The video introduces the local agroforestry and ecosystem of Xishuangbanna. The local Dai people plant camphor trees mixing with tea trees as seen in the video. As a result, the tea leaves have a distinctive flavor and the camphor acts as a natural insect repellent so pesticides are not used. This is a good example of a balanced ecosystem.
We were honored to see the Hani people making tea. The elders have grieved that most of the younger generation have moved into the city for work and only those over forty years old know how to brew tea using natural materials.
All the tools and materials used to brew tea by the Hani are from nature. A wild bamboo culm is used as a cup and leaves can be folded into a funnel to pour water. Fill the bamboo cup with the natural mountain spring water and boil over fire. The fire can also be used to bake fresh wild tea leaves. The tea is done when the wild tea leaves are softened by the fire after about 15 minutes brewing.
Located in Central Japan, Gifu prefecture connects main roads to the west and the east coast. This makes it a suitable hub for log transporting and trading.
In the auction season, people come to Gifu Precious Wood Market and try bidding the precious wood they want. Auctioneers open the bids and start to read each specific price in a unique rhythm repeatedly to maintain the intensity of the atmosphere. In such an ambience, people will raise their price continuously and get the bid in a snap!
In front of the office, there stands a monument engraved with the words “Wood’s Soul”, which shows the homage Gifu people pay to the wood. They believe that the wood has guarded and protected them for hundreds of years.
Kilwa Kisiwani (which means "Kilwa of the Island") is located off the coast of Tanzania, East Africa. This thriving seaport was once being forgotten, but now is a protected site in the list of UNESCO world Heritage.
Kilwa Kisiwani was subjugated to different races, including Persian (Iranian nowadays), Portuguese and Arabian due to its superior geographic location for trading. It was once a famous seaport but lost its glory since the mid-19th century. There are still around 1000 residents living in this tranquil island at the present time.
People dwell in huts that are made of palm leaves and logs, which are collected from trees on the island. Villagers build and repair dhows for fishing. Fishing is the main economic activity, but after Kilwa Kisiwani being listed as the world heritage, the newly developed eco-tourism has brought in additional income for villagers.
Bagamoyo is a tranquil harbor filled with Islamic fishermen and westerners who come here for vacation in the east coast of Africa. It’s about one hour drive toward north from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Fishermen build traditional dhows for fishing and transporting daily goods, such as palm oil and fuel from mainland Africa to nearby islands, for example, Zanzibar.
In Bagamoyo, most fishermen still use traditional dhows while only very few of them with better economic status can afford engine boat. A traditional dhow has one or more masts and is usually made of local timber. To sail the dhow, it requires 4-5 people, one operates the oar while the others spread out the sails on the mast. Today, fishing is still the main economic activity along the Bagamoyo coast.
The region surrounding the Moshi Town, just at the bottom of the great Mount Kilimanjaro, is known for its forest resources and lively communities. Wood-related industries such as wooden box beekeeping and banana brewing prosper in this area. To help advance the development of the beekeeping business, the government, academia and local business owners have worked together to improve the business by modifying the traditional wooden bee boxes. On the other hand, many banana beer brewers have kept the traditional way of brewing with wooden barrels. Despite their different paths, people involved in these two sectors have worked to maintain the tradition and the culture related to wood utilization in the country.
The Usambara Mountain is part of the Eastern Arc Mountains, which stretches from Kenya to Tanzania. The mountain range in North-East Tanzania extends approximately 110 km long and 64 km in width. Although the altitude is not as high as Kilimanjaro, the Usambaras are recognized as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.
The Usambaras are commonly spilt into two parts, the West Usambara and the East Usambara. Since the East Usambara is close to the coast and receives more rainfall, the geographic feature makes it abundant in plant species.
We visited Magamba Nature Reserve, which is in the West Usambara, to see different tree species in the natural forest and how local people utilize wood in their daily life.
Located 180 km west from city Arusha, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) is a reserve with 8292 km2 land and is recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The main feature of NCA is the Ngorongoro Crater, a large volcanic caldera formed around 3 million years ago when a giant volcano exploded. This natural enclosure is populated by a wide variety of wild animals, including herds of wildebeest, zebra, antelopes…etc.
Apart from wild life, Maasai tribe is another feature to observe in NCA. The Maasai is a semi-nomadic group of people whose lifestyle centers on their cattle. Moreover, around NCA, there is a lake named Eyasi where Hadzabe and Datoga people still live in a traditional life.
Changbai Mountain, located in the northeast of China, has abundant natural resources. Long ago, the forest industry was a rather prosperous industry. However, due to forest protection policy, nowadays logging has strict limitations. We were lucky to be there at the end of logging season observing the whole process of logging, classifying and storing.
Douala, the largest city in Cameroon, owns the biggest port in the country. It is the commercial capital, majorly handling the export of oil, coca, metal, fruits and timber.
Wood is the most accessible natural resource in Cameroon and is therefore widely used in people’s daily life. We traveled to Youwpe and Miwake, villages around Douala, and collected plenty of precious information about how local people make good use of wood, and make products ranging from artistic sculptures and accessories, to canoes and charcoal. The people also maintain a sustainable way of using wood. For example, charcoal makers in the Miwake region, which is located southwest to Douala, pick only naturally dead trees as their raw material. By doing so, the timber is transformed into another form and becomes another useful product for the people.