Invisible killer threatens country’s sandalwood forests - The Hindu - 28/09/2020
Sandalwood Spike Disease (SSD):
The disease is caused by phytoplasma (bacterial parasites of plant tissues) which are transmitted by insect vectors.
The disease was first reported in Kodagu in 1899.
More than a million sandalwood trees were removed in the Kodagu and Mysuru region between 1903 and 1916, prompting the Maharaja of Mysuru to announce a reward in 1907 for anyone finding a remedy.
The devastating impact in natural habitats resulted in sandalwood being classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 1998.
So far, no cure has been found for SSD but to cut down and remove the infected tree to prevent the spread of the disease.
India’s sandalwood trees are facing a serious threat with the return of the destructive Sandalwood Spike Disease (SSD) with the disease having resurfaced in the aromatic tree’s natural habitats in Karnataka and Kerala.
SSD has been one of the major causes of the decline in sandalwood production in the country for over a century.
Each year, between 1 and 5% of sandalwood trees are lost due to the disease.
Scientists have raised concerns that it could wipe out the entire natural population if measures are not taken to prevent its spread.
Also, they fear that any delay in arresting the trend may result in the disease spreading to cultivated sandalwood trees.
According to a study, the present rapid spread of the infection is largely due to restrictions on green felling in forests, which has allowed vectors to spread the disease to healthy trees.