visit our sister site:
banner (17K)

Volume VIII, issue 2

In this issue:

Welcome to the Sacred Earth Newsletter

nymphea colorata - waterlilyFirst of all I'd like to thank all of you who have taken the time to extend their warmth and sympathies and sent me your kind thoughts by e-mail in response to my last editorial - I really appreciated all of those greetings and I hope I managed to get back personally to everybody who wrote. If I forgot anybody, please forgive me, and know that your kindness meant a lot to me.

Life has moved on of course, as it will, and I am emerging into new life and light, gradually, after a long period of being submerged in a quagmire of necessity. There are many things stirring inside of me that I hope I will be able to get out in writing one of these days soon.

But for now it is time for another newsletter. (Please don't ask whatever happenend to the summer issue. It just didn't, ok?) As the conkers are banging on my door and bombarding the cars outside my house, I feel compelled to get writing again. I do so love this time of the year, with all its falling treasures, and in this limited virtual way, I wanted to share a bit of it with you. I hope you are are enjoying the season as much as I do.

Happy Autumn Equinox!

September, 2009

I would love to hear your comments, so please send your feedback to:


line.gif (2K)
foraging for Cornelian Cherries (Cornus mas)

Cornelian Cherries (Cornus mas)

Foraging Cornelian Cherry - Cornus mas (109K)As I pondered the question of what to write about for this fall's newsletter I realized it was time for some experimentation. We have covered most common nuts and berries that are out at this time of the year and I feel reluctant to talk about mushrooms. I am no expert on that subject, so, I am afraid and there are just too many risk factors for me to tell you which ones are good and which ones to avoid. Mushrooms often come with 'look-alike' partners, that maybe very poisonous indeed, or at least could make you very sick.

So, when I looked around the neighborhood I noticed this berry, which I knew was edible, but I had never paid much attention to. You may have noticed it too, in a suburban garden near you. The berry I am talking about is called 'Cornelian Cherry' - a member of the dogwood family, which originally came from Eastern Europe, but is now commonly planted as a small ornamental tree in suburban gardens throughout Europe, the UK and North America. In Eastern Europe it has long been utilized for various concoctions, wines and pies, but in the West next to nothing is known about it, except that it is edible. However, the ancients seem to have made good use of it and it is mentioned in several early Greek texts. Apparently it was fed to pigs. Men also ate it - even as a kind of substitute to Olives, as Columella, writes in the 1st century A.D. in 'On Agriculture':

Cornel-berries, which we use instead of olives ...should be picked while they are still hard and not very ripe; they must not, however, be too unripe. They should then be dried for a day m the shade; then vinegar and must boiled down to half or one-third of its onginal volume should be mixed and poured, but it will be necessary to add some salt, so that no worms or other form of animal hfe can be engendered in them, but the better method of preservation is when two parts of must boiled down to half its original volume are mixed with one part of vinegar.

Cornelian CherriesSo, I decided to experiment. I tasted one of the scarlet red berries right off the tree. What it tastes like? Hard to describe, but if you'd ask me, I would not really want to try it again. The berry is tart. That is about the only thing that can be said about it. It does not (to my palate at any rate) possess a distinctive flavour.

Following that I kept procrastinating. After all, what was I to tell you? And so, as you will have noticed, my newsletter, which was supposed to be out at the latest by early September, stayed dormant. Finally my conscience was bugging me. It felt as though your spirits were all calling me, wanting to know what's up and what may be foraged at this time of the year.

I began to read all I could find about this berry (which wasn't much). One significant remark pointed to the fact that only berries that had fallen to the ground were palatable, and another mentioned that they would taste better after the first frost. I did not want to wait that long, but when I revisited that bush in my neighborhood there were plenty of berries that had fallen to the ground. By now they were no longer red but almost black and very soft. I scooped up a small bag full and went home, wondering what I could do with them. My experimentations are still in the early stages, but the first came out remarkably well. I decided to make an apple and cornelian cherry crumble, and it was perfect.

Cornelian Cherry stewThe 'cherries' contain a small seed. It is pointless to try to de-seed them before you start. There is not a lot of fruit flesh surrounding that inner kernel and squeezing it out just creates a big mess. I decided to just cover the berries with a little water and heat them, stirring vigorously and squeezing and mashing them up as they heated in the pan. That did the trick. I ended up with a soupy red stew with a lot of pips and skin, which I eventually strained out. Any berries that had not yielded up their kernel by this time were discarded as well. I figured they could not possibly be ripe. I had strained the liquid through quite a large holed sieve so as to allow a lot of the solids to remain in the liquid. Then I returned the pulpy liquid to the pot and reduced the watery part by heating it for some time until it became quite thick. Next I added an equal amount of sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon and allowed it to stew some more. Hmmmm! Now it started to taste really good! It's amazing what a little sugar and cinnamon can do.

For the crumble I adapted a simple, straight-forward recipe.

Apple and Cornelian Cherry CrumbleSieve the flour and blend with the sugar. Cut the butter into small chunks and rub into the flour mix until you get a bowl full of crumble dough. I used about half of this to line the tin (butter it, or line with baking paper). Peel and cut the apples into thin slices and blend with the Cornelian Cherry stew. Distribute evenly in the pie pan. I poured the rest of the stew over the apples for extra juice as there wasn't that much left. Then cover with the remaining crumble mix and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 50 minutes or until the crust turns golden brown. It turned out quite delicious, I just regretted not having thought of making some vanilla custard sauce to go with it. Oh well. Next time.

