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Archaeological wood

  Cultivating agarwood in Bhutan
Agarwood from Bhutan is said to be among the best in the world but there are very few Aquilaria trees left and naturally occurring agarwood from forests is no longer available. After discussions with officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, we established an experimental study in a plantation of Aquilaria trees located in southern Bhutan to demonstrate our methods of agarwood inducement. Techniques used were those that have been proven to work in other countries. The Minister of Agriculture, Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup, the Secretary of Agriculture Dasho Sangay Thinley and other Ministry officials have reviewed the results of the trials and an expanded cooperative project is now being developed. We are now in the process of securing funding from foundations, individuals and international agencies to bring this technology to the farmers of southern Bhutan. This will provide a sustainable production of agarwood, a new source of income for the farmers and the extraordinary agarwood from Bhutan will once again be available for use in traditional Bhutanese medicine and as an incense and oil. Contributions to this important work can be made on line. See contributions page for details.

Cut section of a plantation grown Aquilaria tree that has been treated to produce agarwood. The tree has a large area of resin that formed throughtout the tree. Mr. Dorji Gyaltshen from the Council of RNR Research of Bhutan is holding one of the experiemental trees harvested from southern Bhutan.

Agarwood cut from one of the experimental trees is shown in this photo. The agarwood contained considerable amounts of resin (dark areas in the wood) and had an excellent aroma when burned.

His excellancy Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup, the Minister of Agricuture for Bhutan, meeting with Professor Blanchette and Joel Jurgens from the University of Minnesota. The government of Bhutan has given strong support to our cooperative research efforts.

Ministry of Agriculture officials from Bhutan, Dasho Sangay Thinley, the Secretary of Agriculture; Dasho Dawa Tshering, the Director General for Forestry and Dr Pema Choephyel, the Director for the Council of RNR Research meeting with Professor Blanchette and Joel Jurgens to plan for the continuation of the agarwood project for Bhutan.

One of the few large Aquilaria trees remaining in Bhutan. Trees such as this serve to supply seed for plantations. Cultivated agarwood will help to protect endangered old growth trees since agarwood can now be produced as a crop in young plantation grown trees.

Scanning electron micrograph of a cross section from agarwood cut out of an experimental tree. Large amounts of resin can be seen filling the wood cells. The resin contains aromatic terpenes and other compounds that give the wood its exceptional fragrance.
D. B. Chhetri, the forest pathologist and entomologist for Bhutan, works closely with us on these cooperative research projects.
Staff from the Council for RNR Research, including Dorji Gyaltshen, Karma Pelden and Kuenzang Dhendup, evaluating agarwood produced in the experimental trees.
Forests of Bhutan contain tremendous diversity and are being conserved by the government. Cultivated agarwood provides a sustainable way to produce a valuable forest product in home gardens and small plantations without loss of the natural resource.

Links to:

General information on our agarwood research

Additional photographs of Aquilaria and agarwood formation

Cultivated agarwood project in Papua New Guinea

©2006 Robert A. Blanchette