitter," said Soo-Yeun Lee, a University of Illinois (USA) associate professor of food science and human nutrition.
In an earlier study, Lee and colleague Shelly J. Schmidt found that ginseng contributes more to the bitter perception in energy drinks than caffeine, an indispensable component of these beverages and the very compound that sensory scientists use as their reference for bitter perception. "Ginseng has over 30 bitter compounds, and scientists still do not know which compound or group of compounds is responsible for the bitter taste," Lee said.
While experimenting with five possible solutions to ginseng's bitterness problem, they discovered that cyclodextrins — hydrophobic compounds made of glucose molecules that occur in a ring form — were able to capture the bitter flavour compounds and reduce bitterness by more than half.
The researchers tested potentially effective bitterness-reducing treatments. "Cyclodextrins were by far the most effective method of reducing the bitterness of ginseng solutions. We also found that gamma-cyclodextrins were more successful than beta-cyclodextrins and were more cost-effective," Schmidt said.        These compounds have been used to mask bitterness before, but not at the level of ginseng used in a typical energy drink, she said.
Lee and Schmidt intend to continue studying ginseng's bitterness compounds to learn which are most responsible for producing objectionable flavours, and to gain insight into exactly how these compounds interact with cyclodextrins. That knowledge would facilitate the use of ginseng as a functional ingredient in energy drinks and allow their manufacturers to add health benefits to the beverages beyond general nutrition and the calories they provide, Lee said.
"This new method for masking bitterness in ginseng gives food scientists an opportunity to improve the health of consumers," she said.
The study was published in the September 2010 issue of the Journal of Food Science.
For full story, please see:



  1. Maple Syrup: Maple trees in dire straits, say researchers

Source:, 12 December 2010

The tree responsible for the most vibrant hues in New Hampshire's fall foliage season — as well as the state's maple syrup industry — may be on the decline in the Granite State and the rest of New England, according to some researchers.
Barrett Rock, a botanist and forestry professor at the University of New Hampshire's Complex Systems Research Center in Durham (USA) has been studying spectral satellite imagery of New England's forests (North-eastern USA) for decades, and said he has seen a pattern of maple tree decline.
Maple trees are being affected by climate change, which over the last 100 years has been unnaturally accelerated by human activity, he said.
One way in which the changes he is seeing via satellite imagery are beginning to manifest to the naked eye is that foliage seasons are more often becoming less spectacular, he said.  Global warming in New Hampshire also has meant warmer springs, a time that is typically the height of maple sugaring season, with March of 2010 being the warmest in recent memory.
According to the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association, some 90 000 gallons of maple syrup are produced annually, bringing more than US$3 million to the state.
Rock said his ongoing research is focused on long-term changes, not yearly variations, though he said the last three years have shown how unpredictable the weather caused by rapid climate change can be and how it has affected the foliage season. In particular, the red and crimson hues of the maple tree have been dimmer during the past three autumns, Rock said. If rain comes too late in summer, at the end of July or in August, "it is water the trees cannot use," Rock said.
So the foliage seasons of 2008 and 2009 were not as spectacular because of too much rain either in the spring or too late in the season.
The declining sugar content of maple leaves also has affected recent foliage seasons. "In order to get the brilliant reds and burnt orange colours, you need high sugar content in the leaves," Rock said. The low sugar content in leaves not only affects foliage, it affects another beloved time of the New England year — maple sugaring season, when the sap of maple trees is collected, boiled down to its syrupy, amber essence and sold to consumers the world over.
Rock said if he had to give a prediction, he would say if more is not done to slow the pace of global warming, the maple species will be in dire straits. "In New Hampshire, 100 years from now, we will have a lot of old, dying maple trees and no new maple trees," Rock said. For full story, please see:



  1. Medicinal plants: Study says some herbs could help fight HIV

Source: Hindustan Times (India), 7 December 2010

Medicinal plants such as tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum), ashwgandha (Withania somnifera) and shilajit (sometimes referred to as asphaltum) which have so far been used as home remedies for cough and cold, may hold the key to the treatment of people living with HIV and AIDS.
The Department of Virology in Haffkine Institute for Training, Research and Testing in Parel, Mumbai (India) conducted in-vitro tests on the herbal extracts of the three plants against Reverse Transcriptase, an enzyme that is found in HIV and causes it to multiply.
The tests showed that these herbs have the potential to act effectively against the enzyme. “We wanted to know whether these herbal plants have any anti-HIV activity and if they can inactivate the virus or at least prevent it from replicating, or modulate the body’s immunity,” said Dr Sweta Kothari, senior scientific officer, Department of Virology, Haffkine Institute.
The study began in 2006 with the three herbal extracts being tested against Reverse Transcriptase. Simultaneously, a drug named azidothymidine (AZT), which is used for the treatment of HIV and AIDS, was also tested.
Results of this comparative study showed that tulsi and shilajit gave better results than that of AZT drug on the enzyme. “When AZT was 70 percent effective in blocking the enzyme activity, tulsi and shilajit showed 80 percent to 90 percent activity,” said Kothari.
Now that the herbal extracts of these plants have shown positive results, the Institute is planning to take the research to the next level. “We will work on finding the exact molecules in those herbal extracts which are acting against the virus. This can also help in evaluating other herbal plants which have similar active molecules,” said Ritwik Dahake, scientific officer, Department of Virology, Haffkine Institute.
“We know a large number of herbal preparations which are used in traditional Indian system of medicine; however, they must be analysed and evaluated in the light of the mechanism of their action and specific site of action.
For full story, please see:



  1. Medicinal plants in Sri Lanka: Nearly 10 percent medicinal herbs endemic

Source: Daily News (Sri Lanka), 3 December 2010

Over 10 percent of all the medicinal herbs used in Sri Lanka are endemic to the country. Of this number about 80 species are endangered, Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens Director Dr Cyril Wejesundara told the Daily News. There are well over 500 endemic species used in traditional medicine among the native flora of Sri Lanka.
There are also over 900 non-indigenous medicinal plants used in native medicine, he said. The populations of medicinal plants are adversely affected by over-harvesting and lack of care to their habitat, he added.  In addition, increased demand for agricultural land and unsustainable cultivation practices destroy medicinal plant habitats, he noted.
Sri Lanka is fortunate to have a rich reserve of indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants. There are a large number of practitioners of traditional medicine. A very small effort has been made to appreciate and document these indigenous doctors knowledge, he emphasized.
As a result of degeneration in the numbers of indigenous doctors, knowledge on indigenous medicine and vital information on the subject of indigenous medicine is almost lost, he said. "It is necessary to design a national conservation program linked to a sustainable herbal cultivation strategy," he said.
For full story, please see:



  1. Medicinal plants in the UAE: Herbal formula to undergo clinical tests

Source:, 25 November 2010

A herbal-based formula extracted from endangered plants across the United Arab Emirates is set to undergo clinical tests for its efficacy to help combat serious diseases such as diabetes, a health expert said during a symposium on protection of medicinal plants in the country.
A designated farm to help preserve the medicinal plants at the Zayed Complex for Herbal Research and Traditional Medicine in Abu Dhabi has been recently recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a regional centre for herbal research.
"Through evidence based research we plan to introduce our own herbal-based formula, and will continue into clinical trials by offering patients herbal solutions for different chronic diseases such as allergies, asthma, kidney stones, hyper tension and diabetes. A single herb can have 1 000 active ingredients, which can be useful to help combat all these diseases put together," Dr. Mazen Ali Naji, Manager at the Zayed Complex for Herbal Research and Traditional Medicine told Gulf News on the sidelines of Wednesday's meeting.
In line with Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan's vision to preserve medicinal plants, the Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) partnered with the Health Authority Abu Dhabi in a project to help preserve 30 different kinds of plants in the UAE, known for their useful medical components.
"There are 640 different types of plants in rural areas and deserts across the UAE, 30 percent of which are herbal. Most of these herbal plants are prone to habitat destruction due to changing weather conditions and animal feed, that is why we are supporting projects which help preserve these endangered plants," said Eng Ahmad Al Matri, Director, Desertification Combat Dept at the MOEW.
For full story, please see:



  1. Truffles: Macau tycoon pays US$330 000 for two truffles

Source: AFP, 28 November 2010

Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho paid US$330 000 for two white truffles at a weekend auction, a report said Monday, matching the record price he paid for one of the prized fungi three years ago.
The billionaire made his winning bid through representatives at the event held at his own Grand Lisboa hotel in the Asian gambling hub, the fourth straight year he has won the truffle auction, the Standard newspaper reported.
Ho's winning bid bought him a giant truffle from Italy's central Tuscany region that weighed about 900 g and a smaller one of about 400 g, the report said.
The auction in Macau also saw bidders vie for the delicacy from Rome and London via satellite link, it said.
Ho paid a record US$330 000 in 2007 for a single truffle that weighed almost 1.5 kg. The tycoon's bid came about two weeks after a Hong Kong-based wine critic paid US$139 000 for a giant white truffle at an auction near the northern Italian town of Alba.
For full story, please see:



