Different types of forest in Loru, Vanuatu

May 8, 2017

We all have an image of forest and perhaps a vague definition, but visiting the Loru Plan Vivo project on Vanuatu I learnt that forest can be many different things, depending on its history. Forest is defined as follows:

 

  • areas of more than 0.5 hectares
  • trees higher than 5 meters or able to reach this height
  • canopy cover of more than 10 percent
  • not used for any form of agriculture (including plantations)

 

In the Loru REDD+ area we saw forest in different stages of degradation and rehabilitation:virgin undisturbed forest

Virgin forest: undisturbed by human activity, lush, large-leaved plants and high trees with a good covering of leaves and branches at the top. This forest felt truly alive.

Degraded forest invasive wine

Degraded forest: areas where invasive vines have taken over. We heard that the vines were brought to the islands to provide camouflage during WWII. Now the trees are smothered and the forest has an alien appearance. It’s a huge problem which the Loru project is tackling one square metre at a time.

agroforestry plot 1-3 yrs

Agroforestry plots: the rehabilitation method recommended by the Vanuatu forestry department for restoring tall native tree species in the most degraded forest areas. The plots are fenced off and tree seedlings are inter-planted with crops until the trees are 5-10 m high. Then the plots are left to regenerate naturally. We saw both a new agroforestry plot and an old one where the trees had reached 5 metres and the canopy 10% cover. It was going to take time for all the species on the forest floor and in the understory to return, but at least plants grow fast in the tropical forests on Vanuatu.

 

Claire Wigg
claire.wigg@zeromission.se