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NEWS AND NOTES NON-WOOD NEWS No. 15 July 2007 13 BIODIVERSITY AND THE DIETS AND HEALTH OF FOREST DWELLERS Most societies recognize that food, medicine and health are interrelated. Food is typically associated with cultural identity and social well-being. Indigenous peoples’ foods form part of rich knowledge systems. Traditional food systems typically draw on local biodiversity and are based on local production and management of land and specific environments. Ethnobiological literature documents the historical and current importance of an array of resources consumed by communities living in and around the world’s forests. It also demonstrates the richness of the traditional knowledge of indigenous and local communities related to the gathering and hunting of plant and animal foods and the medicinal value of forest species. From a wide range of ecosystems, some 7 000 of the earth’s plant species have been documented as gathered or grown for food, and thousands more have medicinal properties. From a nutritional perspective, forest environments offer ample sources of animal (vertebrate and invertebrate) protein and fat, complemented by plant- derived carbohydrates from fruits and tubers and they provide diverse options for obtaining a balance of essential vitamins and minerals from leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and other plant parts. Although many forest types have scant wild sources of carbohydrates, this lack can be overcome through forest-based agricultural production of cereals (such as maize), roots and tubers (such as cassava and yams) or bananas. Similarly, traditional cultivation systems drawing on agrobiodiversity can make adequate food available in spite of potential intermittent and seasonal shortages of many forest foods. Thus forest food resources can provide a valuable safety net when there is a shortage of food crops. Undoubtedly forest biodiversity is the basis of nutritional sufficiency for some populations. Forest products such as the fruits of Mauritia vinifera and other Brazilian palms rich in provitamin A (beta- carotene and other carotenoids), are recognized as exceptional nutrient sources. However, the nutrient composition of most wild species and minor crops has been poorly studied. Links between food and health are increasingly understood in terms of the functional benefits provided by phytochemicals, including numerous carotenoids and phenolics, apart from their value as essential nutrients. Stimulants of immunity and antioxidant, glycaemic and lipidaemic agents can moderate communicable and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular illness. Guava, for example, is rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which has recognized anticancer properties. Many nuts have a high content of specific oils such as omega-3 fatty acids (walnuts) and mono-unsaturated fatty acids (almonds, macadamias, pistachios, hazelnuts) that reduce the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases. Argan nuts (Argania spinosa) from the southwestern part of Morocco offer similar benefits, but many forest species with commercial potential have not been characterized for their specific fatty acid composition. The leaves of many forest species are rich sources of xanthophylls that contribute to optimal eye function. Examples include leaves of Gnetum spp. and Adansonia digitata (baobab), which are widely eaten in sub-Saharan Africa, and Cnidoscolus acontifolius, which is locally important as a vegetable in Central America. While these kinds of functional properties of foods are seldom recognized by local communities without the benefit of scientific analyses, people often attribute value in treating or preventing disease to particular foods. Indeed the distinction between food and medicine that characterizes scientific perspectives stands in contrast with traditional concepts of health that recognize the therapeutic and sustaining values of food more holistically. The widespread use of roots, barks and other forest plant parts as medicines appears to offer public health benefits, but these are difficult to validate scientifically. Ethnobotanical studies in tropical forest areas typically document knowledge of hundreds of species within local communities and the widespread use of plants in primary health care. Much of the recorded data on the use of medicinal plants are anecdotal and idiosyncratic, and their specific contribution to the health of individuals cannot be effectively evaluated without controlled investigations. Ethnopharmacological research, including clinical studies, demonstrates the efficacy of many traditional remedies while failing to substantiate the pharmacological value of many others. Long-term epidemiological studies would be needed to confirm the contribution of specific remedies, phytomedicines or foods to the health of populations. Even these remain inadequate to measure the efficacy and contributions of traditional healing practices to physical and mental health. Nonetheless, for forest-based societies that draw on traditional knowledge for most of their subsistence needs, the use of a diversity of resources can be expected to contribute to health. Although many traditional subsistence systems depend on one or more staples such as cassava, sago, rice or maize, these diets are kept diverse and balanced through small but complementary amounts of animal-source foods including birds, fish, insects and molluscs, as well as sauces, condiments, snacks and beverages obtained from plants. (Source: Unasylva, 57(224): 34–36.) % “Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFPs) consist of goods of biological origin other than wood, derived from forests, other wooded land and trees outside forests.” «Les produits forestiers non ligneux sont des biens d’origine biologique autres que le bois, dérivés des forêts, des autres terres boisées, et des arbres hors forêts.» «Productos forestales no madereros son los bienes de origen biológico distintos de la madera derivados de los bosques, de otras tierras boscosas y de los árboles fuera de los bosques.» (FAO’s working definition) Adansonia digitata


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NON-WOOD NEWS No. 15 July 2007



Most societies recognize that food,medicine and health are interrelated. Foodis typically associated with cultural identityand social well-being. Indigenous peoples’foods form part of rich knowledge systems.Traditional food systems typically draw onlocal biodiversity and are based on localproduction and management of land andspecific environments.

Ethnobiological literature documentsthe historical and current importance of anarray of resources consumed bycommunities living in and around theworld’s forests. It also demonstrates therichness of the traditional knowledge ofindigenous and local communities relatedto the gathering and hunting of plant andanimal foods and the medicinal value offorest species. From a wide range ofecosystems, some 7 000 of the earth’splant species have been documented asgathered or grown for food, and thousandsmore have medicinal properties.

From a nutritional perspective, forestenvironments offer ample sources ofanimal (vertebrate and invertebrate)protein and fat, complemented by plant-derived carbohydrates from fruits andtubers and they provide diverse options forobtaining a balance of essential vitaminsand minerals from leafy vegetables, fruits,nuts and other plant parts. Although manyforest types have scant wild sources ofcarbohydrates, this lack can be overcome

through forest-based agriculturalproduction of cereals (such as maize), rootsand tubers (such as cassava and yams) orbananas. Similarly, traditional cultivationsystems drawing on agrobiodiversity canmake adequate food available in spite ofpotential intermittent and seasonalshortages of many forest foods. Thus forestfood resources can provide a valuablesafety net when there is a shortage of foodcrops. Undoubtedly forest biodiversity isthe basis of nutritional sufficiency for somepopulations. Forest products such as thefruits of Mauritia vinifera and otherBrazilian palms rich in provitamin A (beta-carotene and other carotenoids), arerecognized as exceptional nutrient sources.However, the nutrient composition of mostwild species and minor crops has beenpoorly studied.

Links between food and health areincreasingly understood in terms of thefunctional benefits provided byphytochemicals, including numerouscarotenoids and phenolics, apart from theirvalue as essential nutrients. Stimulants ofimmunity and antioxidant, glycaemic andlipidaemic agents can moderatecommunicable and non-communicablediseases such as diabetes, cancer andcardiovascular illness. Guava, for example,is rich in the antioxidant lycopene, whichhas recognized anticancer properties.Many nuts have a high content of specificoils such as omega-3 fatty acids (walnuts)and mono-unsaturated fatty acids(almonds, macadamias, pistachios,hazelnuts) that reduce the risk ofcardiovascular and other diseases. Argannuts (Argania spinosa) from thesouthwestern part of Morocco offer similarbenefits, but many forest species withcommercial potential have not beencharacterized for their specific fatty acidcomposition. The leaves of many forestspecies are rich sources of xanthophyllsthat contribute to optimal eye function.Examples include leaves of Gnetum spp.and Adansonia digitata (baobab), which arewidely eaten in sub-Saharan Africa, andCnidoscolus acontifolius, which is locallyimportant as a vegetable in CentralAmerica.

While these kinds of functionalproperties of foods are seldom recognizedby local communities without the benefit ofscientific analyses, people often attributevalue in treating or preventing disease toparticular foods. Indeed the distinctionbetween food and medicine that

characterizes scientific perspectivesstands in contrast with traditional conceptsof health that recognize the therapeuticand sustaining values of food moreholistically.

The widespread use of roots, barks andother forest plant parts as medicinesappears to offer public health benefits, butthese are difficult to validate scientifically.Ethnobotanical studies in tropical forestareas typically document knowledge ofhundreds of species within localcommunities and the widespread use ofplants in primary health care. Much of therecorded data on the use of medicinalplants are anecdotal and idiosyncratic, andtheir specific contribution to the health ofindividuals cannot be effectively evaluatedwithout controlled investigations.Ethnopharmacological research, includingclinical studies, demonstrates the efficacyof many traditional remedies while failingto substantiate the pharmacological valueof many others. Long-term epidemiologicalstudies would be needed to confirm thecontribution of specific remedies,phytomedicines or foods to the health ofpopulations. Even these remain inadequateto measure the efficacy and contributionsof traditional healing practices to physicaland mental health.

Nonetheless, for forest-based societiesthat draw on traditional knowledge formost of their subsistence needs, the use ofa diversity of resources can be expected tocontribute to health. Although manytraditional subsistence systems depend onone or more staples such as cassava, sago,rice or maize, these diets are kept diverseand balanced through small butcomplementary amounts of animal-sourcefoods including birds, fish, insects andmolluscs, as well as sauces, condiments,snacks and beverages obtained fromplants. (Source: Unasylva, 57(224): 34–36.)


“Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFPs)consist of goods of biological originother than wood, derived from forests,other wooded land and trees outsideforests.”«Les produits forestiers non ligneuxsont des biens d’origine biologiqueautres que le bois, dérivés des forêts,des autres terres boisées, et des arbreshors forêts.»«Productos forestales no madererosson los bienes de origen biológicodistintos de la madera derivados de losbosques, de otras tierras boscosas y delos árboles fuera de los bosques.»

(FAO’s working definition)

Adansonia digitata



NON-WOOD NEWS No. 15 July 2007



Brazil regains açaí trademark from Japan Açaí once again belongs to Brazil. Thistypical fruit from Amazonia was registeredin Japan in 2003 as a trademark of the K.K.Eyela Corporation. Early this month, theGenetic Heritage Department of theMinistry of the Environment stated that theaçaí trademark had been cancelled byorder of the Japan Patent Office, the agencyresponsible for trademarks in Japan. Thedecision is not final – the company still has30 days in which it can file an appeal. If thecompany fails to counterclaim thetrademark, the case is closed.

The Government has produced a long listof 3 000 scientific names of plants ofBrazilian biodiversity, together with theircommon names, which swells the list to 5 000 names, and has distributed it totrademark registrars throughout the worldin order to prevent another case like thisone appearing. (Source: O Estado de SãoPaulo, 21 February 2007.)

Es hora de registrar los conocimientostradicionales de Bolivia para enfrentar a la biopiratería El Servicio Nacional de PropiedadIntelectual (SENAPI) se ha propuestosistematizar y registrar los conocimientostradicionales, las expresiones del folklore,los ritos y rituales e inclusive la artesaníaboliviana con el fin de proteger estosaportes históricos de las comunidadesindígenas que corren el riesgo defragmentarse, desaparecer o hastasucumbir ante la biopiratería.

En su milenaria convivencia con sushábitats, los pueblos indígenas y campesinoshan ido desarrollado experienciassostenibles de manejo de los recursosnaturales, y sobre todo han aprendido a darvarios usos a las especies de animales yvegetales. Los conocimientos tradicionalesestán estrechamente vinculados a la nociónde territorio.

El consultor de la Organización Mundialde Propiedad Intelectual (OMPI) JavierCorro fue contratado por el SENAPI pararealizar un diagnóstico sobre la protecciónde este tipo de conocimientos en Boliviacon el objetivo de crear, a mediano y largoplazo, una Unidad de Registro deConocimientos Tradicionales.

Se trata de una titánica labor tomandoen cuenta que en Bolivia habitan más de 30

grupos étnicos, los cuales poseenidentidades culturales diversas y variasformas de relación con el territorio y labiodiversidad. En términos biológicos,Bolivia es un país megadiverso.Existenmás de 14 mil especies catalogadas sólo enplantas vasculares, es decir plantassuperiores y no se sabe cuántas de éstasplantas tienen relación cultural conpoblaciones humanas. Fuente: Bolpress, La Paz, 27 de febrero2007.

Hands off our genes, say Pacific islanders Pacific islanders are demanding the powerto restrict patenting of their human, plantand animal genes, even if they run foul ofinternational patent laws. A new bookdocuments 16 “acrimonious” encountersbetween scientific researchers andindigenous communities and calls forPacific states to take a united approach togaining control over such patents in theregion.

The book, Pacific genes and life patents,is published by the internationalindigenous activist group Call of the Earthand the United Nations University in Tokyo.Coeditor of the book, Aroha Mead of theVictoria University of Wellington in NewZealand, says that lack of regulation andknowledge about the latest genetictechnologies and intellectual patent lawhas made the region a major target forcommercial gene hunters. The book says amajor problem is that communitiesinvolved in research often do not giveinformed consent.

Scientific research and patenting mayoffend deeply held cultural values, sayscoeditor Dr Steven Ratuva, of the Universityof the South Pacific in Fiji. He says thatpatents on genes in medicinal plantsconflict with the traditional view that theseplants are common property, available for

all. While fair compensation for exploitingindigenous knowledge can be important,there are other issues at stake, saysRatuva. “It's not only a matter of money,”he says. “There are certain aspects of theculture which a lot of communities thinkcannot be bought or sold.” He says thatrecognition of local people's world viewmust be part of the process in working outany patent or bioprospecting agreements.

Pacific genes and life patents can bedownloaded from: www.earthcall.org/en/publications/index.html (Source: ABCScience Online, 20 March 2007.)

China moves to protect traditionalknowledge Legislators in southwest China's Guizhouprovince are mulling a regulation aimed atprotecting property rights for traditionalknowledge, especially that relating tobiological resources.

For centuries the Miao ethnic group insouthwestern China extracted herbalremedies to combat colds, coughs andpneumonia from a type of grass calledguanyin cao. But their failure to patent theirtraditional knowledge has seen themdeprived of the chance to profit from it, saidAn Shouhai, vice-head of the Guizhouprovincial bureau of intellectual propertyrights. The case of the Miao is an example ofbiopiracy, said An. A foreign company pre-empted the Miao by patenting the remediesderived from guanyin cao and is now makinga fortune from it.

The forthcoming regulation is an effort tofight against biopiracy. China currently hasno laws and regulations to protect traditionalknowledge or species such as guanyin cao.(Source: Xinhua [China], 3 March 2007.)

Peru creates online biodiversity register Peru has created an online system with fullpublic access to regulate biodiversityresearch. The measure should ensurePeru's authority over its native geneticheritage, according to a press release fromthe National Institute of Natural Resources(INRENA), which will run the system.

INRENA is already working onimplementing the system, which should becompletely operational in two months. Itincludes a database showing in real time thenational and international research beingdone with genetic resources native to Peru.

The system will include a register ofresearchers who have applied for a permitto work in protected sites, forests andwildlife habitats. Both local and




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NON-WOOD NEWS No. 15 July 2007


international researchers will be asked toprovide a research proposal and a letter ofauthority from their supporting institution.If the application is accepted, a permit willbe automatically issued within two weeks.INRENA will work with the relevantauthorities to decide what information willbe requested from researchers. Thissystem will enable the tracking of scientificcollection activities both inside and outsideprotected areas. And by centralizinginformation about research on geneticresources, it should also allow authoritiesto prioritize proposed research.

Brazil announced a similar systemearlier this month. (Source: SciDev.Net, 22March 2007.)


MTT Agrifood Research Finland is studyingthe possibilities of distillate made of birchin controlling agricultural weeds and pests.

Originally birch distillate was a by-product in charcoal production. The firstidea of using the distillate in controllingpests was found in national traditions. ForCharcoal Finland, birch distillate is nolonger only a by-product but is a very goodproduct for preventing the smell ofcompost. Moreover, painting a paddockfence with birch distillate stops horses fromgnawing the fence. Farmers who havetrouble with elks have found it useful tomoisten wood pellets with birch distillateand hang them from the branches of trees.However, it is not possible to claim publiclythat elks or other animals can be controlledwith birch distillate, because its actualcomposition is not known. This is what MTTAgrifood Research Finland plans to discover.

