About a hundred million people living in and around forests across South and Southeast Asia depend on non-timber forest products (NTFPs) for sustenance and income. NTFPs and NTFP-derived products such as furniture, honey, varnish, beeswax candles, herbal medicine and many others are necessities in urban communities and big cities, too. However, communities often have no access to the strategic information, practical technology, and financial support to make viable enterprises. A handful of organizations saw this link between sustainable use of forest resources and economic development for forest communities, and the Non-Timber Forest Products-Exchange Programme for South and Southeast Asia (NTFP-EP) program was born.
The NTFP-EP sprung from a need for organizations working with forest communities to come together to push for and promote the NTFP concept for forest conservation and livelihood enhancement. Keystone has been involved since the beginning, and co-founder Snehlata Nath has held the presidency of the NTFP-EP in the past. Since 2002, when the Exchange Programme held its Regional Meeting in India, a network of Indian groups continued to work together as a sub-network and today continue to collaborate on a variety of issues.
NTFP-EP envisions self-empowered generations of forest-dependent communities, contributing to and benefiting from sustainably managed forest ecosystems, knowledge, and cultural traditions.