  1. Wildlife: Census finds increase in critically endangered mountain gorilla population

Source: WWF, 7 December 2010

A census of the world’s largest mountain gorilla population has counted 480 animals, an increase of 100 — more than a quarter — since the last count in 2003.
The gorillas surveyed live in Central Africa’s Virunga Massif region, a volcanic mountain ecosystem consisting of three adjacent national parks spanning parts of Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Uganda and Rwanda.
A fourth park, south-western Uganda’s Bwindi, is home to an additional 302 mountain gorillas, the only other remaining wild population, which together with four orphaned mountain gorillas in a sanctuary in the DRC brings the wild population to 786.
The Virunga census was conducted in March and April 2010 by local authorities with the support of the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP), a coalition of several conservation organizations, including WWF.
‘’This is vivid testimony to the commitment of the Rwanda, Uganda and DRC governments, in addition to their supporting partners including IGCP, to ensuring the sustained protection of this charismatic species,” said David Greer, African Great Ape Coordinator at WWF.  “The survey results provide us with an excellent demonstration of how strong law enforcement efforts put in place to safeguard flagship species can advance species conservation, benefit local communities, and provide important revenue to governments.”
The current figure represents an annual growth rate of 3.7 percent in Virunga. Of the gorillas surveyed, 352 have been habituated to human presence, 349 living in groups and three solitary silverback males.  Habituated mountain gorillas have been the basis of a sustainable ecotourism programme since the late 1970s.
“The mountain gorilla is the only one of the nine subspecies of African great apes experiencing a population increase.  While we celebrate this collective achievement, we must also increase efforts to safeguard the remaining eight subspecies of great apes,” said Greer. 
For full story, please see:



  1. Wildlife: Jane Goodall saves chimpanzees using microcredit

Source: Radio Netherlands, 2 December 2010

Jane Goodall came to Gombe National Park (Tanzania) to study chimpanzees 50 years ago. She became one of the world’s best known primate researchers. In the early 1990s, she became shocked by the ecological destruction around the park and left the jungle to become an activist. Nowadays she is saving the primates using microcredit.
The 76-year-old chimpanzee expert travels the world to talk about her conservation work. She tells stories about how local people are involved in conserving the area around the Gombe reserve, and about her battle against the trade in bushmeat.
In the 1960s, Tanzania was flooded with refugees from then Belgian Congo. Ten years later it was clear to everyone how fast deforestation was taking place, says Ms Goodall. High birth rates and new influxes of refugees increased the pressure on the population.
“It was not until the early nineties when I flew over the whole area that I realized the deforestation outside the park was total. That the park itself was like a little oasis. It was obvious looking down there were more people living there than the land could support. As the trees went, there was soil erosion, mud slides. The only trees were in the steep ravines where even the desperate farmers couldn't go to cultivate.”
Meanwhile the number of chimpanzees decreased proportionately. When Ms Goodall arrived there were an estimated two to three million in West and Central Africa, by 1986 there were only 300 000. It was clear that the chimpanzees did not stand a chance if the living conditions of the people in the area did not improve. The researcher set up the Jane Goodall Institute TaCare (Take Care) Programme, inspired by the Tanzanians themselves.
Conservation was not at the top of their priorities, but enough food, better health and education for their children was. Alongside agricultural projects and programmes concerning health and education, TaCare focuses on women.
“The best example is a woman called Gertruda. She got a small loan and developed tree nurseries around the village. Then she sold seedlings for a very small amount of money, but she was able to pay back the loan.” The project is very successful. Around 85 percent of the loans are paid back in full. Up to now microfinance has been associated with combating poverty, but the Goodall Institute shows there are other possibilities.
Although microfinance for conservation is nothing new, the project has inspired other organizations. In Uganda, a conservation project in Budongo Forest in Uganda, where 600 chimpanzees live, also started a microcredit project last year. There are lots of tree nurseries now around the Gombe reserve. New legislation means villagers have to reserve 10 percent of the land for conservation too, which has led to a green zone around the park and two green corridors to other chimp groups.
“So two years ago I sat looking out behind Gombe over hills that were totally bare; and now, thirty-foot trees. It was all green and I was crying because it worked. We do not know if the chimpanzees will use these corridors but it is their one chance for survival into the future because there are only about 100 of them and they need to get genetic exchange with other chimpanzee groups for long term viability.”
But the battle is not over for Jane Goodall: the small, grey-haired conservationist has now taken up the cause against the trade in bushmeat.
For full story, please see:



  1. Wildlife: World Bank President announces Wildlife Premium Market Initiative

Source: IISD, 8 December 2010

World Bank President Robert Zoellick announced a Wildlife Premium Market Initiative, which will provide additional incentives to protect endangered animals as part of financing for REDD+.
Speaking at an event titled "New Pathways and Partnerships to Advance REDD+" sponsored by “Avoided Deforestation Partners” during the Cancun (Mexico) Climate Change Conference, Zoellick explained that the Wildlife Premium Initiative will focus on species like tigers, lemurs, elephants, great apes and others that require large forest areas. The Wildlife Premium Market Initiative aims to complement REDD+ programmes by giving value to forest wildlife and make payments to local communities for wildlife protection.
Other speakers at the event, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Conservation International CEO Peter Seligmann, and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, stressed the need to act now to protect the world's forests. Zoellick also stressed that a formal decision on REDD+ in Cancun would help scale up efforts in forest conservation and wildlife protection, but that interested parties should proceed with actions in any event.
For full story, please see:




  1. Argentine shepherds, farmers protect forests from soy

Source: AFP, 10 December 2010

Some 20 families have been living for more than a month next to a highway outside Vilmer, some 1 000 km northwest of the capital Buenos Aires, and block the road once a day to show their discontent for the deforestation taking place."If they kick us off the land of our ancestors to plant soy, the only thing left for us is to go to the towns," said protest leader Guido Corvalan.
Argentina is the world's largest exporter of soybean oil, and large soy farmers are snapping up property even in the hilly rural province of Santiago del Estero, where land is cheap but conditions less than ideal for soy growing.
In the process they are clearing out the trees — especially the red quebracho (Schinopsis lorentzii), a tree native to the area between northern Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia. The thin, tall tree is known for its especially hard wood and for its extract, which is used for leather tanning.
Most of Argentina's soy production goes to China: Argentina supplies 70 percent of China's soybean oil imports (4.6 million tons in 2009), representing some US$2 billion a year.
The soy farmers are also evicting the local farmers and shepherds, many of whom have lived on the land for generations but have no ownership documents. The protesters say they are often threatened by thugs hired by large landowners. "Foreign companies and powerful Argentine corporations are coming to the region," said Luis Recio, another protester. "Their intention is to buy and buy. Or directly move to compulsory eviction." According to Recio, "the only thing left for us farmers is to resist. We only want to halt the illegal sale of land and protect the forests to keep our animals."
"I do not understand," said Omar Pranzoni, head of the local forestry department. "In five years the soy farmers may be lucky enough to get a crop only once."
Land however is cheap, about US$150/ha compared to US$10 000/ha in the damp soil pampa area further south, Pranzoni told AFP. "Those people who are clear cutting have no idea of what they are doing," said Pranzoni. "It takes 50 years to re-grow the forest."
By law, property owners need a special permit to cut down quebracho trees. But landowners get around the limits by surrounding their property with tall trees that block the view from outside, then unleashing the bulldozers.
Some 60 000 ha of land have been legally clear-cut in the province, Pranzoni said, a figure he believes is about one-sixth of the total land that has actually been razed.
For full story, please see:



