Australian sandalwood conservation

Emeritus Professor Helene Marsh FAA FTSE
Threatened Species Scientific Committee
c/o Species Information and Policy Section
Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
GPO Box 858


Dear Professor Marsh,

Re: Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum)

I write to you as a former Senior Policy Adviser for the Federal Member for Mayo, Ms Rebekha Sharkie MP, and with a keen interest in environmental issues. Thank you in advance for your consideration of my correspondence.

Specifically, I am writing out of interest and concern regarding the status of Australian sandalwood, noting that it does not appear on the current EPBC Act List of Threatened Flora[1].

According to research published earlier this week by academics from Charles Sturt University and Curtin University, “[a]cross its entire range in Australia’s western and southern rangelands, Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum [R.Br.] A.DC.) is on a path towards ‘extinction in the wild’––the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s penultimate category of conservation risk.[2]

According to a related article from The Conversation by the same authors, they estimate that “175 years of commercial harvesting may have decreased the population of wild sandalwood by as much as 90%”, and conclude that “It’s time to list sandalwood as a threatened species nationally, and start harvesting only from plantations to give these wild, centuries-old trees a fighting chance at survival.[3]

May I kindly inquire, will the Committee undertake a review of the Australian sandalwood listing to ascertain whether it should be placed on the EPBC Act List of Threatened Flora, and if so, when, and if not, why not?

Further, what conservation efforts are the Federal Government taking to protect and conserve remaining sandalwood trees in the wild?

Thank you again for your consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Cornish

10 / 10 / 2021

Cc: Threatened Species Commissioner, Dr Sally Box

[1] See:

[2] McLellan R. C., Dixon K., Watson D. M. (2021) Prolific or precarious: a review of the status of Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum [R.Br.] A.DC., Santalaceae). The Rangeland Journal; see:

[3] See: Kingsley Dixon, Richard McLellan, and David M Watson, ‘Loved to death: Australian sandalwood is facing extinction in the wild’, The Conversation, 7 October 2021;