Sustainable Living Through Gaharu

Gaharu came from Sanskrit word “agaru” which means heavy. Gaharu refers to the highly prized dark (and dense) oleoresin produce by the tree defense mechanism to fend off pathogens in case of fungal infection or natural wounding.
This resinous material (or “Lugu” as it’s known to Sabahan) had been used for centuries as incense, perfumes and in traditional medicine. It is a highly demanded commodity in many countries and thus making agarwood as one of
the most expensive wood in the world.

The tree (agarwood) that produces gaharu is the Aquilaria species, such as Aquilaria malaccensis (known by the Dusun-Kadazan in Kota Belud and Keningau as “Tindot” or “Alas” by the Tatana tribe of Kuala Penyu or kapoyo by the Lundayoh tribe) and A. beccariana (known as “buayo”). The tindot trees are used by the Tatana as material for making dug out canoe (due to its soft wood), fences and coffin (due to its aromatic properties).

Interestingly not all tindot trees produce resin and it is difficult for the inexperienced to tell if a tree contains agarwood or not. The only way to find out if the tree contains gaharu is to cut down the tree. Therefore there’s been extensive harvesting and indiscriminate felling that the tree is endanger of becoming extinct in the wild.

Concern with the possibility of this valuable tree going extinct, Borneo Conservancy and Sudah Gaharu Sdn Bhd has form a partnership to promote sustainable livelihood through Gaharu in which we will share our expertise and simultaneously engaging in conservation work in towards the sustainability of agarwood.


Economist Dr James Alin checking visiting sites


Local community participation in replanting