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Sustainable use of the lansan tree in Saint Lucia

The lansan tree produces a culturally and economically important resin, used by churches as a source on incense throughout the East Caribbean. However, traditional harvesting methods are extremely damaging to the tree. The Global Trees Campaign is supporting an initiative on Saint Lucia to improve the sustainable use of this species.

The lansan tree (Protium attenuatum) has all but disappeared from much of its range in Windward Islands (Eastern Caribbean). However recent surveys in Saint Lucia indicate that this small country currently holds the largest remaining population.

The lansan tree produces a valuable white resin used for incense burning in church ceremonies and at home. It's production is also of high economic significance to local harvesters and traders. Resin is harvested by making cuts to the tree's bark and is then sold to local and international markets.

Monitoring of more than 380 trees has revealed that traditional tapping methods are extremely detrimental to health of the trees, causing infection, rotting and termite infestation.

In areas that have been heavily exploited by tappers, even non-tapped trees show abnormally high rates of infection and decay, suggesting that traditional tapping methods facilitate disease transmission.

The Global Trees Campaign is supporting the Government of Saint Lucia, Ministry of Agriculture, Food Production and Rural Development to sustainably manage lansan tree populations by influencing various aspects of tapping and resin trade.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014