Working Paper No. 29: Haumeni1, not many: renewed plunder and mismanagement in the Timorese Sandalwood industry


Sandalwood production in East Timor 1990-1996



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Sandalwood production in East Timor 1990-1996





1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

Heartwood (m3)


197.3

73.8

174.9

118.2

103.9

76.26

146.3

Sandalwood Oil (ton)

2.7

2.6

1.75

4.0

2.1

2.0

3

Powder (Serbuk/ton)

0.33

-

-

-

-

-

-

Source: Timor Timur Dalam Angka 1996
The main recent period of unsustainable extraction of sandalwood in East Timor occurred between 1997 and 1999 and reliable official figures are not available.

_______________________________________________________________




Acknowledgements


This paper was written under the auspices of the Resource Management in the Asia Pacific Project, Australian National University. Funding from the project made it possible to undertake fieldwork in Timor during 1999 and 2000.

References


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1 Meto Timorese word for sandalwood meaning ‘fragrant wood’.

2 This situation is hardly unique to Timor, and unregulated sandalwood harvesting has threatened the sustainability of existing stocks in numerous places (e.g. Ramanathan 1997; McKinnell 1992; Monk 1997: 652)

3 Data Ekspor Daerah Nusa Tenggara Timur, Kanwil Dep Perindustrian dan Perdagangan: Kupang 1997: 3. I note that it is illegal to export raw or unmodified sandalwood timber and rootwood.

4 Some degree of inter-island trade in sandalwood is not officially reported. Indeed, arguably the mechanism of inter-island trade in sandalwood represents a strategy to subvert export restrictions. Similarly, export figures from east Timor are not included here but are likely to have been higher than officially recorded up until the withdrawal of the Indonesian Government in late 1999.

5 Sandalwood is reported to have a high fixative quality and in the manufacture of aromatic oils it has intrinsic blending properties and attracts a premium price in international markets.

6 It is widely accepted that sandalwood is an endemic species of Timor and the region and not an import from India as was once argued. (Van Steenis 1939).

7 Malacca (Malaysia) was an important trading ports for Timorese sandalwood, a fact not lost on the Portuguese when they captured the port in 1511. In that year Alberqueque dispatched three ships to seek out the spice islands of eastern Indonesia including Timor (Therik, 1995: 47). The significance of Malacca to this region of Timor is recorded in the myths of the Sina Mutin Malacca (White China Malacca).

8 The immediate antecedent for this action was the punitive raid on the Portuguese trading entrepot of Mena on the north coast of Timor by the Kreang of Tallo in 1641 (Therik, 1995: 62).

9 Although precise figures on amounts are difficult to find. Van Leur estimated in 1614 that some 3000 pikul (1 pikul = 60kg approx) were brought onto the market each year. Cruwford (1856: 422) estimated the produce of Timor to be in the order of 8,000 picul. Moor makes the comment that the annual trade of Coupang which represented about 25 percent of the trade "has for the last 5 years exceeded twelve hundred thousand Spanish dollars" (1837: 3).

10 Beeswax was the second prized export commodity from Timor. In the nineteenth century there was high demand to supply the Javanese batik cloth industry.

11 Moor refers to imports such as "coarse blue and white cloth, large pattern chintzes…..china silks and chinaware….muskets and gunpowder." (1837:8)

12 Based on an earlier regulations, Peraturan Tjendana 1953 and Peraturan Daerah NTT No 11, 1966.

13 “Pemerintah Dareah Tk1 menguasai semua cendana baik yang berupa tumbuhan hidup ataupun mati maupun potongan, belahan, kepingan akar yang belum diolah; baik yang berada di dalam maupun di luar kawasan hutan negara dalam Propinsi NTT"

14 During the time of the Dutch East Indies Company it was already known that the sandalwood occurred mostly in the southern districts (van Hogendorp, 1779).

15 Banu prohibitions are still widely used in Timorese communities to effect controlled harvesting of tree crops, particularly areca nut and coconuts.

16 The total yield from this operation from the four main districts was reportedly 2,485.5 tonnes (Pos Kupang, 8 Juli 1998).

17 In one of those well meaning but futile gestures to arrest the crisis in sandalwood stocks, the then Governor called for all families in the Province to plant 10 sandalwood trees annually. (Jakarta Post, 16 December 1996).

18 Biasanya kayu milik rakyat yang hanya satu atau dua kilogram selalu dirampas oleh aparat keamanan dan orangnya di tahan tanpa proses yang jelas. Namun ada juga kayu milik pengusaha keturunan yang jumlahnya bertonton justru dibiarkan karena ada kolusi dan nepotisme. Hal ini tentu sangat merugikan rakyat dan Pemda NTT karena hal ini telah terjadi berkali kali dan berlanjut.

19 Official figures for sandalwood production after 1996 are not available.

20 It is reported that the former President Suharto also made a suggestion during a visit to the Province that the division of ownership rights for sandalwood be split 80:20 with the majority rights retained by the growers/ land owners. (see also Pos Kupang 26 July 1998).

21 Kayu Cendana yang tumbuh secara alamiah diatas tanah milik perorangan atau Badan Hukum adalah milik perorangan atau Badan Hukum tersebut.

22 The island of Sumba is another natural production area although now of minor significance due to un-regulated extraction of sandalwood stocks (see Dept Kehutanan 1991). For a comparative perspective on the decline of sandalwood stocks see Appendix 1.

23 Attempts to establish plantations in East Timor under the Portuguese Colonial Government were also undertaken with only limited success (Cinatti, 1950).

24 There is a strong belief in Timor that the scent of sandalwood is largely a feature of the respect and traditional protection offered by ritual communities. There are recent reports that sandalwood stocks have not been producing the same degree of scented heartwood and that this is related to the widespread plunder and vandalism against the tree. I note here that this could just be a reflection of the increased cutting of immature sandalwood trees that have not had time to develop heartwood.

25 Timor’s geomorphology is composed of extensive areas of uplifted limestone deposits and ancient coralline reef formations.

26 An interesting additional result of Nuningsih’s research is that once adventitious root regrowth has reached a height of 1m or more on the lateral root system, the saplings are viable even if the oil bearing roots of the ‘mother tree’ are then extracted.




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