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Bayliss-Smith, Tim

Tim Bayliss-Smith is a human geographer whose wide interests include agriculture, rainforest botany, anthropology and archaeology. He first worked on Ontong Java Atoll for his PhD at the University of Cambridge, and then continued work in New Guinea and Fiji. In 1986 he carried out surveys of village economies in Marovo Lagoon. Since then he has worked on agroforestry and logging in Marovo in collaboration with Edvard Hviding, and he has carried out historical research on population issues in the Western Solomons.


University of Cambridge, UK (Geography)
Agriculture, agroforestry, human ecology- Marovo

Current affiliation, academic qualifications and contact details

Timothy Peter Bayliss-Smith
M.A. and Ph.D, University of Cambridge
Reader in Pacific Geography, University of Cambridge
Work address: Department of Geography, University of Cambridge,
Cambridge CB3 2EN, England, U.K.
Home address: 48 Alpha Road, Cambridge CB4 3DG 
Tel:01223-338715 or 0223-333399 (work) 01223-301409 (home)
Fax: National 01223-333392, International 44-1223-333392
E-mail: tpb1001@cam.ac.uk
Nationality: British


I am a geographer whose engagement in Western Solomons dates back to fieldwork in Marovo Lagoon in 1986 and 1996-97. I have previously carried out extensive field research in Ontong Java atoll. My village surveys and interviews in Marovo Lagoon were all conducted in English and Pijin. As a result of this work I published a book with Edvard Hviding (2000) that reviewed Marovo knowledge of the forest and its history of use, from swiddens and taro terraces (ruta) to copra plantations, and then the switch from that mid-20th century economy to the modern opportunities offered by logging and ecotourism. Subsequently (2003) we have also written about forest disturbance in Marovo in the 19th century, before the move of inland populations to the coast and the disastrous population decline that took place in the first decades after full-scale colonial contact. I have also reviewed the population decline c. 1850-1920 that took place on Simbo (2006).  These are all topics that could, and I think should, be studied further, and also elsewhere in the region.

Further ideas and reflections

In particular I see a need for inland areas of the larger islands to be studied and documented, using archaeological, historical, oral-historical and botanical evidence. These are the areas now being re-settled by coastal communities, and they are also the focus for timber concessions to logging companies. Knowledge of past history needs to be collected now, before modern land-use removes all traces of old village sites, skull shrines, taro terraces, and the disturbed vegetation that marks old areas of swidden cultivation, and before oral-historical knowledge has faded away.

Key publications/reports/materials

Bayliss-Smith, Tim 1993. Time, Food and Money in the Marovo Lagoon, Solomon Islands: Village Surveys in a proposed World Heritage Site.  Technical Paper 299, CSC(93) EPP-19, Commonwealth Science Council, London. 25p.
Bayliss-Smith, Tim 1999. “Intensification in the Pacific: comment”. Current Anthropology, 40: 323-324.
Hviding, Edvard and Tim Bayliss-Smith 2000. Islands of Rainforest: Agroforestry, Logging and Ecotourism in Solomon Islands. Aldershot: Ashgate. 371p.
Bayliss-Smith, Tim,  Edvard Hviding and Tim Whitmore 2003. “Rainforest composition and histories of human disturbance in Solomon Islands”.  Ambio 32(5): 346-352.
Bayliss-Smith, Tim 2003. “The archaeology and ethnohistory of exchange in precolonial and colonial Roviana: comment”. Current Anthropology 44 (suppl.): S70-S71.
 Bayliss-Smith, Tim 2006. “Fertility and depopulation: childlessness, abortion and introduced disease in Simbo and Ontong Java, Solomon Islands”, in Population, Reproduction and Fertility in Melanesia, S. Ulijaszek (ed.), 13-52. Oxford: Berghahn.


Bayliss-Smith, Hviding & Whitmore (2003) - Rainforest Composition (0.214MB).pdf

Bayliss-Smith (2006) Simbo and Ontong Java depopulation (0.173MB).pdf

Western Solomons
Updated 12 January, 2011