LAST FORESTS THE PROUD RECEIVER OF THE SEED INITIATIVE AWARD!
Last Forests Enterprises, one of Rich Forests’ partners in India, is one of the proud receivers of the Seed Initiative Award 2014. This award is annually distributed to organisations, by virtue of their innovative, locally driven initiatives and proven contributions to sustainable development.
After being set up as a seperate entity in 2010, Last Forests Enterprises took over all marketing operations of Keystone Foundation. As a new entity, Last Forests continued to cooperate with approximately 50 indigenous groups on sustainable harvesting and forest based products like wild honey, tea, garments and handicrafts. As these indigenous groups do not yet have links with markets, their products are marketed in three Green Shops run by Last Forests, and also through around 200 dealers who operate across the whole country. In this way, indigenous groups are supported in adapting sustainable production methods and income generation, while they are able to preserve their environment. Meanwhile, Last Forests re-invests 40% of the enterprise profits into village development purposes like education and infrastructure.
Last Forests and Keystone Foundation have an impressive track record of working with indigenous communities in the Nilgiris Biosphere. Over the past decades, the two organizations offered many communities opportunities in skills training, work and income generation. Their years of committment is now bearing observable results. Their support has enabled numerous households to invest in health and education. In 89 villages where these organizations are active, organic agricultural production has increased by 50%, while sustainable harvesting of forest products increased by 90%. As a result, at 80% of their project sites an improvement in species richness has been observed.
With their delicate appraoch, Last Forests are thus a living showcase how local skills and an entrepreneurial spirit can be mobilized towards social, environmental and economic progress. If provided with the same kind of support and links to markets, many more groups could make progress.
Last Forests is eager to reach out to more indigenous groups and is looking for investors to expand its business. If you are interested in investing or cooperating with indigenous groups in India and Last Forests, do not hesitate to contact us!