The forest would be saved if..

the community around it were able to link income generation and its preservation. This is the conclusion Rosemary Wallin yesterday when she dropped in for lunch.

Rosemary is getting ready for her PHd and her research into “luxury and handicrafts” led her to my website. She got in touch and I told her about my challenge of helping the women to come up with jewellery designs that are suitable for the British market
. Rosemary agreed to get involved and yesterday she travelled down from London for a meeting with me.

We spoke at length about the project and the materials the women use, in particular the sustainability of textile. We looked at African textiles BARK CLOTH and WILD SILK

As we spoke it dawned on us that the survival of both these textiles will depend on trees or a forest in the case of wild silk, unless the ancient forest of Madagascar are conserved it will not be possible to harvest the wild silk from those forest. We concluded if the community continue to earn an income from the silk they collect it will be in their interest to conserve these ancient forests our challenge therefore is to enable the community to bring their silk products to the market.

On the other hand in order to harvest bark cloth you need to protect the MUTUBA tree and in fact plant more and more of this type of tree. The harvesting process involves peeling off the bark and if you need to harvest again in future then you have to “nurse” the tree to ensure that it can produce the bark cloth again.You cannot cut down the tree!

If you are a regular here you may recall my conversation with a coffee grower in Uganda who was asked to give up his land for Pine tree planting. Could it be that the government is focusing on the wrong type of tree and that they would be better of encouraging the growing of the MUTUBA tree?

Could Rosemary consider sustainable textiles as part of her PHD, and perhaps work out a way the bark cloth for instance could be brought into mainstream use? This is a challenge she went away with amongst other things.

Can you help these communities conserve these ancient forests? A good start would be to order one of our wild silk scarves!

We considered too how much interest there is amongst the general population there is in learning about the process involved in producing what they wear today. Would people be willing to pay more for a product that helps protect/conserve an ancient forest?

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