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).




PAPGREN coordination and support

  • CTA
  • SPC
  • 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
    Cook Islands
    Tel: (682) 28711-29720
    Fax: (682) 21881
    Email: cimoa@oyster.net.ck

    Mr Adelino S. Lorens
    Agriculture Pohnpei
    Office of Economic Affairs
    P.O. Box 1028
    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
    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
    Fiji Islands
    Tel: (679) 3477044
    Fax: (679) 3477546-400262
    Email: apisainu@yahoo.com

    Dr Maurice Wong
    Service du Developpement Rural
    B.P. 100
    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
    Tel: (686) 28096-28108-28080
    Fax: (686) 28121
    Email : agriculture@tskl.net.ki; Beenna_ti@yahoo.com

    Mr Frederick Muller
    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
    Bureau of Agriculture
    Ministry of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 460
    Koror 96940
    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
    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
    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
    Solomon Islands
    Tel: (677) 27987

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

    Mr Finao Pole
    Head of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture & Forests
    P.O. Box 14
    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
    Tel: (678) 22525
    Fax: (678) 25265
    Email: flehi@hotmail.com

    Other links

    Other CROP agencies
    Forum Secretariat
    University of the South Pacific

    Pacific biodiversity
    Biodiversity hotspots
    Breadfruit Institute
    Hawaiian native plants
    Intellectual property rights
    Nature Conservancy
    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?



    Sunday, May 24, 2009

    Seeds from Africa for research in Norway

    From : The Citizen

    By Ray Naluyaga

    Over 5,000 samples of seed varieties are expected to be shipped from Nigeria to Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway next month.

    The shipment, to be undertaken by Africa's leading Agricultural research partner, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), will be the second to be made to the facility in Norway in a move aimed at preserving the genetic resources of African crops.

    "This year's shipment will involve about 5,000 seed samples of soybean, maize, bambara nut, cowpea, and African yam bean, in more than 10 seed boxes,"said Dr Dominique Dumet, head of IITA's Genetic Resources Center.

    In a statement released in Dar es Salaam by IITA regional office, Dr Dumet said the whole aim of the shipment to Svalbard is about conservation of genetic resources and agro biodiversity for humanity.

    According to the statement, agro-biodiversity is a term that captures all forms of life directly relevant to agriculture, from crop varieties to crop wild relatives, livestock, and many other organisms such as soil fauna, weeds, pests, and predators seen to be disappearing faster than any time since the demise of the dinosaurs.

    According to the United Nations Environment Programme's 4th Global Environment Outlook report, the ongoing loss of biodiversity will restrict future development options for rich and poor countries with negative impacts on food security.

    To stem the loss of agro biodiversity, the IITA Genetic Resources Center, located in Ibadan, Nigeria, has over the years, conserved more than 28,000 accessions of IITA mandate crops.

    The centre houses the world's largest collection of cowpea-a key staple in Africa, offering an inexpensive source of protein- with over 15,000 unique varieties from 88 countries around the world.

    The Svalbard Seed Vault is another safety net designed to hold duplicated genetic resources.

    "It actually serves as a backup for genetic diversity. For instance, there are some genes in the seeds that we are conserving now that might solve problems of future generations, such as lack of resistance to diseases or tolerance for drought," Dr Dumet explained.

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    Hunt for 'climate-ready' crops accelerates as organizations search seed collections worldwide

    From : FirstScience-UK

    - 21 May 2009
    By Burness Communications
    Amid Predictions that Climate Change Will Create Hostile Growing Conditions, partners Look to Crop Collections for future varieties
    ROME, ITALY (22 May 2009)—The Global Crop Diversity Trust announced today numerous new grant awards to support scientists to explore the millions of seed samples maintained in 1,500 crop genebanks around the world. They will search for biodiversity critically needed to protect food production from the ravages of climate change.

    The awards support a wide range of innovative projects, including a search in Southeast Asia and the Pacific for bananas that are resistant to banana streak virus, which will likely become more problematic with climate change; transferring traits from a wild to a cultivated variety of potato that convey resistance to a soil-borne pathogen responsible for bacterial wilt; a search for novel traits with tolerance to heat and drought stresses in Chilean maize crop collections; a project in India to find pearl millet that can handle scorching temperatures; and a project to increase the ability of maize to cope with erratic rains, while increasing its nutritional quality for small-scale, marginal farms in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    Working together with the Trust in the effort will be the Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity (GIPB).

