Many of the Pacific Islands are covered with forest, although exploitation is now escalating in places like the
Solomon Islands. Forests of the Pacific Islands have been gradually reduced by subsistence agriculture, collection
of fuelwood, and use of wood as building material, but today deforestation is heightened by tropical timber harvesting.
||Solomon Islands Forest Figures
Total forest area: 2,172,000 ha
% of land area: 77.6%
Primary forest cover: n/a
% of land area: n/a
% total forest area: n/a
Deforestation Rates, 2000-2005
Annual change in forest cover: -39,800 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -1.7%
Change in defor. rate since '90s: 17.0%
Total forest loss since 1990: -596,000 ha
Total forest loss since 1990:-21.5%
Primary or "Old-growth" forests
Annual loss of primary forests: n/a
Annual deforestation rate: n/a
Change in deforestation rate since '90s: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990:n/a
Social services: n/a
Multiple purpose: n/a
None or unknown: n/a
Forest Area Breakdown
Total area: 2,172,000 ha
Modified natural: n/a
Production plantation: n/a
Production plantation: n/a
Plantations, 2005: n/a
% of total forest cover: n/a
Annual change rate (00-05): n/a
Above-ground biomass: n/a M t
Below-ground biomass: n/a M t
Area annually affected by
Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Number of native tree species: n/a
Critically endangered: 0
Wood removal 2005
Industrial roundwood: 637,000 m3 o.b.
Wood fuel: 159,000 m3 o.b.
Value of forest products, 2005
Industrial roundwood: n/a
Wood fuel: n/a
Non-wood forest products (NWFPs): n/a
Total Value: n/a
More forest statistics for Solomon Islands
The Solomon Islands are an archipelago east of New Guinea with a land area of 28,000 square kilometers, 77 percent (2.2
million hectares) of which are covered by tropical rainforest. The majority of these forests are inaccessible to
logging, being located on steep slopes and rugged terrain. Small-scale deforestation by locals has occurred over
the last few centuries, but today forests are increasingly disappearing due to timbering and, to a much lesser extent,
cocoa, palm oil, and coconut plantations. However, rapid population growth (2.7 percent) will put more pressure on traditionally un-loggable forests in the near future.
Commercial logging in the Solomon Islands is a recent development, which began only in the 1990s. Logging in places like the
Russell Islands (Central Solomons) was prohibited throughout the 1980s, but worsening corruption among government officials in the mid- to late 1990s allowed foreign logging firms to secure logging licenses in previously restricted areas. The government took some steps to regain control over logging concessions with export restrictions on logs in 1997 and the nationalization of the timber industry in 1998, but the rate of forest loss has still increased 17 percent since the close of the 1990s. verall, the Solomons lost 21.5 percent of their forest cover between 1990 and 2005.
Very little of the Solomon islands is protected and logging has brought few benefits to the native population.
The only tropical rainforests in the United States are on the island of Hawaii. Hawaii is one of the world's most remote archipelagos, located 3,000 miles away from the nearest continent
and 2,000 miles away from any other substantial islands.
Its 10 million years of isolation means that Hawaii has a high number of endemic species, although local biodiversity has suffered greatly from the introduction of alien species. These include mosquitoes—which devastated native bird life by the transmission of avian malaria and birdpox after their release in 1827 by a British vessel—as well as pigs, goats, cattle, sheep, domestic cats and dogs, wallabies, deer, mongooses, land snails, donkeys, horses, cane toads, rats, and chickens; many of these introduced species became feral populations. At least 62 endemic bird species, about two-thirds of the state's native birds, have gone extinct since humans first set foot on Hawaii. Though Hawaii comprises only 0.2 percent of the U.S. land area, it accounts for 70 percent of the extinctions in the U.S. and 25 percent of U.S. endangered species; yet the state receives only 2 percent of the nation's endangered-species funding.
Alien plants, like the passion flower and the poka vine, have also invaded and crowded out native plant species. Today more than 50 percent of plant species found on the Hawaiian Islands are foreign. At least another dozen species of plants, insects, or animals are said to be introduced into Hawaii each year.
In addition to foreign invaders, the rainforests of Hawaii have been cleared for timber harvesting, sugar cane
plantations, pineapple plantations, and housing development for the tourism industry. Less than 25 percent of Hawaii's natural forests remain.
The largest (160 square miles) and southernmost of the Marianas Islands is located in the Western Pacific south of Tokyo.
The northern area is forested where the U.S. Air Force has not built, while the southern area is grassy vegetation.
The forest had 11 bird species until the 1960s, when a massive die-off began. The die-off was unexplainable
but was attributed to many factors including DDT poisoning, introduced diseases and predators, habitat destruction,
typhoons, and mysterious military activities. By 1986, after the extinction of six bird species, biologists concluded
that the brown tree snake, introduced from the Philippines in the late 1940s, was the main culprit responsible
for the declining bird population.
Fiji and Tahiti
Tahiti's rainforests still cover about 60 percent of the country, thanks in large part to the interior, which has been shielded
from tourist development. Fiji retains 55 percent forest cover and has an ambitious reforestation program to reduce the pressure on natural forests. Eighty-four percent of Fiji's forests are communally owned.
The history of Easter Island, its statues, and its peoples, has long been shrouded in mystery. Some have suggested that aliens marooned on Earth planted the statues as signals to their fellow aliens to rescue them. Others have said that the statues were constructed by a great race of builders who were stranded on the island and built them before being rescued. Still others are convinced that an ancient society with the capability of flight constructed them along with the Nazca lines in Peru. However new evidence based on pollen analysis supports a much simpler theory, that the Easter Island inhabitants destroyed their own society through deforestation. continued >>
Other Pacific profiles
Suggested reading - Books
Unless otherwise specified, this article was written by Rhett A. Butler [Bibliographic citation for this page]
Contact me if you have suggestions on other rainforest-related environmental sites and resources for this country.
Last updated: 4 Feb 2006