A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer

Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands

 

   

This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.

The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.

SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).

 

 

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PAPGREN coordination and support

  • IPGRI
  • ACIAR
  • NZAID
  • CTA
  • SPC
  • PAPGREN
  • CEPaCT

     genebank locations
    Click on the thumbnail to see a map of the locations of Pacific genebanks. Click here to download a regional directory of genebanks in the Pacific, including information on their location, contact details and holdings.

    PAPGREN partners


    Mr William Wigmore
    Director of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture
    Department of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 96
    Rarotonga
    Cook Islands
    Tel: (682) 28711-29720
    Fax: (682) 21881
    Email: cimoa@oyster.net.ck

    Mr Adelino S. Lorens
    Chief
    Agriculture Pohnpei
    Office of Economic Affairs
    P.O. Box 1028
    Kolonia
    Pohnpei 96941
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Tel: (691) 3202400
    Fax: (691) 3202127
    Email: pniagriculture@mail.fm

    Dr Lois Englberger
    Island Food Community of Pohnpei
    Research Advisor
    P.O. Box 2299
    Kolonia
    Pohnpei 96941
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Email: nutrition@mail.fm

    Mr Apisai Ucuboi
    Director of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forest
    Koronivia Research Station
    P.O. Box 77
    Nausori
    Fiji Islands
    Tel: (679) 3477044
    Fax: (679) 3477546-400262
    Email: apisainu@yahoo.com

    Dr Maurice Wong
    Service du Developpement Rural
    B.P. 100
    Papeete
    Tahiti 98713
    French Polynesia
    Tel: (689) 42 81 44
    Fax: (689) 42 08 31
    Email: maurice.wong@rural.gov.pf

    Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
    Head, Research Section
    Division of Agriculture
    Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development
    P.O. Box 267
    Tarawa
    Kiribati
    Tel: (686) 28096-28108-28080
    Fax: (686) 28121
    Email : agriculture@tskl.net.ki; Beenna_ti@yahoo.com

    Mr Frederick Muller
    Secretary
    Ministry of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 1727
    Majuro 96960
    Marshall Islands
    Tel: (692) 6253206
    Fax: (692) 6257471
    Email: rndsec@ntamar.net

    Mr Herman Francisco
    Director
    Bureau of Agriculture
    Ministry of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 460
    Koror 96940
    Palau
    Tel: (680) 4881517
    Fax: (680) 4881725
    Email: bnrd@pnccwg.palaunet.com

    Ms Rosa Kambuou
    Principal Scientist PGR
    NARI Dry Lowlands Programme
    Laloki Agricultural Research Station
    P.O. Box 1828
    Boroko
    National Capital District
    Papua New Guinea
    Tel: (675) 3235511
    Fax: (675) 3234733
    Email: kambuou@global.net.pg

    Ms Laisene Samuelu
    Principal Crop Development Officer
    Crops Division
    Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries & Meteorology
    P.O. Box 1874
    Apia
    Samoa
    Tel: (685) 23416-20605
    Fax: (685) 20607-23996
    Email: lsamuelu@lesamoa.net

    Mr Jimi Saelea
    Director of Research
    Department of Agriculture and Livestock
    P.O. Box G13
    Honiara
    Guadalcanal
    Solomon Islands
    Tel: (677) 27987

    Mr Tony Jansen
    Planting Materials Network
    Kastom Gaden Association
    Burns Creek, Honiara
    P.O. Box 742
    Honiara
    Solomon Islands
    Tel: (677) 39551
    Email: kastomgaden@solomon.com.sb

    Mr Finao Pole
    Head of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture & Forests
    P.O. Box 14
    Nuku'alofa
    Tonga
    Tel: (676) 23038
    Fax: (676) 24271
    Email: thaangana@hotmail.com

    Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
    Head of Research
    Department of Agriculture & Rural Development
    Private Mail Bag 040
    Port Vila
    Vanuatu
    Tel: (678) 22525
    Fax: (678) 25265
    Email: flehi@hotmail.com

    Other links

    Other CROP agencies
    Forum Secretariat
    University of the South Pacific
    SPREP

    Pacific biodiversity
    Biodiversity hotspots
    Breadfruit Institute
    Hawaiian native plants
    Intellectual property rights
    Nature Conservancy
    PBIF
    PestNet
    SIDS
    WWF South Pacific Program

    Other Pacific organizations
    Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific
    Micronesian Seminar
    Te Puna web directory

    Pacific news
    Cafe Pacific
    CocoNET Wireless
    Island Directory
    Pacific Islands News
    Pacific Islands Report
    Pacific Islands Travel
    Pacific Time
    South Pacific travel
    Time Pacific

    Interested in GIS?
    DIVA-GIS

     

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    Sunday, October 23, 2005



    "Basket-Baby" in Fiji
    Originally uploaded by Reinhard.Pantke.
    Unusual use of banana leaves...

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    Agarwood in PNG

    There's an interesting article on agarwood in PNG on the WWF website here.

    "WWF is collaborating with local authorities and other non-government organizations to provide education and training to local communities about the importance of agarwood as a resource, and encouraging sustainable management of the industry. These training workshops come under a project funded by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. As part of a pilot project, agarwood management teams have been set up in selected locations around PNG to work directly with rural agarwood farmers in practicing and promoting sustainable harvest and trade of agarwood industry. Sites already selected include: the Hunstein Range and Karawari River in East Sepik Province, Vailala in Gulf Province and Cape Rodney in the Central Province, and Maramuni in Enga Province."

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    Saturday, October 22, 2005


    Pacific books on-line

    Google Print aims to put book content on-line (with the agreement of authors and publishers of course) so that it can come up on Google search results. It has been in the news lately because of some legal problems it has run into, but the fact is that thousands of books have already been digitized and are available for searching on-line, including a lot of books of relevance to the Pacific. Here's an example: Vegetation of the Tropical Pacific Islands by Dieter Mueller-Dombois and F.R. Fosberg.



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    Friday, October 21, 2005


    Coconut oil used as fuel

    Fiji Times, October 22, 2005

    A Fiji student and a Samoan colleague at the University of Auckland are making a name for themselves following the success of a project to use coconut oil as a replacement fuel in diesel engines.

    The project is Penaia Rogoimuri and Dominic Schwalger's final assessment in the mechanical engineering program at the university.

    Mr Rogoimuri said after the research they found coconut oil had been used successfully as fuel for diesel engines in some parts of Fiji and neighbouring countries.

    Mr Rogoimuri said they were told by their supervisor of the unavailability of coconut oil in New Zealand and informed him it was processed in Fiji by Punja and Sons Limited and sold in dairy and supermarkets in Auckland.

    He said they wanted to take advantage of a source of fuel that "is essentially in our backyards and do something to help our people back in the islands".

    "To prove diesel engines will effectively run with coconut oil as a fuel and that emissions were less than those run on diesel."

    He said they tested their findings and the exhaust emission characteristics of coconut oil and coconut oil/diesel blends versus straight diesel in their test engine in the thermodynamics lab in Auckland University's Mechanical Engineering department.

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    Thursday, October 20, 2005


    Conservationist from Papua New Guinea honoured

    By Seacology, BERKELEY, Calif.

    Seacology is proud to honor Patrick Danaya Pate of Papua New Guinea and Dr. Felix Sugirtharaj of India for their exceptional efforts to preserve island environments at a ceremony to be held in San Francisco on October 25. The event will be held at the St Francis Yacht Club, with presentations by Dr. Paul Cox, chairman of the Seacology Board, and Duane Silverstein, executive cirector of Seacology.

    Mr. Pate has been selected to receive the 2005 Seacology Prize of $7,500 for his efforts to organize local indigenous communities in the highlands of his native Papua New Guinea. The Prize is awarded annually to an indigenous islander for exceptional achievement in preserving the environment and culture of any of the world’s 100,000-plus islands.

    This year, a special Seacology Lifetime Achievement Award of $7,500, will be presented to Dr. Sugirtharaj for his dedication in protecting the mangrove forests and livelihoods of fisher-people in the Andaman Islands, and particularly for his tireless work coordinating relief efforts in the wake of the devastating December 26, 2004 tsunami.

    Patrick Danaya Pate is from one of 28 widely scattered villages in the Mt. Bosavi region in southern Papua New Guinea. He is vice president of Kosua Orogo Resource Holders Association (KORA), a community-based organization initiated by Bosavi clan leaders to promote greater awareness of the negative impacts of industrial logging, and to encourage traditional beliefs in the sustainable use of biodiversity. As a result of KORA’s influence, community members have committed to rejecting large-scale logging proposals. The communities have agreed to set aside five Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), each covering an area of about 250,000 acres of pristine forest, totaling over 1.25 million acres. In appreciation for this sacrifice, Seacology funded a project to build three much-needed resource centers. Pate has coordinated this project, and has tirelessly worked to promote protection of the WMAs despite threats from surrounding landowners who wish to sell their forests for logging.

