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Fall is coming down in droves of colourful leaves and bouts of burred nuts that are dappling the streets. Such a pretty time of the year - it is hard to resist even a single beautiful fall day. Each ray of sunshine glistening through the autumnal foliage is calling me to get out, into the woods and yonder, to enjoy the season before winter is closing in once more.

And, sucker for beautiful fall days that I am, I heed the call. The newsletter just had to wait. But finally I managed to get it done. This season starts with a new mini-series: plants as the staff of life. Wjile looking over the site to decide what to write about I noticed a terrible lack in two areas, which nevertheless are very important in terms of the plant/human relationship - essential in fact! Food is the fuel of life and some would say our raison d'etre, so it become apparent very quickly that the yawning emptiness in that section of the site ought to be filled with some interesting and tasty articles. And where better to start than in the beginning of time....

Something else new that I hope will develop into a happening spot on the internet is our new photo-space at flickr. I started it as a group project for the ethnobotany discussion list (which you can join by sending a blank e-mail to Anybody can look at the photographs though, and post comments at the flickr site, which is located at If you want to join the photo group, but not the discussion list drop me an e-mail (see below) so I can send you an invitation to join (group is by invitation only).

I am also working on a messageboard discussion forum, but that will take a little longer to get my head around. Perhaps it will be a good project for the winter. I hope you'll enjoy this issue.

Happy Fall
Kat Morgenstern, October 2007

I would love to hear your comments on the new format, so please send your feedback to:

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Rowan Berries, Mountain Ash, Sorbus aucuparia

Foraging Rowan Berries (Sorbus aucuparia)

Rowan Berry/Mountain Ash (Sorbus Aucuparia)

It's nut and berry time again! The leaves are turning and I hear the nuts plop on the road outside my window, where they'll soon get crushed by the tires of passing cars, much to the delight of countless birds that have gathered for the feast. In fact, I am sure the crows have become smart enough to actually position nut clusters on the road so they only have to wait for a passing vehicle to get at the scrumptious kernel inside.

But I wasn't going to talk about nuts, I wanted to talk about berries. I love berries! Unfortunately most of my favourite ones are already past their season. Raspberries, blueberries, wild strawberries and even elder berries have come and gone. At this time of the year some other, more obscure berries vie for attention - most of them are red and many belong to the rose family. One such candidate is Rowan, also known as Mountain. As the name suggests, Mountain Ash likes the higher altitudes and can be found on altitudes of up to 6000 feet. It seems to like inhospitable places, like rocky outcrops and crevices on windswept hillsides,- which has given it a reputation of defiance and resilience, quite au contraire to its dainty appearance. It is often found along forest margins, as it does not compete well with other, taller trees due to its rather low height. But on the edge of the forest it keeps invasive shrubs at bay and provides ample food and nesting space for birds, who love the red berries. It is also a common sight in city parks and lining urban roads, where it has been planted for its ability to survive car fumes.

planting the future - one seed at a time



That all the earth is fragile and that we must not take from her beyond what she can sustain. Overharvesting, particularly due to commercial collection of medicinal plants has brought many once plentiful plant species to the brink of extinction. As 'plant people', we should adopt an attitude of green guardianship for mother earth, who so plentifully provides for us.

Here are the rules that every forager should live and breathe by:

Get to know the plants that grow around you on a personal, first name basis: familiarize yourself with the herbs, bushes and trees in your neighborhood, try to learn as much as possible about the ecosystem of which you are a part and the plant members of your 'extended family'. Learn to identify them correctly and investigate all their uses. Try to understand it as part of a larger ecosystem. Which animals like it or dislike it? With which other plants does it form communities? Is it native or invasive? Does it protect the ground or deplete it of any of its nutrients? How does it 'fit' into its environment? What can you learn from its chemistry? Building this kind of holistic knowledge base will give you a much deeper insight into the nature of a plant and its role within the ecosystem. Its a lengthy process, but vital if you want to truly get to know your plant friends and the habitat you share.

It is especially important that you learn to identify the poisonous plants you are likely to encounter, lest they inadvertently end up on your dinner plate, which could be most unpleasant or in the worst case scenario, even lethal. The importance of this point is completely obvious, but cannot be stressed enough. Some people hold the false and dangerous belief that what can be found in nature cannot harm them. DO NOT EAT ANYTHING YOU CANNOT POSITIVELY IDENTIFY AND DEEM SAFE. When you think you know a plant, think again and see what other, non-edible look-alikes might be fooling you. This is even more important when it comes to collecting mushrooms, as there are many poisonous mushrooms out there that have evolved to be masters at deceiving unsuspecting mushroom hunters. There are also many more potentially deadly mushrooms with edible look-alikes than there are deadly plants with edible look-alikes.

