Sandalwood – a crop of the future?
A new, innovative and ethical agribusiness that delivers both ecosystem services as well as commercial returns is underway in Western Australia.
On land forming part of the inspirational Gondwana Link project on the State's south coast, a Sandalwood project is helping to provide new business opportunities for landowners by investigating the potential of using the fragrant nut bearing tree in multi-species revegetation works.
Sandalwood, once Western Australia’s primary export earner, is a semi-parasite that takes water and nutrients from neighbouring host plants. Once harvested, the host system, in this case established through revegetation with over 40 local species, remains intact. These systems are highly environmentally resilient and will assist in restoring ecosystems in an agricultural area that is currently a degraded landscape.
The plantations of over 200 hectares are expected to yield approximately 700 tonnes of sandalwood over a 20-year perod. The fragrant oil from this interesting plant is in high demand internationally.
Spicatum Resources Australia (SRA) is managing the project using sophisticated silvivultural techniques in association with Greening Australia, and on behalf of a cosnortium of investors.
Greening Australia's Barry Heydenrych explains, the planting of sandalwood with multiple hosts on previously-cleared land can help to restore environmental values, including biodiversity.
"Landscapes benefit from the planting of sandalwood and its host plants as they affect the water table and can assist in decreasing waterlogging and rising salinity. Birds, insects and other species can also benefit from native multi-species systems," he said.
- Supporting landowners to establish new productive and sustainable enterprises based around multi-host sandalwood plantations.
- Improving biodiversity outcomes for Birds, insects and other species that can benefit from native multi-species systems.
Western Australia News