The essential oil industries worldwide are presently dependent upone the unsustainable harvesting of wild forest trees. Many areas of the world's natural forests have suffered serious losses to their ecosystems through extraction of timber. However, a far more serious problem is degradation through conversion of the land to other uses. For instance, in the 5 million square kilometer Brazilian Amazon forest, approximately 12% of the forest has heen lost to other uses since the 1960s and subsequently, some 50% of this land has been abandoned.
In a project begun in 1989, the United Kingdom’s Overseas Development Administration (ODA) and Brazil’s Para Faculty of Agricultural Sciences (FCAP)—located in Belem at the mouth of the Amazon River--cooperated in research to identify crop packages appropriate for sustainable management, in the frail soils of the Amazon region. Ideally these crop packages could be employed in both settled farming and in the rehabilitation of degraded forest land. One of the crops evaluated was Brazilian rosewood tree, which was selected for several reasons: