The Solomon Islands is located in the pacific, spreads over 9,900 islands, and covers about 28,000 km2 of land area. The population is estimated at 515,870 (25 people per km2) with an annual growth rate of 2.3%. About 80% of the population lives in rural areas, and only 20% in cities (Census; 2009). The archipelago is mainly mountainous with some extensive plains, and the country has one of the highest percentages of forest cover in the pacific region. The total forest cover is estimated around 89.9% of the total gross land area (FAO, 2018). The vast majority (99%) of the forest area in the Solomon Islands is natural forest, followed by small areas of commercial plantations (0,95%) and community woodlots (0,05%) (Solomon Islands Government, 2018).
The Solomon Islands’ vegetation is diverse, and the country is listed under the Global 200 Ecoregions (MECDM, 2016-2020). Its montane forests represent a globally important bird area which led to Solomon Islands being categorized as an “Endemic Bird Area” (EBA) (Kool et al. 2010). The country has no national protected areas network, meaning existing ecosystem protection is provided only through provincial ordinances and customary law. Terrestrial areas under these forms of protection account for an estimated 5% of land area (Solomon Islands Government, 2014).
Between 2001 and 2017, the total forest area of the Solomon Islands was reduced by 9,840 ha, which represents a total deforestation rate of 0.39%, or a mean annual deforestation rate of 0.02%. The main driver of deforestation conversion of forest to subsistence agriculture. This occurs predominantly (65%) in lowland forest and, to a lesser extent, in hill forest (FAO, 2018).
The recommended sustainable timber harvest rate is estimated at 250,000 m3 per year, but since 2006 the volume of logs exported has gradually exceeded 1,000,000 m3. This export volume increased in recent years and reached a peak in 2018 of 2,700,000 m3. Nearly 85 % of the active felling licenses are currently operating in already logged over forest (MOFT, 2018).