Red sanders – meaning, export policy, IUCN Status and it’s uses
Red Sanders or sandalwood is a tree found in the forests of South India and its wood is considered sacred by Hindus. Unlike white sandalwood, it does not have any aroma, but people who believe in Shaivism and Shakta traditions use it in worship. Red sandalwood grows in the regions of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Seshachalam is the place of its main attainment.
1. What is Red sanders?
Its Scientific Name is ‘Pterocarpus santalinus‘. Red sanders is an endemic tree species with a restricted geographical range in the Eastern Ghats.They are found in the Tropical Dry Deciduous forest of the Palakonda and Seshachalam hill ranges of Andhra Pradesh and also found in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
The density of red sandalwood is more than that of water. This wood is very expensive. The wood of the middle part of the trunk of the tree is used in treatments like digestion system, accumulation of fluid in the body, blood purification. Its export from India is mainly to China and Japan. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are the main states of its production.
2. Why is red sanders endangered?
- It was classified as ‘near threatened’ in 2018 and has now joined the ‘endangered’ list once again.
- The latest IUCN assessment stated: “Over the last three generations, the species has experienced a population decline of 50-80%.
- Red Sanders (Red Sandalwood) has fallen back into the ‘endangered’ category in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.
- Red Sanders usually grow in the rocky, degraded and fallow lands with Red Soil and a hot and dry climate.It is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
- It is known for its rich hue and therapeutic properties and it is is high in demand across Asia, particularly in China and Japan, for cosmetics and medicinal products, wood-works and musical instruments.
- Its popularity can be gauged from the fact that a tonne of red sanders costs anything between Rs. 50 lakh to Rs. 1 crore in the international market.
- The wood at the centre of the red sandalwood trunk (heartwood) is used as medicine and dyewood.
- Red sandalwood is used for treating digestive tract problems, fluid retention, and coughs; and for “blood purification.”
- According to the Indian Journal of Applied Research, it is a good raw material for musical instruments and high-end furniture.
- Over-exploitation is causing the species to decay in its natural habitat.
- Slow growth and continuous harvesting of the species do not allow the species to grow naturally.
- It has been banned from international trade but despite this the illegal trade continues.
3. Red Sanders export policy
I. Red Sanders (Pterocarpus santalinus) is a rare and valuable tree species that is native to the southern regions of India. Due to its high demand in various industries such as furniture, construction and medicine, red sandal wood have become a target of illegal logging and smuggling.
II. To protect this species from exploitation, the Government of India has imposed strict regulations on the export of Red Sander logs. Export of red sander logs is allowed only through e-auction conducted by the Government of Andhra Pradesh and only the highest bidder is allowed to export the logs.
III. Export of red sanders is also subject to a permit system and only licensed traders and exporters are allowed to participate in e-auctions. The government has set a Minimum Export Price (MEP) for sandal wood logs, which ensures that the logs are sold at a fair price.
IV. The government has established a Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force (RSASTF) to prevent illegal harvesting and trafficking of the species. The task force consists of officers from various departments like Forest Department, Police, Revenue Department and Intelligence agencies.
V. The Red Sanders Export Policy aims to regulate the export of this valuable species and prevent its illegal trade by ensuring the sale of logs at a fair price. The policy also aims to conserve the species and protect it from over-exploitation.
Red Sanders IUCN Status
Red sanders (Pterocarpus santalinus) is a species of flowering plant in the family Fabaceae, native to India. It is highly appreciated for its aromatic, deep red wood, which is used to make furniture, musical instruments and decorative items.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has assessed the conservation status of red sander as “Vulnerable” (VU). This means that the species faces a high risk of extinction in the wild, due to a combination of factors including habitat loss, excessive harvesting for its valuable timber and illegal trade.
Red sanders are listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which regulates international trade in the species to ensure that it is sustainable and conserves its resources in the wild. Existence is not threatened.
Efforts are being made to conserve red sanders, including reforestation programs and a crackdown on illegal trade, but the species is endangered and its conservation status is closely monitored by conservation organizations.
Uses of red sandalwood
Lal Chandan, also known as Lal Chandan or Rakta Chandan, is a rare and valuable tree species that grows in India. It is known for its rich red wood, which is highly valued for its use in traditional medicine, woodcraft, and various other applications. Here are some of the uses of red sandalwood:
- Medicinal Uses: Red sanders are widely used in traditional Indian medicine, especially in Ayurveda, to treat a wide variety of health conditions. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory, antipyretic and analgesic properties and is used to treat skin diseases, fever, headache and other ailments.
2. Woodcraft: Red sanders wood is highly valued for its rich color, texture and durability. It is used in wood crafts to make high quality furniture, carvings and decorative items. Due to its rarity and high demand, red sandalwood wood is often illegally harvested, threatening its conservation status.
3. Religious and Cultural Uses: Red sandalwood is considered sacred by many Hindus and is used in various religious and cultural ceremonies. It is also used in traditional Indian medicine for spiritual and mental healing purposes.
4. Dyeing: The red pigment obtained from the wood of the red sanders tree is used for dyeing textiles, especially silk. The dye is known for its deep red color and is highly valued for its durability.
5. Cosmetics: Red sanders are used in cosmetic products for their skin-healing properties. It is believed to help reduce inflammation and soothe the skin, making it a popular ingredient in face masks and other skin care products.
6. Aromatherapy: Red sanders wood has a distinct aroma that is often used in aromatherapy. The essential oil extracted from the wood is believed to have relaxing and calming properties, making it a popular ingredient in diffusers and candles.
7. Incense: Red sandalwood is also used for making incense sticks. The wood has a sweet, woody scent, which is believed to purify the air and create a relaxing atmosphere.
8. Musical Instruments: The wood of red sanders is used to make musical instruments such as flutes, guitars and violins. The resonant properties of wood make it an excellent choice for creating high-quality sound.
9. Carvings and Sculptures: Red sandalwood is often used to make intricate carvings and sculptures. The rich color and texture of the wood make it a popular choice for making decorative items and artwork.
10. Industrial Uses: Red Sanders wood is also used in the manufacture of various industrial products such as high-grade furniture, luxury car interiors and high-quality flooring. Wood’s durability and rich color make it an excellent choice for making high-quality, long-lasting products.
11. Food flavoring: Red sanders wood is sometimes used as a flavoring agent in Indian cuisine. The unique aroma and flavor of the wood make it a popular ingredient in some cuisines, especially in the southern regions of India.
Overall, the uses of red sandalwood are varied and diverse. From traditional medicine to woodworking and industrial applications, this rare and valuable tree species has many benefits and is an important resource for India’s economy and culture.