    "We want to support scientists to probe crop genebanks for natural traits that will allow farm production to stay one step ahead of climate change," said Cary Fowler, Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. "The data are now clear that rising temperatures, radically altered precipitation patterns and new infestations of plant pests are on the near horizon, and we need to look to our crop genebanks for the traits that will help us avoid a crisis."

    By the turn of the century, scientists now predict that temperatures during growing seasons in the tropics and subtropics are destined to be even hotter than what are now considered extreme temperatures. New data also show steadily dryer conditions in many regions. But there is widespread concern, particularly in the developing world, that plant breeding efforts are not moving fast enough to develop new varieties that can withstand these stresses and enable farmers to avoid steep drops in food production

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    Monday, May 18, 2009

    Negotiating Climate Change

    19 MAY 2009 APIA (Pacnews) ----- Ensuring that the voice of Pacific Island countries is heard at the international level is critical for the success of the climate change negotiations. This was one of the many lessons stressed during a week of negotiation training and consultations at SPREP Headquarters in Apia, Samoa.

    The world is now only six months away from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 15th Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP15) in Copenhagen, where a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol is slated for adoption. In preparation for the meeting, Pacific Island countries party to the UNFCCC received in-depth training in negotiations strategy and techniques.

    Dr Ian Fry, a prominent climate change specialist and a negotiator for the Government of Tuvalu conducted sessions to help prepare participants for key issues that will be addressed at COP 15.

    SPREP’s Climate Change Adviser Espen Ronneberg is pleased that this training has brought many new faces to the climate change negotiations table. He feels it will help strengthen the capacity of the Pacific at the negotiating table by providing additional trained negotiators that will have a strong understanding of the issues to be discussed.

    “The training component provided valuable inputs in negotiation techniques, as well as expert knowledge on preparation for the very complex meeting arrangements at the international level. In addition, the Pacific has had an opportunity to also discuss the key issues that are still under negotiation, which will allow them to gather information back home to address concerns arising from those key issues,” Ronneberg said.

    The training is an important component of activities planned during the 2009 Pacific Year of Climate Change. “Our Century’s Challenge, Our Pacific Response” is the theme of the year, which hopes to build momentum in the Pacific before December’s meeting of the COP in Copenhagen.

    Ronneberg believes that strengthening the climate change negotiation skills of Pacific island country parties to the UNFCCC will also contribute to greater participation in climate related discussions at both the national, regional and international level.

    In addition to the negotiations training, the Pacific held consultations with the European Commission on the implementation of the Pacific-EU climate change declaration in the Pacific Islands. This represents a new and additional financing opportunity for climate change work in the region, and could expedite action on the ground in the Pacific on responding to the adverse effects of climate change.

    The training was held 11 – 15 May at the SPREP Compound in Apia. …PNS (ENDS)

    For more details please contact SPREP's Climate Change Adviser Espen Ronneberg E: espenr@sprep.org T: (685) 21929 F: (685) 20231 W: www.sprep.org

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    Impacts of modernisation on traditional food resource management and food security on Eauripik atoll, Federated States of Micronesia
    via Food Security on 4/28/09

    Abstract This paper discusses the changes that are occurring in the management of food resources in a remote Pacific community due to modernising influences, such as the introduction of imported food and outboard motors as well as contemporary trends, such as emigration and greater population mobility. The paper focuses on several social circumstances observed during a seven month fieldwork period, many of which drive consumption of imported goods. Noting parallels to other isolated communities in the region, generalised observations are made and conclusions reached on the importance of understanding the social effects of ‘modernising’ projects for community food security.
    • Content Type Journal Article
    • Category Original Paper
    • DOI 10.1007/s12571-009-0022-2
    • Authors
    o Andrew Scourse, Valley View 278a Turleigh, Bradford-on-Avon Wiltshire BA15 2HH UK
    o Corinne Wilkins, 213B Norwood Road London SE24 9AG UK
    o Journal Food Security
    o Online ISSN 1876-4525
    o Print ISSN 1876-4517

