Demonstrating that forests are more than then the sum of their trees, indigenous forest-dwellers showcased high-end fashion, food and orchestral prowess to the delight and edification of World Forestry Congress delegates. A story told in pictures…
TheWorld Forestry Congress, as its name suggests, is a big event: around 4000 delegates participating in hundreds of main and side events at the International Convention Centre in Durban, South Africa. The talk is serious and often technical, with researchers, indigenous people and government officials from all over the planet discussing the state of the forests and how to reduce their loss.
One of the groups participating is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Social Forestry Network (ASFN), which is made up of forestry departments in ASEAN that promote social forestry. Partners such as the World Agroforestry Centre, Center for International Forestry Research, Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture, RECOFTC: The Center for People and Forests and the Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme, work with ASFN through projects such as the ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change.
ASFN has a serious agenda with a lot of responsibility to help member states develop policies that not only protect the region’s forests but also improve the livelihoods of poor and indigenous farmers who make up a large percentage of ASEAN’s 600 million people. One of the events that ASFN will host at the Congress is a high-level policy dialogue but another was a showcase of what indigenous people can do with the forests they manage if given enough scope and support.
While the title of the event—Vibrant and Thriving Social Forestry in Southeast Asia for Investing in Sustainable Development—might read as long and heavy as many of the others at the Congress, what happened during its 1:15 hours actually emphasised the ‘vibrant and thriving’. In keeping with the paucity of long speeches and abundance of visually interesting element of the events, what follows is an annotated photostory.
The story in photos…
Dr Pralong Dumrongthai of the Royal Forestry Department Thailand, who is the ASFN leader in Thailand, set the sartorial tone and spoke of the excitement generated by working with such a diverse group of people on common goals. He particularly thanked the ASFN Secretariat, which had arranged the event with the Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme Asia, and the World Agroforestry Centre, RECOFTC: The Center for People and Forests, Center for International Forestry Research, Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture, which are partners in the ASEAN-Swiss Partnership on Social Forestry and Climate Change.
Ms Sagita Arhidani, head of the ASFN Secretariat, introduced the event and Ms Maria Cristina (‘Crissy’) Guerrero, senior advisor and former executive director of Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme Asia, then gave a brief background to the achievements of the presenters.
Ms Jena Lagunday, president of the Sunflower Weavers Association of Manalong, Bukidnon Province in the Philippines, talked about how her group’s fluctuating fortunes had not stopped them from continuing to overcome challenges, whether typhoons or demanding international customers, in the production of their unique cloth.
Models wore designs by Anthony Cruz Legarda, who used fabrics from Aklan and T’boli weavers in the Philippines. Designer Narima from Borneo used naturally grown and naturally dyed cotton from the Kajang and Roto people. Finally, Hanna, a young designer of ESMOD, the Paris-inspired design school of Indonesia, used Dayak ulap doyo weaving for her design.
Efendi bin Sulaiman, representing the people of Sungai Tohor, Riau Province in Indonesia, spoke of his community’s struggle to preserve their peat swamp-forests, the source of the sago palm from which they produced a range of products for sale domestically and internationally.
Their battle to preserve their forests and their livelihoods…
… eventually attracted the attention of Indonesian president Joko Widodo, who visited the village to see for himself.
Delegates were served sago from Sungai Tohor.
Next on the bill was a participatory ‘angklung’ orchestra under the baton of maestro Mastok Setyanto, a master of the art of working with bamboo. And people.
The orchestra rehearsed with the maestro.
The angklung might look simple but making a hundred of them sound in harmony requires concentration….
… and results in not only harmony but a lot of fun!
Sagita Arhidani, MC of the evening, huge angklung fan and head of the ASFN Secretariat, thanked the musicians…
… and introduced the closing speaker, Dr Tint Thaung Lwin, executive director of RECOFTC.
Members of the ASFN partnership then took the opportunity for a group shot.