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A Mission in Maharashtra to Save the Tree from which Dhoop or Incense Sticks Are Made

Dhoop or incense is an essential part of all Hindu pujas. It is common that we rarely bother to find out how the dhoop is made or from which tree is the resin extracted. Dhoop or Incense Sticks are made from the resin extracted from Black Dammar (canarium strictum) trees. But sadly due to human greed and over exploitation this tree is on the verge of extinction in Maharashtra.

Times of India writes

At present, there are just five Black Dammar (canarium strictum) trees in the state," Ankur Patwardhan, head of the bio-diversity department, Garware College, told TOI. Asked the reason for this catastrophic decline in number, Patwardhan said, "The main reason is inhuman practices like cutting or burning of these trees, as these trees have good market value. Another reason is unsustainable harvesting."

Patwardhan is working on a project for the re-introduction of these trees in their natural habitat. According to him, the trees grow well only in crest line areas. The first phase of the plantation project was carried out at Amba Ghat near Shahuwadi, Kolhapur district, in September.

"Samplings of the tree were developed in a nursery at Jeur village, Pune. After two years, the trees were planted," he said, "Continuous monitoring of the growth of these trees will be carried out and we are considering using a Geographical Mapping System (GPS)."

The forest department and Ranva, a city-based group of nature-lovers, is behind the project. Data collection is being carried out by MSc students from Garware college.

According to Amruta Joglekar, a member of Ranva, the project began in 2006.
"Our work is purely voluntary. We involve the local people in the project and teach them about the survival of the trees and their reintroduction," she said.

Prakash Bagwadi, range forest officer of Shahuwadi, confirmed that there were just five Black Dammar trees left in the state, "Of these, two are in the Shahuwadi region and three are in the Koyna region," he said. "The new trees have been planted in my jurisdiction. The area is on a high altitude, which should be conducive to their growth."

If you are interested in reading more about Black Dammar (canarium strictum) trees, you can find it in this research paper on Black Dammar in Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.