Black Spruce

Picea mariana

Black spruce oil is a by-product of the logging industry in Canada. Due to government management oversight, the species is generally sustainable.

Biology

Black Spruce is a dense-wooded conifer, living up to 300 years. The trees grow in the boreal forests of North America and constitute a significant amount of the forest in Quebec, Canada.

Harvesting

Trees are cut from the forest and transported to the side of the logging road, where they are stripped of their branches and cut into appropriate sections for transport. The branches, which are not used by the logging companies, are piled along the side of the road and left.

Distribution

Companies have issues getting sufficient timber supply while also protecting the forest from excessive destruction, thus balancing economics against ecological requirements is essential.

Sustainability

After the logging industry has stripped the branches, the useable materials are collected from leftover piles. After distillation, the remaining material (wood/needle chips) is then put back into the cogeneration facility to produce more steam. The distillation is approximately net-zero with regard to steam consumption; that is, the post-distillation biomass produces roughly as much steam as is used in the distillation.

Our Work

Dr. DeCarlo has worked with growers in Somaliland and Ethiopia to determine the issues that face the frankincense trees and the opportunities for growth. Finding several over-harvested trees, Dr. DeCarlo saw that the trees are dying due to the increased demand for the resin. Her proposal for sustainable frankincense requires implementing forest protection and enforcement.

Dr. DeCarlo worked in Canada to determine the current status of black spruce. Sustainability measures are already implemented due to government oversight of timber harvesting. While the collection of black spruce for essential oil production is relatively sustainable as a byproduct of the logging industry, the species is still in high demand for lumber.

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