Illegal tree poaching is destroying the wild incense-tree population of HK

The incense trees that gave Hong Kong its name: “Fragrant Harbour” are being felled!

Poachers seek the trees’ prized fragrant resin. Sadly, Hong Kong’s oldest and largest incense trees are being felled! 

The tree poaching has increased in recent years as the price for resinous wood inside incense trees has drastically increased. For the sake of Asian religions and geomancy, people are prepared to pay a high price for this resinous wood.

According to experts, Aquilaria sinensis secretes resin when wounded. The pale yellow wood then turns into a rich red full of sweet fragrance. To make this happen, poachers “wound” the tree by drilling into its trunk or chopping its base.

First-grade agarwood (resinous wood that forms in some incense trees) is one of the most expensive natural raw materials in the world. The current global market for agarwood is estimated to be in the range of US$6 to 8 billion and is growing rapidly. A kilogramme of agarwood can reach between $13,000 and $120,000.

Apart from trying to catch poachers, the government has been planting trees, around 10,000 every year. But is this measure going to be enough to replace century-old trees?

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