02/12/2008 - 11:27

Renewed push for WA sandalwood industry

02/12/2008 - 11:27

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A significant export earner for Western Australia in the 19th century is set to re-emerge with the launch of a plan to develop the state's sandalwood tree farming industry.

A significant export earner for Western Australia in the 19th century is set to re-emerge with the launch of a plan to develop the state's sandalwood tree farming industry.

Launching the Industry Development Plan today, Forestry Minister Terry Redman described it as a blueprint to enable product from planted tree farms of WA sandalwood to gain a foothold in already established markets.

"The international demand for sandalwood oil and wood has been strong for centuries," Mr Redman said.

"Renowned worldwide for its pleasant fragrance, oil from various sandalwood species is well known for its importance to many Asian cultures.

"Although native stands of WA sandalwood continue to supply some of the market, it will not be possible for those stocks to meet increasing demand from the burgeoning populations of countries like China and India.

"With approximately 13,500 hectares under cultivation on tree farms in the Wheatbelt, WA sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) has developed into a growing tree farm industry, through the efforts of the Forest Products Commission, individual farmers and private companies like Rewards Group.

"When integrated into the farming landscape, sandalwood tree farms help address environmental challenges in the Wheatbelt; assist farmers to diversify their income; create new jobs and help rural communities to achieve greater economic resilience."

He added it was likely the fledgling industry would experience challenges brought on by the gap between growing demand and available supply from natural stands and the time lag before products from tree farms would flow through to markets.

"However, growth in existing tree farms has been positive and the industry continues to build a bank of knowledge about sandalwood oil production, all of which should augur well for the future," Mr Redman said.

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