Large scale logging and mining

The Solomon Islands’ timber industry has been surrounded by controversy involving widespread destructive logging practices, widespread illegal logging and allegations of corruption. Forest degradation is a significant contributing factor to climate change.

Currently 87% of Solomon Islands’ land is customarily owned, a form of private land ownership. To date, the main commercial development in these privately owned forests has been industrial logging.  Solomon Islands has a long history of timber harvesting, however the intensity of this pressure has increased significantly in recent years.

The rate of large scale timber harvesting on the Solomon Islands has far exceeded the sustainable capacity of the merchantable forests. If harvesting of the forests continues at the current devastating rate, the national commercial log resources could be exhausted by 2015 – destroying the social, economic and environmental values of the affected forests.

In 2005, the sustainable yield for timber harvest in the Solomon Islands was determined to be 250,000m3/yr. In reality, this is not the case. In 2007, at least 1.4 million/m3/yr was harvested. In 2011, this harvested volume increased to a staggering 1.9 million/m3/year, which means that limited timber resources remain. Most of the Islands that comprise Solomon Islands have been completely degraded of their timber resources. However some of the more remote regions of Solomon Islands still have untouched forests. Not only does this have massive environmental implications, it also means that the country will need to fill the economic gap left from this dissolving income stream (currently 46% of Solomon Islands’ export earnings is from logging). Mining and agricultural projects are moving forward to fill this gap. The potential of large scale mining of nickel, gold and silver in the Choiseul and Western provinces is a growing concern, as it will adversely affect both the valuable land and sea resources.

Solomon Islands as today: wide spread heavily logged forest areas (Satelite picture Munda, Western Province)

Solomon Islands as today: wide spread heavily logged forest areas (Satelite picture Munda, Western Province)