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    Bitter gourd: High value, high input

    From : The World Vegetable Center Newsletter

    Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia) is regarded as one of the world’s major vegetable crops and has great economic importance. It also is a promising candidate as a remedy
    that can help millions in the developing world who suffer from metabolic disorders such as type-2 diabetes. These positive features may make bitter gourd look like an
    all-purpose crop; however, to be successful on a global scale, this indigenous crop requires attention from breeders as well as production system specialists.
    A traditional vegetable grown throughout tropical and subtropical Asia, bitter gourd is planted on more than 60,000 ha annually—but major insecttransmitted diseases such as Cucurbit aphid-borne yellow virus (CABYC), Papaya ringspot virus (PRSV), and Zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV) are spreading quickly, causing significant yield
    reductions. Fusarium wilt, powdery mildew, and bacterial wilt also cause considerable damage. “Breeding bitter gourd with resistance or tolerance to diseases is a promising approach,” says Dr. Zhanyong Sun, who is leading AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center’s cucurbit program. Through disease resistance breeding, private sector researchers in the Philippines were able to develop ‘Namamarako,’ a variety
    resistant to CNM, a new emerging virus that is a strain of CABYV. This hybrid yields well even during times of high virus incidence. “With 302 accessions listed in its
    current inventory, AVRDC’s Momordica collection is of interest for research cooperation with partners in the private sector,” says Dr. Sun. “But it’s important to carry out broader research. We simply don’t know enough about the diseases and insects that affect bitter gourd, the most successful cultural practices, and the most promising pest management strategies.” As Dr. Sun can attest, researching indigenous vegetables is an exploration of the unknown and involves a lot of pioneering work. Together with AVRDC’s Asian Regional Center in Bangkok, Dr.
    Sun hopes to conduct an in-depth survey and analysis in the region to identify varieties that are disease resistant and adapted to different agroecological conditions. Researchers will not have to be concerned about one issue: climate
    change. Bitter gourd performs even better under hot tropical conditions.

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    Sunday, May 17, 2009

    New Pacific Partnership
    South Pacific Odyssey, Part I

    From : The World Vegetale Center

    Dr. Dyno Keatinge (Director General) traveled to five Pacific Island nations,Australia and New Zealand to explore new partnerships and collaborations.

    Dr. R. Ghodake, Director General of the Papua New Guinea National Agricultural esearch Institute (NARI) invited Dr. Keatinge to discuss potential projects along with other partners including the Fresh Produce Development Association (FPDA). Mr. A.K. Benjamin, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Livestock, noted that approximately 85% of the country’s population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods; he welcomed AVRDC’s initiatives to promote agricultural development,
    especially for vegetables. Dr. Keatinge toured the NARI Dry Lowlands Research Station with Prof. Udai Pal and Dr. Rosa Kambuou, the country’s senior plant genetic resources specialist. A courtesy call was paid on Mr. Chen Shan-Lin, Representative of the Trade Mission of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in Papua New Guinea and a keen supporter of agricultural development through the Taiwan Technical Mission based
    at Lae. Slippery cabbage (Abelmoschus manihot) goes by many names in the South Pacific, including aibika, bele, pele, and others. The germplasm diversity of this popular and nutritionally important indigenous vegetable is currently threatened, and it is hoped Center staff will be allowed to collect and preserve specimens in the AVRDC genebank. It will not be an easy task, as most current A. manihot
    lines are propagated vegetatively. Green leafy vegetables are an important part of the local diet in PNG, but malnutrition remains an issue, as consumption of vitamin Arich foods is limited. Opportunities to grow vegetables abound in highland areas and NARI is successfully introducing new species to farmers in this region. However, getting the harvest to larger markets such as in Port Moresby is difficult due to a lack of appropriate infrastructure and refrigerated transport. Increasing crop diversity, germplasm preservation, improving postharvest handling, and market chain issues are all areas of future collaboration between AVRDC and PNG institutions.
    Papua New Guinea Planning future partnerships: Prof. Udai Pal, NARI (far left); PNG Secretary of Agriculture Mr. A.K. Benjamin (third from left); Dr. Keatinge (fourth from left); NARI Director General Dr. R. Ghodake (fifth from left); members of senior ministries and the Fresh Produce Department Association. Dr. Rosa Kambuou (l) and Mr. Chen Shan-Lin (r) at Taiwan’s Trade Mission in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

