September 2007


Twenty-three new biosphere reserves join UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) network
UNESCO Press Release – 20 September 2007

PARIS, FRANCE: The Bureau of the International Co-ordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) has added 23 new reserves sites in 18 countries to its global network. The additions were made by the Bureau during its meeting from 18 to 20 September at Organization Headquarters in Paris. The biosphere reserve concept provides context-specific opportunities to combine scientific knowledge and governance modalities to reduce biodiversity loss; improve livelihoods; enhance social, economic and cultural conditions for environmental sustainability. Several biospheres are involved in recovery of traditional ecological knowledge, such as Xiriualtique Jiquitizco, El Salvador. Read the article…

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‘Biopiracy’ requires reasoned treatment
SciDev.net – 20 September 2007

LONDON, UK: The fight against biopiracy must embrace both legitimate science and social justice if biodiversity itself is not to suffer. Scientists have long been implicated, whether actively or tacitly, in developed countries’ campaigns to seek out and secure natural resources to fuel industrialisation and maintain their own living standards. This was the motive behind many ‘scientific’ expeditions to explore and map out the centre of Africa in the nineteenth century. More recently, studying indigenous medicine has become a cost-effective way of identifying active chemical ingredients from plants that might be valuable in modern medicine. Read the article…

Concern Rises Over EU Bilaterals With Developing Countries
Intellectual Property Watch – 20 September 2007

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: Concern is growing in both Europe and developing countries about whether a series of free trade agreements slated for signature later this year will contain overly stringent rules on intellectual property. The European Commission has proposed that the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) it wishes to conclude with 76 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries by 31 December should commit all parties to a robust enforcement of IP rights. The Commission’s thinking behind its efforts to have IP provisions in trade deals it reaches with countries outside the EU was outlined in a ‘market access strategy’ published in April. It identified “poor protection” of IP rights as one of the principal barriers to trade encountered by European firms trying to do business abroad. The EPAs would apply IP protection to the development of new varieties of seeds by multinational firms. Environmentalists have argued that these provisions could prove inimical to small farmers using traditional varieties of seeds, with adverse effects on nature conservation and biodiversity. “We are seeing the privatisation of a lot of seeds and agricultural knowledge,” said Charly Poppe from the Brussels office of Friends of the Earth. “Traditional knowledge is being given to corporations who grant themselves the right to sell seeds in the future.” Read the article…

Languages Racing to Extinction in 5 Global “Hotspots”
National Geographic News Release – 18 September 2007

WASHINGTON, USA: From Alaska to Australia, hundreds of languages around the world are teetering on the brink of extinction—some being spoken only by a single person, according to a new study. The research has revealed five hotspots where languages are vanishing most rapidly: eastern Siberia, northern Australia, central South America, Oklahoma, and the U.S. Pacific Northwest. More than half of the world’s 7,000 languages are expected to die out by the end of the century, often taking with them irreplaceable knowledge about the natural world, said David Harrison, a linguistics professor at Pennsylvania’s Swarthmore College.
Read the article…

African S&T institutions ‘need focus and structure’
SciDev.net – 18 September 2007

MBARARA, UGANDA: The developing world must come up with new institutional working practices and structures if science, technology and innovation (ST&I) are to thrive and produce socioeconomic growth. This was the consensus of delegates at an ST&I symposium in Mbarara, Uganda last week (14–15 September). According to Roberts Muriisa of Uganda’s Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) institutions should refocus to address local needs and use local knowledge. “There is vast indigenous knowledge and researchers should link with the custodians of this knowledge for demand-driven research and technology,” said Muriisa. Read the article…

Snow Leopards Earn Their Keep in Tourist Dollars
IPS News – 18 September 2007

JAMMU, INDIA: Cyber Tracker software, when fed into ordinary smart phones and hand-helds, transforms them into devices that enable local communities to get better involved in local biodiversity issues. The synergy between indigenous knowledge and modern information and communication (IC) technology has been found to vastly improve environmental monitoring. ‘’The signs recorded by the trackers are fed into computers to make a map of the spots where sightings are common,’’ explained Rigzin Tundup, an engineer from Ang village who also became a champion of the snow leopard survival after attending a Snow Leopard Conservancy workshop in India. Read the article…

Why Conservation Efforts Often Fail
Science Daily – 20 September 2007

INDIANA, USA: Modern conservation techniques have brought us the resurgence of American bald eagles, sustainable forest harvests and the rescue of prized lobster fisheries. So how can modern conservation strategies also have wrought such failures, from the catastrophic loss of Guatemalan forests to the economy-crippling Klamath River salmon kill in 2006? In a special issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Indiana University political scientist Elinor Ostrom and colleagues argue that while many basic conservation strategies are sound, their use is often flawed. The strategies are applied too generally, they say, as an inflexible, regulatory “blueprint” that foolishly ignores local customs, economics and politics. Read the article…

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