Hm - not much left of it.
It went down the hatch before you could say 'Cornelian Cherry Pie - which I admit, is a bit of a mouthful.

If you search hard enough, especially in old recipe books you may find more recipes, or jellies, jams and even wine and liqueur or sorbet. I was quite happy with my experiment and would use cornelian cherries again for a pie or crumble - even in favour of blackberries, which are often traditionally used in combination with apples. The tartness of the berries really complements the sweetness of the apples in this kind of dessert and incidentally, weight by weight Cornelian Cherries provide about twice the amount of vitamin C as oranges do.

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


food  for thought - Finding sustainable solutions to world hunger and poverty

Human Rights and DignityWhat does the concept of human dignity and human rights mean in the face of hunger and poverty? A poor and hungry person cannot pursue his self-development to the same extent than one whose basic needs are met - however much we declare that they should be able to unfold and that their lives are endowed with the same intrinsic value and dignity than anybody else's.

Prompted by the current 'food focus' of my newsletters, I have been contemplating these issues and to refresh my memory, I reread the declaration of human rights, which was originally adopted by the United Nation General Assembly on December 10, of 1948. It still stands as the most significant appeal to all that is humane and noble in our species. It makes very interesting reading, not least to remind ourselves that sometimes even the most atrocious events can bring forth something innocent and worthy, couragous even - at least as intent.

Unfortunately, that is where it ends, as far as actual every day reality goes. Human rights continue to be kicked and bruised on a daily basis throughout the world by even the most 'civilized' of governments - there are no exceptions.

Intent is a good start, but it must be infused by will and converted into action in order to manifest as reality. Otherwise they remain lofty ideals, void of meaning in the REAL WORLD. As the saying goes...the road to hell is paved with good intentions...

The noble stances of this declaration seem almost naïve today, when we consider the realities of life in the 21st century and the many problems we continue to battle. Conscientiousness and hope for a better world continuously clash with the base forces of selfishness, power-mongering and exploitation of the weak and needy. And sadly, the noble ideal becomes blurred and diluted in the face of the colossal interrelated problems in which we are all entangled.

Food CrisisIt is easier to focus on the mess and wail rather than to keep the vision alive and strive, against the odds, for a better world. Our global problems can at times seem overwhelming. Take 'hunger' for example. We all know there are hungry people throughout the world; perhaps even in your neighborhood. According to the declaration of human rights everybody has the right to food and shelter (article 25). Yet, millions of people are starving, just as they did 60 years ago or at any time in history, and in many cases, worse.

Read the whole article

Here are some resources for further inspirational reading:

Vandana Shiva speaking on 'The Future of Food and Seed - Justice, Sustainability and Peace in the 21st century' at the Organicology Conference in Portland OR Feb 28, 2009


Film Premiere


by Steve O. Taylor

For two years (2007-2008) filmmaker and ethnographer Steve Taylor filmed in Sierra Leone, Gabon, Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The completed work ‘’Africa’s Green Heart’’ presents imagery and personal interviews of today’s most pressing environmental problems in the Congo Basin. Topics such as diamond mining, logging, illegal hunting and the bushmeat trade are exposed, along with an amazing contrast of socio-economic conditons in the heavily deforested Sierra Leone and forest rich Gabon.

October 19, 2009
Yellow Pavilion, Algarrobo Room
La Rural exhibition grounds, Buenos Aires

travel (3K)

Affordable Christmas Escapes

If you want to get away this Christmas without breaking the bank, think Central America. Flights are comparatively cheap and there are lots of reasonably priced adventures and escapes, even at Christmas. In particular I would suggest Nicaragua. Why, because it offers both - wonderful culture and fantastic natures. And it is still a hidden gem. The Pacific beaches are gorgeous, Leon and Granada have some of the finest colonial architecture and best cuisine of Latin America, and if you want to go on adventurous tours - the the cloud forest in the north, volcano climbing, birdwatching or take a trip up the San Juan river, it is all at fairly easy access. For the more laid back crowd - how about some serious chilling on Corn Island, in the Caribbean?

You'll be surprised by the gentle and friendly ambiance and Nicaraguan charm. Check out some of our Nicaraguan short adventure packages, or just ask - we can customize an itinerary entirely to your preferences.

Teonoste Eco-Lodge, Nicaragua

Punta Teonoste
Nature Lodge and Beach Spa

Punta Teonoste Nature Lodge and Beach Spa is an exclusive boutique property located on the southwestern Pacific coast of Nicaragua. Our spectacular beachfront setting, amidst native fishing villages is close to Nicaragua's premier surf break. The elegant, yet unobtrusive design of the bungalows, constructed of natural materials and incorporating many native elements in their interior design, makes guest immediately feel at home. Each two-storey bungalow features hand-crafted furniture made from natural materials, ceiling fan, an exquisite open-air private bathroom and a hammock patio, perfect for relaxing to the sound of the ocean's surf.

