As Indian sandalwood faces threat of extinction due to overharvesting and poaching, a number of companies are exploring alternative, sustainable sources of natural sandalwood. In February, TFS Ltd. announced that UK cosmetics house Lush had signed a five-year agreement (commencing upon availability of material) to source quantities of the Australian company’s sandalwood output beginning in 2011. This followed news that Grasse-based naturals house Albert Vielle had also signed on to source the Australian material.
According to TFS' latest grower's report:
- Indian sandalwood heartwood prices at December 2007 Tamil Nadu Forest Department auctions reached $108,000 per tonne.
- The average annual price growth from this source is 21%.
- Already, Santalum album is on the Threatened Species Redlist: "Threats: Fire, grazing and most importantly exploitation of the wood for fine furniture and carving and also oil are threatening the species. Smuggling has assumed alarming proportions."
A recent conference at the Kimberly Grande Hotel in Kununurra Western Australia discussed the future of Indian sandalwood in the region. “Ironic it may seem, Australian entrepreneurs may be the savior of the Indian sandalwood species in the wild by fulfilling its demand in the international market and meeting the requirements of trade in its products,” said Gurdeep Chawla, president of the Indian Sandalwood Exporters Association and Sandalwood Essential Oils Welfare Association. During his talk, Alexandre Choueiria outlined the value of sandalwood to fine fragrance. “Out of over 7,000 classified fragrances since 1750, 3,212 contain Sandalwood notes,” he said.