Vehicle to help Invasive work in Tonga

Environment (MEIDECC) Chief Executive Officer Mr Paula Ma’u cutting the ribbon to mark the commissioning of the new Invasive Alien Species Unit vehicle in Nuku’alofa this morning. Photo: ENVIRO NEWS

Nuku’alofa – July 3, 2020: 3.15pm (Enviro News): Strengthening national and regional capacities to reduce the impact of Invasive Alien Species on globally significant biodiversity in the Pacific is what the Department of Environment is also tasked with in Tonga.

That work will now be boosted with the commissioning of a new vehicle at the Department of Environment in Nuku’alofa this morning.

Chief Executive Officer for Environment (Ministry of MEIDECC) Mr Paula Ma’u commissioned the new vehicle in a short ceremony at the Department’s office.

Mr Ma’u said the new vehicle will help the Invasive Species Unit meet their work output.

“I acknowledge the receipt of the procured vehicle for the GEF6 Invasive Alien Species project so that the output of the project can be achieved through using the vehicle,” he said at the commissioning ceremony.

“This is an additional achievement by the Environment Department and I also acknowledge the good leadership of the Director.”

Mr Ma’u (middle) with Director Environment Mrs Atelaite Lupe Matoto (2nd from left) and senior managers of the Department (from left) Mrs Ta’hirih Fifita Hokafonu, Mrs Mafileo Masi, Mr Sione Tukia Lepa and Mr Siosiua Latu in front of the new vehicle outside the department’s office this morning. Photo: ENVIRO NEWS

Mr Ma’u said the work to be carried out by the Unit was important for Tonga, especially in managing invasive species that can damage our environment and become a threat to the livelihood of people.

Director Environment Ms Atelaite Lupe Matoto welcomed Mr Ma’u and thanked him for his continued support for the work done by the Department.  She also said that she is very grateful for the continued funding support from the Global Environment Facility, through the United Nations Environment (UNE), and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

The project will aim to help manage and reduce invasive species in the Kingdom, starting off with invasive weeds identified.

Project coordinator Viliami Hakaumotu said their focus will be on working with partners locally in identifying invasive weeds and managing their growth.

The new vehicle – ENV-01. Photo: ENVIRO NEWS

That work had started with monitoring trips to Vava’u and visits to the Toloa Rainforest.

The project is also working on the Toloa Rainforest Nursery at Tupou College, where native plants are bred before being transplanted to the forest.

The Tonga project will run for 60 months and should be completed by January 2024.

Invasive species are those plants, animals and microbes which are introduced to new localities, mainly through human activities, where they establish and aggressively spread, impacting negatively on biodiversity, agriculture, water resources, and human health.

Invasive species commonly drive native species to extinction through impacts such as predation, displacement and habitat modification.

The project will support the conservation of biodiversity in Tonga and the Pacific region, which will at the same time contribute to the global efforts to safeguard biodiversity.

The project will contribute to the reduction of threats to globally significant biodiversity by improving management, prevention and control of IAS; avoid extinction as a result of IAS management.

Tonga is one of four countries that have had the project implemented, the others being Niue Island, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu.

Like most small island developing states, these four nations are highly vulnerable to the impacts of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) on their biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, resilience to climate change impacts, economic productivity, and human health.

This morning’s event was blessed by the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Matahau Stake), Mr. Siosiua Latu.

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