    Solomon Islands
    The Honorable Mr. Selwyn Riumana, Solomon Islands Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Development, toured AVRDC HQ in Taiwan on 14-17 January 2009 and invited Dr. Keatinge for a reciprocal visit. Fierce Solomon Island warriors greeted the DG on the tarmac at Honiara International Airport—an event captured on the front page of
    the daily newspaper, the Solomon Star News. Dr. Keatinge, Dr. Jaw- Fen Wang, AVRDC Global Theme Leader-Production, and Dr. Ravi Joshi, AVRDC senior scientist in the
    Solomons, met the Prime Minister of the Government of the Solomon Islands, the Honorable Mr. Derek Sikua. Vegetable consumption is low in the Solomon Islands and malnutrition is a severe problem. A lack of seed, limited crop diversity, and
    production difficulties are being addressed under AVRDC’s project funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). All seed
    available in the Solomons is imported hybrid seed from Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand. It is difficult for farmers to obtain good seedling material of indigenous vegetables such as slippery cabbage; the project is collecting and preserving germplasm. Local NGOs such as Vois Blong Mere Solomons and the Kastom
    Garden Association have been staunch project supporters; through their excellent network, more than 650 women turned out to attend a talk by Dr. Keatinge on the
    importance of vegetables in combating malnutrition in children. The talk was given at the Taiwanese Technical Mission HQ in Honiara through the good offices of His
    Excellency Mr. George Chan, Taiwanese Ambassador to the Solomon Islands, and Mr. David Huang, the leader of the mission. The following day Mr. Chan and Dr.
    Keatinge addressed a gathering of more than 200 secondary school children touring vegetable plots at the Kastom Garden Association HQ. Organic farmer Mr. Joini Tutua, a well-known figure in the Solomons, gave the tour. All the women and schoolchildren
    took home an eggplant seedling and seed of yard-long bean, both of which have been successful AVRDC introductions to the Solomons. This well-planned giveaway also made
    headlines in the Solomon Star News.


    In Fiji, Dr. Keatinge consulted with the new ACIAR Regional Representative for the South Pacific, Dr. Richard Markham. ACIAR’s generous support funds our current Solomon Islands project. AVRDC also proposed an agreement for collaboration with
    the Secretariat of the South Pacific Community and their network of 22 South Pacific states. The Memorandum of Agreement was signed by Dr. Aleki Sisifa, Director of the SPC Land Resources Division. The agreement gives AVRDC formal status for collaboration with SPC’s Regional Germplasm Center and other associated germplasm networks such as the Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN). The Regional Germplasm Center has good skills in tissue culture and genetic resources, which are coordinated by Dr. Mary Taylor and Mr. Tevita Kete.Dr. Keatinge visited the
    Fijian National Agricultural Research Station in the Sigatoka Valley. This beautiful
    location, the vegetable production center of Fiji, was ground zero of the devastating banana disease, black sigatoka, which swept the world and brought severe
    hardship to communities in sub- Saharan Africa and elsewhere. Vegetable introductions from AVRDC in collaboration with the Fijian NARS and the Taiwan
    Technical Mission are faring well in this region.

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    Tuesday, May 12, 2009

    Forget A Better Mousetrap: Save The Forest

    From : Science Daily

    ScienceDaily (Apr. 13, 2006) — The most cost-effective way to stop non-native rats and mongoose from decimating highly endangered species on larger tropical islands is not by intensive trapping, but instead by preserving the forest blocks where wildlife live, according to a study by the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and other groups.

    The study, which appears in the latest issue of the journal Conservation Biology, found that rats and mongoose in the Fiji Islands rarely penetrate the forest interior, preferring instead to forage along the forest edges.

    The study holds potential good news for species like the pink-billed parrotfinch, banded iguana and Fijian land snails which live deep within Fiji's remaining forests. By using bait stations designed to attract rats and mongoose, the researchers discovered that stations over five kilometers (approximately three miles) from the forest edge were rarely visited.

    "Protection of the few remaining large blocks of natural forests on Pacific islands may be the most cost-effective approach for conserving many rare species threatened by rats and mongooses," said WCS researcher David Olson, lead author of the study.