The amount of birch distillate producedin connection with charcoal production isnot negligible: 1 000 litres of distillate from20 m3 of birch used. MTT AgrifoodResearch Finland is working on the bestways of using birch distillate. Judging bythe tests it has made, both in greenhousesand on open fields, birch distillate has awide scope. It destroys weeds found withcarrots with no detriment to the carrot. Italso repels pests, such as molluscs,gastropods and snails.

There are almost no negative effectsfound in birch distillate. Living organisms inthe soil are not harmed by it, but instead

may actually benefit in one way or another.The chemical alternatives of birch distillateare much more harmful, for example, forwater insects and plants, as well as forfish. It is harmless for humans.

It will take about three years to analysethe composition of birch distillate and toregister it as a pesticide will take a fewmore years. Only after registration can it bemarketed as a pesticide. (Source: HannesMäntyranta, forest.fi, 10 January 2007.)


Chewing gum marketGum is big business – and it is gettingbigger. The global chewing and bubble gummarket is now worth around UK£10 billion,according to Cadbury Schweppes’s directorof global gum.

It is growing at 8 percent per year –double the rate of the sweets market andsignificantly higher than chocolate’s 5 percent. In most countries, sales aresurging, driven by gum’s popularity as apreferable alternative to high-caloriesnacks and cigarettes, as well as improvedgum recipes and packaging.

That is why Cadbury, which entered thegum business after buying Adams, theAmerican confectionery group, for £2.7 billion in 2003, is so keen to expand itschewing gum activities. This month itentered the United Kingdom with thelaunch of Trident, taking the fight toWrigley, the market leader. (Source: TimesOnline, 2 April 2007.)

Chewing gum timelineThe ancient Greeks chewed mastiche – achewing gum made from the resin of themastic tree. The ancient Mayans chewedchicle which is the sap from the sapodillatree. North American Indians chewed thesap from spruce trees and passed the habitalong to the settlers. Early American

settlers made a chewing gum from sprucesap and beeswax. In 1848, John B. Curtis made and sold thefirst commercial chewing gum called theState of Maine Pure Spruce Gum. In 1850,Curtis started selling flavoured paraffingums that became more popular thanspruce gums. On 28 December 1869,William Finley Semple became the firstperson to patent a chewing gum – USpatent no. 98 304.

In 1871, Thomas Adams patented amachine for the manufacture of gum. In 1880,John Colgan invented a way to make chewinggum taste better for a longer period of timewhile being chewed. By 1888, an Adams'chewing gum called Tutti-Frutti became thefirst to be sold in a vending machine. (Source:http://inventors.about.com/od/gstartinventions/a/gum.htm)

Chicle: how gum works Americans spend something like US$2billion a year on gum. The averageAmerican munches more than a pound(0.45 kg) of it every year.

The original chewing gum is a naturalproduct. It is made from a rubberycompound called chicle that comes fromthe sapodilla tree. A cut into its barkproduces a rubbery sap, which is the basefor natural chewing gum. In the same waythat one could chew on a rubber band allday long without it disappearing, you canchew on chicle all day long. Chicle is anatural rubber.

In the late 1800s, people discovered thatyou can flavour chicle. You take a chunk ofchicle, heat it up a bit to melt it, and thenstart mixing sugar and flavours into it.

The only problem with chicle is thatthere is not enough of it to go around. Thereare not nearly enough sapodilla trees to



It is quite difficult to imagine that chewinggum is one of the oldest types of sweet inthe world. Archaeologists have actuallyfound evidence that prehistoric men andwomen used to chew on tree resinbecause of its flavour. This was more thana thousand years ago. It was alsodiscovered that many cultures chewed onsome form of gum. The ancient Greekscalled tree resin mastiche and chewed itto clean their teeth and freshen theirbreath. (Source: Business Portal 24 [pressrelease], 30 March 2007.)

Chewing gum in prehistoric times



NON-WOOD NEWS No. 15 July 2007


supply the world with gum base. Today justabout every piece of chewing gum on themarket contains an artificial gum baseinstead of chicle. The gum base is just likeany other plastic or synthetic rubber in usetoday. The goal is to create a tasteless,artificial rubber that has the same kind oftemperature profile and consistency asnatural chicle. (Source: HowStuffWorks.com [in Belleville News-Democrat, UnitedStates of America], 27 March 2007.)


Entrepreneurs don't grow on trees – butwith a little help from FAO, poor familiesaround the world are starting their ownsmall forest businesses.

An innovative new approach from FAO ishelping poor people around the world to turntrees into cash income, without felling trees.“It's not just timber companies that benefitfrom forests – about 1.6 billion peopleworldwide depend on them for all or part oftheir livelihoods,” says Sophie Grouwels ofFAO's Forestry Department. “And they oftendo so in ways that don't always involvecutting down trees, but through harvestingof renewable, non-wood forest products.”

Fruits, nuts, herbs and spices, resins,gums, fibres – all these non-wood forestproducts provide poor families around theworld with food, nutrition and income.Indeed, some 80 percent of the populationof developing countries use such productsin one way or another to meet health andnutritional needs.

“We believe that people could do evenmore with these renewable resources inorder to fight hunger and poverty,” saysGrouwels. “Perhaps there are moreefficient ways to harvest them. Maybe theycould be processed into a product that sellsfor more in local markets, or evenmarketed overseas.”

That is why FAO's Forestry Departmentestablished its Community-based Tree andForest Enterprise Development (CBED)Programme with funding from theNorwegian Government. The project helpspoor communities set up and sustain smallbusinesses while giving them incentives tomanage and protect their resource basebetter, allowing them to tap the wealth ofnearby forest resources without depletingthem.

In CBED projects, FAO teams up withgovernment extension agents and NGOs to

work with forest communities and learn howthey are making use of available forestproducts. Using a participatory learningprocess, detailed surveys of local forestresources are conducted, studies of localand regional markets are undertaken andnew product, manufacturing and marketingopportunities are identified. At the sametime, the communities draw upmanagement plans for the sustainable useof the targeted natural resources anddevelop business plans for pilot enterprises,which run from harvesting, production andprocessing to marketing.

FAO recently collaborated with theGovernment of the Lao People's DemocraticRepublic to implement a CBED project inthat country, where 41 percent of thenational territory is covered by forests and 80percent of the population live in rural areas.Six pilot projects were established in thepoorest part of the country, where annualhousehold incomes average from US$200 to$800. The project’s results so far have beenextremely encouraging. In Ban Lack village,where a grassroots cooperative was alreadyengaged in manufacturing rattan table andchair sets, project participants learned newdesigns and bettered their productiontechniques in order to improve productquality and lower production costs. Now theyare earning 20 percent more on each set thatthey sell, and are earning more thanks to anew roadside sales point. A group of womenin the nearby Ban Nathong village haveidentified a new market for mushrooms,established a growing house, madeconnections with retailers and boosted theirmonthly incomes by US$108.

All in all, ten community-level businessesemploying 239 people were established.Increases in the incomes of participatinghouseholds ranged from US$5 to $70 permonth – 15 to 50 percent more than theywere making before. At the same time, smallvillage development funds were establishedusing the profits as a way to provide localswith access to the credit needed to createnew or scale-up existing operations.Grouwels hopes that these ten pilot projectswill be the inspiration for many more.

Helping forest communities to helpthemselves is only part of the solution,according to Grouwels. Governments need tomake a more explicit link betweenantipoverty efforts, forest resourcemanagement and economic developmentprogrammes. This is why FAO's CBEDproject brings national and local officials intothe process early on, to educate them and

provide them with the awareness andknowledge needed to continue providingcommunities with the necessary support.Once pilot projects have been established,FAO meets with policy-makers and plannersto talk about larger structural and legalbottlenecks that inhibit small-scale forestenterprise development, with a view toeffecting reforms.(Source: FAO Newsroom, 13 February 2007.)

