hong kong trees

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the incense tree

The Incense Tree (Aquilaria sinensis / 土沉香/牙香樹) is a tree native to Hong Kong that has become endangered in recent years.

 

Trees of the genus Aquilaria produce a dark aromatic resin at wounds as a reaction against fungal infection. Sections of tree trunks or branches that contain patches of such fragrant, resinous wood enter into the trade under the name “agarwood” (沉香木). Incense Tree, A. sinensis is a major source of such premium-priced agarwood, which are mainly used as sculpting materials and perfume ingredient in Mainland China. The balm (resin) produced and accumulated from the wood is also traditionally utilised as a precious Chinese medicine called “Chen Xiang” (沉香). The strong monetary incentive for harvesting has led to a sharp decline in the wild population of large Incense Tree in Southern China.

 

A. sinensis is currently categorised as “vulnerable” in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List of Threatened Plants. The genus Aquilaria is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).Hong Kong witnessed an increasing trend of illegal felling of Incense Tree from 2010 to 2015.

Cases of illegal felling and cutting of Incense Tree were reported in different regions of Hong Kong such as Sai Kung, Sha Tin, Sha Tau Kok, Tai Po, Lantau Island, Lamma Island and Hong Kong Island.

 

At ABLE, we have made strong efforts to re-populate the Incence Tree in the Lamma Forest after illegal poaching.

Given that the populations in Hong Kong represent some of the best remaining healthy populations of the species, this Species Action Plan (SAP) has been devised by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department to provide a pragmatic framework of conservation measures to achieve the long-term viability and sustainability of the local Incense Tree populations..