Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme

Reconnecting with the forests: People and Forest Forum 2018

August 22, 2018

BANGKOK, Thailand–– The city dwellers of busy Bangkok were treated to a feast of forest goodness in RECOFTC’s People and Forest Forum 2018.

“Our aim is to interact and guide audiences, particularly urban residences, to a better understanding of this question. Entitled ‘Forests are Us: Why Forests Matter,’ this forum will explore why and how we are intricately connected to the forest and to those who preserve it. We will also hear from experts on how we can help contribute to the sustainable management of such a necessary aspect of our life.”

The forum was held 19-20 August 2018 . The first day  was a market place held at Suan Plern Market, Bangkok. Sharing the same vision of empowering local communities towards protecting forests for all, NTFP-EP, friends, and partners participated in the People and Forests Forum 2018.

Women as protectors of forests, traditions, livelihoods

Deforestation has a devastating impact on women and local communities who are dependent on forest resources. It affects the availability of clean water for the community, including for families and for farmers’ small-scale agriculture, and the collection of non-timber forest products that forest communities, and especially women use regularly.

Uslaini came from a farming family of the Minangkabau indigenous tribe in West Sumatra, Indonesia. As a child, she used to work the fields to earn enough to cover her own school fees. She has always wanted to help other rural women. Today, she is an activist and works for the development of rural communities and for the conservation of forests. She is the Director of an organization called WALHI West Sumatra in Indonesia, which works among forest and indigenous communities.

People and Forest Forum 2018 Uslaini, Director of Walhi West Sumatra talking is through crafts from the forest made by women


At the core of WALHI’s work are pressing environmental and social issues including gender justice. WALHI campaigns and advocates for community development in rural and forest villages in Indonesia, and runs projects that help to transform people’s lives in practical ways to be in harmony with the forest. Our non-timber forest products project is a good example of conserving forests with sustainable use.

Products hailing from various parts of Indonesia Philippines were also highlighted by Borneo Chic and CustomMade Crafts Center (CMCC). As the marketing arms of NTFP-EP, BC and CMCC work with master weavers and indigenous artisans to create beautiful and functional products that express the timeless traditions of these cultural communities while meeting the needs of the modern market.

People and Forest Forum 2018 Joy Chua of CMCC explaining how indigo supports the livelihoods of communities during the natural dye demonstration at the Kreative Korner

Through innovative product design, product diversification, branding and niche marketing, both BC and CMCC are working towards the expansion of the market for these works of art, to ensure that these communities will continue their traditions and way of life, and keep on nurturing the forests that sustain them.

Local forest harvest for food security

Forests, including its components: trees, fruits, and animals, provide nutritional benefits in more ways than one. However, its contribution to local, national, regional strategies are often poorly reflected, often leaving out its crucial role in the bigger food security picture.Additionally, the growing preference for fast and convenient food has made tangible impacts not only to health but also to ecosystems.

While the global food dilemma is a complex problem that needs sustainable solutions, the forestry sector is one of the ways by which it can be alleviated. There is an increasing trend of going back to basics. Where food is good not only for health but also contributing to forest protection.

People and Forest Forum 2018Products from the forest

The Panen Raya Nusantara (PARARA) Festival is an initiative in Indonesia that has successfully launched festivals in Jakarta (in 2015 and 2017) and supported over 100 producer groups and reached at least 5,000 consumers in the city. It was aimed at bringing to consciousness the import contribution of people and forests in the food and health security agenda. As a sustaining marketing effort, the PARARA network is establishing the PARARA café which combines the local food and ingredients from partner farmers, fishers, and forest based communities across Indonesia into attractive and tasty culinary packages.

People and Forest Forum 2018PARARA cafe’s forest feast

Flying in from India, The Place to Bee is a restaurant in the mountain town of Ooty, Tamil Nadu, established by Keystone Foundation and the Last Forest Enterprises (LFE). They specialize not only in serving the best Italian food in town but also promoting local wild and indigenous recipes and flavors. The restaurant is also a space where the principles of Slow Food are communicated to the customers – the principles of good, clean and fair food.

People and Forest Forum 2018 Recipes using ingredients form the forest courtesy of The Place to Bee 

The two have set up a café installation and have served dishes through the day. Live demonstrations and talk shows of preparation of wild/indigenous food and benefits were made by chefs and food experts. The combined Indonesian and Indian dishes have showcased a cross-cultural gastronomic feast that has not only emphasized the challenges of local, wild, indigenous food and but also shared some recommendations for consumers and public and private sectors.