Neiafu, VAVA’U – October 29, 2020: 5.35pm (ENVIRONMENT News): Protecting an endangered bird and plant species has led to the fencing of the Mount Talau National Park in Neiafu in Vava’u.
The fencing project was launched on Friday, October 23.
The Governor of Vava’u, Lord Fakatulolo officiated at the event with the Minister for MEIDECC, Hon Poasi Tei.
This was part of the GEF6 Regional Invasive Species Project National Activities, under the Department of Environment.
Mount Talau was identified as a conservation site because two of the world’s endangered species are found there.
These are the Tongan whistler bird and the Casearia buelowii Whistler plant.
“These birds are endangered and they are only found in Tonga, which makes them very important to us,” Invasive Project team leader Viliami Hakaumotu said.
The fencing will keep stray pigs away from the site.
Pigs have destroyed young plants and the surroundings within the Park area.
In his address Lord Fakatulolo said the people of Vava’u were grateful to the Ministry of MEIDECC for the timely assistance in ensuring that the national forest park is preserved.
He added that the endangered species must be protected because they are only found in Tonga.
Minister Tei said the work to fence off the Park is part of efforts to ensure that “we are able to protect, conserve and properly manage our environment”.
Another issue that has been a challenge at Mt Talau is the presence of rats.
Rats eat the seeds of young plants in the forest, denying the Tongan Whistler food.
“That is another critical issue that we are working on,” Mr Hakaumotu said.
Working with VEPA Vava’u, the Department of Environment regularly monitors rat bait stations around the forest park.
Similar work has also been done at the Toloa Rainforest, with plans to also extend that to the Eua National Park.