  1. Australia: Patent fight erupts over Kakadu plum

Source:, 4 December 2010

The Australian government will soon rule on a controversial patent application by an American cosmetics giant to extract ingredients from the Kakadu plum (Terminalia ferdinandiana).
The company, Mary Kay of Texas, applied for the patent four years ago but, amid opposition from indigenous groups and Australian experts, the application was only recently submitted for examination to Intellectual Property Australia (IP), the office that oversees patents.
IP Australia said it would publish a preliminary report in the next few weeks. The native Kakadu plum acts as an antioxidant when applied to the skin. According to Mary Kay, "the combination of Kakadu plum extract and acai berry extract produce synergistic effects that are beneficial to skin".
Indigenous groups worry that the patent could prevent them from using the plum as traditional medicine. The Mirarr people say they have never been consulted about the patent application, which they strongly oppose. The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents the Mirarr, said people in the area had used the plum longer than anyone could remember.
"The Kakadu plum has been an important source of food and medicine for the Mirarr," it said. "It also features in oral histories and ‘dreaming’ stories."
Dr Daniel Robinson, of the University of New South Wales, said Mary Kay may have exploited a loophole in access and benefit sharing (ABS) laws. "Australia has a very well developed ABS system," he said, "but it appears the company has taken [plum samples] out of the country commercially, and so they have actually got around the ABS regime."
Mary Kay's Director of Communications, Crayton Webb, defended the company's use of the plum, insisting it followed "the process that is in place" in obtaining plum extracts. "We are using a local supplier, who has sourced and harvested the Kakadu plum with a licence, under government regulations," he said, declining to name the supplier.
The plum extract is already an ingredient in some of Mary Kay's Timewise line of products. "No one has ever used this fruit in a cosmetic formulation before," said Mr Webb, "so it makes sense to patent it to protect our idea."
Dr Robinson has filed a formal challenge to the patent with IP Australia, but pointed out that Mary Kay had not contravened any legislation.
The kakadu plum tussle erupted just weeks after an international row at a United Nations summit in Japan over access to genetic resources. After intense negotiations, the COP10 summit in Nagoya drew up the world's first internationally binding agreement to prevent ''biopiracy''.
The new regulations mean companies searching abroad for new genetic resources for drugs or cosmetics will have to enter into written agreements to share the benefits of any discoveries with indigenous people who may have rights over those resources.
Because the US is one of only three countries in the world not to have signed up to the Convention on Biodiversity, American companies such as Mary Kay can avoid this kind of scrutiny.
Indigenous groups have sent letters to IP Australia and to Mary Kay directly to express their concern about the patent on the Kakadu plum.
For full story, please see:



  1. Australia: Arcadian turpentine forest in good hands

Source: Hills News, 14 December 2010

The turpentine ironbark forest of the Sydney basin bioregion is under serious threat. Fewer than 200 ha are left of the original Sydney bushland.
A large part of the ecosystem is now receiving help from St Benedict's Monastery in Arcadia (40 km west of Sydney), to make sure the forest survives, expands and links with other forest areas. This year the Monastery partnered with the Hawkesbury-Nepean Catchment Management Authority and Hornsby Council and received AUD$30 000 funding.
The council's environmental scientist, Donna Fitton, said working with the monastery had been beneficial. "We had a vegetation-management plan done with the monastery that allowed us to work together on creating vegetation corridors and linking the monastery's land with the roadside stands of the forest," Ms Fitton said. The project was established after a community planting deed in which 30 volunteers gave up their time to plant several hundred trees.
"The first progress report shows the assignment is protecting the turpentine ironbark forest through weed removal, fencing to keep out grazing animals and rabbits, and planting the correct species, which have been grown in Hornsby Council's nursery," said Trish Smith, a catchment officer at the authority.
The monastery now holds monthly meetings of volunteers. They work with a bush-regeneration specialist, who will train them to correctly identify plants.
Bernard McGrath, from St Benedict's Monastery, said learning the correct and smarter ways of working had been important. "While we have had good intentions, we needed to learn the best approaches," he said. 
For full story, please see:



  1. Canada: Two provincial parks created in Manitoba

Source: CBC News (Canada), 1 December

The Manitoba government has created two new provincial parks to protect 610 000 ha of northern wilderness.
Colvin Lake and Nueltin Lake Parks feature pristine northern-transition forest habitat. "You only get one chance to protect pristine boreal forest and tundra. By protecting this land, we are preserving our wilderness heritage for future generations and supporting the growth of ecotourism while respecting the people who call the area home," Premier Greg Selinger said.
The Colvin Lake Provincial Park, known as the Land of Little Sticks, protects a total of 163 070 ha in the north-western corner of Manitoba. Nueltin Lake Provincial Park totals 447 190 ha. Nueltin, which is from the Chipewyan language and means sleeping island lake, straddles the Manitoba-Nunavut border. Both fall in an area of transition between boreal forest and tundra landscapes and are within the traditional territories of the Northlands Denesuline First Nation and Sayisi Dene First Nation.
The parks include numerous freshwater lakes, eskers and frost-heaved rock and boulder fields that make overland travel through the area challenging. The new parks provide habitat for diverse plant communities and wildlife species such as the Qamanirjuaq barren ground caribou herds, moose, black bear, wolverine, wolf, lynx, fox, river otter, weasel and mink.
A public consultation process led to the designation of the lands around Colvin Lake and Nueltin Lake as provincial parks under the wilderness land-use category, Selinger noted.
The rights of First Nations and other aboriginal people to access these areas for hunting, trapping, fishing and other traditional pursuits, however, will be respected and will continue, said Selinger.
For full story, please see:



  1. Democratic Republic of Congo: UN urges ban on oil drilling in gorilla park

Source: Reuters (UK), 26 November 2010

The United Nations' cultural arm UNESCO has appealed to Congolese President Joseph Kabila to guarantee there will be no oil exploration in the forest home of rare gorillas where two UK-listed firms hold drilling rights.
SOCO International and Dominion Petroleum were awarded a presidential decree to Block 5 of east Congo's Albertine Graben in June. Plans for a seismic survey include exploding dynamite, despite the fact that the rebel-heavy area overlaps with the protected Virunga National Park.
In a letter seen by Reuters, UNESCO chief Irina Bokova warned Kabila of "extremely damaging repercussions" of oil activity and asked him to ensure no exploration took place in the park, which is also home to chimpanzees, lions, elephants, and migratory birds so rare it has special wetland status.
"I call on you to guarantee that no oil exploration or production will be committed at the heart of the Virunga national park," she said in the letter dated 6 August , which noted past commitments by Congo to protect the World Heritage site.
Local environmentalists argue that any exploration would be contrary to Congo's own laws. "Congolese legislation does not authorize mineral and petrol production in national parks," said a 15 November letter seen by Reuters to Environment Minister Jose Endundo from the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN). It noted SOCO's environmental impact assessment, required by law, made no reference to the park's status as a protected zone.
Separately, a World Bank official said it and other donors were planning to express concern to the government and question how oil development was compatible with Congo's commitments. Calls to Kabila's office for comment went unanswered on Friday. However, Endundo played down the concerns. "We will do everything to preserve the park but the Congolese people also have to benefit from the riches under the soil," he told Reuters by telephone.
Endundo noted that if oil activities were excluded from the park, he might seek compensation along the lines of a pact signed by Ecuador in August, under which the Andean nation expects payments from rich nations in return for not drilling for oil in a wildlife reserve in the Yasuni National Park.
Operator SOCO, which has 38.25 percent of the block, and Dominion, with 46.75 percent, told Reuters in July they would start seismic exploration this year with a view to production after three years. Congo has the remaining share.
"I do not see any problem if it is done correctly," Roger Cagle, deputy CEO and chief financial officer for SOCO told Reuters by telephone, adding its partner Dominion was already working in Uganda's Queen Elizabeth National Park. "We have paid for the opportunity to explore a previously unexplored block; we are not expecting it to be a moving feast because it has not been sold to us as that," said Cagle, adding the company's presence could increase security of the park.
For full story, please see:



  1. Eritrea: Better honey production obtained in Adi-Keih sub-zone

Source:, 14 December 2010

Farmers engaged in bee farming in Adi-Keih sub-zone have obtained better honey production this year.
They explained that previously honey production was low due to lack of sufficient rainfall, and that the good rainy season this year has enabled them to obtain satisfactory production.
Each farmer possesses 10-20 modern beehives, which in turn is making due contribution in improving their living standard, they added.
Mr. Tesfai Gebrekidan, an expert in animal resources in the sub-zone, said that Demhina, Mesgolo-Zula, Egla and Sibiraso are some of the villages in Adi-Keih sub-zone that are renowned for honey production. Over 200 modern beehives and over 1 000 traditional beehives exist in the sub-zone, he added.
Mr. Tesfai further indicated that more than 1 300 Kg and 5 600 kg of honey was obtained this year from modern beehives and traditional ones respectively.
For full story, please see:


  1. Finland: Agreement reached with Sámi reindeer herders

Source:, 12 December 2010

The dispute between state-owned forestry company Metsähallitus and the Sámi reindeer herding cooperatives of Muotkatunturi, Muddusjärvi Hammastunturi and Paatsjoki over important grazing areas has lasted for years.
The agreement finally reached is a continuation to the one reached in Nellim area in 2009. Initially the dispute was about some 90 000 ha, a share of which already at that time was taken out of forestry use.
Negotiations started last spring. They have been carried out entirely by local people. In total, 43 000 ha have been set aside from forestry use for 20 years. In addition to this, restrictions for forest activities were erected for some areas. Multiple-use forestry is to be carried out on certain areas. The agreements will be put into force in connection with the renewing of Natural Resource Plan for state-owned lands of Upper Lapland.
“We have finally reached an agreement upon all our disputes between state-owned forestry and the reindeer herding in Inari municipality,” says Mr. Pertti Heikkuri, chief of forestry of Metsähallitus in Inari. He strongly believes that the solution will safeguard the future of both livelihoods in the area.
The effect of the agreement on logging still is not clear.
Mr. Jouni Lukkari, Chief of Hammastunturi Reindeer Herding Cooperative, is satisfied with the agreement. “Grazing areas important for us will be untouched by loggers,” says Lukkari, also a member of Sámi Parliament.
Greenpeace International was also involved in the campaign. Mr. Matti Liimatainen, former Chief of Greenpeace’s campaign in Upper Lapland, said the victory of reindeer herders and Greenpeace was “overwhelming”. Nevertheless, Greenpeace did not participate directly in the negotiations. Thus the extent to which Greenpeace’s campaign contributed to reaching the agreement is under debate.



