If the current rate of harvest continues conservative estimates say that forests of commercial value in the Solomon Islands will deplete within the next 10 years.

With very little alternative sources of income for the government, it seems likely that the rate of harvest may not be reversible anytime soon. The fact that logging contributes to at least 60% of government revenue highlights the predicament faced by successive governments - they cannot solve the problem because they are part of the problem.

The World Bank is increasing its involvement in Solomon Islands and is keen to help the country work out how best it could maintain its economy once its forests are gone. The government had called in the World Bank to help "chart a way forward" and last week the agency opened an office in Honiara.

The World Bank's Pacific director, Nigel Roberts, says that there are several areas, such as tourism, agriculture or mining, into which the government could direct its energies. He says what World Bank is trying to do is to help the Government get a better fix on how realistic those prospects are in the next three to four years.

Coupled by continuous allegations of corrupt practices within the industry, this issue has become a "slippery slope" for the government. Economists have warned time and again that if nothing is done to address this looming disaster, the long term prospects for the Solomon Islands is anything but good.

Solomontimes.com with SIBC