Don't be greedy!

Familiarize yourself with the plants that are listed on the endangered species list for your area. Apart from being unethical, it is also highly illegal to pick endangered plant species. Instead of taking rare plants, consider sowing their seeds in the wild.

Only pick as much as you need and never take ALL the plants of any one kind in a given patch. After harvesting an area give the plants plenty of time to recover before returning to the same patch. Be especially conscientious when it comes to harvesting roots and barks. Remember that often harvesting roots means the death of the plant, so before you start digging ask yourself if this plant is really plentiful and if it can sustain a harvest of its roots. If in doubt, don't collect. Consider growing some in your garden rather than depleting natural stands. Collecting barks can also be fatal to a tree. If you must collect this part, try to collect it from smaller branches rather than the stem, from branches that have fallen, or from trees that are due to be cut for other purposes.

However tempting it may look, never pick in places that are subject to pollution from roads, industry or heavy spraying of farm chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers etc.). And don't collect from nature reserves either - these are areas set up to protect wild species, so give them their space and let them be!

Cast seeds of native species to the earth and to the winds once in a while - as a way of giving something back. Consider adopting a little patch that you are particularly fond of. When you are out and about, never leave any litter behind, but try to bring some back with you - I always carry two bags, one for foraging and one for litter picking. Give thanks to the plants and to Mother Earth who has provided them.

In Association with


ACTION CALL: Southern Amazon Under Threat

TAMBOPATA, PERU (2 October 2007)

Parrot Claylick near Tambopata Research Station, PeruDeep in the south of Peru, in a corner of the Amazon that has long slumbered under National Park status protection as one of last great wildness areas and biodiversity hotspot, has had a rude wake up call: A legal amendment proposed to the Ministers Council on September 25, 2007 aims to reduce the Bahuaja Sonene National Park by 209,000 hectares (516,000 acres) and open it to oil and gas exploration, among other activities.

Governments tend to be happy to protect wilderness areas so long as they consider it worthless, but once someone deems its natural resources as precious, they clamber to lift any and all protections and are happy to sell any piece of pristine nature down the drain - not to mention the livelihoods of the people who depend on it!

The Tambopata Region, once a bit of a rough neighborhood of gold diggers and dubious cross border traffic. But over the past decade or so things have started to around for the local population. Some innovative eco-tourism companies pioneered some sustainable eco-tourism projects in the area and started to put this region on the map. Sustainable livelihoods based on protecting, rather than exploiting the forest were created and the image of the area and the economic situation of many of its inhabitants completely changed.

Now all this is under threat. The protected and pristine forest to the west and south of Tambopata Research Center in Peru, a famous ecotourism destination, may be profoundly affected by this new amendment - and although they are located most closely to the area in question, other eco-tourism ventures in the area will likely be heavily affected too, as the whole region will be perceived less of a desirable travel destination.

Endangered Giant River Otters, Candamo-TambopataThe area at risk is an uninhabited and pristine tract of rainforest in the Candamo and Tambopata basins, home to record numbers of plant and animal species, declared by The National Geographic Society as one of the world's seven "iconic natural sanctuaries." Thousands of ecotourists visit Madre-de-Dios every year to experience the incredible spectacles of hundreds of parrots and macaws at clay licks. This is also one of the last strong holds of the world's largest otter - the Giant otter, and jaguars and other large wildlife are also abundant in the area.

Environmentalists allege that a consortium of oil companies have been behind a new bill which aims to reduce the area of Bahuaja-Sonene National Park by 19.22%. It is thought that the oil and gas companies may be capitalizing on the country's recent misfortunes caused by an earthquake to push through what would have been an unpopular proposal under normal circumstances. A high-ranking government official linked to protected areas has already resigned in protest.

It would be a devastating loss, not just for the people who live in this area, or for the wildlife that no doubt would be doomed. And it would be a statement of moral and ethical bankruptcy of the Peruvian Government if they really buckle to the financial pressure of these avaricious companies.

Please sign the petition:
Save the Candamo -Tambopata

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easter (33K)For those of you who might have missed it - we are offering a new destination! Pack your bags and journey on down to Patagonia, ...or the Atacama...or the Chilean Lake District...or Easter Island...or Tierra del Fuego...a plethora of other fantastic places.