  1. India’s Kashmiri saffron growers see red

Source:, 6 December 2010

Plagued by dwindling yield, lack of scientific crop management and shrinking cultivation space, saffron production in India’s Kashmir region is in a critical state. Worse, even six months after it was announced, the much-hyped Rs 376-crore National Saffron Mission is yet to initiate baby steps to boost production.
On average, Kashmir annually produces 12 500 kg of saffron (crocus stavia kashmiriana) — a prized and costly ingredient used in medicine and South Asian cuisine. Saffron is the dried reddish-purple stigma painstakingly collected from billions of flowers grown in autumn on 4 500 ha spread over 200 villages of the prosperous Pampore belt on the outskirts of Srinagar. Last year, the prices fetched a maximum of Rs 175 000/kg.
But the scenario is changing. Over the years, average production has halved, the cultivable land has shrunk to 3 600 ha and the prices are not picking up. This year, saffron is selling for Rs 120 000/kg in a slow market.
“Incessant drought periods in the past two decades, lack of scientific crop methodology and transformation of cultivable land into residential colonies have wreaked havoc on saffron production,” admits Chief Agriculture Officer Nigeen Ahmad Lone. Production was slightly better this autumn due to the weather, he says. Saffron is grown in parts of Budgam in central Kashmir and Kishtawar in Jammu province, but 74 percent of the saffron land is in Pampore and its periphery.
Agriculture Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir says that seed corms would be replanted in the entire area over the next three years. “Three-fourths of the cost will be borne by the Government,” he says.
Experts say the growers use archaic methods of randomly planting seed corms without replacement for 15-20 years. “We stress planting corms geometrically, recycling them every four years and introducing sprinkle irrigation methods,” says seed specialist Farooq Ahmad Mandoo.The four-year mission plans to establish 128 tube wells and distribute 3 715 sprinkle sets. “The Government will fully invest in bore wells, each costing around Rs 20 lakh, but the land has to be provided by farmers. The sprinkle sets would be given on 50 percent subsidy,” Mir elaborates.
Contraband is another major problem plaguing the cash crop. Last year, police seized a clandestinely-run factory where fake saffron was manufactured. The fake saffron was made by dyeing the corn fibre and marigold flower petals and subjecting it to numerous chemicals and anti-cold suspensions.
The shrinking of saffron land is another threat to the prized crop. “Though construction on saffron land is prohibited under the land revenue Act, the law is violated repeatedly” says lawyer Bashir Ahmad Malik, who owns a part of the saffron land. The growers in Pampore are eagerly waiting for the saffron mission to pick up speed. “It is our last ray of hope,” says Ghulam Qadir Bhat, a saffron grower from Pampore’s Tulbagh area.
For full story, please see:



  1. Indonesia: Historic Indonesian forest protection deal at risk from industry

Source: Greenpeace, 23 November 2010

A US$1 billion forest protection deal between Norway and Indonesia could help set Indonesia on a low-carbon development pathway and become a positive model for the rest of the world. It could clearly demonstrate that lowering carbon emissions to address climate change does not mean sacrificing economic growth and prosperity. What’s more, this prosperous low-carbon development does not need to come at the expense of Indonesia’s natural forests and peatlands.
But this deal is at risk. A report released by Greepeace — “Protection Money” —outlines how the deal is in danger of being undermined, unless action is taken to protect it from notorious industrial forest destroyers in the palm oil, paper and pulp sectors.  There is a potential that international money intended for the protection of Indonesia’s forests and peatlands could end up being used to support their destruction.
The money pledged by Norway is meant to support the Indonesian President’s commitment to lead global efforts in shifting to a low-carbon development model and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The deal includes a two-year moratorium on the allocation of carbon-rich peatlands and natural forests for industrial expansion, and could also include a review of the lands already held by various industries.
These industries, including palm oil, pulp and paper, have ambitious expansion plans. If these plans go ahead in their current form it could lead to the loss of 40 percent of Indonesia’s remaining natural forest as well as the loss of half of all remaining forested orang-utan habitat in Kalimantan. Not to mention the additional GHG emissions that would result from continued destruction of carbon-rich peatlands and forest.
Tragically, some of this destruction could actually go forward in the name of climate and forest protection if the negative influence of industry is not curbed. Industry who have interests in supporting business-as-usual are looking to rebrand industrial activities that drive deforestation as “rehabilitation of degraded” lands. This “degraded”’ land is often actually natural, carbon-rich forest or peatland merely given that label, as there is no clear definition of “degraded.”
Greenpeace is calling for immediate protection of all peatlands and a temporary halt on all further natural forest clearance, not only in new areas, but also in areas already held by industry.
Pak Heru, an Indonesian Minister from Indonesia’s REDD+ Task Force, at the conference for the release of Greenpeace’s Report “Protection Money”, gave some general updates on the REDD+ task force and its challenges before voicing his appreciation of Greenpeace’s work, and stating that he shares the same views.
He applauded the Report and Greenpeace’s efforts to expose some of the inconsistencies in government policy, and added that Greenpeace's position and commitment to save Indonesian forests is in line with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s vision.
As reported by AFP this morning, Greenpeace is very supportive of the deal between Indonesia and Norway, provided the issues raised in the report are addressed. 
At the press conference Heru also remarked that although a lot of work is required to save Indonesian forests, we need to be optimistic, ending his remarks with the Latin “Si vis pacem, para bellum”, meaning: “If you wish for peace, prepare for war.” Peace through strength, and forest protection through formidable policy, financial support and good governance.
For full story, please see:



  1. Nigeria: Government to create one million jobs from Moringa plant

Source:, 9 December 2010

The Federal Government has unveiled plans to generate over N500 billion as revenue from Moringa plant — Moringa oleifera — and create over one million jobs.
Moringa is popular in the northern and eastern parts of the country, used for food and medicines. The plant is believed to prevent over 300 diseases and could readily provide the substitute for the chemical used for water treatment, which the Federal Government spends about N354.5 million annually to import.
Peter Onwualu, Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of Raw Materials Research and Development Council, RMRDC, disclosed this at the 1st national summit on Moringa development.
RMRDC DG said the socio-economic benefits of developing the entire value chain of Moringa could not be quantified and could compete with earnings from crude oil. He maintained that more grants would be awarded to researchers and private industries towards Moringa development in 2011.
Muhammed Abubakar, Minister of Science and Technology, pointed out that modern science had, however, proven that the plant’s tiny leaves were packed with incredible nutrients, notably protein, vitamins and iron that could strengthen the body, provide immunity against HIV and AIDS and prevent other diseases.
The Minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Adefemi Olayinsade, said: “One key area that is already being targeted is the use of extracts from the plant seeds as natural coagulant for water treatment, especially for the rural communities where the lack of potable drinking water is posing serious challenges.”
Abubakar stressed that one of the objectives of the summit was to sensitize Nigerians and major stakeholders on the socio-economic potentials of the plant and show how it could be exploited to help the nation achieve growth and national development.
He added that the summit would also consider the various uses and products of the tree with presentations to cover areas of food security, nutritional supplements, medicine, water treatment and other chemicals, renewable energy, ornamentals and environmental concerns.
The Minister insisted that the plant had become even more relevant, considering what it could contribute to achieving some aspects of the MDGs, adding that the paradox of the plant was that it grows and thrives in parts of the world identified as poor, underdeveloped and developing, such as Asia, Africa, South America and the Caribbean countries.
For full story, please see:



