A few times a month, Marhana leaves the village of Krui in southern Sumatra and journeys deep into the woods. Then she finds a tree, lined with triangular holes, each hole dripping with crystalized sap. Marhana (like many Indonesians, she uses only a first name) takes a woven rattan rope and lassos up the tree, climbing higher and higher, chipping away at the sap using a tiny pickaxe. "This is the damar," she says in Indonesian, as she looks at the golden droppings. Marhana may see damar as her way to make a living, but agriculture experts see this rare commodity as something bigger. They see damar as a sort of anti-palm oil — a model to combat deforestation and climate change. Damar isn’t a global household-name, but in Sumatra it goes way back. In the 1800s, Dutch colonists used the sap to bind their wood boats for sea journeys. Today damar is used in varnishes, paints, and cosmetics. According to the UN, Indonesia exports tens of thousands of tons of damar and other resins each year . But compared to Indonesia’s monthly exports of palm oil, that’s not so whopping. According to the Indonesian Palm Oil Organization, or […]

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