Somaliland, on the east coast of Africa, is often a case study for the effects of climate change. The constant changing weather patterns give rise to livestock die-offs, locust plagues, internally displaced refugees, as well as security issues.
One source of income over generations has been frankincense, which is tapped from the frankincense tree (Bosewllia carterii). But with landscapes rapidly turning lifeless and keeping cattle and sheep becoming impossible, frankincense is now a main source of income; an increase in harvesters is devastating the health of the frankincense trees, where instead of 'tears of gold', these trees are crying 'tears of red', an indicator of poor health in the tree itself. The longevity of frankincese is now a real concern.
Simon Constantine has been a perfumer for nearly two decades, and has long been aware of the issues within modern perfumery. Its art form has moved towards cheap, synthetic ingredients, and those more natural ingredients used are not done so with care for the landscape, the local farmers or future generations. Simon explains: "Now after 20 years I can see that there are some glimpses of something new, as many people are waking up to the issues of climate and ecological breakdown, so too are the new buds of natural perfumery and trends towards incorporating a greater connection to the natural world. For me this has been a journey that I’m happy to be on too, asking the question ‘how perfumery can act as a positive tool to help connect us to a better world?’ It’s this I had in mind when I began the concept for ånd fragrance."
And with that, five fragrances were born, including Frånk, a fragrance that combines Somaliland Frankincense into a fine fragrance to support communities directly through trade.
Simon felt that wasn’t enough and has decided to donate 20% of ånd fragrance’s total Christmas sales to support Frankincense nurseries to help ensure both its survival and that of the communities who rely on it. This campaign is just the first step for ånd in their commitment to supporting those whose lives depend on Frankincense.
"This brilliantly beautiful region is epic in every way possible. In true biblical style it’s home to Frankincense, myrrh and even gold. Equally the ravages of drought, disease and locust plagues continue to kick the people and land at a time when they need support the most.
"Somaliland has repeatedly been cited as the case study for the impacts of climate change. Peoples’ livelihoods rely on the land (the majority of communities being pastoral herders); however, since 2015, prolonged drought led to disastrous die offs of animals, leaving thousands to settle in internally displaced refugee (IDP) camps. Frankincense provides a lifeline for many communities.
"After ‘tapping’ with a cut to its bark, the Frankincense tree provides golden tears of resin. As both rain and money dry up, the trees are tapped to the point of exhaustion and possibly death, another knock on effect of climate change. And so here is the solution...a series of small scale community nurseries that begin to rebalance the situation. Growing hardy frankincense trees for the future. As these begin to flourish, it’s our plan to work with communities to create further opportunities using cutting edge growing techniques to restore and regenerate these drylands.
"It would be great if we could give something back to Frankincense this Christmas, For Frånk’s Sake!”
[Editor's note: A PM team member recently purchased the Måd fragrance (vanilla grown in Madagascar, to support wildlife and agroforestry) and said, "It smells absolutely divine!"]