Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 551967
Title Frankincense in peril
Author(s) Bongers, Frans; Groenendijk, Peter; Bekele, Tesfaye; Birhane, Emiru; Damtew, Abebe; Decuyper, Mathieu; Eshete, Abeje; Gezahgne, Alemu; Girma, Atkilt; Khamis, Mohamed A.; Lemenih, Mulugeta; Mengistu, Tefera; Ogbazghi, Woldeselassie; Sass-Klaassen, Ute; Tadesse, Wubalem; Teshome, Mindaye; Tolera, Motuma; Sterck, Frank J.; Zuidema, Pieter A.
Source Nature Sustainability 2 (2019). - ISSN 2398-9629 - p. 602 - 610.
DOI https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-019-0322-2
Department(s) Forest Ecology and Forest Management
PE&RC
Laboratory of Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2019
Abstract The harvest of plant parts and exudates from wild populations contributes to the income, food security and livelihoods of many millions of people worldwide. Frankincense, an aromatic resin sourced from natural populations of Boswellia trees and shrubs, has been cherished by world societies for centuries. Boswellia populations are threatened by over-exploitation and ecosystem degradation, jeopardizing future resin production. Here, we reveal evidence of population collapse of B. papyrifera—now the main source of frankincense—throughout its geographic range. Using inventories of 23 populations consisting of 21,786 trees, growth-ring data from 202 trees and demographic models on the basis of 7,246 trees, we find that over 75% of studied populations lack small trees, natural regeneration has been absent for decades, and projected frankincense production will be halved in 20 yr. These changes are caused by increased human population pressure on Boswellia woodlands through cattle grazing, frequent burns and reckless tapping. A literature review showed that other Boswellia species experience similar threats. Populations can be restored by establishing cattle exclosures and fire-breaks, and by planting trees and tapping trees more carefully. Concerted conservation and restoration efforts are urgently needed to secure the long-term availability of this iconic product.
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