    Though the authors are unsure on exactly why rats and mongoose seem to shy away from deep forests, they theorize that natural forests have poorer habitats for reproduction for these invasive species than agricultural areas or secondary forests.

    The authors warn that even low levels of rat and mongoose penetration into forest areas can be sufficient over time to cause the decline of native species. Also, the occurrence of logging roads or even the proximity to rivers can allow rats and mongoose to colonize areas where endangered species occur.

    "Remote forest areas that function as refuges for threatened island species are increasingly rare and should receive the highest priority for conservation on the larger islands of the Pacific," said David Olson, who said that similar forests exist in Vanuatu, New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, Samoa, Hawaii and tropical islands in the Caribbean. Authors from the University of the South Pacific also contributed to the study.


    Adapted from materials provided by Wildlife Conservation Society, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS

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    Biological Diversity: Islands Beat Mainland Nine To One

    From : Science Daily

    ScienceDaily (May 11, 2009) — Rare and unique ecological communities will be lost if oceanic islands aren't adequately considered in a global conservation plan, a new study has found. Although islands tend to harbor fewer species than continental lands of similar size, plants and animals found on islands often live only there, making protection of their isolated habitats our sole chance to preserve them.

    Many conservation strategies focus on regions with the greatest biodiversity, measured by counting the number of different plants and animals. "Normally you want to focus on the most diverse places to protect a maximum number of species," said Holger Kreft, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego and one of the two main authors of the study, "but you also want to focus on unique species which occur nowhere else."

    To capture that uniqueness, Kreft and colleagues at the University of Bonn, UC San Diego and the University of Applied Sciences Eberswalde used a measure of biodiversity that weights rare species more than widespread ones. They carved the terrestrial realm into 90 biogeographic regions, calculated biodiversity for each, then compared island and continental ecosystems. By this measure, island populations of plants and vertebrate animals are eight to nine times as rich.

    The southwest Pacific island of New Caledonia stands out as the most unique with animals like the kagu, a bird with no close relatives found only in the forested highlands that is in danger of extinction, and plants like Amborella, a small understory shrub unlike any other flowering plant that is thought to be the lone survivor of an ancient lineage.

    Fragments of continents that have broken free to become islands like Madagascar and New Caledonia often serve as a final refuge for evolutionary relicts like these. The source of diversity is different on younger archipelagos formed by volcanoes such as the Canary Islands, the Galápagos and Hawaii which offered pristine environments where early colonizers branched out into multiple related new species to fill empty environmental niches. The new measure doesn't distinguish between the two sources of uniqueness, which may merit different conservation strategies.

    Although islands account for less than four percent of the Earth's land area, they harbor nearly a quarter of the world's plants, more than 70,000 species that don't occur on the mainlands. Vertebrate land animals – birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals – broadly follow this same pattern.

    "Islands are important and should be part of any global conservation strategy," Kreft said. "Such a strategy wouldn't make any sense if you didn't include the islands."

    Threats to biodiversity may also rise faster for islands than for mainlands, the team reports. Scenarios based on a measure of human impact projected to the year 2100 warn that life on islands will be more drastically affected than mainland populations.

    "That threat is expected to accelerate particularly rapidly on islands where access to remaining undeveloped lands is comparatively easy" said Gerold Kier, project leader at the University of Bonn and lead author of the study. Expanding farmlands, deforestation, and other changes in how people use land are among the alterations expected to cause the greatest damage.

    The researchers also considered future challenges posed by climate change and report mixed impacts. Rising sea levels will swamp low-lying areas and smaller islands, but the ocean itself is expected to moderate island climates by buffering temperature changes. "Although disruptions to island ecosystems are expected to be less severe than on the continents, climate change remains one of the main threats to the biodiversity of the Earth," Kier said. "If we cannot slow it down significantly, protected areas will not be much help."

    "We now have new and important data in our hands, but still have no simple solutions for nature conservation," Kreft said. "In particular, we need to answer the question how protected areas with their flora and fauna can complement each other in the best way. The part played by ecosystems, for example their ability to take up the green-house gas carbon dioxide, should be increasingly taken into account."

