St. Lucia – The Sandals Foundation in Saint Lucia has injected more than EC$106,000 or US$40,000 in a two-year partnership with Fauna and Flora International (FFI) in a bid to deliver effective conservation practices in the island.
The partnership will see the protection and preservation of the endangered Lansan (or incense) tree, unique to Saint Lucia and the Windward Islands.
The Lansan tree has become victim to deforestation and over exploitation for its aromatic white resin – a prized incense used in churches, masquerades, and households.
Some 60 percent of Saint Lucians are said to use Lansan for spiritual, recreational and economical purposes.
In its new alliance, the Sandals Foundation and FFI will look to engage and educate local communities to protect and use the Lansan tree in a sustainable manner while also embracing its significance to local culture and lively hoods.
The overall goal of the undertaking is to ensure that Lansan production is fully sustainable in Saint Lucia and provide significant economic and cultural benefits without endangering wild populations of Lansan trees.
Director of Programs for the Sandals Foundation Heidi Clarke said this initiative is one of the most significant in the arena of environmental protection and awareness ever undertaken by the Sandals Foundation in Saint Lucia.
“We are happy to partner with FFI on this initiative and we are confident that the people of Saint Lucia will not only benefit from the knowledge of preservation, but also from the cultural longevity that education promises to allow for,” Clarke said.
Jonathan Hernould – Environmental Officer for the Sandals Foundation will coordinate the initiative.
Hernould believes that undertakings like these create a sense of awareness and national pride for the islands with Saint Lucia being among the lucky few territories in the world to be home to such an exceptional form of plant life.
“Thousands of these trees stand dead due to current methods of resin tapping in Saint Lucia. We hope that this initiative will allow for a more conservative and sustainable use of this resource,” Hernould said.
Sandals Foundation and FFI will partner from 2016 to 2018 and with the help of the local Forestry Department, the project will be providing training for 50-150 individuals from rural communities – particularly those who use the tree as a means of economic gain. These individuals (Tappers) will also be provided with equipment, licenses and allotted trees to utilize.
The initiative will also look to benefit traders and thousands of consumers of the Lansan tree by ensuring that the product is both lawful and sustainable.
In addition, at least a dozen St. Lucia Forestry Department staff will also receive training and guidance from FFI in mentoring, analysis and management skills.
The program will be executed through a four-stage targeted approach and cemented with a sustainability tactic that will look to directly safeguard and deliver the long term interest of the tappers (persons who harvest Lansan) by enabling them to earn a steady income from collecting Lansan in a sustainable way.
According to researchers, Saint Lucia has the largest remaining population of the endangered Lansan tree, in the Caribbean.