Red Sanders Smuggling: Impact on the Environment
Red Sanders is regarded as the 'Pride of Andhra Pradesh', popularly known as 'Red Sanders' or 'Red Sandalwood tree' and is an endemic tree species of the southern Eastern Ghats. It is popularly known as Red Sanders or Red Sandalwood tree. India is the main and lucrative market for smugglers, and many incidents are reported every year. As exporting sandalwood is banned in India, smugglers find ways and cause harm to the forests with the presence of Red Sanders.
- Red Sanders is found in the forests with climate forest type in the tropical forests in India.
- The natural habitat of Red Sanders is a hilly region with a hot, dry climate.
- In recent years, it has been found that the species population is depleting at an alarming rate, so much so that it is under threat of losing is existence.
Red Senders usage and properties
- Red sanders yield a hard fragrant timber and are prized for cabinet works, musical instruments, house posts and agricultural implements.
- Note: wood is not categorized as aromatic because the timber is not intensely fragrant.
- The dark red heartwood is used as a dyewood.
- The wood enriched in 'Santalin' is also ground and used for dyeing cotton, wool, and leather.
- The bark extract is used in the treatment of diabetes.
- The felling of trees and depletion of the species (Pterocarpus santilinus) is due to its usage in one of India's Critically Endangered medicinal species.
Red Sanders depletion causes
- Illicit felling
- Recurrent forest fires
- Mutated regeneration in vulnerable pockets of distribution
Red Sanders Environment Impact
- Found across the southern Eastern Ghats, Red Sanders growth is restricted to the hilly, deciduous forest region and endemic to several districts of Andhra Pradesh like Palakonda, Seshachalam and some parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Red Sanders is an endangered tree and endemic to the southern Eastern Ghats with high ecological importance.
Red Sanders Conservation Status
- Red Sanders (Pterocarpus santalinus) was listed as an Endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). As the overexploitation for Red Sanders' timber rose over the years in southern India, it was reclassified as 'Near Threatened' in 2018.
- Red Sanders is also granted protection as it is enlisted in Appendix II of the CITES. This means that a certificate is required to export it.
Note: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) od wild fauna and flora is an international agreement between governments. CITES aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild plant and animals does not pose a threat to the species' survival.
Govt. Measures to curb illicit felling
- Remote Sensing and Geographical Information System can be effectively utilized to understand Red Sanders bearing forest for objectives of conservation, tree improvement and legal commerce.
- After mapping the Red Sanders habitats using multitemporal satellite data is complete, conservation plans are drawn for future sustainable utilization.
- As the conservation of Red Sanders (Pterocarpus santalinus) is economically important, the areas with the rich repositories of the species should be identified, and habitats must be protected in situ conservation. Likewise, the gene sanctuaries must be granted protection and constant surveillance.
- Local communities and village people should be sensitized about their importance and existence for the sustainable forest as they grow in climax forest type, a highly stable forest. Any disruption and overexploitation related to one species may lead to a succession of the local ecology.