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Forest worker Sean cyril inspecting a lansan tree in Saint Lucia. © Jeremy Holden / Fauna & Flora

Forest worker Sean cyril inspecting a lansan tree in Saint Lucia. © Jeremy Holden / Fauna & Flora

Sustainable Lansan Project

Project

In Saint Lucia, lansan trees hold significant ecological, cultural and economic importance. Fauna & Flora is working with the Saint Lucia Forestry Department to ensure the long-term conservation of lansan trees in their natural habitat on Saint Lucia while enabling local communities to continue to benefit from this important economic and cultural resource.

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 Fauna & Flora, 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.

Our objectives

Our project is working to conserve the regionally endemic lansan tree by training and certifying resin collectors in extraction methods that do not harm the trees and which actually increase the amount of resin that can be extracted – a win-win for people and nature. Our hope is that in future there may be considerable scope to create job opportunities related to the sustainable harvesting of this renewable resource.

Our work

A survey carried out in 2009 revealed the extent of the damage to Saint Lucia’s lansan trees. Fauna & Flora, through the Global Trees Campaign, sprang into action to safeguard this iconic tree and ensure its long-term survival without compromising the economic and cultural benefits afforded by its valuable resin. A three-year experimental study undertaken by Fauna & Flora, forestry staff and volunteers from Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust led to the discovery of a new method for collecting resin that is more productive and less harmful. Tappers are now being trained in the new, safer, extraction method and being licensed to harvest the resin from specific areas approved by the Forestry Department.

The Management Plan for Saint Lucian Lansan was developed in 2018, which outlines a system to facilitate and regulate the sustainable use and trade of lansan, a resin from the globally threatened tree Protium attenuatum.

Jenny Daltry and Sean Cyril with dead lansan tree. © Jeremy Holden / Fauna & Flora

Jenny Daltry and Sean Cyril with dead lansan tree. © Jeremy Holden / Fauna & Flora

Caribbean Alliance Director, Jenny Daltry and forest worker Sean Cyril inspecting a dead lansan tree.

Key milestones

    2018-2019

    Management plan developed to facilitate and regulate the sustainable use and trade of Lansan.

    2014-2015

    Study identifies a new sustainable tapping method.

    2011

    Project begins.

    2009

    Nationwide inventory of the lansan tree is conducted at the request of the Saint Lucia Forestry Department.

The story of how working with communities is protecting both local livelihoods and the lansan tree

Project partners

  • Saint Lucia Forestry Department
  • Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
Lansan tree. © Jeremy Holden / Fauna & Flora

Help us provide sustainable economic opportunities

Fauna & Flora and partners work with communities to facilitate the improvement and diversification of economic development options. We aim to help them improve household income and food security while at the same time reducing pressure on wildlife and associated habitats.

Support us today

Lansan tree. © Jeremy Holden / Fauna & Flora