The Neem tree is a crop species, not a noxious weed

Appeal and fresh evidence in support of NEEM (Azadirachta indica) and (Azadirachta siamensis) not being a Noxious Weed species in agricultural and urban areas of the Northern Territory, especially the Top End

A submission by Joe A Friend, Senior Scientific Director, Greentree Management, P 0 Box 201, Batchelor, NT. 0845.

During 2003, Northern Territory Government officials and scientists put forward a 'suggested nomination' for Neem trees to be declared a 'Noxious species' in the Top End. This was due principally to the observed riparian/riverbank alluvial spread along parts of the Victoria River Downs district.

Nil Government data appears to have been published or made publicly available to support the above-mentioned proposal, for example, to ascertain the relative %-amounts of Neem that is being spread by water, or flooding, as distinct from the spread of Neem by native bird species, and populations (mostly birds/indigenous species) now known to be seasonally reliant on Neem fruit (berries).

2. ERRONEOUS Assumptions and IGNORANCE:
The Suggested Nomination of Indian Neem (Azadirachta indica) as a 'Noxious plant species' appears to be the result of so-called Government scientists making erroneous assumptions about both future (not predicted) infestation rates, and the tree's capacity to attract a wide range of indigenous NT-wildlife (as previously proved in North Queensland, over a five year period of detailed observations).

Evidence that Neem trees have been maligned by a few persons or 'boffins' with nothing better to do; For the Northern Territory to declare Neem a 'noxious weed' would be a grave mistake.

Since the third World Neem Conference (ca.1993), all three of which were funded by German Government Aid, and Scientific agencies, not one Australian State or Federal, or CSIRO, Entomologist has shown one iota of personal or scientific interest in checking the facts relating directly to the complex biochemistry, including 'pesticide chemistry,' of the various parts of (most) Neem trees — let alone the in-depth taxonomic differences that exist between 'Indian Neem' (Azadirachta indica), and 'Thai Neem' (Azadirachta siamensis) — the latter being a remarkable 'park/ornamental/shade specimen tree', which has a colourful bark, and that has NO KNOWN invasiveness or geographic-spread characteristics in this country — studied in Queensland closely at Ayr (1989-1995), and at Atherton and Cairns-Mareeba locations from 1993 to 1997; indeed, there is NO KNOWN or reported spread of the Thai Neem subspecies worldwide.

Special Note: By overlooking the beauty of the Thai Neem tree, the NT Government has in fact precluded inclusion of a specimen tree of this subspecies in the Botanic Garden collection, in Darwin (or elsewhere, e.g. with fauna/animals from other countries to our north, as at and in the NT (Government's) Territory Wildlife Park.

The proponents of the NT Government, attempting to have Neem {Azadirachta indica ssp. indica) declared 'Noxious'(sic) have 'not looked in their side-mirror' to mention a valuable, genetically different type of Neem (the Thai-Neem), that should by rights be represented in NT Plant 'living collections' e.g. Darwin Botanic Gardens; current NT Living Collection -discriminate in favour of live fauna from other countries, but against plants in general.

Ignorance, or an 'attitude problem' appears to exist in at least one strata of 'southern-trained' ecologist-cum-environmental science graduates, which includes a negative-bias against anything remotely used, or useful to, agriculture in this country, but which comes from elsewhere, WITHOUT EXAMINING all facets of the issues in-detail; included within this plethora of problem-attitudes is a known, individually-based negativity to all or anything 'of Indian origin' ie coming from India , as in the ambit claim (widely publicised in the Australian media since 1991) that Neem trees originated in India (INCORRECT, they have in fact an evolutionary Centre of Speciation in or near (Burma) - actually southeast Myanmar.

Substantive evidence for this Lack of Governmental interest in, or support for, Neem as a Useful Species comes from an examination of Projects co-funded by or supported by IIRDC, and the RIRDC (Federal-Canberra) corporations involved with Agriculture nationally in Australia (or of the NT Government for that matter), all of which scrutiny CLEARLY and emphatically show that Governments are reluctant to help with the Development of viable Farm products made from Neem bark, leaves, seeds, or Neem Oil.. .all useful products, with known efficacious usages. international Literature Review of Scientific journals avail. On-Request) SEE ALSO: Queensland Dept. Primary Industries (1992) published softbound text on the Fodder, and Forage Plants for Grazing Livestock in QLD. reference avail. on request).

