Forestry policies, institutions and programmes
Cook Islands have no specific forestry legislation to provide for the management and protection of forests. There are, however, various by-laws on individual islands that provide protection against fire damage, as well as a Native Timber Preservation Ordinance 1957, although this is inadequate for practical forest management or conservation purposes. The Conservation Act 1988 provides a framework for conservation activities in the Cook Islands, although it also provides little effective protection for forests. The Rarotonga Environment Act 1995 caters for protection of the environment on the islands of Rarotonga and Aitutaki.
The government forestry programme began in 1986 with assistance from the New Zealand Overseas Development Agency (NZODA), with the prime objective of controlling soil erosion in the Southern Group. Around 1 100 ha of forest plantation have been established. Pine (Pinus carribaea) is the main and (so far) the best-performing species. In Mangaia, where most of the plantations are located, there is potential for small-scale timber production and value-added wood processing. Sandalwood, mainly Santalum austrocaledonicum, has been widely planted and grows well on the coral plateaus of Mangaia, and shows great potential as a plantation species. The government has expressed strong interest in sandalwood planting and is actively encouraging farmer participation.
Last updated: March 2003