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Sarip Simamora, Aek Lung, North Sumatra, Indonesia

“After the trees were cut down and replaced with eucalyptus plantations, the benzoin tree resin yield decreased and eventually we stopped collecting benzoin resin because Toba Pulp Lestari (TPL) intimidated us. We ask that we can work on our land to make a living and provide education for our children.”

Answer

For generations, Indigenous Batak communities have planted benzoin trees in the forests on their traditionally-owned lands and have sustainably harvested the tree’s resin for an incense similar to frankincense. For many, this is a significant cultural practice and the primary source of income. Since pulp giant Toba Pulp Lestari (TPL) took over communities’ land for its pulp plantation, many benzoin trees have been cut down, directly threatening the livelihoods of many communities.  


Photo of Onan Harbangan from Nagasaribu with a benzoin tree sapling ready for planting in the forest.

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