    Dr. Felix Sugirtharaj is director of the Coastal Poor Development Action Network (COPDANET), and has been a longtime advocate of mangrove protection coupled with sustainable livelihoods for fisherpeople. Most recently, he has coordinated the establishment of a Seacology-funded mangrove resource center and replanting project on India’s Andaman Islands. After the devastating December 26, 2004, tsunami struck the Indian Ocean region, Dr. Sugirtharaj immediately went into action, assessing local damage to the hard-hit communities near the community center. With financial support from Seacology’s Tsunami Relief Fund, Dr. Sugirtharaj and COPDANET distributed goats and chickens to local families, provided sewing machines to provided much-needed income and supervised the rebuilding of local homes.

    The Seacology Prize is underwritten by Ken Murdock, president of Seacology, in honor of his mother, Lalovi Fish Murdock, whose family’s century-long connection with the Samoan Islands, and their love for its people, inspired Murdock’s work to help indigenous islanders preserve their environment in the face of a changing world. The Seacology Prize stipend has been raised from $5,000 to $7,500 due to the generosity of an anonymous donor. The stipend will be further raised to $10,000 for the 2006 Seacology Prize.

    For more information regarding the work of Mr. Pate and Dr. Sugirtharaj, and past winners of the Seacology Prize, please visit www.seacology.org. Seacology is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization with the sole and unique purpose of preserving the environments and cultures of islands throughout the globe.

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    Banana workshops

    http://bulletin.irri.cgiar.org/bulletin/2005.42/default.asp

    INIBAP’s First Global Banana Uses Enterprise Workshop and Technology Fair held in the Philippines

    A better livelihood for banana farmers and processors around the world awaits but is within reach as the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain (INIBAP) recently held its First Global Banana Uses Enterprise Workshop and Technology Fair at the Manila Southwoods Manor and Cavite State University last 10-13 October. The theme of the workshop was “Musa processing businesses and their support environment: potential contribution to rural development and biodiversity through value-adding”. More than 35 experts in the fields of product development, business development, processing technology, food technology, postharvest technology, marketing research, and rural enterprise development from Asia, Africa, and Central America gathered together to participate in the workshop.

    4th Banana Asia Pacific Network Steering Committee Meeting held in the Philippines

    Back to back with the Global Banana Uses Enterprise Workshop, the Steering Committee of the Banana Asia Pacific Network of INIBAP convened for its 4th annual steering committee meeting at the Manila Southwoods Manor on 13-15 October. Workshop results were presented to the members of the Steering Committee. Preliminary plans on processing were discussed; however, venturing into the processing business is considered premature since there are still many banana production issues to address in most member-countries. The meeting was mostly devoted to the discussion of the regional Musa Conservation Strategy for the Global Trust Fund. Member countries came up with the criteria for Musa conservation and follow-up actions which were adopted by the committee. Dr Mary Taylor (SPC) and Ms Rosa Kambuou (NARI-PNG) attended from the Pacific.

    * Comments:

    Clarification by Gus Molina of INIBAP. In particular, the following regarding the BAPNET meeting: ”however, venturing into the processing business is considered premature since there are still many banana production issues to address in most member-countries.”

    The BAPNET Steering Committee recognized that the issue of banana processing and enterprise is a very relevant and important issue to address in order to improve the livelihood of the banana sector, which would consequently provide opportunities for wider use of Musa diversity, thus conservation. However, for the workshop-study results and recommendations to be advanced or operationalized, the BAPNET Steering Committee felt that these are better brought and addressed by different R&D and business and enterprise sectors, or the BAPNET should expand its memberships to include these sectors. The current BAPNET are generally composed of NARS primarily concerned on production and related issues including Musa conservation. Rightly so, they think that there are still many important and relevant production-conservation concerns that have to be addressed to improve the livelihoods of many small scale growers. The Musa conservation strategy was well discussed and endorsed. The BAPNET Steering Committee also discussed and agreed on a research agenda on a very important issue. This is to prioritize R&D activities addressing banana fusarium wilt, considered the most threatening banana disease in Asia and the Pacific and beyond. A regional R&D project to mitigate this threat is being developed where in all countries in the region including PNG and the Pacific will be involved.
     
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    Wednesday, October 19, 2005


    Regional Sandalwood Workshop

    SPC Land Resources Division will be convening a regional workshop on “Sandalwood Research, Development and Extension in the Pacific Islands and Asia” from 28 November to 01 December 2005, in Nadi, Fiji.

    OBJECTIVES
    • Share and discuss the latest sandalwood research and development, and extension work undertaken by Pacific island countries and territories and other regional programmes and agencies.
    • Discuss ways on how results of the above research and development work could be applied to support efforts towards sustainable rural development.
    • Strengthen and explore opportunities for collaboration amongst PICTs and other organisations present.

    THEME

    “Enhancing Sandalwood contribution to sustainable rural development through better research and development, and extension”.

    BACKGROUND

    Sandalwood (Santalum spp) has considerable cultural and economic importance to many communities in Pacific island countries and territories. It is for this reason that conservation of the species is an important issue and deserves added input to ensure its sustainable management. The species high economic value coupled with its amenability to cultivation, in agroforestry systems and in plantations, has the potential to make a significant contribution to rural economies.

    Sandalwood was heavily exploited in the past in the Pacific during the first half of the 19th Century. However its initial trade commenced with the introduction of Buddhism into China from India in the first century and with it came the practice of burning incense (produced from sandalwood) in temples. Later the trade expanded to the Pacific when Americans and Australians began trading with China. This trade led to the discovery of sandalwood in the Pacific, including Hawaii, and Australia. Sandalwood has also been used and traded in Indonesia for over 1000 years.

    As much of the initial stands have been exploited through the Pacific, there is concern now for its survival and the habitat in which it grows. The natural regeneration or artificial establishment is dependent on suitable host plants as well as a suitable forest and agricultural environment. As Santalum species usually grow in drier open forest and woodland communities, their conservation and management will determine the conservation status of many of the Santalum species in Asia-Pacific. Santalum is generally vulnerable to fire and grazing animals, both of which are common in its habitats. For this reason, greater research and input into ways of improving stand management, introducing sandalwood in agroforestry systems, and policy requirements to conserve both the species and its habit are required.

    Over the last decade, CIRAD-Foret in New Caledonia, ACIAR in Australia and Indonesia, CSIRO/SPRIG in the Pacific region and several other PICs have been carrying out research and undertaking field plantings of sandalwood. In August 1994, a regional workshop was organised by the South Pacific Forestry Development Programme in association with CIRAD-Foret and ACIAR in Noumea, New Caledonia to provide “hands-on” training on sandalwood seed, nursery and planting technology.

    In 2002, SPC, with the support of CSIRO/SPRIG, ISSS-Australia, CIRAD-Foret – France, CIFOR and IAC – New Caledonia, organised a regional workshop on sandalwood which brought together participants from sandalwood-growing countries of the Pacific and Asia with the main aim of reviewing existing sandalwood research and development activities and to determine future prospects. This workshop was presented with a lot of useful work in progress, and provided an ideal opportunity to discuss this work. The workshop also made recommendations on areas that needed urgent attention.

    Since 2002, a lot of work has progressed both in research and development and also extension. The planned regional workshop this year will be a timely opportunity for the relevant PICTs and agencies to present and discuss current developments with a view to determine future areas of focus.

    VENUE

    The workshop will be held at the Mocambo Hotel in Nadi, Fiji Islands.

    DATES

    The workshop will be held from 28 November – 01 December 2005.

    PROGRAMME

    The provisional programme is being worked out in consultation with relevant PICTs and agencies, but will be based on the following draft agenda items:

    • Overview of sandalwood management and use worldwide
    • Pacific perspectives
    • Country reports
    • Agency reports
    • Technical presentations
    • Field visits/demonstrations
    • Discussions on how sandalwood work can be further expanded in the Pacific Islands
    • Identify common grounds and agreement on a possible regional project

    STRUCTURE

    • The first and third days of the workshop will be set aside for presentations of country reports, agency reports, technical presentations, and follow-on discussions
    • The second day will be field visits.
    • The final day of the workshop has been set aside to develop recommendations for future direction, and a possible regional project to implement recommended further work on sandalwood.

    SPONSORS/ORGANISERS

    The workshop will be organised by the SPC Land Resources Division, and with funding support from the following programmes and agencies:

    • SPC/GTZ-Pacific German Regional Forestry Project
    • SPRIG/AusAID
    • ACIAR
    • IAC – New Caledonia


    PARTICIPANTS

    Participants will be from the Pacific island countries and territories, including Cook Islands, Fiji Islands, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Niue, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu and Wallis & Futuna. In addition, representatives from Australia, Indonesia, Hawaii and Timor Leste will also be invited to participate in the workshop. The main target group will be technical officers of the respective forestry agencies who are currently involved in sandalwood research and development, and extension work in their countries and territories.

    FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS

    The SPC Land Resources Division with funding support from the SPC/GTZ-Pacific German Regional Forestry Project, SPRIG/AusAID, ACIAR and IAC will sponsor the participation of all of the government nominated participants from the invited Pacific island countries. The number of participants from each participating country will be specified in the invitation letter, forming the covering letter to this Announcement. The sponsorship will include:

    • A round trip or return airticket by the most direct and economical route from his/her capital town to Nadi. All tickets must be used as issued or authorized.
    • Accommodation on a single or twin-share basis at the Mocambo Hotel.
    • An allowance to cover all food and other personal expenses.
    • An allowance to cover food, accommodation and other expenses for obligatory stopovers to and from the meeting on the basis of the travel itinerary booked by the SPC Land Resources Division.

    All other participants will have to participate in the workshop at their own expense, but will still need to submit a completed registration form.

    FURTHER INFORMATION

    SPC Forests and Trees Adviser: spforest@spc.int

    * Comments:

    where the fuck is the economics you dumbass. i ask for the economics of sandalwood you give me blah blah. non useable information you dumbasses fuck!
     
    While taking dosages of the Pfizer’s anti-smoking medicine chantix, you might encounter certain Chantix side-effects such as vomiting, headache, nausea, gas et al but if you continue with the medication without paying heed to the side-effects, it would definitely yield results in the long run. Just log in to http://www.chantixmagic.com and acquaint yourself with the tidbits on Chantix side-effects.
     
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    Conserving minor root crops

    THE GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION OF ALLELIC DIVERSITY, A PRACTICAL MEANS OF PRESERVING AND USING MINOR ROOT CROP GENETIC RESOURCES

    By VINCENT LEBOT†, ANTON IVANCIC‡ and KUTTOLAMADATHIL ABRAHAM§

    †CIRAD, P.O. Box 946, Port-Vila, Vanuatu
    ‡University of Maribor, Faculty of Agriculture, Vrbanska 30, Slovenia and
    §Central Tuber Crops Research Institute, Trivandrum, Kerala, India

    (Accepted 25 February 2005)

    Expl Agric. (2005), volume 41, pp. 475–489

    SUMMARY

    This paper addresses the preservation and use of minor root crop genetic resources, mostly aroids and yams. Conservation is fraught with difficulty: ex situ collections are expensive to maintain and methods for on-farm conservation have not been studied. Conventional breeding strategies present serious limitations when applied to these species. Furthermore, the evaluation and distribution of improved material are as problematical as its conservation. The similarities shared by these species regarding their domestication, breeding constraints and improvement strategies as well as farmers’ needs, are briefly reviewed. Based on these biological constraints, we propose a practical alternative to current conservation and breeding strategies. This approach focuses on the geographical distribution of allelic diversity rather than localized ex situ and/or in situ preservation of genotypes. The practical steps are described and discussed. First, a core sample representing the useful diversity of the species is assembled fromaccessions selected for their diverse and distant geographic origins, wide genetic distances, quality, agronomic performances and functional sexuality. Second, the geographical distribution of this core sample, in vitro via a transit centre, allows the direct use of selected genotypes by farmers or for breeding purposes. Third, the distribution of genes is realized in the form of clones resulting from segregating progenies and, fourth, farmers select clones with local adaptation.

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    Tuesday, October 18, 2005


    Pacific Extension Summit

    The Pacific Extension Summit will be held from 21-25 November 2005 at the International Dateline Hotel, Nukualofa, Tonga. It is being organized by SPC's EU-funded Developing Sustainable Agriculture in the Pacific (DSAP) project and CTA with additional sponsorship from FAO, ACIAR and GTZ.

    The Extension Summit, the first of its kind in the region, aims to strengthen support for Participatory Agricultural Extension (PAE) in the Pacific through promoting participatory approaches to identify problems and needs within the agriculture sector to senior policy and decision makers. It is anticipated that the Summit will result in the following outcomes:
    • Development of national and regional frameworks to support the institutionalization of PAE.
    • Improved awareness of PAE among agricultural educators resulting in the development of relevant curricula at universities.
    • Stronger linkages with PAE practitioners within the Pacific region and beyond (i.e. IIRR, RECFORTC, ETC Group).
    • Development of procedures for the institutionalization of PAE.

    Some participants will be sponsored to attend the Summit. Due to limited funding, other people interested in participating should contact the Secretariat via dsapextensionsummit@spc.int to obtain more information. Check out the Summit website at www.spc.int/dsap/ExtSummit.

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    UH launches organic agriculture website

    By Jan TenBruggencate, Honolulu Advertiser

    The University of Hawai'i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources is seeking to become as important a resource for organic farmers as it has been for the conventional agriculture community. To that end, the college has launched a Web site — www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/organic — that contains an extensive list of online educational and instructional documents on farming without chemicals, as well as links to other sites that have information on growing crops organically.

    While CTAHR has been criticized by some for its role in promoting chemical approaches to farming and its involvement in genetic modification to improve crops and provide disease resistance, the Web site says the school also wants to be a significant supporter of the organic movement.

    The college's involvement in organics isn't new. The university for 13 years has maintained organic research plots at its facility in Waimanalo, where it conducts studies on natural pest-control products and conventional — as opposed to laboratory-based — breeding work.
    The new Web site has a list of events involving organic farming, including ventures sponsored by the Hawai'i Organic Farmers Association. It also sponsors a listserv, a system by which people interested in organic farming in Hawai'i can readily communicate with one another.
    College agroecologist and vegetable expert Hector Valenzuela, in an e-mail announcing the site, said its goal is "to demonstrate the benefit of promoting ecological processes in all agricultural systems and to make (the college) the premier resource for ecological farming research and training in the Asia-Pacific region."

    In Hawai'i, organic farming is a small but significant part of the state's agricultural industry, with 140 certified organic farmers and annual production worth $15 million. Nationally, organic farming is growing by 20 percent each year.

    "We hope that this site, a work in progress, will become a premiere resource on organic farming technologies for the Pacific region and tropical areas," Valenzuela said.

    He asked for the organic farming community's help in adding to the resources available at the site: "To help us build up the site, please share with us any publications, or educational materials, that you have published that may be related to organic farming (such as soil management, biological control, cultural practices, marketing, etc)."

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    Monday, October 17, 2005


    IUCN in the Pacific

    IUCN Press Release: Suva, Fiji, 18 October 2005

    The World Conservation Union (IUCN), the world’s largest environmental organization, is opening a new chapter in its long history of collaboration with environmental institutions in the South Pacific with the establishment of its Oceania Programme, to be announced in Suva, Fiji today.

    Achim Steiner, IUCN Director General, will officially launch the Oceania Programme during his two-week visit to Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. An IUCN Regional Office for Oceania will be opened in Suva, Fiji in 2006, representing a major commitment on the part of IUCN to conservation knowledge and action in the region. The new Oceania office completes the global network of ten regional offices of IUCN, which counts among its members 82 States, including Australia and New Zealand; 112 government agencies; and more than 850 non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

    “Oceania is a region of extraordinary biological and cultural richness. It is also confronting some of the world’s greatest environmental challenges, first and foremost the impacts of climate change and invasive alien species. By establishing a regional office in Oceania, IUCN seeks to recognize the region’s global importance for biodiversity conservation. It will also enable IUCN to forge partnerships to halt its loss and draw on the cutting-edge conservation knowledge of experts and institutions in the region for the benefit of the global conservation community,” Steiner said.

    The Oceania region covers 15 percent of the planet’s surface and incorporates Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific islands region – thousands of islands totalling approximately 550,000 sq km of land, roughly the size of France, in a vast 30 million sq km of the Pacific Ocean.

    “IUCN will initially invest in the Pacific islands region, where its members have identified the greatest priority for conservation action,” said Steiner.

    “Pacific species, ecosystems and cultures are truly unique and disappearing fast. Fifty percent of the Melanesian and Polynesian plant species are found nowhere else in the world. More than half of the world’s seamounts, which are the underwater strongholds of biodiversity, are located in the Pacific. Many of an estimated 1200 indigenous Pacific languages may be lost within just a couple of generations. If conservation of biodiversity is to succeed it must also focus on the people and communities whose livelihoods are inextricably linked,” he added.

    Over-harvesting of natural resources, rapid population growth, invasive species and climate change are posing huge environmental challenges to Pacific island countries, hampered by lack of funding and resources, gaps in legislation and limited access to knowledge and information.

    Through its 2005-2008 Oceania Programme, IUCN will focus on:

    • Saving threatened species by improving knowledge and management of species and ecosystems;
    • Fighting invasive alien species by improving understanding of their impacts on livelihoods and economies, and developing tools and approaches for their management;
    • Promoting effective participation of Pacific Island Countries in international agreements on climate change and biodiversity;
    • Improving governance systems and lifestyles by supporting the use of traditional knowledge and learning for mainstreaming conservation; and
    • Applying economic incentives for conservation and sustainable development.

    The World Conservation Union is recognized as the global leader in the fields of conservation and sustainable development. It is the only environmental organization that has been accorded the official status of Observer by the United Nations General Assembly.

    The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the world’s most authoritative source of information on species extinction; IUCN’s scientific evaluations guide the establishment of new UNESCO World Heritage sites; and its technical publications offer innovative approaches to ecosystem management.

