We went to the sandalwood forest towards the end of the trip to Chinnar. We examined the forest from outside for a while until we found an entry inside one of the parts that were cleaned of the weeds and parasitic parts that were cleaned of the weeds and parasitic plants for research purposes. When we entered there was no prominent smell or sight, it seemed like any other forest. The only thing eye-catching was the giant squirrels but then walked in two forest officers who were really knowledgeable about sandalwood. As they started to answer our questions, I got more and more interested. One question would provoke multiple others, there was so much more to this forest than what it had seemed Sandalwood experience. And by the end, the giant squirrel became the least interesting thing there.
The amount of effort that was put to safeguard it from people who steal this wood
was astonishing. They also went above and beyond to ensure that they don’t interfere
in the naturally existing ecosystem. They only use the trees that have naturally hit
the ground. They manage to commercially sell even though they don’t allow any trees
to be cut. One of the most prominent notes were that the sandalwood is not very easy
to grow. It’s not very adaptive and the Marayoor climate, altitude, and soil are molded
for the perfect environment for sandalwood. At first, I did not really understand why
the trees here are considered so much better than any other around the world. I was
expecting their reasons for it to be very vague, almost like a biased mother talking
about her child. On the contrary, to my expectations, they had very valid answers and
proof. It was surprising at first but after hearing about the effort they put into
keeping the forest as natural as possible, it became believable. The two men
communicate in Malyalam and not in English, so I was constantly asking for
translations from my teachers. I had a lot of questions that he kindly gave answers to.
I also really want to thank them since they took out the time to meet us and give very
comprehensive and informative answers to all of our questions. We ended up staying
there talking to them for a very long time even though it didn’t feel so. And by the
end, the giant squirrels became the least interesting thing there.