Land clearance for logging in the Solomon Islands will lead to unsustainable levels of soil erosion and significant impacts to downstream water quality. That’s according to researchers who studied Kolombangara Island.
“When land-clearing extent reached 40% in out models, international standards for safe drinking water were exceeded nearly 40% of the time, even if best practices for logging were followed,” said Amelia Wenger of the University of Queensland, Australia.
Wenger and colleagues believe that the logging’s impacts will compromise the integrity of the land for future agricultural uses, interrupt access to clean drinking water and degrade important downstream ecosystems, according to their press release.
Commercial logging accounts for about 18% of government revenue in the Solomon Islands and at least 60% of exports.
The Kolombangara Island Biodiversity Conservation Association is leading efforts to create a national park that will safeguard forests above 400 m with cultural and ecological significance.
“Saving tropical forests worldwide depends on tighter regulation of national laws and policies, as well as local buy-in for forest management,” said Stacy Jupiter of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). “This study nicely illustrates why we need to take action now to protect the world’s remaining intact forest landscapes in order to preserve their biodiversity and important ecosystem services for people.”
The team published the findings in Environmental Research Letters (ERL).