Our actions

Styrax in Honduras

Capacity building for 2 producer groups / approx. 50 producers

Improved revenue for producers:
+ 142%

Social fund projects:
Improved healthcare center, new school, community stores

Tree nurseries for reforestation

Legal framework established:
Producer registration and forest management plans

Recognition and respect of Pech indigenous rights
on lands and in balsam collection

Pech federation won the UNDP 2017 Equator Prize
for their sustainability program

CENTRAL AMERICA’S “LIQUID AMBER”

Styrax is the term for the resin from the wild tree poetically named Liquidambar styraciflua. In the perfume and cosmetics industries, styrax is used in essential-oil or resin form, particularly in the United States and Europe: home fragrance, aromatherapy, cosmetics, aromas, etc. Although the tree is found in several Central American countries, styrax is only collected and produced in Honduras.

 

AN UNSTABLE AND UNSUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION CONTEXT

In 2011, the NRSC was made aware of the threats facing the supply chain. The harvest of styrax resin is encountering major sustainability challenges: lack of a legal framework for the activity, market instability, lack of job security for collectors, lack of producer organization. Furthermore, poor management of the forest resource directly linked to overexploitation of cattle breeding is leading the government to consider making this area a national park. Such a decision could eliminate the only source of income for indigenous communities who have lived on these lands for generations – yet another obstacle to improved living conditions for the local communities, whose savoir-faire is vastly undervalued.

HELPING STRUCTURE THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Preserving the culture, traditions, savoir-faire, and practices of indigenous communities is one of the founding principles of the NRSC. In keeping with that principle, a pilot project was financed from 2012 through 2016 in collaboration with the German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH (GIZ) and the Honduran Foundation for Agricultural Research (FHIA). The main objective of the implemented program was to support establishing and managing producer associations and defining and applying the best extraction practices to minimize tree damage and improve yields. Producers were also trained in workplace health and safety measures.

Working with the Honduran government, we collectively created a styrax stakeholder registry and defined best practices in forest management to ensure the ecosystem’s sustainability.

This program has also supported the claims of the Pech people, the ancient local community that has been harvesting liquidambar for generations. In 2016, the government, realizing the economic risks and prospects surrounding these communities, at last decided to protect their lands and activities by creating an anthropological reserve.

In 2017, the Honduran Pech community received the Equator Prize from the United Nations Development Program in recognition of its social and environmental commitment.

BIRTH OF A VIRTUOUS CIRCLE

By supporting formalization of a transparent, fair, and more sustainable Honduran styrax supply chain, producers have seen a significant increase in their revenues. By virtue of this increase, producer associations have been able to reinvest a portion of their earnings in projects with high social value. This has made it possible to build schools, improve healthcare centers, construct administrative buildings, and gain recognition from national and international institutions for their activities and savoir-faire.