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: Sophie Grouwels, Forestry Officer, Community-based Enterprise Development (CBED), Forest Policy Service, Forestry Department, FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153 Rome,Italy. Fax: (39) 06 570 55514; e-mail: [email protected];www.fao.org/forestry/site/35689/en


Israel's Bedouin women turn desertplants into skin remediesThe Bedouin town of Tel Sheva in the Negevdesert was founded in 1968 as part of agovernment project to settle Bedouins inpermanent communities. Unemploymentamong the town's 30 000 inhabitants isrunning high and there is little urban orindustrial infrastructure. So why has thissettlement been attracting so manyvisitors? The reason is a new project to helpBedouin women turn native plants andflowers into skin remedies.

Set up two years ago, Asala DesertNature is nearing its commercial launch,with a range of unique skin care productsbased on traditional Bedouin herbal lore,due to reach the Israeli market in the nextfour to six months. Sales to Europe willbegin hopefully next year.




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NON-WOOD NEWS No. 15 July 2007


The Asala project was founded when thelocal community centre in Tel Shevaapproached the Center for Jewish-ArabEconomic Development (CJAED), a non-profit organization founded in 1988 topromote economic cooperation betweenIsrael's Jews and Arabs, with the idea ofsetting up a training programme for womenusing desert plants found in the Negev.

The CJAED's Women's EmpowermentUnit trained women from scratch, teachingthem everything they might need to know inorder to run a successful business in thefield. To learn more about the plants andtheir role in Bedouin life, the womeninterviewed their mothers, grandmothersand other elderly female relatives. Tostrengthen this folk knowledge, the womenalso underwent a training programme inmedicinal plants.

Though the group plans eventually tocreate a line of medicinal, nutritional andskin care products, they decided to focus atfirst on skin care. “If you live in the Negevdesert, the conditions are very harsh onyour skin and you have to look after it,”explains Kiram Baloum, the director of theWomen's Unit. “That's their niche.”

Originally the women of Asala planned tobuild their own laboratory, but theydiscovered it was going to be too expensive.Instead they contacted Hlavin, aninternational cosmetics manufacturer andexporter, which agreed to let Asala use itslaboratories in Ra'anana. Hlavin carried outa feasibility study of its own, which showeda promising market for Asala products inEurope.

The goal now is for the women to growthe plants and condense them into aformula of either olive oil or alcohol. Hlavinwill take these formulas and turn them intoa range of products that Asala will thenmarket under its own name.

Most of the women involved in theproject are married with children and allhave the support of their husbands.(Source: Israel 21C, 19 February 2007.)

JagritiJagriti is a community-based women'sorganization in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh,India. It consists of over 900 poor hill womenorganized into savings and credit groups.One of the areas of activity and interest isvalue addition to the fruits of wild apricot,peach and walnut. The organization is nowmaking cold pressed oil from the kernels ofthese wild species. The women membersare engaged in this process and are

to NWFPs. (Contributed by: MamtaChandar, Director, Jagriti, # 341, Ward 12,Shishamati, Kullu 175101, HP, India.Tel./fax: 91-1902-226537. E-mail: info@jagritikullu.org;[email protected];www.jagritikullu.org)

Using knowledge handed down fromgenerations to produce commercialproductsKnowledge and skills handed down fromgeneration to generation have found a newlease of life in the production of marketablegoods to provide much-needed cash for localproducers.

During the Committee on Forestry(COFO), which took place at FAOheadquarters from 13 to 16 March 2007, FAOdistributed folders and other materialsmade by villagers in the Lao People'sDemocratic Republic and Guatemala usinglocal handicrafts.

Weaving bamboo to produce mats is atraditional knowledge in the Lao People'sDemocratic Republic, handed down fromgeneration to generation by women. It is avaluable tangible national heritage that thegovernment is making efforts to preserve.

Tapping into this knowledge, FAO askedthe villagers of Ban Lak 62 to producefolders for COFO made of bamboo sheets.The initiative is part of an FAO projectlaunched in 2004 to help local communitiesdevelop businesses and market theirproducts to obtain greater profit forartisans themselves. ThongdeuaneKeomany, who has studied bamboohandicrafts for more than ten years, taughtthe women in the village of Ban Lak 62 thebasics of bamboo weaving – a tradition thatwas in danger of being lost. She thenhelped the women to produce not onlysimple items but also more complexproducts of a quality that would be goodenough to meet international marketrequirements.

At the same time, FAO has helped thewomen to establish links with national andregional markets to buy the products. Theresult has been that the weavers have beenable to increase their incomes from 40 to 50percent. Another positive outcome is that thevillagers have started to pay more attentionto how they manage bamboo as a valuablenatural resource on a sustainable basis.

Symbolically, a woven mat is synonymousto a “council” in pre-Columbian Mayaculture, where dignitaries discussed publicmatters while squatting on a woven mat.


The African Women's DevelopmentFund (AWDF) funds local, national,subregional and regional organizationsin Africa working towards women'sempowerment. It is an institutionalcapacity-building and programmedevelopment fund, which aims to helpbuild a culture of learning andpartnerships within the Africanwomen's movement. In addition toawarding grants, the AWDF attemptsto strengthen the organizationalcapacities of its grantees. It funds workin five thematic areas: women's humanrights; political participation; peacebuilding; health and reproductiverights; and HIV/AIDS economicempowerment. The AWDF gives grantsin three cycles every year. Applicationscan be sent in at any time.



The African Women's Development Fund,

25 Yiyiwa Street, Abelenkpe, PMB CT 89,

Cantonments, Accra, Ghana. Fax: + 233 21

782502; e-mail: [email protected] or

[email protected]; www.awdf.org

encouraged to plant these trees in theirmarginal lands with a view to boostingproduction of wild or semi-wild fruits.

In addition, the organization is growingnurseries of medicinal plants that arethreatened in the wild, such as Picrorhizakurrooa, Dioscorea deltoidea, aconites andvalerians of two species.

We feel that women's economicsituations can be vastly improved throughsystematic conservation and value addition

Discorea deltoidea



NON-WOOD NEWS No. 15 July 2007


Similarly, FAO involved a local village inGuatemala in the production of cords forbuilding passes for participants attendingCOFO using local skills, with the help ofMaya Republic, a local NGO.

Hand weaving, using waist looms, is atraditional practice of Mayan women inGuatemala. Originally, this was done tocreate fine traditional cloth. However, thebeauty, high quality of the textile andtourism have helped to diversify and openmarkets for products made using thisancient technique. For the production of thecords, 80 women from the village of SanAntonio Aguacalientes worked in their sparetime. The colours used to make the cordscame from natural ingredients found in thewoods: green and blue were extracted fromtree bark, fruits, leaves and herbs; and red,orange and brown were extracted from aninsect that lives in a local cactus.

Beyond their use at this internationalcommittee meeting, the cords are beingmarketed as a new product introduced tothe local market to enhance further thepreservation and use of Mayan traditionalknowledge and culture. (Source: FAOForestry Newsroom, 5 March 2007.)

Shea butter sales change African women’splightLittle do buyers of cosmetics containingshea butter realize that sales of this age-old beauty-boosting nut are helping legionsof African women to feed their children andsend them to school.

Off a dirt track in the shanty town ofGounghin, on the edge of the capital ofBurkina Faso, Evelyne Kabole and HonorineIlboudo haul heavy buckets of water andknead shea paste in large plastic basins.Both are widows with six mouths to feed.They belong to the Songtaab-YalgreAssociation, which in the language of thelocal Mossi people means “help each other”.

Set up in 1990 to teach women to readand write, the association is now dedicatedto shea butter production. It has 1 174members, 60 of whom live in Gounghin andthe others in villages outside the capitalOuagadougou.

Shea butter, commonly known as karité,derives from a fruit that grows on the sheanut tree (Butyrospermum parkii) found onlyin Africa’s dry Sahel belt from Cape Verde toChad. The tall sacred trees scattered aroundvillages cannot be planted. They grow alone,bearing fruit only after 25 years and thenonly once every three seasons, but theirlifespan is about two hundred years.

