December 12, 2023: The Government of Tonga, with funding from the Global Environment Facility’s Regional Invasives Project (GEF6 RIP), continues to strengthen its commitment to ecological restoration by announcing the inclusion of part of the Eua National Park as the latest restoration site within the PRISMSS Resilient Ecosystems, Resilient Communities (RERC) programme, a flagship initiative of the Pacific Regional Invasive Species Management Support Service (PRISMSS).
Eua National Park is well-known for its endemic flora and fauna, making it a critical sanctuary for biodiversity. This makes the park ideal for restoration efforts aimed at enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem resilience, ensuring the well-being of local communities all over the island.
The addition of Eua National Park marks the third restoration site in Tonga, complementing the ongoing efforts at Mt. Talau in Vavaú and Toloa Rainforest on the main island of Tongatapu. These initiatives are in alignment with Tonga’s recently endorsed National Invasive Species Strategy and Action Plan (NISSAP) reinforcing the Kingdom of Tonga’s dedication to proactively addressing invasive species challenges.
GEF6 RIP Project Manager Ms Isabell Rasch emphasised the importance of the site-based approach under the RERC programme. She stated, "Many invasive species are widespread, so eradication is not always feasible. Fortunately, we are still able to manage key ecological sites, such as Eua, through a priority site-based approach, under the RERC Programme, ensuring protection of key ecosystems and their biodiversity for future generations."
Earlier this year, in May, collaborative surveys conducted by the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management, Meteorology and Communications (MEIDECC), Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (MAF), and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) paved the way for strategic interventions. The surveys identified opportunities for managing invasive species and safeguarding biodiversity.
Mr. Viliami Hakaumotu, the National Invasive Species Coordinator of Tonga, highlighted the crucial groundwork laid by SPREP in weed and introduced mammalian predator control at Eua National Park.
“SPREP through the Pacific Invasive Species Management Support Service (PRISMSS) has laid the foundational work for weed and rat control in Eua National Park, and we aim to utilise this and build from it “Mr Hakaumotu said. “We are very happy to have the SPREP teamwork alongside us, allowing us to add another restoration site under the RERC programme. Tonga now has three restoration sites, and we look forward to adding more sites to protect our key biodiversity sites.”
The outcomes of these surveys were instrumental in formulating a robust restoration plan. Key actions included weed management targeting the invasive plant Cordia alliodora to ensure ecosystem health, establishment of rat management measures, and capacity building initiatives for MAFF and MEIDECC staff in Eua, addressing the complex challenges posed by invasive species.
The GEF 6 RIP is funded by the Global Environment Facility, implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme, and executed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme. The Project works primarily in the Marshall Islands, Niue, Tonga, and Tuvalu and has a regional component. Implementation of the GEF6RIP is supported by the Pacific Regional Invasive Species Management Support Services (PRISMSS)