FSC publishes the new FSC Interim Forest Stewardship Standard for Solomon Islands

© FSC Italy / Christian Patrick Ricci and Mirko Sotgiu
Indonesian orangutan
© FSC Italy / Christian Patrick Ricci and Mirko Sotgiu
October 24, 2023
Category : Standards

The new standard becomes effective on 01 February 2024. 

Forest in Indonesia
© FSC Italy / Christian Patrick Ricci and Mirko Sotgiu 

FSC published the new FSC Interim Forest Stewardship Standard (IFSS) for Solomon Islands, encouraging responsible forestry practices in the country. FSC certification ensures social responsibility, environmental protection, and economic sustainability by transferring FSC’s Principles and Criteria into Forest Management practices. 

Solomon Islands is an archipelagic nation in the South-western Pacific Ocean, and a part of the seismic "Ring of Fire." It spans 990 islands with a total land area of 28,446 sq km and experiences a tropical climate characterized by hot, humid conditions and year-round rainfall. Remarkably, 89% of the landscape is covered by forests, including diverse natural ecosystems (2.5 million ha), industrial plantations (35,600 ha), and community woodlots (1,000 ha).  These forests hold over 4,500 plant species, including 230 orchid varieties. They also support high faunal endemism – species found only within a specific region -- with 173 bird species, 69 of which are unique to the Solomon Islands. 

In 2019, the population of Solomon Islands stood at approximately 720,000, growing at a rate of 2.7% per year. Most of the population belongs to the Melanesian Indigenous community, which adds to the country's significant cultural diversity. Additionally, the nation includes Polynesian, Micronesian, Chinese, and European communities. Linguistically, the Solomon Islands are incredibly diverse, with more than 70 distinct languages spoken. While "Pijin" serves as a common lingua franca, English is the official language. 

Despite the rich cultural tapestry and the economic benefits derived from its forests, the Solomon Islands have experienced a substantial loss of intact forest cover over the past two decades, as reported by The Global Forest Watch. This loss has primarily affected lowland and hill forests due to unsustainable logging, land conversion for agriculture, and temporary gardening. The challenges are compounded by population growth and urbanization, which place additional stress on the environment and natural resources. Nonetheless, a significant portion of natural forests, particularly montane and hill forests, remains undisturbed, accounting for approximately 69% of the total natural forest area. 

The IFSS for Solomon Islands is adapted to promote sustainable forestry in this island nation, addressing the challenges it faces. It applies universally to all forest types, ownership categories, and management scales involved in rough wood production. The development process began in 2018 and underwent rigorous revisions tailored to the country's needs. This included two public consultations (concluding in April 2019 and January 2020) and two stakeholder workshops on Kolombangara Island and Honiara Island in April 2019. On September 12, 2023, the IFSS received PSU final approval.  

This new standard will serve as a tool to regulate forest-based industries, guided by scientifically formulated principles and criteria. In addition to addressing the pressing need for improved monitoring and sustainable forest management practices in Solomon Islands, it also lays the groundwork for ongoing discussions about increasing accessibility for diverse stakeholders and organisations seeking certification. The result of this process is aimed at safeguarding the country’s rich biodiversity while also ensuring the long-term well-being of its people. 

For more details, you can access the IFSS for Solomon Islands (English version) in the FSC Document Centre, and any inquiries regarding the standard can be directed to nationalstandards@fsc.org