You guessed it, our new destination is Chile. We have gathered some fantastic tours of long and short duration to show you places that are difficult to get to on your own, some hidden gems in the vastness of this awesome and varied country. Don't know much about Chile? Pop over to Sacred Earth Travel and read the feature article on Chile in the current issue of Ambles and Rambles.

Or take a look at the full list of Chilean Adventures. Keep in mind that we can always create a personalized itinerary, tailor made to fit your travel dreams.

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile, PatagoniaDISCOVER TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK

Rated as one of the top 10 hiking destinations in the world, Torres del Paine National Park is truly incredible. Mountains, glaciers and raw nature congregate into a landscape composition that simply boggles the mind into speechlessness. If you love nature and the outdoors this is a destination you just simply should not miss. We offer Torres del Paine as a soft adventure 4day trip and as a 7 day hiking trip. The 4 day tour is designed for the physically less active, who wish to spent the nights in comfort or those who wish to combine the stay with another Patagonian or Lake District adventure. The 7 day hiking trip is a group tour that departs every monday between November and March. Departures are guaranteed with as few as 2 participants. This trek is physically more demanding and participants should be in good shape. Several of the nights are spent at 'Refugios' - mountain huts. This is one of the world's greatest classic treks.

Torres Del Paine Eco-Camp
Torres del Paine 7 day Trek

Make sure you check over your gear before you go on an adventure trip like this! If you still need anything, take a look at Altrec - they often have sales and discounts and offer a great range of every conceivable outdoor gear item.

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From Hunting and Gathering to Sowing and Reaping

Human EvolutionPrehistory is a very dark and mysterious chapter of our human ancestry. Hundreds of thousands of years lie between our earliest beginnings and our present incarnations. Not just human beings have changed tremendously in their physique and habits, but the world has changed as well. Prehistoric climate changes, popularly known as the 'ices ages' have had a dramatic impact on the places we inhabit and the foods that were available to us.

The actual timeframe of human evolution still remains a matter of dispute among archaeologists and anthropologists. It is generally agreed though, that the earliest hominids populated Africa, where bones have been found thought to be at least 3.5 million years old. But 'Lucy' as archaeologists have named her remains was not very similar to modern humans.

Homo erectus, who shared far more characteristics with us, first appeared as a distinct species somewhere between 1.8 - 1 million years ago. He inhabited Europe as early as 900 000 BC, a period referred to as 'lower paleolithic'. Around 600 000 BC the use of fire developed, sparking a number of significant cultural developments. Sites in southern France and Spain bear witness to these earliest Europeans. From these roots the prototype of prehistoric humans, known as 'Neanderthal Man' developed. However, this species eventually died out, while his cousin 'Homo sapiens' eventually evolved into Homo sapiens sapiens about 100 000 years ago, inheriting all the skills and many features of his predecessors. It took approximately another 90000 years before the cultivation of crops began. For the previous million years or so man survived on his hunting and gathering skills, which must have been impressive.

Prehistory is generally poorly understood. After all, we have few things to go by in order to reconstruct daily life as it might have happened in those distant days. Most of what we think we know is deducted from the very few finds at archaeological digs, predominantly derived from European sites and the Middle East. Needless to say, this perspective is strongly biased. Which sites are chosen for excavation is a very haphazard business, usually augured by some lucky find. It takes money, resources and interest to pursue the matter further. Most explorations have been driven by the enthusiasm of one dedicated researcher. But no doubt numerous other sites still slumber on, deeply buried beneath multiple layers of dust and dirt that have accumulated through the ages.



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Plant Profile: Corn (Zea mays)


Indian Corn - blue corn, red corn yellow corn - all shapes and sizes

Zea mays - Poaceae

Botanical drawing of corn, flowers, leaf, fruitThe mother grain of the Americas hardly needs describing - it is so familiar a plant that every child knows it. And it can hardly be overlooked. Corn is a giant among the grasses - growing over 2m high, it covers vast stretches of land and dominates many rural landscapes. The sturdy, fibrous stalk with its characteristic broad angularly bent over leaves is a familiar sight. The ears develop in the leaf axils though they are so well covered by the outer sheathing (husks) that they can barely be seen, were it not for the tuft of hair, the stigma that protrudes from the top of the cobs.

