Humans of the Forests – Sonia’s story
30 March 2020 Forests in photos
Forests are beautiful, calm, inspiring and great places to relax. But have you ever thought about what forests can do beyond that? And what they might mean to people in different parts of the world?
In the video series Humans of the Forests (HoF), we hear the fascinating stories of people around the globe who are in touch with forests in their daily lives.
The second instalment takes us to Chile, where we meet Sonia Carrasco, an indigenous Mapuche woman who works as a gatherer in the forest.
Sonia and her family live from what nature and the forest give them. “I was born into a family of gatherers. My mum has been doing this for over 50 years,” she explains.
The feeling of freedom
“I go gathering because it makes me feel free. I shout, I talk and I listen to the birds. It gives me peace and confidence to know that I’m free.”
Gathering fruits and medicinal herbs does not only give her personal, but also economic freedom. Together with other Mapuche women, Sonia set up a small business, in which they sell the forest products they gather.
“Because the forest is PEFC-certified, we are allowed to enter it to gather,” she explains.
“We harvest 60 varieties of medicinal herbs, mushrooms, fruits and rose hips. Gathering has been our sustenance and it helps our homes because it’s our own work.”
By living from what the forest gives her and providing food from the forest for others, Sonia helps achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2: Zero Hunger.
Meet the Humans of the Forests!
Chile was our second destination, after the first instalment had taken us to Italy, where we learnt about the daily work of a forester and how a PEFC-certified forest gave new life to a village destroyed by an earthquake.
PEFC and Indigenous Peoples
In recent years, indigenous communities have made significant progress in securing acknowledgement of their human rights and property rights. Forest certification has the potential to enhance this positive development and further the recognition of indigenous rights.
The PEFC Sustainability Benchmarks require that areas fundamental to meeting the needs of indigenous peoples and local communities shall be protected or managed in a way that takes due regard of the significance of the site. Furthermore, forest management shall give due regard to the role of forestry in local economies.
Indigenous people are also one of PEFC’s nine major standard setting stakeholder groups, ensuring they are able to contribute to the development of forest certification at national level.