Ecologists have warned that the production of the fragrant resin could decline by half over the next 15 years.
The festive fragrance is produced by tapping the gum of trees in the Boswellia genus. The findings, based on a study carried out in Ethiopia, have been published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
“There are several reasons why [the tree species Boswellia papyifera] it is under threat,” explained co-author Frans Bongers, an ecologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. “The forests that remain are declining because the old individuals are dying continuously, and there there no new individuals coming into the system. That means that the forests are running out of trees.”
“In places like Oman and Yemen, it is being cut down systematically. Now, in Ethiopia, it is being cut down as land is being turned over to agriculture.”
The small trees, which generally reach a height of no more than 5m (16ft), grow in steep, rocky habitats, providing cover for other plant species.
Each year, up to about 3kg of resin can be tapped from an individual tree. After about five years of tapping, management techniques suggest that the tree should be rested for a similar period in order to maximise future yields.
Fortunately our Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh dark chocolate artisan bar with 65% cocoa solids is still available, but it is only produced in the winter so you may need to hurry to secure summer supplies!
via BBC News – Frankincense tree facing uncertain future.