Increasing the Awareness against the Deforestation of the “Palo Santo” Tree

    A plant species of much spiritual value to our native tribes

    A situation is being presented worldwide, which in repeated circumstances has been denounced by experts. It has to do with deforestation without a measure of the “Palo Santo” tree.

    The Palo Santo, better known as “Bursera graveolens”, is a species of the Burseraceae (plant) family, which grows in dry forests in much of tropical America on the Pacific coast of South America. They are trees, which reach a size of 4 to 10 m high, smooth bark, gray, non-exfoliating, pinnate leaves, up to 27.5 cm long and 13 cm wide.

    In southern Ecuador, in the Province of Loja, essential oil is currently produced from the Palo Santo fruit, it is a 100% environmentally friendly project since it does not affect the tree; its fruit is harvested only in the winter season and the essential oil is produced by steam carryover. Currently, this product is exported to markets such as the United States, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, France, Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile, among others.

    The resinous wood of Palo Santo is used by the shamans of several South American tribes, such as the Aymara, Quechua, Jíbaros, Manteña, Machalilla, Valdivia and Inca cultures that use its smoke and oil for therapeutic purposes. The essential oil is light yellow and has a citrus perfume; it is appreciated for its properties. It is used cases of neuralgia, menorrhagia, and cold and as a diuretic. To obtain the essential oils through steam distillation, the tree must die on its own and dry for a minimum of 40 years. Recent studies showed that cutting down a tree and leaving it drying for the same period does not obtain therapeutic grade oil.

    The situation and its explanations.

    The current situation with the Palo Santo tree, and the reason why from the “Elemental Spirit” Organization, they decided to stop selling this product, is mainly the danger of extinction in which it is found. “Those who sell or buy are participating in its deforestation. In Ecuador and Peru, it is illegal to cut or damage live trees, but it is almost impossible to enforce”, declared a representative of the eco-organization.

    Palo Santo trees should be treated with respect and reverence and should never be cut. The highest aromatic and therapeutic qualities of its wood can only fully develop in the heartwood of trees that died naturally and have remained in the forest floor from four to ten years.

    Currently, there is a great demand in the world market and those who sell the wood to obtain immediate economic benefits with the Tree by cutting and harvesting dead as well as living trees with no regard to the rest period are causing severe deforestation of the Palo Santo.

    People are consuming this product at a much faster rate than what can be produced by nature. It doesn’t matter if the wood you buy claims to be “sustainably” harvested or not. There are not enough naturally fallen trees to meet global demand!

    If you buy Palo Santo wood from any source, then you are contributing to its deforestation driven by an economic incentive. “It is pure predative economy and the worst of capitalism for profit”, says members of “Elemental Spirit”.

    Finally, if the rate of Palo Santo consumption, there will be no ancient trees left to die naturally in a few years. Female trees live between 50 and 60 before dying naturally; male trees live at least 200 years before dying naturally. Greater awareness is to give greater love and protection to the planet and the wonderful biodiversity that makes it up.

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    SOURCEAnger Stoneer
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