Deepesh A. Patel
Research Documenting and researching rainforest flora with pharmaceutical potential, establishing connection between forest conservation and advancement of medical science.
Education For The Environment Creation of documentary film about the research to generate broader mainstream audience awareness of key issues.
Outreach project aims to motivate young people into a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) based education path.
Focus on Tropical Phytopharmaceutical Research
Canopy To Cures are mounting a research expedition to the Manu reserve in the Peruvian Amazon in summer 2011 and are spreading the word about the importance of rainforest conservation through outreach activities at science exhibitions and in school classrooms. A key outcome from the expedition will be the production of a short film trailer to bring the issues to life in the classrooms and to pilot a possible documentary program or series for public broadcast.
Wild Open Eye is going to train the Canopy To Cures team in the fundamentals of documentary film making, furthermore Andy is giving them a powerful and versatile telephoto lens to bring us all closer to their vitally important subject matter! (Click Here For More Detail)
Deepesh explains why this research is important justification for conservation. “Rainforest plants have developed unique biochemical modes of defence and survival as a result of millions of years of natural selection and variation. Many of these natural compounds have useful applications in traditional cultural medicine. He points out that natural remedies provide primary health care to over 75% of the world’s population but that breakdown of traditional cultures and indigenous tribes has led to wide-scale impoverishment of local medicines.
The discovery of local medicines has also been hampered by inaccessibility, regulations, and habitat destruction. Between 1981- 2002, 63% of approved cancer treatments by the United States Food and Drug Administration were of natural origin.
There are an unknown number of applications awaiting discovery for the benefit of mankind. Ethnobotanical data in South America is generally sparse and it is currently accepted that less than 1% of the world’s tropical forests have been researched for their pharmaceutical potential.
In order to conserve rainforest plants for their medicinal and economic value as well as their role in terms of indigenous tribal culture, we must understand their environment and distribution and how human activities are altering this. “
Manu Reserve - A Living World Heritage Pharmacopia
In the course of their undergraduate research projects at Durham and Cambridge Universities respectively, Deepesh Patel and Raghd Rostom will be looking into various aspects of medicinal derivation, development and deforestation.
In a world fast losing its forest cover, Manu Biosphere reserve in the west Andean region of Peru is an ideal location for Canopy To Cures field research. It’s a megadiversity hotspot with varying degrees of protection - some areas threatened by settlement, mining and drilling, a place where tapirs and Blue Macaws self-medicate at clay licks to detoxify defensive chemical compounds in their plant diets that have evolved over millions of years of sustained bio-chemical warfare.
With 15,000 known species of flowering plants in Manu and more yet to be discovered, Canopy To Cures believe that scientific research into the medicinal potential of plants within the reserve is essential for the benefit of mankind.
In the course of his studies Deepesh has learned that over 37% of medicine is derived from forests and that two per cent of rich diverse forest (four million hectares) is being lost every year. It is thought that global loss of individual trees could number over a billion a month, and biodiversity is known to plummet as large tracts of forest are broken into disconnected islands of impoverished habitat.
Such habitat loss carries with it an enormous opportunity cost. By 2050, it is predicted that over half of the world’s plants, animals and microorganisms will be destroyed or severely threatened due to deforestation.
Deepesh tells us that though countries are recognizing the importance of forest ecosystems, and even though the rate of deforestation has decreased from its maniac peak levels of irresponsibility, the process is still occurring at an alarming rate.
Not only does deforestation incur detrimental impacts upon water supplies, populations, food supply and climate change; it also has a major negative impact upon medicinal development.
Canopy To Cures
Habitat: Neotropical rainforest, specifically Lowland Andean, Pre-montane, bamboo and Flood plain, Amazon Terra firme.
Context: Study of tropical forest flora in two areas of the Peruvian Amazon rich in endemic plant species, conserving the habitat for its value to inhabitants and mankind through the advancement of medical science.
Key Issues: Medicines can be derived from rainforest plants. Tropical forest conservation supports breakthroughs in medicinal scientific research.
Deepesh Patel and Raghd Rostom of Canopy To Cures photographed during outreach activities that develop awareness of the crucial connection between rainforest conservation and the advancement of medical science.
Telephone: +44 (0) 207 617 7231
Winston Churchill Memorial Fellow
British Science Association Youth Ambassador
Canopy To Cures Contact: Deepesh A. Patel
We are trying to connect in people’s minds the effects of deforestation and how that affects the development of drugs in years to come.
• Big Bang Fair, London ExCeL; 10th – 13th March 2011 (Outreach)
• World Business Dialogue, Cologne, 14th – 17th March 2011 (Environmental UK Representative)
• Westminster Environmental Placement, Houses of Parliament, London; 11th – 15th April 2011 (Learning about Climate Change, Deforestation and Policy)
• Press Week for Canopy to Cures, Durham University; 18th – 22nd July 2011
• Canopy to Cures Expedition
o Deepesh will be visiting UNEP’s Convention of Biological Diversity in Montreal from 18th – 22nd July 2011
o This will be followed by the expedition to the Peruvian Amazon with ethnobotanist Percy Nuñez at the Manu Learning Centre and Boca Manu Village in the Andean Amazon East of Cuzco. 24t July – 20t August 2011
• Outreach in County Durham 6th – 16th September 2011
• British Science Festival, Bradford; 10th – 14th September 2011
Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth's land surface; now they cover a mere 6%.
Forests are home to 80% of terrestrial biodiversity.
The world is losing over one billion trees per month.
Over 37% of medicine is derived from forests.
There are many more plant-derived medicines yet to be discovered.
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