Ridge to Reef resilience or not, with Cyclone Gita

NUKU’ALOFA-February 20: 2.40pm (Enviro News): Tonga Ridge To Reef project sites around the Fanga’uta Lagoon Catchment Area were impacted in different proportions during Cyclone Gita, which hit Tonga on Monday, February 12.

An inspection team from the Department of Environment, which included Technical Officer Petelo Otoota, Staff Vivien Sika and National Communication/Information Officer Iliesa Tora, inspected the sites at the Popua Nursery, Vaini Eco-Tourism Site (VaikoFelefonu), Hoi Mangroves, Nukuleka, Manuka, Longoteme and Nukuhetulu sites.

The nursery at Popua, showing the damaged fence on the Hihifo side. But the mangroves are growing well on the foreground. Photo: R2R MEDIA

Both negative and positive impacts on project interventions were sighted around Fanga’uta Lagoon, of which 55% of Tongatapu’s population resides.

A number of ecosystem-based interventions were implemented including strengthening of coastlines through planting of mangroves, coastal trees and temporary revetments.

Many of the mangrove areas rehabilitated are still growing well, despite the cyclone damage recorded around them.  This could be seen at the Hoi, Holonga, Talasiu and Nukuhetulu sites.

Coastal trees on the coastline from Makaunga to Manuka were destroyed, with the exception of the temporary intervention established in Manuka.

Other impacts included damaged fences around mangrove rehabilitation sites because of fallen trees, missing signboards and information boards at the sites, and damaged ‘Waste’ signboards.

The inspection team picked up 15 ‘Waste’ signboards that were erected along the road advising people against littering along the road from Ma’ufanga to Manuka.

Young mangroves growing in Nukuhetulu despite the strong winds and rain brought by Cyclone Gita last week. Photo: R2R MEDIA

Meanwhile, Tonga is still under a State of Emergency.

That commenced at 10am on Monday, February 12 and will expire at 10am Monday, March 12, unless terminated early by the Prime Minister.

The National Emergency Coordination Centre in OG Sanft Building, Nuku’alofa continues to manage and collate information from actors such as Cluster leads, Police, Armed Force, Hospitals, District and Town officers, Red Cross Representatives and various communities.

Town Officers have been working together with the communities to clean up, assess damages in each respective village, clear roads of debris with support from HMAF and working with NEMO to restore of community water supply.

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