Sandalwood ( Santalum yasi ) or ahi, as it locally known, remains an important cultural plant in Tonga . The fragrant heartwood is frequently used to scent coconut oils and during wedding ceremonies the bride and groom are dusted with powdered heartwood. The most recent commercial exploitation of ahi on ‘Eua was in 1996-97 when som small scale utilisation occurred. The price paid to cutters was 2-3 Paanga ($Aust 2-3) per kilogram of heartwood.
In March 1999, the Forestry and Conservation Division / SPRIG Project established a small trial planting of Santalum album and S. yasi on ‘Eua. The main aim of this trial is to evaluate the growth of different Indian seed sources of S. album and compare with the growth of the local species. The stand will also be useful later on as a seed stand, and includes the most genetic diversity of the highly promising S. album in the South Pacific. In February 2000, it is planned to establish additional field trials of S. album , S austrocaledonicum (ex New Caledonia ) and S. yasi.