Among its many initiatives to bring public closer to the forests, the establishment of a chain of Vanasree outlets across the State by the Forest and Wildlife Department is one.
Such outlets provide good quality non-timber forest products and also ensure decent returns for the tribesmen and others who collect forest produce.
Since its inception in the year 2010, the Vanasree outlet at the Forest Headquarters has scripted a success story. Official sources say the outlet conducts sales worth Rs.3 lakh per month on an average.
The products are sourced through the State Forest Development Agency and the Vana Samrakshana Samithies (Forest Protection Councils).
Biju G., convener of the Vanasree outlets that come under the Thiruvananthapuram Forest Division, said those who collected and processed the forest produces were being remunerated reasonably well mainly due to exclusion of middlemen in the process.
“For instance, they are paid Rs.900 for every kg of small bee honey that is collected. The final prices of the products are fixed after considering various aspects including bottling expense and various losses. However, we have made it a point never to fix exorbitant prices for any of the products,” he said.
A wide range of forest products including spices, honey and medicinal products has been made available at the outlet.
These include Aquatic Rotula (kallurvanchi), coccum pods (kodampuli), curcuma aromatica powder (kasturi manjal), red sandal powder, turmeric powder, black dammer, ‘Marayoor Sarakara (jaggery)’, forest honey (vanthen), small bee honey (cheruthen), cardamom, clove and pepper.
There are also products including joint pain relief, foot crack relief and pain balms using natural beeswax from Konni forests, eucalyptus oil, lemon grass oil, Swethakutaja oil or Danthapala (made using the indigenous plant ‘Wrightia tinctoria’) that are meant for various purposes including treating ailments. Products for daily use including ‘incha’, a bathing brush made using natural fibre collected from forests, and sandal soaps also have many takers, officials said.
Yet another highlight at the Vanasree outlet is the fragrant sandalwood oil from Marayoor. The oil is prices at Rs.600 for two gms, Rs.1,500 for five gms, and Rs.3,000 for 10 gms.
According to T. Uma, Divisional Forest Officer, Thiruvananthapuram, there are two outlets that has come up within the Forest Division.
The second one in Ponmudi has been more successful, particularly owing to the high number of tourists visiting the eco-tourism spot.
Outlets will soon be established at Kallar and Mankayam, she added.
Also, one of the two mobile Vanasree unit in the State has been plying across the city and a few suburban areas.
Vanasree outlets provide good quality non-timber forest produce and ensure decent returns for tribesmen who collect the produce.