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Red Sandalwood Falls Back into ‘Endangered’ Category


Red Sandalwood endangered: Relevance

  • GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Red Sandalwood endangered: Context

  • Recently, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature’s) has put Red Sanders (Red Sandalwood) back into the ‘endangered’ category in the in its IUCN Red List.


About Red Sandalwood

  • Red Sandalwood or Pterocarpus santalinus is an Indian endemic tree species, with a restricted geographical range in the Eastern Ghats.
  • The species is endemic to a distinct tract of forests in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Red Sandalwood was classified as ‘near threatened’ in 2018 and has now classified as ‘endangered’ once again in 2021 in the IUN Red List.
  • The species was lifted off from the endangered category for the first time since 1997. It was a moment of joy and celebration for all the people.


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Reason for ‘endangered’ status

  • The species is dwindling in its natural habitat due to over-exploitation. It has been assessed as an Endangered as per the IUCN criteria and also scheduled in appendix II of CITES and Wildlife Protection Act.
  • The over-harvest of the species has left the population structure skewed, with trees of harvestable size and maturity being scarce and making up less than 5 per cent of the trees remaining in the wild.
  • The species is listed under Appendix II of CITES and is banned from international trade. The harvest of the tree is also restricted at the state level, but despite this illegal trade continues.
  • The slow growth of the species and continued harvesting leaves no time for the species to recover naturally. Cattle grazing and invasive species also threaten the species.


Red sandalwood benefits

  • Red Sandalwood are known for their rich hue and therapeutic
  • They are high in demand across Asia, particularly in China and Japan, for use in cosmetics and medicinal products as well as for making furniture, woodcraft and musical
  • Its popularity can be gauged from the fact that a tonne of Red Sandalwood costs between Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore in the international market.


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IUCN Red List: Criteria for endangered status

  • Species that possess a very high risk of extinction as a result of the following factors are classified as endangered species in the IUCN Red List.
    • rapid population declines of 50 to more than 70 percent over the previous 10 years (or three generations),
    • a current population size of fewer than 250 individuals,
    • probability of extinction in the wild is at least 20% within 20 years or five generations,
    • and other factors.


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