  1. Oman: Sniffing out the Frankincense Coast

Source: Chicago Tribune, 12 December 2010

On a scraggly mountainside on the desolate coast of this small country in the southern Arabian Peninsula, a man in a white dishdasha and colourful scarf scrapes at the side of a tree and waits for the milky white sap to bleed droplets from the nicked bark.
In 10 days, he will return to the tree and collect the hardened rocks of aromatic resin — or tears, as they are called — take them to a cave and spread them on a ledge above a shaded dirt floor. After four months of curing, he will bundle the pieces, put them in bags on a camel and send them to the sea to follow ancient trade routes to Africa and India.
In a cramped wooden stall in the local incense market, frankincense and myrrh, resins tapped from a tree, are on display. Frankincense and myrrh are used in perfumes, burned as incense and made into medicinal ointments. They are deeply entrenched in Omani culture.
The Dhofar region of southern Oman is one of only three places in the world where a certain species of Boswellia tree produces the majority of the world's frankincense. The other two are Somalia and Yemen.
For generations since, frankincense has been harvested from these trees in Oman. Mohammed Mahaad Saheel bin Baafee lives about a 45-minute drive from Salalah, the ancient commercial centre of the south and the second-largest city in Oman after Muscat, the capital. The waterfront is called the Frankincense Coast, and its roots in the ancient spice trade are well documented. One frankincense port, Khor Rori, or Sumhuram, dates to 300 B.C.
The Museum of the Frankincense Land opened in 2007 in Salalah with two halls of exhibits that define the various grades of frankincense (silver and white are the most expensive, brown the least), display ancient incense burners unearthed in archaeological digs. Local guides in the region take tourists to the coastal belt and valleys, where the frankincense trees stand in sloppy formation at heights of 16 ft, soaking up the moist sea breezes and monsoon rains of the summer months. Women in traditional head scarves sort the dried resin by hand in the markets and offer it for sale. A clay burner, a handful of frankincense tears, a stick of charcoal, and a small bottle of lotion with frankincense extract, cost about US$3 total. Though it takes eight to 10 years for a frankincense tree to produce quality resin, his land is sufficiently covered to "rotate" the crop, says Bin Baafee.
For full story, please see:,0,6189143.story



  1. Rwanda: One-third forest cover coming seven years ahead of schedule

Source:, 1 December 2010

Rwanda expects to reach its goal of 30 percent forest cover in three years, according to the Minister for Forestry and Mines, Christophe Bazivamo. If achieved this would be seven years ahead of the government's pledge for 2020.
After Rwanda's forest cover hit a nadir of 10 percent, the government began an aggressive tree-planting campaign. According to Bazivamo, the program has succeeded in raising the percentage to around 20 percent by planting some 116 million trees with a 60 percent survival rate.
The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Forestry and Mines, Antoine Ruvebana, recently called on Rwandans to create a tree-planting culture, telling families and institutions to help bring back the nation's forests.
The government is currently planning to plant 44 million more trees by the end of 2011.
For full story, please see:



  1. UK: British Beekeepers' Association to stop endorsing bee-killing pesticides

Source: The Guardian, 16 November,

The British Beekeepers' Association has announced plans to end its controversial practice of endorsing pesticides in return for cash from leading chemical manufacturers.
The endorsement of four products as "bee-friendly" in return for £17 500 a year caused outrage among many beekeepers because one of the companies, Bayer Crop Science, makes pesticides that are widely implicated in the deaths of honeybees worldwide.
But the BBKA denies that it has bowed to pressure from members who have been increasingly critical of its stance. Bayer's clothianidin was identified as causing the death of two-thirds of honeybees in southern Germany in 2008.
In a statement sent out today to the secretaries of local beekeeping associations across the UK, the BBKA's president, Martin Smith, said: "Following discussion with the companies involved, the BBKA trustees have decided that endorsement and related product-specific payments will cease as soon as practically possible."
He added: "The four products subject to BBKA endorsement are of declining commercial importance and the development of new classes of pesticides and application techniques means that the relationship with the plant-protection industry should be reviewed."
Beekeeper Graham White, who resigned from the BBKA more than two years ago in protest at what he called a "secret deal done with the pesticide manufacturers whose products are lethal to bees", welcomed today's decision. "It is great news, but it is too little, too late," he said. "They should have been showing solidarity with beekeepers in France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia when pesticides were banned there after being implicated in bee deaths, instead of selling their logo to the manufacturers."
Smith defended its position then as one of "constructive engagement" to ensure pesticides were properly applied as per the instructions on the label to minimize damage to honeybees.
But the BBKA has not ruled out accepting funds in the future from pesticide companies. "The trustees may wish to invite companies to exhibit at the BBKA's spring convention or make a contribution to the BBKA research fund," said Smith.
"It is time to broaden the range of engagement with the crop-protection industry beyond the narrow focus of endorsing certain products; rather to contribute more directly to the development of new regulatory criteria for pesticide approval and to further support the industry in the general move to improve countryside stewardship," he added.
White says all ties to the pesticide industry should be immediately severed. "All of those who created and directed this policy of pesticide endorsement must be thrown out of the BBKA and replaced by real beekeepers. The BBKA is not fit for purpose and will never recover its moral integrity until it is reconstituted as a pure beekeeping organization that is willing to campaign against all use of systemic pesticides on British farms."
For full story, please see:



  1. UK: Scotland invests in green projects

Source: United Press International, 7 December 2010

The Scottish government has more than US$49 million set aside for forestry projects that will help protect the country's biodiversity, the Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said. The Government approved a plan to protect forests and wildlife as part of a broad-reaching rural plan, he added.
"Almost US$49.3 million in European Union and Scottish government funding has now been ploughed into Scotland's rural areas through rural priorities, safeguarding and creating thousands of jobs," he said in a statement.
He said the latest tranche of funding targets forestry projects in Scotland that will help the country meet its climate change targets and project its unique biodiversity and landscape. Lochhead said his country could lead the way in sustainable energy production, he said in a statement, and build not only a reputation as a conventional energy hub but also as a prime host for green energy developments.
For full story, please see:



  1. Vietnam: Aid for thousands in four poor provinces

Source: Vietnam News Agency 26 November 2010

Nearly 5 000 poor households in four provinces in Vietnam will be given a helping hand to increase income and job opportunities during the next two years. This is one of the main targets of a joint programme on green production and trade in Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Hoa Binh and Phu Tho provinces.
The US$4.1 million scheme has been organized by the Trade Promotion Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade and five UN organizations.
More than 40 percent of the beneficiaries have a monthly income of less than VND200 000 (US$10). "The four provinces were selected due to the high incidence of poverty, especially among ethnic minorities, the concentration of raw materials and local production of craft," said Do Kim Lang, Deputy Director of the Trade Promotion Department.
The Programme will focus on boosting five crafts based on bamboo ware, producing and weaving silk, sea grass, lacquer ware and handmade paper. "We want to help poor growers, collectors and producers to improve their products and link them to more profitable markets," said Lang.
Under the Programme, raw bamboo and rattan material will be managed, exploited and developed in a sustainable way. "Green here means that we will ensure environmental protection when exploiting raw materials, and ensure safe working condition for farmers," said Lang.
A total of 400 ha of bamboo belonging to 150 households have been involved in Chau Thang District in central Nghe An Province. More than 460 ha of rattan have also been planted in the four provinces. Local farmers have received training on planting, harvesting and processing.
Additionally, more than 500 people have already received basic training in making bamboo products. And more than 740 others have received advanced training to enable them to make complicated and fine art bamboo products. They have been provided with splitting machines and storage facilities.
Service providers will also help run advanced training in business development and invite foreign designers to develop new product ranges for bamboo and rattan.
For full story, please see:




  1. 35 000 new species “sitting in cupboards”

Source: Science Daily, 10 December 2010

Of the estimated 70 000 species of flowering plants yet to be described by scientists, more than half may already have been collected but are lying unknown and unrecognized in collections around the world, a new study suggests.
The lack of resources for collections of plant specimens — known as “herbaria” — and a lack of experts who can identify new species are leaving a vital reservoir of information about global biodiversity untapped, the study's authors believe. Their work shows that it currently takes on average 30-40 years from the time a flowering plant specimen is collected to it being recognized and described as a new species. A report of the research appears this week in PNAS.
“Many people think that discovering new species is primarily about expeditions to exotic locations and collecting new specimens, but the truth is that thousands of new plant species are lying unidentified in cupboards, drawers and cabinets around the world,” said Dr Robert Scotland of Oxford University's Department of Plant Sciences (England), an author of the report.
At the moment our knowledge of flowering plants is greater than our knowledge of almost any other group of organisms of comparable size — it is estimated that we know about 4 out of 5 species compared to knowing about only 1 in 10 species of insect, for example. Because flowering plants are found in every terrestrial habitat and every area of the globe they are a vital tool for monitoring biodiversity.
“Because people have been collecting plants from around the world since before Victorian times the job of identifying a new plant species is becoming harder every year as collections fill up and it becomes more difficult to spot the new species,” said Dr Scotland. “A lot of work needs to be done comparing specimens from different parts of the world, and eliminating any duplicates, before we can be sure that a plant is unique and describe it. At the moment there simply are not enough experts to do this.”
Herbaria consist of collections of dried plant specimens mounted on card and then filed away in cupboards and cabinets. Oxford University's Department of Plant Sciences has its own herbaria containing around one million specimens and for the study worked with colleagues from the Natural History Museum (London), Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Earthwatch Institute.
“Our own research into one particular genus of flowering plants, Strobilanthes, described 60 new species from specimens which had been sitting unexamined in herbaria for a long time,” said Dr Scotland. “We now know that this pattern of new species going unrecognized is repeated at the world's greatest plant collections, hindering efforts to monitor global biodiversity and measure the impact of human activity on plants and animals.”
For full story, please see:



