Pacific Forest

A History of Resource Control and Contest
in Solomon Islands, c. 1800–1997

Judith A. Bennett

Pacific Forest explores the use of the forests of the Solomon Islands from the prehistoric period up to the end of 1997, when much of the indigenous commercial forest had been logged. It is the first study of the history of the forest in any Pacific Island; the first analysis of the indigenous and British colonial perceptions of the Melanesian forest; and the first critical analysis for this region, not only of colonial forest policies but of later policies and practices which made the governments of independence exploiters of their own people. Pacific Forest addresses a range of evidence drawn from several disciplines, and is a major contribution to environmental history.

Read full text on JSTOR.

‘A brilliant synthesis of historical scholarship, mining almost all conceivable sources … It is a book that will be used by Pacific Scholars, especially Melanesianists worldwide, for decades to come.’

Tim Bayliss-Smith, University of Cambridge

‘This volume represents a massive research undertaking, and covers almost all conceivable topics of relevance to the forests of the Solomon Islands.’

Wardlow Friesen – Journal of the Polynesian Society

‘… shows how and why rural people have had few viable alternatives for making their way into the modern economy.’

Kathleen Barlow – Contemporary Pacific

‘Ambitious in its conception, the book is a major contribution to our understanding of the relationships between the development of natural resources and a country’s political dynamics.’

Tarcisius Tara KabutaulakaJournal of Pacific Studies


Judy Bennett, an Australian living in New Zealand, grows roses and vegetables and teaches history at the University of Otago, Dunedin in Te Wai Pounamu (the South Island). In the 1970s, after teaching for some years in Papua New Guinea, she extended her interest in Pacific History through her post-graduate work, which led her to the Solomon Islands. Outcomes of this were her award-winning book, Wealth of the Solomons: a history of a Pacific Archipelago, c. 1800-1978 (Honolulu, 1987), a classic in its field, as well as two books for Solomons’ high school students. She has written also on aspects of labour history in Hawaii, Solomons, Fiji, and Queensland and on colonial administration in New Guinea. 




Chapter 1. Solomons Forests

Chapter 2. To Open the Forest

Chapter 3. A Great Coconut Estate

Chapter 4. From the Shortlands to Santa Cruz: Beginning the Timber Industry

Chapter 5. The Vanikoro Kauri Timber Company

Chapter 6. World War Two: Focus on Forests

Chapter 7. Domestic Needs and Overseas Markets, c. 1950–1963

Chapter 8. The Government is but a Stranger …

Chapter 9. The Forestry Department and the Control of Species, c. 1960–1980

Chapter 10. Contest for the Forests, c. 1963–1985

Chapter 11. Attempts at Control? c. 1980–1990

Chapter 12. Aiding the Forests

Chapter 13. Provincial Ambitions, Community Aspirations: The Western Islands, 1985–1995

Chapter 14. Provincial Ambitions, Community Aspirations: Central and Eastern Islands, 1985–1995

Chapter 15. Profits and Loss, c. 1982–1996

Chapter 16. Contested State: Contest of States, 1993–1997

Conclusion. The Forest, Contested and Uncontested






Publication date: 15 March 2022

ISBN 978-1-912186-54-9 (PB) £30. 528pp.