flourish.shop Living In Harmony Ft Last Forest
Living In Harmony Ft Last Forest Flourish

Living In Harmony Ft Last Forest

Every year, on Indigenous People Day, we come together to celebrate and acknowledge the vital contributions of indigenous communities around the world. This day holds immense significance as we recognize the profound impact these communities have on preserving biodiversity, cultural diversity, and ecological balance. One organization that stands as a testament to the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature is Last Forest Enterprise, nestled in the heart of the Nilgiri mountains. Through their work, they empower indigenous communities to sustain themselves while safeguarding the environment. 

Last Forest Enterprise's story is one of profound collaboration and respect. They directly impact the lives of 1609 Adivasis, who are not just beneficiaries but also shareholders in their sister organization, Aadhimalai Pazhangudiyinar Private Company Ltd. In addition, they indirectly influence the lives of around 5000 marginalized individuals within the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve. The indigenous forest tribes play a pivotal role in maintaining the delicate balance of nature through their age-old wisdom and traditional practices. This unique knowledge, passed down through generations, helps safeguard the richness of biodiversity and cultural heritage. 

Operating since 2010, Last Forest Enterprise acts as a bridge between these indigenous communities and the market for wild forest produce. With ties to over 45 groups across the country and more than 150 villages, they facilitate the entire supply chain from procurement to quality checks, branding, promotion, and sales of organic, fair trade, and indigenous products. What was once discarded as waste, like beeswax, has found new life as soaps, balms, and lip balms. Their offerings also extend to essential oils, spices, millet, coffee, and more, all of which reflect the unique biodiversity of the region. 

At the core of Last Forest Enterprise's mission is the sustainable harvesting of honey. This practice, carried out by indigenous honey hunters, holds deep cultural significance and has been practiced for generations. The honey harvesting season, from April to July, is a time of risk and tradition, as honey hunters scale cliffs and tree nests to gather this precious nectar. Last Forest's commitment to alleviating poverty for these honey hunter communities has grown from humble beginnings, where founders sold honey from an old Yezdi bike to modern platforms like social media and Amazon. 

Indigenous communities constitute a significant portion of India's population, with a wealth of knowledge and heritage that makes them stewards of our planet's biodiversity. Last Forest Enterprise's work in mountain ecosystems with these communities is especially commendable, as they navigate the challenges of working within a Biosphere Reserve. Despite legal recognition of indigenous rights, the Forest Department often poses challenges, highlighting the complex socio-political dynamics at play. 

Through their endeavors, Last Forest Enterprise not only empowers indigenous communities economically but also ensures their sustainable growth. Reinvesting more than 30% of their profits in community development, the organization uplifts healthcare, education, and overall livelihoods. Their impact extends to over 6,500 indigenous individuals within the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. A prime example is the Aadhimalai producer company, their primary supplier, where every employee is also a shareholder, fostering a sense of ownership and decision-making. 


One remarkable aspect of Last Forest Enterprise's operations is the village-level production centers run entirely by women. These centers offer indigenous women the opportunity to work within their communities, generating income while taking care of their homes and families. This empowerment not only contributes to the economic well-being of these women but also strengthens the fabric of the community itself. 


On Indigenous People Day, as we celebrate the cultural heritage, wisdom, and sustainable practices of indigenous communities, we must also recognize the vital role organizations like Last Forest Enterprise play in supporting these communities. Their journey exemplifies the potential for harmonious coexistence between humans and nature. By honoring the indigenous knowledge that has stood the test of time, Last Forest Enterprise showcases a path forward towards a world where cultural diversity and ecosystems thrive in unison. 


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