    Co-authors included Tien Ming Lee and Walter Jetz of UC San Diego; Pierre Ibisch and Christoph Nowicki of the University of Applied Sciences Eberswalde; and Jens Mutke and Wilhelm Barthlott of the University of Bonn.

    The Academy of Sciences and Literature Mainz, the Wilhelm Lauer Foundation, and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funded the research. Holger Kreft holds a Feodor-Lynen Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.


    Journal reference:

    Gerold Kier, Holger Kreft, Tien Ming Lee, Walter Jetz, Pierre L. Ibisch, Christoph Nowicki, Jens Mutke & Wilhelm Barthlott. A global assessment of endemism and species richness across island and mainland regions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, May 11, 2009 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0810306106
    Adapted from materials provided by University of California - San Diego, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

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    Monday, May 11, 2009

    Children taught need to grow own food

    From : Fiji Times

    Tuesday, May 12, 2009

    Green finger ... Suva Multiple Intelligence Centre student Zion Semaan harvests cabbage outside his school yesterday.

    TEACHER Sofia Koroi and her students at Suva's Multiple Intelligence Centre excitedly harvested two plots of English cabbage yesterday.

    They planted the crop five months ago and will sell the cabbages to their parents.

    "This is part of the school program to teach our students the importance of growing our own food," Mrs Koroi said.

    "We started two years ago, planting all year around and selling our harvests to the students' parents."

    The school plants cucumber, beans, pawpaw, sugar cane, bele and other vegetables.

    There are 50 students in the school, who each day spend about 30 minutes taking care of their gardens with the help of the teachers. Yesterday's harvest was from the gardens of Class Three and Four students.

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    Tuesday, May 05, 2009

    Swine flu science: Who's writing what on the virus

    1 May 2009

    From : SciDev

    C. S. Goldsmith and A. Balish, CDC
    As swine flu spreads around the globe, scientists are seeking to build their understanding of the virus — particularly the likelihood that it will mutate. From the wealth of information in the media, SciDev.Net has selected some of the best articles considering the science behind swine flu.

    According to Wendy Barclay — professor of influenza virology at the UK-based Imperial College London — swine flu, now known as A(H1N1), is a 'triple reassortment' virus. It is made up of segments from human, swine and avian viruses, Barclay told New Scientist in an expert analysis.

    Speaking to Science for an article on swine flu mutation, Kennedy Shortridge — a virologist at the University of Hong Kong — warned that as the virus spreads further this mixture is likely to increase: "… the farther the virus spreads, the more chance it will mix, or reassort, with other flu viruses in circulation and turn into something more lethal".

    He said that there are human strains of the virus in areas that are resistant to the current treatment Tamiflu and urged the sequencing of as many viral samples as possible to help predict changes in the virus.

    In an attempt to predict the virus's spread, Ira Longini and colleagues at the US-based University of Washington are trying to acquire as much data as possible on the virus's basic reproductive number, R0, a variable that reveals the number of new infections caused by each infected person. Longini told Science in the same article that this is the key factor in determining the virus's spread.

    Scientists are also eager to find out "whether a virus must mutate to move from pigs to humans and whether, as is the case with bird flu in humans, a specific mutation makes it more virulent," Science reports.

    A strategy to postpone the emergence of resistance is to "hold off using your primary drug until the cumulative number of cases reaches a sufficiently high number," says Joseph Wu of the University of Hong Kong. He told New Scientist that stockpiling just one drug would encourage resistance.

    One mystery is the virus's origins.

    UK newspaper The Guardian reports that UN scientists are trying to determine whether La Gloria, Mexico, is the virus's source. The village is suspected because samples acquired from a five-year-old there provide the earliest confirmed case of the disease. Other theories include migrant workers bringing the virus to Mexico from California, or that the earliest source is a 39-year-old woman in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.

    Scientists are also investigating why sufferers outside Mexico have experienced comparatively mild symptoms, Barclay told New Scientist. As yet there is no evidence that the genetic makeup of the Mexican strains differ from those in the United States, for example, says Barclay.

    BBC Online reports that preliminary analysis of the virus suggests that it is "a fairly mild strain". In a summary of what is known about swine flu, scientists say further mutation is required to cause mass deaths, but future evolution of the virus remains unknown. UK scientists will begin work today (1 May) on samples of the virus sent from the US. The research is essential in order to work out the structure of the virus, its origins and its propensity to spread.