NB : It is likely or possible that the 'attitude problem' of certain bureaucrats in the NT Government, against exotic/foreign trees, but most especially this Indian tree originates in southern-scientific training by 'purist/idealist southern-based Scientists with no knowledge of tropical conditions, but who favour the elimination of all species of non-Australian island origin, but therefote cause a possible diminution in overall NT-Top End biodiversity - on top of that already caused by decades of severe/intense annual fire-burnoff and 'control burn' regimes designed to protect 'all-property at any cost'!

3 BIRD and BAT Species CONSUMING Neem Tree Fruit in Summer:
There is no doubt that a quite wide range of native Australian 'Flying Fox'(Bats), and frugivorous birds annually consume significant volumes of Neem tree fruit-berries during the hottest part/months of the year, during late December, and January, in some years/places commencing as early as November; this being an observed period of (end-of-dry season) very low/significantly unproductive fruiting for most savannah shrub and trees species across the 'Top End' of NT.

Bower Bird species, and Koel, are amongst the most common vector species moving Neem seeds between properties, and maybe even more than a kilometer on any one occasion; the most important and salient point to make is however one NOT MADE by scientists submitting Neem to be declared 'Noxious' (sic) ie. The birds/Bird species that move the Neem seeds do not crush the seeds, or chew them up, so they do not ingest or have to metabolise any 'toxic' active chemical constituent/s of the seeds — as far as can be so far determined, based on 23 years of observations, and collected evidence, by the Author, and a prior 25 years of observed, in-depth knowledge from one of the original importers of Indian Neem to Australia (now retired in Mackay, N-Qld), also believed to have brought the first Neems to Darwin, planted around the old-Darwin Airstrip at Fannie Bay and Nightcliff, ca. 1940-42 (Neem seed originating ex-Burma; personal communications, 1992).

Additionally, there is nil evidence that native Australian/Top End birds that ingest Neem seeds ever 'vomit-up' the seeds of the trees, as occurs with other biopesticide tree species elsewhere in Australia.. .further substantive evidence that Neem tree seed is non-toxic to Australian birds. Similarly, there is NO EVIDENCE that Neem is causing any trouble 'whatsoever in preferentially supporting non-indigenous bird species through the 'difficult season/months' at the end-of-the Dry season - as occurs with other biopesticide tree species elsewhere in Australia.

***LACK OF HARD DATA or 'Real Scientific ANALYSIS'!**** All sighted criticism/s of Neem are purely ANECDOTAL, not scientifically-founded.......

A close examination of two (2) 'official' Government-based stories about Neem in northern Australia {Weedwatch, Nov.2002, and Weedwatch March 2003), by Queensland Author-scientists Tony Grice (CSIRO Townsville), and Craig Walton, NRM/Qld Govt.-Brisbane), reveals that NO DATA has been used to reach the 'conclusion' that (they consider) Neem (not specifying which sub-species) to be "an ecological menace" (!) That is, ALL available, published, and known criticism of Neem is either unscientific, or based upon visual observations of a few hundred Neem tree seedlings- that could all have been easily eradicated-even by mowing (!) — if only the same officers had cared, or advised the private landholders in that way!; similarly, NIL MENTION was made by either Author of the seasonal support that Neem fruits of Indian Neem afford for native bird species — preferring to only talk vaguely about 'birds' spreading the seeds; apparently, their review of available literature overlooked DPIQ's own valuable texts referring to Neem's quality fodder-values, and turned-up only "one piece of good news" (according to them);. .that the Neem , seeds are not viable for more than one season! All the hundreds of potential uses for the tree's parts were not mentioned... .not one!!

Apparently, from all known NT Government inspections and observations-to-date (1999 to 2003) (various personal communication between J.A.Friend and N.T.-Weeds Officers), no data has been collected to prove or disprove whether or not native Australian bird species of small and large-size categories have populations that are now annually reliant upon, OR that maybe actually increasing in numbers as a result of the reliable, annual fruiting of Neem trees in often adverse, difficult, hot, and semi-desert situations e.g. Kalkaringi, Elliot (since ca.1965) and Tennant Ck. The tree has no thorns, does not suffocate or climb over native plants, and is useful for bees; the critical scientists getting-published currently mention NONE of the more than 100 practical herbal-usages for Indian Neem trees! Similarly, the person/s who proposed that the species be nominated to be Declared , 'Noxious', who came from within Government ranks, (based at Berrimah), and NOT ONE Scientist of which (amongst 3 mentioned) bothered to check any one fact about Neem, with the expert-Federal Government Adviser resident in Australia, or any other scientist/Entomologist that (have) privately /independently attended, between them, four World Neem Conferences.

