Earlier this week I received a PR email about Frankincense from the lovely Adele at Neal’s Yard. I thought in February it was a little early to be promoting something to directly associated with Christmas, but reading on my interest was immediately piqued by the details in her letter. I had no idea how ‘endangered’ frankincense had become, or indeed even where it comes from…
Frankincense resin, lauded for its rejuvenation properties and heady scent, has been a hero ingredient in many of Neal’s Yards much-loved products since the early eighties, through to the latest Frankincense Intense Hand Serum which launches at the end of this month, but behind this opulent scent, overtapping and threat by man and beast, has seen the Boswellia scara tree – from which the resin is sourced –become scarce, where it is now listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of ‘near threatened’ species. Neal’s Yard have been working to source the most sustainable Frankincense, and with their conservation initiative, Project Frankincense, aims to take consumers on a journey into a world of truly sustainable provenance, while promoting ways to preserve and improve the natural ecosystems that produce frankincense essential oil, whilst simultaneously safeguarding the wellbeing and livelihood of collectors and producers in Oman.
Leasing a nursery site in Shasar, in Southern Dhofar, for the past ten years and planting 5,000 seedlings per year, germinating them from seeds which are collected from the wadis that Neal’s Yard has had organically certified, the team have also been harnessing indigenous knowledge about the Boswellia sacra and working closely with the local community. Project Frankincense is aspiring to help re-establish equity in a trade that has lost some of its allure within a shifting economy. Adele tells me that if Project Frankincense can create a roadmap for low-impact yet high-yield harvesting – and do so in a sustainable fashion that others can (and already are) easily follow – then frankincense can be viewed as a potentially viable and profitable career path for future generations.
By inviting consumers in at the very beginning, with the first batch of tiny Boswellia sacra seedlings that have only just been planted, to witness the ups and downs it’s a story for the here and now, but also for the future; a timeless and collaborative initiative to sustainably manage, produce, sell and protect frankincense in Oman for future generations.
If you’re interested to learn more, click here and follow the content on socials with the tag: #PROJECTFRANKINCENSE