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‘Liquid gold’ rush endangers Region 8 forest: DENR

EXPENSIVE WOOD. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Director Crizaldy Barcelo on Thursday (September 26, 2019) shows a piece of wood from Lapnisan tree cut by poachers in Southern Leyte in search of the expensive agarwood. In the country, the first class agarwood is traded at PHP750,000 per kilogram.

TACLOBAN CITY — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has expressed concern over indiscriminate cutting of trees in Eastern Visayas (Region 8)  in search of agarwood, one of the world’s most expensive natural raw material.

DENR Regional Director Crizaldy Barcelo said some traders from Mindanao have been coming to the region, expressing their intention to buy agarwood — sometimes described as liquid gold — extracted from host trees locally known as Lapnisan and Lanete.

“In the Philippines, we don’t have technologies to find out if the host tree has agarwood. This lucrative trade resulted in indiscriminate poaching of potential host trees,” Barcelo told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday.

The DENR official warned those planning to cut Lapnisan and Lanete trees that they will face charges for violation of the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines and Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.

From June to early August this year, authorities have already confiscated 13.58 kilograms of agarwood with an estimated value of PHP1.33 million. Several claimants have been facing charges for this illegal trade.

The team from DENR, police, and military seized expensive forest products in Abuyog, Leyte; Silago, Southern Leyte; and Babatngon, Leyte.

On August 27, the DENR regional office here formed the Agarwood Watch and Response Team to formulate procedures and implement suitable courses of action to address relevant issues from the arrest of violators, administrative adjudication, filing and disposition of cases.

“We asked our enforcement team in Samar and Biliran provinces to be on alert because we received reports of plans to expand agarwood search in other provinces of the region,” Barcelo added.

“People in the communities are tempted to engage in this illegal activity since agar is the most expensive wood in the world and considered as liquid gold.

”In the country, the first class agarwood is traded at PHP750,000 per kilogram. The resin-embedded wood is valued in Arabic-middle eastern culture for its distinctive fragrance and used for incense and perfumes.

Agarwood is a fragrant dark resinous wood and is used as incense, perfume ingredient, and also in small carvings. Agarwood forms when such trees as Lapnisan and Lanete become infected with a type of mold.

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