Mangroves are mostly found in abundance on the islands of Vava’u and Tongatapu. Ecologically, socially and traditionally mangroves have been playing an important role in the livelihoods of the Tongan people from generation to generation. Yet, these are often overlooked by most people particularly those that depend on this ecosystem for their household needs. According to Tonga’s National Strategic Plan (NBSAP) the Kingdom has approximately 1000 hectares of mangrove area with the largest area, of 50 hectares, located in the lagoon areas of Tongatapu. Unfortunately 60% of this has already been lost primarily to development and harvesting.
The overall goal for Tonga MESCAL is to improve community livelihoods through targeted sustainable management and harvest of mangrove resources and increase resilience to climate change.
- Protect land from storm inundation, maintain intact mangrove ecosystem and biodiversity conservation at Nukuhetulu/Folaha
- Increase public awareness through educational programme and on mangroves ecosystem value, traditional and cultural value
The approach to achieving these outcomes is through the gathering of baseline information to understand the situation of mangroves with regards to the socio- economic uses, the threats, the coverage of mangroves, and understanding the governance structures.
According to surveys carried out by the Ministry, the rate of mangrove degradation is increasing in comparison to previous status. In addition, some of species are becoming rare and difficult to find. Therefore the following activities are important to be undertake:
- Update and document traditional knowledge, names and values of the mangrove species and ecosystem composition annually
- Implementation of a mangrove composition report and coastal vegetation booklet of Tongatapu
- Identify rare mangrove species to reproduce and breed if possible
- Identify more suitable sites for the replanting of rare mangroves
- Review the effectiveness of the existing laws associated with mangroves
- Enforcement of these laws
- Clarify mangrove management in the national and community level
- Improvement of awareness programmes regarding mangroves
- In-house training for the staff of the Ministry and champions from the communities on mangrove management and monitoring using the GPS
- Special training on proposal writing and seeking support from external donors.