It is a collaborative network of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based organisations in South and Southeast Asia. It works with forest-based communities to strengthen their capacity in sustainable management of natural resources. For centuries, forest-based communities in the region have harvested a wide range of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) both for subsistence use and as a source of income.
Keystone has been involved since the beginning and Snehlata Nath has held the presidency of this programme. Since 2002, when the Exchange Programme held its Regional Meeting in India, a network of Indian groups have also continued as a network and today, work on many issues, together.
During the years of 2010-2011 the network has worked with different tasks, here are some of them:
- The year began in the NTFP-EP network with a lot of preparation as some members were involved in the preparation for the western ghats meeting.
- The partners of the NTFP-EP in India prepared papers for the joint publication entitled ’Indigenous People & Forests in India: View from a Network’ which covered the theme and issues of concern for this group. Broadly related to conservation, indigenous knowledge, livelihood, Forest Right Act – this publication gives an overview of what the network does.
- Nurseries and planting is another area of work the network strived to undertake. Madhu Ramnath, the co-ordnator of the network organised seed exchanges and information on plants/seed availability across the partners.
- Exchange of expertise across the region became real, when two members from the Nui Chua National Park in South Vietnam spent two months in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, saw the eco-development initiatives of Keystone and met different role players who could share their experienced in protected area management.
- A meeting on Eco-certification of NTFPs was also organised by Keystone Foundation, in which many network partners participated, especially those working on marketing.
- The network met in November 2010 in the premises of Maharashtra Arogya Mandal. The meeting focused on the topic of Community-based Conservation
- As an overall capacity buildning for partners – a meeting on building an economic mindset, enterprise development and financial management was held at Keystone. This was to ensure real benefits to the community and foolproof the transparent financial management
In the coming year, the network plans to increase its interactions and learning agenda. It will develop course material for barefoot ecologists and hold trainings for the community members across the network. It also aims to put together laws related to indigenous communities and forest conservation, which will help to develop para-legal expertise across the region.