    The World Conservation Union has been active in the Oceania region for many years, through the work of the volunteers from its six scientific commissions, its members and national committees.

    For example, IUCN’s Invasive Species Specialist Group operates from its headquarters in Auckland, New Zealand and compiles the best available information on and responses to alien species invasions. After habitat loss and degradation, biological invasion is considered among the greatest threats to biodiversity and has devastating consequences for nature and the economies worldwide.

    “What IUCN brings to Oceania is its global expertise, scientific know-how and policy advice to benefit the nature and people of the region. It also provides an opportunity for the people and nations of the Oceania region to contribute and participate in key international policy processes and scientific networks which the World Conservation Union provides,” said IUCN Regional Councillor for Oceania Lionel Gibson.

    “The envisaged opening of the IUCN Regional Office for Oceania marks a new level of cooperation in the Pacific, and a commitment to developing our communities and managing our shared resources sustainably,” Gibson added.

    During his visit to Australia on 21-24 October, IUCN Director General Achim Steiner will make a keynote address at the First International Marine Protected Areas Congress in Geelong. Steiner will also present the findings of a new IUCN report on marine biodiversity.

    For more information and to arrange interviews contact:

    In Australia: Ms Xenya Cherny Scanlon, Media Consultant; Mobile: +61 400 311 430; Email: xenya.cherny@gmail.com; www.iucn.org;

    In Fiji: Mr Lionel Gibson; IUCN Regional Councillor for Oceania; Tel: +679 331 22 50; Fax: +679 331 12298; Email: lionel.gibson@fspi.org; www.iucn.org;

    In Switzerland: Ms Carolin Wahnbaeck, IUCN Media Relations Officer; Tel: +41 22 999 0127; Fax: +41 22 999 0020; Email: carolin.wahnbaeck@iucn.org; www.iucn.org.

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    Sunday, October 16, 2005


    Cryopreservation training for RGC staff

    Rajnesh Sant of the SPC Regional Germplasm Centre attended a training course on cryopreservation from 12-22 September 2005 at the Laboratory of Tropical Crop Improvement, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. Below are some details.

    Background

    Until recently, cryopreservation protocols were mostly developed following an empirical, trial-and-error approach. This led cryopreservation specialists in Europe and elsewhere to develop various analytical techniques to better describe and understand the biophysical and metabolic processes underlying resistance/sensitivity of plant tissues to cryopreservation. This new approach ensured the development of cryopreservation protocols in a more rational, scientific and cost-effective manner. In 2002 a project entitled “Establishing Cryopreservation Methods for Conserving European Plant Germplasm Collections” (CRYMCEPT) was funded by the European Union (contract number QLK5-CT-2002- 01279) to address an urgent need to develop cryopreservation techniques and protocols for important European plant genetic resources that could not be adequately conserved using conventional methods.

    Members of the consortium established in the framework of the CRYMCEPT project include seven European institutions with expertise in different analytical techniques of relevance to cryopreservation. These include research on water thermal behaviour, proteins, sugars, membrane components, polyamines, cytoskeletal proteins and oxidative stress. The uniqueness of the CRYMCEPT project lies with the fact that experts in all these different areas work together to investigate nine target species selected using several analytical tools in parallel. This approach allows faster progress both in the understanding of the mechanisms involved in cryopreservation of plant tissues and in the establishment of cryopreservation protocols for other plant species. More information about the CRYMCEPT project can be found on the project website: www.agr.kuleuven.ac.be/dtp/tro/crymcept/.

    The project organized a training workshop to disseminate the results of the research carried out in the project to develop optimal cryopreservation techniques for a number of plants, such as garlic, olive, Ribes, apple, almond, potato, banana and coffee. The workshops aimed to benefit germplasm collection holders in Europe, as well as from the EU international co-operation programme target countries. It was organized by the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) in collaboration with the partners of the CRYMCEPT project:
    • Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
    • University of Abertay Dundee, Dundee, UK
    • University of Derby, Derby, UK
    • Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Montpellier, France
    • Fruit Tree Research Institute, Rome, Italy
    • DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH,
      Braunschweig, Germany
    Objective(s) of the workshop
    • to create awareness among decision-makers on the importance of cryopreservation and how it can be useful effectively to conserve plant genetic resources
    • to train germplasm collection holders on how to develop and optimise cryopreservation techniques and protocols to more effectively conserve germplasm of importance to their regions, countries and institutions
    Technical skills gained
    • Insights into the cell processes involved in cryopreservation and the analytical and bioassays tools available for them.
    • Knowledge and on hand experience of the latest developments in the cryopreservation protocols. This would be particularly useful in RGC to optimize a vitrification protocol for sweet potato and other crops.
    • Knowledge of probabilistic tools to assist in the establishment and management of cryopreserved plant germplasm collections: this binomial distribution based method calculates the probability of recovering at least one (or any other fixed number of) plant(s) from a cryobank sample using four given parameters: the number of propagules in the cryobank sample, the percentage of plant recovery observed from a control sample, the number of propagules used for this control, a chose risk for the calculation of a confidence interval for the observed plant recovery.

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    Pandanus in South Africa?

    I want to share with you that there was lots of interest in the Marshall Islands and Kiribati pandanus at the Nutrition Congress in Durban, South Africa, 19-23 September, 2005. I took along a big piece (1550 gram) of preserved pandanus (mokwan, jannkun) from the Marshall Islands, and offered it for tasting for people coming to the poster.

    This pandanus was one of the pieces sold at the Reimers Hotel, Majuro. As those of you in Majuro know, these pieces are beautifully wrapped in the traditional way, with dried pandanus leaves, and wound tightly with fine coconut rope. This art of preserving pandanus had almost been lost, but was revived with the help of Ione deBrum in recent years.

    Pandanus was also once preserved in the very same way in Kiribati and on atolls now part of Pohnpei. Gerd Koch, in his book titled "The Material Culture of Kiribati" presents an illustration of this on page 94 (for those of you who have access to this wonderful book). Here in Pohnpei, I have also shown the Marshallese mokwan to people from Kapingamarangi Atoll, and a few know it, although some mistook it for preserved breadfruit, which is prepared in the same way and looks and tastes very much like preserved pandanus!!!

    Dr. Suzanne Murphy, from the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii of the University of Hawaii, was quite intrigued with the Marshall Islands pandanus, and even had a photo taken of us both holding it. Dr. Larry Kolonel, also from the Cancer Research Center, is the one who kindly took the photo and shared it with us. He also was very interested in pandanus.

    So let us hope for increased interest in pandanus and making more available of this wonderful food!!

    Dr. Lois Englberger, PhD
    Island Food Community of Pohnpei
    Research Advisor
    P. O. Box 2299
    Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941 FM
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Telephone: 691-320-8639 Fax: 691-320-4647
    Website: http://www.islandfood.org

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    New video promotes healthy island foods

    'GOING YELLOW', a new video produced by Micronesian Seminar in conjunction with Sight and Life and the Island Food Community of Pohnpei, presents an exciting combination of humor and entertainment, along with scientific information on food and health, and nostalgic pictures of the past showing traditional food practices.

    The film was initiated and supported by Sight and Life, a humanitarian organization based in Switzerland, and primarily focuses on the alleviation of vitamin A deficiency. This problem and other nutritionally-related diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, have emerged in Micronesia along with the shift from traditional foods to an increased consumption of rice and other refined and fatty foods.

    A cast of goofy characters, including a grandmother who cries (in a comical and nostalgic way) because she misses the local foods that used to be so plentiful, helps make the serious issue of nutrition entertaining and fun.

    At the same time, the message is presented about the importance of increasing the production and consumption of local food, especially the yellow-fleshed foods and varieties like Karat and Taiwang banana, giant swamp taro, and pandanus.

    Copies of this video are available on tape or DVD for $10 each from Micronesian Seminar, and a few copies are being made available for no charge by the Island Food Community of Pohnpei for sharing at public events.

    Dr. Lois Englberger, PhD
    Island Food Community of Pohnpei
    Research Advisor
    P. O. Box 2299
    Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941 FM
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Telephone: 691-320-8639 Fax: 691-320-4647
    Website: http://www.islandfood.org

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    Tuesday, October 11, 2005


    Sorry State of the Land

    From Christine Fung, Land Use Planning Specialist and Facilitator at the SPC/GTZ Pacific-German Regional Forestry Project, Suva, Fiji: FYI the following article by Robert Keith-Reid is in this month's Island Business magazine. It is the cover report of the Fiji Islands Business and describes past and present land use in Fiji and how the recently launched Fiji National Rural Land Use Policy can address current concerning land use issues. The SPC/GTZ Pacific German Regional Forestry Project supported the formulation and launching of this Policy document. Aleki was one of the keynote speakers in public launching in early September. Keep an eye out for the Land Use Policy launching article which will be in the inaugural LRD newsletter!

    But can it be rescued?

    Vanua is the Fijian word for land and for something more nebulous. Fijians refer to "the vanua" in describing their emotional attachment to the land in the area they come from. This attachment also means a loyalty to the land and a duty to protect it for use by future generations. It is a duty most Fijians are ignoring.