For as long as anyone can remember,African women have been using buttermade from the seed found inside the sheanut for cooking, healing and moisturizingskin and hair. Rich in vitamins A, E and F,all antiwrinkle, moisturizing and skinregeneration agents, the seed alsocontains latex, which is good for skinelasticity, as well as steroids for musclesand it protects against the sun.

Promoted by cosmetics brands such asL’Oréal, the Body Shop and L’Occitane, thepopularity of shea butter products hasincreased considerably over the years, withNigeria, Mali and Burkina Faso as the topproducers. For Burkina Faso, shea butter isthe second export item after cotton.

“Women in villages across the countryharvest the nuts,” Kassoum Soudre, thefinance officer for the country’s ProjectKarité, said. “We try to organize them ingroups, provide them with equipment orcredits and help them improve production.”

In the Ghounghin women’s self-helpcooperative, the nuts, once shaken off thetrees and dried in the sun, are pounded inelectric grinders to separate the seedsfrom the shells. They are then ground into apaste. Bent in two, women workers beatthe paste by hand for 20 minutes until itbecomes butter. Once separated, it isheated, filtered, cooled and either sold asbutter or made into soaps and creams.

Most of the work is done by hand; profitsare shared and the association is run by thewomen themselves. With no intermediariesinvolved, domestic and foreign salescomply with fair trade conditions.

The initiative is in line with the tenetsupheld on International Women’s Day,celebrated each year on 8 March. Indeveloping countries the day has focusednotably on empowering women to take partin the economic as well as the political lifeof their countries. (Source: The Peninsulaonline, Qatar, 7 March 2007.) (See page 36for information on female entrepreneurs inHonduras.)


For the first time, FAO has displayed ahistorical collection of rare forestry booksdating back to the eighteenth century thatprovide a snapshot in time of the state offorest research as it first developed inCentral Europe and evolved through thebeginning of the twentieth century.

Acquired from the International Center ofSilviculture (CIS), the first permanentinternational forestry organization founded inBerlin in 1939, the collection is the first everattempt to document worldwide allpublications related to forestry by scientists.The goal of the library was to establishannual updated bibliographies of forest-related literature from European countries.

With a considerable number of valuablebooks, mostly in German, dating back to theeighteenth century, the collection offers aunique glimpse into the beginnings offorestry as a science as it first developed inCentral Europe.

The collection is also special in that itsurvived the Second World War. Scientistsmade arduous efforts to protect it from thewar by asking extraterritorial rights for thelibrary and the protection of the Swedishembassy. In 1944, with the assistance of thecentre’s Secretary General, scientiststhemselves drove and moved the books inlorries at their own risk, from Berlin toSalzburg. When fighting seemed imminent inSalzburg in 1945, the scientists moved thebooks again to a castle, a mine and some toRamsau in Austria, to keep them protected.Most of the collection therefore remainedintact throughout the war. Eventually in 1951,at the end of the war, the collection wastransferred to the FAO premises in Rome,which succeeded the CIS.

The collection is significant for itshistorical and scientific value. It includesbooks authored by renowned scientists whoestablished forestry as a science, such asHumboldt, Brehm, Cotta, Hartig, Pfeil,Pressler and Brandis. It also covers botany,zoology, silviculture, growth and yield, andforest engineering.

“No other such collection exists in anyother library worldwide,” said ElizabethJohann, an expert in forestry history, whoreviewed and assessed the collection andorganized the exhibit. “It demonstrates thatsustainable forest management dates backto the eighteenth century and thatinternational collaboration within the




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scientific community continued even in timesof war and national disagreements.” (Source:FAO Forestry Newsroom, 5 March 2007.)


The legendary French Périgord truffle(Tuber melanosporum) has found its way toEast Tennessee (United States of America),the first in the state. Thomas Michaels, abotanist with a Ph.D. and a plant pathologist,has figured out how to grow the famed fungiin the tree root system of hazel nut and oaktrees. He has harvested his first crop.Knoxville chefs were his first customers,paying about $800 per pound (0.45 kg),which is cheap considering the worldmarket price is more than $2 000 per pound.

The Perigord truffle, also known as theBlack Diamond, is hard to grow, requiringthe right soil, climate and tree root forcolonizing. T. melanosporum varies in sizefrom a pea to a chicken egg. It will only growin loose, humid, sun-drenched soil andneeds cool wet nights, where its mycelium(tiny hair-like filaments) nestle and findnourishment in tree roots.

Michaels says his harvesting season(January to end February) has just ended. ByMarch, the odd-looking, knobbly, coal-blackmushrooms have faded and are in their treeroot homes.

The smelly but celestial-tasting fungiwere once prevalent in southern France andwere harvested in tonnes. Today, the yield isdown to 10–50 tonnes per year worldwide.

Michaels planted his trees in 2000,starting with plants that were about 16inches (40.6 cm) tall. The hazel nuts are now10–12 feet (approximately 3–3.6 m) tall, andthe soil around them bubbles with birth.According to Michaels, a good orchard canproduce maybe 50 pounds (22.7 kg) per acre(0.4 ha). A normal yield, he says, is 10–20pounds (approximately 4.5– 9.0 kg) per acre.(Source: Knoxville News Sentinel [UnitedStates of America], 25 March 2007.)


All the coastal regions in the Pacific,Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal arevulnerable to a tsunami disaster.Mangroves (the vegetation found in and

along the coast) function as a naturalshield in lowering the intensity of sea tides,as well as providing a variety of economicuses. Sea algae and coral reefs also play animportant role in averting the severity ofnatural disasters. These mangroves, seaalgae and coral reefs are valuable non-timber forest resources (NTFRs) occurringalong the seashore.

Mangrove forests have a symbioticrelationship with all creatures. Mangroveplant species have multiple economic usesand based on these the tree species yieldvery useful industrial timber, wood fuel andcharcoal of high calorific value. Most of thetree and shrub species are also sources ofNTFRs, such as edible fruits and leaves,indigenous medicines, tannin, seed fattyoils, thatching materials and sedgesfencing material, fibres from palms andgrasses, honey, fodder and manure. Inaddition to these uses and the fact that theycan provide protective walls against tidalwaves, they act as another conservationmechanism for ecological balance.

It is therefore essential to conservethese NTFRs. A list of plant species thatoccur naturally in and around the sea isavailable from the author to help scientiststo propagate them sustainably, manageand harvest NTFRs for the uses givenabove, avoid their extinction throughscientific and environmentally soundharvesting practices and replenish thedwindling resources to obtain multipleuses. (Contributed by: Ms Alka Shiva,President and Managing Director, Centre of Minor Forest Products (COMFORPTS),HIG – 2, No. 8, Indirapuram, GMS Road, PO Majra, Dehra Dun – 248 171, India. E-mail : [email protected];http://www.angelfire.com/ma/MinorForestProducts)


Medicinal products from forestsMany forest plants and animals producepoisons, fungicides, antibiotics and otherbiologically active compounds as defencemechanisms, and many of these havemedicinal uses. Compounds that havecommon medicinal uses such as cola nuts,caffeine, chocolate, chilli peppers andcocaine are found in forest areas. Manywestern pharmaceutical products derivefrom tropical forest species, e.g. quininefrom Cinchona spp.; cancer-treating drugs

from rosy periwinkle (Catharanthusroseus); treatments for enlarged prostateglands from Prunus africana; forskolin,which has a variety of medicinal uses, fromthe root of Coleus forskohlii; medicines fortreating diabetes from Dioscoreadumetorum and Harungana vismia; andseveral medicines based on leaves of thesucculents of the Mesembryanthemaceaefamily. Some of these products are nowsynthesized, but others are still collectedfrom the wild. The economic value oftraditional medicines is considerable, withreports that the bark of Prunus africanaalone is worth US$220 million annually forthe pharmaceutical industry.

