Forests and the forestry sector
Almost 75 percent of Vanuatu¿s land area is covered by natural vegetation, with around one-third (447 000 ha) covered by forest. Most land is under customary land tenure.
For reasons of inaccessibility, low stocking, low commercial quality or for cultural reasons only about 20 percent of the total forest area is available for commercial purposes. The National Forest Inventory, estimates the total standing volume of the forest resource at about 13 million cubic metres. The National Forest Policy prescribes a sustainable yield of 68 000 m3 per year and allocates 70 percent of the available timber resources to large processing plants and 30 percent to mobile sawmills.
The area of forest plantations is estimated at 3 000 ha and is dominated by one species, Cordia alliodora. A Memorandum of Agreement signed with investors to develop 5 000 ha forest plantations may lead to further growth to 20 000 ha of plantations over 20 years.
Products and trade
In addition to commercial forestry operations, the forests provide a wide range of products for subsistence, and forestry is one of the main sources of cash income for the rural communities. Sandalwood is an important forest product in Vanuatu. It is used for fine carvings or made into incense or oil for perfumes.
Vanuatu¿s forest industry is small in international terms, but in national terms it is an important sector.
Last updated: July 2001