Many non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are utilized as staple foods and medicines by forest-dependent communities. For many indigenous peoples and local communities, traditional gathering of NTFPs, hunting, and fishing are vital adjuncts to farming and together cater to their primary subsistence needs. Additionally, these NTFPs are essential ingredients in traditional health care systems especially in traditional medicine.
While there is a general acknowledgement and recognition that food from the forests and traditional food systems play a vital role in nourishing communities and sustaining indigenous traditions, much is to be explored in terms of producing collaborative studies and research on the subject to explore the nutritive values of available forest and wild foods and to document its seasonal availability. Recognizing that a gap in knowledge, awareness and understanding among the general public, policymakers and even youth in communities exist, NTFP-EP seeks to link stakeholders and strengthen a community of practice to facilitate and champion programs on indigenous food and community health.
NTFP-EP continuously works on building a platform that allows for extensive knowledge research, documentation, development and dialogue around the subject not only within its network of partner communities, but also with those from the academe, government and civil society. The NTFP-EP seeks to bridge local and cultural information about wild foods, scientific and policy analysis.
Overexploitation or overharvesting of non-timber forest products is a current reality and a challenge faced by the network. With shrinking forestlands, strong acculturative pressures, and glaring neglect of the role of subsistence uses of NTFPs, the continuation of traditions related to indigenous food and inter-generational transfer of relevant knowledge and skills pose a significant threat not only to forest protection and conservation but also the relevance of forests to peoples.
NTFP-EP believes in promoting the cultural, nutritional and medicinal values of forest foods and in restoration efforts to revitalize the indigenous food landscape. The network continues to work on initiatives that help us learn more about the value of indigenous food to culture, health and well-being. We believe that it is important to understand and nurture traditional ecological knowledge on indigenous food and health.
With this, NTFP-EP identifies the following target outcomes and strategic actions:
Current and recent projects that the NTFP-EP network is implementing related to this theme include:
Activities are implemented with support from the following donors: IUCN NL, Misereor, the Linking People and Forests project of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation/ Svenska Naturskyddsföreningen (SSNC), Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) through the ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change project (ASFCC) and the Wild foods, Biodiversity and Livelihoods project of the Swedish International Agriculture Network Initiative (SIANI).