NUKU’ALOFA – November 28: 3.15pm (R2R Media): The improved management effectiveness of existing and new protected mangrove areas around the Fanrga’uta Lagoon Catchment Area has achieved a success rate of 90 percent (90%) since the Ridge To Reef (R2R) project started in 2015.
Project Manager Ta’hirih Hokafonu highlighted this in her Project Progress Report submitted at the Community Management Committee (CMC) meeting at the Davina House in Ma’ufanga on Friday, November 24.
“About 80 hectares of mangroves and other biodiversity resources in the Fanga’uta Lagoon protected areas have been conserved and managed mainly for the sustainable use of the natural ecosystem,” she said in her report.
The program’s mangroves sites set up in the past year consisted of Makaunga, Popua, Longoteme, Talasiu, Holonga, Vaini, Folaha and recently Hoi.
This included mangroves replanting work which covered up to 20 hectares of land.
The last site that is yet to be completed is an additional 4 acres at Nukuhetulu village, which will be established later by the end of Quarter 4.
Ms Hokafonu said that apart from the direct mangroves replanting work, additional area were rehabilitated through waste cleanup campaigns.
This mainly focused on the coastal area around the 26 villages around the Fanga’uta Lagoon.
“The campaign focused only on the coastal area to remove bulky waste from suffocating mangroves and coastal vegetation there. The clean-up has covered up to 69ha of coastline in the clean-up campaign for mangroves and coastal vegetation rehabilitation,” she said in her report.
“Therefore, the program has covered a little more than 80 ha of mangroves and biodiversity in this effort. That means the achievements to date is 90%.”
Marine protected areas
Meanwhile, while talking on the increase in sustainability managed landscapes and seascapes that integrate biodiversity conservation, Ms Hokafonu said that 10,800 hectares of the Fanga’uta Lagoon Catchment (FLC) landscape and seascape directly or indirectly contribute to biodiversity conservation or sustainable use of its ecosystem services.
The project worked with 939.48ha of landscapes in the beginning of the project and 50% of that is continued to be monitored annually.
On the marine front or seascape the project continue to monitor 2,924.9ha of the sea environment in close collaboration with the Department of Fisheries and Department of Environment.
In July 2017 the R2R project received the Gazettement paper for the establishment of three Special Management Area (marine protected areas) for the villages of Nukuleka, Lapaha and Holonga.
The fourth proposed site at Nukunukumotu was rejected by Cabinet, which requested that this be considered for joint Management Area with its neighboring villages of Popua and Patangata.
Ms Hokafonu said that if this takes place in time prior closing of project it will increase areas for direct management by communities from 752ha.
The three SMAs have now been implemented, with demarcation already in place.
Communities are looking into monitoring of their managed sites to ensure sustainable fisheries is taking place.
Currently, the project directly contributes to the biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of ecosystem services at a total area of 3,864.38ha and indirectly it contributes to 10,000ha of the whole catchment area.
The total catchment of Fanga’uta is about 699,355 ha.
Ms Hokafonu said that the achievement to-date of this part of the project is now at 95%.
Increased vegetation cover
The intervention for replanting activities focused on seven (7) communities from the 26 coastline communities, as well as 27 schools (22 primary schools and 5 high schools) as to date.
The communities have planted a total of 3,081 seedlings and they have allocated about 277.5acres of town allotment for tree planting campaign.
For schools, the 27 schools have planted 2,830 seedlings, covering land area of up to 309acres.
With agro-ecosystem, seven (7) communities have allocated 72 acres of their land to replant coconut seedlings of about 1,900 coconut seedlings.
For this quarter the project has collected another 1,240 coconut seedlings to be distributed to address limited number of coconut seedlings available to communities with agro-forestry activity.
This means the project will directly cover about 6.58ha area of vegetation production with about 9,051 seedlings that has been planted to-date.
The monitoring of the tree planting activities continues quarterly, with the Forestry team monitoring the distributed seedlings across the catchment areas.
The achievement to date for the replanting activities is now at 90 percent (90%).