Not a Myth - a Misunderstanding

palo santo incense wood stick third eye wood

Peaceful Palo People

Thank you for your concern over the longevity and sustainability of our precious Palo Santo. Let’s alleviate any confusion or debate circulating around its status as an endangered species. First, I want to establish that THIRD EYE WOOD sells only B. graveolens that is certified to be sustainably harvested in cooperation with the Peruvian government.

A Tale of Two Species

Is palo santo endangered? The answer starts with what palo santo is. Palo santo, or “holy wood” in Spanish, is a name given to two different tree species in Central and South America. 

  • Bursera graveolens 
  • Bulnesia sarmientoi (endangered)

What is Bulnesia Sarmientoi?

Bulnesia sarmientoi is a wild, native tree growing predominately in the Gran Chaco region of South America, which encompasses Argentina, Boliva, and Paraguay. Prized for its strength, toughness and density, it became a valuable source of commercial timber and has been an important export crop to Europe since the 16th century.

map of where palo santo grows in south and central america
Growing areas
B. sarmientoi - endangered

The Cost of Deforestation

The trees, however, are relatively small and slow growing. Threats to the species’ survival include logging for timber; clearing of forests for annual and perennial non-timber crops; livestock farming and ranching, and other recognized challenges.

Due to the constant pressure on the species’ survival without adequate long-term plans in place to protect and revive the species, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species 2018, which factors global populations rather than regional populations of a species, now lists B. sarmientoi as an ENDANGERED species.

What is Bursera Graveolens?

Bursera Graveolens is NOT an endangered species according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Also native to the Gran Chaco region of South America, B. graveolens extends beyond that, well into Central America and Ecuador. Cerros de Amotape National Park is a protected area located in the regions of Piura and Tumbes in Northern Peru and is home to hundreds of thousands of hectares (1 hectare = 2.47 acres) of native trees, most of which are B. graveolens.

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, B. graveolens is categorized as “vulnerable.” This category provides an assessment of the global population of the species and determines the extinction risk under current circumstances. This protected National Park is part of a growing effort on behalf of the Peruvian Department of Agriculture to further conserve and restore the fertile populations of the species.

large logs of palo santo wood

Checklist: How to Enjoy Palo Santo Sustainably

Questions to Ask the Seller

  • Which species of palo santo do you offer?
  • Which country is it from? Countries?
  • Do you have a copy of the legal paperwork required to export palo santo?

You have the power to make a difference. By supporting businesses that uphold sustainability standards, we can protect the sacred palo santo tree. Please do not get mad at businesses that cannot answer a question – this is a complicated subject. 


Commitment to Sustainability

THIRD EYE WOOD pledges to you, our customers, and to our great Pachamama, that we will only purchase Bursera graveolens from sources which are regulated to support and sustain the life of the individual trees as well as the species on the planet. The people of Peru— who are our partners— are working to regulate and protect palo santo from becoming endangered so it can support future generations of indigenous people. 

Please help THIRD EYE WOOD continue to employ these small family cooperatives!

Find out more about what Palo Santo is, where it comes from and how it can benefit you.

Learn about our sustainability initiatives and how we take our Peruvian Palo Santo and make it into the products you love to enjoy.

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