Enviro Trips, Forest produce, Tribal Knowledge in Nilgiris

Non Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) and local communities of Nilgiris

One Earth Foundation recently conducted a 4 day educational field excursion for 36 enthusiastic students from a leading International school from Bangalore.  Among other study modules and activities, the students got exposed to the livelihood challenges of indigenous communities and the role of NTFP’s.  On the final day of their stay in Nilgiris, the students, accompanied by 3 senior teachers,  headed out looking for some local products to carry back with them.  What started out as a local product shopping trip, turned out to be an interesting and inspiring exposure to the nature of NTFP’s and their socio-economic role in communities that reside near or in forest areas.

Eucalyptus oil distillation unit in Nilgiris

A quick note of NTFP’s from a study conducted by IISc, Bangalore would help our readers understand the nature and significance of these products .  Southern Asia has a long history of human use of forest products.  In India, for example, an estimated 80 million people live in and along the periphery of forests. A large number of these people rely upon non timber forest products (NTFPs) for their subsistence and cash income . As implicit in the term, NTFPs include all biological materials, except timber, extracted for human use. Some have even used the term to encompass service functions rendered by forest lands. The products include fuel wood, charcoal, honey, resin, spices,and raw materials for handicrafts from rattan,vines, bamboo, grasses, and wildlife products such as bones and skins for rituals and ornamental purposes. Service functions include grazing,watershed protection, provision and management of wildlife habitats, and tourism. In recent years the collection of NTFPs is being increasingly driven by commercial demands.

Our students visited a Eucalyptus oil distillation unit and were also exposed to the practice of bee-keeping that is thriving in the region due to the abundance of native and exotic forests.   In addition, the forests in Nilgiris also provide the natives with products like spices, firewood, building materials, silk cotton, etc

The distillation drum

Students learning about the distillation process

The oil collection area

One Earth Foundation works towards the conservation and preservation of the immense natural and cultural wealth of the Nilgiris region in South India.  For additional information about our inspiring and challenging field trips for students, please contact

Raminder Chowdhary

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