Corn is among the earliest cultivars of the New World. Its wild relative and genetic parent is a species of Teosinte (, or rather, two species of Teosinte that interbred. However, the argument has not been settled beyond doubt, although most researchers believe that modern was first domesticated in Mexico. There are at least 5 species of Teosinte today, but it is impossible to say if any of these was the direct ancestor of our modern corn, or whether in fact the original variety that gave rise to our domesticated corn has become extinct.

Evolution of cornAlthough Teosinte of course resembles corn in many ways the differences between wild and domesticated species are quite distinct. Most notably Teosinte's cobs are tiny and its seeds are hard and covered by a tough skin. Also, upon ripening the ears break off and the seeds are released. Domesticated corn holds on to the ears and does not release its seeds voluntarily. In this respect corn has become entirely dependent on man, It is difficult to estimate how many hundreds or thousands of years it might have taken for corn to evolve into the shape and size we know today, but so far the oldest archaeological evidence for domesticated corn comes from Guilá Naquitz Cave near Mitla in the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico, which has been dated to approximately 6250 years ago..

What may come as a surprise though, is that corn appears to have been used in Asia for much longer than is commonly assumed: it is generally believed that prior to Columbus there was no contact between the old world and the new, yet, certain archaeological findings in southern India and China, featuring corn and other new world plants seems to prove this conventional theory wrong. Carl L. Johannessen stumbled across some very precise carvings at temples in the Karnataka region of India, which were built during the Hoysala Dynasty, between the 10th and 13th century. Carl L. Johannessen and Anne Z. Parker, "Maize Ears Sculptured in 12th and 13th Century A.D. India as Indicators of Pre-Columbian Diffusion," Economic Botany 43 , 1989, 164-80, argue that stone carvings of maize ears exist in at least three pre-Columbian Hoysala stone block temples near Mysore, Karnataka state, India. Their article provides 16 photographs of a few of the sculptures in question. . The accuracy of the depictions are quite remarkable. Not just one but numerous distinctive features of maize are represented true to life as a record cast in stone. Yet, many scholars have found it difficult to accept the idea of pre-Columbian contact and have thus projected their own interpretations onto these sculptures - none of which seem terribly convincing.



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BOOK REVIEW: The Uses of Wildfoods

The Uses of Wildfoods
Using and growing wild plants of the United States and Canada
Frank Tozer
Green Man Publishing
262 pages
General Index
Index of Common Names

With this book Frank Tozer has attempted to create an encyclopedic guide to the uses of wild plants. Although subtitled 'Using and Growing Wild Plants of the United States and Canada' he actually includes a fair number of European Natives as well, plus some lore and uses derived from that continent, rather than focusing only on the Americas. Not that I would fault that - it ads to the multifaceted nature of the information included in this book.

This book presents a multitude of interesting and useful information, gathered together in one source - no doubt a laborious task. However, it is not a foraging handbook as such, since it lacks description and useful images to help with identifying plants. It is more useful as a supplementary adjunct, say, to a Peterson's Field Guide. Once you have identified a plant you note the Latin and Common names and check it with this book to see if it has any interesting uses. And in this way you can learn about the plants you discover in your neighborhood. Read more...


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Click on 'Stop the Clock' to sign the Conservation International Petition to stop species loss!

Biopiracy: Namibian Government to act against plant pirates

The Namibian (Windhoek), 20 August 2007
GOVERNMENT will set up a special committee to combat unlawful exploitation and trade of biological products, which include plants like hoodia, devil's claw and marula nuts. Namibia needs to guard against unlawful exploitation and bio-piracy, but has no such policies and laws in place, Cabinet noted during its latest meeting. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism is drafting a law on Access to Biological Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge, which Cabinet expects to be finalised before the end of this year. Trading in these products, which often means exploitation for financial gain without including indigenous people, who have centuries-old knowledge of the use of such plants, requires regulation to avoid exploitation, Cabinet noted. Bio-prospecting contracts lay down the rules of benefit sharing between researchers and countries, and can bring royalties to less developed countries. The fairness of these contracts has been a subject of debate.

Vietnam: Rare trees threatened nationwide

Source: VietNamNet Bridge, Vietnam, 22 August 2007
As the price for sua trees (Dalbergia cochinchinensis) is very high at present, sua are being hunted throughout the country. Measures have been taken to protect this rare species. According to experts, sua timber is thought to be rare and valuable, and is used for spiritual purposes and for disease treatment in China. In Vietnam, sua is considered a first-class prime timber, as it is hard, durable, easy to work and resistant to insects.

