Depleted reserves

Karnataka, especially the forests under Mysuru division, was once known as ‘Srigandhada Nadu’ (Land of Sandalwood). But over the years, it lost this unique distinction with the fast depletion of sandalwood reserves. To promote sandalwood cultivation on private lands, the Forest Department started distributing sandalwood saplings at subsidised costs.

On an average, 5,000 to 10,000 saplings raised at the sandalwood nursery here were distributed every year. Saplings can be bought from the department for commercial cultivation. Barring ‘Srigandhada Kote’ (sandalwood depot) here and the Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Limited (KDSL), trees on private land cannot be sold to others. Besides Mysuru, Srigandhada Kote is located in Shivamogga and Dharwad.

Mysuru, Chamarajnagar and Sathyamangalam (in Tamil Nadu) are reckoned to be potential belts where sandalwood trees grow naturally. Regeneration was also said to be good in this belt. Unlike teak, people were not very keen to take up sandalwood cultivation on a big scale for two reasons – safety issues and slow-growth of the tree (returns take time).

Kerala and Tamil Nadu also are catering to the State’s sandalwood needs. Sandalwood prices had shot up sharply over the years with exhausting reserves.

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