  1. Biodiversity: More species means less disease

Source: Nature, 10 December 2010

Biodiversity protects ecosystems against infectious diseases, researchers have concluded. The finding suggests that loss of species from an environment could have dangerous consequences for the spread and incidence of infections, including those that affect humans.
Felicia Keesing, a biologist at Bard College in Annandale, New York (USA) and her colleagues reviewed several dozen studies published in the past five years and found that the link holds true across various ecosystems, pathogens and hosts. "A pattern is emerging which shows that biodiversity loss increases disease transmission," says Keesing, whose study is published today in Nature.
The researchers do not know why the effect occurs. But they speculate that species that are better at buffering disease transmission — for example because they have low rates of reproduction or invest heavily in immunity — tend to die out first when diversity declines, whereas species that have high rates of reproduction or invest less in immunity — and thus are more likely to be disease hosts — survive for longer.
The review analyses studies of 12 diseases, including West Nile fever and Lyme disease, in ecosystems around the world. In every study, the diseases became more prevalent as biodiversity was lost. For example, three studies showed that a decreased diversity of small mammals in an area causes the prevalence of hantaviruses — which induce fatal lung infections in humans — in host animals to rise, thereby increasing the risk to humans.
“The clear message is that we degrade ecosystems at our own peril.”
In one example, three separate investigations found strong links between low bird diversity and increased incidence of West Nile encephalitis in the United States.Communities with low bird diversity were dominated by species susceptible to the virus; this induced high infection rates in mosquitoes and people. By contrast, communities that were home to a greater range of birds contained many species that were not good hosts for the virus.
But when the researchers looked at how biodiversity affects the emergence of new pathogens, they found mixed results. One study concluded that the probability of pathogens jumping from wildlife to humans is actually higher in areas that are rich in biodiversity.
"Biodiversity could be a source of new diseases, but once a disease emerges, greater biodiversity is protective," says Keesing.
Keesing and her team reanalyzed the data in this disease-emergence study and found that almost half of the new diseases were connected with changes in human land use and agricultural and food production practices — including hunting bushmeat — all of which increase contact between people and wildlife. The team suggests that this greater interaction, rather than the rich biodiversity, could have caused the increased disease emergence.
"Preserving large intact areas and minimizing contact with wildlife would go a big step of the way to reducing disease," says Keesing.
"The review makes a strong case that biodiversity can help stop the spread of infectious diseases," says Will Turner, an ecologist and director of conservation priorities at Conservation International, a campaign group based in Arlington, Virginia.
For full story, please see:



  1. Bring back lost and degraded forests

Source: IUCN, 5 December 2010

Preliminary analysis shows that an estimated 1.5 billion ha of the world’s lost and degraded forests, an area almost the size of Russia, could be restored. This is the result of the latest global research, which now needs to be expanded at a national level to identify specific on the ground opportunities, says IUCN.
“Until recently scant attention has been paid to the world’s degraded forests,” says Stewart Maginnis, Director of Environment and Development at IUCN. “Now is the time to recognize the potential of restored forests to deliver the double benefit of removing CO2 from the atmosphere and helping lift people out of poverty. However, there is no one size fits all solution — each forest landscape is unique and needs its own individual restoration strategy.”
The analysis reveals that Africa and Asia hold the greatest promise, each with about 500 million ha of forest landscapes offering opportunities for forest restoration, according to IUCN.
The new analysis from the World Resources Institute, South Dakota University (USA) and IUCN, carried out for the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration (GPFLR) comes a month ahead of the launch of the UN’s International Year of Forests.
“Restoring the world’s lost and degraded forests is possible,” says Carole Saint Laurent, IUCN’s Senior Forest Policy Advisor. “Countries as diverse as China, Ghana, Mexico, India, the United Kingdom, the United States and many others have already embarked on ambitious forest restoration programmes.”
To download the full report, got to:



  1. Climate agreement reached in Cancun, Mexico

Source:, 13 December 2010

Ministers meeting in Cancun, Mexico reached a series of agreements that include measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a goal of limiting the global average temperature increase to 2°C, greater protections for forests, and a new U.N.-administered climate fund finance mitigation and adaptation activities in developing countries. While the "Cancun Agreement" did not set any binding targets, it lays the groundwork for a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
"Cancun has done its job. The beacon of hope has been reignited and faith in the multilateral climate change process to deliver results has been restored," said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres in a statement. "Nations have shown they can work together under a common roof, to reach consensus on a common cause. They have shown that consensus in a transparent and inclusive process can create opportunity for all."
In total 26 agreements were reached, including language that advances the REDD+ mechanism, which aims to compensate developing countries for protecting their forests. Although many of the details around REDD+ are still on the table, the text includes social and environmental “safeguards” and creates space for interim "sub-national" projects nested under national monitoring and reporting systems. The agreement does not address whether market-based mechanisms (e.g. carbon trading) can be used to finance REDD.
John O. Niles, director of the Tropical Forest Group, a forest policy group, said that while the outlook for market-based REDD remains uncertain, the agreement is a step forward for forest protection.
“The Cancun Agreement includes new decisions that encourage donors and the private sector to continue deploying billions of dollars for countries that lower rates of deforestation,” Niles said in a statement. “These decisions include clear signals that investing in tropical forest conservation will one day pay off.”
Lars Løvold, Director of Rainforest Foundation Norway, a group that has campaigned for careful safeguards in REDD, was also cautiously optimistic about the forest deal.
“If we compare the decision here on forests with what was on the table two years ago, important progress has been made,” said Løvold. “The decision reflects the growing understanding that a broad and participatory approach, based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and the many vital functions of forests, is needed to prevent deforestation and forest degradation.”
For full story, please see:



  1. EU Commission adopts Communication on honeybee health

Source: IISD, 6 December 2010

The EU Commission has adopted a communication providing for a series of specific actions aimed at better understanding the worldwide issue of high bee mortality, and at finding solutions to the problem.
The communication clarifies key issues related to bee health and outlines key actions the Commission intends to take to address them. It is intended as basis for further discussion with the EU Council and Parliament as well as member state authorities and stakeholders.
The Communication contains sections on: the EU bee keeping sector; problems affecting bee health; the EU animal health framework for bees; availability of veterinary medicines for bees; food safety aspects; pesticides; genetically modified organisms; protecting bees by addressing biodiversity loss; the common agricultural policy and bee health; research on bee health; communicating bee health issues; and links to international activities. The communication concludes that ongoing activities must be continued and where necessary enforced, and it announces that the Commission will initiate discussions in the appropriate fora to obtain feedback, encouraging all relevant stakeholders to participate in a constructive and transparent manner.
For full story, please see:



  1. International Year of Biodiversity honoured as Best Global Environmental Campaign

Source: IISD, 3 December 2010

With the slogan “Biodiversity is Life. Biodiversity is our Life,” the UN International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) won the coveted 2010 Award for best Green International Campaign, in recognition of the strength of a campaign that inspired activities throughout the world that showcase the value and beauty of biodiversity.
The award ceremony was held on 2 December 2010, in London’s Natural History Museum. The campaign for the International Year of Biodiversity encouraged people to learn about the biodiversity that surrounds them, to discover how it contributes to their lives and well-being, and to take actions that would ensure that it is preserved and used sustainably.        Throughout the year, activities were held around the world in 191 countries.  The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has served as the UN’s focal point for the Year.
For full story, please see:



  1. New Google Earth technology allows tracking of environmental changes

Source: Yale Environment 360, 3 December 2010

Google has unveiled an online technology that allows scientists and researchers to track and measure changes to the environment using 25 years worth of satellite data. Google Earth Engine, introduced during climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, utilizes "trillions of scientific measurements" collected by NASA’s LANDSAT satellite, the company said.
Google is already working on applications for tracking deforestation and mapping land use trends, including the creation of the most comprehensive scale map of Mexico’s forest and water resources ever made.
That project alone would have taken three years to process using a single computer, Google officials say, but took just one day using Google Earth Engine. "No one has ever been able to analyze that entire data set for Mexico, or even come close," said Rebecca Moore, the project’s engineering manager.
Google says it will offer 20 million CPU hours free to developing nations and scientific organizations to utilize the platform, which could emerge as a critical tool in the enforcement of such land management initiatives as the UN's REDD program in which wealthier nations pay developing nations to preserve rainforests.
For full story, please see:



