Solomons-Vanuatu-Bismarck Moist Forests

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View of the large and medium-sized islands, and numerous smaller islets, reefs and atolls that make-up the Solomon Islands.
© WWF-Canon / Soh Koon CHNG

About the Area

This global ecoregion is made up of 4 terrestrial ecoregions: New Britain-New Ireland lowland rain forests; Vanuatu rain forests; Solomon Islands rain forests; and New Britain-New Ireland montane rain forests.

More than 1,000 islands are contained within this ecoregion, with each island group harbouring its own unique array of species. The climate is tropical wet.

New Ireland and New Britain support diverse lowland rainforests on volcanic soils as well as higher elevation montane forests. Umboi Island, lying between New Britain and mainland New Guinea, is noteworthy for its high number of fruit bats species (8) and important waterbird sites.

Destructive cyclones are a regular event in Vanuatu rain forests but many plant and animal species manage to thrive. The Solomon Islands rain forests are true oceanic islands with high vertebrate endemism, including single-island endemics, restricted-range mammals, and 148 species of land and freshwater birds with an astounding 69 bird species found nowhere else in the world.
Local Species
Among the islands' rare mammals are a small wallaby called the Dusky pademelon and the greater flying fox (Pteropus neohibernicus) - which is actually a bat.

Birds endemic to the ecoregion include Guadalcanal honeyeater (Guadalcanaria inexpectata), mottled flowerpecker (Dicaeum tristrami), Rennell white-eye (Zosterops rennelliana), Matthias fantail (Rhipidura matthiae), and the Malaita fantail (R. malaitae).

Featured species

Dusky pademelons have fur that is soft, thick, and typically gray brown to chocolate brown on the upper side of the body with a dark cheek stripe extending from behind the eye to the corner of the mouth. They have dark brown, silky feet and rounded ears. Females have a fold of abdominal skin that forms a fur lined pouch. Head and body length is between 29 and 67 cm. The tail is 25-51 cm long. Males weigh 11-18 kg and females, 5-9 kg. They inhabit open grassland areas with adjacent forest cover.

The name, pademelon, is derived from an aboriginal or native Australian term for ‘small kangaroo from the forest’.

They are typically solitary animals that socialize primarily for mating and occasionally while grazing in clearings.


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Threats
Intensive logging on the part of multinational timber companies is devastating both lowland and montane forest habitats. Logging also leads to the proliferation of non-native species, which often prove stronger than native species.

Potential threats include conversion of forests to oil palm plantations and increasing population growth pressures. In additional, introduced species such as cats, dogs, rats, pigs, and cane toads can all be detrimental to native species. Feral pigs have been singled out as a particularly harmful introduced species in New Ireland as they eat certain plants selectively to the point that they have been virtually eliminated.
WWF’s work
WWF s international forest programme, Forests for Life, is working to protect forests. It promotes forest management to the highest possible standards and aims to restore once-forested land. With over 300 forest projects in more than 70 countries WWF combines on-the-ground field and policy work to conserve or restore forests to improve human livelihoods.

WWF plans to expand its activities in Solomon Islands over the next 5 years to become a national programme. A 5-year strategic plan is being developed for the WWF Solomon Islands Country Programme which will see the current focus on marine protection expanded.

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