Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme

Voices From the Forest Issue No. 34

August 22, 2018

The 34th issue of Voices from the Forest is dedicated to stories about livelihoods and incomes of communities supported by NTFP-EP and its partners.

The social cohesion and traditional conflict resolution mechanisms of the Pala’wan community of Brooke’s Point in the Philippines  has been key not just in their entrepreneurial success but also in the conservation of their culture and natural ecosystem. However, there have been continuing challenges in their resin enterprises despite the food and financial benefits drawn from their cooperative.

A long time of peace and relative security have also meant that these communities have been allowed to develop their enterprises without much worry for life and limb. This is a different story for Mah Nyo of Tanintharyi in Myanmar. Long periods of political strife and armed conflict have meant that families have been more concerned about fleeing war torn areas than establishing economic initiatives. But Mah Nyo’s participation in an EXCEED training helped her see the merits of community-based forest enterprises and inspired by the training, she set up 5 women-led small businesses!

The situation is more complicated for other women-led communities. Mining has affected communities like that of Rosalina in Leyte, Eastern Philippines  where farmers and fishers are left with years of decreasing harvest. In Kakalgur in Bastar, India , military presence is commonplace and fear has kept most people from “rocking the boat” in any way. Despite this, the local people are bravely claiming their land rights, accepting whatever hurdles are in the way, even less than innocent public officials!

Positive stories of honey taste testing in Xiengkhuang, Laos  which galvanize rural beekeepers with the knowledge of their quality product, have been helpful in the mainstreaming of forest products in more urban settings. This is similarly the case for the natural dye textiles of Kutai Barat, East Kalimantan, Indonesia  which have been shared with elementary students and have made them more aware of their country’s vast natural resources and traditions.

In this issue, we also explore safeguard tools that can further ensure the sustainability of community livelihoods through the assertion of their intellectual property rights.

Women leaders also ends this issue to continue the tribute to women across the years and across the continent. Kudos to Tilita, Inday and Denise whose quiet achievements motivate many other women to move forward with greater leaps and bounds on their own livelihood journeys!