  1. Scientists aim to map and save endangered habitats

Source: The Associated Press in the Washington Post, 5 December 2010

From mangrove swamps in Venezuela to lowland forests in Indonesia, entire communities of plants and animals are under threat. Now scientists are figuring out how to catalogue and map the world's most threatened ecosystems — just like their familiar list of endangered species.
Some experts say drawing up a global "Red List" of vanishing ecosystems would help them spot looming crises caused by everything from climate change to the cutting of forests, and would sharpen their focus on areas to conserve.
Along the shore of Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo, runoff filled with sediment and pesticides has been smothering animals that once lived among the roots of the mangrove trees, including crabs, fish hatchlings and shellfish, said Luz Esther Sanchez, a marine biologist and ecologist. She said saving the mangroves requires a comprehensive effort to reduce water pollution and halt the clearing of other forests upstream.
"Declaring the mangrove ecosystem threatened would be very useful for conservation," Sanchez said. "People stand up to defend dolphins. People stand up to defend turtles. But I have never seen them defend the mangrove forest with the same vehemence."
An international working group of biologists and conservation experts has been developing a system for classifying threats to ecosystems.
"If we can get a good, rigorous scientific system in place that is relatively easy to monitor worldwide ... you can follow these changes and describe them and ring the alarm bell where things might go wrong," said Dutch conservation expert Piet Wit. He chairs the Commission of Ecosystem Management of the IUCN, which maintains the Red List of thousands of threatened plants and animals worldwide.
Some scientists caution that agreeing on precise categories to divvy up habitats would be a monumental task. But many already agree on some ecosystems that are threatened or endangered, including many coral reefs, salt marshes, mountain habitats threatened by rising global temperatures, grasslands in southern Russia and Brazil's Atlantic forest.
Logging poses a serious threat to the lowland forests on Indonesia's Borneo Island that are home to endangered orangutans. In the Andes, expanding farmland has fragmented the cloud forests where spectacled bears live.
"You usually get ecosystem decline occurring first, and then species decline later on," said Jon Paul Rodriguez, a conservation biologist at the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research who is leading the IUCN working group. He and 20 other experts laid out their proposals in an article published online by the journal Conservation Biology in November.
The list of habitats devastated by people has been growing. North American tall grass prairies have largely vanished, along with the game animals that once thrived in them. Some rivers, such as the Rio Grande, have been strangled by heavy pumping and now barely reach the sea.
Today, some efforts to save threatened species appear to be working. One study released in October by a large international team of researchers found that efforts to save endangered animals are making a difference for dozens of species. The report concluded that the overall march toward extinction would have been about 20 percent faster if no conservation steps had been taken.
"Species Red Lists have already been a huge policy success, so there is reason to think that ecosystem Red Lists could be too, and could complement them," said Kathryn Rodriguez-Clark, an ecology and conservation specialist at the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research who is part of the IUCN effort.
For full story, please see:



  1. Swedish-led team “rewrites” Amazon history

Source:, 1 December 2010

The history of the Amazon rainforest's huge biodiversity dates back further than previously thought, suggests a discovery made by researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
"With the results we present in this article, we have rewritten the entire history of Amazonia in terms of the development of its biodiversity," Alexandre Antonelli of the University's Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences and scientific curator at the Gothenburg Botanical Garden said in a statement on the team's findings.
While researchers have long suspected that the diversity of the Amazonian rainforest was influenced by the Andes, the causal links have remained the subject of debate. The new findings put to rest a debate that has persisted over the last 40 years concerning the origins of the Amazon rainforest.
"This settles old debates and is the final say on this," Antonelli told The Local on Wednesday.
Brazilian native Antonelli and Carin Hoorn of the University of Amsterdam led the team, which — over the past year and a half — compared  the pattern of modern biodiversity in the Amazon with geological and molecular data spanning the last 65 million years following the separation of South America from Africa and the extinction of the dinosaurs.
"We suspected from some scattered fossils and dated species trees that the Amazonian diversity arose after the separation from Africa, so we looked at the whole period," explained Antonelli.
Antonelli focused his research on coordinating a survey of DNA-based studies of relationships between plants and animals and came up with some interesting results. "We have examined hundreds of scientific publications and have found that very few of the genera are as young as people thought."
The results of the research show that the greatest biodiversity is found in connection with the Andes, an area that formed when the tectonic plates along the Pacific coast were pressed together to create the mountain range.
The new mountains had a major impact on the environment, changing living conditions fundamentally for plants and animals in the Amazon rainforest, Antonelli said. The restructuring of the earth's crust changed the large wetland areas found in the northern part of South America, which dried up as the Amazon River formed. In turn, this opened up new land for colonization by plants and animals.
"We were surprised that there was such a strong link between the formation of the Andes and the diversity in Amazonia. The area was considered a kind of paradise where evolution could take place undisturbed, but this has not been the case at all — a lot has happened in the region," said Antonelli.
"Species go extinct. They do that all the time, but they are replaced by new species. We do know there has been a lot of extinction and habitat destruction, but extinction rates are much higher now than they have ever been as a result of human influence excluding mass extinction events," Antonelli told The Local.
For full story, please see:



  1. UNFF celebrates upcoming International Year of Forests 2011

Source: IISD, 8 December 2010

The UN Forum on Forests (UNFF), together with IUCN and the Clinton Climate Initiative Forestry Program, organized an event titled "International Year of Forests 2011: Forests for People" at the Cancun Climate Change Conference in Mexico, celebrating the upcoming International Year of Forests 2011 and its theme of “Forests for People.”
Jan McAlpine, Director, UNFF, explained that the first panel was hosted by the Clinton Climate Initiative Forestry Program. Stephen Devenish, Clinton Foundation, noted that his Foundation has set up a number of projects on REDD+ around the world, which strive for simultaneous sustainable forest management and poverty elimination.
Chea Sam Ang of Cambodia, discussed linking community-based natural resource management to carbon markets in Cambodia. He said his government supports REDD+ implementation with at least 50 percent of net benefits going to local communities.
Yetti Rusli, Ministry of Forestry on Environment and Climate Change, Indonesia, described national initiatives on forests and climate change, emphasizing that it is possible to involve small polluters and villages. She noted the need to scale-up finance.
Salvador Anta of Mexico, discussed his country’s projects on forests and climate, highlighting the “ProÁrbol” programme, and the recently created commission for climate change.
McAlpine explained that the second panel was sponsored by the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration. Stewart Maginnis, Forest Conservation Programme, IUCN, stressed the potential for landscape restoration to deliver triple benefits for climate change by: reducing emissions; sequestering carbon; and helping rural people adapt to climate impacts. He cited a recent study that indicates that the level of livelihood dependence on forests is constantly underestimated and highlighted a recent IUCN project in Tanzania that delivered benefits for forests, agro-forestry, food security, climate and women.
Cao Duc Phat, Vietnam, said his country is severely impacted by climate change, and highlighted a recent initiative on payments for forests, which provides opportunities for poor people to improve livelihoods by managing forests sustainably.
John Liu, Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP), presented a short film made up of several of the films he is working on around the world. He noted his films document ecosystem function, dysfunction and best management practices around the world.
For full story, please see:




  1. Request for contributions to the next issue of Non-wood News

From: Tina Etherington, FAO’s NWFP Programme

We are seeking contributions on any aspect of NWFP for inclusion in the next issue of Non-wood News.
Articles can be in French, Spanish or English and should be no longer than 500 words. Please send your contributions to [email protected] by 15 January 2011.
Past issues of Non-wood News are available from the NWFP home page:



  1. Reminder: Request for information: Siltimur (Zanthoxylum oxyphyllum),

From: Prabhat Pal, [email protected] (through nepaleseforesters list)

I am 1st year student doing Master of Science in Forestry at Institute of Forestry, Pokhara. I am trying to make a monograph for the Siltimur (Zanthoxylum Oxyphyllum), Lek timur, Boke timur and so on. Although I have reviewed numerous sources, I am unable to find much literature on it, as most of the sources focus on Zanthoxylum armatum. If you have any sources related to Zanthoxylum oxyphylum, please do pass them on. Your help on any of the following topics will be greatly appreciated: (a) species description; (b) characteristics; (c) distribution; (d) nursery; (5epropagation; (f) harvesting technique (pre and post); (g) processing; (h) uses; (i) parts use; (j) method of use; (k) ethnobotany.
Prabhat Pal
MSc. Forestry
Institute of Forestry
Pokhara, Nepal




