Harvesting and exporting of sandalwood still being prohibited in Tonga, MAF warns

The Ministry of Forestry has warned that harvesting and exporting of sandalwood in Tonga were still being prohibited. Picture: KANIVA TONGA NEWS

NUKU’ALOFA, 14 AUGUST 2018 (KANIVA TONGA NEWS) – The Ministry of Forestry has warned that harvesting and exporting of sandalwood in Tonga were still being prohibited.

The warning came after the Ministry received reports sandalwood plants had been harvested and stolen in Ha’apai.

Sione Foliaki from the Ministry’s office in Tongatapu said he was aware of the reports.

He said it was reportedly announced on local radios reminding the public that harvesting and exporting of the “protected” plant were illegal.

According to the Ministry it “could be classified as a threatened species in the sense that it is very vulnerable to theft – so much so that the Tonga Timber Company is no longer planting sandalwood”.

“This (sic) species needs special protection if it is to develop as a sustainable export industry,” the Ministry said.

Sandalwood was a type of plant which yields fragrant timber and oil.

Known in Tongan as ahi, the plant was significant because it served as sources for body oil making process. The oil was used by the nobility and the royals.

In 2014 the Australian’s Tropical Forestry Services (TFS), which has plantations in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland, has secured a deal with an undisclosed pharmaceutical company, to sell sandalwood oil for $4,500 (US$3,268) per kilogram for up to 20 years.

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