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Sustainability NGOs back Cameroon cultivation of African cherry tree

Last updated on 07-May-2013 at 10:52 GMT2013-05-07T10:52:15Z

The African cherry tree. The extracts are derived from the bark, which is carefully harvested no more than every five years.

The African cherry tree. The extracts are derived from the bark, which is carefully harvested no more than every five years.

Two NGOs responsible for safeguarding plants and forests have positively reviewed the harvesting practices of a prostate-benefitting botanical harvested in Cameroon.

In their ‘Custodians of the forest’ documentary, CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and ITTO (International Tropical Timber Organisation) praised Prunus Africana cultivation practices.

Prunus Africana, also known as the African cherry tree or Pygeum africanum Hooker, grows up to 40m high in central and southern Africa. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the tall evergreen as a vulnerable species due to over cultivation and this state-of-play led to an EU ban in 2007. That ban was lifted at the end of 2010 as harvesting methods improved.

Dried extracts have been shown to prevent the onset and spread of benign prostatic hyperplasia symptoms in some studies, although European authorities have not validated such associations for use in food supplements. It is commonly used in pharma and cosmetic preparations.

Italian Prunus Africana supplier, Indena, along with other firms, contributed data to the project, and said the approval was hard won.

“The [‘Non-detriment Findings for Prunus africana (Hook.f.) Kalkman in Cameroon’] project was set up to provide thorough on-going monitoring of the status of the species in Cameroon, and to collect data on the biology, availability, management, use and trade of products derived from the Prunus,” the company said.

“The CITES officers in Cameroon use the data to regulate the collection of Prunus tree bark and to ensure this natural resource is managed sustainably.”

Indena medicinal plants purchasing officer, Dr Renato Iguera, said in a statement:“We study nature to obtain active molecules and botanical extracts that can benefit people. As working with plants, natural biodiversity is an invaluable resource for our research.”

 For this reason, joining the project was a natural choice for Indena. Thanks to this project, we make sure that the Prunus bark that is harvested, even if in limited quantity, in Cameroon is obtained without any detrimental activity, neither on the trees nor on the local population, that is earning sustainable money from this activity.”

The documentary can be viewed here .

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