BLACK DAMMER

Black Dammer is a resin extracted from the trunk of the large tree with spreading branches forming one of the dominant specious in the ever green and semi-evergreen forests of Western Ghats.  The scientific name of the tree is Canarium strictum.

Black Dammer is used in the manufacture of varnishes, bottling vax and as a substitute for Burgundy Pitch in medicinal plasters.  Along the oil, the resin is also used in treatment of rheumatism and chronic skin diseases.

The most common use of Black Dammer is as incense and as insect repellent.

The common method of extraction of the resin is to burn an scorch the bark and outer layer of wood at the base of tree – trunk promoting exudation or by making incisions and scorching the wounded portion.  The exuded resin hardens into a bright black-coloured mass, glassy in consistency.

Since the traditional method of resin extraction was destructive leading to death of the trees, various training programmes have been arranged through Vana Samrakshana Samithies (VSS) and Eco-development committees (EDC) for conservative methods of resin tapping. The harvesting of Black Dammer marked as a “Vanasree” product follows sustainable practices. The marketing of the produce is through  Forest Development Agencies (FDA) .

Coccum Pods

Coccum is the dried and smoked and rinds of ripened fruits of the tree Garcinia gummi-gutta.  This is a graceful tree with dense crown and almost horizontal branches, common along the sides of water courses in the openings of moist deciduous forests. He tree flowers during March to May and the fruits ripens by June-July.

Forest dependant people, who are members of the Vana Samrakshana Samithies (VSS) and Eco-development committees (EDC), collect the ripes fruits from the forests and the vicinity of their settlements within and along the fringes of forests. The rinse are separated in hygienic conditions and dried specially in smoke in the house holds. It is an age old indeguious practice in the state of kerala.

As a part of sustainable forest management initiatives, the VSS and EDC members have been given extensive training in known non-destructive collection of ripened fruits from the trees.

Apart from its medicinal value, it is used as a condiment in the traditional Kerala Cuisine for making fish curries, mostly in the Travancore area.

Forest Honey

Honey is a supersaturated sugar solution with approximately 17 percent water. Besides carbohydrates, honey contains small amounts of protein, vitamins and minerals. Apart from its high calorific value, honey is known for its medicinal properties too.

Honey is produced by honey bees belonging to the genus Apis.

Apis dorsata, the giant honey bee, is very common in the forests of southern and couth-eastern Asia. The comb is approximately 1 metre across. Nest are mainly built in exposed places fat off he ground, on tree limbs and under cliff overhands. Apis dorsata  is an aggressive bee and has never been domesticated as it does not use enclosed cavities for nesting. These bees are good honey gatherers with an average yield of 50-80 kg per colony.

Apis cerana indica,  are small honey bees found in the forests of southern and south-eastern Aisa. Their honey yield is smaller, because they form smaller colonies. They construct multiple parallel combs with an average honey yield of 6-8 per colony.

Apis florae, the dwarf honey bee is another wild honey bee of southern and south-eastern Asia. These bees make exposed single combs build on branches of shrubs and small trees. They are poor honey yielders and yield about 200-900 g of honey per colony.

Trigona iridipennis are sting-less honey bees  found in the forests of the tropics which make nests in hollow tree trunks and wall cavities. They yield 300-400 g of honey.

All the four types of honey bees are seen in the forests of Kerala.

Honey hunting  or honey harvesting which involves robbing honey from wild bee colonies is one of the most ancient human activities and is still practised by aboriginal societies in parts of Africa, Asia, Australia and south America. Honey harvesting is a major means of livelihood of tribals in the forests of Kerala. Under the auspices of the Vana Samrakshana Samithies (VSS) and Eco-development Committees (EDC), the honey collectors have been trained in the last four years un scientific and non-destructive collection of honey and value addition by a process called ultra filtration. It is marketed though Forest Development Agencies (FDA) in attractive bottles.

 

Herbal Balm

This herbal balm is the result of combining the indigenous knowledge of the forest dependent cummunities of Konni, a village in the forest areas of Pathanamithitta, a district in Kerala situated on the banks of the famous Achenkovil river. The active ingredients of the balm are oil of Euclayptus globulus, a tree of Australian origin and almost indigenized in the Nilgiri Hills, castor oil and the wax produced by honey bees.