    Barclay told BBC Online that "initial indications suggest there is nothing about the genetic makeup of the new virus which is a cause for particular concern".

    Preliminary "guesswork" has found that H1N1 attaches itself to the upper respiratory tract, spreading easily via coughing and sneezing but causing only mild infection. This is unlike the H5N1 avian influenza virus, which binds further down in the lungs and causes more severe illness, even though human transmission is rare.

    But it will take "weeks and months of biological analysis" to fully determine H1N1's potential, reports BBC Online.

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    Coconut palms - the timber of the future
    News release

    From : SPC
    We see them along our beachfronts and in many streets and gardens, but the iconic palm tree may soon have a new place in the Queensland lifestyle as a high-quality building product.
    Research conducted by Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries (QPIF) has found that cocowood, produced from coconut palm tree trunks, is suitable for use as high-value flooring, bench tops, kitchen cabinets and furniture.
    QPIF senior technician Gary Hopewell said the latest findings from the three-year $520,000 cocowood project showed that processed coconut palm wood was actually superior to many other commercially available timbers.
    "A number of Australian flooring product manufacturers are evaluating the material for their domestic manufacturing operations," he said.
    "Timber industry representatives from Australia, Fiji and Samoa, including flooring market and production specialists and potential suppliers and processors, are studying drying and processing technologies to ensure strict quality control of the product.
    "Even medium-density palm logs can be processed to make attractive veneers and plywood.
    "The positive results achieved to date support development of palm stem processing in Pacific island countries of origin, with value-added flooring and other products produced in Australia."
    Many Pacific island nations including Tonga, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu have large but ageing coconut palm plantations, where there is declining coconut and copra crop production.
    Mr Hopewell said the project was looking at opportunities to use these plantations to generate new timber industries, and create new Australian export and consumer markets, while providing a new source of income for Pacific island peoples from a locally available resource.
    "With strong demand for flooring products in Asia, America and Europe, cocowood products could be very lucrative for Queensland and our Pacific neighbours," he said.
    "By developing a cocowood industry to provide a range of timber products, we could help reduce the demand for timber from old-growth forests in Pacific island nations."
    This year the project enters a new stage with the further refinement of cocowood processing for commercialisation and entry to domestic and international markets.
    The cocowood project is co-funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural research (ACIAR). QPIF is a partner agency with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the Fiji Coconut Industry Development Authority, (CIDA), Fiji Ministry of Fisheries and Forests, Samoan Ministry for Natural Resources and Environment and Strickland Brothers, Samoa.

    With Kind Regards

    Mr Vinesh Prasad
    Information Communication Technology Assistant
    Facilitating the Agricultural Commodity Trade in Pacific
    Phone: (679) 3370733 ext 375
    facsmile: (679) 3370021

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    A world without biodiversity?

    From : IUCN

    Diversity-biological as well as social, linguistic and cultural diversity-is the lifeblood of sustainable development and human welfare. It is key to resilience-the ability of natural and social systems to adapt to change and is essential for nearly every aspect of our lives.

    That’s why, in the run-up to the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, with its theme A Diverse and Sustainable World the latest issue of World Conservation is going ‘back to basics’.

    It asks the question: How can we expect to tackle poverty and climate change if we don’t look after the natural wealth of animals, plants, microorganisms and ecosystems that make our planet inhabitable?

    The articles look at the scientific, social, economic and cultural case for keeping diversity, showing how biodiversity supports our health and physical security, food production, medical research, livelihoods, tourism, artistic expression and cultural life.

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    Sixty: Is time running out?

    From: IUCN

    IUCN is 60. To help celebrate this remarkable milestone, we’ve produced a special double issue of World Conservation: looking back over 60 years of conservation and ahead to the
    next 60.

    What are the issues, approaches and ideas that will influence conservation in the coming decades? Several prominent figures including IUCN's Presidential candidates outline their vision for the environment.

    We profile some of the people who are instigating change from the ground level to the international policy arena. We also take a look at some of the big issues up for discussion at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona which kicks off on 5 October.

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