There are 16 species of sandalwood (Santalum) that grow naturally throughout the world. The best known and economically important species is Indian sandalwood, Santalum album. We no longer carry Indian sandalwood because the Indian government has not been successful in ensuring sustainable harvests. Santalum spicatum from Australia has been valued for its wood for many years, but recently it too has become a source for essential oil (including our Well Earth sandalwood oil) due to the over exploitation of the Indian species.
Western Australian sandalwood (S. spicatum) originally was found across a large area of Western Australia, from the arid interior to the woodlands. Early over–harvesting and conversion of forest to farmland in the regions with higher rainfall eliminated most of the sandalwood trees in those areas. The Australian government is working with natural regeneration and plantation planting of sandalwood trees to stabilize the population and provide a sustainable source. Much of the replanting being done is in this area (wheat belt) where the higher rainfall provides a better chance of success. The sandalwood harvest is controlled by the government with allotments being made of the harvest to reputable distillers.
Our Well Earth partners in Australia not only distill sustainably harvested sandalwood oil, but also manage their farm to sustainably produce other oil crops. They research and distill native Australian crops such as lemon tea tree and fragonia.
Because sandalwood is wildcrafted, our Well Earth partners, John and Peta are not technically sandalwood growers, but they have been growing and distilling herbs in Western Australia for 15 years. They supply our Aura Cacia brand with Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) essential oil.
While John and Peta don't grow sandalwood for distillation, they do grow other native plants such as tea tree, lemon tea tree, fragonia, Rosalina and honey myrtle for their essential oils. John's love and care of the land was evident as he took us through fields of freshly harvested fragonia and tea tree. While their farm is not certified organic, John and Peta do follow most organic standards. They do not use any herbicides or chemical fertilizers, relying on hand-weeding and natural methods of building soil fertility. They plan to build a house so they can move to the farm year-round. In the meantime they spend as much time there as they can -- living in makeshift quarters while they weed, harvest and distill essential oils. We were impressed with their dedication to researching and distilling native Australian crops such as lemon tea tree and especially fragonia. John and Peta have become known for the research they've supported regarding the aromatherapy benefits of fragonia.
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