This innovative project was requested by the Saint Lucia Forestry Department to ensure the long-term conservation of the endangered lansan tree while at the same time sustaining the economic and cultural benefits from the tree’s resin. The lansan tree is a distant relative of the frankincense trees in the Middle East, and its highly aromatic resin is traditionally used as incense for religious ceremonies and to ward off mosquitoes and – it is believed – evil spirits. Unfortunately, lansan trees are very fragile and prone to infection when damaged, and have lost at least 60% of their range in the Eastern Caribbean due to overexploitation and deforestation.
Research by FFI, the Forestry Department and volunteers from Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust confirmed that traditional harvesting methods quickly kill the trees, but led to the discovery of a new method for extracting resin that is more productive and safer for the trees: a win-win for tappers, consumers and the trees. Tappers are now being trained in the new, safe extraction method and licensed to harvest the resin from areas designated by the Forestry Department. Looking ahead, we foresee real potential to create more jobs from this renewable resource by marketing Saint Lucian frankincense candles, toiletries and other products.