Eucalyptus oil is an essential oil of the eucalyptus  obtained from the leaves of the trees by steam distillation. The chedmical ingredient in eucalyptus oil is “eucalyptol” which has strong germicidal and disinfectant properties. It is an effective analgesic and is often used in preparations designed to relieve muscle, nerve and joint pains.

Bees wax is an organic product of honey bees belonging to the species Apis dorsata, Apis florea, Apis cerana indica and Trigona iridipennis. The main components of bees wax are palmitate, palmitoleate, and hydroxyl palmitate and oleate esters of long chain aliphatic alcohols. Castor oil provides the basic medium for the balm.

The balm provides a perfect blend of bees wax and eucalyptus oil for external applications as pain reliver and muscle relaxant.

Incha

Incha is the vernacular name of the bark of Acacia intsia, a climbing prickly shrub common in dry and moist deciduous forests, especially along the sides of ravines, forest outskirts and degraded areas.

The bark is the smooth externally and fibrous with a soupy juice inside. After softening by hammering, the bark is removed from the stem and used as such as a substitute for toilet soap or is dried and stored for future use.

Traditionally Incha  was used as soap in the state of kerala for bathing after ayurvedic oil massaging. Revival of ayurvedic practices in the state has opened up avenues .for processing the bark as a means of livelihood for forests dependant communities including the tribals. Fine fibres of incha  are carefully dried and marketed in the attractive packing.

 

Kasthuri Manjal

These are the dried rhizomes of an aromatic herb, common as undergrowth in the evergreen, semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests of Western Ghats. The scientific name the herb is Curcuma aromatic. These rhizomes have medicinal properties and are used for treating leprosy and skin diseases, and also an antibacterial agent. Along with pepper and honey, these rhizomes are effective in curing the common cold. The juice of the rhizome is administered for blood purification. Further, kasthuri Manjal is widely used in the cosmetic industry: the dried rhizomes are pulverized and used as face pack.

The tribals of the Agasthyamala hills, the abode of rare medicinal plants in the Western Ghats, cultivate this species in their settlements. They have perfected the art of drying the rhizomes in the sun, and the sun-dried rhizomes can be stored for long. Collecting the produce from the wild and from cultivated lands and marketing them provide livelihood to thousands of tribals in the forests of Kerela. The Forest Development Agencies (FDA) offer support to the tribals who are membes of Vana samrakshana Samithies (VSS) and Eco-development Committees(EDC).

Lemon Grass Oil

Lemon grass is a perennial, fast-growing aromatic grass Cymbopogon flexuosus, growing to a height of about 1 meter (3 feet), with long, thin leaves. It produces a network of roots and rootlets. It is commonly seen growing wild in the hight range forest areas of Marayoor and Kanthallor in the Idukki district of Kerala.

Lemon gras oil is extracted form the resh or partly dried leaves othis grass by steam distillation. The main chemical ocmpontnts of lemongrass oil are myrcene, citronellal, geranyl acetate, nerol, geraniol, neral and traces of limonene and citral.

Lemon grass oil extraction is becoming a major means of livelihood of the Muthuvas, a tribe in Idukke district. In recent years the  tribal people have started cultivating lemon grass in portions of uncultivable tribal lands and this has served to significantly reduce their dependence on forests for livelihood.

Lemongrass oil is extensively used in perfumes, soap and cosmetics and also as a mosquito repellant and disinfectant.

Marayoor Forest Development Agency(FDA) has taken up the marketing of lemongrass oil for ensuring a fair deal to the tribals and other members of Vana Samarakshana Samithies (VSS) and Eco-development Committes (EDC) who cultivate or collect the grass from the forest and extract oil.

Marayoor Jaggery

Marayoor is a place in the Idukki district of Kerala,42Kms north of Munnar on Munnar-Udumbalpetta road. Aside from its natural sandal forests and immnunerable locations of scenic  beauty, Marayoor is best known for its extensive sugarcane cultivation, the major crop of Marayoor and Kanthalloor. Here, more than 2500 acres of land is under sugarcane cultivation.

