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Welcome to the Sacred Earth Newsletter

Happy Spring, almost!

wichhazel (62K)This newsletter was supposed to be out before Christmas, or, no later than New Years, or, at the latest by Valentine's...Well, I am happy to say, at least I made it before Spring Equinox :-)

It wasn't laziness that has caused the delay. I have been busy with many projects, but I am not trying to make excuses, I just want to thank you for your patience.

This newsletter has not been easy to write. Some of the issues I wanted to talk about are disturbing. With RIO+20 coming up there are important global problems to face, and writing about these is not an abstract process, it went right underneath my skin. And to the same extent that I became aware of the magnitude of these problems and their repercussions in the world, I also became aware of the prevalent public reaction to them, which is deafening silence and denial.

Denial is a schizophrenic state of mind - it requires us to live in two realities at the same time. We know something terrible is happening, yet we pretend it is not and carry on as normal. I wonder if this is what happened in response to the holocaust during WWII, or during the 400 years of slavery - a widespread schizophrenia pervading all levels of society, because the truth was too awful to face and 'what could one individual do, anyway?' It is shocking to realize that we continue to allow the same forces to wield their evil, here and now, in the 21st century. As long as we do not face the truth and learn from the past history will continue to repeat itself.

It is easy to get overwhelmed or depressed, but that would be like giving up, numbing ourselves to the pain of awareness. The challenge is to find ways to become part of the solution. We may not be able to change the whole world, but only we can change ourselves. Make a difference - be the change.

"you never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete".

Buckminster Fuller

Green Blessings

February, 2012

P.S. Just a brief note to say 'thank you!' to all of you who joined me at our Sacred Earth Facebook page. It is a lot of fun to have a space where we can interact a little bit more directly. If you have not joined yet, please drop by and stay a while. There is a lot of stuff to explore.

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Plantain (Plantago major)

In the depth of winter I find it sometimes difficult to think about foraging. So far there are few signs of spring and new growth. But, no doubt, soon the earliest heralds of spring will emerge from the barren looking earth and turn Mother Nature's robe green once again. One of the first herbs to reappear after the winter (in fact it seems almost as though they only hibernate) are the plantains. Yet, one rarely really notices them. They are as inconspicuous as they are ubiquitous - everywhere, yet invisible, unless one purposefully goes out to find them. Luckily finding them is rarely difficult. Most everywhere one only has to look down at one's feet, et voila, a plantain manifests in front of our eyes. Native Americans refer to Plantain as 'White Man's Footsteps' as this plant seemed to be following the white man wherever he went. But that did not stop them from adopting the plant into their own materia medica.

Narrow-leaved, or Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) and Broad-leaved Plantain (Plantago major) are best known for their medicinal properties. Ribwort Plantain makes an excellent cough syrup and Broad-leaved Plantain in some places is still part of a children's first aid tradition - it is after all, an excellent herb to instantly alleviate the pain of insect bite or a scraped knee.

But plantain species are also edible. I have to admit that it is not my favourite edible and I rarely pick it. It is not that the flavour is particularly unpleasant - it is just mildly bitter, but the parallel veins are really stringy and older leaves are tough. However, I shouldn't get down on this useful herb. While I would never make a salad or greens-spinach solely from this species, a few young leaves here and there are not bad at all. They are extremely versatile: chop them up (the finer the better) and add them to salads, or 'cream of the meadow' type soups or blend them with other more flavourful herbs such as wild garlic, yarrow leaves or ground ivy to make a wild weed-pesto. The flower buds are also edible and can be used raw or stir fried. Given the abundance of these herbs one never has to worry about picking too much and endangering local stands. Plantains are among the most persistent 'weeds' and this unassuming and generous herb deserves a great deal of gratitude, both for its healing properties and as a profusely available edible.

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
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pursuit of happiness (6K)

happiness is a garden full of flowers (174K)As sentient beings we experience the world through our senses. Evolution has perfected each of our organs of perception not only for survival, but also for the experience of pleasure. Seeking pleasure, or, in Aristotle's words, 'the pursuit of happiness' is one of the most primary motivations of human psychology. However, the paradigms that define what exactly constitutes happiness have changed quite dramatically over time. Aristotle saw virtue as the path to achieving happiness, which to him meant total fulfilment. But others have interpreted the pursuit of happiness as the quest for ever more refined sensory pleasures: seductive scents, exotic epicurean delights, erotic thrills...anything to titillate the senses.

Over the centuries wo/mankind has shown considerable inventiveness and imagination with regard to developing novel methods and strategies to that end. Plants, more than anything have played a significant role in that quest. Flowers beautify our world. Their scents often arouse deep feelings, too primordial to put into words, while herbs and spices can transform an ordinary meal into an explosion of flavours that enthral the palate - and more.

Plants are complex beings with a highly diverse biochemistry that interacts with our own in innumerable and intricate ways. The division between plants that nourish and plants that heal, stimulate or intoxicate is quite arbitrary - nature does not often comply with the compartmentalizing conceptions we project on it for the sake of our own convenience.

Essential oils, for example, present in numerous culinary and healing herbs, may exert a powerful effect on the digestive system by stimulating the appetite and the production of gastric juices. They may also kill potential pathogens. But most importantly from a gourmand's the point of view is their alluring power of seduction and enchantment. The old adage, 'love goes through the stomach' holds true to some degree, but before the enticing morsel is allowed passage down the hatch, it has to pass the olfactory gateway.

bacchus (74K)Essential oils also affect the nervous system and in turn just about every part of the body. They can relax, arouse, or invigorate, relieve tension and anxiety, or 'energize the chakras', and thus enhance the capacity for emotional experiences, not only with regard to the food in front of us, but also of that which may follow after dinner. A skilled chef knows how to make the most of the nutritional and sensory qualities of their ingredients to create a veritable 'feast for the senses'.

The perfume industry also knows the powerful potential of essential oils and makes ample use of them in their alluring potions. However, more than just picking the sweetest and delightful scents they mix in subliminal amounts of quite unpalatable substances such as musk and civet that affect human physiology through subtle signal substances called pheromones. Human beings as well as animals produce such substances in their sweat glands. They constitute an invisible, but powerful signal that bypasses the rational mind. Some plants also produce such substances and these have long been used as ingredients in seductive love philtres and perfumes.

Read the full story


RIO+20:Why REDDis BAD (6K)

rio+ (14K)Much water (and good intentions) have passed under the bridge and gone down the drain since the initial excitement and hope of the original Rio Earth summit. It has become patently clear that no matter how obvious the signs that are screaming at us from the earth, the rivers, the oceans and the skies, the big players are interested only in their continued profiteering, though they have learnt make it look as though they are doing something for the planet. Greenwashing is the term, but that is almost too mildly put. Lies, deception, evading responsibilities and outright rip off are the actual realities.