Thailand: Bringing back the forests

Source:, 2 August 2007
With our own hands, we can help the planet by planting trees, returning greenery to deforested areas. But with a trick or two, the greenery can more quickly return to a natural forest that a range of wildlife can call home. This is what has happened in the upper Mae Sa valley, in the heart of Chiang Mai's Doi Suthep-Pui National Park, 1,328m above sea level. Here, a 21 hectare section of the 4,480 hectares of spoiled forest has been brought back to life, thanks to a reforestation programme using what experts call the "framework species method". Contrary to most state reforestation programmes, which simply fill areas with a single species of tree, this reforestation plot in the upper Mae Sa valley is rich in biodiversity. "The trees we planted have attracted wildlife and accelerated the regeneration of the natural forest," said Steven Elliot, an expert from the UK at the Forest Restoration Research Unit of Chiang Mai University (Forru-CMU). Forty years ago, the upper Mae Sa valley was an abundant tropical forest that protected the rain-catchment areas of the Sa River, which flows into Chiang Mai's Ping River, a main tributary of the Chao Phraya. The forest, however, was cleared for farming, and subsequently abandoned after it became infertile. Consequently, the rain-catchment area almost died. Since 1996, however, Forru-CMU has been working with local villagers at Ban Mae Sa Mai and the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park officers to save their forest, using the framework species method. The trick is to grow fast-growing pioneer trees together with shade-tolerant climax trees, which not only help accelerate regeneration but also attract seed-dispersing wildlife and birds to accelerate the return of biodiversity to the forest.

UNEP launches 2010 Biodiversity initiative

Source: Afrique en ligne, France, 18 July 2007
The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) has inaugurated a multi-million dollar effort to track the fate and fortune of the world's biological diversity, the UN agency said in a media communiqué issued here Wednesday. Funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), The 2010 Biodiversity Indicator Partnership aims to complete a set of indicators that will allow the international community to better assess whether conservation efforts are succeeding towards the target of "reducing the rate of loss of biodiversity by 2010". Under the new US$8.8 million partnership, which has secured over US$3.6 million from the GEF, a wider range of existing and new indicators will be brought together to gain greater and deeper insight into whether the 2010 Biodiversity Target is on course. "This new partnership helps ensure that the bar is raised around the globe for accounting for biodiversity loss," GEF chief executive officer, Monique Barbut, said in the communiqué.

Cinnamon helps fight against bird flu

Source: World Poultry Net, 8 August 2007
Technology has been created whereby cinnamon extract is used as an air disinfectant against bird flu in airports, or as a daily supplement that protects people against the common flu. Tel Aviv University technology transfer company Ramot has signed an agreement with Frutarom, a multinational neutraceutical company based in Israel, for applying a technology of using a cinnamon extract in a whole host of applications from disinfecting the air as a spray against avian flu in airports, to a daily supplement that protects people against the common flu. The discovery was made by Professor Michael Ovadia, of Tel Aviv University's Department of Zoology.

Cork: Plastic, not axes, threatens cork forests
Source: Reuters in ENN Daily News, 6 August 2007

TEMPIO PAUSANIA, Sardinia -- If you buy a bottle of wine with a metal screw-top or a plastic cork, you won't just be thumbing your nose at tradition. You may also be dooming the world's cork forests. That is the view of environmentalists and cork producers who have joined forces to protect cork oaks -- and the unique habitat they provide -- from competition in the wine trade. Alternative 'corks' are ever more common, as synthetic and aluminium wine closures have grabbed a 20 percent share of the market, up from just 2 percent in 2000, according to wine industry consultant Stephane Rein of Rein Consulting. She says that could increase to 35 percent by the end of the decade. "Silicone corks are not a problem for quality wines, they'll always use cork," said Battista Giannottu, an agronomist who works with a consortium representing Sardinia's cork producers. "But the mass market, which is 80 percent of the total, might (use synthetic corks). That's not just an economic problem but an environmental one." The Quercus suber, or cork oak, which grows on both the European and African sides of the Mediterranean, provides the raw material for practically all the 20 billion wine corks used every year. The way cork is harvested -- shaved off the sides of trees like the way a sheep is shorn -- means forests continue to thrive as they give up their valuable bark. In Sardinia, the only region in Italy that produces cork, the forests are a haven for wild boar, a species of hawk native to the island and Sardinian deer.