Exclusive location and great service in a wonderful, natural setting is what distinguishes this unique beachfront resort. Other amenities include 1 mile of private beach, swimming pool with ocean view, meditation lounge, beachfront yoga studio, Spa and Gym, business center with wireless internet access, library, bar/restaurant, room service, laundry service. A range of activities (mountain biking, surfing, snorkeling, horseback riding on the beach, turtle watching, fishing etc.) and tours can be arranged at the hotel.

Green Season Special Rate
(May 16 - Oct 31, 2009): US$90 per person, per night (incl. breakfast)
The lodge is located about 2 ½ from Managua airport. Transfer from and to the airport is not included in the package rate. Transfers (each way, based on 2 people travelling together) are US$60, per person.

Morgans Rock Eco-lodge, Nicaragua

Morgan's Rock
Hacienda and Eco-Lodge

Morgan’s Rock Hacienda & Ecolodge is truly a place for nature lovers. It is part of a 1,000-hectares tree farming and reforestation project as well as an 800-hectare private nature reserve and large natural sanctuaries along the Pacific Coast of Central America. Most of the fifteen bungalows offer picture perfect views of the ocean (especially at sunset). The bungalows are probably like nothing you have seen before. While they have been soundly designed to offer shelter from rain, sun or wind, each bungalow 'breathes' nature (though they are fully screened). Some may have a tree growing out through the roof but all enjoy an indoor beach garden hosting your own private outdoor shower. All bungalows feature a king size bed, a comfortable sofa bed, a desk and a private deck with a day bed. The bathrooms feature two sinks and a solar heated shower. There is 24 hour electricity and laundry service is available daily (no A/C). A wide range of activities and excursions is available.

The surrounding forest adds privacy and peace to each unit. All bungalow access requires stair and path walking. The bungalows are connected to the main lodge by a stunning 110-meter suspension bridge crossing a forested canyon. Important: Morgan's Rock needs advance notification regarding any inability to walk steps or crossing the hanging bridge.

Green Season Special Rate
(May 16 - Oct 31, 2009): US$225 per person, per night
Includes 3 meals per day, local beer and non-alcoholic drinks and some tours (that take place on the property) Transfers from/to Managua airport are $60 per person.

line.gif (2K)

Phaseolus vulgarisEating Beans for Weightloss and Heart Health

We have been talking a lot about food, hunger, agriculture and the development of civilization. But this discussion would not be complete without a thorough investigation of beans. 'Why beans?', you may ask.
Well, for lots of reasons they deserve a special place on our tables. But, let me start at the beginning.

Beans belong to one of the most widespread and diverse botanical family, known as Fabaceae, or Leguminosae, which occurs throughout the world - as bushes, herbaceous shrubs, herbs and trees. It is estimated that there are about 619 genera with about 18815 species (depending on whose authority you accept). Naturally, not all members of this large family are edible, but it must be said that a very large number are valuable in one way or another, as food, medicine, dye plant etc. Furthermore, many Leguminosae are able to fix nitrogen in the soil (with the help of a bacteria) - a definite boon, as this atmospheric gas is necessary for plant life, but mostly unavailable to plants unless it is fixed in the soil.

There are an incredible number of varieties of beansEdible members of this huge family come in an infinite variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Peanuts, carob, lentils, chickpeas, green and yellow peas, kidney beans, green beans, broad beans, black beans, mung beans - and, economically probably the most important bean of all: the soy bean - to name but a few.

Pulses are among the oldest domesticated plant species: beans, peas, chickpeas and the like. According to the archeological record, the history of their cultivation both in the Old and the New World goes back 5000 - 6000 years (some claim even earlier dates). Botanists talk mostly about two different genera, the members of the Vigna family (Old World) and the Phaseolus species (New World). They have become so much adapted to our needs that they have lost the ability to disperse their seed naturally. Originally seedpods were designed to 'explode' upon ripening and drying. But if you have ever grown peas or beans, you will be aware that modern varieties no longer do this. This is convenient for us, but seriously endangers the plants survival independent of cultivation.

What makes pulses so important as a food stuff is their high protein content. There are plenty of plants that provide carbohydrates in the form of sugar and starch, but not very many that provide a decent amount of protein. This is particularly important in places where other sources of protein (meat) are not readily available or not utilized due to religious or ethical considerations. In conjunction with another staple, such as wheat, corn or rice beans provide practically all our protein requirements (some pulses have a better protein profile than others).

Green BeansIt is also the reason why pulses have long suffered the stigma of being peasant's food. While the rich could afford to eat meat, peasants ousually had to make do with beans and rice as their main source of protein. Another reason why beans may have long been denied a place on the table of polite society is most likely their 'musical'(and smelly) nature. Interestingly, only dried beans produce this effect - green beans are innocent and accordingly, were eagerly adapted to haute cuisine and high society.

rice and beansRice and beans, refried beans, dhal, black-eyed beans etc. are regarded as 'soul-food', the sustenance that provides the foundation of many ethnic cuisines. In view of our growing problems of hunger and population growth, it may turn out that beans will save the day.

At present a large percentage of grain and pulse production goes into feeding livestock, but this proves to be a highly inefficient way to fulfill the world's protein requirements - it takes 7kg of grain to produce 1 kg meat. Land could be used far more efficiently if it was used to grow food for direct human consumption.