It is no accident that such 'global' summits are usually held behind closed doors, where so called 'stake holders' bargain over the rights to continue polluting at the lowest possible cost and greatest potential financial return. Meanwhile, the people most affected - both, by climate change and by the bargaining over carbon trading that has been touted as the 'best solution we can hope for', are left outside.

REDDprotest (57K)The deals that emerge are predictable. REDD+ is the fasted road into very muddy waters. Projects vary greatly and to some degree their validity depends on the integrity of those who cut them, but essentially they all have the same aim: land grabbing under the guise of CO2 offset or trading. Typically an NGO (or, deceptively, an NGO branch of a corporation) persuades indigenous people who have hitherto been the guardians of their ancestral lands (and mostly done a pretty good job at it) to hand over their rights to decide on how their forest resources should be used in the future. The devil, as always, sits in the small print. In some cases indigenous people have been displaced and been completely disenfranchised, losing their land and livelihoods in a spurious trade, that puts a monetary value on their forests, which is reduced to its function as a carbon sink and, lately 'bio-services'.

The fundamental problem with this line of thinking is that the very elements that have been responsible for the environmental mess we are in are trying to persuade us that MARKET FORCES will be the only way to salvage the situation. Securing land rights under the REDD+ regulations means carbon credits, which are worth money on the market. In other words, a new trade bubble is being created that investors are gambling on at the stock market casino. However, under the current definitions a monoculture plantation of, say eucalyptus or palm oil represents the same value as virgin forest or secondary rainforest. Yet, the actual ecological impact of such plantations are devastating: habitats and biodiversity are destroyed, local and indigenous communities are deprived of their resources (on which they often depend on for their survival) and furthermore, monocultures are vulnerable to pests and diseases, which in turn implies the need to use pesticides and herbicides.

palmoilplantation1 (96K)REDD+ assumes the premise that traditional land and forest uses for subsistence have the same impacts as industrial agriculture or using land for profit. This is not the case. In fact, innumerable studies testify to the fact that, indigenous people have been by far the best guardians of forest habitats. Yet, REDD+ agreements set out to 'safe-guard' the forest and 'protect' it against the indigenous people who are in fact part of the forest eco-system. It is yet another imperialistic land grab and what is worse, it is happening under the guise of conservation.

Instead of placing the emphasis on reducing carbon emissions at source the focus is on these spurious solutions that in fact only create more problems.

We can no longer rely on those in power to negotiate with OUR best interest at heart. As we have seen, those most affected are kept from participating and from making any kind of meaningful contribution. Their (and our) concerns are mostly ignored. Where business holds the strings of power, positive political impulses for real change are quickly quenched or diverted.

Although many conservationists push the strategy of REDD+ as the best solution that we can hope for, personally I am not at all comfortable with the commodification of nature and her 'bioservices'. There is a huge difference between value and price - especially market price, which can go up and down on speculation. Nature is too precious to be reduced to gambling chips. We are talking about our Mother - how would you put a price on your mother, on her milk and nurture, let alone the myriad of other 'mother services' she bestowed upon her children? We need to get away from the neo-liberal principles of a free market economy so often hailed as a 'self-regulating' force. It regulates nothing. It is driven by greed until the system collapses, as we have seen in countless examples of vulture economics. Instead, we need entirely new paradigms and ways of handling the global crisis instead of pretending everything can be fixed with a green economy and return to 'normal' - i.e. more profits for greenwashed corporations. We need to stop regarding nature as a separate object entity - we as humans ARE nature too, and whatever harm we do to nature, we do to ourselves. There can be no cheating - it will only backfire, on us (as it already does).

This June will see another congregation of the high and mighty at the Rio+20 Summit. What was started enthusiastically 20 years ago, with hope for real change and transformation has turned into oil business as usual as governments and stake holders drag their feet and only agree on the smallest common denominator, only as long as there is something in it for them.

But does it have to be that way? Do we have to resign ourselves to 'leaving it up to 'them' to come up with solutions? This planet is our home - we do not own it, but we share it, with each other and all other species. Maintaining that balance is not their business, it concerns us all - and it is becoming ever more pressing.

Increasingly, people are beginning to realize this and are starting to get organized to create local solutions for many of our most pressing problems: food security, oil dependency, poverty, and more. The network is known as Global Transitions Network and comprises of innumerable micro-initiatives with the aim of putting theories into practice and solving problems locally. The time is ripe for a radical paradigm shift.

Further resources and information



The bitter story of sugar (5K)

sugarcane (79K)The story of sugar is bitter indeed. It is a story of addiction, responsible for millions of deaths, unspeakable suffering, despicable human rights abuses, savage cruelty, ruthless exploitation and social injustice, ecological destruction and last, but by no means least - a legacy of public health problems including dental decay, diabetes, obesity and cancer, which together cost millions upon millions in annual health budgets around the world.

The very earliest beginnings of the story of sugar date back to 15000BC. Sugar cane, a member of the grass family that grows as a tall reed originated in New Guinea, but by 6000BC it had spread to India, China and the Fiji Islands. The Arabs were the first to develop a taste for it. By 600AD they were growing it in Iraq and Persia. At that time Arabs were spreading throughout southern Europe and their most important food plants spread with them. By 750AD sugar cane grew in Sicily and southern Spain. They traded the precious substance, though it was an expensive rarity, mostly sold as medicine.

Sugar's reputation as a medicinal substance has a long tradition. In Ayurvedic medicine different forms of sugar have been used for eons and still play a role as adjuncts to countless remedies. It was known as Sharkara and is mentioned in numerous ancient texts from as early as 600BC. Twelve different types were classified in terms of their quality. The best is said to have been a thin type of reed known as Vamshika.

The process of actually boiling sugar cane juice to make a solid sugar is thought to have originated in India in about 100BC. The result was a concentrated, unrefined type of sugar known as jaggery or gur. Ancient Greek historians described it as 'a kind of honey from a reed, produced without bees'.

A turning point came in 1097AD, when in the course of a crusade holy knights robbed a caravan in Palestine and made off with 11 camel loads of sugar. Almost immediately, by 1100AD Venice became the most important trading port for sugar and prospered as a result.

slave labor (103K)But around 1400AD the Portuguese took over and became the biggest force in the sugar trade. By 1420AD they started to settle the island of Madeira, which had only been discovered the year before. It did not take long before they denuded the island of its natural vegetation in order to plant sugar cane. Slaves were needed to do all the hard work and they were supplied by Henry the Explorer, who in 1444 on one of his voyages to circumnavigate Africa kidnapped a group of 235 natives from Lagos, which he brought back to Seville where they were sold as slaves to work in the new Portuguese sugar plantations. Columbus himself is said to have been involved in these early plantations. Soon after, the same fate befell the Canary Islands and it was from here that in 1493AD Columbus started his second voyage to Hispaniola, carrying in the vault of his ship some sugar cane cuttings, which were soon to bring so much misery and destruction to the New World and dramatically change world history. The history of sugar shows that European expansion did not happen haphazardly. It happened by design and should be regarded as a crime.

