"The sweet, earthy fragrance of sandalwood oil has made it immensely popular in
incense sticks, candles and perfumes. But its beautiful scent may also be its
downfall – Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) is facing extinction in
Despite this, the iconic outback tree is still being harvested in the wild in
Western Australia where it’s considered a “forest product”, all to satisfy
incense-burners and perfumeries.
Our research, published today, reveals the WA government has known for more
than a century that sandalwood is over-harvested and is declining in numbers,
with no new trees regenerating. We estimate 175 years of commercial harvesting
may have decreased the population of wild sandalwood by as much as 90%.
Today, walking into most sandalwood communities is like walking into a
palliative care hospice. There are only old folk there, most of them in
terminal decline. There are no youngsters and there are certainly no babies.
It’s time to list sandalwood as a threatened species nationally, and start
harvesting only from plantations to give these wild, centuries-old trees a
fighting chance at survival."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics