In the 1980's the Western Australian Forestry Department started to cultivate Indian sandalwood in the tropical north of Australia and established a government research plantation in the Kimberley region (Northeast of Western Australia). Kimberley benefits from plentiful fresh water supplies and a combination of very high tropical temperatures as well as a very wet rainy season. It therefore offers ideal growing conditions for the successful cultivation of Indian sandalwood.
Starting in 1999, our asset partner Quintis realised the commercial potential of Indian sandalwood and started its first commercial Indian sandalwood plantation in northern Australia. Since then, Quintis has grown to become the largest supplier of traceable and sustainably grown Indian sandalwood in the world.
In large parts, the success of Quintis is based on its experienced and professional plantation management. Quintis’s plantations are managed locally by its own forestry experts, farmers and agronomists, who are all highly qualified, world-leading and proven experts in the cultivation of Indian sandalwood and who therefore enjoy excellent international reputations. The plantation managers often live directly on the grounds of "their" plantation and are therefore able to continuously and closely monitor the state of the trees, the hosts and the soils.
For many years now, Quintis has invested heavily into research and development aimed at continuously optimising the quality and growth of the Indian sandalwood trees on its plantations. Quintis owns its own nurseries and seedling stations where it cultivates over one million of its own seedlings annually. Moreover, Quintis continuous to improve and optimise its plantation management techniques (such as choice of host plants, irrigation technologies, plant protection, pest controls etc.) on an ongoing basis.
As a result of this sustained investment, Quintis is able to plan with high average tree survival rates of 83-85% and on occasion achieves survival rates of over 90%.
It takes 14-16 years until the heartwood of the trees on Quintis’s plantations contain sufficient amounts of oil to be ready for harvesting and further processing. In contrast to this, Indian sandalwood trees in the wild take between 25-40 years until they contain enough oil to be harvested.
Quintis is able to achieve these excellent cultivation results largely owing to its professional and experienced plantation management. Quintis makes no genetic modifications to the plants nor does it use any growth hormones.
Moreover, the plantations are not operated as monocultures, but instead as well organised mixed "mini-forests" with correspondingly rich fauna and flora.
New land for future plantations is selected carefully. No forest areas are cleared for this nor are any other measures being taken, which would be inconsistent with Quintis’s stringent guidelines for the protection of the natural environment.
Since the precious sandalwood oil is contained not only in the heartwood, but also in the tree’s roots, Quintis has to make use of both careful and yet efficient harvesting processes. The trees cannot simply be cut down, but instead must be carefully lifted and pulled out of the soil, leaving the roots intact. This requires very specialist know-how as well as the use of highly specialised harvesting machines.
Quintis’s first commercial Indian sandalwood trees were harvested and sold in 2014. In 2015, a total of 35 hectares were harvested and sold.
In 2016 Quintis harvested approximately 100 hectares (over 32'000 Indian sandalwood trees) and processed approximately 310 tonns of heartwood, which contains the valuable sandalwood-oil.
Both in terms of the quality of the wood as well as in terms of the quality of the oil contained in the trees, the harvests to date have met Quintis’s expectations.