    Their land, the vanua, always an issue of intense political debate, is being attacked and washed away from under their feet in millions of tonnes. The enemy is soil erosion and little or nothing is being done to attack it, despite more than 40 years of detailed warnings and advice from landuse experts.The latest warning comes from experts Inoke Ratukalou and David Leslie in a report "Review of Rural and Land Use in Fiji-Opportunities for the New Millennium."

    Worst culprits

    The writers are blunt. They say some of the worst culprits for the slow death of the vanua are no less than the Native Land Trust Board (NLTB), the Fiji Sugar Corporation, the toothless Land Conservation Board, the conflicting interests of a host of government departments, boards and committees, and politicians who have their own reasons for killing off land reform laws.

    Ratukalou and Leslie reflect on the Fijian concept of the vanua and write: "While the close relationship between Fijians and their land is continuously emphasised, there appears to be scant regard by Fijian landowners to ensure the soil resources are well-managed and fertility retained by tenants who have leased the mataqali land."

    The NLTB, they say, has consistently avoided the enforcement of landuse laws that require tenants to avoid ruining the land they farm. A procession of governments, and the sugar industry for the sake of greater sugar output has pushed cane growing on to slopes and hills that are too steep to be put under cane with severe soil erosion happening.In July, after two-and-a-half years of consultations, the Qarase Government endorsed what is the first Pacific Islands rural land-policy, one prepared by the Department of Land Resources, Planning and Development, with the help of Germany's technical assistance agency, Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (DGZ).

    Rescue plan

    The plan is all about the rescue of the vanua.

    Boiled down, it contains dozens of commonsense rules to avoid ruining what's left of Fiji's limited areas of good land. The government says it is completely committed to it. But implementation means political will, as well as financial and bureaucratic commitments that have never before been demonstrated by any government.As Fiji's population, now about 860,000 people, grows and pressure for land for agriculture, housing, roading and a host of other needs increases, Fiji's people need to take a cool hard look at what is actually happening to the vanua. It's been washed away at frightening rates.

    On Viti Levu, which with an area of 10,388 square kilometres amounts to 56.7% of the 18,300 square kilometres area of Fiji, soil is being washed away at rates estimated by Japanese experts to total 9.3 millions tonnes a year in the Rewa river watershed area, 6.4 million tonnes in the Ba watershed area, 4.2 million tonnes in the Nadi watershed area, and 1.1 million tonnes in the Sigatoka area.The soil silts up the lower levels of rivers at rates that erode the value of dredging work. Silting means that the millions of dollars worth of dredging work, conducted to avert floods, is partly a waste of effort and money. Soil flows into lagoons to obliterate coral and marine life.Poor farming and engineering practices have made soil erosion a national issue, one that can no longer be ignored.

    At one time most of Fiji was forest-covered. Steady slash and burn forms of agriculture removed most of the forest cover in the western dry zones of the main islands.

    Records from the early 19th century described great grass and forest fires that burned for a week or more.

    Commercial farming began as villagers and resident traders began arriving after the 1820s sold food and coconut oil to visiting ships. Settlers from Australia and New Zealand began arriving in the 1860s to try cotton and sheep farming.

    Land disputes occurred between Fijians and the newcomers. Soon after Fiji became a British colony in 1874, a native land commission was appointed to decide the validity of European land claims. Of the 1683 applications received, only 517 freehold claims were upheld. These covered nearly 10% of all land. The British banned the sale of Fijian land from 1875, except for a three-year period from 1905.

    Ownership

    Until this day, about 90% of Fijian land remains under the ownership of Fijian clans. It can't be sold but it can be leased for up to 99 years through the Native Land Trust Board.
    Today, the land is a complex mix of fernland, open grassland, reed grass, shrubland, a savannah-like transitional zone and tall forest.The open areas of grass, fern, reed and savannas are largely man-induced. If given complete protection from fire and other interference, especially by humans, they would slowly return to forest cover.However, large areas in the dry zones are covered by introduced mission grass and they couldn't regain forest cover without deliberate re-afforestation.

    Population growth and movement has a great impact on agricultural land near towns. At least 46% of Fiji's population now lives in town areas and the movement of population from country to urban areas continues.Since the end of the 19th century, Fiji's mountainous topography, climate, the emergence of the sugar plantation industry and now other farming activity and also industrial, tourism and urban development, has an enormous impact on the vanua, the land.

    Natural geological erosion in Fiji is high because of the country's comparatively young landscape and wet climate.The erosion index (EI) is 700 for dry zones and 800 for wet zones and from two to four times world averages.When the EI exceeds 500, agricultural land needs a lot of care, irrespective of soil types.

    Political and bureaucratic rivalry

    According to the new landuse policy, written by Leslie and Ratukalou, landuse experts have been worrying about the condition of the vanua since the early 1960s. A series of detail reports all repeat warnings that the security of the soil and its fertility is under attack and that something has to be done to avert disaster. Why hasn't something been done? Political and bureaucratic rivalries, with at least a dozen ministries, commissions, board and other institutions foil each other, the report says.

    Only 355,902 hectares or 19.4% of land is rated as first-class-it will produce crops well without some kind of modifications.10.5% is second-class-it is good land if fairly minor improvements are made.31.9% is third-class-it needs a lot of work on problem soils if they are to be made to yield well.38.2% is "quiet unsuitable" for agriculture, according to present knowledge although it may be of limited use for forestry.

    Facts and figures that back up the warnings make depressing reading. Take sugar, the backbone of the Fiji economy for a hundred years and still a vital industry.

    In theory, sugarcane shouldn't be grown on land with a slope of more than 11 degrees. Drive through some sugarcane growing districts and the crop can be spotted growing practically as if it was planted on the side of a wall. The Native Land Trust Board and Fiji Sugar Corporation, under government pressure to produce more sugar for export, have ignored the 11-degree rule for years.

    In the hilly area of Sawani, inland from Suva, ginger farmers grow on 40% slopes. The consequence? Massive losses of soil and unsustainable cropping.

    The big worry

    As long ago as 1965, when Fiji was a British colony, a major report warned that by that time most arable land was occupied, future development would be on hilly terrain. The big worry then, as now, was the severity of soil erosion in the sugar cane belt. A lot of Fiji wasn't suitable for significant new agricultural use, the report said, and that "the present difficulties of agricultural development are due not to any serious deficiency in the natural resources of the colony, so much as to the adverse relationship between the farmer and his land.

    "Politics killed the passage of a 1970's land and water management bill. Other records express alarm about the clearing of large blocks of land by slash and burn methods for the cultivating of land until it is worn out or slips away. Then, if more land is obtained, a move to begin the process again.

    Goat grazing is more damaging than cattle grazing, noted one report, since goat farmers tend to over-stock their land to recoup costs quickly.

    Less than 20% of the land is suitable for farms and about 40% is too steep or is suitable only for watershed conservation, forestry or carefully controlled grazing.

    Since 1960 the area of land used has trebled in Viti Levu and Vanua Levu yet the rural population has increased by only one-third. More and more comparatively scarce first-class land is being gobble up for housing, factories, roads and other non-agricultural uses.

    The outlook for the vanua isn't an entirely depressing one.

    A 1987 report says Fiji has most of the information, technology and laws needed for soil conversation. It has remarkably detailed soil and land capability maps and one of the most intensive climatic station networks in the world.

    Strong leadership and co-ordination

    What is needed to control soil erosion, stressed this report, is strong leadership, well-trained and versatile staff, co-ordination between government agencies, the Native Land Trust Board and Fiji Sugar Corporation and the money and political support to make it all happen.

    An vital plus is forestry. From colonial days and since independence governments have had a far-sighted approach to forestry. Forests are the greatest protectors of soil. They actually make it. Remove forests and then watch the soil go. Unlike many other tropical countries, Fiji's forests haven't been shredded to the extent that land has been denuded-'raped' is a description popularly applied by conservation organisations-although commercial logging has caused some worries.An inventory of the area of indigenous forest was completed in 1995. According to this, natural forest then covered 858,000 hectares or 47.5% of the total land area.

    Compared with some other Pacific Islands countries, and Asian and African ones, the rate of deforestation is modest. A saving grace is that the law doesn't allow direct dealing between logging companies and landowners, and there is a long-standing ban on round-log exportsIn addition, Fiji has about 50,000 hectares of mahogany plantations, possibly some of the most valuable in the world, and about 11,000 hectares of other hardwood species plantations.

    About 40,000 hectares of Caribbean Pine plantations have transformed some of the dry areas of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. They are an environmentally positive presence since they are ground cover for a large area of degraded soils. The policy is to enlarge the areas of mahogany and pine. While the pine and mahogany plantations have minimised the need to log natural forest, interest in local hardwood timber is still high.

    The landuse policy is in place after a lot of hard work and thought. At an official launch in September, agricultural minister Ilaitia Tuisese promised his government's solid commitment to it. There's hope for the vanua yet.

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    Cicia earns from coconut

    Fiji Times, October 11, 2005.

