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Tapping, an ancestral practice

Tapping is the process allowing to recover the resin of the conifers coming from their resin channels. This ancestral technique consists in "wounding" the conifer by a notch so that the resin flows into a container. This resin is normally used to heal the tree.

In France, this practice of tapping (gemmage in French) was mainly carried out in the ”Landes” (South West of France) on the maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) where this species is present on approximately one million hectares. Nevertheless, this practice was gradually lost during the 20th century. This technique was also used in the south of France on the Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) which occupies about 250,000 hectares. Moreover, this species is considered the most productive in terms of resin with 1 to 4 kg produced per year and per tree.

The resin or gem harvested in this manner allows the manufacture of two products : - turpentine (liquid form), obtained by distillation of the resin

- rosin (solid form), obtained after filtration of the turpentine

Turpentine is a very good solvent which is used in paints, varnishes, polishes, insecticides and pharmaceutical products. Rosin is used in the manufacture of bows, but also in sports for a better grip, in stationery and in engraving.

Despite its low economic value (1 euro / kg), this resin can be used to manufacture new materials that are 100% biodegradable and recyclable while promoting a circular economy and sustainable forest management.

Are there new uses of this affordable resource to generate value from forests?

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