At first sugar cane was only planted on a fairly small scale in Hispaniola. One problem that the Conquistadores were facing was that the local native population was utterly unwilling and 'unsuitable' as a work force. Sugar plantations are very work intensive. Clearing land, planting and harvesting by hand in the heat of the tropical sun was back breaking enough, but processing the canes in the presses and boilers to make sugar is the proverbial sweatshop, and dangerous on top of it.

The natives simply refused, preferring to die rather than to perform the work, or if they were forced into this horrendous slavery, they quickly died in droves from the inhumane working conditions. Within 20 years of Columbus arrival in Hispaniola (now Haiti) the native population shrank from an estimated 800 000 - 2 million inhabitants to only 15000 and 30 years later it was completely annihilated.

sugar canes (142K)But, no plantations without slaves. And thus planters turned to Africans, as they regarded them 'made for slavery'. The brutal rounding up of people like animals, tied together and marched for miles to the shipping port can hardly be imagined. How is it possible that human beings can be so cruel and heartless to another fellow human being? The answer lies in denial. Europeans were high on sugar, greedy, power hungry - and willing to sacrifice their humanity for profits. They simply denied Blacks status as a human being, just like the Nazis denied it to the Jews. At best they were considered subhumans, and their lives deemed inconsequential except as a work force. The brutal excesses of slavery are well documented and there is no need to spell them out here in detail. Suffice it to say that about 20 million Africans were forced into slavery and transported across the Atlantic over the course of 400 years (several millions more were sold into slavery elsewhere). Millions of them died from the unspeakably harsh conditions (20% of those that were captured never even survived the journey) only to be replaced by new ones. In the 18th century one ton of sugar on average was worth about one slave. For the 70 000 tons of sugar that England imported in 1801 alone, 35 000 slaves died.

Sugar plantations dramatically changed the demographic face of the world. Over the course of 400 years native populations, especially in the Caribbean Islands were practically obliterated, Africans from a multitude of ethnic backgrounds were imported. Irish, Welsh and Scottish immigrants followed and after the abolition of slavery Chinese and Indians were lured in as a cheap workforce.

In 1747 a German researcher by the name of Maggrave discovered that sugar beets yielded a substance that was identical to cane sugar. Soon Europe began its own sugar production, but it was not until Napoleon issued a trade embargo against transatlantic colonies that Europe's domestic sugar production really took off.

sugarplantation1 (134K)Sugar plantations did not only massively impact human populations, but also had dire ecological effects. Sugar demands good soil and plenty of water and is extremely hungry for expansion. Millions of acres of native forests were decimated to make room for this monoculture cash crop. Water supplies became polluted from the industrial wastes and water tables sank. As in all monocultures, pesticides and fungicides need to be applied in vast quantities thus further polluting soil and water and poisoning workers. Social injustice has been programmed into each and every cash crop economy and even now the vestiges of unfair land distribution determine the political, socioeconomic and demographic patterns in all areas in the world where colonial cash crop powers once ruled.

In all one could say that sugar cane is easily the most destructive cash crop the world has ever exploited. And why? Purified sugar offers no nutritional benefit what-so-ever. It provides nothing, but empty calories while causing major damage to our bodily health. Yet we classify it as a food. Health problems related to excessive levels of sugar in the diet such as obesity and diabetes are costing health services billions each year. Yet, sugar's grip on society's sweet tooth continues unabated - in fact, global sugar production and consumption are still steadily increasing. This sweet desire has driven the world economy for hundreds of years, and with disastrous consequences. However, it is not the plant that is at fault, but our addictive psychology. Addiction and denial go hand in hand. As long as we refuse to acknowledge a problem there is no problem, and we can go on 'as normal', fulfilling our desires while ignoring the consequences. Whether the object of desire is sugar, coffee, tea, cocoa, tobacco - or oil, the patterns that drive consumption and ruthless exploitation are the same.

Fast forward to the here and now:

It is against this background that we should view the issues that are on the negotiating table at Rio+20. Today's problems are to a very great extent a direct result of the historic mismanagement of land and resources, outright ecological devastation and utter disrespect with regard to the rights and sovereignty of local populations or the human rights of the labor force.

Not a great deal has changed since. Worker's rights and conditions, especially in developing countries have improved little and although it is officially abolished, slavery is far from being an issue of the past. In fact, today there are more slaves in the world than there ever have been before. Today's slaves are children - millions of whom work for nothing or just pennies a day to pick cotton or cocoa, make clothes and sportswear, mobile phones and computers - you name it. Millions more work and die in the mines where the precious minerals come from that are crucial for the manufacture of electronics - another one of those addictions that we are in denial about. Our vested economic interests allow the bloodiest holocaust since WWII to take place right under our noses while we turn a blind eye (and satisfy our electronic gadget dreams as we please.)

Today, our strongest addictions are natural resources such as oil, minerals and metals. The modern parallel to the spice wars and slave trade of the 17th and 18th century is the rapacious plundering of these natural resources in places like Congo, where millions are dying in the struggle to control access to these resources. Western powers are not directly involved, though by providing 'development aid' and arms to the wrong people ensures that these evils continue. What is happening in the Congo right now is the bloodiest and most tragic incident of modern exploitation, though sadly, by no means the only one.

"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything."
Albert Einstein

Networking Resources

Eco-Travel Feature:

Manu (6K)

jaguar (88K)Discover Manu National Park, one of the largest areas of intact rainforests remaining in Peru. Manu National Park was established in 1977 and in recognition of its uniqueness was designated a "World Heritage Site" ten years later. Manu is internationally acclaimed as one of the most biodiverse areas on earth. It is home to over 1000 species of birds, 15,000 species of plants, over 200 species of mammals, and untold numbers of insects, and within its heart remain yet uncontacted peoples. Wildlife aside, however, the journey into the park itself is amazingly spectacular and not to be missed.

The most exciting tours to this National Park are low impact tours that make use of simple lodges and campgrounds. No lodges are permitted inside the park, but selected tour operators operate under government license to conduct low impact tours to this incredibly fragile and precious environment. A jungle adventure like no other.

Manu Wildlife Center
Manu Low Impact Tours


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Preserving the Traditional Knowledge of Tribal People in Patalkot - an Interview with Dr. Deepak Acharya

Patalkot valley IndiaSomewhere, hidden deep within the heart of the Chhindwara district in Madhya Pradesh, lies Patalkot, a verdant valley that seems to exist within its own time and space. About 3000 tribal people live here in small villages that are scattered throughout the valley. Until recently few outsiders ever knew this place existed. But now the modern age is encroaching even on this hidden corner, and with it comes the threat of deforestation, which ultimately will undermine the basis of human existence in this fragile ecosystem. So far people have managed to live in harmony with the earth, but with commercial logging moving in that balance can no longer be maintained. Yet, there are few opportunities. The government in Delhi is far away and has no time or concern for the pleas of a handful of tribals. The future of Patalkot hangs in a precarious balance and the scales can be tipped either way.

