Integrated biomass residue management in Sandalwood Plantations in Australia

Jun 2022

Indian Sandalwood is plantation resource with an average price of AUD 78,000 per tonne of heartwood. QUINTIS Pty Limited has sandalwood plantations totalling more than 14,000 hectares in Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland, with products, particularly oils, exported primarily for the fragrance and pharmaceutical industries. The plantations are established in such configurations that for each sandalwood tree planted, on average two long-term host trees are planted to support the growth of this hemiparasitic crop. As a result, a significant proportion of the aboveground biomass in the plantation is not a sandalwood product and is considered to be waste. Most of the waste biomass from host trees in sandalwood plantations is readily available for collection and transport.

In that sense, Sandalwood plantations in Australia offers a unique opportunity in the supply of woody biomass into regional bio-hubs in support of the circular economy.

To support emerging local and regional biomass markets and to improve the sustainable management of the tropical sandalwood plantation resource, this study – which was carried out in the frame of IEA Bioenergy Task 43 (Biomass supply) – explores the potential availability and market feasibility of integrated biomass supply for bioproducts. A desktop biomass assessment was performed to ascertain indicative market viabilities by determining biomass quantities from plot-based measures and developing host species-specific aboveground biomass profiles. These species profiles and the unique planting configurations were combined and extrapolated across the sandalwood plantation estate to estimate the current and project woody biomass profile of the plantation.

Results indicate that at a mature age (15 years), up to 10 oven-dry tonnes of woody biomass is potentially available per hectare of sandalwood plantations. Increasing host species selection and optimised planting configurations may enable increased biomass availability.

This work was made possible with the support of QUINTIS (Australia) Pty Limited and lays the groundwork for future productive research outcomes.

The full report is available here:
Report – Integrated Biomass Residue Management in Sandalwood Plantations