Laos is suffering from deforestation much like its neighbors, Vietnam and Thailand. Southeast Asia is home to many rare tropical trees that are in great demand for exotic hardwoods, religious objects and as medicinal oils. Trees become endangered in Laos because of a combination of demand and unsustainable harvesting to meet that demand.
Afzelia xylocarpa belongs to the same family of trees as the orchid tree and the flamboyant tree. It is more commonly known as black rosewood. This tree, because of its hard, dense wood that has a very fine grain, has been exploited for many purposes, including musical instrument construction, home construction and carvings. The bark of this tree is sometimes used in local hide tanneries. This tree usually grows in the Laotian low hill, ranging in altitude from 300 feet to 2,000 feet.
Agarwood, sometimes called "the wood of the gods," is nearly extinct in Laos. This wood is very high in resin and is often used in religious items and ceremonies throughout Asia, as well as for medicinal purposes. Resins distilled from this tree is also used in many perfumes and cosmetics. Agarwood resin is often used in high-quality incense used in religious rites and rituals. Agarwood is primarily endangered in Laos due to unsustainable harvesting arising from insufficient quality in agarwood resin substitutes.
The Dipterocarpus turbinatus is another endangered tree in Laos. This tree is harvested both for its gum and resin, as well as for its wood. The Dipterocarpus turbinatus is sometimes called the common garjun tree or the wood oil tree. Its oils and resins are oleo-resins, often called garjun oil or garjun balsam. This oil is part of several different medical systems, including Indian Ayurvedic medicine, where it is often used on skin lesions, ulcers and ringworm.