Sustainability was not a main goal when we began. If it had been, we wouldn’t have succeeded. Sustainability and the concept of value have developed together. Our understanding of the forests’ needs has grown organically with our total operation, and we are constantly revising it in a practical sense as we meet new challenges . In fact, over time, each product is evolving its own concept of and requirements for sustainable use.
An excellent example of this in action is the rhododendron tree, which grows wild at high altitudes and has always resisted cultivation. In the spring it produces a gorgeous red or pink blossom that has traditionally been used at home in chutneys and commercially in squashes. To harvest the blossoms the branches were cut off, which resulted in a long-term decline in volume. Once our villages understood this and the value of harvesting sustainably, we began to protect the trees and did not allow the bottling companies to cut or over-harvest. No branches are cut for our rhododendron products, and we always leave a third of the tree unharvested. We have learned that both we and the flora around us benefit from these sustainable practices.