Evidence to-hand from a wide range of remote, and semi-remote Aboriginal communities indicates that there is widespread support for the promotion of Neem trees, as a 'hardy—available, sustainable-perennial' 'village-source' of locally-available 'bio-cheap' pest-control/insect pest management chemical/s.

This knowledge is further corroborated by two notable Top-End Horticulturists with — between them over thirty (30) years of experience in Advanced Top End Horticulture, as well as selling fruit trees (inc. Neem, and native fruiting-species, AND explaining how to use the Neem trees!) to Aboriginal communities across the tropical-north of Australia, Mr Chris Nathaniel of Bees Creek, nr. Darwin, as well as Tina and Daryl South, of Darwin Plant Wholesalers, Lambles Lagoon.

Over past decades, there appears to be no significant process within Government of the NT (and maybe no Australian Government!) of finding ways to facilitate talks and/or negotiations over Indigenous Herbs of known human and/or veterinary value, including 'Indigenous Herb' species from other countries, esp. ex-Asia, and/or that are already endemic or cosmopolitan in tropical Australia. Such a process is sorely needed, and long overdue!

5. NEEM Helps Support More WILDLIFE, Interseasonally!
More than six years of collected (unpublished) data from small Neem plantations across Cape York, the Atherton Tablelands, and along the Queensland coast, as well as in the Gulf of Carpentaria, conclusively proved to the Author that even at the-height-of-summer weather, when it is over 50 deg. Celsius in-the-sun, at Cloncurry, Mt.Isa, and in Gulf towns visited repeatedly, Neem trees were not only advantageous in attracting a range of Native Butterflies (which collected nectar from flowers), but also Native Bees, micro-wasps, and certain beetle species were attracted to the trees; additionally, it is widely reported in both Queensland and in the NT, that mature Neem trees not only help support tree-snakes, which appear preferentially attracted to the species (not just in summer), but possums are supported to some extent (bark-eating) in some cases (not all Indian Neem types)..believed to be febrifugous (anti-worming), AND in numerous cases — including on the Gold Coast, with 'indoor Neems!), certain Midge species are controlled 100%, and most mosquito species are effectively repelled up to 90% by placement of Neems under or adjacent to every house window (but not in ultra-windy coastal areas).

6 NEEM Species is a COMPLEX, Misinterpreted TREE
Informed people, knowledgeable about the ways of Federal bureaucracies, and about how synthetic, on-derived/manufactured chemical pesticides are given 'preferential registration' over botanical pesticides/pestistat ('NOT KILLING'.as in the case of Neem active constituents), (ref:Schmutterer,1995) compounds, now realize that in order to become smarter, and more worthwhile as a population, we do not need an increasing plethora of boffins creating ever-lengthening List/s of 'Noxious Weeds', created by persons whose primary motive may only be to gain/attain promotion, when in fact- as evidenced around NT National Parks' office gardens wherein Neems do grow- bureaucrats are really not more likely to pull-out a Neem tree (even in a National park!, as proven in NSW), when it is so easy to sit-in the office, and write about the weeds etc, even when every-day walking right past any such Declared Noxious Weed/s every day e.g. Batchelor office (2001-2003)!

Bureaucrats at all-levels/tiers of Government (inc. in NT) would be wise, and are urged to professionally consider /brainstorm ways and means to facilitate the longterm, more sustainable, and efficacious development of non-polluting, non oil-reliant cultural, and manufacturing processes involving bioherbal pestistats (as with Neem), and pesticide formulations, and their promotion — by way of Development arms of Government.

In order to help facilitate the above, less short-termist ('political timespan') planning,(3-5 years only), better planning by way of more 'long-termist thinking' is, and will be, needed for our Governments to 'escape' the 'theoretical trap' of thinking that the NT will be sustainably 'saved' by being or becoming one-"ginormous" 'Tourist (theme) Park' rich in regenerating wildlife (which is not yet happening anyway, post 9/11), largely due to the constant annual burnoffs of the Top End!!

More Government effort is both needed and called-for, to 'brainstorm' better ways for industry to utilize/start making products from serious weeds, and for the NT Government to begin to liaise with the relevant private stakeholders with a view to NOT BURNING/wasting any valuable Neem tree material cut-down, and being burnt — according to Katherine Livestock Officer/s(pers.comms,12/01 /04); AS WELL AS for the NT Government to look and plan further into the future by complete exclusion of all or any more exotic species; rather than merely adding species-to-lists, in the vain hope that they might eventually go-away, or that private industry has the entire/full responsibility to work-out what chemical products could be made from the many truly Noxious plant species invading the Top End of NT - let alone the issue of Neem, and its proven capabilities to help regenerate and attract a range of pollinating and other wildlife, (of many Orders) back into farm and houseblock/small plantation situations.

