New uses of rattan bring hope to Indonesian forests

Fashionable bags made of rattan

Rattan is a vine that grows upon large trees in the rainforests of Indonesia. Traditionally used as a woven material for daily life objects and handicraft, it is now also utilized to create socially responsible modern products. These new applications help preserve the rainforests and local communities livelihoods in Indonesia.

New creative uses for Indonesian rattan

Obtained from more than 300 different species of vines growing in the rainforests of Indonesia, rattan has been used for centuries by forests communities. The sustainability of this material comes from its need for large trees in healthy equatorial forests: the protection of the forest is the key to enable the growth of rattan.

Forests communities harvest rattan and use it for daily life usages and to create beautiful handicrafts products. Securing the sources of rattan by protecting the forests therefore ensures the sustainability of their livelihoods. It gives arguments to fight against deforestation in Indonesia.

Like sustainable palm oil production, the development of modern usages of rattan and the promotion of its industry can help protect Indonesian rainforests. The combination of the traditional know-how to use rattan with the understanding of modern needs and tastes paves a way to a sustainable future for the Indonesian forests and their inhabitants.

Fusing this cultural heritage with modern tastes, some social entrepreneurs of Indonesia are bringing creative new uses for rattan in fashionable accessories and furniture. Their ultimate success will be a strong step toward the preservation of the rainforests of Indonesia.

Rattan for industrial production

Going further into the chain of production of rattan items, it can be used industrially to produce daily life or decorative objects or some construction materials. The transformation of rattan from a natural material to one that can be used in industrial processes requires a series of skills to treat, sort and prepare it.

This second interesting video presents more details on the preparation of large quantities of rattan for industrial needs and how it can be woven together.

Note that raw rattan has been banned from export by the Indonesian government since 2012 (after this video was shot), it is therefore imperative to use it in Indonesia or buy it from another country for use outside Indonesia.

Videos from June 2014 by the Indonesia Nature Film Society and from February 2010 by Seatweaving respectively

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