Read the whole article

line.gif (2K)


plant profile: Oats - Avena sativa


(Avena sativa)

Oats - Avena sativa


A member of the Poaceae family, which has also given us wheat, rye, barley rice and maize. Oats differ from our other major grains in that the fruits do not grow in an ear of tightly packed seeds but rather in a pendulous panicle, with the seeds dangling freely in the wind. Its colour is of a distinctive bluish green tint.


Oats are fairly hardy in terms of their soil requirements. However, although they can tolerate heavy soils and a cool and rainy climate, they do not like the shade. In Europe Oats are cultivated mostly in the northern countries, northern Germany, Brittany and Normandy in France, in western parts of the UK, Wales and Scotland, Irelands, and Scandinavia. It can even be grown in Iceland. In eastern Europe its range extends down to the Ukraine. Some varieties (which are not grown commercially to any great extent) can tolerate the much drier climate of the Mediterranean. Today it is also grown in almost every State of the continental United States and Canada. However, as it is largely grown as fodder for livestock the area given to it has been much reduced since the rise of the soy-bean.


A field of oatsOats seem to have originated somewhere in Eurasia, though their exact origin is not too clear. The archeological record shows that it was cultivated in Greece at about 400BC, though it was not grown in the Roman world until the 1st century AD. Oats seem to have edged their way into cultivation opportunistically. They were practically asking to be cultivated as they consistently appeared as voluntary 'weeds' in amongst the wheat fields. However, at first it was not given much attention, since its seeds broke off or flew off in the wind so easily. It was simply harvested along with the wheat. Eventually it was realized that Oats were actually a valuable species, particularly in northern climates where the weather was not conducive to growing wheat. In northern regions Oats have been found amongst archeological remains that date back to the Bronze Age.

However, as Oats contain little gluten, they are not very suitable for making bread, which was one of the main stays of ancients diets. Instead, it was perfect for gruel or porridge, with its creamy texture and nutty, slightly sweet flavour. In fact, it is an excellent food, with a high protein content, a range of vitamins and minerals and a large proportion of water soluble fiber. In Scotland, which arguably harbors the most extensive oat tradition, the porridge was traditionally prepared with water and salt. The mixture was oured into a special porridge drawer, where it would harden as it dried. This could be sliced up and packed for a nurishing snack while out in the fields. This probably also gave rise to the sweet variant, known as flapjack, a chewy and very filling oat bar. While Oats were grown in many parts of Europe, most of the harvest went to feed the lifestock, especially horses. Only the Scottish seemed to have appreciated Oats fully. There is a funny little joke that sums it up perfectly:

An English man and a Scottish man are sitting in the pub and the English fellow is teasing the Scot: 'Isn't it funny that you Scottish people eat so much porridge and oats? We only feed that stuff to the horses!' 'Aye' replies the Scot, 'that's why the English have the finest horses, and the Scottish have the strongest men.'

rolledoats (78K)Indeed, horse breeders report that a diet of oats will make horses 'excitable' and spunky. But, it appears, the same can be said for men, according to an Australian study in which athletes were given a daily portion of porridge. As a result their endurance levels went up 4 times! No doubt, the realization that oats are energizing gave rise to the idiom of 'feeling one's oats'.

Read the whole article


line.gif (2K)

notes (1K)

Brazil: Can NTFPs help conserve the Amazon?

Source: Amazon Fund, 20 June 2009

Industrial-scale logging and resource exploitation continue to plague the South American rainforests, contributing to their systematic destruction. Today, indigenous inhabitants and other local residents of the rainforests and their surrounding areas, faced with the enormous pressures of the global economy, often find themselves in a crucible. Many of their opportunities for supporting themselves and their families financially involve logging or other large-scale operations that deplete and ultimately decimate the forests. In order to make even a marginal living, local people often find themselves forced to participate in the destruction of the very ecosystems that they live in and depend on. In fact, a recent study in the prestigious journal Science has shown that while deforestation (in the Brazilian Amazon) generates some short-term benefits, it fails in the longer term to improve the quality of life or increase affluence. Thus, deforestation is NOT a critical step toward development.

Instead, a two-pronged approach of compensation for allowing forest to stand coupled with development of sustainable activities that maintain biodiversity and ecosystem services will be of greater benefit. As the world seeks to mitigate global warming and carbon emissions, this latter approach will become more and more desirable and feasible.

For full story, please see:

India: Aboriginal uses and management of ethnobotanical species

Source: Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 4 August 2009

A study by Chandra Prakash Kala on the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2009, 5:20, on the native uses of ethnobotanical species was carried out in the south Surguja district of Chhattisgarh state in India with the major objective of identifying different food and medicinal plant species and also to understand their ongoing management and conservation. Through questionnaires and personal interviews, a total of 73 ethnobotanical species used by tribal and non-tribal communities were documented, of these 36 species were used in curing different types of diseases and 22 were used as edible food plants. This rich traditional knowledge of local people has an immense potential for pharmacological studies. The outside forces, at present, were mainly blamed to change the traditional system of harvesting and management of ethnobotanical species.

The destructive harvesting practices have damaged the existing populations of many ethnobotanical species viz ., Asparagus racemosus, Dioscorea bulbifera, Boswellia serrata, Buchnania lanzan, Sterculia urens and Anogeissus latifolia. The sustainable harvesting and management issues of ethnobotanical species are discussed in view of their conservation and management.

