Forests supports hundreds of indigenous cultures and creatures found nowhere else in the world. They ensure the survival of 1.2 billion people;

Hidden treasures: The forests provide food, fiber, medicines.

World forests are home to tribal people who rely on their surrounding for food, shelter, and medicines. Today very few forest people live in traditional ways; most have been displaced by outside settlers or have been forced to give up their lifestyles by governments.

Of the remaining forest people, the Amazon supports the largest populations, though these people too, have been impacted by the modern world. While they still use on the forest for traditional hunting and gathering, most Amerindians, as these people are called, grow crops (like bananas, manioc, and rice), use western goods (like metal pots, pans, and utensils), and make regular trips to towns and cities to bring foods and wares to market. Still these forest people can teach us a lot about the rainforest. Their knowledge of medicinal plants used for treating illness is unmatched and they have a great understanding of the ecology of the Amazon rainforest.

In Africa there are native forest dwellers sometimes known as pygmies. The tallest of these people, also known as the Mbuti, rarely exceed 5 feet in height. Their small size enables them to move about the forest more efficiently than taller people.

In Papua New Guinea unique and isolated communities, with over 800 language groups just in Papua New Guinea alone, have lived for generations alongside some of the world's greatest biodiversity.

“Our language is one, our river is one and the Munduruku people are one,” the Munduruku people often say. It was precisely this feeling of belonging that led some Indians to travel for days upriver and join others in the early hours of July 16 to occupy the building site for the São Manoel hydroelectric dam that is being built on the Teles Pires river in the east of the Amazon. In all, some 200 Indians, from about 138 indigenous villages distributed along the basin of the Tapajós and Teles Pires rivers, took part in the occupation.

A recent violent attack on a group of indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest of northern Brazil is seen by environmentalists as a symptom of a new climate of hostility towards such groups, fuelled by conservative congressmen’s attempts to undermine land rights. Among the injured, five were shot and two had their hands severed. The attack, by farmers armed with guns, knives and machetes in the northern state of Maranhão left up to 13 Gamela Indians in hospital with bullet and knife wounds. The attack is part of a disturbing trend in Brazil that indirectly threatens the preservation of large areas of the Amazon rainforest.

All the government units currently protecting Brazil’s uncontacted tribes from invasion by loggers and ranchers could be withdrawn, according to information leaked to Survival International. The move would constitute the biggest threat to uncontacted Amazon tribes for a generation.

Deep in the rainforests of northern Malaysia, anti-logging campaigns are trying to stop logging companies from entering forests they say belong to Orang Asli communities. Blockades are being set up in peninsular Malaysia’s northern state of Kelantan by groups that say logging activities are damaging forests and the surrounding environment. Kelantan has seen more forest clearing in recent years as the state ramps up tree plantation development. Activist groups say forestry departments are granting forest access to logging companies, while restricting access to forest-dependent communities. 

Another Indigenous leader and activist was killed in Colombia as authorities refuse to acknowledge the return or existence of paramilitaries in native communities. Yoryanis Isabel Bernal Varela of the Wiwa tribe in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a strong spiritual Indigenous territory, fought to protect Indigenous and women’s rights in her community. “They took away a great leader, and when this happens, our culture is diminished because there are not many people brave enough to face our issues in public order, which is always dangerous,” said head of the tribal council of the Arhuaco, Kogui and Wiwa peoples, Jose de los Santos Sauna.