To All Incense and natural Perfume Producers,
We are writing this letter to call attention to the urgent need forincense and natural perfume producers and to give attention to the endangered status and ecological ramifications of the plant materials utilized in the manufacture of aromatic products. As we all know, the world is becoming very small, and wild plants are being harvested in unsustainable quantities.We recognize that we are only a small part of the overall problem.Deforestation and habitat loss occurs for many reasons throughout much of the Earth. The use of aromatic materials in many countries is more pervasive than their use in the United States. Notwithstanding this truth, we would like to see us become part of the solution. Too much incense, essential oils, and other aromatic products are produced from endangered plants. Too many incense and natural perfume sites fail to take into account the ecological ramifications of the sell or use. We must do more than just giving lip service to the problem. We all need to be ecologically responsible for as PablosAmaringo has so eloquently stated:
"And all human beings should also put effort into the preservation and conservation of the rainforest and care for it and the ecosystem, because damage to these not only prejudices the flora andfauna, but humanity itself."
I believe Pablo Amaringo would agree that hisstatement's intent, applies to all natural ecosystems. Love Earth as we desire to beloved, be responsible citizens of Earth.
It is up to us to change the way we do business. It is us that can best educate the consumer of these products. Our future and the earth's future is at stake. If we continue to conduct business without an ecological consciousness, then we fail to be responsible citizens of Earth. Earth is our home. The harvesting of aromatic plant material impacts many plant communities significantly. The collection of extinction in Nepal(See p 138 of SHAMANISM AND TANTRA IN THE HIMALAYASby Ebeling, Ratsch, and Shahi), India and in many other locations.Many plants have already succumbed to our desire. Silphium, the most treasured of all aromatics, was long ago harvested to extinction. The Roman emperor, Nero could harvest but one specimen in the 1st centuryA.D. Many others have also disappeared such as Juan Fernandezsandalwood (1908) and Illex gardneriana holly (1997). Even if the plant has not been harvested to extinction, if it is desirable, the demand may endanger it. This is the situation today for many wild plants that become the focus of our desire. Even in the United States some species of aromatic plants are endangered in certain locations.Two that come to mind immediately are sweetgrass and white sage.Although much of the problem stems from habitat loss, both species of plants are very susceptible to losses from over-harvesting.
We the harvesting by demanding responsible wild harvested plant materials and, wherever possible, farmed, preferably organic farmed plant materials. We realize that in many cases the price for wild harvested plant materials is artificially low, making it impossible to competitively produce farmed plant materials. We also realize that farming is not the full solution. Farming uses space that was once wild. We must seek a balanced approach that creates incentives to save the wild. We need the wild, andonlyresponsible wild harvesting can preserveecosystems. We must remember that these plants resources are limited.In the past most local plants were used locally. Only the wealthy could afford the exotic. The following poem attributed to SaintIsidore captures this nicely:
"Aromas that Arabian alters and Indus breathe, mercantilepracticesThat the waves of the Ionian sea have borne:Cinnamon, myrrh, Indian leaf and cassia, Balsam, incense, calamus" These are found in the spice-stores of great kings, And the house overflowing with riches.We poor people make do with the simple herbs of the fields,That the low valleys and high passes bear."
Today there are many more well mercantile practices have developed markets around the globe. No desirable plant is safe from our desire. It is up to us to protect thesevaluableplants. If we all do our part, we can make a difference.
Let's assume you want to help conserve incense plants. How can you findoutwhich plants are endangered and which are safe to use.There are many sources of information as relates to the status ofdifferent plant species of which we list some important sources below:
United Plant Savers Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website:http://unitedplantsavers.org/index.php
Herb Alert Email: email@example.com Website: www
United Nations Convention on the International Trade inEndangeredSpecies (CITES) gives list of endangered species.
Vida Verde Association of Amazonia (AVIVE) for sustainable Amazon rainforest products Website: www.avive.org.br
IUCN World Conservation Red List of ThreatenedSpeciies
Cropwatch Website: cropwatch.org This websitegiveslist of threatened species.
Google Medicinal and aromatic plant conservation at Purdue andRutgersUniversities for information on specific plants and geographies.
We want to thank you for reading this letter. We would like youtoconsider the value of forming a guild of ethical aromatics producersthat the consumer can easily consult for assistance in purchasingaromatic plant products. What do you think? Please give us feedback.
Rosanna Tartaro,Katlyn Breene,Nathaniel Musselman,Mark Ambrose, andJohn Yager, Members of the Aromatic Plant Conservation