Forests cover a total of 4 billion hectares worldwide, equivalent to the 31% of the total land area. In Solomon Islands, that figure stands at 2.2 million hectares and about 79% of the total land area in the country (FAO).
Although the figures may seem high, the world’s forests are disappearing. Between 1990 and 2000 there was a net loss of 8.3 million hectares per year, and the following decade, up to 2010, there was a net loss of 6.2 million hectares per year.
In Solomon Islands, it is estimated that forests are being cleared, primarily due to unsustainable logging practises, at a rate which is eight times greater than the sustainable levels.
In 2012, a visiting forestry expert from the National Forestry Cooperative Federation (NFCF) of Korea, Dr. Shon Cheol-Ho, warned that Solomon Islands forest will inevitably become a “sunset industry” facing almost a complete depletion of forest resources from 2015 up to the late 2020’s if unsustainable levels of forest clearing activities were to continue.
Aside from the devastating effects tropical forest loss has on biodiversity and forest-dependent communities, a major consequence of deforestation and forest degradation is the release of heat-trapping carbon dioxide CO2 gas into the atmosphere.
Forests provide vast carbon sinks that when destroyed emit CO2 into the atmosphere, one of the most potent greenhouse gases and the primary component of anthropogenic emissions. Therefore, solving the problem of deforestation is a prerequisite for any effective response to climate change, biodiversity and the protection of people’s livelihoods.