Sandalwood oil is an aromatic treasure with a long history of use in ethno-botanical medicine, cosmetics, perfumery, ceremony, and meditation. Because of its wonderful fragrance and healing properties it has become increasingly rare and is now distilled from trees that are over-harvested, illegally harvested, and facing ecological threat through deforestation and grazing. A large percentage of the sandalwood oil on the market is adulterated or produced under unethical conditions.
In response to these legal and ethical issues, some companies are now abandoning the sale of sandalwood oil. At the same time, numerous agro-forestry projects are starting, especially in India, which should be supported.
We are pleased to offer a fine sandalwood oil from a sustainable, ecologically and ethically produced source in New Caledonia. The New Caledonia sandalwood project is an excellent example of the challenges and rewards of long-term caretaking of a valuable and endangered species.
Santalum austrocaledonicum is the species of sandalwood native to the islands of New Caledonia. Its oil is very similar to the Santalum alba of South India; in comparison it is lighter, sweeter, and less complex than a true Indian sandalwood.
As recently as ten years ago, there were no reforestation programs to support the replanting of harvested trees in New Caledonia. As a result of collaboration between distillers, farmers, botanists and others, the methods of reforestation of sandalwood trees are now well established. Since this reforestation effort began, more than 40,000 trees have been planted. Working with horticulturalists and botanists, the trees are planted in ways that do not disturb the original forest habitat.
The sandalwood trees used for distillation are purchased from local landowners, at a higher price than any other forest product in the area. The stills used to extract this oil are fueled by crude coconut oil, which is produced by the farmers and offers another source of income.