7. INDIAN NEEM IS Both A Termite- and FIRE-Resilient PLANT SPECIES
Considerable angst appears to have been raised amongst certain scientific research groups working in the Top End of the NT, if partly because not all groups agree on the most intelligent long-term Fire/Firing Regime for the wise, sustainable treatment, and control of the annual-seasonal 'fire threat' and 'fuel load' in N.T.-bush generally. One 'let out' for the warring factions appears to have evolved from a need to find some or other species to 'blame' for the cumulative-scandal represented by more than 30 years of rather draconian burnoff regimes over most of the Territory's Top F.nd, wherein some introduced (exotic) species appear to have been 'doing OK, or well' even after fire, and in some cases, recovering well, and producing fruit soon after fire e.g. studies in Far North Queensland show that over 60% of Neem trees less than 2 metres height (immature) survived a relatively hot grass-fire, nr.Mareeba in 1993; international literature is replete with the evidence as to why 'Indian Neem' is 'Fire Resilient' to 'Highly Fire Resilient' —depending upon the individual, and how thick its morphologically thick, corky-outer-bark is, bearing in mind that Neem bark is largely non-flammable).

Whilst Neem (inc. Thai Neem) is not fully fire-resistant, like most of the Top End's native savannah tree/ shrub species, the species does have a time-proven place in Territory horticulture, for fire-control borders to mango and other cropping-farms, and in combating termite ingress/attacks and invasions into orchard areas, consistently established on many commercial NT mango farms — as well as numerous hobby-farm properties. (1997-2003, Howard Springs, Humpty Doo, Old Bynoe, Adelaide River etc).

8. OTHER EXOTIC TREE SPECIES Highly Invasive, or Potentially WORSE THAN Neem
A recent examination of Batchelor, Howard Springs, and Humpty Doo properties, including Government properties in some cases, proves that at least two other well known exotic tree species, namely African Mahogany (Khaya senegalensis) , and Red Flowering Poinciana sp. germinate in numbers that are orders of-magnitude greater than that of Neem (Indian Neem), across all properties, as well as in lawns during the wet-season, and that in the case of the former, most successful species, 'crowding' by multiple seedlings around other useful fruiting or ornamental species can and does result in the slow-death of specially planted specimens — unless attended to.

In spite of the above, and the KNOWN FACT that African Mahogany has been becoming invasive for more than 20 years, no steps have ever been taken to have that hardwood species declared a 'Noxious Species' (sic); on the contrary, according to a recent communication from Mr. Beau Robertson (DPI-Berrimah), the NT's Agro-forestry Timber Species specialist-Expert, African Mahogany is now the NT Government's preferred-distinguished species for timber development of NT's Top End, based on the latest sets of seasonal data on inter-annual growth rates, and wood production.... AND the new cultivars/types of African Mahogany foresters are now preferentially choosing to graft and to sow/plant-out could in fact have higher, and earlier seed-production rates, AND higher seed-viability at an earlier tree-age! Neem has far more usages than African Mahogany, AND its wood can be used for firewood (burning repels all-mosquito species, in years of tests done at PNG, and on other Pacific Islands), yet African Mahogany is to be the preferred exotic tree species.

Is it a case of 'phyto-discrimination' (?) when one tree species is inexpertly maligned, and proposed for 'Noxious' declaration — based on a few sets of field observations only, and the known/observed Rate/s of spread/Invasion by two other exotic Tree species in the Top End is literally ignored by Government bureaucrats! That is, neither Poinciana, or African Mahogany have ever been proposed for Declaration as 'Noxious' or Invasive ('Environmental Weeds')- as far as can be determined, to-date. Additionally, certain vine species that have edible fruits, such as 'Wild Passionfruit' (Passiflora foetida) - which covers, or seasonally invades thousands of hectares of the Top-End of the NT each and every year, completely smothering some small-shrub vegetation/habitats ARE KNOWN TO BE non-indigenous, but absolutely nothing like a proposal to 'Declare Noxious' has been or is proposed about this species! A close similarity exists between this bird-supporting species, and Neem, especially as it ripens after the end of the long-dry season, when most usual native shrubs are still recovering from the annual fires/firing regime/s.