For full story please see:

Nepal: Herb farming shows way out of poverty

Source: (Nepal). 2 August 2009

Jumla - The population of 10 Village Development Committees (local communities of villages) in a Mid-Western district of Nepal have taken to herb farming in a big way. This endeavour, which enjoys support of the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (MoFSC), is helping bail the people out of penury. On top of it, commercial farming of herbs has helped conserve medicinal plants that were in peril in the wild, thanks to unabated collection that was going on till 2005.

The medicinal plants are in high demand in the international market and fetch a good price too, says Laxmi Chandra Mahat, district project facilitator for the herb farming project. "Apart from herb conservation, this project will be instrumental in raising the living standard of local people," says Mahat.

For full story please see:

Peru to pay Indians for Conservation of Amazon Jungle

Source: Latin American Herald Tribune, 9 August 2009

LIMA – The Peruvian government will pay Indian communities for their work in preserving the Amazon jungle as part of an ambitious program that seeks to protect 55 million hectares of rain forest in the country, Environment Minister Antonio Brack told Efe. "One of the worst problems about global warming is that mankind in the last 500 years has destroyed 50 percent of the forests on the planet and that is a very serious problem indeed," the environment minister said, adding that in Peru 10 million hectares (39,000 square miles) of tropical forest have been destroyed. "Up to now development has consisted of the woodland practice of slash and burn to clear land for crops and livestock, but that has given mediocre results because of the 10 million hectares where that has been carried out, 8 million hectares are unproductive. It's shameful and we can’t keep doing it," Brack said. The Peruvian administration's program is not limited to compensating native communities economically, but will also initiate other actions like employing 600 Indians as forest rangers to protect these areas, and to award scholarships so that natives can be trained in such activities as ecotourism and beekeeping.

For full story please see:

Biopiracy: Developing nations demand bio-piracy protection in TRIPS

Source: The Economic Times (India), 10 August 2009

NEW DELHI: India and eight other developing countries continue to be at loggerheads with the US over the issue of amending the agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to include rules on checking bi-piracy. This was necessary as a number of individuals or companies in developed countries were usurping traditional knowledge existing in developing countries for centuries and getting it patented in their names. The group has been stressing that disclosure of origin of biological resource being patented and benefit sharing with the country of origin of the patented resource should be made part of the TRIPS agreement. Speaking to the Economic Times, a government official in the commerce department pointed out that the issue of checking biopiracy through multilateral rules is very important for India as entities in developed countries have been continuously trying to patent properties of biological resources being used in India for generations. The US had granted patents for certain medicinal uses of biological products, like neem (Azadirachta indica) and turmeric (Curcuma longa) that have been known in India for a long time. The US government later revoked those patents. "If we have proper multilateral rules in place for disclosure of origin and benefit sharing, then it will lead to a more just global order and reduce disputes," the official said.

For full story, please see:

Indigenous peoples protect the rainforest with hi-tech tools

Source:, 10 August 2009

Illegal logging is a threat to the rainforests of Peru. But the indigenous communities are using both ancient knowledge and modern technology to protect biodiversity and stop further destruction. The lush green of the rain forest offers rich natural resources which the Ashaninka Indians have lived on for centuries. At the Yoreka Atame school of primeval forestry in Brazil, young indigenous and non-indigenous people have been learning how to make use of them in a sustainable way. Since 2007, the school has taught more than 2,000 participants skills like the cultivating fruit trees, keeping bees, and erecting dams in creeks and lakes to enhance spawning grounds for fish. "That's how we Ashaninka Indians here in the border region between Brazil and Peru want to pass on our traditional knowledge," said Moises Piyako. He cofounded the Yoreka Atame school together with his brother Benki in 2007. To prevent illegal loggers from wreaking further havoc on Brazilian territory, Benki and Moises Piyako demand a world-wide ban on imports of wood illegally felled in rainforests. "There are only a few specimen left of many of the tree species, and we are trying to recultivate these economic plants," they said, adding that there is a lack of understanding for the importance of managing resources sustainable. "We must make sure that our natural resources are not destroyed in the struggle for survival."

For full story, please see:,,4547011,00.html

Killer weeds turn into stylish handbags, sturdy hammocks

Source: Mid-Day (India), 8 August 2009

Marine weeds, considered an ecological hazard in Kerala’s rainforest, turn into valuable raw material when designers and local craftsmen working with Inheritance India come together. Documentary filmmaker Lygia Matthew was shooting the tradition of snake boat racing in Kerala when she encountered locals who survived on the brink of poverty despite skills to fashion breathtaking items from cane and bamboo. Along with four partners, including a naturalist couple who ran a wildlife camp, a professional with the hospitality industry and a financial planner, she set up Inheritance India in 2002.

For full story, please see:
New way to benefit from tropical forests

Source: The Statesman, Kolkata, India, 17 August 2009

Researchers have developed a way to reap social and environmental benefits from tropical forests worldwide, a project which they claim have benefited many global and indigenous community groups in Orissa. A team, led by International Institute for Environment and Development, has said that communities in Orissa have now increased 'access rights' to collect and manage NTFPs in state forest land. The project also involves forest community groups and policy-makers across ten countries in Africa and Asia. “With forests set to take centre stage in a new global deal to tackle climate change, there is a desperate search for proven ways to improve governance to make sure that forest resources are managed for the public benefit.

