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22. Palau

Country data

Total land area (ha)


Total natural forest area 1990 (ha) % of total land


Reported plantation area 1990 (ha)


Population 1994


Source of data: Government statistics

General information

Palau consists of 343 islands, of which only nine are inhabited. The country is divided into 16 States, each having relative autonomy. Agroforestry is the traditional agricultural practice in the country. The main crops are: pineapple, banana, taro, cassava, papaya (grown among coconut), breadfruit, mango, betel-nut, and leguminous trees.

Tourism is a major and growing industry with some 40,000 visitors per year. As a Trust Territory of the USA, about 95% of the country’s national budget comes from the USA. An environment strategy is presently being prepared with assistance from UNDP.

Forestland is owned by private landowners, communities, or State Governments. The national Government does not own or manage forest lands. Plantations of mahogany were established during the 1930 ‘s, but most of the older plantations have already been harvested. A tree planting programme was started in 1970. Currently, the Forestry Department is planting about 10,000 mahogany seedlings and 5,000 seedlings of other species per year.

Forestry is a weak sector. It is a branch of the Division of Agriculture and Mineral Resources and is supervised by a Head Forester with a very limited staff. The responsibility for the management and conservation of natural resources, including forest resources, lies with the State Governments. There is a fairly good information base on soil, vegetation and timber. A forest inventory for the island of Babeldaop was conducted in 1987. A soil map on the scale of 1:10,000 is available.

The watershed is the most important element of forest management for a sustainable, clean and healthy water supply for the reef and marine ecosystems for tourism and fisheries development.

Since the late 1960s, the USDA Forest Service has been providing technical assistance including: a vegetation survey, a review of timber resources, a forestry plan, an inventory of ecotourism, a fire protection and fire fighting training, and a soil survey.

Policy and planning

A preliminary information mission to seven countries to launch a sub regional National Forestry Programme (NFP) in the South Pacific region was carried out in April 1994. Since that time no action has been taken for the launching of a Forest Policy and Strategic Planning Process following the Basic Principles and Operational Guidelines on National Forest Programme. The mission reported that information on conservation, land tenure, and land ownership is limited. Rehabilitation of degraded land and savannah in Babeldaob are important aspects that should be covered in a strategic planning exercise. Institutional aspects, i.e. organisation and human resources, are also weak.

Since the country is very dependent on its marine environment and marine resources for the fisheries and tourism industries, the forestry strategy has to be developed with strong linkages to these sectors.

The primary focus of forestry in Palau will be on reforestation and afforestation for watershed management. Acacia spp. is the main trees planted because they outperform other species in establishment and growth. However, the native species are beginning to be planted. The nursery capacity has been enlarged to meet the need for seedlings.

Focal point
Head of Forestry, Division of Agriculture
Ministry of Resources and Development
Koror, Palau
Phone: 6809-488 147


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