'Relative and Absolute, tested Toxicity or 'Poisonousness' should be the Government's Guiding parameters in any Northern Territory, or interstate REVISION of NT/QLD/WA's major and most important WEED LISTING (re-priorisation). Ever since the New South Whales Government abandoned, and retrenched those Botanists, and Toxicologists/officers that formed a 'Poisonous Plants Committee' in mid-1955, no Australian state or territory has had any official ways or process by which to properly prioritise 'Noxious' plants that are also poisonous (to humans, livestock and/or wildlife).

Because no Australian Weed Scientist has yet attempted to gather/collate all the available (interstate) evidence proving that Plant 'X' (etc) is toxic to species 'Y' (etc.), and then set forth a system which targets, or can be used to target the 'Most Toxic' of all known weed species, we are currently still working with an out-of-date system, based on certain sets of assumptions-especially when it comes to new plant introductions.. ...e.g. still no-screening occurs for/of novel nursery introductions from overseas, some of which could be toxic, or have a wide range of toxic constituents (surely DPI Weeds' would be better placed/more usefully directed to take some Real-Charge of the 'sometimes scandalous' operations of Australia's/NT's Nursery industry, and its incomplete labeling/ or detailed naming system- often with NO LATIN NAMES on labels/tags, and its prioritization of fast-growing 'flashy exotics' never tested anywhere for/any toxic/borderline toxic compounds, i.e. A scientific Methodology is needed(NT and national) to approaching the accrued problem, not a piecemeal 'attack' on one plant species.... And the NT is in a solid position to be able to reveal the issues, and pull-the-parties together.

In the case of Neem, and especially Indian Neem, it can be reliably stated that certain Weed Scientists, and particularly those that have Nil Training in either Phytochemistry, or Advanced Pesticide Chemistry, but most especially those that have done no university Chemistry whatsoever (or failed same!), are making/have made sweeping assumptions about Neem's complex chemistry, mistaking or confusing the long-chain organic chemistry of most of its active chemical constituents to be 'code' for a more toxic-plant species... ..which it IS NOT.

Indeed, the chemistry of Neem (both subspecies) is extremely well-known (see in: Schmutterer 1995 The Neem Tree) by international Entomologists that have studied the species in-depth for over 40 years, AND in Summary, it can be stated with certainty THAT NEEM's pest repellent chemistry is NOT A 'killing Chemistry', there being NO KILLING compounds in the entire range of over 134 Active chemical Constituents! Yet, there appear to have been Weed Scientists in the NT — some of whom have already moved back-south, who have maligned Neem on the basis of assuming mat there must be 'killing compounds' in some or other parts of the tree - for it to be so-good at deterring such a wide range of insect pests (as well as Arachnida); in general terms however, the actual reason is that most of the long-chain organic constituents in Neem oil or Neem extracts have a stereochemistry that allows for 'multiple active-sites', multiple-isomers and/or synergism between the various active compounds.

10. NEEM's have Deep-rooting ROOT SYSTEMS, that can and do help stabilize river banks, especially important near and around Livestock Riverside-access and watering sites including dams. The accompanying photo shows the entire extent of NT Weeds Officers' criticized 'invasion' of the riverbank/s over a relatively small area within Victoria River Downs, in the southwest of NT's 'Top End'. (2000-2003) - where cattle also regularly browse the tree leaves, and eat the young seedlings as may appear during the end-of-the Wet season/s; whilst the Neems appear to 'crowd-out' other species, inc. native riparian species of trees and shrubs, this is actually only over an area of significant historical disturbance, covering no more than a few acres/hectare.

Neem species, esp. the most-researched Indian subspecies, actually help build-up soil fertility, soil structure, and soil biodiversity, as they grow towards maturity; they appear to be able to fix a certain % of Nitrogen , from the atmosphere, a 'positive' that very few native species can boast. Graziers obtain, and soon learn of the 'additional bonus' that Neems have to their land, that NOT ONLY do various livestock breeds 'know' to browse on the relatively bitter Neem leaves, when they have worms (as febrifuginous/anthelminthic compounds do exist in Neem leaves, see Schmutterer,! 995), the Neems with their ultra-deep tap-rooting systems both help stabilize otherwise trampled, and flood-prone livestock drinking sites, AND are ruggedly durable in times of flooding/ heavy wets.

Finally, ultra-deep taprooting systems, common to numerous Australian native trees are well known across most arid countries to be 'more useful' ,and not counterproductive due to coping for surface water (in dams etc), since most uptaken water is from groundwater sources. In other words, Neem species are far more useful than hitherto recognized by the remnant few Agronomists still working in the Top End of the NT!

