To mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and to honor, respect and recognize indigenous Karen communities in conflict affected areas for their ecological and cultural movement in conserving and protecting their traditional forests and ancestral lands that they have inherited from their ancestors for many generations, KESAN and the Kawthoolei Forestry Department (KFD) of the Karen National Union (KNU) held a press conference in Yagon today and released a new documentary film about the Kheshorter Forest, an exceptional example of Indigenous forest conservation in Karen State, Burma.
The conference included photo exhibition, documentary film screening and panel discussion.
A photo exhibition featured local indigenous Karen communities’ livelihoods, forest protection, watershed management, traditional rituals and ceremonies, and cultural preservation will be displayed. The aim was to increase the understanding of the goals and situation in Kheshorter among the video launch attendees.
The video documentary screening raised awareness of how Karen indigenous people’s traditional knowledge, wisdom and practices of ecological management and conservation have sustainably preserved their indigenous livelihoods as well as have significant contributions to global environmental crises. The 26 - minute documentary explored Indigenous Karen people’s knowledge, wisdom, and practices of sustainable conservation of their forest and natural resources that they have depended on for their cultural identity, health, livelihoods, and overall well-being for generations. Over 200 species of medicinal plants exist in the Kheshorter Forest. “If our forest is destroyed, we will not have herbal medicinal plants anymore...the community’s health will be negatively impacted,” said Naw Paw Lay Lay, a local teacher and herbalist.
Finally, the panel discussion was lead by the Kawthoolei Forestry Department’s Head, a local indigenous Karen and an indigenous academic on the topics such as the establishment of a community forest, benefits and challenges, and cooperative efforts to address forest degradation.
Link to the video documentary