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  • Gaharu – A Sweet Smelling Investment

    2010 - 02.09

    Due to the demand for agarwood or gaharu, which translates to mean ‘fragrant wood’ there are almost no wild trees left and those that are left are now considered endangered.

    The aquilaria genus is the best known source of agarwood. When an aquilaria tree is infected with a certain type of mould the tree produces a dark aromatic resin in response to the attack. This forms the resinous heartwood that is agarwood.

    The fragrant oil extracted from agarwood resin is more commonly known as ‘oud’ oil and is popular in the Middle Eastern perfume industry. A quick Google of Arabian fragrance retailers reveals that a 3ml bottle of pure ‘oud’ oil can cost any where between $65 and $400. So it is no wonder that there are hardly any left.

    Because there are so few trees left the government has set up base camps in both Tutong and Temburong to stop people from stealing the trees. However a member of Gaharu Brunei said that protection isn’t enough.

    “The Forestry Department needs to replenish these trees when they are stolen or cut down,” said the Gaharu Brunei member, who wished to be known as Fikri.

    A one day seminar was organised by Gaharu Brunei where Malaysia speaker Mat Hasbollan Sudin of Gaharuman Resources talked about the different types of Aquilaria trees, how to grow them and the various products that can be produced from the trees.

    As it stands there is plenty of land but it is not really worth a lot. Growing gaharu gives the land value and at a time when the world is conscious about global warming this is an eco-friendly solution.

    So it is surprising then that there aren’t any gaharu plantations in Brunei. This is due to two reasons; the first is lack of knowledge. People think that they can’t cut down an endangered tree. But while it is true that you can’t cut down trees growing in the wild this doesn’t apply to plantations.

    The second reason is that the Bruneians don’t like how long the trees take to mature.

    “Sure it takes a long time, but people need to think in terms of the future. This is could be an investment for your children or your grandchildren. Anyway, you can still reap the benefits in the first year of cultivation as the leaf shoots can be used to make tea,” Fikri explained.

    The objective of this proposal is to promote the development of gaharu. Instead of having the wood stolen, which doesn’t benefit anyone except the thieves, the idea is to cultivate and sell it legally, which benefits a whole community.

    The Timber Investment Blog is sponsored by Greenwood Management. For more information on investing in Forestry please click here

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