Papua New Guinea has been referred to as the "Last Frontier" for agarwood (also called eaglewood, oud or gaharu) in natural forests. In PNG, species of Aquilaria and Gyrinops produce agarwood and trees may be found in relatively large numbers at some remote forest locations. The genus, Gyrinops, is closely related to Aquilaria and in the past all species were considered to belong to Aquilaria. Morphological differences suggest to some researchers, however, that Gyrinops is a more appropriate genus to classify the trees growing in PNG. Agarwood was first discovered and harvested here in the late 1990's. Although the harvesting of trees for agarwood began only a few years ago, there are serious concerns that indiscriminate cutting will rapidly deplete the natural Aquilaria and Gyrinops resources as it has in Vietnam and other countries. To prevent this from happening a program for the sustainable production of agarwood has been initiated.
Our work in PNG, in cooperation with the Rainforest Project Foundation and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, includes research and training programs for rural villagers to produce cultivated agarwood. The sustainable management of Papua New Guinea's agarwood will help protect and preserve old growth trees while supplying cultivated agarwood from managed forest sites. Our training programs and workshops are bringing new technology to the people of PNG. Pilot field demonstration sites are being established in four provinces (Central Province, East Sepik Province, Enga Province and the Gulf Province). These research and training efforts are an enormous endeavor and we actively seek new funding sources to carry out this important work. If you or your employer are interested in supporting our efforts, tax deductible donations can be made to a special fund at the University of Minnesota. See the "contributions" page of this web site.
For more general information about the people and natural history of Papua as well as knowledge about other indigenous people of the world see TRIBE, a BBC educational web site.