Thesis Title: Non-timber forest product (NTFP) extraction in arid environments: Land-use change, frankincense production and the sustainability of Boswellia sacra in Dhofar (Oman)
Author: Mohamud Haji Farah
Frankincense, a much revered non-timber forest product (NTFP) known as luban in Oman, is a gum-resin extracted from Boswellia sacra (meqerot). In Oman, B. sacra is endemic to ecological zones in and around Dhofar's southern mountain ranges of Jabal Samhan, Jabal Qamar and Jabal Qara. Hojar (Samhan Nejd), Nejd (Qara Nejd), Shazr (Qamar Nejd) and Sha'b are the four B. sacra ecological zones. A suffix (i) after the name (i.e. Hojari or Samhan Nejdi) is indicative of the luban produced in or associated with the respective zone. Traditional Omani B. sacra ownership, management, organization, and frankincense extraction are based on a land parcel system known as menzela. The 1970's oil boom attracted rural labor to urban and oil operation centers in Dhofar and other provinces, thus creating a labor shortage that had a profound transformative impact on frankincense production. This transformation caused frankincense extraction to evolve from an Omani-controlled system to a Somali-dominated hybrid system. Migrant Somali harvesters predominantly control the production and processing of frankincense in the field. Similarly, wholesalers occupy the next rung up the production ladder are the most powerful players in the frankincense industry. Dhofar has a long history of non-timber forest product (NTFP) extraction. From April to mid-June 1999, luban production in the Hojari/Nejdi zone of the study area was estimated at 8,710 kg with a seasonal projection of 24,840kg-30,360kg. B. sacra, a single or multiple stem shrub restricted to wadis in arid environments in or around the Dhofar Mountains, can be found at elevations from 60m above sea level in Wadi Adonib on the coastal plains to 1,770m above sea level in Wadi Kharish (a branch of Wadi Qobyr) in jabal Samhan). Land-use and landcover changes in Dhofar are threatening the fragile stability of B. sacra habitats. Frankincense trees on easily accessible flat or gently sloping terrain are susceptible to stress and mortality from harvesting, grazing and mining, while trees on cliffs and steep slopes are less vulnerable to the effects of these land-use activities.