Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme

Voices From the Forest Issue No. 33

January 22, 2018

In 2017, women were in the limelight in the entertainment news for multiple cases of sexual harassment claims and violation of women’s rights. Though these situations were and are deplorable, and while we stand firmly behind the victims, these developments did help to bring more awareness and action on the rights of women and girls.

In this issue, we feature empowered women fighting for their rights and playing heroic roles to conserve nature and the environment. In the article entitled “Indigenous Sumatran Women Protecting the Forest” on page 9, Uslaini, better known as Chaus, reveals the injustice of farm labor where women are paid half the wages of men. Roziah, a Badjao woman, featured on page 5 doesn’t really care if what she is doing is a role of the woman or a man, all she wants to do is save the turtles off the islands of Sabah where only 1 in 1000 turtle eggs ever make it to full adult turtle life. On page 6, Joan, a Higaonon woman from the Southern Philippine mountains, relates her realization that assets of their territories are the assets of all men and women and that these assets should be defended for current and future generations.

Women are also featured in the support of the GAGGA grant to a women’s enterprise focused on orchid management in Central Sulawesi (page 7). Additional benefits drawn from natural resources are also the highlight of the Community based Eco-tourism project in Kratie, Cambodia where Ms. Phat Hoeurn relates her gains from eco-tourism catering services. Mainstreaming Community-Forestry enterprises not only in Indonesia and Cambodia, but in all of ASEAN is a goal of NTFP-EP and thus the activities with the ASEAN small and medium enterprise (SME) sector as featured on page 18.

Though the 32nd issue was focused entirely on forest food, we do not depart from this important topic in this issue. Stories of improving efficiency of palm sugar cooking in Indonesia, and traditional Penan sago delicacy preparation in Malaysia are found on pages 7 and 15 respectively. The Punan youth in North Kalimantan also share with us in their discreet yet powerful way, about their knowledge of forest management, particularly in hunting and river fishing. (page 12).

But, our cover article on the community management of the ancestral waters of the Tagbanua of Coron reflects our passions and goals for indigenous communities to have not only access to forest resources but also control and benefit from the same. It is in these inspirational visits that our eyes are opened to not only explore and develop products in forests but, to draw from Tanya Conlu’s thoughts in her article “Going back to our roots” on page 3, to patiently and respectfully look at the whole ecosystem and the practices of its stewards to draw meaningful and lasting lessons on the conservation of cultures, of peoples, and of nature.