1. LON-CAPA Logo
  2. Help
  3. Log In

Resources About Us What's New Notice Board Opinion FAQ Archive Feedback Main
Discussion Papers
Lessons Learned
Methods manuals
Regional Activities
Research Techniques
Working Papers
National Organizations
to consider
... Issues to
Working Groups
Acronyms and Contributors

Cultural Survival Canada

    Among its diverse activities, CS Canada houses and supports the Indigenous Peoples’ Biodiversity Network, further described on page 21 of this Handbook issue.    -GJM

    Cultural Survival (CS) Canada is an autonomous, charitable organization directed by indigenous peoples from Asia, the Pacific, Africa and the Americas. CS Canada researches and provides information on issues of access to, ownership of and control over biological diversity at the ecosystem, species and genetic levels. The results of this research are disseminated to indigenous peoples, partner organizations and the general public in the form of fact sheets, action alerts, discussion papers, handbooks and newsletters. CS Canada also supports indigenous peoples initiatives related to biodiversity stewardship. Support is given both at the community level, for example through ecological restoration, women’s projects and strengthening traditional rights, and at national and international levels, through policy development and intervention in important international fora. CS Canada is launching two publications to encourage greater awareness and debate of issues of indigenous rights and biodiversity stewardship. Buffalo Commons is an international magazine providing in-depth analysis of issues of biodiversity, biotechnology and intellectual property rights from the perspectives of indigenous peoples. Cultural/Diversity is a quarterly newsletter examining the broader impacts of economic globalization on indigenous peoples and their territories.  

    ‘Around the world, indigenous peoples are the caretakers of sacred knowledge about the unity of all living things and life processes, from genes, micro-organisms and species, to human societies and the ecosystems in which we live. These gifts of the Creator have enabled our peoples to survive five centuries of colonialism and to continue to nurture an extraordinary diversity and richness of life even within our much diminished land base. Our sacred relationship with Mother Earth is also vital for humanity as a whole as the world seeks ways to rebalance human needs with respect for the environment.  

    Today, however, the gifts of the Creator are under siege by corporations and governments attempting to make life itself another form of private property. This new wave of colonialism seeks to open one last frontier for economic globalization: the expropriation of our knowledge and the privatization of sacred plants, animals and our own genes.’ 

From: a leaflet produced by Cultural Survival Canada.    


  • Craig Benjamin, Publications Coordinator,  or Cindy Duffy, Public Education Coordinator,  Cultural Survival Canada, 200 Isabella,  Suite 304, Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 1V7 Canada;  Tel. +1.613.2375361, Fax +1.613.2371547,  e-mail csc@web.apc.org



    Solagral, under the guidance of Marcel Marloie and Laurence Tubiana, has been generating debate on important global issues since 1980. The networking activities of Solagral have brought together individuals from a variety of sectors, such as cooperation and development organizations, the media and research institutes, in an effort to bring about a rethinking of regulations at local, national and international levels for major issues such as food problems, liberalization of the economy and environmental policies   (on, for example, biodiversity, desertification and climate change).   -YA

    Solagral (which stands for Solidarités Agricoles et Alimentaires or Agricultural and Food Solidarity) was initiated in 1980 by activists and researchers who believe that the globalization of the economy and its effects on farmers and consumers deserve special attention. The Solagral members work with other NGOs and associations from around the world with interests in the fields of agriculture and development. Its activities include implementing research projects and organizing training courses, symposia and conferences. Solagral’s areas of research cover international markets, environmental economy, biotechnology and new regulation methods. It produces a bi-monthly newsletter, The Planet Mail (La Courrier de la Planète), and since 1991 has published the Solagral Collection, a collection of debates, analyses and work tools. Solagral, together with the Fondation pour le Progrés de l’Homme (FPH, Foundation for Human Progress), has produced Biodiversity: the Coveted Fruit, the proceedings of a seminar held in 1993 on access to plant genetic resources within the context of development.   

