Talks focus on upscaling the use of mangroves eco-systems to reduce disaster risks

NUKU’ALOFA-March 13, 2018: 1.35pm (R2R News): Mangrove eco-systems around the region were the focus of talks in Suva, Fiji last week as regional representatives joined experts in discussing how the mangroves  eco-systems can help reduce risks in the face of changing climate.

Hosted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the workshop combined government representatives from Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands, who joined the IUCN and three representatives from the ‘Mangroves for the Future’ in Asia and the ‘Global Mangrove Alliance’ partners.

Ms Ta’hirih Hokafonu (left) of Tonga’s Department of Environment with a fellow island participant at the Suva workshop. Photo: SUPPLIED

Tonga was represented by Ms Ta’hirih Fifita Hokafonu, the Principal Assistant Secretary (Principal Biodiversity Officer & Head of Biodiversity Division) at the Department of Environment here with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MEIDECC).

The workshop was held under the theme “Mangrove Eco-systems for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Deduction”.

Regional representatives heard from technical experts from India, Pakistan and Australia, who shared learnings from their own countries and also from experts of the Mangroves for the Future.

Ms Hokafonu said the workshop identified a number of issues relating to the mangroves eco-systems in the different countries.

“Pacific islands heard the status of mangroves initiatives in the region from country status report and the need for more technical assistance on that area,” she said.

“The workshop acknowledged that there is the need for national level to upscale mangroves initiatives at the region to address climate change adaptation and risk resilience.

“And the need to have continued collaboration with the IUCN in leading mangroves initiatives with provided forum spaces for Pacific Islands to share learning and knowledge.”

Participants were able to establish a common and shared understanding of opportunities for mangrove conservation and restoration for reducing direct and indirect impacts of disasters and climate change impacts and discussed the importance of and benefits from highly biodiverse and intact mangrove ecosystems versus restored mono-cultures. The trend of thought that it is enough talk and time for action with expectation that countries representative with the acquired new information can act on identified opportunities to enhancing mangroves initiative at national and at regional level.

The concept of nature based solutions for disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and community resilience was highlighted during the workshop and participants were able to learn from the sharing of knowledge and experiences from ‘Mangroves for the Future in Asia-Pacific’.

These would help in the planning process for the future work of the Pacific Mangrove Initiative.

A major discussion during the workshop was based on the learning provided from the ‘Mangroves for the Future’ organisation with their proven approach for consideration in mobilisation for a type of regional initiative for Oceania.

Part of the workshop programme carried out field visit to the ‘My Suva Park’ along Suva Point where participants witnessed recent efforts in mangrove replanting and visiting the proposed Eco-Park project in Vatuwaqa.

Regional participants during their field visit in Suva last week. Photo: SUPPLIED

Ms Hokafonu said learning from the workshop would be shared amongst her colleagues at the Department of Environment, and with communities who play a major role in managing mangrove areas and its associated species in Tonga.

The Department of Environment play a leading role in coordinating programmes aimed at restoring mangrove plantations around the Kingdom, including the Tonga Ridge to Reef’s Fanga’uta Lagoon Catchment Area from Popu’a to Manuka and mangrove forests on Vava’u, Ha’apai and other parts of Tongatapu.

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