The Kingdom of Tonga’s fight to manage invasive species has taken a massive leap forward with the Prime Minister, Honourable Hu’akavameilikiu Siaosi Sovaleni, launching their National Invasive Species Strategy and Action Plan (NISSAP) 2021 – 2027. The new NISSAP replaces the Tonga National Invasive Species Strategy and Action Plan 2013 - 2020 funded by GEF-PAS Invasives Project.
The NISSAP is critical to Tonga’s development in ensuring that invasive species management is well coordinated nationally, and that the different sectors involved in invasive species management work together towards the same goals.
The launch of Tonga’s NISSAP took place during a special Cabinet briefing on 12 June 2023, in commemoration of the Tonga National Environment Week.
The development of the Tonga NISSAP was coordinated by the Department of Environment of the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC). Implementation of the NISSAP involves different agencies from Government, the private sector, civil society and communities. The development of the strategy takes a cross-sectoral approach by bringing together all stakeholders for an agreed plan of priority actions with clearly identified responsibilities and timeframes.
Key stakeholders involved in the development and endorsement of the plan include the Ministry of Fisheries, Department of Information and Research, Department of Agriculture, Department of Mariner and Ports, Vava’u Environment Protection Authority, MEIDECC, Department of Forestry and Tupou College.
Essentially a NISSAP assists Pacific Island countries and territories plan and effectively manage invasive species, thereby reducing the negative impacts of invasives on their rich natural heritage, communities, and livelihoods.
In its capacity as the regional environmental agency for the Pacific islands region, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) supported the development of the NISSAP through the GEF 6 Regional Invasives Species Project, ‘Strengthening national and regional capacities to reduce the impact of Invasive Alien Species on globally significant biodiversity in the Pacific’.
SPREP Director General, Mr Sefanaia Nawadra congratulated the Kingdom of Tonga, noting that the development of the NISSAP directly contributes to one of the project’s key components which aims to strengthen institutional frameworks and capacities for invasive species management.
“SPREP has a mandate from our member countries to promote cooperation in the Pacific region and provide assistance in order to protect and improve its environment and ensure sustainable development for present and future generations. The work done in the Kingdom of Tonga is an important part of that mandate, we were honoured to work with and congratulate all involved,” said Mr Nawadra.
The Tonga NISSAP is one of four strategies developed under the project, with Niue, Republic of Marshall Islands and Tuvalu to be launched this year.
Further to NISSAP development, SPREP supports the implementation of NISSAPs through the Pacific Regional Invasives Species Management Support Service (PRISMSS), by providing technical information and assistance, capacity building opportunities for country practitioners and providing donors with customised and successful options for sound management of invasive species in the Pacific.
Having an endorsed NISSAP is important for donor engagement. It identifies a country has been through a prioritisation process that involves a full range of stakeholders, and that the government has approved these findings. Thus, giving donors a priority list of tasks that requires support.
For more information on the GEF 6 Regional Invasives Species Project, please contact Isabell Rasch, at [email protected]
The Tonga NISSAP is now available for download on the Battler Resource Base, at
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 Service.