To: Hon. Dave Kelly MLA, WA Minister for Forestry; Hon Stephen Dawson MLC, WA Minister for Environment
Stop the plunder of WA’s native sandalwood!
We call on the WA Government to: (a) End the plunder of WA's native sandalwood in the wild; (b) Establish a new partnership with Aboriginal Traditional Owners as primary drivers of a sustainable WA native sandalwood industry; (c) Invest in the protection and regeneration of sandalwood in the wild in partnership with local Traditional Owners; and (d) Promote, not hinder, the WA native sandalwood plantation sector.
Why is this important?
Western Australia’s native sandalwood (Santalum spicatum; ‘willarak’ in the Noongar language; 'dutjahn' in Martu/Wongi)) is a beautiful small tree that used to grow all across southern WA. Over-exploitation in the 175 years since colonisation has stripped sandalwood from much of its original range. Sandalwood was the Swan River Colony's first export!
The WA government trading enterprise, Forest Products Commission (FPC), makes a profit from ‘pulling’ sandalwood in outback WA, uprooting whole live trees which are often hundreds of years old. Current exploitation (2,500 tonnes per annum) is far above the government's own optimistic estimate of long term sustainable yield ("600 tpa" in 2012).
To make matters even worse, FPC's 'regeneration' in the wild is a disastrous failure due to grazing by introduced animals, loss of native seed-burying mammals, frequent fires and climate change.
FPC acts as a state monopoly in taking native sandalwood from the wild (for free!) and then selling it to its chosen processors to make oils and incense. It is doing all it can to hinder the transition to the large, established native sandalwood plantations in WA's wheatbelt, while also trying to restrict the growth of Aboriginal-owned sandalwood businesses (such as Dutjahn Oils) which operate on a much lower volume of mostly dead sandalwood.
The burgeoning native sandalwood plantation sector needs to align itself and work with Aboriginal Traditional Owners in partnership for ethical, moral and sustainable sourcing of Western Australian sandalwood products. Oils, nuts, etc, from Indigenous-owned businesses are the only WA sandalwood products consumers should choose.