A product of such cultivation is the world famous delicacy called Marayoor Jaggery. Jaggery is the term for dark brown sugar balls made of condensed sugar cane juice. In sugar cane farms, manufacturing units are set up and the Jaggery  is manufactured by the farmers, who mostly belong to the Muthuva tribe.

The peculiar geographical location of Marayoor, which nestles amid the forests of the Western Ghats gives the sugar cane a distinct geographical identity. Added to this, the age old specialized skill of the local people in making the jiggery in the farm itself, make it a unique product. It is therefore in  great demand in house holds across the country for the preparation of sweet dishes.

Marayoor Forest Development Agencies (FDA) has taken up the ambitious task of marketing marayoor jiggery which is manufactured by marginal cultivators in the forest villages of Marayoor and Kanthalloor who are member of Vana Samrakshana samithies (VSS) for ensuring fair prices and a better livelihood for the community.

 

Pepper

Pepper plants, scientifically called piper nigrum, are seen more in cultivation than in the wild. They occur in the moist deciduous and semi-evergreen forests of Kerala state. Tribals and other forest produce gatherers collect fruits of the plants as wild pepper, during March to May when they get ripened.

Tribal people cultivate pepper in the forest occupied by them. The tribals of Agasthyamala and Periyar cultivate good quantities of pepper. Their cultivation is organic. During the last 3 years organic pepper cultivated by the tribals of Periyar Tiger Reserve has been exported to Germany.

Organic wild pepper, apart from its use as a condiment, it is also used in traditional medicine. Wild pepper and organic pepper collected from the tribal settlements and tribal settlements and non-tribal settlements in the forest fringe areas are marketed as one of the “Vanasree” products by Forest Development Agencies (FDA).

Sabari Jalam

Sabari Jalam is packaged mineral water developed by the Kerala Forest Department, a venture with a theme different from one of merely selling mineral water. The idea of the Department was to reduce the load of many millions of plastic bottles thrown into the forest by Sabarimala pilgrims during every pilgrimage season. After the 2007 pilgrimage season, alarmed at the sight of empty bottles collected by the members of the Eco-development Committees (EDC), the Department decided to provide safe drinking water to the trekking prilgrims in returnable bottles. The scheme was to be implemented through the Eco-development Committees in Periya West Forest Division. Even though a very good source of water was developed by the side of the Azhutha River, a tributary of the Holy River Pamba, statutory requirements for supplying packaged drinking water made ISI certification mandatory.

Since the Department was deeply committed to the cause of a plastic free environment, the Condedaration of Eco-development Committees was supported  by the Department to proceed with the rigorous certification procedures by setting up of modern chemical and microbiological testing laboratories with trained man power. Finallly, in November 2009, the packaged mineral water of Periyar forests was certified by the Bureau of Indian Standards.

During the festival season of 2009-10, mineral water was supplied to the pilgrims trekking along the traditional route. A novel sustem of buying back the empty bottles by paying one rupee  to anybody who returns a bottle was introduced. Through this means, more than 75 percent of the bottles could be bought back, a situation which was extremely encouraging.

The business motto behind Sabari Jalam is not to capture a sizeable market share, but to continue the relentless fight against the plastic pollution of the forest floor. Sabari Jalam has already won the distinction of being the best quality packaged mineral water available in the market.

 

Wild Cardamom

Cultivated  Cardamom is a well known spice.  It is produced by a perennial  herb Elettaria cardamomum . This plant is seen in natural condition as undergrowth in the ever green and semi-evergreen forests of kerala, at medium and high elevation.  Flowers are borne during October to May and fruits ripen by June .

Wild cardamom is seen in the forests of Palakkad, Edukki, and Thiruvananthapuram districts of Kerala.  From the forests the fruits are collected and dried under natural conditions by the forest dependant communities, especially the tribals.  Wild cardamom is smaller in size and is purely in organic produce.

Apart from its use as a spice, cardamom possesses medicinal properties also.  It is often used to flavour beverages like tea and coffee. Wild cardamom is purely organic and is marketed as a “Vanasree” product.

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