Forests and the forestry sector
Nauru is a small island country with no forests and very limited tree resources given its size and land area (21 km2). It comprises a fertile band several hundred metres wide encircling an ancient coral reef, which rises as a 60 metres cliff inland to form a plateau in the centre of the island. This plateau contains extensively mined phosphate deposits. The flora of Nauru consists of almost 200 species, of which 30 are indigenous, and covering almost 20 percent of the land area. The major tree species are coconut, tomanu and banyan. There appears to be little scope for the development of any sort of commercial forestry (beyond coconut groves).
The major roles for trees are as shelterbelts, for amenity purposes and to assist in soil improvement programmes.
There are no forest industries in this country. As phosphate is the only significant resource on Nauru, commercial development of this resource takes priority over conservation of the natural environment.
The forestry sector of Nauru, as well as many small island developing states (SIDS), faces the problems of:
- limited land area and natural resources;
- vulnerability to environmental disasters, such as cyclones and hurricanes;
- high species endemism but low occurrence of individual species, leading to high risk for loss of biological diversity;
- high human population density, usually concentrated in lowland areas, which increases pressure on already limited resources;
- economic constraints due to relatively small scale;
- institutional constraints (including high levels of migration, particularly of skilled human resources).