Goldfields station owners will be able to diversify their income through pulling dead sandalwood under a series of new contracts introduced by the Department of Conservation and Land Management’s Forest Products Division (FPD).
In Kalgoorlie today, Forest Products Minister Paul Omodei said the FPD had awarded 16 contracts to pastoralists in the Goldfields, Gascoyne and Murchison for a total of 200 tonnes of dead sandalwood. The contracts, worth around $230,000 were allotted following calls for expressions of interest earlier this year.
Mr Omodei said the dead sandalwood on pastoral leases was a valuable resource that could be lost in the event of bushfires or through natural degradation.
“Harvesting of this resource will provide an additional source of income and diversification opportunities in rural and remote areas of the State such as the Goldfields pastoral lands,” he said.
“The Government is committed to increasing participation in the sandalwood industry through a combination of short and long term harvesting contracts.
“Pastoralists are ideally placed to be a part of it by salvaging small tonnages of dead sandalwood from their leases. The 22 expressions of interest received indicate the strong support for this initiative.”
Western Australia's sandalwood industry began in 1845 when a group of settlers shipped four tonnes of the fragrant wood to Asia. By 1848, exports had leapt to around 1,300 tonnes, earning 45 per cent of the young colony's export income and making sandalwood the colony's main export industry.
WA sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) is recognised as a premium product and has an annual export value of around $10 million.
An inventory carried out by CALM over four years has estimated the resource available for harvest is more than 200,000 tonnes, making it the biggest sandalwood resource left in the world.
About 2,000 tonnes of sandalwood is harvested on a sustainable basis each year, including both green and dead wood, under licences issued by CALM’s Forest Products Division. Most of the wood is exported, although a new venture established in Albany is now producing sandalwood oils and other products.
Ministerial, Hugh Ryan 9213 6700
FPD, Peter Jones 9475 8848