Threatened & Vulnerable Aromatic Species:
A List of Essential Oils Recommended
by Cropwatch Not to Be Used in Cosmetics/Perfumery.
Copyright © Tony Burfield Oct 2004 & Jan/Feb 2005.
Commodities from aromatic species that are ecologically at-risk are used in the aroma industry (: perfumery/cosmetics, flavourings, aromatherapy and incense products). Burfield (2003) has previously tentatively identified these items for the perfume industry and Burfield & Wildwood (2004) have identified them for the aromatherapy profession. In this tabular & more detailed format, this list of aromatic commodities used in perfumes & cosmetics from threatened and at-risk species, first drawn up by the author in October 2004, does not reflect disruption in the supply of aromatic raw materials caused by extremes of weather in Florida and the Caribbean during 2004, or yet by the Tsunami disaster, the result of the fourth largest earthquake this century which took place off the coast of N. Sumatra in the Indian Ocean region on 26th December 2004. This event regrettably took a terrible toll on human life and has caused immense disruption & suffering. The disaster outfalls have also subsequently affected the supply and/or price of a range of raw materials such as Patchouli, Nutmeg, Cananga & Cinnamon oils, amongst others (Patchouli plants Pogostemon cablin being grown in several affected islands such as Melaboh and Loksuemawe in Aceh, and Nias Island).
At the time of writing (Jan 2005) oil traders report that Sandalwood oil Indonesian & East Indian is pretty well unobtainable - even previously available small parcels of oil (sometimes adulterated with polyethylene glycol 600, or East Indian and/or Australian Sandalwood oil), which sold for the unprecedented price of $1,000/Kg. Small lots of Sandalwood oil from Sri Lanka, Vanuatu & other Pacific Islands, New Caledonia & even China, have become increasingly rare. Rosewood oil supplies are described by oil traders (Dec 2004) as ‘critical’. The ability of the relevant authorities in these producing areas to control smuggling of Sandalwood and other threatened species is therefore expected by Cropwatch to be increasingly tested (see smuggling section below). The planting of tracking chips by the US Forestry Service into ginseng plants (Fallik 2003), and by the State of Kerala’s Forestry Dept. into Sandalwood trees, may present a useful technological advance in defeating the wholesale smuggling of plants [American Ginseng: Panex quinquefolium is a critically threatened medicinal plant according to Plant Savers (Zarella 2004); the number of Sandalwood trees in Kerala's Marayur Forest has dropped from 62,000 to 55,000].
Burfield T. (2003) “Unethical Use of Rare & Threatened Plants and Animal
Products in the Aroma Industry.” Endangered Species Update May/June 2003 Vol 20(3), 97-106.
Burfield T. & Wildwood C. (2005) “Cropwatch 5” www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~nodice/ new/magazine/cropwatch5/cropwatch5.htm
Fallik D. (2003) “Botanical Industry learns to replenish resources used in products” The Philadelphia Inquirer/Tribune Business News 27.10.2003.
Microchip Protection For Sandalwood - 26/11/2004 see: http://www.nzforestry.co.nz/nzf_archive.asp?viewarchive=yes&articleid=2275
Zarella C. (2004) “Watching the Wildcrafters” E Magazine 01.03.2004.
The Myths around the “Sustainable Production” of Essential Oils.
The ideal of solving ecological sustainability issues for commodities “through the eye of the market” has become a popular concept. Making indigenous forest peoples the custodians of biodiversity; rewarding them appropriately via Fair Trade schemes; promoting initiatives between NGO’s and farmers to grow ‘at-risk’ species commercially are commonly (and perhaps over- simplistically) reeled off by oil sellers as a panacea to the situation. Further, the mention of obscure geographic origins for sourcing these “sustainably produced” aromatic commodities further tends to confuse the true picture. The reality of continuing to trade in at-risk species is, however, much more complex than traders would often have customers believe, and Margolis, in an article that seems to me almost to have a touch of black humour about it, provides some examples of misguided commercial enterprise in promoting commodities from Amazonian Forest Schemes (Margolis 2004). The subject is touched on further under the “Some Misunderstood Terms” and “Quotes” section below.