Dr. Deepak Acharya is an ambassador for the tribals and their pleas. He has dedicated himself to helping to preserve their heritage and lifestyle by means of an independent charity. He also seeks to make the unique knowledge of the tribal people better known. You can visit the website of Abhumka to learn more about Patalkot and the traditional tribal uses of plants.


indigenous knowledge regarding skin care and cosmetic uses of plants part 1

Dr Deepak Acharya and Dr Anshu Shrivastava

Man's dependence on plants for the essentials of his existence has been of paramount importance since the human race began. Primitive man probably had few needs other than food and a little shelter. Civilization, however, has brought with it an ever-increasing complexity and has increased man's requirements to an amazing degree. The man of today is no longer content merely to exist with food and shelter as his only wants. He desires other commodities as well and raw materials that can be converted into many useful articles and products, which incidentally increase his debts to plants.

Since time immemorial, medicinal plants and their uses have been a part of our social life and prove to be powerful allies against various health problems. Though, synthetic drugs have swapped herbal healing at a certain level, renaissance and awareness on herbal medication is coming back. One of the reasons that the home remedies and traditional knowledge are more accepted in the society is their availability in most Indian kitchens and neighborhoods. These medicinal plants are affordable, eco-friendly, and having less or no side effects as compared to synthetic drugs and even can be grown in household kitchen gardens. Drugs in chemical doses or synthetic form have swapped herbal healing at a certain level. But, now people have started realizing various problems related with synthetic drugs i.e. side effects, chemical pollution, cost and availability of drugs. Renaissance and awareness on herbal medication is coming back now. Anyone can easily afford these herbal medicines. Treatment of various ailments via herbs is the oldest form of health care known to all the cultures throughout history. Various parts of herbs like the stem, leaves, roots, flowers, and fruit are used to cure health and skin disorders. In the age of speeding-up medical costs and their side effects, people are turning to herbs, the "natural medicines". Herbs are on menu cards of conscious folks in their regular diets. People prefer green herbs not only because of low fatty oil content for good health but also to maintain and restore their vibrant beauty (Acharya and Shrivastava, 2008)

Authors Drs Acharya and Shrivastavas have been deeply engulfed in scouting for and documenting indigenous knowledge for more than 14 years. In an attempt to feature application of herbs in cosmetics and skin care, authors bring herewith a series of article focusing on the role of 20 different medicinal plants in various cosmetic applications by the indigenous tribesmen of Patalkot ( in Central India and the Dangs in Western India. There will be a total of 20 herbs discussed in a 4 part series. Each article will discuss the role of 5 herbs in indigenous formulations as applied by the tribesmen.

The previous article focused on Soapnut (Acacia sinuata), Aloe (Aloe vera), Neem (Azadirachta indica), Papaya (Carica papaya) and Chickpea (Cicer arietinum) and their cosmetic applications. The current article focuses 5 plants i.e. Lemon (Citrus lemon), Orange (Citrus reticulata Blanco.), Cucumber, Turmeric and Trailing Eclipta and their cosmetic applications by the indigenous tribal people in India. We hope that the readers enjoy this part.

We hope that the readers enjoy it.

lemons (66K)

Lemon (Citrus limon (L.) Burm. f.)

Family: Rutaceae

Vernacular names: Baranebu, Goranebu (Bengali); Motu limbu (Gujarati); Baranibu, Jambira, Paharikaghzi, Paharinimbu (Hindi); Bijapura, Bijuri (Kannada); Idalimbu, Thoralimbu (Marathi); Malai elumichai, Periya elumichai (Tamil); Bijapuram (Telugu); Nimbuka (Sanskrit).

Plant Profile and Distribution: Trees up to 6m in height, with small spines; leaves oblong to elliptic ovate, lanceolate, sharp-pointed, sub-serrate; flowers purple in the bud; fruits ovoid or oblong with a terminal nipple, very acid; seeds few, small. Commonly planted everywhere in India.

Medicinal Importance

Lemon is soothing, energizing and acts in toning the skin. It cures infectious diseases. It provides energy to an aching body, boosts circulation and can be used for cellulite. Lemon is effective in acne, blood circulation, corns, warts, cuts and fungus. It lightens the skin pigment. Lemons are an excellent preventative medicine. The fruit is rich in vitamin C which helps the body to fight off infections and also to prevent or treat scurvy (Chopra et al., 1986). Lemon juice is an astringent and is used as a gargle for throat problems. It is also very effective bactericide and a good antiperiodic and has been used as a substitute for quinine in treating malaria and other fevers. The stem bark is bitter, stomachic and tonic (Duke and Ayensu, 1985).

Traditional Tribal Formulations

Mandukparni (Centella asiatica) whole plant, Chitrak (Plumbago zeylanica) root powder, Karanj (Pongamia pinnata) root oil is taken for cleansing, soothing and conditioning of male facial skin. Grind all the herbs /parts in equal amount and mix with fresh buttermilk and a few drops of Nimbu juice. Apply this paste to the face and neck. Leave on for about fifteen minutes. In another formulation for the same purpose, take Majeth (Rubia cordifolia) root, Harra (Terminalia chebula) fruit and Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) entire herb in equal amount and add a few drops of Nimbu (Citrus limon) fruit juice and honey. Grind all the herbs /parts. Apply this paste to the face. Leave on for about fifteen minutes and allow to dry until the skin feels tight and revitalized.

For suppressing male skin hair growth, a combination of Babuna ke Phool (Chamaemelum nobile) oil, Ghritkumari (Aloe barbadensis) leaf, Ruscus aculeatus rhizome, Mandukparni (Centella asiatica) whole plant and Nimbu is prepared. Delicately massage the complete mixture of herbs/ parts onto the facial skin until it is completely absorbed. Apply this formulation four to five times a week to inhibit hair growth and to reduce skin irritation and ingrown hairs. Use more often if the hair is thick and dark. Always ensure that complete absorption has been achieved before applying any other skin care cream/ lotion to the same area. Avoid contact with the eyes. If the mixture enters the eyes, gently flush with warm water. In another formulation, a combination of Kusum (Carthamus tinctorius) seed oil, Chana (Cicer arietinum) flour, Gehun (Triticum aestivum) flour, Nimbu juice and honey is prepared. This combination can be used as a face pack twice a week. Apply to the skin as a face mask and allow to dry. Once dry, it can be removed by slightly wetting it so it can be rubbed and washed off. Regular use of this application checks hair growth on facial skin after some time.

Equal amounts of Basil extract, Lemon (Citrus limon) juice and Onion (Allium cepa) extract help all types of skin diseases. Those afflicted by pimples can blend crushed Basil with Mint (Mentha virdis) and Lemon juice, and apply to the affected area.