    The Island of Cicia lies on the northernmost part of the Lau Group and has five villages - Tarukua, Natokalau, Lomati, Mabula and Naceva. Tarukua is the main port of entry with a jetty, post office and a hospital facility and is home to about 50 families.

    The whole island is known for its extensive groves of coconut palms around the coasts which the islanders make good use of. Islanders have been vigilant in making coconut artefacts, but they are some of the best farmers in the Lau Group.

    One of the most outstanding farmers is none other than Pita Rarasea of Mabula Village which is on the other side of the island from where Tarukua Village is situated. The 42-year-old vivacious farmer has been farming for the past 22 years and this is not a chore for him, but has become a hobby that he has fallen in love with.

    If one takes time to carefully think about farming, first thing that would come to mind is the hot sun and secondly the thought of working in an isolated place is just too much to handle. But for Pita, he cannot wait to leave home to get to the farm as this is the only time that he can unwind and feel the fresh sea breeze against his neck.

    "Farming for me is important because that is how I feed my family and the sight of the plants growing right under your very eyes is just exhilarating," he explained.

    Pita has been planting on 15 square chains of land and plants about anything and everything. "I plant uvi, vudi, cassava, dalo, kumala, tivoli and green leafy vegetables," he smiled. Being brought up in the village, Pita believes that advice and continuous words of encouragement from his parents have seen him through the rough patches in life.

    "To be a man is to be able to grow your own food and be able to support your family so that is the stand that I took from a young age and still doing today," smiled Pita.

    He says that his efforts into his farm is because he knows that it will eventually end up on his table for meals, so he has never been more dedicated at farming than ever before. With seven children, Pita has managed to send them to school but like any other parent, education costs are increasing by the year.

    Since farming on the island cannot reach a suitable market in time, Pita like many other islanders have been banking on their copra business to see them through the hard times.

    "The island is filled with coconuts galore and this is probably the main source of income for the islanders as most of us dry copra to make a bit of money for the children's sake," he explained.

    The feeling of achieving something in life is high among the villagers of Mabula thus the birth of a co-operative nine years ago which is being operated by the youths of the village.

    "This is also the place where we sell our copra to and they sell to the Punjas Company so it has been quite easy for us."

    Shipping services to the island visits twice a month which is okay for the islanders but according to Pita, there are high hopes of getting more consistent services.

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    Monday, October 10, 2005


    USP joins fight against alien species

    From the Fiji Times, October 10, 2005.

    THE University of the South Pacific has joined an international network which aims to eradicate invasive alien species (IAS) which are one of the greatest threats to biodiversity in island ecosystems.

    USP is now part of the Pacific Invasives Learning Network (PILN) following there cent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Tarr.

    Dr Craig Morley, of the Department of Biology, who is spearheading this initiative from the University end, explained that invasive species were a priority for Pacific Island Nations because islands were highly vulnerable to invasions that could result in catastrophic loss of biodiversity and affect other organisms.

    "When an organism is accidentally orintentionally introduced into a new landscape or seascape, the consequences can be devastating, posing a large threat to agriculture, public health, tourism and other economic activities.

    "Invasive plants and animals can spread unchecked, disrupting natural cycles and costing billions of dollars in damage as well as crowd out our native species.''

    However, he pointed out that the relatively small size and isolation of Pacific Islands offers important opportunities for preventing new invasions and eradicating pest species.

    "Although we are really vulnerable, we are also in a position to do something about it. For example here in Fiji we are in the process of trying to eradicate rats and cane toads which are invasive alien species. There are other islands in the region that have similar initiatives going on for other species but because we don't get to hear about this work we don't know about the success and failures,'' said Dr Morley. "In some parts of the Pacific, experienced conservation professionals have developed model programmes to prevent, eradicate or control certain high-priority invaders, such as rodents, feral animals and invasive weeds.

    "However, according to the Global Invasive Species Programme, in most Pacific Island countries, there is a profound lack of awareness about invasive alien species and an almost complete absence of capacity to deal with these pests. For example, the mongoose - many people in Fiji have grown up with them and don't take much notice of them. But this is where we, the members of the network come in, to inform them and provide them with the tools to take control of the situation.''

    Dr Morley explained that the reason behind the setting up of PILN was to empower effective IAS management through a participant-driven network that met priority needs, rapidly shares skills and resources, provides links to technical expertise, increases information exchange, and accelerates on the ground action.

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    Thursday, October 06, 2005


    Sandalwood in the Pacific

    Phylogeography of Eastern Polynesian sandalwood (Santalum insulare), an endangered tree species from the Pacific: a study based on chloroplast microsatellites

    Authors: Butaud, Jean-François; Rives, Fanny; Verhaegen, Daniel; Bouvet, Jean-Marc
    Source: Journal of Biogeography, Volume 32, Number 10, October 2005, pp. 1763-1774(12)

    Abstract
    Patterns of genetic variation within forest species are poorly documented in island ecosystems. The distribution of molecular variation for Santalum insulare, an endangered tree species endemic to the islands of eastern Polynesia, was analysed using chloroplast microsatellite markers. The aims were to quantify the genetic diversity; to assess the genetic structure; and to analyse the geographical distribution of the diversity within and between archipelagoes. The ultimate goal was to pre-define evolutionary significant units (ESUs) for conservation and restoration programmes of this species, which constitutes a natural resource on small, isolated islands.

    Eleven populations, each representative of one island, covering most of the natural occurrence of S. insulare were sampled: five populations from the Marquesas Archipelago; three from the Society Archipelago; and three from the Cook–Austral Archipelago. These South Pacific islands are known for their high degree of plant endemism, and for their human occupation by Polynesian migrations. The extensive exploitation of sandalwood by Europeans nearly 200 years ago for its fragrant heartwood, used overseas in incense, carving and essential oil production for perfume, has dramatically reduced the population size of this species. Methods
    We used chloroplast microsatellites, which provide useful information in phylogeographical forest tree analyses. They are maternally inherited in most angiosperms and present high polymorphism. Among the 499 individuals sampled, 345 were genotyped successfully. Classical models of population genetics were used to assess diversity parameters and phylogenetic relationships between populations.

    Four microsatellite primers showed 16 alleles and their combinations provided 17 chlorotypes, of which four exhibited a frequency > 10% in the total population. The gene diversity index was high for the total population (He = 0.82) and varied among archipelagoes from He = 0.40 to 0.67. Genetic structure is characterized by high levels of differentiation between archipelagoes (36% of total variation) and between islands, but differentiation between islands varied according to archipelago. The relationship between genetic and geographical distance confirms the low gene flow between archipelagoes. The minimum spanning tree of chlorotypes exhibits three clusters corresponding to the geographical distribution in the three main archipelagoes.

    The high level of diversity within the species was explained by an ancient presence on and around the hotspot traces currently occupied by young islands. Diversity in the species has enabled survival in a range of habitats. Relationships between islands show that the Cook–Austral chlorotype cluster constitutes a link between the Marquesas and the Society Islands. This can be explained by the evolution of the island systems over millions of years, and extinction of intermediary populations on the Tuamotu Islands following subsidence there. Based on the unrooted neighbour-joining tree and on the genetic structure, we propose four ESUs to guide the conservation and population restoration of Polynesian Sandalwood: the Society Archipelago; the Marquesas Archipelago; Raivavae Island; and Rapa Island.

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    Tuesday, October 04, 2005


    Register of Pacific Scientists

    The Register of Pacific Scientists (RPS) is an online database of people working in areas related to science, science teaching and science communication in the Pacific. The RPS is a joint initiative of the UNESCO Office for the Pacific States in Apia and the Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at the Australian National University. It allows all eligible people to register their names, contact details, qualifications, brief comments and their CVs or resumes. There is also a search function so that anyone wishing to look for people with an active interest in science in the Pacific can find them.

    All comments, queries and suggestions should be sent to Rod Lamberts, moderator, Register of Pacific Scientists: rod.lamberts@anu.edu.au

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    Sunday, October 02, 2005


    Planned development for Pacific forests: an awareness raising tour

    Decision-makers will get an up-close look at Pacific forests during an innovative gathering in Nadi, Fiji, 3-6 October 2005. Participants from six Pacific island countries have been invited to go on a tour themed, ‘Investing in forests and trees for a balanced and secure economic, socially and environmentally sustainable future.’

    By-passing forestry professionals, invitations are going out to around 40 non-forestry decision makers from the region. The participants will represent both public and private sector interests. While these people are not directly involved in forestry, their decisions can significantly affect the future of our forest resources and of Pacific Islanders.

    The forestry-friendly tour, jointly organized by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Land Resources Division, the FAO National Forest Programme Facility and the SPC/GTZ Pacific-German Regional Forestry Project, will involve activities at the Mocambo Hotel, Nadi, including traditional songs and dances, drama, and plenary discussions focusing on the beneficial contributions of forests and trees to Pacific Islanders’ livelihoods. This will be followed by tours to Koroyanitu Ecotourism Park, villages of pine plantation landowners, small/medium-scale forest product processing industries and a number of other sites on Fiji’s main island.