   "Farmers’ rights go hand in hand with intellectual property rights and reflect recognition of the contribution of all generations of farmers to the current state of genetic resources. In this connection, a compensatory mechanism must be established: this is the International Fund for Plant Genetic Resources which must be fed by the northern countries. 

It remains to be seen whether such an arrangement is fair. As long as a system of compensation is not provided by a democratically managed international fund, the system has little credibility in the  eyes of southern countries."  

From: Joly, P.B. 1994. Plant genetic resources and their management: example of the IARCs [International Agricultural Research Centres]. Pages 45-53 in D. Arnaud, H. Ilbert, R. Mongruel and L. Tubiana, editors, Biodiversity: the Coveted Fruit. Access to Genetic Resources: a Development Goal. Dossier pour un Débat 30 bis. FPH and Solagral, Paris. 


  • Solagral Paris, 11 Passage Penel,  75018 Paris, France; Tel. +33.1.42511100,  Fax +33.1.42511829
  • Eric Bernard, Solagral Montpellier, 3191 route de Mende, BP 5056, 34033 Montpellier, Cedex 1, France; Tel. +33.67544723, Fax +33.67542527
  • Solagral Lyon, 10 rue Lanterne, 69001 Lyon,  France; Tel. +33.7830831 


Vitae Civilis

    Since 1989, Gemima Born and her colleagues have been carrying out ethnobotanical and ethnopharmacological studies in communities around Jureia-Itatins Ecological Station, situated in the Atlantic rain forest of São Paulo State, Brazil. They recently completed a lengthy report on legal frameworks for protecting intellectual property rights and access to resources at the community level.    -GJM

Vitae Civilis - Instituto para o Desenvolvimento, Meio Ambiente e Paz (Institute for Development, Environment and Peace) was founded in 1989 by a diverse group of individuals who sought to transfer their knowledge and expertise to grassroots organizations, social movements and other groups. The mission of the Instituto is to catalyze, mobilize, mediate and act directly in programs and social processes dealing with the improvement of quality of life and respect for cultural and biological diversity. The Instituto works towards this goal through:  

  1. promoting and conducting research for the implementation of sustainable development policies and programs;
  2. providing technical assistance and training for NGOs, and strengthening local and international networks dealing with issues related to Vitae Civilis’ goals;   
  3. promoting environmental education and raising awareness of environmental and development policies;   
  4. collaborating in the improvement of institutions, techniques and legislation for consumer protection, health promotion, protection of natural, cultural and social patrimony, and strengthening of traditional communities; and   
  5. influencing policies concerning the conservation of biological diversity.

    Most of Vitae Civilis’ activities are in the Atlantic rain forest along the east coast of Brazil. Here, the Instituto is conducting research and supporting initiatives that improve people’s quality of life. Through this work Vitae Civilis hopes to develop models for the sustainable management of the environment and fair distribution of the resulting benefits. Research has focused on evaluating the use of medicinal plants and their potential for cultivation and marketing. Tenurial and legal issues are also being addressed, especially those related to intellectual property rights and natural resource use rights. An ethnobotanical exchange program has been set up between Vietnam and Brazil, in order to promote the exchange of methods and experiences. This project, funded by UNDP (see page 9), is based on visits between Vitae Civilis and members of the College of Biology, University of Hanoi, who are undertaking similar ethnobotanical work.  

    ‘It is very common to hear of northern people, both from governmental and private organizations, stressing that implementing sustainable forest management is the key task in halting forest loss. However, this management approach fails to address some important causes of deforestation. Among them are the overconsumption of wood and other resources in certain countries, the unequal access to products and benefits from forest and tree products, land tenure inequities and poverty. Discussions of sustainable management of primary forest in general presume that it is possible to continue logging those forests without serious environmental and social impacts ... However, unless we lower the demand for tree products, no protection can be secured for the forest ecosystems, particularly those in developing countries.’  

From: Born, R.H. 1995. The hungry north: a Brazilian perspective. Pages 20-21 in A. Soltani and P. Whitney, editors, Cut Waste, Not Trees: How to Save Forests, Cut Pollution and Create Jobs. Rainforest Action Network, San Francisco.


