How recognising cultural practices in environmental regulation can help protect natural resources like sandalwood

Conserving or protecting natural resources, like landscapes or products, can involve limiting people's access or use. When natural resources are connected to cultural, religious or spiritual practices, conservation needs to consider both biological and cultural diversity. Indian or red sandalwood, highly valued for its wood and oil, is a natural resource with significant economic and cultural value. The fragrant wood is used for carvings, furniture and in buildings, while the oil distilled from its heartwood has perfume, incense and medicinal applications. We speak with a chemist, an environmental historian and an environment and society researcher on why cultural preservation is key to the sustainable management of natural resources like sandalwood.

Featuring Danny Hettiarachchi, chemist and adjunct research fellow at the University of Western Australia, Ezra Rashkow, an environmental and South Asian historian at Montclair State University in the US,, and Jules Pretty, professor of environment and society at the University of Essex in the UK. 

This episode of The Conversation Weekly was produced and written by Nehal El-Hadi and Mend Mariwany, who is also the show’s executive producer. Sound design is by Eloise Stevens, and our theme music is by Neeta Sarl. Full credits for this episode are available here. Sign up here for a free daily newsletter from The Conversation.

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