Native Hawaiian Sandalwood is extremely vulnerable to overharvesting and risk of extinction due to the fact that it takes more that 40 years to mature, and harvesting involves taking the entire tree. Furthermore the sandalwood tree is a hemi-parasite species meaning that it needs to grow along with certain host plants making it a very tricky species to reforest successfully.
Sandalwood’s extraordinary fragrance, versatility, and medicinal properties have put it in high demand for centuries, all over the world. This is why Hawaii’s native sandalwood population was almost completely decimated during the infamous sandalwood trade that took place during 1815-1825.
Despite this terrible time in Hawaii’s history, Hawaii still remains the only region in the world where sandalwood is being commercially harvested with out regulation. Native Hawaiian Sandalwood represents a quarter of the diversity of the genera Santalum. Six separate species are found through out the islands, and within these species are several unique varieties, all endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. Santalum freycinetianum var.
Lanaiense has already been officially recognized as endangered. Therefore UpS has added the six native species S. pyrularium, S. involutum, S. freycinetianum, S. haleakalea, S. Paniculatum, S. elliticum to the ‘At-Risk’ list, in an effort to bring about stewardship of these living Hawaiian heirlooms that desperately need regulations that will provide guidelines to its management and protection.