Calden Honey

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Calden Honey

Calden honey has particular characteristics and is very rare. It is made by bees who meticulously gather pollen from the flowers of the calden tree (Prosopis caldenia), which is endemic to Argentina. The largest remaining population of calden trees is in the province of La Pampa. Monofloral calden honey tends to crystallize quickyl, and is therefore quite firm. It is a pale color and a unique taste. In the past, the indigenous Rankülche communities, who were almost wiped out during the terrible Desert Campaign of the 1830’s, used to collect honey in the wild; now, calden honey comes from man-made beehives. These are located close to calden forests, specifically in the central-eastern area of La Pampa province, in Loventuel and Chilileo departments.

Calden is the symbol of the Pampa’s geography and is considered part of the province’s cultural heritage. It represented the main forest resource of the province and was used as fuel for British locomotives during World War One. In the past, the calden forests stretched from San Luis Province, across Cordoba and La Pampa provinces, to Buenos Aires and the northeastern part of Rio Negro; during the last century, 24% of this area was covered by these trees. Despite this abundance, La Pampa lost over two thirds of its original calden forests, and what remains is highly fragmented: Just 11% of the province is still calden forest. The degradation of the forests began when a railway was built in La Pampa. After that, over-pasturing, fire (used to managed forests and clear pastures for livestock breeding), deforestaton, and the increasingly developed agricultural sector weakened the few remain forests. As a consequence, the forest is no longer healthy enough to perform its ecological and environmental functions, and this negatively affects other local flora and fauna upon which the forests, in turn, depend. All of this results in an extremely vulnerable ecosystem.

Calden trees are now listed as threatened and at risk in different parts of Argentina. Even though the area where they frow is protected by certain forestry laws, additional measures must be taken to ensure the future of these trees and the honey that they produce. The calden forests are unique and are an important cultural heritage for Argentinians.

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Nominated by:Marcela Biglia