Enhancing returns from high-value agroforestry species in Vanuatu - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Enhancing returns from high-value agroforestry species in Vanuatu


$1.53M, funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)

Leader: Dr Tony Page


In Vanuatu there is great potential for a smallholder led planted forest industry, based on high value timbers and non-timber products such as canarium (Canarium indicum) nut, sandalwood oil (Santalum austrocaledonicum) and whitewood (Endospermum medullosum) timber.

This project seeks to improve adoption of planted forestry by addressing the knowledge and resource gaps for these three key commercial species (canarium, sandalwood and whitewood).

Aims and objectives

The aim of the project is to advance the Vanuatu planted forestry sector by improving availability of new and existing technologies and facilitating wider smallholder adoption of three high-value forestry species: Canarium, sandalwood and whitewood. To achieve this aim, the following objectives are proposed:

  1. Enhance availability of improved quality Canarium seed through evaluation and capture of wild resources;
  2. Improve the value of plated sandalwood by widening the deployment of improved genetic resources;
  3. Enhance knowledge and capacity within whitewood value chain stakeholders, of growing, processing and marketing of high and lower value wood products;
  4. Increase adoption of existing technologies for planted forests through improved knowledge development and transfer among stakeholders.
Key successes

This project has conducted research for development with several current and future impacts including the following:

  • Detailed characterisation of wild Canarium resources and single tree seed collections undertaken across the best performing families to establish genetic conservation resource.
  • Canarium grower’s manual drafted for consolidated document to support growers.
  • Produced national sandalwood domestication strategy to guide future improvement.
  • Establishment next generation genetic resources and deployment of improved clones for sandalwood.
  • Inventory of planted whitewood conducted in Santo with an estimated 10,000 cubic meters available across 500 smallholder sites.
  • Visual grading system for whitewood further refined with five defined grades. The system offers simplified structural and decorative specifications.
  • Increased promotion of forestry information to stakeholders through social media.
  • Implementation of four Master TreeGrower workshops with stakeholders in Efate, Malo, Santo and with national group of sandalwood growers.
  • Godfrey Bome, Vanuatu Department of Forests
  • Joseph Tungon, Vanuatu Department of Forests
  • Michael Tabi, Vanuatu Department of Forests
  • Mesek Sethy, Vanuatu Department of Forests
Research team
  • Dr Tony Page, USC
  • Liz Ota, USC
  • Paul Macdonell, USC
  • John Doran, USC

Dr Tony Page 
Senior Research Fellow

Tel: +61 408 889 684
Email: tpage@usc.edu.au