    Participants will have the opportunity to see for themselves the links between forestry and sustainable development. They will meet people who depend on forests, who make a living from processing and marketing forest products, and who are doing their utmost for the future of our forests.

    The tour will highlight examples of good forestry management by rural villages which go largely unnoticed. By the end of the tour, participants will have a deeper understanding of the role of forests in underpinning sustainable development, reducing poverty, and conserving the environment.

    Organisers of the tour are excited about its potential to extend high-level awareness of the Pacific’s forest resources. The combination of dialogue with forestry representatives and social and cultural interaction with villagers promises to leave participants with a lasting appreciation of the dependence of Pacific societies on proper management of their forests.

    For more information: contact the Forests and Trees Adviser, SPC Land Resources Division PMB, Suva, Fiji Phone: (679) 3300 432 E-mail: spforest@spc.int

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    Report on Virus Screening of Breadfruits Using EM and dsRNA Analysis
    by A/Prof Rob Harding (QUT, Australia) and Valerie S. Tuia (SPC, Fiji)
    (19 Apr-10 May 05)

    This report describes the results of two standard techniques used for the initial diagnosis of plant viruses. As shown by the results, there was no indication of any viruses present in the samples taken from the 20 cultivars selected from the collection at NTBG by Dr Diane Ragone. Despite its effectiveness as an initial screening test for RNA viruses (~85% of all plant viruses are RNA), dsRNA analysis does not detect DNA viruses nor all RNA viruses. However, examination of sap from the breadfruit samples also failed to reveal the presence of any typical virus-like particles. The apparent absence of viruses is consistent with the general consensus amongst virologists, that breadfruit is not affected by viruses. In the National Tropical Botanic Garden in Maui, Hawaii, no viral symptoms have been observed on the collection of some 120 different cultivars, over the period of time it has been established in Hawaii - since 1989/91.

    The 20 selected cultivars examined at QUT, will soon be established in tissue culture. Tissue culture is an accepted method for safely distributing germplasm around the Pacific region, and is used for many of the crops of the Pacific. Countries will be able to request tissue cultures from the RGC. In doing this they will have to decide if there is any need for further virus testing of breadfruit, or whether they accept the results from this initial assessment in combination with the decontamination effects of tissue culture.

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    News from the Solomon Islands

    Two interesting pieces of news from the Solomon Islands courtesy of Fred Peter of DAL.

    National agriculture council meeting

    Solomon Star News article posted by Arthur Wateon 21 September, 2005 - 10:49am

    THE first ever national agriculture council meeting opened yesterday in Honiara with the mission to identify how best to promote agricultural industry in Solomon Islands. However, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Enele Kwanairara said since this was the first national agriculture council it would be convened as a stakeholders forum.

    This saw over 50 participants representing the national and provincial governments, private sector and non-government organisations gathering yesterday at Honiara Hotel to being the three days discussion.

    Mr Kwanairara said these participants would be exchanging views and discussing issues on how best to promote agriculture industry in the next decades. He said they would also make recommendations to boost the agriculture productivity in terms of food security and generation of family income to address the problem of rural poverty. He said Solomon Islands is blessed with land resources including forest and some of the most fertile land for agriculture development but yet people are not reaping the full benefit.

    "This National Agriculture Council (NAC) over the next days will critically re-examine our land use development over the last 27 years and thereby formulate action oriented strategy plan for the stakeholders to take an active role in revitalising the national economy through agriculture development activities," he said.

    The NAC was approved and mandated by the Cabinet early this year following the provincial ministers and senior agriculture officers consultation conference last year. In the consultation conference last year, it was decided that an annual conference be held to pursue with a hope to develop an agriculture sector strategy plan which the department lacks.

    The minister said it was from that recommendation that gave birth to the need to establish a NAC. He said the overall aim and objective of NAC is to advice the government through the department of agriculture and livestock.

    "...NAC is to advice the government on policy matters and development strategy to rejuvenate the agriculture industry which is a major component of rural livelihood and most importantly will coordinate productions and provisions of services to the community," the minister stated.
    He said it is his hope that over the next few days stakeholders would identify problematic areas in government policy and strategy which caused bottle neck situation in the past and find best alternative sector strategy for the next decades.

    Merino's tale

    Extracted from Solomon Star Submitted by Arthur Wate on 9 September, 2005 - 12:22am.

    TAKABORU is a small village just 30 minutes drive from Honiara. It is like most other villages in Solomon Islands. There are leaf houses, a church, a soccer ground and lots of children. However, it is not the same. Just behind Takaboru, is a 26 year old plantation of Teak and Mahogany owned by one of the village residents, Merino Tadabara.

    Merino and his father planted the trees between 1976 and 1978 with help from the Department of Agriculture. They didn’t plant a big area, about 1.5 hectares or 1,400 trees. Over the last few years Merino and his family have been harvesting these trees and enjoying the profits. They have made money from selling seed, selling stumps and seedlings and of course selling the logs and timber. They have also harvested the timber for their own use in building houses, fixing the church and as fuel for their copra and cocoa dryer.

    So far they have used the money they have made to buy a truck, build some houses, fix the church and pay for lots of other smaller things in the community. Merino has carried out a number of harvesting operations, but it was the first one that made him realise the value of his trees.

    With help from the Forestry Management Project, he sold 27 cubic metres of small Teak logs into the Indian market earning over $45,000. The teak logs were used for furniture manufacture.

    Merino says that his one regret is that they stopped planting. He imagines if they had kept planting just a small area every year. It would mean that every year he would be able to harvest some trees and sell them or use them himself.

    He has planted about a thousand trees each year over the last few years so that his children have something for the future. Not just teak trees either. He is planting some local species including kerosene wood, vasa and canoe tree as well as other introduced species like mahogany and gmelina.

    The mix of different trees means that he and his family will have all the different kinds of timber they need for the future as well as timber to sell for money. It is like NPF says Merino. "I used to work for a logging company and they had to put money into NPF for me for when I finished work. Now I can see my NPF money. It is growing on the trees."

    Asked about the stories that Teak and other trees spoil the land and drink water, Merino laughs. He points to where he has already harvested trees and planted more trees back again.

    They are growing just fine, he says. "Some people just want to spoil other people who have planted trees. "If you make sure you do proper landuse planning before you plant your trees you will still have land for gardening, coconuts and cocoa and some bush.

    "This way you make sure the plantation doesn’t spoil you, as it will be planted in the best place for you and it." Merino hopes that in the future others can share his vision for landowners in the Solomon Islands. "If we all plant some trees every year, then in the future we can all make money from our trees every year."

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    News about carotenoids in banana and other Pacific crops

    From Dr Lois Englberger.

    I am back from the International Congress of Nutrition, held in Durban, South Africa. It was a great meeting and I learned a lot. While there, I learned about the electronic version of an FAO poster on indigenous foods, which features Karat banana:



    You may recall that Karat is one of the most carotenoid-rich bananas in the world. Provitamin A carotenoids protect against vitamin A deficiency and anemia, and carotenoid-rich foods may also protect against diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Karat is also very rich in riboflavin, vitamin B2, and is likely to be the most riboflavin-rich banana in the world as well! Very few plant foods are rich in riboflavin. The poster does not however give the information on Karat's riboflavin content as it was developed prior to our work in that area of food composition.

    Professor Harriet Kuhnlein and the Centre for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and Environment developed the poster. As you see, they have selected seven nutrient-rich indigenous foods from around the world, and presented photos and information about those foods. So it is quite neat that Karat is among those seven!

    My oral presentation was at the main meeting on Tuesday 20 September and was titled "Indigenous Food Resources in the Federated States of Micronesia." A short paper was written for this presentation and that is available for any interested. This is mainly a summary of our work identifying and promoting nutrient-rich foods (such as Karat). Also I presented a poster on Kiribati and Marshall Islands pandanus, which is a product of my work in 2003 and 2004, in collaboration with the various agencies and officers there. The abstract for this is also available, and I can later provide it in the published version for those interested.

    You might note that I also took some dried Karat banana to the meeting in South Africa and showed it to some researchers for the DSM Nutritional Products, based in Switzerland. They were very impressed and one said that in Europe the Karat banana would be considered a "functional food", having special health benefits. Sight and Life and the DSM Nutritional Products laboratory in Switzerland have also been very supportive in helping us find out about the nutrient content of Karat.

    There are several pieces of press coverage on carotenoids provided by the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain (INIBAP). This is a real breakthrough as carotenoids are not usually mentioned in that primarily agricultural-based organization.

