You have probably heard many brands making claims such as cave nests are more premium than house nests, and that their bird's nests are sustainable. However, many do not go beyond explaining what being sustainable and ethical actually mean. To unpack these buzz words, we first need to understand the mating habits of swiftlets.
Sustainability in Bird's Nests
Swiftlets only use their nests for one mating season. After which, they have no use for the nests after their babies fly away. Sustainable harvesting refers to the process whereby the farms only harvest these nests when the swiftlets have no use for the nest. This practice protects the swiftlets population and pose no harm to the environment.
However, what is more common are farms who harvest these nests even when there are swiftlets and eggs in them. Most house bird's nests farms are too consumed with profit and the high demand for these nests, than to care about the impact on the swiftlets and the environment. This is an extremely short term view as the dwindling swiftlet population in the area affects the future yield of bird's nests.
In the case of cave nests, it is almost impossible to even bother with sustainable harvesting. The conditions for it makes it infeasible to do so, as the nests are located to high up in the cave for sustainable practice to be practical. There are many brands using cave nest and claiming to be sustainable, thereby "justifying" their "premium" products for a higher price.
Ethical Bird's Nests
Wild or cave nests are becoming dangerously rare because of such unsustainable farming practices. These nests are located on high caverns of limestone caves, making it an extremely dangerous endeavour for farmers to extract them. Farmers have to scale these dark sheer rock cliffs in order to harvest these nests, without the use of modern equipment due to the altitude of the mountains. Injury and deaths are often common in such scenarios, which further drive up the price of cave nests.
This is why swiftlet house nests, where conditions can be controlled, is a much safer farming method. This practice is cruelty-free, not just for the swiftlets but also for the farmers who are harvesting them.
Our Commitment to Sustainable and Ethical Bird's Nests
LENE is not only a leader in sustainable bird's nests, but we are also leading the way in utilising only cruelty-free farming practices to protect both the swiftlet population and local farmers.
We only harvest from our own swallow farms and work with suppliers we know whose practice will not infringe on the environment. This process might be an invisible one to the end-consumers, but we believe is an extremely important one in order to preserve these swiftlets and provide a good working condition for the local communities we work with.
Furthermore, as our bird's nests are from Malaysia, they are all transported via land instead of air. This reduces our carbon footprint to a minimum, compared to other bird's nests that are flown in from Indonesia, Thailand or Vietnam.
Being a responsible business is a non-compromise for us.
In the short term, the cost of harvesting bird's nests this way might be higher for us, but we believe strongly that sacrificing the wellbeing of our environment for such short term gains is simply not right. A bird's nests business can only continue to prosper if the business practices honour the local community and swiftlet populations.