Powder of Ginger (Zinziber officinale) rhizome (one tbsp), Indian Ginseng (Withania somnifera) roots (two tbsp), Chebulic Myrobalan (Terminalia chebula) fruits (one tbsp) and Lemon (Citrus limon) peel (one tbsp). This formulation is taken once a day early in the morning. It stimulates blood circulation and tones the body.

To treat rough skin, mix one teaspoon Almond (Prunus amygdalus) oil with half a teaspoon each of milk cream and Lemon (Citrus limon). Apply every night on face and neck.

Read the full article.

by Dr Deepak Acharya and Dr Anshu Shrivastava


Author's Profile

Dr_Deepak_Acharya (21K)

Dr Deepak Acharya (MSc PhD) is Director, Abhumka Herbal Pvt Limited. He can be reached at deepak at or deepak at For more information about him, please visit and

book_cover (17K)

Dr Anshu Shrivastava (MSc PhD) is Botanist at Abhumka Herbal Pvt Limited, contact him at anshu at or ansh24 at

Dr_Anshu_Shrivasta (14K)

Acharya, D. and Shrivastava, A. 2008. Indigenous Herbal Medicines: Tribal Formulations and Traditional Herbal Practices. Aavishkar Publishers Distributors, Jaipur. ISBN 978-81-7910-252-7.


plant profile Coffea arabica)
camellia sinensis (58K)


Camellia sinensis var. sinensis (China tea).
Camellia sinensis var. assamica (Assam tea, Indian tea)

Theaceae, the tea family


Tea is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 17m high, but is usually kept low in cultivation to facilitate easier picking. There are two main varieties, Chinese tea (Camellia sinensis var sinensis) and Assam tea (Camellia sinensis var assamica. The Chinese tea has smaller, harder leaves with toothed margins and is strongly aromatic. Assam tea has larger and softer leaves.

Prominent white flowers usually occur singly and produce a seed capsule with three compartments, each containing a single, oily seed.

Habitat and Distribution

The geographical origins of tea are uncertain and it is not known whether any truly wild populations still exist. Camellia sinensis var. sinensis is thought to be native to western Yunnan, while Assam tea is native to Assam (India), Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and southern China.

Tea is tolerant of a wide range of climatic conditions, from temperate dry to wet or tropical very dry to moist conditions. It thrives at temperature between 14C - 27C. It does not tolerate frost and temperatures should not fall below 13C or exceed 30C. In the tropics it can grow up to an altitude of 2000m.


Tea is mostly grown in plantations from seeds or cuttings, or as ornamentals. It is almost completely self-sterile and relies on cross pollination by insects. Hybridization occurs freely.


Pu Erh TeaConsidering the omnipresence of tea in cultures all over the world, it comes as a surprise that it only achieved its categorical status quite recently, especially in the western world. Tea has been known in China for approx 4000 years and was used not only as a beverage, but also as medicine, it was chewed as a pick-me-up and even prepared as a pickle.

According to Chinese legend tea was first used as a drink by the mythical emperor Shen Hung in about 2737 BC, but the first written record appears in 350BC in an ancient Chinese dictionary.

Another story traces the origins of the tea plant to the eyelids of Prince Bodhidharma, who had converted to Buddhism in the 6th century. He believed that it was his duty to constantly remain awake and in prayer. At one point he could no longer fight back sleep. When he awoke and realized that he had succumbed to slumber he was so disgusted that he cut off his eyelids and threw them away. From these, it is said, the first tea plants grew. From then on he chewed the rolled up leaves to stay awake.

It is thought that tea has been cultivated in China from about 200BC. By 650AD its cultivation was well established all over China. It had already spread to Japan by 600AD with travelling Buddhist monks who had brought it back with them upon returning home from their studies in China. During the 8th and 9th Century it was used ceremonially in monasteries to help monks stay awake and mindful during their long hours of prayers and meditation.

tea ceremony (94K)The most elaborate tea ceremonies developed in Japan, where each and every movement is prescribed by ritual. It is perhaps the most intricate ritual associated with any food or drink.

The use of tea as a refreshing beverage quickly became popular throughout south-east Asia. Europeans first came into contact with it during the 17th Century as trade began with China. Apparently it was the wife of King Charles II, the Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza who first popularized tea as a drink at court and high society, since she had grown up with it.

The habit of 'taking tea' quickly became popular among the upper classes and the imports of the Dutch and East India Company soared. However, the company's monopoly and high taxes kept the habit a privilege of the rich for about 100 years. But the high prices inspired illicit enterprise as there were many more people who wanted to partake of the beverage than actually could afford the habit at official market rates. As soon as shipments arrived in England smugglers sold as much as they could get their hands on, on the black market. Only a drastic cut in taxes put an end to this practice in 1784.

Boston Tea Party (121K)But prior to this, the East India Company had accumulated such a surplus due to the fact that smugglers were selling tea far more cheaply, that it asked the government for permission to export tea directly to America. The government thought this a fine idea, especially since it provided an opportunity to stock up empty coffers which had been depleted in the Napoleonic wars by imposing a small tax of 3d on each pound of tea sold in the American colonies. The colonists, however, did not think this a very fine idea at all. They so vehemently objected to being taxed by the crown that a mutiny started in Boston when a mob of outraged citizens destroyed a shipment of tea and sank it in Boston harbour in 1773. And, as they say, the rest is history.

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The Herbal Lore of Wise Women and Wortcunners

By Dr. Wolf Dieter Storl
North Atlantic Books
392 pages
ISBN 1583943587

First of all I have to admit that I am completely biased with regard to this book - Wolf Dieter Storl is one of my favorite writers and the German version of this book has been my all-time favorite book on herbalism ever since I came across it more than 20 years ago. It has been my treasured companion ever since.

This book is not about clinical herbalism and formulations - there are already dozens of such books on the market. Wolf-Dieter Storl is a cultural anthropologist by training, not a medical professional. He is also a passionate plant person and gifted story-teller who skilfully weaves his cross-cultural perspectives into the narrative.

The book introduces the reader to different healing philosophies from around the world, from Ayurveda, to Chinese Medicine, to Native American practices, thus putting our own dominant system into a comparative context.

He takes us on a journey that goes way beyond the reductionism prevalent in modern medical science and instead conveys the art and craft of traditional herbalism embedded in the cosmology of the ancients. In western herbal tradition that includes astrology. Storl manages to explain the often complex concepts of astrology in non-technical terms, which enables the student to understand the nature of plants from a completely different angle.

The scope of this book is phenomenal and the insights and pearls of wisdom contained within are priceless. The book covers the uses of herbs not just in terms of their medicinal uses, but comprises the whole sphere of the wise women - food and spices, aromatherapy and beauty care, aphrodisiacs and fertility, gardening and growing herbs, shamanic uses of herbs and more.

