Dutjahn Sandalwood Oil: Creating a legacy with each drop

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To many, fragrance is a journey. An immersive experience that drifts through dreams and emotions, or an escape to other worlds. Always, in some way, touching the lives of those who use it. Yet the power of fragrance to connect to people and place reaches far further.

In an almost otherworldly place, in the center of Australia, is an unlikely haven. Here, where a kaleidoscope of rich desert colors meet dizzying thermal extremes, is the home of ‘Dutjahn,’ the Martu and Wongi word for sandalwood (Santalum spicatum), a sacred tree revered by its Traditional Custodians for thousands of years. To the Martu, the Australian sandalwood tree is a link to the soul, its spicy, woody aroma said to align the mind, body and spirit.

It is also the inspiration for Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils, a 50% Indigenous-owned distiller that has reimagined the sandalwood supply chain, creating a nature-positive model with benefits for generations to come.

"For us, connection to the land is everything," says Martu man Clinton Farmer, who together with Indigenous leaders founded and owns 50% of Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils. "It’s not just about the sandalwood but about everything that surrounds it–the animals, the trees, the waterways. If you look after the land, the land will look after you.”

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This connection to the natural world, and the principles of collaboration, diversity and adaptation that underpin it, lie at the heart of Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils. As an equal partnership between Traditional Custodians and the world’s largest cultivators of Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum), the company’s sourcing model addresses inequality, stems biodiversity loss and takes climate action. Fundamental to this is the fusion of renewable, cultivated trees with wood cared for by Traditional Custodians to create a more balanced and secure supply chain that prevents biodiversity loss. For perfumers, this also creates quality benefits, these exclusive, ethical partnerships supplying premium grades of wood.

When cultivated the ecological benefits of the trees are also tremendous. Grown together with host trees, these native mixed species’ plantations provide food and shelter to native animals, recreating thriving ecosystems on lands once cleared for farming. As well as reducing salinity and bolstering the soils with its nitrogen-rich leaves, the trees sequester carbon – a benefit recognized by the issuance of Australian Carbon Credit Units last year.

Perhaps the greatest benefit though, lies in the royalties that flow back to Aboriginal communities through the K Farmer Dutjahn Foundation (KFDF), an independent, Indigenous-led not-for-profit. As well as profit-share and wood sales paid to Traditional Custodians by Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils, Martu-led projects backed by the KFDF benefitted 396 Indigenous people in 2022. For the young people, these programs offer a chance to learn the precious traditions of their ancestors - one of the world’s oldest living cultures. Since the programs began, these young custodians have reimagined art and culture using virtual reality, and under the watchful eyes of their Seniors and Elders, learnt vital skills to care for their vast and biodiverse country.

In 2019 Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils won the United Nations Equator Prize for this unique model, and last year attained the first Union of Ethical Biotrade (UEBT) Verified Responsibly Sourced Sandalwood Oil. This year, the company celebrated EcoVadis Platinum rating.

"For perfumery, Australian sandalwood offers incredible warmth and complexity that delivers naturality to a product. Its woody, creamy and spicy notes enhance formulas, and amplify other materials," says CEO Guy Vincent, previously perfumer for Estee Lauder and Aveda.

“But beyond this, there’s also something intangible. When you use Dutjahn sandalwood, you are connected to the people who produced it, right through the supply chain.”

“This is not just a product – this is a legacy.”

To request a sample or learn more, visit www.dutjahn.com/fragrance.


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