Researchers warn that the trees that produce frankincense are being lost at such a high rate that production of the fragrant resin could fall by half over the next 15 years.
The ecologists from the Netherlands and Ethiopia also said that numbers of the trees could drop by 90 percent over the next 50 years. If nothing is done about the causes of this decline -- fire, grazing and insect attack -- frankincense production could be doomed, they say.
Their forecasts, based on large-scale field studies, appear in the Dec. 21 issue of the Journal of Applied Ecology.
Christians believe that frankincense was one of the gifts carried by three kings who traveled to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. It is obtained by tapping various species of Boswellia, a type of tree that grows in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula.
Source: U.S. News & World Report