Atlas Cedar on the Way Out

Jan 19, 04:32 PM

by Katharine Koeppen, RA

Aromaceuticals has recently decided to discontinue carrying atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica). This is in line with our policy of not supporting the sale of essential oils derived from endangered plants.

Atlas cedar hails from its namesake mountains of Morocco, where it has been a staple of the economy for several thousand years. The wood was originally harvested and traded for the construction of ancient temples, tombs, palaces and other important buildings since it is virtually impervious to rot. Today, it is primarily harvested for essential oil distillation and (illegally) by native peoples for use as firewood. Overzealous harvesting, combined with damage to young trees by grazing animals, has caused the Atlas Mountains to lose nearly 40% of their trees over the last 30 years. In addition to cedar, other species such as black pine have suffered devastating losses in the region. A sister species, Lebanon cedar (Cedrus libani) is already virtually extinct.

The World Wildlife Federation has declared the Atlas Mountain conifer forests as critical and endangered areas, along with similar forests in Tunisia and Algeria. Although the Moroccan government has attempted to protect the Atlas Mountains, its efforts at stopping illegal logging have been largely unsuccessful.

Once our current supply of atlas cedar essential oil is depleted, we will not be restocking. Aromaceuticals plans to replace this oil with American cedar (Juniperus species) in the future. If you are seeking atlas cedar, buy now as our stock is running very low.

Retrieved 19 January 2010 from www.cropwatch.org/cedarwood.htm.

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