11. Neem SPREAD-'lnvasion' in Nigeria's Plains of Accra Region, 1965-ca. 1980
African scientific references from the late 1960s clearly indicate that whereas introduced Indian Neem was first sighted becoming 'invasive' over the deep-alluvial plains of the Accra region, this initial spread-invasiveness was stabilized/self-stabilising by the 1980s, and that the Neems did not actually adapt similarly to any other Nigerian soil-type, AND the problem(then) has not since recurred.

12. NT Government Weed Scientists Providing False Information to Public !
According to Mr Steve Wingrave, NT Weeds Officer , based at Bernmah, Weeds Branch of DIPE, for the NT Government, on 13 January 2004, he stated that "there are two National Parks in the NT that have been reported with infestations of Neem (Indian Neem), KAKADU National Park, and ELSIE Station NP, near Mataranka; however, in-depth investigations into both of these assertions has proved that Mr Wingrave is seriously wrong to infer that there is any Neem infestation in either Park, indeed any Park or reserve in the NT, even if and where there is (admittedly) localized spread of the species in disturbed agricultural, pastoral, and localities specific to the Top End.

SUMMARY : The species Neem, with all its known practical usages, and of all-its-parts is almost certainly an 'Exception-to-the Rules of Biology', utilized by almost half the world's population, in less-well developed countries, and to manufacture Neem oil, and other Neem products m rising demand for 'organic agriculture' in developed countries. It is exceptional in that no other tree species has its entire chemistry so fully elucidated, AND because as a 'pesticide tree' Neem does not entertain any known 'killing compounds'; it is therefore a peaceful tree, now known to be helping aid, and restore parts of the disturbed north of Australia — in some cases entire regions that have been ravaged by fire, overgrazing, and resource/nutrient extraction.

The NT Government would be wise, in conjunction with indigenous community Councils, to publish a special educational brief/pamphlet on Neem, outlining why landholders with Neem trees could be more active in utilizing the trees, and their trees' many (over 107 known internationally) wise, long-term, and efficacious usages in organic agriculture, as a pest deterrent, and in veterinary science-pathology.

REFERENCES: Anon (1994) What is The Earth's Most Useful Tree? Geofacts, News Release. U.S. National Geographic News, National Geographic Magazine, U.S.A.
Schmutterer H Prof. (1995) The Neem Tree . Source of Unique Natural Products for Integrated Pest Management, Medicine, Industry and Other Purposes. (Ed.). VCH Publishers, Weinheim, New York, Basel, Cambridge, Tokyo (600 pages).
Schmutterer H & Ascher K R S (1987) Natural Pesticides from the Neem Tree and other Tropical Plants. Proceedings of the Third Int'l Neem Conference, Nairobi-Kenya(10-15 July 1986). GTZ Publishers, Eschbom, Germany.
Vietmeyer* N D (1993) NEEM. A Tree for Solving Global Problems. BOSTID(Ed.) Board on Science & Technology for International Development, U.S.National Research Council, Washington, U.S.A. ( NB : Vietmeyer is a New Zealander).

SUBMISSION BY: JOE A FRIEND Ecologist, and Agricultural Scientist (Email the Author: or write: @ P 0 Box 201, Batchelor, NT. 0845. Telephone contacts: 08 8976 0170 or 02 6688 6150.

Joe A Friend, Neem ethnobotanical products adviser, and 'Qualified Expert Person'(QP) in Canberra to the Federal Government.

Mr Friend is a trained Botanist and Plant Pathologist ex-University of Sydney(1972), who gained 'Distinctions' in Entomology and Pest Science.

The Author has worked for both American and Canadian consultancies, to have surveyed Neem cultivars, genetic variability, and chemotypes common on farms across the top of Northern Queensland, as well as having been closely involved in Neem tree surveys of the northern half (Elliott to Darwin)of the Northern Territory - including the origin/s of the various types now commonly grown here (Indonesia, Thailand, India, Mauritius, and Kenya). The Author conducted over 50 Trial assessments of Neem seed extracts in both agriculture, and domestic situations, mostly in Far North Queensland from 1992 to 1999, as well as delivering scientific papers at 3 World Neem Conferences (1996, 1998, 2000 - all at the University of Queensland).

The Author has worked seasonally in the Top End' since 1969, including for the CSIRO (Katherine, 1970-71), and annually since 1999 with/ for the Batchelor Tree Farm (previously 'Exotic Timbers of Australia').