He also provides the reader with invaluable advice on how to become a 'wortcunner'. 'What is a wortcunner anyway?' most people will ask. Storl explains the term in the first few pages. 'Wort' is an old word for herb and root, etymologically related to 'Ur' the source and origin of things, while 'cunner' is related to ken=knowing and kin=a close relative. So a wortcunner understands the whole entity of an herb intimately, as a close relative, because the totality of a herb (or person) is more than the sum of its constituents.

This book is a joy to read, taking the reader on a literary walk down the secret garden path to the plant devas themselves. I have learned more about the art and craft of traditional herbalism from these pages than from any other source, and I am delighted that this book is now, finally, becoming available to the English speaking world! A 'must read' for any student of herbalism who wants to go beyond formulas and constituents.


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ethnobotany, agro forestry and NWFP news items

Alert: Occupy our Food Supply - February 27.02.2012

Occupy Our Food Supply is bringing together the Occupy, sustainable farming, food justice, buy local, slow food, and environmental movements for a global day of action on February 27, 2012. Inspired by the theme of CREATE/RESIST, thousands will come together to creatively confront corporate control of our food supply and take action to build healthy, accessible food systems for all.

Industrial agribusiness corporations like Cargill, Monsanto, ADM and Dupont have gained runaway control of our food systems and to take them back, we'll need all the collective power we can manifest around the world. There are few things more personal than the food we put into our bodies every day. Let's ensure that we can stand by the food we eat from farm to fork. Sign up to take action on February 27 to Occupy Our Food Supply!

Read more: Occupy Our Food Supply | Rainforest Action Network

Chevron is Guilty - But still coming up with more excuses

February 2012, Rainforest Action Network

In February 2011, a judge in Ecuador just found Chevron guilty of polluting the Amazon rainforest, ordering the company to pay $18 billion to clean it up. In January 2012, an appeals court upheld the judgment. But Chevron still refuses to clean up its toxic mess in the Ecuadorean Amazon. Tell Chevron that enough is enough, Chevron should clean up Ecuador now. We must stand up for human rights and a healthy environment in the Ecuadorean Amazon, as this will set a huge precedent for corporate accountability.

Read more: Chevron Is Guilty | Rainforest Action Network

Campaign Update – Kenya: Court Recognizes Land Transfer to Kenya Wildlife Service

December 2011, Cultural Survival

Yesterday a Kenyan court recognized the transfer of title to the property known as Eland Downs, from the African Wildlife Foundation to the Kenya Wildlife Service, the government agency that manages Kenya's national park system. The decision is disputed by Samburu people who were evicted from the property last year when former president Daniel arap Moi sold it to the African Wildlife Foundation. In collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, the African Wildlife Foundation transferred title to the property to the Kenya Wildlife Service to create a new Laikipia National Park. The Samburu will continue to argue their right to the property when the court reconvenes in 2012.

The Guardian newspaper quoted the Samburu community's lawyer, Korir Sing'Oei, saying, "The court has turned a blind eye to the pleas of the Samburu community and allowed these illegalities to subsist... The transfer [of the land to the KWS] is totally unlawful and it’s in flagrant violation of the interests of the Samburu community."

Read the full story

The Greed Revolution. Mega Foundations, Agribusiness Muscle In On Public Goods

etc org, Issue # 108 January 17, 2012

Big foundations like Gates and giant agribusinesses like Syngenta are taking an interest in multilateral public institutions committed to ending hunger. The international agencies are having trouble with the “public/private” boundaries. It’s time to evaluate them all.

Download the report here

FAO commissions study on indigenous plants

The Food and Agriculture Organization is to produce an inventory of Top Ten underutilized plants with commercial potential for smallholder production. Bio-Innovation Zimbabwe, an innovation hub acting to develop new business opportunities using indigenous plants, was recently commissioned to produce the report.

Read the full story

Ecuador keeps big oil away from forests

QUITO, Ecuador, Jan. 3 (UPI)
Published: Jan. 3, 2012 at 7:51 AM

A large undeveloped oil field in a national rainforest reserve in Ecuador will remain off-limits to oil companies for at least a year, the government said. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa agreed to keep oil companies out of the Yasuni National Park in the Amazon. The pledge was part of a $110 million fund drive to convince the government to keep the reserve untapped potentially through 2013, the Platts news service reports. The Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini field, in the Yasuni National Park that is part of the Amazon rainforest, holds an estimated 1 billion barrels of heavy crude oil, Platts notes.

Read the full story

A project to catalogue every plant species in Iraq has been restarted, 25 years after it was put on hold because of the political situation in the country. Experts from Iraq are once again working with botanists at Kew Gardens in London to finish the reference work Flora of Iraq, the first volume of which was published in 1966. There are estimated to be around 3,500 plant species in the country but many are not comprehensively documented.

See the video report:

Plants at risk from seed dispersal threats

Drivers of biodiversity loss, such as habitat fragmentation and climate change, are threatening seed dispersal around the globe, a study has warned. Scientists said plant species that were unable to adapt were being driven "to the brink of extinction in most human-modified landscapes". The way seeds were spread in landscapes had to be given more attention within conservation schemes, they added. The findings have been published in the Journal Biological Conservation.

Read the full story

New indication of health risks: *Bt protein toxic to human cells

Test Biotech && CRIIGEN, 17 February 2012

Caen/ Munich - Insecticidal Bt toxins such as those produced in genetically engineered plants can be detrimental to human cells. This is a result of recent research led by researchers at the University of Caen (France). Their experiments showed that toxins produced in, for example, the genetically engineered maize MON810, can significantly impact the viability of human cells. The effects were observed with relatively high concentrations of the toxins, nevertheless there is cause for concern.

For the first time, experiments have now shown that they can have an toxic effect to human cells. According to companies like Monsanto, which produces genetically engineered maize with these toxins, the toxins are supposed to be active only against particular insects and should have no effect on mammals and humans at all. The investigation of effects of Bt toxins on human cells is not a requirement for risk assessment in Europe or in any other region

Another finding of the researchers concerns a herbicide formulation sold under the brand name Roundup. Massive amounts of this herbicide are sprayed on genetically engineered soybean crops and its residues can be found in food and feed. According to the new publication, even extremely low dosages of Roundup (glyphosate formulations) can damage human cells. These findings are in accordance with several other investigations highlighting unexpected health risks associated with glyphosate preparations.

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Monsanto attempts to lockout Socially Responsible Shareholder


Monsanto initially refused to allow a spokesperson for socially responsible investment firm Harrington Investments to speak at its annual shareholders' meeting in St Louis on behalf of a resolution to create a study of "material financial risks or operational impacts" associated with its chemical products and GMOs.

Read the full story

Research Argoecology, not GM

Mother Jones, January 25 2012 via GMWATCH

70 per cent of the global population eats local food grown and harvested mainly by small-scale farmers, gardeners, livestock keepers and artisanal fishers - and they do this mostly without recourse to proprietary chemicals and seeds, write Patrick Mulvany of Practical Action. So agricultural scientists should work with farmers to produce more ecological and healthier food - not GM, says Mulvany in a must read article.