Margolis M. (2004) “Jungle Economics; Environmentalists thought they could save the Rain Forest and make money at the same time. They were wrong.” Newsweek Internat. 16.02.2004.
A List of Essential Oils Recommended by Cropwatch Not to Be Used in Perfumery
Please note: The lists in this article are not exhaustive, and do not generally include low risk/near threatened species such as Cupressus sempervirens (Cedarleaf oil) and Callitris columellaris (Australian Cypress pine oil).
Agarwood qualities are placed in the above section because these products are commonly sold as incense products & as essential oil which is used as an ingredient of fine fragrances (e.g. M7 by Yves San Laurent). As well as Aquilaria species, Gonystylus, Gyrinops and Phaleria spp. also produce gaharu. The genus Gonystylus comprises 31 species, being chiefly distributed across the Malesion tropical rainforest region, extending to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Fiji (Tawan 1999);lower quality gaharu eminating from Gonystylus spp. being mentioned by Wollenberg (2001). Yamada (1995) estimated that 2000 tons/year of agarwood pass through the principal agarwood trading centre, Singapore, 70% coming from Indonesia and 30% from other S.E. Asian countries. Of this, 70% is exported to Arab countries and 30% to China, Hong Kong & Taiwan. Japanese merchants go on to trade in agarwood largely via Honk Kong. Steam distilled & CO2 extracted plantation-grown artificially infected agarwood products etc. are / will be available on the oils market, but have yet to gain widespread acceptance (agarwood plantations started seven years previously in Vietnam, also in Laos, Papua New Guinea & other parts of S.E. Asia with the Tropical Rainforest Project Foundation (TRP) – a Dutch NGO funded by EC grants using new technologies to trigger & accelerate resin formation - see www.agarwood.org.vn). It is understood that TRP have taken out a worldwide patent on a resin induction process, and distillation of the “worlds first certified sustainable agarwood oil” is likely to take place in 2005, as claimed by Phillips (2005).
Chakrabarty et al. (1994) had earlier described the agarwood trade in India, pinpointing some 200 distilleries in Hojai, Nilbagan and Islamnagar in the Naogoan district of Assam, and describing the distillation process in detail. The authors describe difficulties in establishing the legal licensed basis (if any) for many of the distilleries in the above locations, and similarly for the agarwood extraction businesses in Manipur, and also the problems in estimating the extent of illegally acquired agarwood from India and Bhutan - in addition to that smuggled via Myanmur. The main destination for agarwood, chips and dust appeared to be the United Arab Emirates (especially Dubei), Saudi Arabia, UK and Bahrain.
Harris T. (undated), a US-based businesswoman selling aromatic raw materials including Aquilaria qualities, reflects on knowledge of the agarwood situation in Laos, gained via a personal 3-week visit (see http://www.enfleurage.com/ac-agarwood-2.html). Harris argues against a total ban on agarwood oil trading which she maintains is not necessary; the argument seems to be somewhat tenuously reasoned on the hedonistic pleasure that the products give at this present moment in time, although elsewhere in the article Harris refers to very large numbers of plantation trees which exist in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, thereby implying a continued harvest (presumably of A. crassna at least). This was not the conclusion of the Trade & Legislation workshop group at First International Agarwood Conference, Viet Nam, November 2003, which concluded “plantations are not the stand-alone answer to long-term supply of the global Agarwood trade.”
