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Buyer wanted for host trees in Kimberley

The manager of the world’s largest plantation of Indian sandalwood says it still hasn’t found a buyer for thousands of its host trees in the Kimberley. Source: ABC News

Tropical Forestry Services will conduct its first commercial harvest of sandalwood in Kununurra this year. The trees are a parasitic plant and require host trees next to them to provide extra water and nutrients by joining roots.

However, after the sandalwood is harvested, the host trees are useless, with new host trees being planted, as new sandalwood is grown.

In local newspapers across the north, TFS has been advertising the sale of these host trees.

Spokesman Malcolm Baker said that, despite some interest, he doesn’t expect to find a buyer for the host trees this year.

“We will have to burn some of the trees, there’s no doubt about that. We also have obligations to the landowners that we lease the land off that we have to remediate the land back to a form where it can be used for normal cropping here in the Ord.

“So the general form would be to take any of the commercial timber off that we can and burn the rest.”

The Department of Environment and Conservation is one party that is interested in using the trees.

Luke Bentley, from the DEC, said they’re trialling the use of the trees as firewood for the nearby Purnululu National Park. He said using the wood will be much cheaper than bringing firewood up from other parts of WA.

“We have been in discussions with Tropical Forestry Services about possibly using some of their host species to replace the jarrah coming up from the south.”

DEC has taken samples from four different types of host trees in the plantation.

“What we are doing is letting that wood now season out over the next few months and then we will do some trials and we will see which one produces the best firewood for campers.”

However, the amount of wood that could be used by the department will be relatively small.

Baker said that even if the DEC decides to use the host trees there will be thousands still left.