Karite: Breakthrough botanical for joint pain

Source:, USA, 26 July 2007
The shea nut is making inroads as a proven way to combat inflammation and joint pain, naturally. The inflammation reducing properties of shea nut compounds called triterpenes make it the most powerful inflammation fighter of any known botanical. If you are dealing with joint pain and want to begin or continue an exercise program, shea could be an important part of your plan to stay active and keep joint pain at bay, according to Len Smith, President & CEO of BSP Pharma which makes FlexNow (TM) Joint Formula, a dietary supplement with only one active ingredient shea nut triterpenes. "It's a vicious cycle," said Smith. "If your joints ache, you are less likely to exercise. And if you don't exercise, your joint problems are likely to get worse," he says. The power lies in the unique complex of shea nut triterpenes that occur naturally in the shea nut -- the pit of the fruit of the karite tree, gathered in the wild in Africa. Shea has been known for centuries for its health benefits as a food and topical preparation. It's the same source of shea butter, long a component of quality cosmetics and even gourmet chocolate. The inflammation reducing qualities of shea have only recently been discovered. Pharmacological and clinical research has confirmed inflammation reducing properties of the shea nut triterpenes. Unlike glucosamine and MSM, shea nut triterpenes work to reduce inflammation directly, stimulating joint health. And some of the best and brightest minds in joint inflammation and arthritis research are taking a fresh look at shea nut triterpenes. Clinical studies can be found by visiting

For full story, please see:,146730.shtml

India: Over 400 native herbal plants on verge of extinction

Source: Zee News, India, 27 July 2007
Expressing concern over rampant uprooting of thousands of medicinal plants in different parts of the country, chairman of National Biodiversity Authority S Kannaiayan said as many as 427 native herbal plants (medicinal plants) were on the verge of extinction. If the trees were uprooted then the property of the herb itself might get affected, he said at a function of private college here last evening. "We can only pluck the leaves and use it as raw material." He said as per a World Health Organisation survey, 80 per cent of people in the developing countries were using only native and traditional medicines for ailments and better health. This had increased the need for medicinal plants. Referring to India, he said there were about 15 000 medicinal plants in the country, and the main reason for the rich herbal plant diversity was the country's climate. India stood second to China in the export of medicinal plants, and the country exported plants worth Rs 3000 crore a year. More than 500 organisations were involved in the export of herbs. He later told newsmen that a people's biodiversity register was being created at a cost of Rs 10 crore to document the information on the country's rich flora and fauna

For full story, please see:

Blogging Underutilized Species

Global Facilitation Unit for Underutilized Species,
We have set up a blog dedicated to underutilized species. This is an information exchange tool that complements the GFU portal. We hope this will stimulate further thinking, learning, discussing. A link to it can be found on GFU's home page. For more information, please contact:

Global Facilitation Unit for Underutilized Species
Via dei Tre Denari 472/a
00057 MACCARESE (Fiumicino)
Rome, Italy
tel: +39 06 6118-302
fax: +39 06 61979661
Rainforest Alliance online database now features more than 1,000 conservation projects in the Americas

From: Rainforest Alliance
The Eco-Index (, an online database of conservation projects in the Americas created by the Rainforest Alliance, now features more than 1,000 projects in English and Spanish. The site also recently started including projects in the United States and Canada, making it the premiere vehicle for the conservation community to share information about initiatives in the Americas. The Eco-Index has grown steadily since it was launched in January 2001 with 70 projects. Now, the 1,000 plus projects in the database represent the work of more than 700 non-governmental organizations, research institutions, and government ministries in the Americas. Project profiles outline contact information, summaries, objectives, funders, budget, accomplishments, lessons learned, methodology, links and reports. The Eco-Index also offers a variety of other resources to conservation researchers. Users can check out a bimonthly bulletin called the Eco-Exchange about environmental issues and success stories in the Americas and read interviews with conservation leaders and field staff. Users can also subscribe to a monthly e-newsletter in English or Spanish that lists new projects that have been added to the Eco-Index. An average of 20 projects are added or updated on the Eco-Index each month. Project directors can submit descriptions of their projects on questionnaires available on the site or by emailing Eco-Index staff fact check, edit and translate the questionnaires into English and Spanish. Brazil-based project profiles are also translated into Portuguese. The Eco-Index is also home to the Western Hemisphere Migratory Species Initiative (WHMSI) Pathway (, a clearinghouse of information about migratory species conservation in the Americas; and the Eco-Index of Sustainable Tourism, a searchable database of sustainable tourism operations in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Eco-Index is sponsored by the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s International Division and Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act; the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Coral Reef Conservation Fund; the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund; the Inter-American Development Bank; the Spray Foundation; and the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Program of Costa Rica. For sponsorship information, visit

WIPO Recognises Developing World Rights

The World Intellectual Property Organization has adopted a fresh agenda that recognises the rights and needs of developing countries.