A second argument against maintaining the unfettered free trading in this valuable commodity, as even TRP have conceded on their website, is the fact that the establishment of agarwood plantations will not necessarily reduce the demand for agarwood – they may well increase it. Meanwhile it is generally agreed that the natural occurrence of Aquilaria spp. in the wild across India, Indonesia etc. generally continues to decline, in spite of the establishment of plantations in various widely-spread locations. A scenario where the survival prospects for Aquilaria species are ultimately dependent on privately owned plantations is not a prospect that every ecologically-minded person would relish, and the essential oil trade itself has many disaster stories connected with failed commercial plantations, across a number of oil-bearing species. It is also apparent that although Harris is preoccupied with the survival of Aquilaria species per se, perhaps in order to continue to be able to market valuable commodities from the genus, the negative effects for biodiversity of slash and burn, creeping agricultural production in forest areas plus agarwood monoculture in these areas, are not clearly spelled out in her article. Thus, whilst arguments surrounding issues solely concerning Aquilaria species sustainability might be put forward, true ecological forest sustainability with its existing biodiversity (i.e. holistic forest management) probably cannot. So, my conclusion is that the somewhat profane use of agarwood oil in high-class perfumery – which is the principal issue with which we are concerned here - seems to serve no good purpose, apart from any attached merchandising gain from its advertised mention as a novelty ingredient, and could be positively harmful to the ecological status of Aquilaria spp. by adding to the demand for the commodity.
Harris in her article further describes a highly energy-intensive preparative distillation process for agarwood oil, which is said to occur over 7 days (in contrast to the 30-36 hour Assam process as described by Chakrabarty et al. 1994), but fails to mention any relevant carbon neutral issues. Harris also argues to the effect that botanical classification of agarwood species is not currently practical at the point of trade, since (if I understand this correctly), Harris maintains that traded items like oil and chipped wood are impossible to back-classify. This may be a perfectly valid position in countries with an absence, or a refusal to implement, batch-tracking practices. On the face of it, it would not easily be solved in a perfect world even by employing the appropriate advanced analytical botanical & chemical education & training either. However The Plant Bulletin of the Agri-Food & Vetinary Authority of Singapore (Jan. 2004) describes the documentation procedures for the export, import and re-export of agarwood species which were not classified in Appendix II of CITES at the time (such as block, chips powder or oil of Aquilaria filaria), suggesting that this might not be such a universal problem as Harris suggests. One can’t help feeling that this type of argument cited above reflects a tendency amongst agarwood ‘cultists’ to resist all methods of scientific investigation & classification - these would be useful tools to demystify areas such as agarwood quality assessment procedures, which are connected to ethnically - & culturally - based rituals.
Finally the article also rails against alleged shortcomings in the evidence leading to IUCN and CITES classifications for Aquilaria spp. – again familiar arguments used in incense-product trading circles to justify continued agarwood trading. Nevertheless it has to be remembered that the Republic of Indonesia itself (which claims to be the largest agarwood producer) was the proposer for the inclusion of all agarwood producing species of Aquilaria & Gryrinops which were currently not in the Appendices of CITES, at the Thirteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties on 3-14 October 2004 in Bangkok, Thailand. Further Harris’s arguments, from the somewhat rosy-tinted perspective of an agarwood commodity seller, presents a gently indulgent and sanitised picture of agarwood trading – with no mention of gangland, smuggling/illegal trading or any ugly exploitation of indigenous gatherers by exogenous collectors, which is widely reported elsewhere – for example in Central and East Kalimantan, Sumatra, Papua New Guinea etc. Further, as Momberg et al. (2000) infer, threats from outsiders can affect traditional ways of more sustainable gaharu gathering turning them towards more intense & destructive practices.
In spite of these deep misgivings, I recommend readers make their own minds up by reading the article by Trygve Harris at the above mentioned URL, which I feel makes an important contribution to understanding the attitudes and knowledge surrounding agarwood commodity trading.
Chakrabarty K., Kumar A. & Menon
V (1994) Trade in Agarwood WWF-India/TRAFFIC India, New Delhi
Phillips D. (2005) – business advisor to TRP – private communication Jan. 2005.
Tawan C.S. (1999) "A new species of Gonystylus (Thymeaceae) from Sarawak, Borneo" Botanical J. Linnean Soc. 130, 65-68.
Wollenberg EK (2001) "Incentives for collecting gaharu in East Kaliantan" Economic Botany 55, 444-456.
Yamada, I (1995) "Aloeswood Forest & the Maritime World" Southeast Asian Studies 33(3), 181-187.
