10 Jul 2014

Tonga aims to be free of invasive species

7:09 am on 10 July 2014

The Tongan government is aiming to make its main island, Tongatapu, completely free of invasive species within four years.

The government last month committed 1 point 5 million US dollars towards a regional fight against invasive species.

The chief executive officer for the Ministry of Lands, Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Asipeli Palaki, says the effort is about saving native species by, for example, getting rids of rats.

He says it's also about ensuring food security.

"Tonga is depending very much on, you know, exporting of agricultural product. There are a few plants, invasive species in the kingdom, that will have a big impact on the production of our agriculture, especially food crops. Taro, cassava, watermelon."

Asipeli Palaki says once they have success in making the main island invasive free, they will then look at extending the efforts out to other islands.