Department of Forests


Vanuatu possesses soils and climate that are conducive to timber production. The challenges for this sector will include ensuring replanting of trees at a rate at least equal to the volume being harvested; to foster the utilization of additional species; and to develop additional value-added processing.

Developing a sustainable forestry sector will depend on attracting investors for developing larger commercial timber plantations. A parallel opportunity for development lies on organizing and empowering mobile sawmill operators to expand into value adding wood processing.

Although there is a big decrease to the GDP, the Department of Forests continues to maintain awareness and trainings on reforestation and afforestation. There are 18 nurseries established in all the provinces where farmers can source seedlings to increase the number of tree plantings.

Reports from the provinces indicate the growing number of farmers annually who participate in establishment of private woodlots. Tree planting is regarded as a long-term development that can only be harvested at a certain maturity/age, hence the department's vision for the next five years is to increase its revenue to twice the amount collected in 2000.

National Forests Inventory

Vanuatu's forest resources were quantified in the early 1990s by a National Forest Inventory carried out with overseas assistance. This study found an estimated 117,000 ha of natural forest (about 10% of land area), not all of which was suitable for commercial timber production.

The sustainable yield from the natural forests was calculated as being between 38,000 and 52,000 m3 per year (Incoll, 1994).Current annual logged volume is between 25,000 and 30,000 m3, with Government policy requiring that all logs be sawn in the country. However, current Government commitments to the logging companies mean that future logging could be many times more than the sustainable yield.

Since 1993, several Asian based companies have been attempting to start large-scale logging operations, but so far their activities have been slowed down by a mix of Government policy, landowner actions and international concern.
The Department of Forests operates under the purview of an Act that makes provision for the protection, development and sustainable management of forests and the regulation of the forestry industry in Vanuatu, and for related purpose.
Guided by the staff of the Vanuatu Department of Forests, the 1997 National Forest Policy has been reviewed and revised. This updated policy is the result of a collaborative and participatory effort to set a framework for the development and management of the entire forestry sector.