Traditional health care systems arebased on significant local knowledge ofmedicinal plants in all major tropical areas.These systems are important, particularlywhere formal health care services areabsent. The market for traditionalmedicines is large and expanding, andmuch of it is in the hands of women,particularly that involving lesscommercially valuable medicinal plants.There is also growing scientific evidence ofthe efficacy of some of these widely usedtraditional remedies.

At the same time, medicinal plants arethreatened globally. Some of the threatsinclude slow growth patterns of desirablespecies, loss of traditional mechanismsthat contributed to sustainable use andcompeting uses of the same species, intandem with growing commercializationand global markets. Certification ofmedicinal plants and better forestmanagement techniques offer two possiblepartial solutions.




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Pharmaceutical companies havesometimes been charged with reapingunacceptably large benefits from forestpeoples’ knowledge, given the widespreadpoverty in forested areas. Attempts toestablish collaboration between thepharmaceutical industry and localcommunities in bioprospecting have hadmixed results. (Source: Unasylva, 57[224]: 7.)

Aussie bee honey – an antibiotic in theUnited KingdomA British hospital is using honey fromAustralian bees to combat superbugMethicillin-resistant Staphylococcusaureus (MRSA), a bacteria that is resistantto conventional antibiotics. The JamesCook University Hospital in Middlesbroughhas been using honey from a colony of beesonly found in Queensland to clean infectedwounds, along with dressings that containgum extracted from seaweed. The honeyseals the injury and the seaweed extractdraws and absorbs the harmful bacteria.(Source: Ninemsn [Australia], 27 February2007.)

Boswellia serrata extract scores well inCOX-2 comparisonBoswellia serrata extract performed as wellas a selective COX-2 inhibitor in a controlledclinical study to assess its effect on relievingosteoarthritis pain, researchers report in theFebruary issue of the Indian Journal ofPharmacology, 39(1): 27-29.

Boswellia serrata has a long history ofuse in Ayurvedic medicine, popular in India,and its gum resin is reputed to have anti-infiammatory, antiarthritic and analgesicproperties. (Source: NutraIngredients-usa.com [France], 20 March 2007.)

Cinnamon may help fight against Type 2diabetesResearch studies have shown thatcinnamon has been linked to lower bloodsugar and total cholesterol levels. Theresearch has focused on people with Type 2diabetes. The main ingredient in cinnamonthat helps people with this diabetes isproanthocyanidin. “For people who haveType 2 diabetes, insulin doesn't seem to begetting enough sugar into the cells and thisis where cinnamon comes in. Cinnamonhelps the cells absorb more sugar,” saidRobert Cullen, assistant professor of foodnutrition and dietetics in Family andConsumer Sciences, who has beenmonitoring research studies such as thesefor many years.

Two types of cinnamon are used in food:Cinnamomum verum, which is used inmany sweet baked goods andCinnamomum cassia, which is a strongerspice used in foods. There is no clearanswer to which cinnamon can help fighthigh blood sugar levels, cholesterol, Type 2diabetes or even heart disease. There is notrue answer if cinnamon at all can helpwith these problems, but Cullen says thingslook promising. (Source: Daily Vidette[Illinois, United States of America], 7 March2007.)

Research into medicinal value of fungiScientists at the University of WesternSydney, Australia, are working to seewhether the medicinal fungi Ganodermalucidum can reduce high blood pressure,glucose and cholesterol. When coupled withinsulin resistance, these conditions bringabout metabolic syndrome, a precursor toType 2 diabetes which affects an increasingnumber of Australians. Also known as reishi,G. lucidum has been used as a cure for awide range of diseases for 2 000 years.

Cultivation has increased over the last30 years, and preliminary animal andhuman pilot studies seem to suggest that itcan have a positive effect on blood sugarlevels, cholesterol levels and blood fats.

The mushroom – an inedible fungitypically the size of a bread and butter plate– contains about 200 active chemicalcompounds, but researchers believe that agroup called the polysaccharides are themost effective. Traditional users believe itis most potent when taken in combinationwith another medicinal mushroom calledCordyceps sinensis.

The researchers will put this theory tothe test when they enlist 170 people withmetabolic syndrome symptoms for a four-month trial. Participants will have eithercapsules of powdered reishi alone, acombination of the two mushrooms, or aplacebo capsule.

If successful, this could become the firstsingle treatment for the metabolicsyndrome. (Source: The Age [Australia], 7 February 2007.) (See page 60 forinformation on medicinal fungi in Alaska.)

Tree bark molecule may combat malariaA compound derived from tree bark haspotential as a preventive treatment formalaria, according to a study published in thejournal PLoS Medicine. The treatmenttargets the early stages of malaria infection,which would make it difficult for the parasiteto develop the kind of drug resistance thathampers conventional malaria treatmentprogrammes.

Scientists have isolated a new molecule,tazopsine, from bark collected inMadagascar's eastern rain forest. They foundthat N-cyclopentyl-tazopsine, a less toxiccompound derived from the molecule, waseffective against early liver-stage malariaparasites in animal tests. However, thecompound is ineffective once infection hasreached the red blood cells.

Tazopsine comes from the stem bark ofthe plant Strychnopsis thouarsii and is thesole ingredient in a traditional tea used as atreatment for malaria infection. The authorsof the study hope that variants of tazopsine-related molecules can be tested to find one oflow toxicity, suitable for clinical trials.

A resurgence of malaria since the 1980s,combined with a shortage of conventionaldrugs, has forced many Madagascans to relyon medicines from more than 200 plants tofight the disease. This has triggered scientificinterest, as Madagascar's long isolation fromneighbouring countries has resulted in aunique mix of plants and animals.

Tests on chimpanzees are due to beginthis year in Gabon, while tests on Rhesusmonkeys will be carried out in Thailandbefore the end of the year. (Source: PLoSMedicine, 2 January 2007 [in SciDev.NetWeekly Update].)

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Rain forest bark could destroy rare childcancerThe bark of a rain forest tree could destroya rare childhood cancer, scientists havefound.

The South American Lapacho coloradocontains a natural plant product thatshrinks eye tumours by causing cancerouscells to die. Laboratory tests show that thecompound, called beta-lapachone, worksat low doses, making it an ideal treatmentfor child patients with retinoblastoma, amalignant tumour of the retina.

The uncommon disease accounts forabout 3 percent of cancers in children andremains fatal in the developing worldalthough it is one of the most curablecancers in developed countries. But oneproblem that exists with the traditionalapproach of radiotherapy is the associationof long-term ill health and even death insome cases.

Researchers at California University inthe United States of America found thatbeta-lapachone was effective in inhibitingthe growth and spread of retinoblastomacells and actively induced their destruction.Their findings, published in the medicaljournal Eye, are consistent with those fromstudies of the effect of the product in otherhuman cancers, including breast, colon andlung tumours.

L. colorado or red lapacho, so calledbecause of its scarlet flowers, grows in thewarmer parts of South America such asBrazil, northern Argentina, Paraguay andBolivia. It was commonly used by themedicine people of the Indian tribes longbefore the advent of the Spanish in the NewWorld. The natives use the wood to makebows for archery. (Source: national news inLife Style Extra [United Kingdom], 16March 2007.)


Centre for Indian Bamboo Resource andTechnology (CIBART)CIBART is a non-profit networkedorganization dedicated to the development ofthe bamboo sector in India. Its establishmentwas facilitated by INBAR (the InternationalNetwork for Bamboo and Rattan).

CIBART serves as a catalyst for thebamboo industry in India, undertakingvarious collaborative livelihooddevelopment projects. It brings together

state and district level bambooorganizations and enterprises in afederating mode. It also provides projectdevelopment and implementation,technical consultancy and turnkey serviceson all aspects of bamboo sectordevelopment in collaboration with itspartners.

CIBART’s main area of focus is toachieve livelihood development, ecologicalsecurity and economic developmentthrough the sustainable use of bamboo andrattan. Its primary focus is to benefit poorrural communities.

