Solomon Islands is an archipelagic nation of nearly 1000 islands in the western Pacific spread across nearly 1700 km of water. Due to isolation on islands, Solomon Islands boasts extremely high rates of endemic species found nowhere else in the world, and the country has the highest level of avian endemism per land area of anywhere on the planet. While much of the original lowland forests have been logged, there are still areas of intact mountain forests forming “islands in the sky”, with incredibly unique and fragile flora and fauna.
The proximity of the deep South Solomon Trench System, with depths of up to 7500 m, and shallow, coastal marine habitats has resulted in spectacular marine biodiversity. Solomon Islands has some of the highest
coral reef diversity recorded in the world (e.g., nearly 500 species of coral and over 1000 species of reef fish),
justifying its inclusion in the Coral Triangle, the global center of marine biodiversity. Solomon Islands also provides critical feeding and breeding habitat to threatened species of marine turtles and dugong.
Solomon Islands also supports diverse human populations, with the first inhabitants arriving some 20,000 years ago. The largest number of people are found on Malaita and Guadalcanal islands, which combined have over 45% of the country’s population. Indigenous Solomon Islanders, through their knowledge, practice, and belief systems, developed complex systems of customary management that regulated access to and use of terrestrial and marine resources. The strong connections between biophysical and cultural realms still persist, though they are threatened by strong pressures from commercial exploitation and climate change.
In Solomon Islands, WCS focuses our work in Western Province in the Kavachi Seascape, around the Marovo-Tetepare complex, and through the complex Roviana and Vonavona lagoon systems, including the cloud forests of Kolombangara Island. We are also starting to expand our integrated island and marine spatial planning work to Central Province islands.