For full story, please see:

'Trees of life' are vital food source

Source: BBC News, 4 August 2009

The 'famine food' of trees can keep drought-hit communities alive when all other food crops fail, says Miranda Spitteler. In this week's Green Room, she argues that policy makers need to recognise the important role trees play in providing emergency food aid. Food insecurity is a defining characteristic of life for many of the world's poorest people, exacerbated now by climate change and the rise in food prices. Emergency food aid has been the staple of international responses to crises, such as drought and famine for decades. However, it is much better that the emergency is addressed before it happens. Farmer Arzouma Thiombiano from eastern Burkina Faso recalls how trees saved lives in the mid 1980s. "Over 20 years ago, a big famine came but people escaped starvation by eating baobab leaves and fruit," he says. The G8 summit held in Italy at the beginning of July pledged $20 billion to support indigenous food production to alleviate the need for such emergency food aid. What is missing from this pledge is any mention of the key role that trees can play.

For full story, please see:

Cosmetic company finds alternatives to palm oil

Source: Tree Hugger, 10 August 2009

LUSH Cosmetics is washing its hands off palm oil, and is encouraging other multinational corporations to lather up to something else. Found in food products, biofuels, and many cosmetics, palm oil has been pilloried for the destruction of rainforests in Southeast Asia and driving the endangered orangutan to the brink of extinction. The bodycare purveyor—which is phasing palm oil out from its headily aromatic collection of soap and shampoo bars, shower jellies, body butters, and fizzing bath bombs—is now selling a newly formulated soap that is completely palm-free.

For full story, please see:

Medicinal plant fights Chinese desertification, brings profit

Source: Xinhua News, China, 27 July 2009

Hohhot -- When Ulji sold his beloved jeep that was used in herding and spent the money on saplings and herb seeds, his father flew into a rage and shouted at him; "We are herdsmen, herding is what we do." But Ulji never regretted his actions. In 2001, he put all he had on planting cistanche (Cistanche spp.), a kind of herb that has a symbiotic relationship with the desert plant, saxaul (Haloxylon ammodendron). Saxaul is used effectively to fight against impeding erosion, but without its symbiotic partner Cistanche, there is no monetary gain in growing it. Cistanche lives on the slender tendrils of saxaul's root, and is often called the ginseng of the desert. As a treasured traditional Chinese herb, it has been used to treat senile dementia, constipation, E.D. and infertility. It is also believed to boost immunity, improve memory and delay aging.

For full story, please see:

Pakistan: Rewarded for tree planting world record

Source: WWF, 16 July 2009

Lahore, Pakistan - Pakistan set the Guinness World Records for tree planting, beating India in a healthy and productive international competition contributing to preserving fragile and endangered forests. With 541,176 young mangrove trees planted by 300 volunteers from the local fishermen communities just in one day, the country broke the previous 447,874 record held by historical rival India. In response to the achievement WWF awarded Pakistan's Environment Minister Hameed Ullah Jan Afridi the Leaders of the Planet title, an award recognizing individuals making a significant personal contribution to the conservation of the natural world and sustainable development. "This is a wonderful example of partnership between government, local communities and the private sector for a common cause, for conservation,"said Richard Garstang, the head of WWF Pakistan Wetlands Program.

For full story, please see:



September 21-27, 2009:

VII INTERNATIONAL ETHNOBOTANY SYMPOSIO. Universidad Veracruzana, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico.

The Symposium, a non profit research and education International Forum, is thought to promote the scientific research and the dissemination of results in the field. It is open to physicians, pharmacognosists, phytochemists, ethnobiologists, botanists, pharmacologists, historians, philologists, anthropologists and herbalists, for the achievement of frontier communication, contributing for the advancement of research in medicinal plants, their meaning for Man, economy, culture and science, through the World's History. The present Meeting year 2009, in Mexico, in occasion of the X Anniversary of Ethnobotany Symposio, the Fellow Community will debate and lecture on challenging matters, like the vegetal Genome and its implications for World food production, Phyllotaxonomy (Fibonacci and Lucas Series in Botany).

For more information, please visit the website:

September 21-22, 2009

11th Annual BIOECON Conference on Economic Instruments to Enhance the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity
Venice, Italy

The Conference is targeted at researchers, environmental professionals, international organizations and policy makers who are interested in working in the management and conservation of biodiversity. The Conference is focused on identifying the most effective and efficient instruments for biodiversity conservation, such as auctions of biodiversity conservation contracts, payment-for-services contracts, taxes, tradable permits, voluntary mechanisms and straightforward command and control. Special emphasis will be given to policy reforms aimed at increasing the commercial rewards for conserving biodiversity, increasing the penalties for biodiversity loss and circulating information on the biodiversity performance requirements of firms. An increasing number of businesses, which were responsible for biodiversity loss in the past, are now supporters of biodiversity conservation. Markets for organic agriculture and sustainably-harvested timber are developing at double-digit rates, while rapid growth is observed in the demand for climate mitigation services, such as the protection of forests and wetlands to absorb carbon dioxide. Bioprospecting, the search for new compounds, genes and organisms in the wild, is another biodiversity business on the rise. Leading international environmental economists will present their latest research in two plenary sessions. The agenda also includes two panel discussions:

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Ughetta Molin Fop
Fax +39.041.2711461.
E-mail: ughetta.molin at


September 23-25, 2009:

Interherb 2009. Beijing Exhibition Center, Beijing, China.