Artemisinin 'Promising' As Leishmaniasis Treatment

Researchers in India have found that the antimalarial drug artemisinin can kill the parasite that causes leishmaniasis.

State to protect shrubs, and traditional healers' rights

DATE: 7 October 2007
by Bobby Jordan

The government has stepped in to save a tiny South African plant from extinction after hundreds of tons were harvested for foreign drug companies, one of which has patented its use to fight HIV/Aids. Now traditional healers, who have used the plant for centuries, are trying to win back the patent which they claim is rightfully theirs. The matter has become so heated that the Eastern Cape government has banned all further harvesting of the plant pelargonium -- part of the geranium family -- until further notice. But illegal harvesting of pelargonium, also known as umckaloabo and klawerbossie, continues in the hills around Grahamstown and Alicedale and has led to dozens of arrests, according to Eastern Cape researchers. Now the Department of Environmental Affairs has decided to review all biological prospecting projects to make sure they conform to new regulations that protect the commercial rights of traditional healers.
"Biodiversity now a top priority"

Viet Nam News, 15 September 2007.
More than 100 biologists and intellectual property managers from Switzerland and research agencies across the southern region met in HCM City to discuss the protection of inventions related to biodiversity and genetic resources.]
"Debate ensues over Peru's 'natural Viagra'",

NBC, 3 September 2007.
Long before the drug Viagra, Indians in Peru had their own libido enhancer -- an unassuming root called maca. Maca caught the attention of a US company, which got a patent on it, and just a few months ago, Wal-Mart started selling the tonic.]


Oct. 16-18, 2007

The Future of Forests in Asia and the Pacific: outlook for 2020
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Recent and unprecedented economic and social change in the Asia-Pacific region has significantly altered the way forests are regarded and used. It is in acknowledgement of a new kind of society-forest dynamic in the region that the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission, in partnership with member countries and other international organizations, is conducting the second Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study (APFSOS II). This major international conference is being organized to strengthen the consultative and capacity-building processes of APFSOS II by bringing together diverse stakeholders and expertise to provide broader perspectives on emerging changes, probable scenarios and their implications for forests and forestry in the region.

The conference will provide opportunities to present selected voluntary papers. Main discussion areas and subjects on which to present voluntary papers will include:

Abstracts (about 250 words) of voluntary papers should be submitted not later than 15 May 2007 and full papers should be submitted not later than 15 August 2007.

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Patrick Durst
Senior Forestry Officer
FAO Regional Officer for Asia and the Pacific
39 Phra Atit Road, Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Tel: + 66 2 697 4139
Fax: + 66 2 697 4445

Oct. 13, 2007

United Plant Savers(UPS) presents "Planting the Future" Flat Rock, NC.

A Conference on the Cultivation, Preservation and Uses of Native Medicinal Plants. Activities Include: Sustainable Harvest Study of Black Cohosh, The Worst Weeds are our Best Medicine, Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief, Medicinal Plants of the S. East and much more. For more information Phone: 802-476-6467 or visit Web Site:

Oct. 17-18, 2007

Enjoy and Protect our Forests
Fontainebleau, France

This conference, held at the site of the beautiful forest of Fontainebleau in France, discusses the results of the PROGRESS project (Promotion and Guidance for Recreation on Ecologically Sensitive Sites).

The project has explored new ways to monitor recreational use in the New Forest and Fontainebleau Forest. The project team have also been investigating the impact recreation has on nature, and ways in which to ease the pressure. For more information, please contact:

Peter Thaxter - Project Co-ordinator
Forestry Commission,
The Queens House,
Lyndhurst, SO43 7NH, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 23 8028 6846

Oct. 18-21, 2007

Building Bridges of Integration for Traditional Chinese Medicine 2007
Chantilly, Virginia (Washington DC area)

Building Bridges of Integration for Traditional Chinese Medicine-Transformation:
Individuals in Balance;Families in Harmony is a landmark educational forum on traditional Chinese medicine for Eastern and Western health-care professionals interested in exploring this medical system's growing role in integrative and complementary health. For more information visit Web Site: or Phone:212-274-1079.