Notes (data complied from various sources Including):
Burkhill IH (1966) A dictionary of economic products of the Malay Peninsula Vol: 2 Ministry of Agriculture & Cooperatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Hou D. (1960) "Aquilaria" Flora Malesiana Series 1: 6(1-3) Thymelaceae, pp6-15 ed. CGCJ van Steenis & Oyen, L.P.A
Hilton-Taylor, C. (2002) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (2002). IUCN Switzerland
Nguyen, X.D. (1999). Plant Resources of Southeast-East Asia No. 19. Essential-oil plants. PROSEA, Bogor, Indonesia
Whitmore TC ed. (1973) Tree Flora of Malaysia Longman Group, London
van Tieghem is:
Pierre ex H. Lecomte is:
Lamk (1783) is:
A. malaccensis reportedly found in India (especially NE India), Burma, parts of Malaysia, Sumatra Bangka, Borneo, the Phillipines, Japan, Thailand, some parts of Cambodia and Vietnam, and other parts of the very Far East. A. agallocha found in the forests of S.E. Asia including within India: Assam (Nowgong-cachar), Nagaland (Naga), Meghalaya (Khasi, Karo Hills), Bangladesh, W. Bengal (Darjeeling), the hills of Manipur and Tripur, and elsewhere: Bhutan, Burma, Myanmar, Western China, Japan, Vietnam, Sumatra, Phillipines (Luzon), Cambodia, Borneo & Iran. Some regard A. agollocha is a truly distinct species – see TRAFFIC REPORT by Broad S (1995) “Agarwood Harvesting in Vietnam.” TRAFFIC Bulletin- Wildlife Trade Monitoring Unit 1995 15(2), 96 Traffic International.
Aquilaria microcarpa Baillon - occurs in some parts of Malaysia, Sumatra, Belitung, Bangka and Borneo.
Aquilaria sinensis Sprengel is syn. A. grandiflora Benth. : Southern China
The Santalum genus is represented by some 25 semi-parasitic species, all possessing fragrant woods, occurring throughout SE Asia, Australia and the Pacific. Sandalwood oil East Indian has traditionally occupied an important place in perfumery because of its sensual, radiant and long-lasting woody odour, good fixative properties and its ability to combine with other aromatic raw materials such as rose, jasmin, patchouli, orris, bergamot & lavender etc. to give pleasing effects. There is now pressure on all sandalwood species resulting from the over-exploitation of Santalum album in India and Indonesia, and whilst global demand is in excess of 200 tons/annum, the market has struggled to supply 50 tons in 2004 (Cropwatch data).
Rosewood oils from S. American Aniba spp. have become widely identified as commodities from threatened species in recent years, but continue to be used by many fragrance houses; their use in fragrances has been the target of criticism [e.g. French opposition to the alleged use of Rosewood oil in Chanel 5 is reported by Osava (1998)]. Newer fragrance launches have continued to feature Brazilan Rosewood [e.g. 'Presence d'une Femme' by Mountblanc (2002); Trussadi Skin by Trussadi (2002); Lagerfield Jako by Lagerfield (1999) etc.]. Successful Brazilian companies such as O Boticario and Natura use traditional Brazilian products (such as rosewood oil) as part of their policy for developing their home-market cosmetic product ranges.
Other ‘rosewood oils’ - e.g. from Ocotea spp., especially Ocotea caudata - are sometimes also sold as Rosewood oil. Batches of plantation-grown Rosewood leaf oil commercial batches seen by the author (believed to be distilled from Aniba fragrans) have been of poor odour quality compared with the normal oil. The promotion and fund-raising for Rosewood plantations has been focussed especially at specialist groups such as aromatherapists groups. These schemes have not passed without comment: Wildwood (2004) discusses the Adopt-a-Tree Campaign in depth, and Burfield (2004) critically assesses a paper by May & Barata on Rosewood plantation sustainability issues. It also has also come to Cropwatch’s attention that certain Brazilian enterprises are currently offering Amazonian essential oils, resins and other natural products to the UK market, but are in fact including commodities from threatened species (e.g. from Cedrela spp.) or from commodities which are actually illegal to trade in the UK (e.g. from Jaborandi Pilocarpus jaborandi & P. microphyllus) - under The Medicines (Retail Sale or Supply of Herbal Remedies) Order 1977.