Interherb is the only standardized international TCM raw materials and food supplement show with the highest exhibition level in China. Interherb is the ideal location for industry practitioner to source for international and local healthcare products. It provides an effective exchange platform for both international and local enterprises seeking to expand their market, develop international cooperation, display & sale products, promoting their brand image and upgrading international reputations. It is the unique event specifically focused on natural healthcare products in China.

For more information, please visit Web site:

October 1-10, 2009:

Botanical Medicine from the Amazon & Machu Picchu.

Each year since 1994, the American Botanical Council (ABC) and the Amazon Center for Education & Environmental Research (ACEER) have co-sponsored ethnobotanical ecotours to the Peruvian Amazon and Andes, introducing hundreds of travelers to the medicinal plants and varied cultures of Peru. From October 1-10, 2009, join noted herbalists and authors Rosemary Gladstar, Mindy Green, and Steven Foster for an unforgettable Peruvian adventure.

For more information and a complete itinerary, contact:
Mary Ann Robinson, ACEER program coordinator: MRobinson at

October 2-4, 2009:

Southeast Women's Herbal Conference. Black Mountain, NC, USA.

A weekend for women to learn, connect, and deepen into the Wise Woman Tradition through herbal education, nourishing foods, empowerment, and community. The conference guest speaker will be internationally renowned Wise Woman Herbalist, Susun S. Weed. The conference now has a heart and soul of its own. For many it has become an annual event, a tradition in education, inspiration, and sisterhood. Our herbal conference community grows stronger and reaches further each year. Join the sisterhood in the ancient Blue Ridge Mountains for a weekend you won’t forget!
More information is available at:

October 3 – 4 2009

4th Shop the Wild Festival, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

The Centre for Non-Timber Resources (CNTR) at Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC will be hosting a public market, a wonderful opportunity for producers & providers involved in British Columbia’s non-timber forest product sector to showcase their goods.

E-mail: bcwild at

October 3-9, 2009:

The 10th Annual Science & Clinical Application of Integrative Holistic Medicine

Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles, Chantilly, VA, USA. Join Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine and the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine for a one-of-a-kind educational experience that includes an up-to-date review of integrative holistic medicine science and research, as well as an opportunity for personal renewal. The course format includes lectures followed by question-and-answer sessions and experiential morning programs. Faculty are renowned experts in integrative holistic medicine and provide practical summaries on a wide range of mind-body-spirit topics.
For more information, or to register, please visit the website:

October 4-9, 2009:

Green Your Life: ACHS Conference & Wellness Retreat

Breitenbush Hot Springs, Detroit, OR, USA. Wellness is a daily endeavor. It requires care and conscious decision making to maintain optimal health. Too often the health care industry sells itself as the health cure industry. But we, the holistic health community, know that in reality, prevention is the only sustainable cure! Save the date today! Contact ACHS Admissions at or call (800) 487-8839 to be notified when more details are available.
You may also visit the Web site:

October 6-7, 2009:

AESGP Conference on Herbal (Medicinal) Products & Food Supplements

Brussels, Belgium. Organizer: Association of the European Self-Medication Industry (AESGP).
For more information, please visit Web site:

October 12-16,2009

Plant Conservation for the Next Decade: A Celebration of Kew's 250th Anniversary
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Richmond, UK

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is hosting a celebratory scientific conference on 12-16 October 2009, "Plant Conservation for the Next Decade: A Celebration of Kew's 250th Anniversary." The program will include three days of scientific sessions in the Jodrell laboratory, showcasing Kew's conservation research and inviting leading international research scientists to present papers in six sessions - Plant Conservation: Policies and Politics; Plant Conservation: Management and Restoration; Plant Conservation and Human Cultures; Plant Conservation and Agriculture; Frontiers of Plant Conservation Technology; and, Plant Conservation: What Can We Afford to Lose?

Keynote speakers include Dr. Peter Raven, Dr. Judy West, Professor Hongwen Huang, Professor Michael E. Kane, Dr. Saw Leng Guan, Professor Richard Hobbs, Ms. Sara Oldfield, the current Director of Kew Professor Stephen Hopper and previous Directors Professor Sir Peter Crane and Professor Sir Ghillean Prance.

Kew now invites interested parties to submit abstracts for posters and oral presentations, to be considered for inclusion in this exciting conference. Participating authors are also invited to contribute to a special issue of Kew Bulletin, subject to standard scientific review. Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words, excluding the title, and the deadline for abstract submission is 9 April 2009.

For more information, please contact:

Plant Conservation Conference
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Surrey TW9 3AB

October 13-15, 2009:

Cosmethica-Naturals In Cosmetics: International Congress on Raw Materials in Cosmetics.
Palais des Congrès (Conference Center), Grasse, France.

