Paradise lost: how China can help the Solomon Islands protect its forests

Our new investigation conclusively shows that tropical timber across the Solomon Islands is being harvested on an unsustainable scale, and that much of the activity driving this environmental destruction is at high risk of being illegal. If the growing degradation of the Solomon Islands’ tropical forests carries on unchecked, it will have a disastrous and irreparable impact on the country’s environment. The loss of this carbon sink would also have a significant impact on climate change.

A log landing area with lots of piles of logs waiting to be picked up by boat, Solomon Islands by Alessio Bariviera

The Solomon Islands is one of the poorest countries in the Pacific region and its economy heavily depends on the forestry sector. However, lack of law enforcement and a pervasive web of corruption continue to plough through the country. China, as the main importer of Solomon Islands’ timber, is key in addressing the situation.

China is taking serious steps to address environmental degradation and to reduce pollution and carbon emissions at home. But the Chinese Government does not yet require commodities sourced from abroad to be legal and sustainable. It therefore overlooks an important aspect of its ecological footprint.

The report, ‘Paradise lost - how China can help the Solomon Islands protect its forests,’ opens by detailing how the rate of logging in the Solomon Islands is massively unsustainable, including through an analysis that maps all the logging roads in the country. It then outlines how the timber from the Solomon Islands is at a high risk of being illegal and how the timber trade in the Solomon Islands does little to benefit local people. The report then argues how China, as the main importer of logs from the Solomon Islands, has a responsibility to act. It ends with some conclusions and recommendations: China should require its timber importers to carry out checks to ensure that the timber they buy is, at a minimum, legal in its country of origin; and the Solomon Islands should immediately place a moratorium on all existing logging operations and review their legality.

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