Aquilaria trees (also known as agarwood) have been a protected species on the CITES list (www.cites.org) for some time – and is now illegal to log and harvest in the wild. Unfortunately this hasn’t stopped illegal logging, with the consequence that the species is now on the brink of extinction in several countries.
The oil is used for perfumes mainly in the Middle East, along with resinous woodchips which are burned in homes throughout the Gulf and Asian regions. These woodchips release a fragrant smoke which it is believed by certain cultures to have mystical benefits, including health and good fortune.
If you have ever visited an Arabic country you will have surely experienced the scent of burning agarwood in the air, particularly in private households. It has commercial medicinal applications which have only been restricted in development by the unavailability of sustainable and legal supplies.
Over the last 10 years The University of Minnesota has been developing and testing processes which allow agarwood to be grown on short rotations from as little as 6 years, using a patented process to induce the formation of agarwood oil throughout the trees more consistently than can be found in wild trees. This successful process has resulted in various plantations being established across Asia to meet the massive shortfall in production and to minimise the market demand that results in illegal logging.
Sri Lanka has seen agarwood disappear from its natural forests and jungles. Over the last 2 years Asia Plantation Capital has successfully reintroduced agarwood to Sri Lanka, with the import of over 1 million saplings and seed stock from Vietnam and its own plantations in Thailand. These results are part of Asia Plantation Capital’s major reforestation projects.
The plantations that have been created in Sri Lanka have helped provide long terms jobs and futures for communities within the natural forests who previously had to rely on illegal logging as a principal source of income.
Asia Plantation Capital has established the perfect natural balance to grow agarwood by interplanting on their teak and gliricidia plantations in the central regions of Sri Lanka.
The established teak and gliricidia trees provide shade and protection to the agarwood. All the plantations established have a good range of biodiversity and are not monoculture – single species plantations which have a negative environmental impact.
Asia Plantation Capital is now working with the largest distributors of Agarwood oils and products in the Gulf regions to provide sustainable and ethical sources to meet the demand for supply.