Currently, CIBART has four community-owned organizations in the states ofTripura, Manipur, Maharashtra (Konkanarea) and Himachal Pradesh that are notfor profit companies. Within each state, thelocal organizations set up by CIBART haveextension linkages in each village, backedup by field technical resource centres at thesubdistrict level. (Contributed by: ManuMayank, Chief Executive Officer, I-4,Jangpura – B, New Delhi – 110014, India.Fax: +91-11-24374802; www.cibart.org.)

Fundación Zoobreviven, EcuadorFundación Zoobreviven is a privateEcuadorian, non-profit organizationcreated in 1997 and recognized by theEcuadorian Ministry for the Environment.

Its objective is to conserve thebiodiversity of Ecuador through responsibleuse of natural resources, scientificresearch, environmental education,wildlife, plant and tree conservation anddevelopment of economic alternatives forlocal communities.

Three reserves are managed in northernEcuador, including the 2 500-ha Alto ChocoReserve and the nearby 7 500-ha ChontalReserve, both in the Choco bioregion. Thework is to preserve these importantenvironments through wildlife, plant and

tree conservation, community education,environmental management, volunteerprojects, community ecotourism andscientific research on the flora and fauna ofthe region.

In addition to managing the three reserves,the foundation is currently developingmanagement plans for the areas surroundingall three cloud forest reserves, reforestingAlto Choco and conducting environmentaleducation in the surrounding communities.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: Fundación Zoobreviven, 6 de Diciembre N32-36y Whymper, Quito, Ecuador, South America.E-mail: [email protected];www.zoobreviven.org/

The Finnish Nature-basedEntrepreneurship AssociationThe Finnish Nature-basedEntrepreneurshipAssociation wasfounded in 2001. It is a non-governmentalnationalorganization formedby entrepreneurs and developmentorganizations. The association collectstogether actors in nature-basedentrepreneurship for cross-sectoralcooperation (nature tourism, handicraftsand food products) in order to integrateentrepreneurship, education, developmentactivities and research in the sector. Thereare approximately 300 entrepreneurs and100 expert organizations in the sector atthe moment.

One of the main interests of theassociation has been to increase theecologically friendly business culture, sincethe sustainable use of nature is one of themain values and marketing arguments inthe sector. The association has been apartner in several project activities, bothnational and international. All of itsactivities are based on close cooperationbetween entrepreneurs and other actors.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: Katri Kranni (chair of the association), TheFinnish Nature-based EntrepreneurshipAssociation, Kampusranta 9 60320, Seinäjoki,Finland. Fax: +358 (0)6 421 3301; e-mail: [email protected];www.luontoyrittaja.net. (See page 15 of Non-WoodNews 14 for more information on nature-basedentrepreneurship.)


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up. India has an advantage in its proximity tospice farms, with Kochi the hub of oleoresinactivity, according to Synthite IndustryChemicals, which accounts for nearly half ofthe Indian oleoresin and spice oil extractexports.

In the last fiscal year, India exported 6 225tonnes of oleoresins and spice oils, worthRs500 crore. According to spice boardfigures, within threequarters of this period, 5 010 tonnes worth Rs402 crore wereshipped out and the industry is sure toimprove even more.

High costs in the West have forced theindustry there to outsource from India andflavour houses across the globe look to thecountry to source their products. Theindustry’s major breakthrough came in themid-1980s with the development ofoleoresin paprika, followed by oleoresinchilli. The list of oleoresins from spicesincludes turmeric, celery, ginger, nutmeg,mace, cumin, fennel, mustard, garlic,coriander, cassia/cinnamon, clove andMediterranean herbs such as rosemary.

Some products such as light pepperberries, not available in India, have forcedthe industry to import from Viet Nam. Whileearlier Sri Lanka was the main source forthe pepper, the shift to Viet Nam was due tothe price advantage.

Vanilla is the latest entrant to the industrywith the development of a nature-identicalvanillin oleoresin. Oleoresins fromcassia/cinnamon are being consumed by thebeverage industry and mustard oleoresin isanother item that is making big inroads intothe global market.

The process of isolating the activeprinciple has helped in the manufacture oflutin from marigold flowers as a colouringagent. (Source: Financial Express [India], 25February 2007.)


Dr Eric T. Jones of the Institute for Cultureand Ecology (IFCAE) is offering an onlinecourse on non-timber forest productsculture and management through OregonState University (United States of America).The course is geared to upper divisionstudents as well as professionalsinterested in training on NTFPs.International participants are encouraged.The course is taught twice a year in thespring and autumn. In addition to readings,videos, and engaging online discussionsparticipants conduct a project identifyingNTFPs in their local community. Results ofthese projects will be made availablethrough the IFCAE Web site.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: Eric T. Jones, Institute for Culture and Ecology,PO Box 6688, Portland, Oregon 97228-6688,United States of America. E-mail: et[email protected]; www.ifcae.org/projects/osuntfpcourse/index.html


The harvest ofNWFPs plays animportant role in the sustainablemanagement ofcommunityagriculture andforest resourcesworldwide. NWFPspresent many new challenges andopportunities in certification because oftheir wide range of management practicesand difficulties in monitoring harvest andprocessing.

The PEFC Council (Programme for theEndorsement of Forest Certificationschemes) issued a technical document withspecifications for the origin for the purposesof the PEFC label and declarations forNWFPs. This document is Appendix 8 to thestandard that rules the traceability ofcertified products, from forest to the market(Annex 4 to PEFC Council TechnicalDocument). The document is normativewhen the organization establishes a chain ofcustody for the certification of NWFPs inorder to use the PEFC logo and/ordeclarations on NWFPs. The appendix wasapproved by the PEFC Council GeneralAssembly on 27 October 2006.

At the moment, given the fact that NWFPshave only been able to be PEFC certifiedsince November 2006, there are very fewexamples among the PEFC accreditedschemes, even though the potential is high.These examples include:

• Cork – certified in Spain and Portugal• Essential oil – certified in Italy • Honey, chestnut and berries: soon to be

certified in a certified Italian forest• Truffles and mushrooms: soon to be

certified in already certified forests ofItaly, France and Spain

• Animal meat – there are plans for this tobe certified in Italy and Spain (andpossibly other countries) where thereare hunting plans and fenced forests

PEFC's aim is to ensure that the world'sforests are managed sustainably and thattheir functions are protected for presentand future generations.

PEFC certified timber, non-wood andpaper products are an independentlyverified assurance to consumers andcompanies that they are buying forestproducts from sustainably managedforests. By choosing PEFC, buyers can helpcombat illegal logging.

PEFC's role as an independent, non-profit NGO is to secure that the same highstandards are applied by all its endorsedcertification systems globally and thus byforest managers, paper and timbercompanies and their external certifiers.(Contributed by: Antonio Brunori, PEFCCouncil ASBL, 2ème étage, 17 Rue desGirondins, Merl-Hollerich, L – 1626Luxembourg. Fax: +352 26 25 92 58; e-mail:[email protected]; www.pefc.org) (See page 52for information on NWFP certification inNepal.)


From mere extraction, the Rs500 croreoleoresin industry has now gone beyonddiversifying into nutraceuticals andcosmaceuticals to enter the dietarysupplement area, becoming a producer offood ingredients in savoury and sweetflavour items. The industry is now turninginto a one-stop food and flavour solution.

India accounts for 70 percent of worldoleoresin production with competition fromChina, the United States of America, SriLanka, South Africa and Latin Americancountries. Brazil, India and China are themarket leaders, with South Africa catching



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Le Partenariat pour les forêts du Bassin duCongo (PFBC) est une associationregroupant une trentaine d’organisationsgouvernementales et nongouvernementales. Il a été créé enseptembre 2002, lors du Sommet mondialsur le développement durable(Johannesburg, Afrique du Sud).