Read the full story

The Mother of all Herbicide Marketing Plans

The Ecologist via GMWATCH 25 January 2012

The USDA is preparing to deregulate Dow's corn that is genetically engineered to resist the highly toxic herbicide 2,4-D. The move will mark the beginning of at least another decade of ramped-up chemical-intensive farming of a few chosen crops (corn, soy, cotton), beholden to a handful of large agrichemical firms working in cahoots to sell ever-larger quantities of poisons, writes Tom Philpott in Mother Jones.

Entire Food Chain Found Contaminated:
New Research Should Nail Coffin Lid Shut on Toxic Bee Killing Pesticide

via GMWATCH, January 10, 2012

The Sierra Club has called on the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the insecticide clothianidin, based on new evidence of contamination in bees and soil. Clothianidin is a neonicotinoid, a class of pesticides that are highly toxic to bees. A new study has documented major adverse impacts from clothianidin, used as a seed treatment in corn, on honeybee health. The results showed clothianidin present in foraging areas long after treated seed had been planted.

Read the full story:
New study:

GM Maize Threatens EU Water

via GMWATCH 11 January 2012

Spanish researchers have confirmed that the weedkiller glyphosate applied to GM crops can leach into groundwater. EU Member States are discussing approving two more controversial GM crops designed to use more of the chemical routinely.

Read the full story:

Scientists examine toxicity of medicinal plants in Peru December 14, 2011

Many developing countries rely on traditional medicine as an accessible and affordable treatment option for human maladies. However, until now, scientific data has not existed to evaluate the potential toxicity of medicinal plant species in Peru. Scientists from the William L. Brown Center of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis led a study using brine shrimp to determine the toxicity of 341 Northern Peruvian plant species commonly ingested in traditional medicine. Their findings indicated over 24 percent of water extracts made from these plant species and 76 percent of alcoholic extracts from the plants contained elevated toxicity levels. The results reinforce the need for traditional preparation methods to take different toxicity levels into account when choosing the appropriate solvent for the preparation of a medicinal remedy. The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health MHIRT program through San Diego State University and was published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.

Brazil: Saving the Amazon, from forest floor up

Source: The Associated Press, 10 December 2011

Just three years ago, Paragominas was losing forest faster than nearly any other place in the Amazon. Today, the town has risen from those ashes to become a pioneering "Green City," a model of sustainability with a new economic approach that has seen illegal deforestation virtually halted. Experts say the metamorphosis is the best hope for showing the 25 million people who live in the Amazon that the forest is worth more alive than dead. The transformation came after Brazil cracked down on 36 counties responsible for the worst deforestation in the Amazon. A resulting economic embargo left the town with two options. It could fight against change, or it could embrace a new path and promote development with minimal harm to the environment. Mayor Adnan Demachki is the unlikely environmental warrior driving the change, a plump 46-year-old bespectacled lawyer who grew up here, and was mayor when his town was one of the worst deforesters. His "Green City" plan aims to halt all illegal deforestation through a mix of enforcement, the creation of the Amazon's only local environmental police force, and promotion of an economy that does not rely on clearing jungle. Instead, the focus is on sustainable development — using managed forestry for a wood industry, and introducing modern farming techniques to increase production while using less land.

New Publication: Fruit Trees and Useful Plants in Amazonian Life

FAO Newsroom, 20 December 2011

A new FAO study released today shows how plants and fruits from Amazonian forests can be used to improve people's diets and livelihoods. The book — which is written in easy-to-grasp, accessible language — seeks to take science out of the ivory tower and put it to work on the ground, in the hands of people. Fruit Trees and Useful Plants in Amazonian Life was co-produced by FAO, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and People and Plants International. It was unveiled today during a ceremony at FAO marking the close of the International Year of Forests. "During the International Year of Forests we have managed to highlight close ties between people and forests, as well as the numerous benefits that forests provide if they are managed by local communities in a sustainable way," said Eduardo Rojas-Briales, FAO's Assistant Director-General for Forestry.

Download here:

European Forest Database Provides Information on Carbon Balances, Biodiversity, etc.

Source: IISD News, 20 December 2011

FOREST EUROPE and the Forestry and Timber Section of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and FAO have launched a web-based resource tool based on their joint State of Europe's Forests 2011 report that also contains new unpublished data on forests, forest management and forest industry in the pan-European region. The tool provides a comprehensive, up-to-date description of the status and trends of forests and forest management in Europe. In addition to characteristics of European forests and forestry data in general, one can access to information on the balance of carbon in forest ecosystems, forest health condition, status of forest biodiversity as well as information on wood energy. Aspects of production, including wood and non-wood products and services, are presented along with information on protected forest areas. The database also provides information on social and economic aspects of the forestry sector.

For full story, please see:

New Eye on Earth global mapping and information service now live

A new global web service allowing users to create maps and visualise data on environmental issues is now live. The new Eye on Earth global public information service brings together vast amounts of data about the environment in a powerful, visual format. The online service has been developed jointly by the European Environment Agency (EEA), an EU body and a leading environmental network and information partner, the geographic information system developer Esri and Microsoft. The partners are showcasing the new service during the Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi from 12-15 December. Organisations across the globe are now invited to join the network and start adding data to the range of datasets already available.

Read the full story:

New Forest Peoples Programme Report

From: Forest Peoples Programme, December 2011

This report, entitled: The reality of REDD+ in Peru: Between theory and practice. Indigenous Amazonian peoples’ analyses and alternatives and compiled by national and regional indigenous organisations in Peru (AIDESEP, FENAMAD, CARE) and the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), collates indigenous peoples’ experiences with REDD policies and projects in the Peruvian Amazon. The report analyses the policies and strategies of the Peruvian government, examines the roles of international agencies and scrutinises pilot REDD initiatives already underway in indigenous territories. Amongst other conclusions the report finds that existing REDD policies and programmes are undermining the rights of indigenous peoples and are likely to lead to conflicts over land and resources. The report calls for alternative rights-based approaches to forest and climate protection based on recognition of land and territorial rights of indigenous peoples and support for community-based climate initiatives.

To read the report, please see:


June, 16–17 2012

Solutions for a sustainable planet” International conference, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) will host a major international event immediately before the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) is held in late June 2012. "Solutions for a sustainable planet" will present a set of recommendations for action drawn from 40 years of work on sustainable development. It will showcase the expertise and perspectives of practitioners and researchers from around the world working to make sustainable development a reality in a diverse range of contexts. It will provide space for dialogue on current and emerging challenges in moving towards sustainability. And it will enable alliances of willing actors to explore how they can work together towards agreed goals, benefiting from mutual learning and accountability.
Solutions for a sustainable planet include:

  1. Means to pay for sustainable development.
  2. Ways to live within planetary boundaries, particularly climate limits, while also addressing social and economic limits and aspirations.
  3. Approaches for addressing rapid urbanisation.
  4. A fair 'green economy' that helps to reduce poverty.
  5. Tools and tactics to promote business models that move us towards sustainable development.

