Scoping visit for invasive team as new staff joins Department

Invasive Species Unit head Viliami Hakaumotu (far right) briefing the IOE Division meeting this morning. On the far left is Elisapeti Veikoso, who has just joined the Environment Department as MSP Team leader. Photo: ENVIRO NEWS

Nuku’alofa – February 12, 2020: 1.40pm (Enviro News): A team from the Invasive Species Unit here at the Department of Environment in Nuku’alofa will be visiting Vava’u for scoping work.

Unit head Viliami Hakaumotu will lead the team with technical assistance from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

This was confirmed at the Islands and Oceans Ecosystem Division’s monthly meeting here at the department.

And the division this morning welcomed Ms Elisapeti Veikoso in her new role as the Marine Spatial Planning team leader.

Ms Veikoso was welcomed by Division head Ms Ta’hirih Fifita Hokafonu and members of the division.

The Invasive Unit scoping visit will focus on identifying invasive weeds or plants that needs to be controlled or eradicated.

This is the first phase of work done by the team will also include monitoring invasive species including rats, birds and insects.

The team will leave on Monday for Neiafu and return on Wednesday evening.

“This will be the first scoping work we will do and we are targeting Vava’u and Tongatapu,” Mr Hakaumotu said.

The Invasive Species Unit has just been boosted with funding for the next four years, targeted at managing invasive species here in Tonga.

Meanwhile, Ms Veikoso replaces Ms Lilieta Takau, who has since moved to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

In her new role Ms Veikoso will spearhead the MSP work that is left to be done in line with the proposed Tonga Ocean Plan.

The Tonga Ocean Plan is being drafted and plans are in line to take that for public consultation in March.

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