REMINDER: IASC 2011: Sustaining Commons, Sustaining Our Future
Hyderabad, India
10-14 January 2011
The 13th Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) will be held from 10-14 January, 2011. The Conference is being held in South Asia for the first time; and will be hosted by the Foundation for Ecological Security (FES).
The Conference provides a unique opportunity to resurface the discussion and debate on Commons and bring experience and evidence from across the world to show that Commons are not a relic of the past, but play a strategic role in maintaining ecological health, reducing poverty, and improving collective action. By placing the Conference agenda in the ongoing discussions around conservation, local governance, social exclusion and human rights, agrarian distress and rural livelihoods, and by pitching it at the interface of policy, research and practice, the aim is to bring practitioners, scholars and decision makers to a common meeting ground so as to enrich the collective understanding on common property resources and identify areas and measures to inform policy and programmatic action as well as guide future research.
These issues will be discussed under the following sub-themes:  The Commons, Poverty and Social Exclusion; Governance of the Commons: Decentralization, Property Rights, Legal Framework, Structure and Organization; The Commons: Theory, Analytics and Data; Globalisation, Commercialisation and the Commons; Managing the Global Commons: Climate Change and other Challenges; Managing Complex Commons (Lagoons, Protected Areas, Wetlands, Mountain Areas, Rangelands, Coastal Commons); New Commons (Digital Commons, Genetic Commons, Patents, Music, Literature etc).
For more information, please contact:
Jagdeesh Puppala
Conference Co-chair
Foundation for Ecological Security
PB No. 29, Anand- 388001
Gujarat, INDIA
Tel: +91 (2692) 261402 
Fax: 91 (2692) 262087, 262196
E-mail: [email protected]



Western Huckleberry Forum
College of the Rockies, Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada
22-23 February 2011
Huckleberries are a key component of local ecosystems, cultures and economies in communities throughout western North America.  With fire suppression and changes in the logging industry, huckleberry pickers and natural resource managers have noted declines in the abundance and productivity of the huckleberry throughout its range.
On 22-23 February, a diverse group of resource managers and researchers will share their knowledge on: habitat restoration, forestry and huckleberries, huckleberries and wildlife, historical ecology, fire ecology and ethnoecology.
Registration opens mid-December 2010.
For more information, please contact:
Andra Forney
c/o Environmental Studies
University of Victoria
PO Box 3060 STN CSC
Victoria BC V8W 3R4
Tel: 250-853-3297
E-mail: [email protected]  




44.       Unasylva on Forests, People and Wildlife
From: FAO’s NWFP Programme

FAO’s latest issue of Unasylva examines strategies for the successful coexistence of forests, people and wildlife. It addresses challenges of balancing conservation and use of plant and animal biodiversity in forest settings, particularly where people’s lives and livelihoods and species survival are at stake.
For more information, please see:



45.       Environment State and Outlook Report for Europe released
From: European Environment Agency, 30 November 2010

The European Environment Agency (EEA) released today its fourth Environment State and Outlook report — SOER 2010 — a comprehensive assessment of how and why Europe’s environment is changing, and what we are doing about it. SOER 2010 concludes that a fully integrated approach to transforming Europe to a resource-efficient green economy can not only result in a healthy environment, but also boost prosperity and social cohesion.
For more information, please see:



46.       Other publications of Interest
From: NWFP Programme

Anton, C., Young, J., Harrison, P.A., Musche, M., Bela, G., Feld, C.K., Harrington, R., Haslett, J.R., Pataki, G., Rounsevell, M.D.A., Skourtos, M., Sousa, J.P., Sykes, M.T., Tinch, R., Vandewalle, M., Watt, A., and Settele, J. 2010. Research needs for incorporating the ecosystem service approach into EU biodiversity conservation policy. Biodivers. Conserv. 19(10):2979-2994.

Carvalheiro, L.G., Seymour, C.L., Veldtman, R., and Nicolson, S.W. 2010. Pollination services decline with distance from natural habitat even in biodiversity-rich areas. J. Appl. Ecol. 47(4):810-820.

Colyvan, M., Justus, J., and Regan, H.M. 2010. The natural environment is valuable but not infinitely valuable. Conserv. Lett. 3(4):224-228.

DeCesare, N.J., Hebblewhite, M., Robinson, H.S., and Musiani, M. 2010. Endangered, apparently: the role of apparent competition in endangered species conservation. Anim. Conserv. 13(4):353-362.

Feld, C.K., Sousa, J.P., da Silva, P.M., and Dawson, T.P. 2010. Indicators for biodiversity and ecosystem services: towards an improved framework for ecosystems assessment. Biodivers. Conserv. 19(10):2895-2919.

Francis, C.M., Borisenko, A.V., Ivanova, N.V., Eger, J.L., Lim, B.K., Guillén-Servent, A., Kruskop, S.V., Mackie, I., and Hebert, P.D.N. 2010. The role of DNA barcodes in understanding and conservation of mammal diversity in Southeast Asia. PLoS ONE 5(9):e12575.

Guo, Z.W., Zhang, L., and Li, Y.M. 2010. Increased dependence of humans on ecosystem services and biodiversity. PLoS ONE 5(10):e13113.

Johns. 2010. Adapting Human Societies to Conservation. Conservation Biology: 24 (3); 641-643.

Keesing, F. et al. 2010. Impacts of Biodiversity on the emergence and transmission of infectious diseases. Nature 468, 647-652.

Meijaard, E., Albar, G., Nardiyono, Rayadin, Y., Ancrenaz, M., and Spehar, S. 2010. Unexpected ecological resilience in Bornean orangutans and implications for pulp and paper plantation management. PLoS ONE 5(9):e12813.

Michalski, F., Norris, D., and Peres, C.A. 2010. No return from biodiversity loss. Science 329(5997):1282.

Pettorelli, N., Gordon, I.J., Katzner, T., Gompper, M.E., Mock, K., Redpath, S., Garner, T.W.J., and Altwegg, R. 2010. Protected areas: the challenge of maintaining a strong backbone for conservation strategies worldwide. Anim. Conserv. 13(4):333-334.

Simaika and Samways. 2010. Biophilia as a Universal Ethic for Conserving Biodiversity. Conservation Biology: 24 (3); 903-906.




47.       European Butterfly populations plummet as meadows and grasslands decline
Source: Yale Environment News 360, 10 December 2010

Grassland butterfly populations across Europe have fallen by 70 percent in the past two decades, according to new report from Butterfly Conservation Europe. Relying on data from 3 000 sites in 15 countries, the study said the main cause of the decline was the switch from sustainable, small-scale agriculture to more intensive, industrial-scale farming, which tends to wipe out the flower-filled meadows and grasslands where butterflies thrive.
Europe’s grasslands have been formed, in part, by livestock grazing and hay production since the last Ice Age, and the abandonment of these traditional practices, as well as overgrazing, also is playing a role in the drop in butterfly populations, the study said. The report said that the decline of small-scale agriculture was particularly acute in Eastern Europe and in mountainous regions, such as the Pyrenees. The decline of bumblebees, spiders, birds, and several types of plants and flowers is also believed to be linked to the loss of European grasslands.
For full story, please see:



  1. UK: Gene bank for rare fruit species

Source: BBC, 7 December 2010

A special orchard, containing rare species of fruit trees, is being planted in Worcestershire. England. The 2 ha orchard is being planted with around 170 trees of different traditional varieties of fruit that were grown in the Wyre Forest.
It is hoped that the "gene bank" orchard will ensure the survival of rare fruit trees for future generations. The trees being planted include perry pears, plums, quince, medlar, and varieties of cherry, such as Elton, Blackeagle and White Heart. The orchard is being created as part of the Landscape Partnership Scheme, which is led by the Forestry Commission.
Saul Herbert, of the Wyre Landscape Partnership, said: "We have researched old records and heard from people reminiscing about what fruit used to grow in this region, and that has enabled us to produce a definitive list of fruit varieties that used to grow in the Wyre Forest.  "The Wyre Forest region was a massive fruit growing area for more than 150 years, as the orchards here produced fruit for towns and cities, like Birmingham."
The number of orchards began to decline after World War II, as people's tastes changed and more housing estates were built.
According to Saul Herbert, there are also biodiversity benefits from the planting of the new orchard: "Traditional trees age more quickly than modern fruit bushes — this means they get signs of decay quicker, such as hollowing out and dead wood.”
"This is fantastic for biodiversity — in particular for rare species such as the noble chafer beetle. The fallen fruit is also good for birds and insects — orchards in general are great for biodiversity."




This list is for information related to any aspect of non-wood forest products.

Cross-postings related to non-wood forest products are welcome.

Information on this mailing list can be reproduced and distributed freely as long as they are cited.

Contributions are edited primarily for formatting purposes. Diverse views and materials relevant to NWFPs are encouraged. Submissions usually appear in the next issue. Issues are bi-monthly on average.

To join the list, please send an e-mail to: [email protected] with the message:
subscribe NWFP-Digest-L

To make a contribution once on the list, please send an e-mail to the following address: [email protected]

To unsubscribe, please send an e-mail to: [email protected] with the message:
unsubscribe NWFP-Digest-L

For technical help or questions contact [email protected]


Your information is secure--We will never sell, give or distribute your address or subscription information to any third party.


The designations employed and the presentation of materials in the NWFP-Digest-L do not necessarily imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.


NWFP-Digest-L Sponsor:
Non-Wood Forest Products Programme
Forestry Department
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome, Italy
Fax: +39-06-570-55618
Web site NWFP programme:


last updated:  Thursday, May 3, 2012