  • Gemima C. C. Born, Program Coordinator,  Vitae Civilis - Instituto para O Desenvolvimento,  Meio Ambiente e Paz, Rua MMDC, 172 #3 - Butant,  São Paulo, SP - 05510-020, Brazil;  Tel. +55.11.8130690, Fax +55.11.8131639,  e-mail rubinho@ax.apc.org
 The Brazilian Atlantic rain forest once extended along Brazil's coastal plain and up into the coastal mountain range. Because of timber extraction, clearing for plantations and population pressure, the forest is now mainly restricted to steep slopes and mountain tops. In Rio de Janerio state, some 20 percent of the original forest still stands, while elsewhere even less remains. The 3000 km long Atlantic Biosphere Reserve System aims to conserve the remaining areas of this ecosystem.



    Proterra is a non-profit organization established in 1983 in Lima, Peru. Its aim is to promote conservation in Peru and Latin America, through addressing issues of sustainable management of natural resources and environmental law. The Environmental Law, Policies and Administration Programme carries out research and provides training, advice and consultancy services to both governmental and non-governmental bodies. The Sustainable Development Programme provides technical assistance on issues related to agronomy, forestry and the law, for the promotion of rational and effective management of natural resources.  

    Proterra runs the Latin American Network on Environmental Law, which seeks to strengthen regional laws and policies. Its bulletin Bona Fide serves as a forum for members to exchange news on current issues and developments. Through its Defence and Capacity Building Environmental Law Project, Proterra seeks to inform people of their rights and how to participate in environmental management. One aspect of this is the Green Phone Project, a telephone helpline available to anyone seeking advice on environmental law. Proterra also publishes books and directories as well as Proterra Informa, dealing with issues related to post-UNCED developments, and the Juridicial Bulletin, which documents cases of environmental law in Peru.


  • Carlos Andaluz, Executive Director,  or Walter Valdez, Technical Director, Proterra,  Av. Esteban Campodonico 208, Urb. Santa Catalina,  La Victoria, Lima 13, Peru;  Tel. +51.1.4723800 or 4703930,  Fax +51.1.4703371,  e-mail postmaster@proter.org.pe


National Institute of Biodiversity

    Although many national biodiversity institutes have begun operations in recent years, INBio is without a doubt the best known, mostly because of its innovative and controversial deal with Merck.    - GJM

   In 1989, a task force of the Costa Rican government created the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio) in order to address the accelerating loss of the country’s biodiversity. INBio seeks to contribute to conservation within Costa Rica, through conducting research and promoting sustainable and rational utilization of the country‘s biodiversity. It is conducting a national inventory of the estimated 500,000 species, focusing on plants, insects and molluscs. This forms part of a program to catalog, inventory and disseminate information about the country’s biological resources. In order to facilitate the economic uses of biodiversity, INBio is carrying out biodiversity prospecting through collaborative research agreements with companies and research centers.  

    In 1991 INBio drew up a contract for bioprospecting with Merck & Co., an US-based pharmaceutical company. In this agreement, the first major bilateral contract of its kind, INBio agreed to provide Merck with material (from plants, insects and micro-organisms) for its drug screening programs. In return INBio received a 2-year research budget of US$1.135 million, an undisclosed share of royalties on any resulting commercial products, and technical assistance and training to build capacity in drug research within Costa Rica. 10% of the initial payment and 50% of any royalties go directly to the National Park Fund. This Fund is for the protection and management of the country’s protected areas, which account for nearly a quarter of Costa Rica’s land area. The INBio-Merck agreement is non-exclusive, and so INBio is free to make arrangements with other companies.    