Burfield T. (2004) Cropwatch 6: “Rosewood Sustainability: Review of May P.H. & Barata E.S. “Rosewood Exploitation in the Brazilian Amazon: Options for Sustainable Production” Economic Botany 58(2) pp257-265 (2004).” at http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~nodice/
Osava M. (1998) “Brazil trade: perfume makers accused of pirating Amazon resources” Inter Press Service English News Wire 19.08.1998
References to table 3:
CIMAP (1997): Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP 1997). From Indian Medicinal Plants Facing Genetic Erosion CIMAP Lucknow 1977.
CITES: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Official documents: Appendices I, II and III. "http://www.cites.org/eng/append/latest_appendices.shtml
Cropwatch (2003): see www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~nodice/
Cropwatch (2004): unpublished information.
IUCN listings: see www.redlist.org
See other information on threatened species in the aroma & herb
Footnotes to tables.
Feral grazing also threatens the status of other species e.g. Cedrus atlantica in Morocco (Burfield 2005)3 and Juniperus thruifera, also in Morocco12 (Burfield 2005)3 and Juniperus thruifera, also in Morocco12
The Ethical Consumer Association are asking consumers to boycott oils and herbs from endangered, threatened and at-risk species (and products containing extracts from such sources). See http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/boycotts/boycottnews.htm
The slow, energy intensive process of distillation under reduced pressure is also employed to prepare essential oils (e.g. Sandalwood oil E.I. from Santalum album and Costus oil from Costus resinoid, Saussurea lappa etc).
Brown P. (2004) The Guardian Mon 11th Oct 2004.
Golding J. (2002): Southern Africa Plant Red Data Lists ed. Janice Golding S.
African Botanical Diversity Network Report N 14 2002 p104.
Hall P. & Bawa K.S. (1993) “Methods to assess the impact of extraction of
non-timber forest products on plant populations.” Econ Bot 47, 234-247.
Higman S. et al. (1999) The Sustainable Forestry Handbook
Kobus A. (2004) – private communication.
Kull C. A. (2002) Journal of Cultural Geography 22.03.2002.
Wickens GE (2000) Ecophysiology of Economic Plants in Arid & Semi-Arid
Lands Sringer Verlag NY.
Wildwood C. (2004) http://www.chrissie-wildwood.com/
Smuggling / Corruption and Threatened Species: some Press Reports
AAP General News
(Australia) 18.11.2002 “Queesland: Five fined for sandalwood harvesting”.
According to the EPA, The Cairns Magistrate Court in Brisbane fined five
individuals $300 each plus costs in the Cairns Magistrate Court today for
the illegal harvesting and sale of sandalwood. No conviction was recorded.
Brazil: 1. “Brazil's unsustainable Amazon scheme” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/BBCNEWS/Americas describes Sudam, the Brazilian Government’s disbanded Amazon Development Agency which was supposedly funding an environmentally sustainable projects across the Amazon with a budget of $0.5 bn a year. Much of this, prosecutors allege, was stolen. The farm was granted more than $3 million dollars, but prosecutors investigating where the money has disappeared to say hardly any coffee was planted and much of the money disappeared.
Thailand: 1. New Straits Times 6/28/2004 “Police hunt for Thai sandalwood collectors”. Police hunt for 50 armed Thai sandalwood collectors, some armed with guns, in the Endau Rompin national park and nearby areas.
India: 1. Jain, Pushp K. (1995) “Perspective: Nation's Rich Wildlife Is Endangered ” India Abroad 12.05.1995. Jain (1995) outlines the reasons why local people are antagonistic towards forestry officials, and describes inadequately equipped forestry staff who are paid on a daily basis. He lists a number of species under pressure: Sandalwood which has disappeared from S. India’s forests, teak in Bandipur in Karnata, rosewood and cinnamon in Periyar in Kerala, agarwood from NE India, and Himalayan Yew.
