Demand for WA sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) oil and wood, particularly in Asia, has been strong for centuries and continues to grow. Currently sandalwood is harvested almost exclusively from natural ‘wild’ stands in the Rangelands. However, future supply is expected to be complemented by sandalwood sourced from plantations established by the Forest Products Commission (FPC), private companies and individual farmers. The FPC currently manages over 6,000 hectares of sandalwood plantation throughout the Wheatbelt and Midwest regions.
In 2008, the WA sandalwood industry development plan was released to promote the establishment of sandalwood plantations. It is a blueprint to enable product from planted tree farms of WA sandalwood to gain a foothold in already established markets. Although native stands of WA sandalwood continue to supply some of the international market, it will not be possible for those stocks to meet increasing demand from the burgeoning populations of countries like China and India.
With more than 13,500 hectares under cultivation on tree farms in the Wheatbelt, WA sandalwood has developed into a growing tree farm industry. When integrated into the farming landscape, sandalwood plantations contribute to improving the Wheatbelt environment and provide income diversity options for farmers.