Forest Traditions Make Business Sense for Indigenous People

20 November 2013

For centuries, indigenous communities in the Philippines have kept the country’s rainforests safe from over-use, thanks to their deep and spiritual respect for nature’s limits.

“Whatever the forests can give, that’s only what they take,” says Ruth Canlas, facilitator for the Philippines branch of the Philippines-based Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange of South and Southeast Asia, a network of NGOs and community-based groups that helps indigenous communities market forest goods from resources other than wood, including honey, medicinal plants and rattan for crafts.

But in the last decade, economic interests seen as good for development – ranging from mining to palm oil cultivation - have overshadowed indigenous people’s way of life, often with devastating effects on the forest.

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