2. “India's Most Wanted Criminal Veerappan shot Dead” Pakistan Times Foreign Desk Report http://pakistantimes.net/2004/10/20/top3.htm describes the police shooting of a bandit allegedly responsible, amongst other crimes, for the illegal felling and sale of thousands of sandalwood trees.
Post 30.09.2003 “Police seize 13.6 tons of Sandalwood”. T the East Nusa
Tenggara Police (Kupang) seized at least 13.6 tons Kg of sandalwood
allegedly smuggled from East Timor on the way to the sandalwood-distilling
firm PT Tropicana Oil.
for printer friendly versionC
Click on image for footnotes to tables
Notes on Some Misused Ecological Terms: Some Provocative Counter-Information!
Much of the information available to essential oil users originates from the oil traders themselves (e.g. the monthly Newsletter from Essentially Oils Ltd., Chipping Norton, Ox., UK; or the Monthly Trading Reports from George Uhe Co,. Inc. at http://www.uhe.com/mktreportmain.htm). Some oil traders (perhaps unwittingly) may have mislead their customers by mis- or re-interpreting common ecological terms such as “sustainable production”, the effects of which (intentionally or non-intentionally) invariably suit their own commercial ends. Here is the briefest re-look at some of these concepts:
Sustainability: The capability of natural systems to maintain themselves whilst being used (i.e. equals holistic resource management).
Sustainable harvest: (according to Hall & Bawa 1993): “the level of harvest that does not impair the ability of the harvest population to replace itself.” This is the commonest misconception put about by oil traders: the definition does not take any account of ecological impact of harvesting. For example Rooibos tea from Aspalanthus linearis is widely said to be “sustainably harvested” in S. Africa [e.g. quoted by Wickens (2000)]. However the species Agathosma cephalodes E. May. ex Sond., formerly endemic in the Western Cape, is reportedly affected by the Rooibos tea industry, and may already by extinct according to Golding (2002).
“The management of a forest for a single product will affect the forest’s ability to provide other services or products, so trade-offs have to be made” Higman et al. (1999) The Sustainable Forestry Handbook Earthscan Publicns.
Sustainable Yield Forestry: “…basically describes a myth. There are next to no examples of industrial sustainable tropical timber operations in the world, even when using a limited economic definition of yield – i.e., maintaining the volumes of timber available in successive harvests” (WRM, 1990).
A study commissioned by the International Tropical Timber Association (ITTO), found that “the amount of sustainable tropical timber harvesting is, on a world scale, negligible”.
The above two references would appear to challenge the possibility of sustainable production of essential oils from plant species with very long maturity times e.g. Sandalwood East Indian Santalum album (80 years) or Cedarwood Atlas Cedrus atlantica (120 years).
Deforestation: 21 acres of forest are cleared per minute (= 30,200 acres per day) across the globe. Logging machines like the 39-ton Timberking (a cutting machine: TB) can clear-cut 1 hectare of forest per day ref: Ecologist June 2003 p16. Countries like Madagascar have lost 95% of their forest cover compared with the situation 100 years previously. Every year, fires consume up to half of Malagasy's vast grasslands and thousands of square kilometres of its rainforests and secondary brush (slash and burn agriculture): Kull (2002). Essential oil crops have been monocultured on land that was previously virgin forest in Madagascar (Cropwatch: unpublished data).
Commercial plantations producing aromatic commodities such as agharu do not halt the rate of disappearance of agharu-bearing trees from those areas in which they occur. Selective extractive of trees (e.g. Aniba spp. for rosewood oil production) is often regarded as over-expensive & impractical by logging companies, compared with clear cutting.
NGO’s themselves have not escaped criticism. For example the ITTO has been accused of vested interest and national government bias (Higman et al. 1999).
Organic Status Aromatic Materials. Commercial organisations, such as EcoCert and the Soil Association, with little experience of the essential oil trade, employ inspection & batch tracking systems (but no actual chemical analysis of commodities for pesticides etc.) to certify aromatic materials for their organic status. Many incongruities arise from this situation:
1. It is difficult to understand how some steam distilled essential oils can be certified as “organic” when produced by diesel fuel as energy source, which has sometimes been hauled thousands of kilometres in order to produce them (Kobus, 2004).