    Through the encouragement of an agriculturalist of a regional Pacific organization, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, I submitted an abstract for the First International Congress on Musa, held in July 2004. That abstract was accepted for an oral presentation, and there was later a lot of press coverage. First, the abstract was published in their abstracts book:
    Englberger L and Lorens A. 2004. Banana cultivars in Micronesia: newly
    recognized sources of provitamin A and total carotenoids and other
    nutrients. Abstract Guide. 1st International Congress on Musa: Harnessing
    research to improve livelihoods, 6-9 July, 2004, Penang, Malaysia. page 241

    Then INIBAP put out a press release on the findings of the Karat banana, and this led to an article in the New Scientist as follows:
    Coghlan A. 2004. Orange banana to boost kids' eyes. New Scientist 10 July 2004. http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99996120

    Following that was a myriad of articles all over the world, many which I could not read because of their being in foreign languages, including Chinese, Hindi, Vietnamese, Italian, but also in the Guardian of the UK and in Die Welt of Germany. Many journalists later wrote me and asked for further photos and information, and one lay magazine later sent me a copy of their issue of "L'actualite" October 2004, where they had the article in French...even giving the information that the Karat banana contains 25 times the beta-carotene content compared to the common banana.

    The INIBAP organizers and scientific writer later wrote this in their InfoMusa Vol 13, No. 2, 2004, in the article "Highlights on the First International congress on Musa" (p 38):

    "Lois Englberger's talk on carotenoid levels in cultivars from Micronesia (see
    INFOMUSA 12(2):2-5) drew a lot of interest, not only from the participants but
    from the media. Her data show that some traditional varieties contain enough
    provitamin A carotenoids at realistic consumption levels to prevent vitamin A
    deficiency (VAD) a major cause of debilitating health problems in developing
    countries and a significant contributor to infant and maternal mortality. Lois
    also pointed out that there are many yellow- and orange-fleshed bananas in other
    countries - such as 'Pisang raja', 'Pisang berangan', 'Nendran' in India and
    'Lakatan' in the Philippines - which could have an impact on eliminating VAD and
    improving general health."


    The abstracts of the oral presentations and posters are available on INIBAP's website at www.inibap.org.

    I am very convinced (and other of my colleagues are too) that there is an immense still unrecognized potential in carotenoid-rich banana varieties throughout the world, and that this could have an immense effect in improving health, not only vitamin A deficiency but in alleviating certain chronic disease problems. Yet, we have not yet been very successful in getting the attention of a funding opportunity for supporting this work, not only of promoting the rare banana varieties already identified as carotenoid-rich, but also of continuing the work in identifying further varieties, and looking into other issues, such as bioavailability of the carotenoids in bananas.

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    News from Seed Savers' Network

    The Seed Savers' Network has a busy month ahead in October. The two-day Local Seed Network Co-ordination Course is running at a discounted price of $30.00 to encourage as many people to attend as possible. The Course on Preparation for Working in Seed Saving and Permaculture Projects is also outlined below.

    Course On Coordinating a Local Seed Network

    Tuesday 18th and Wednesday 19th October 2005 at the Seed Centre in Byron Bay, just before our Eighteenth Annual Gathering (22nd to 23rd October) also to be held at Seed Savers (tours of farms and gardens on Friday 21st October).

    This is a course for local seed network coordinators and members and those interested in setting up a local seed network. The course aims to help people who have knowledge of gardening and seed saving to successfully establish and run a seed exchange network in their local area. It will have a large practical component in the extensive seed producing gardens at the Seed Centre and in the national seed bank.

    TOPICS
    Importance of Conserving Food Crop Diversity
    Benefits of Local Seed Networks
    How to Form a Network
    Sourcing Seeds and Planting Material
    Keeping Records
    Drying and Cleaning Seeds
    Testing Seeds
    Storing Seeds
    Distribution
    Promotion of your Network

    TEACHERS
    Jude and Michel Fanton have had many years experience of running The Seed Savers' Network, a national seed exchange network operating across Australia from The Seed Centre in Byron Bay. Since its inception in 1986, The Seed Savers' Network has had over 7 000 varieties come through the seed bank and over 12 000 people have been or are subscribers to the network. There are now sixty Local Seed Networks around Australia, with several in preparation. Jude and Michel have been teaching seed saving and Permaculture since 1981 in Australia and overseas.

    TEACHING STYLE
    Participatory and practical with many exercises in thegarden. We will make good use of participants' experience and skills in running seed networks. All past groups have experienced a strong sense of camaraderie and group learning.

    INTERESTED?
    For the small cost of $30 you will have course handouts, morning and afternoon tea, lunch and the evening meal on Wednesday 19th. Please contact us by September 15th to secure a place.

    Course on Preparation for Working in Seed Saving and Permaculture Projects

    10-15 October 2005, 8.30am to 4pm and two evenings at Seed Savers' Network Seed Centre, Byron Bay, NSW

    TOPICS
    Biodiversity, biopiracy and genetic engineering
    What genetic resources need preservation
    Keeping varieties for posterity, seed production
    Selection, processing the seed harvest
    Storage, setting up a seed bank
    The development scene
    Working on development projects
    Current project opportunities
    Optional practical exercises in the garden

    The first three and a half days are on seed saving and there are two and a half days about preparation for and working on Permaculture and seed saving projects.

    TEACHERS
    Jude and Michel Fanton have worked in Permaculture for 24 years, teaching 18 Design Courses in Australia and overseas. In the last ten years they have initiated seed networks in the Solomon Islands, Cuba and Cambodia and consulted on strategies for preserving traditional varieties in Japan, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Tonga, East Timor, Afghanistan and for ten countries in Africa.T hey have trained a number of young people who have gone to work in the Solomon Islands, India, Japan, Cambodia, Indonesia, East Timor, Brazil, Argentina and Ecuador. They offer what they have learnt from these experiences and nineteen years of running The Seed Savers' Network in Australia to people who have an interest in working overseas or in Australian community projects that could involve seeds and Permaculture. There are also guest lecturers such as aid workers and international activists.

    VENUE
    Two kilometres south of the Byron Bay Post Office, one acre undulating gardens near the sea which have been designed on Permaculture principles with seed bank, annual garden, food forest, terraces, seed gardens, orchard, chooks and ponds.

    ACCOMMODATION
    There are many options in Byron Bay including backpacker hostels and a camping ground not far from the Seed Centre. Please ask to be sent a list.

    TEACHING STYLE
    Participatory and practical with many exercises in the garden and with seeds. All past groups have experienced a strong sense of camaraderie and group learning. Most meals are shared and some cooked together. After 4pm there is an optional practical of one and a half hours in the garden. There will be a research assignment and a presentation required of each participant, either individually or in groups.

    PARTICIPANTS
    This is a course for people who are willing to work as volunteers or on a local wage on community-based sustainable agriculture projects, particularly those inspired by Permaculture and seed saving. The course aims to help people who have knowledge of horticulture, household food production, environmental management, health, nutrition, etc., to prepare themselves for development work.

    INTERESTED?
    $420.00AUD includes course handouts, teas, lunches, two evening meals and presentations. Send $100 deposit by August 15th to secure a place.

    The Seed Savers' Eighteenth Annual Conference

    Theme: The Context and Culture of Seed Saving
    22nd to 23rd October 2005 at the Seed Centre in Byron Bay 9am to 4.30pm
    $15 per day

    Seed Savers' Eighteenth Annual Conference will be at the Seed Centre two kilometres south of the centre of Byron Bay.

    We are fortunate to have these people from overseas who will speak on the context and culture of seed saving in their countries:
    • Johnson Ladota from Solomon Islands - farmer and organiser in Planting Material Network
    • Betty and Atai from East Timor - staff of Permatil, Timor's umbrella Permaculture organisation
    • Mara Nieves from Puerto Rico - anti-GE activist who has also worked in Hawaii
    • Pablo Ermini from Argentina - agriculturist in urban agriculture, has established a national seed network.
    Saturday starts at 9am and Sunday at 9.30am with talks until morning tea, a forum with audience involvement before lunch and practical workshops in the afternoon. Anyone keen to make a presentation, please contact Jude Fanton on jude@seedsavers.net.

    There will be an opportunity for seed savers to get to know one another at the musical and social evening Saturday. During the weekend there will be guided tours of the seed gardens.

    Seed Savers has a Food Gardens in Schools project with a Resource Kit for teachers. It is seeking further support and case studies of anyone's experience with food gardens in schools. Please let us know if you would like to contribute in any way.

    The Seed Savers' Network at PO Box 975, Byron Bay, NSW 2481; T 02 6685 7560,T/F 02 6685 6624; Email info@seedsavers.net. Website: www.seedsavers.net

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    Training at the SPC Regional Germplasm Centre (RGC)

    From Valerie Tuia, Curator of the RGC.

    Ms Emily Ilaoa a Tissue Culture Manager from the Land Grant Program under the American Samoa Community College is with RGC for 3 days' training. Emily carries out the mass production of improved varieties of taro and bananas from the RGC for evaluation by farmers. This is one of the programs by Land Grant to revive the American Samoa taro industry devastated by the taro leaf blight disease and to provide other alternative potential crops.

    Two trainees from Kiribati, Ms Takena Redfern (Agricultural Officer) and Ms Tekataake Oromita (Agricultural Assistant), are also on attachment at RGC for one week, Sept 19 until Sept 23. This is part of the FAO banana project for Kiribati in which RGC supplies improved banana varieties plus training on transferring plants from tissue culture to the soil and other management aspects while in the screenhouse prior to field planting.

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