Oct. 19-21, 2007

The 18th Annual Bioneers Conference
San Rafael, CA

The Bioneers Conference is a dynamic, leading-edge forum, focused on practical and visionary solutions for restoring the Earth’s imperiled ecosystems and healing our human communities. For more information visit Web site:

Oct. 22-26, 2007

The 8th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas
Alotau, Papua New Guinea.

The Conference's theme, 'Conservation serving communities, in a rapidly changing world' highlights the inextricable link between Pacific islanders and the natural environment, and the importance of strengthening networks in the climate of global change.

Conference materials are available at For more information, please contact: Conference Coordinator, Ruth Pune,

Oct. 26-28, 2007

Beyond the Basics, Beyond the Books: Clinical Botanical Medicine in Real Life

Venue: Columbia Sheraton: Columbia, Maryland
Dates: preconference intensives on October 25

Nov. 7 - 11, 2007

World Summit for Harmonization of Traditional, Alternative and Complementary Medicine Lima - Perú

This conference aims to explore differences and identify similarities among countries and between CAM practices with the objective of reaching harmonization on regulations, training and education of human resources, research methodologies and product development . Examples of difference practices and available evidence about safety and efficacy of different interventions will be presented by speakers from North America, Europe Asia,and Latino-America. This event is sponsored by the Medical Association of Peru and the Pan-American Health Organization. For more information please visit Web Site: or contact Dr. Gustavo Gonzales President - Scientific Committee .

Nov. 9-11, 2007

Green Festival
San Francisco, CA

Co-op America's Green Business Conference: Build your business and the green marketplace, Connect with like-minded business visionaries, Learn from successful green businesses, Experience inspirational keynotes by exceptional green entrepreneurs, Have fun and enjoy locally produced organic meals and beverages. For more information Phone: 1-877-727-2179 or or visit Web

Nov. 21-24 2007

3rd Global Summit on Medicinal and Aromatic plants
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Medicinal plants in many forms have been used since ancient times in traditional medicine and for health care. Aromatic plants and their products, particularly essential oils, are also becoming more important. Traditional medicine is, at the present time, accepted as an alternative for or used in conjunction with the western medical practice in many countries. The 3rd Global Summit on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants is therefore being organized to provide a forum for the scientists, researchers, representatives from the medical and pharmaceutical industries as well as traditional medicine to discuss, share the ideas, information and experiences for future collaboration in the global development of medicinal and aromatic plant industries.

The theme of the Summit will be "Medicinal and Aromatic Plants in Health Care" with the emphasis on the following subtopics:

For more information, including the call for paper and posters, please contact:

Dr. Thaneeya Chetiyanukornkul, Secretariat
International Centre, UNISERV, Chiang Mai University
239 Huay Keaw Road, Chiang Mai 50200 Thailand
Tel.: + (66-53) 94-2861, Fax: + (66-53) 94-2890

Dec. 17-20, 2007

International Conference on Sustainable Forest Management and Poverty Alleviation:
Roles of traditional forest-related knowledge
Kunming, China

Traditional knowledge has greatly contributed, and still does, to the world’s natural and cultural heritage by sustaining the production of multiple goods and services that enhance livelihood security and quality of life. This conference will provide a platform for sharing of information and exchanging experiences related to Traditional Forest-Related Knowledge (TFRK) in the Asia Pacific region. The conference will also highlight the importance of TFRK towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable forest management. It should also encourage further development on incorporating TFRK in models of sustainable practices.

Jan. 7-18, 2008

Plants in Human Affairs
South Kona, Hawaii

"A lovely retreat center in South Kona". a living laboratory of rare plants and biodiversity, provides the perfect setting for this course, Led by renowned ethnobotanist Kathleen Harrison and ethnopharmacologist Dennis McKenna, this 12-day, four-credit intensive taught amongst tropical and rare plants of Hawaii, will introduce students to the fascinating science of ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology and the role of plants in human affairs through lectures, field trips and presentations by local experts.

This course is open to the public, UMN students, and students at other universities. It will provide participants with cross-cultural perspectives on humanity's age-old relationship with plants, medicines, and an appreciation of the contributions that indigenous plant wisdom has made to the evolution of medicine and the discovery of new medicines from nature.Course fee of $2,200 includes lodging, meals, and field trips.(Tuition and airfare not included). For information and to register, contact Carla Mantel at email: or phone:(612) 624-5166.


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