2. It is also difficult to understand how threatened species illegally gathered from the wild can be certified as organic [see Wildwood (2004)].
3. Solvent extracted absolutes and concretes are not certified as organic by certain organisations, on the basis that they may contain miniscule amounts of solvent residues. Since they have been used in perfumery for up to 140 years, toxicological testing data exists for many of these materials. CO2 extracts of many (floral) absolutes and concretes, generally of unknown toxicity, are allowed to be classified by certain certifying organisations as “organic”.
4. Since open records of the activities of these organisations are not available for public inspection, and no-one has solved the “who inspects the inspectors” conundrum, the operation remains a little more than a marketing exercise, in Cropwatch’s opinion.
Plantations. Plantations are included in #2 Destructive Projects: (a list which also points the finger at dams, ranching, mining & industrial projects, commercial logging, the Tropical Forests Action Plan and the UN Biodiversity program). See The World Rainforest Movement’s Emergency Call to Action for the Forests and Their Peoples (petition with 3 million signatures delivered to the UN in 1989). The adverse effects of monoculture and effects of fertiliser chemicals, pesticides etc. on the eco-system need no further introduction; mixed species accession schemes for non-timber products on cleared land is too often not considered as an option.
Rising CO2 levels – Global Warming. Unexpectedly large rises in CO2 levels for the last two years (2.08 and 2.54 ppm respectively) were recorded at Mauna Loa Observatory, which is 12,000ft up on a mountain in Hawaii (Brown 2004), fuelling increasing worries that time is short to curb global carbon emissions to prevent runaway global warming. CO2 is generated during the production of aromatic materials – for example by burning fuel to raise steam for the steam distillation of aromatic materials, and by the agricultural production techniques used to raise aromatic plants (e.g. by disturbing the forest floor). Many essential oil producing countries are not signatories to the Kyoto protocol (e.g. Australia, USA), and the essential oils trade has not taken on board the concept of carbon neutral methods of aromatic raw material production, although the opportunity for solar distillation exists in many tropical & even those more temperate countries. Solar distillation would, in addition to eliminating CO2 from the processing operation, conserve wood fuels in areas where wood is scarce and needed for food preparation. Further, several aromatic products employ excessively long distillation times (and therefore high potential fuel costs per kilo) for their production:
Albert Schweitzer (1948): “The truly ethical man tears no leaf from a tree, plucks no flower and takes care to crush no insect.”
Low (2004) “Many problems in managing and protecting endangered species arise not from our ignorance of the species’ ecology, but from human conflicts of interest”
ref: Low, Bobbi S. (2004) Endangered Species Jan – Mar 2004 21(1) p14.
Rainforest Centre Educational Supplement (undated): The absence of any evidence that sustainable tropical timber extraction can be achieved is ignored by government who promote sustainable yield as a solution, without definition or examples. Many factors stand in the way of true sustainability, including corruption, commercial pressures and methods of extraction which require heavy machinery which compact the soil.”
Rodman (1977): “I need only to stand in the middle of a clear cut forest, a strip mined hillside, a defoliated jungle, or a damned canyon to feel uneasy about assumptions that could yield the conclusion that no human action can make any difference to the welfare of anything but sentient animals. “
ITTO: International Timber Trade Organisation http://www.itto.or.jp
IUCN: International Union for Conservation of Nature & Natural Resources
Fair Trade Principles: Fair wages; Co-operative Workplaces; Consumer
education; Environmental Sustainability; Financial & Technical Support;
Respect for Cultural Identity; Public Accountability. See:
UNEP: United Nations Environment Programme http://www.unep.ch
WCMC: World Conservation Monitoring Centre
WWF: Worldwide Fund for Nature http://www.panda.org
The above information is believed to be correct and was largely compiled from reliable published sources, but Cropwatch cannot be held legally responsible for any inaccuracies.
Copyright © Tony Burfield Oct 2004 & Jan/Feb 2005