To encourage the use of the natural products in perfumery, to unite natural products and ethics in the supply policy and practices, to promote equitable, sustainable, and profitable collaborations - these are the ideals which Cosmethica seeks to bring to fruition. Cosmethica is a new and innovative congress dedicated to those working in the cosmetic industry, organized under the patronage of the Société Française de Cosmétologie (The French Cosmetology Society).
More information is available at:

October 17, 2009

Planting the Future Conference Hosted by the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson


October 18-22, 2009:

IFEAT International Conference 2009. Pudong Shangri-la, Shanghai, China

The international annual conference is the main annual event in the industry organised by IFEAT. The conference provides a stimulating range of focussed presentations on themes impacting on flavours and fragrances. It also provides excellent networking opportunities for traders. There is a special discounted rate for Members.

Essential China: A major consuming market and sourcing partner in a turbulent world. The main themes are the essential oils and aroma chemical industries and market developments in China. Other topics include product quality and food safety; legislative issues, including REACH implementation; and regional market and technical developments.

For more information, or to register, please visit Web site:

October 18-25, 2009

XIII World Forestry Congress. Buenos Aires, Argentina

The main objective of the Congress is to provide a forum for the exchange of personal experiences and for discussions on topics related to forestry activities, involving professionals and other interested people from all over the world. Approximately 6,000 participants from more than 160 countries are expected. Activities at the Congress will include conferences, round-table discussions, poster presentations, parallel events, exhibits, study and technical tours. All will focus on subjects related to the main subject theme of the WFC: "Forests in development - a vital balance." For more information, please visit Web Site:

October 23-25, 2009:

20th Annual American Herbalists Guild National Symposium: 'Herbal Medicine: New Possibilities for Primary Care'
Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel & Spa, Santa Rosa, CA, USA.

'Herbal Medicine: New Possibilities for Primary Care' is the theme of this year's conference. Primary care is the basic non-specialist health care of humans from birth to death, and through all of the spectrum of life’s cycles. This includes birth, pediatrics, men’s and women’s health, and elder care. Herbalists have the potential to make a tremendous contribution to America’s primary care crisis through health promotion, disease prevention, and affordable, ecologically sound treatment alternatives. This conference focuses on providing herbal solutions to many common primary care needs of human beings from the beginning of life to its end, with an emphasis on total family wellness.
For more information, or to register, please visit the website:

October 27–28, 2009

Decentralization, Power and Tenure Rights of Forest-Dependent People
Sadguru Foundation, Gujarat, India

The aim of the symposium is to share recent research experiences of participants and to review state-of-the-art approaches related to decentralization policies and local forest institutions, power and political position of forest-dependent indigenous peoples, pastoralists and tribals, and legislative recognition of forest tenure rights.

For scientific information and abstract submissions, please contact:

Purabi Bose (purabi.bose at

For registration or to co-sponsor, please contact:

Harnath Jagawat (nmsadguru at

For more information, please see:

October 31 - November 1, 2009:

Integrative Medicine Congress. Novotel Hotel Messe/Expo Munich, Munich, Germany

Join 400 doctors, naturopaths, therapists, nurses, teachers, scientists, politicians and health industry professionals at the Integrative Medicine Congress Munich 31. Oct. + 1. November to discuss new models of interdisciplinary collaboration and health care. Participate in advanced workshops and seminars focusing on integrative medicine and biopsychosocial health, enjoy the expert panels, the industry exhibition and engage in interactive panels.
For more information, or to register, please visit the website:

November 6, 2009

Forum on non-timber forest resources, Nanaimo, British Columbia

In partnership with the Canadian Forest Communities Conference, The Centre for Non-Timber Resources (CNTR) is presenting a one-day forum on non-timber forest resources. Themes will explore the values of working together, collaborative community-based research, models for MTFR-based community development, and policy and resource management.

E-mail: bcwild at

December 1-5, 2009:

4th Global Summit on Medicinal & Aromatic Plants. Four Points by Sheraton, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

The 4th Global Summit on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants is being organized in Sarawak, Malaysia (Borneo Island) to provide a forum for the Research Scientists, traditional health practitioners, academicians, representatives from the medical and pharmaceutical industries, conservation biologists, biochemists, NGOs, Government agencies, etc. to discuss, share the ideas, advanced information and experiences for future collaboration in the promotion and development of medicinal and aromatic plant industries.

More information is available at:

January 22- 24, 2010

Circles of Caring NOFA-NY's 28th Annual Organic Farming and Gardening Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Join us for more than 80 workshops, 3 keynote speakers, organic trade show, entertainment, and local organic meals.
Information about Registration, Sponsorships, and Trade Show is available online at
Questions? Contact Greg Swartz (570) 224-8515
conference at

February 25-27, 2010:

Integrative Healthcare Symposium. Hilton New York, New York, NY, USA.

The Integrative Healthcare Symposium held at the Hilton New York, NYC, February 25-27, 2010 is the gathering place for today’s most forward thinking practitioners and professionals seeking the latest research and clinical pearls to improve patient care and expand your practice. Be inspired through keynote and plenary sessions by renowned speakers including Christiane Northrup, M.D., Jeffrey Bland, PhD, FACN, CNS and Jay Lombard, DO.

Register today at, enter Priority Code 100131 to receive 15% off your registration!


line.gif (2K)