IIED will contribute inputs to the summit preparations around the five sets of "solutions" above, and ensure that the analysis and recommendations for action are widely available. IIEED aims to engage a wide set of organizations in leading and contributing to sessions during the conference. IIED staff will publish a detailed schedule by the end of February 2012, alongside a conceptual framework for the event. "Solutions for a sustainable planet" will be open to all participants. Advance registration is required. For more information, please contact:

Tom Bigg
80-86 Gray's Inn Road
London, England
Tel: +44 (0)20 3463 7399
Fax: +44 (0)20 3514 9055
E-mail: Tom.Bigg at

March 17-28, 2012:

Big Island, Little Planet: Hawaiian, Polynesian, & Global Perspectives on Nature, Culture, & Healing. A 3-Credit Travel Intensive in Polynesia, on the Big Island of Hawaii

Join a small group of nature-lovers on the Big Island of Hawaii, on the slopes of the world’s largest live volcano, Mauna Loa. Ethnobotanist Kathleen Harrison and Hawaiian cultural teacher Momi Subiono will lead this 12-day, 11-night field course, which is open to students of Goddard College, students of other schools, and non-students of all ages. A Goddard advisor will accompany the group, to help facilitate reflection and integration of experiences and new learning. This travel intensive is for people of all ages who have a desire to immerse themselves in the story of plants and a deep awareness of place, experienced through the cultural perspective of Hawaii and its traditions, as they are evolving into the 21st century. We will share examples of global ethnobotany and the principles of interaction that are made evident by the nature-human relationship in many parts of the world. The history of plants in human cultures sets the context for learning about specific cultural examples wherever you are. Together, we will engage our senses, minds, and hearts in clearly understanding how to see nature in a new light, and how to appreciate the intelligence and adaptation of earth-based human societies over the millennia.

More information is available at:

March 30 - April 1, 2012

Wildflower School of Botanical Medicine Presents: Guest Herbal Lecturer Paul Bergner. Austin, TX, USA

Co-Sponsored by the American Botanical Council. Paul Bergner, Clinical Nutritionist & Medical Herbalist, of the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism and editor of Medical Herbalism is coming to teach a weekend intensive! You must register and pay to hold your place in class.

More information is available at:

April 14-15, 2012

Southwest Conference on Botanical Medicine, Tempe, Arizona, USA

Pre-conference Intensive: Natural Medicine for Immune Disorders & Chronic Inflammatory Disease with Robert Rountree, MD. Conference topics include: Chinese Herbs for Athletes; Chronic Fatigue Sydrome; Botanicals for Functional Heart Palpitations; Medicinal Plants of the Havasupai; Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome; Therapeutic Uses of Low-Dose Botanicals; and much more. Herbal experts include: Paul Bergner, Mary Bove, Martha Burgess, Deborah Frances, Cascade Anderson Geller, Phyllis Hogan, Mimi Kamp, Jason Miller, Rhonda PallasDowney, Kenneth Proefrock, Robert Rountree, Jill Stansbury, and David Winston. CE credits for health professionals.

More information is available at:

April 16-19, 2012

ICSB 2012: 11th Oxford International Conference on the Science of Botanicals Oxford, Mississippi, USA

National Center for Natural Products Research, School of Pharmacy, The University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS, USA. This conference is supported by a cooperative agreement between the NCNPR and the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is co-sponsored by the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica/CAS, China; the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR - India); the Ministry of Indigenous Medicine, Sri Lanka; the American Society of Pharmacognosy (ASP); the Society for Medicinal Plant Research (GA); and the Korean Society of Pharmacognosy. The function of this conference is to review, discuss, and explore the confluence of current research topics in natural product chemistry, pharmacognosy, and botanicals. Topic areas include authentication of botanical identity, cultivation, collection, and post-harvest practices for producing quality plant materials as well as an exploration of chemical and toxicological methods regarding botanical quality/safety assessments.

More information is available at:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

HerbDay 2012

Various times, various places – HerbDay will be celebrated around the country. Find an event near you:

May 7 to 18, 2012

11th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), UN Headquarters in New York

The session will focus on "The Doctrine of Discovery: its enduring impact on indigenous peoples and the right to redress for past conquests." The theme corresponds with articles 28 and 37 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss their human rights concerns with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. A comprehensive dialogue with UN agencies and funds is also envisaged.

Pre-Registration is now open. See:

May 26-27, 2012

United Plant Savers & Herb Pharm Present: Planting the Future, Herb Pharm, Williams, OR, USA

Planting the Future is an incredible opportunity to learn from some of the brightest and most passionate teachers in the medicinal herb world. You'll enjoy indoor and outdoor seminars as well as guided plant walks around Herb Pharm's 85-acre certified organic farm and Botanical Education Garden nestled in Southern Oregon's Siskiyou Mountain range.

More information is available at:

June 2-4, 2012

Medicines from the Earth Herb Symposium. Blue Ridge Assembly, Black Mountain, NC, USA

At beautiful Blue Ridge Assembly near Asheville, North Carolina. Intensives: The Neuroendocrine/Digestive Connection with Mary Bove, ND; Managing & Reversing Environmental Illness with Walter Crinnion, ND; and Hands-on Course in Herbal First Aid with 7Song. Other topics: Subclinical Hypothyroid–Diagnosis & Botanical Treatment; Cardioactive Glycosides & Clinical Management of Arrhythmia; Environmental Toxicants and Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, and Type 2 Diabetes, and much more! Herbal experts include: Paul Bergner, Teresa Boardwine, Chanchal Cabrera, Cascade Anderson Geller, Tori Hudson, Chris Kilham, Doug Elliott, Rhonda Pallas Downey, Bill Schoenbart, Jill Stansbury, Michael Tierra, and David Winston. CE credits for health professionals.

More information is available at:

June 20-22, 2012

Earth Summit Rio+20, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This summit is a new attempt by the United Nations in this new millennium to advance the commitment of States and the world community in the major transitions of the twenty-first century. It takes place twenty years after the first historic summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and ten years after the 2002 Johannesburg summit. This call by the United Nations is ambitious. It invites States, civil society and citizens to “lay the foundations of a world of prosperity, peace and sustainability,” with three topics on the agenda: 1. Strengthening the political commitments to sustainable development; 2. Reviewing the progress and difficulties associated with their implementation; 3. Responses to the new emerging challenges of societies. Two questions, closely related, are placed at the heart of the summit: 1. a green economy in the perspective of sustainability and poverty eradication, and 2. the creation of an institutional framework for sustainable development.

For more information see:


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