Le PFBC a pour objectifs d'améliorer lacommunication entre ses membres et lacoordination entre leurs projets,programmes et politiques afin depromouvoir une gestion durable des forêtsdu Bassin du Congo et d'améliorer laqualité de vie des habitants de la région.(Contribution de: Christophe Besacier,Conseiller régional forêt environnementAfrique centrale, Ministère français desaffaires etrangères, Gabon; courriel:Christo[email protected];[email protected]; www.cbfp.org)


The Rain Forest Silk CooperativeTM is anewly organized consortium of fourproducers of wild silk products on fourcontinents: India, Indonesia, Madagascarand Namibia. It produces high-quality silktextiles, yarns and decorative objects fromwild silk cocoons. Each member of thecooperative uses a unique species of silkmoth to make the products.

The cooperative’s products come fromimpoverished rural farmers, and primarilywomen. Its long-term goal is to providenew means of income generation whileimplementing enterprises that focus onmaintaining native forests instead ofcutting them down.

Current members of the cooperativeinclude: Appropriate Technology India(atindia); the Royal Silk Project ofIndonesia; the Kalahari Wild Silk, Namibia;the Ny Tanintsika silk project inMadagascar; and Conservation throughPoverty Alleviation International (CPALI).The Rain Forest Silk Cooperative is amember of the Fair Trade Federation.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: The Rain Forest Silk Cooperative, 221 LincolnRoad, Lincoln, MA 01773, United States of America.www.rainforestsilk.org/index.html


Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.),named a “superfruit” for its robustnutritional properties, is poised to outrunmany other functional foods. It has recentlybeen rated second of ten potentialsuperfruits, based upon four criteriaincluding nutrient density and potential fordisease impact (www.berrydoctor.com).

In studying the superfood and superfruitphenomena, nutritional science isrecognizing that nature is capable ofproviding, in such varied single foods aswheatgrass juice, garlic, blueberries andnow sea buckthorn, a foodborneinoculation against ill-health thatlaboratories cannot match.

While the nourishing and healingproperties of sea buckthorn are relativelynew to the West, they have been wellknown in the East for hundreds of years.

Almost the entire plant is suitable forconsumption and topical application. Thefruit pulp, rich in such antioxidants asvitamins C and E, beta-carotene andnumerous flavonoids (complementarymicronutrients that work in concert withmore familiar vitamins), plus the rare andvaluable palmitoleic acid (known to supportwound healing and cell health), can bepressed for juice, freeze dried andpackaged as a supplement, andincorporated into topical skin preparations.The fruit oil can be extracted separatelyand taken internally or externally.

Oil from the seeds is high in several fattyacids, including omegas 3 and 6 in a critical1:1 ratio; applied topically, the seed oil

heals radiation burns, reduces scarring,heals or improves psoriasis and a host ofother skin conditions and, taken internally,has been proved to improve heart healthand gastrointestinal disorders.

The leaves, high in vitamins, minerals,proteins and other natural anti-inflammatory compounds, can be dried fortea, powdered as an ingredient in soaps andcreams, and steeped to make a soothingrinse for irritated skin. Studies are ongoingto determine the healing and nutritivepossibilities of sea buckthorn bark.

All told, this superfruit, known to easeand soften scar tissue and arteriosclerosis,reduce inflammation and cell death andreverse burn damage, has over 191 knownbioactive compounds for topical andinternal applications.

While Asia and Europe have used seabuckthorn commercially for severaldecades, the industry is new in NorthAmerica. The health and supplementindustries are just starting to pay attention(and draw attention) to this plant. (Source:Press release, SBT Sea buckthornInternational Inc., 16 April 2007.)


Tea tree oil, an ingredient found in manybeauty products, has been named unsafeby the European Union (EU) and could bebanned after research discovered that itmay cause skin irritation and reduce theeffectiveness of antibiotics.

Regular usage of tea tree oil, which issometimes used undiluted to help get rid ofspots, acne and insect bites, could increasethe user's risk of contracting superbuginfections such as methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureus (MRSA), accordingto research claims. Tea tree oil makesthese infections more resistant toantibiotics. In addition, the EU has warnedagainst using tea tree oil undiluted, as evensmall doses can cause skin rashes.However, it has said that beauty productssuch as shampoo, which use the oil inminute quantities, are safe.

The EU said it may ban the oil from beingused in the undiluted form later this year ifmanufacturers fail to convince EUscientists that it is safe for human use.(Source: Pharmaceutical Business Review[United States of America], 19 February2007.)







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A recent film available from the NTFPExchange Programme “Voices from theforest –balancing forest use andconservation in Southeast Asia” providesintroductory material to the lesser-knowngroup of NTFPs, stressing the interrelationsof land rights, traditional management ofresources and marketing of these variousforest-derived products.

The film captures the stories ofindigenous peoples living in or near tropicalforests in Southeast Asia, and theirdependence on NTFPs for their survival.Through their voices as well as of some oftheir supporters, we can share in theirdreams and aspirations, together with theirfears as the rapidly changing world posesnew challenges to their indigenouslifestyles.

We are offered a rare insight into:• the nomadic Penan people’s reliance on

sago palm in the face of threats from alarge logging company (Malaysia);

• traditional and sustainable harvesting,production and marketing of wild honeyin Danau Sentarum (Indonesia);

• the Ikalahan tribe’s struggle to protecttheir traditional forest by transformingfruits of the forest into jams and jelliesfor the high-end niche market (thePhilippines);

• the Higaonon tribe’s indigenous fabric,the hinabol, tied to traditionalmanagement of abaca (manila hemp)and the fast-disappearing art of hinabolweaving (the Philippines); and

• the crucial market links provided by theUpland Marketing Foundation and theCustomMade Crafts Center, and theirtireless efforts at aiding localcommunities to develop marketablehandicrafts and food products.

(Produced by: Riak Bumi, Telapak and theNTFP Exchange Programme for South andSoutheast Asia, 2005. DVD [43 minutes].Available in English and Khmer.)

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: Ms Aloisa Zamora-Santos, InformationManagement Officer, Non-Timber ForestProducts Exchange Programme for South and Southeast Asia, 92-A Masikap Extension,Barangay Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1101, the Philippines. Fax: +63 2 4262757; e-mail: [email protected]; www.ntfp.org(See page 26 for information on another DVDfrom the NTFP Exchange Programme.)


The palash flower (Butea monosperma),known as the “flame of the forest”,remained unnoticed until Orissa’s Sonepurdistrict farmers discovered its commercialvalue: locals found these flowers with theirred petals to be an ideal source to preparedye for colouring fabrics.

Sambalpuri saris from western Orissa,bed sheets and mats dyed with the coloursof palash flowers have become extremelypopular and are in great demand.

In Birmaharajpur, Orissa, people collectthese odourless flowers that grow inabundance in the countryside and earntheir livelihoods by selling them toweavers. Children also help in flowercollecting. “Palash blossoms in the chaitra(spring season). We give them to theweavers and get two to five rupees per kg,”said one flower collector.

The flowers are dried (since palash is aseasonal flower it is dried for use all yearround) and the colours are extracted to dyecotton, silk cloths and natural fibres;

synthetic fibres do not respond well to thedye.

Jharna, a producer of natural colours,said that saris and other fabrics coloured inpalash-based dyes are not only lasting andgood-looking but also safe to use.

Although the process of preparing dyefrom palash is quite lengthy, the weavers ofSambalpuri textiles in the Sonepur districtnow use it as it is more economicalcompared with chemical dyes.

The palash tree has many uses. Thedried flowers are used as a diuretic. Thegum obtained from the tree contains tanninand is used in the treatment of diarrhoea.Locals say that the seeds have dewormingproperties. The wood of the tree is soft anddurable and is used for making boats.According to one local, “All the parts of thistree are useful. Its seeds, flowers and eventhe stems have medicinal value. If only thiswas better known, then we could conserveit and grow more to make it a tradingcommodity to sell to other states.” (Source:DailyIndia.com [United States of America],28 March 2007.) �




Voices from the forest is the bulletin ofthe NTFP Exchange Programme forSouth and Southeast Asia. Nowpublished twice yearly, it highlightsactivities and pressing issues related toNTFPs in the region. It is available inprint and online from:http://ntfp.org/sub.php?gosub=info-vftf&iid=

He that plants trees loves othersbesides himself.

English proverb