    ‘The need to keep much of the institute’s biodiversity prospecting information confidential to one degree or another adds to INBio’s data-management burden. Precisely which samples are collected and how they are processed are generally trade secrets from the standpoint of the commercial user. On the other hand, general information about sample collections and many aspects of their processing are deliberately made public, and any number of employees, managers and associated biologists are involved. If conservation area managers, for instance, are kept in the dark about the collection process, they will not understand what measures are needed to ensure that the samples are removed without damaging a conservation area’s biodiversity. Finally, since Costa Ricans have traditionally placed no premium on confidentiality, especially vis-à-vis information derived from public works, INBio has to take pains to allow the maximum public access to information - thereby gaining trust and understanding among all segments of the public - without violating commercial users’ confidentiality.’    

From: Sittenfield, A. and R. Gómez. 1993. Biodiversity prospecting by INBio. Pages 69-97 in W.V. Reid, S.A. Laird, C.A. Meyer, R. Gómez, A. Sittenfeld, D.H. Janzen, M.A. Gollin and C. Juma, editors. Biodiversity Prospecting. WRI, Washington, DC.

There are at least half a million species in Costa Rica, including over 13,000 plants.


Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center

    I don’t make a habit of reading law journals, but LRC-KSK’s Philippine Natural Resource Law Journal is exceptional. Produced twice a year, it brings together articles on policy, legal issues and ethnobiological research, all with a focus on the Philippines.     - GJM    

   The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, Inc. - Kasama sa Kalikasan (LRC-KSK) is a legal and policy research and advocacy institution which deals primarily with the process of attaining ecologically sustainable, culturally appropriate, gender sensitive, economically viable and dynamic stewardship and use of natural resources. With its legal and policy experts, the Center strives to articulate policy alternatives which are intimately linked with those communities directly dependent on the natural endowments of the Philippines. It also houses a pool of lawyers who assist communities with imminent and actual encroachments into their ecosystems. LRC-KSK has developed expertise on the subject of indigenous peoples’ rights, land tenure, natural resource management, environmental management, forestry issues and sustainable energy planning options.  

    Aside from working with specific indigenous and other upland communities, its members have been consistently invited as resource persons to dialogue with legislative committees, executive departments, academia and various formations of peoples and NGOs. It has also lobbied in various inter-governmental and international fora. It is the Philippine member of Friends of the Earth International, Environmental Lawyers Alliance Worldwide and other networks. LRC-KSK maintains a modest office in Quezon City, Metro Manila and a branch office in Mindanao. The Philippine Natural Resource Law Journal is published biannually by LRC-KSK.

‘I, Lucia Balida, 42 years of age, married, a Mamamwa-Manobo residing in Suba, Tago, Suriago del Sur, after having been duly sworn on oath in accordance with law, hereby voluntarily depose and say that: 1. My mother Mercedes Gardigo, her father, Undaw, and his father Angag were all born here or lived their whole lives in Suba, and like them, I was born here; 2. The names of places here in Suba were received from our parents and ancestors, like Dungyuon, Umpay, Undaw and others; 3. The name “Suba” comes from a Manobo word meaning “to keep returning” because this place had fertile lands and an abundance of food to eat in the past, so the Manobos kept coming back to the place, although others say that the name simply means “river” in reference to the Suba river, or “mansuba”, to go upstream; ... 7. There is also a mountain here called “Kabanitawan” because it has plenty of banitaw trees; 8. We have another creek named “Gutayan” because of the many agutay plants, which look like banana, found there ... 12. I am executing this statement to attest to the truth of all of the above, and for such other legal purposes it may serve.’

From: Affidavit of Lucia Balida. n.d. Pages 13-14 in Pasimio, J.A., editor. Voices of the Lumad. LRC-KSK, Manila.



| ResourcesAbout Us  |  What's New  |  Notice Board Opinion  |  FAQ   |  Archive  |  Feedback  |  Main  |
WWF Logo Unesco Logo Kew Logo
People and Plants Online website manager: Gary J. Martin,B.P. 262, 40008 Marrakech-Medina, Marrakech, Morocco;
Fax +212.4.329544, e-mail
Website design & maintenance by
RAM Production Sdn. Bhd.
People and Plants Online © WWF, UNESCO and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Links to other websites cited in People and Plants Online do not imply endorsement of these sites or their content
by the People and Plants Initiative or its sponsoring institutions