Agri scientist: Marketability best way to conserve frankincense

SALALAH, April 25 – Proper economic evaluation of frankincense (Luban) extraction and its sale by using the commercial feasibility standards has been suggested as a major step to conserve the tree, which is an integral part of heritage and culture of Dhofar Governorate. A keen researcher and agriculture scientist, Dr Mohsin al Amri, also called for maximising the production of frankincense derivatives to make it more commercially viable and conservable. In his latest report titled ‘Sustainable harvesting of frankincense trees, the impact of harvesting on flowering, fruit production and seed germination’, Dr Mohsin made these observations and called for commissioning of a situational analysis study looking into population estimate.
The report is part of Environment Society of Oman’s (ESO) frankincense project, which aims at generating awareness about the tree, “which has a conservation status of ‘Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List’ of threatened species.”
Dr Mohsin, however, calls for re-look into the status as it dates back to 1998. “As of today, the extent of the frankincense tree wild population is not known in Oman, and there are no studies that provide a baseline of frankincense trees in Dhofar. It is recommended to commission a situational analysis study looking into population estimate, and the extent of deforestation and grazing through field surveys and the use of remote sensing or satellite imagery.”
“The study should include the local borders and partition of frankincense areas (referred to as Manzalah) to include the local socio-economic and cultural aspect of land management. Such a study could eventually contribute to update the conservation status of the Boswellia sacra tree on the IUCN Red List,” he said in his report.
He also suggested to have a dedicated ‘frankincense centre’ as the management of wild frankincense trees falls under the remit of several local authorities. “It is necessary to centralise efforts under one entity, suggested to be as a frankincense centre. It is suggested for the centre to focus on enhancing the wealth of frankincense and develop investment plans to benefit from the tree and sustain its production as a pillar of Dhofar’s economy. The frankincense centre could bring together different stakeholders and local authorities concerned in the production and commercialisation of frankincense.”
The report also called for developing a permit system for tree harvesting (norms and guidelines) and set clear guidelines for all stakeholders, particularly harvesters and managers of the Boswellia sacra tree. “Such norms could be developed by the proposed frankincense centre or could be developed separately. Harvesting guidelines will address factors such as tapping techniques, maturity of the trees, size of tapping spot and location on the tree, number of taps per tree, tapping period (start and end date), tapping cycles per year etc.”
Stress is also there to draw a manual of good harvesting practices (GHP) based upon both traditional knowledge and modern scientific forestry management practices.

Kaushalendra Singh