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Article << Previous     |         Contents Vol 35(1)

Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) establishment in the semi-arid and arid regions of Western Australia

Benjamin Sawyer

Forest Products Commission, PO Box 499, Harvey, WA 6220, Australia. Email: ben.sawyer@fpc.wa.gov.au

The Rangeland Journal 35(1) 109-115 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RJ12088
Submitted: 30 October 2012  Accepted: 8 March 2013   Published: 18 March 2013

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Harvesting of sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) occurs mainly from wild stands in the semi-arid and arid regions (typical annual rainfall 150–300 mm) of Western Australia. Regeneration of wild sandalwood in these regions is believed to be low since the occurrence of changes in land use associated with European settlement. This is thought to be due to factors including drought, poor seed dispersal and grazing. The objective of the study was to increase the germination and establishment of sandalwood through exploring seed response to rainfall. Additionally, the potential of soil-preparation techniques to utilise trace amounts of moisture was investigated. Two 25-ha plots were located either side of the semi-arid–arid divide. Into the plots 16 replicates of the control and 96 replicates of treatments were installed and sown with 11 200 seeds. Rainfall and other weather parameters were recorded at each site with an automated weather station. The study was replicated in 2008 and 2009. It was concluded from the study that there was a statistically significant relationship between germination and rainfall. It is proposed that the germination threshold is 264 mm per year which coincides with the long-term annual rainfall average of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. Furthermore, a statistically significant relationship between germination and soil preparation was demonstrated. Ripping crust-forming soils before sowing and the construction of water-harvest banks had a positive effect. Information gained from these studies has led to the Western Australian State Government implementing a seeding program to increase sandalwood regeneration in the semi-arid region.

Additional keywords: germination, seed survival, irrigation, rangelands, seed-bed preparation.


Australian Bureau of Meteorology (2009). 1939–2009 Rainfall data for Kalgoorlie Site 012038. www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/weatherData (accessed 24 January 2013).

Brand, J. E. (2000). The effects of management regime and host species on sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) recruitment near Paynes Find, Western Australia. The Rangeland Journal 22, 243–256.
CrossRef |

Fowler, J., and Cohen, L. (1990). ‘Practical Statistics for Field Biology.’ (John Wiley and Sons: Chichester.)

Fox, J. E. D., and Miller, K. L. (2000). ‘Is Sandalwood Emergence and Growth Inhibited by Waterlogging or Depth of Burial?’ Report to Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia. (Department of Conservation and Land Management: Perth.)

Loneragan, O. W. (1990). ‘Historical Review of Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) Research in Western Australia.’ Research Bulletin 4. (Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia: Perth.)

Murphy, M. T., Garkaklis, M. J., and Hardy, G. E. S. J. (2005). Seed caching by woylies Bettongia penicillata can increase sandalwood Santalum spicatum regeneration in Western Australia. Austral Ecology 30, 747–755.
CrossRef |

State of Western Australia (1996). ‘Western Australian Government Gazette.’ (State Law Publisher.)

Talbot, L. (1983). Wooden gold. Early days of the sandalwood industry. Forest Focus 30, 21–31.

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 Commenting on this article has been closed

Chris Anderson* commented on Wednesday 20 March 2013 09:24 AM
A high quality paper that will a have significant impact on the Sandalwood Industry because:
• wild WA sandalwood wood sells for about AUD$14,800 tonne, more than twice
the current price of copper. • Western Australia is forecast to be the world's biggest producer of sandalwood by 2023 . • Native sandalwood stocks in India (the world's biggest sandalwood consumer and
exporter currently) are being harvested at an unsustainable rate. • Global demand for Australian sandalwood is estimated to increase by 5% each year, while demand from China is increasing by 50% each year (extracts from the Inquiry into the Sandalwood Industry in Western Australia 2012).
*Dr Chris Anderson is the Journal Publisher for Animal Production Science

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