SINGAPORE, Nov. 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- In an era when tales of environmental degradation and the endangerment of species seem to be ubiquitous, it's heart-warming to unearth a story which demonstrates how nature and modern technology can combine effortlessly to preserve the status of a mystical -- and hugely valuable -- natural substance.
Where on earth are the writers of Cache Journal going with this, I hear you shout? Well, the natural substance we're talking about is Oud -- a product renowned for its medicinal qualities as well as its extraordinarily rich fragrance.
As with many highly priced and highly sought after substances, natural Oud is in short supply, but, thanks to the efforts of companies such as Asia Plantation Capital -- who have ploughed millions of dollars into scientific research to ensure that they produce only 100% pure, natural Oud on their own plantations -- the future once again looks bright for a product regularly referred to as 'liquid gold'.
Described as the 'fragrance of the 21st Century' by perfume industry cognoscenti, Oud or 'Agarwood', as it is also known, has been the 'flavour of the month' for more months than does the phrase credit. It is the ingredient of choice for all the world's top fragrance producers who recognise the extraordinary qualities of a substance that was born in nature, and predates human civilisation.
Oud is produced when the inner heartwood of the Aquilaria tree is affected by a mould or fungus, which precipitates a complicated chemical reaction.
The mould turns the wood into something quite magical, as the tree's natural defence mechanisms kick in and react, to create a dark, aromatic resin. Some bright spark, at some point, must have noticed the difference and, for whatever reason (after a perfunctory smell, perhaps), decided to apply heat.
The result was a delicious, almost intoxicating fragrance that proved irresistible. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Agarwood, and the Oud oil that comes from it after the process of distillation, is referenced, frequently, in the world's oldest written texts, the Sanskrit Vedas, and is mentioned in the Testaments, both Old and New.
It also appears in the Sahih Muslim, which dates back more than 1,200 years, and appears to have crossed all religious barriers when it comes to being an element in ceremonial rites and practices.
As with most remarkable substances, irrespective of their natural occurrence, anything that is special and in high demand comes at a price, and mankind's seemingly insatiable desire for the wood and the oil derived from it has led to an illegal trade, and the endangerment of the tree species.
The Aquilaria tree is now on the CITES' (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) endangered list -- such has been the voracious appetite for Agarwood and Oud, and the indiscriminate logging that has attended a market in which demand constantly outstrips supply.
Had certain parties not intervened, it would not be unreasonable to suggest that the Aquilaria tree and its precious inner cargo could have been lost to the world, forever.
Fortunately though, help has been at hand, and mankind's ingenuity has stepped up to the plate at an important time. Aquilaria trees are being replanted in some areas in their native Southeast Asia, while regulatory bodies are taking a keener interest in preventing illegal trade, and science is playing its part in the rejuvenation of the species.
The resin that produces Oud only occurs in about 7% of trees in the wild, but it's impossible to tell an infected tree from an uninfected tree at a glance. The only reliable way of ascertaining the inherent value of the tree (the wood itself is pale and light, and of no great practical use) is to chop the tree down. This means that more than 90 out of every 100 trees felled will simply be discarded and left to rot. It's not difficult to understand why the species is endangered.
Scientists, however, have found a way of cultivating the trees, and ensuring that they produce Agarwood, by inoculating them with the mould that produces the necessary chemical reaction to produce the valuable resin. With infection rates at 100%, it means no wastage, and a guaranteed production of the ingredient that is so important to so many people.
It might be sobering for some to be forced to accept the intervention of science as a means of preserving a natural species, but such are the times in which we live. Even nature needs a helping hand sometimes, and if we take at least a share of the responsibility for having caused the scenario in the first place, it seems reasonable to use the resources at our disposal to improve the situation and make redress.
Asia Plantation Capital are leading the way in replanting the Aquilaria species, and inoculating trees with the proprietorial (and patented) technologies that have taken millions of dollars and thousands of Scientific Advisory Board man-hours to conceive and arrive at.
And Asia Plantation Capital's investment has certainly paid off; proven grades of purity and consistently high quality oils are regularly being produced from the trees they own and manage on their own plantations.
What we've discovered at Cache Journal is that Oud still plays an important part in the culture and religious rites of billions of people. And now that the tree species is back on its 'feet' and recovering its rightful place in natural history, we need to ensure that 'eternal' is a word we can ascribe to our continued usage and enjoyment of the magical substance that is Oud.
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About Cache Journal
Cache Journal delivers a rich blend of investment expertise and lifestyle features in one beautifully crafted package. We cover the full spectrum when it comes to investing money, in terms of who is doing what, how and why. We also appreciate the need to enjoy the fruits of our labour, and this will be reflected in our features on lifestyle and luxury goods. Cache will be serious when it matters, but not too serious when it doesn't.
About Asia Plantation Capital
Established officially in 2008 (although operating privately since 2002), Asia Plantation Capital is the owner and operator of a diverse range of commercial plantation and farming businesses across the Asia-Pacific region and around the world, and is part of the Asia Plantation Capital Group of associated companies.
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