NUKU’ALOFA-January 5: 4.12pm (R2R Media): Tonga is working on three national targets that would help achieve the reduction of pressure on our natural environments and resources while promoting their sustainable use.
The Director of Environment Atelaite Lupe Matoto made the comments while speaking at the Thirteenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CCBD COP13) in Cancun, Mexico in December.
Tonga has three National targets to contribute to Aichi Target 5, which are:
The expansion of agriculture is minimised and contained;
Forest ecosystems and ecosystem services are protected;
and community participation is improved.
There are 20 Aichi Targets in all, endorsed at the tenth Conference of the Parties to the CBD in Nagoya, Japan in 2010.
They help to meet five different strategic goals which aim to reduce the loss of biodiversity by the year 2020.
Strategic Goal B of the Aichi target is to reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use
Target 5 states that by 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced.
Ms Matoto reported that Tonga has made progress in achieving the three national targets, with work still being in progress.
“Trends in pressures from unsustainable agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture are decreasing through ongoing awareness programmes and re-enforcing compliance to legislations,” Ms Matoto said.
“ Although there is evidence of abuse in forest reserves, there have been tax allotments used for conservation areas to be rehabilitated with forests.
“Extinction risk trends of habitat dependent species, for avifauna is currently low. After a rapid biodiversity survey, habitats for dependent species have been located and will be nominated for protection. This includes habitats for the polynesian megapode, the “Malau”.
“Population trends for dependent species show a positive change.”
Ms Matoto said that the Vava’u archipelago retains high terrestrial biodiversity values including species found nowhere else in the world, and several sites are particularly important to conserve these values.
She said that there are a range of threats present “of which invasive species such as rats and yellow crazy ants are particularly important”.
She added that Government also recognise the key role that local communities play in looking after their natural resources.
“And we hope that the information will assist them to be strong guardians of the plants and animals that make Vava’u such a special place,” Ms Matoto said.
One of the highlights for Tonga is the fact that the country is the first in 14 Pacific countries to implement a Ridge To Reef project.
Ms Matoto said that the project has involved working with different communities.
“We are working collaboratively with communities, government and non-government organisations, private sectors, international and regional organisations, and institutions,” Ms Matoto added.