Biodiverse sandalwood planting refers to the planting of sandalwood trees (Santalum spicatum) alongside other native plant species to create a natural and biodiverse landscape.
Prized for its aromatic oil and wood, Australian sandalwood once grew plentifully across Western Australia. In the 1840s, sandalwood was the state’s largest export earner, providing more than 30% of the total export income!
Sandalwood is a long-lived, slow-growing hemiparasite that is native to semi-arid and arid areas in southern and western Australia. As it is a hemiparasite, this means it needs other trees to act as a host for it to grow. We plant sandalwood alongside native host species such as Acacia (wattles) and Allocasuarina (sheoaks) at a ratio of 30:70.
To prepare the site for planting, the site is ripped and scalped to remove weeds from the seed bank and loosen the soil so seedling root establishment is successful and competition is minimised.
A biodiverse sandalwood planting involves a combination of direct seeding, hand-planted and/or machine-planted seedlings, and hand-sown sandalwood seeds.
This biodiverse planting method provides a range of benefits to the landscape including habitat for pollinators, birds, and other native species.
Once the sandalwood trees have reached maturity (around 25 years), the landowners can harvest the nuts and timber as a source of additional income from land that was compromised prior to planting. The remaining plants after harvest will continue to grow and help reduce wind erosion, improve soil health and increase biodiversity.
Projects with biodiverse sandalwood planting