Wait a year to microchip and protect sandalwood trees

Wait a year to microchip and protect sandalwood trees

Microchips would help protect Sandalwood trees from illegal loggers. DH Photo

Save your sandalwood trees for another year. Perhaps, then you can purchase a microchip from the Institute of Wood Science and Technology (IWST), link it to your smart phone, and save your tree from any where in the world.

After two years of research and development on inserting microchips on sandalwood trees, IWST and Hitachi India Private Limited are now correcting the anomalies before making the service available to public.

Karnataka government had taken the lead in inserting microchips on sandalwood trees. The move was to protect the Sandalwood -- the state tree of Karnataka -- from illegal loggers. The microchips would also help maintain a sandalwood tree count. In October 2016, IWST and Hitachi had launched an e-Protection System for High Value Trees, along with an App. Though the list included sandalwood, red sander and rose wood trees, the focus was on sandalwood. A microchip is inserted in the tree bark which detects threats if any,  and sends an alert to the owner’s mobile phone.

As a sample, IWST and Hitachi installed microchips on 100 sandalwood trees of which 50 are in a private land in Nelamanagala, and the remaining in the IWST campus in Bengaluru.

“After we installed the chips, we got to know the technical issues. They are now being corrected, and then the chip will be available for people to purchase and install,” IWST Director Surendra Kumar told DH.

Initially, the hiccups were many. At times, the battery size was bigger than the tree-trunk.  Also, the battery-life was just about 7 to 8 months and replacing it was a problem. The biggest hurdle was the sensitivity of the chip to natural wear and tear.