Red Sanders has fallen back into the “endangered” category of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The species, Pterocarpus santalinus, is a tree species endemic to India, with a restricted geographical area in the Eastern Ghats.
The species is endemic to a distinct stretch of forests in Andhra Pradesh. It was classified as “near threatened” in 2018 and has now joined the “endangered” list in 2021.
It was a moment of celebration when the species was removed from the endangered category for the first time since 1997.
The latest IUCN assessment said: “Over the past three generations, the species has experienced a population decline of 50 to 80%. He is assessed as endangered ”.
The IUCN maintains a list – called the Red List – of flora and fauna species and classifies them according to their conservation status.
The status ranges from “less concern” for species that are abundant in number to “extinct” for those that have completely disappeared from the planet. Species that fall under the categories of “critically endangered”, “endangered” and “vulnerable” are considered threatened, according to the IUCN categorization.
The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) tweeted the information on January 8, 2022, stating that the species found in Chittoor, Kadapa, Nandhyal, Nellore, Prakasam districts of Andhra Pradesh has been assessed as “endangered”
“The species is declining in its natural habitat due to overexploitation. He was assessed as a #In danger in accordance with IUCN criteria and also provided for in Appendix II of CITES and the Wildlife Protection Act, ”the MoEFCC tweet read.
The summary of the IUCN Red List indicates that if the species has retained its geographic range despite harvesting since 16e century, its population is experiencing a sharp decline this time.
“Overexploitation of the species has distorted the structure of the population, with trees of exploitable size and maturity being rare and representing less than 5% of trees remaining in the wild,” the summary said.
It is listed in Appendix II of CITES and its international trade is prohibited. Harvesting of the tree is also limited at the state level, but despite this illegal trade continues.
“However, there is still illegal harvest and trade in the species to meet global demand. This is evidenced by the large volume of timber and Red Sanders products seized by authorities at all stages of illegal sourcing, ”reads the Red Sanders Red List summary.
The slow growth of the species and the continued harvesting does not allow time for the species to recover naturally. Livestock grazing and invasive species also threaten the species.
The summary adds that the smuggling of Red Sanders continues despite the physical deterrents and patrols in place in Andhra Pradesh, as well as international, national and state laws preventing the cutting and transport of cash.
He further advises that conservation efforts should be strengthened and developed to protect the species.
In 2019, the General Directorate of Foreign Trade, an agency of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, revised its export policy on February 18, 2019 to allow the export of red sanding wood, if obtained at from cultivated land, Down to earth had then reported.
Red Sanders (Pterocarpus santalinus) known for their rich hue and therapeutic properties, are in great demand in Asia, especially China and Japan, for use in cosmetics and medicinal products, as well as for the manufacture of furniture, wooden objects and d ‘musical instruments.
Its popularity can be measured by the fact that a ton of Red Sanders costs between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore in the international market.
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