Forest Act has been made flexible and hence farmers can earn income by growing sandalwood in their land, said Chief Conservator of Forests K Sundar Naik.

He was speaking at a workshop on growing new varieties of bamboo and sandalwood at Aranya Bhavana here on Tuesday.

By P M Raghunandan, DH News Service, Bangalore:

With sandalwood production hitting the rock bottom, the State Forest department has decided to adopt Australian model to regain the States lost glory as Srighandadanaadu.

The department, as per the new plan, will develop exclusive sandalwood estates, where the scented trees will be given "intensive' protection.


POLICE in the city are in an unenviable position as sandalwood trees continue to be the target of thieves who smuggle them to Kerala, from where they are taken to other states. This despite various measures taken by them to bust the smuggler gangs. Police sources said some time back there were factories in Kerala making oil from sandalwood smuggled from Tamil Nadu, but as the Kerala Government has banned production of sandalwood oil, the smugglers clandestinely transport the logs to other states through Kerala.

The Customs yesterday nabbed a stock of red sandalwood worth over Rs.10 million which was illegally imported to Sri Lanka from India.

A special team of the Coimbatore City Police late on Saturday night arrested in Kerala three of a 10-member inter-State sandalwood smuggling gang that robbed two policemen of a pistol here on February 23. The pistol was not recovered. The city police had constituted special teams to probe the incident. The teams co-ordinated with the Coimbatore Rural Police and the Kerala police, sharing intelligence and seeking assistance, when required. During a vehicle check in the Naatukal police limits in Palakkad district of Kerala, one of the special teams intercepted a jeep and arrested H. Haris (33) of Mannarkad, B. Syed Alavi Kunjani (49) and F.M. Sharbudeen alias Sherief (23) of Palakkad. The jeep used by the gang for smuggling sandalwood logs was seized. The three were brought to Coimbatore along with the jeep. The hunt for the seven other gang members is continuing.

India lost more than Rs 100 crore due to illegal felling and smuggling of rare and costly trees like sandalwood and teak between 2004 and 2006. The ministry of environment and forests admits that felling and smuggling of rare and costly trees like sandalwood and teak has been reported from various parts of the country during these three years and the worth of the trees lost was approximately Rs 102 crore. In the same breath it adds that "no large-scale illegal felling and smuggling of rare and costly trees like sandalwood and teak has been reported from different parts of the country. However, incidents of illicit felling and smuggling do take place,' while providing details furnished by different state governments and the directorate of revenue Intelligence in this regard. Quoting reports, the ministry says during 2005-07, a total of 2,666 sandalwood trees were illegally felled in Kerala while Karnataka reported 881 cases of smuggling of sandalwood involving a quantity of 35,299 kg. Maharashtra reported a loss of 1,404 sandalwood trees in illegal felling while there were a total of 253 case of smuggling of sandalwood involving 20.739 tonnes in Tamil Nadu during this period. And between 2006-07, cases were registered with regard to import of three consignments of sandalwood. In these cases 177.660 tonnes of sandalwood valued at Rs 1776.60 lakh was seized. Regarding illegal felling of sal and teak tree during 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06, Andhra Pradesh suffered a loss of 8208.89 cubic meters amounting to Rs1633.98 lakh, Assam 5022 cubic meters (Rs 311.62 lakh), Chhattisgarh 58380 cubic meters (Rs 1287.81 lakh), Gujarat 13586 cubic meters (Rs 1360.74 lakh), Karanataka 6184 cubic meters (Rs 513.76 lakh), Himachal Pradesh 407 cubic meters (Rs 4.96 lakh), Maharashtra 268088 cubic meters (Rs 2251.12 lakh) and Haryana 10 trees (0.18 lakh). Regarding steps being taken for the protection and management of forests, the ministry says it is primarily the responsibility of state governments. The measures in this regard include legal provisions like the Indian Forest Act, 1927, the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and the Environment Protection Act, 1986. Funds are provided to states and union territories for strengthening infrastructure for protection of forests from illicit felling, fires and encroachments. Efforts are also made to involve local communities through formulation of joint forest management committees while meetings of the officials of the border states are held to strengthen inter-state protection mechanism. Patrolling of the area, creation of checkposts and barriers, mechanism of transit permit for movement of forest produce, formation of flying squads, mobile protection units and vigilance parties for regular inspection and survey and demarcation of forest areas are among other measures.

While Western Australia has set up plantations of Indian sandalwood in a big way, in its homeland, India, sandalwood production is on its last leg. The government's strict control and apathy

Sandalwood, valued for its heartwood, is a semi-parisitic plant, that is, it requires a host plant to grow. It belongs to the genus Santalum and in total there are 16 species of the plant. Indian sandalwood, Santalum album, grows the fastest and has the greatest percentage of oil in its heartwood (6-7 per cent). IUCN listed Indian sandalwood in its Red List as a "vulnerable' species in 1998 after its production fell by at least 80 per cent over the last 10 years due to overexploitation.


Long live the other Veerappans?