Is Palo Santo Endangered?

At Luna, we have a soft spot in our hearts for Palo Santo, the aromatic wood that’s been used for centuries in traditional and indigenous healing practices. Drawing inspiration from the role that Palo Santo played in her childhood, co-founder Sandra Manay has expanded Luna’s Palo Santo offerings to include everything from incense sticks and jewelry to essential oils. And as she’s grown from smudging Palo Santo sticks in Peru to sharing her love for this magical wood through products on our site, so too has this “Holy Wood” exploded commercially, igniting concerns about the Palo Santo tree’s conservation status.


Because so much of what we do at Luna is rooted in a deep love and respect for our beautiful planet, we’re committed to sustainably sourcing our products in a way that promotes the survival of the species. Palo Santo is no exception. However, amid growing anxiety that Palo Santo is becoming endangered, we wanted to share more about the true nature of this tree, as well as tell you a little about our sustainability efforts.


So, is Palo Santo really endangered? No. In fact, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released a review of Palo Santo’s conservation status in late 2019, declaring it to be “of least concern”. 


Where does the confusion come from, then? The IUCN has declared Palo Santo to be “of least concern” on a global scale; however, national governments also determine a plant’s regional conservation status. This means a plant can be listed as endangered in one country and not another. For example, back in 2005, Palo Santo was listed as endangered. This is no longer the case.


It’s important to remember that while the Palo Santo tree itself isn’t endangered, its natural habitat - tropical dry forests - are even more endangered than rainforests. Tropical dry forests have a dry period (hence their name), allowing people to go in and easily log or clear trees for ranching purposes. Further complicating matters, improper harvesting of Palo Santo could be contributing to the decimation of tropical dry forests and to the Palo Santo species as a whole. Therefore, consumers must ensure that the Palo Santo they’re buying is sustainably and ethically produced. Even better - know where your Palo Santo is coming from.


All of Luna’s Palo Santo products are sustainably extracted from Ecuadorian and Peruvian reserves, harvested after the wood has naturally fallen and left to dry for some time. We responsibly distill our Palo Santo essential oil in a way that promotes the sustainability and reforestation of the tree itself, enabling its continued growth. Furthermore, we utilize our Palo Santo botanicals as a means of supporting the social and economic welfare of local communities, ensuring the highest quality products possible and creating meaningful relationships with those around us. By directly prioritizing the personal connection with our artisans, and leveraging Sandra’s Peruvian background as a means of strengthening trust bonds, it’s our hope that we will empower local artisans to change their communities for the better, creating a positive chain reaction that grows to impact the whole world.


If you have any questions about our sustainable harvesting practices, please visit the FAQs on our site for further information. Or, feel free to DM us at @luna.sundara! We’d love to share more about our passion for the magical Palo Santo wood and are open to answering any questions you may have.


You can also check out the Palo Santo products available on our site HERE.

 

Written by: Brooke Hardington

Photography: Reimond de Luna



August 19, 2020 — Luna Sundara