All higher altitude forests and 90% of the rain forests are protected by legislation, by relief or by their isolation. The primary threat is uncontrolled fires along the lower boundaries with savannah-type vegetation. In all logged forests (currently less than 40 ha/year), the Forest Service monitors application of regulations and of permits. There are no large clear fellings, but the damages to young trees and regrowth may be serious. This is suspected, but such research has only been going on since 1993). Any type of forest can be endangered (level of security = 1 or 2; see Appendix 4). The actual logging practices do not cause deforestation.
Nickel mining from 1950 to 1975 damaged and destroyed many landscapes and mountains in the south and west of the mainland. Great quantities of waste were produced and dumped into the nearest valleys, due to the absence of any mining regulation. Mangroves and lagoons were polluted by sedimentation. Several species (Agathis ovata, Araucaria montana and Arillastrum gummiferum, for example) are still cut and destroyed because the present regulations are not sufficiently severe. The Provinces do not have legal jurisdiction over mining activities.
Strong winds and hurricanes cause some damages in the open forests (plantations, arborescent savannah, etc.). Bushfires are the main threat in savannah, maquis, the lowlands and plantations (affecting mainly Acacia spirorbis, Agathis ovata, Aleurites moluccana, Arillastrum gummiferum, Eucalyptus sp., Geissois racemosa, Melaleuca quinquenervia and Pinus caribaea). Despite public education and the efforts of fire-fighters, too many hectares of vegetation are burnt each year (for example: 3 000 ha in 1996; 21 700 ha in 1997).
The lack of regulation on private lands where there are the last stands of sclerophyllous forest explain old damage due to clearance, cattle and deer. The dry forest complex with Santalum austrocaledonicum and Terminalia cherrieri is the more threatened ecosystem of New Caledonia. There is a clear need to control and inform the landowners, and efforts toward this end started in 1994 in Southern Province, and 1991 in Northern Province.
Over-exploitative logging could be dangerous for some gregarious, dense and particular populations, such as Agathis lanceolata, A. moorei, Araucaria Columnaris, Arillastrum gummiferum, Intsia bijuga or Santalum austrocaledonicum.
The most efficient management is of the plantations of pines, which are harvested after 25 years of growth. The Melanesian peoples use several local woods for houses, carvings, canoes, cooking and fences, but they cut only the necessary trees and stems. The net volume is low.
Several large ecosystems of New Caledonia are noteworthy, and protected by regulations against pollution and urbanization (mangroves and swamps), bushfires and clearances (maquis in lowlands of the west coast). The conservation of some sclerophyllous forests is beginning to come into effect with the help of research institutes and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The agreement and the contribution of the landowners are indispensable. Both Northern and Southern Provinces have some new projects for conservation areas in sclerophyllous forests and rain forests. There are neither Forest Service nor conservation areas in Loyalty Islands Province. Currently, conservation is active for 3.7% of New Caledonia's land area (Appendix 5). During the coming years, objectives for Northern Province will include:
Southern Province has a similar agenda.