This past week I flew to Nuku’alofa in Tongatapu, Tonga. I helped to run a 3-day Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) training workshop for representatives from five Tongan government departments. My co-trainers were Verónica Ruiz (Nature-based Solutions Programme Officer, IUCN) and Evia Tavanavanua (IUCN Oceania Regional Office).
We aimed to train the Tongan experts in the RLE process and explore how the RLE assessment can inform their management and planning.
First up the team will assess the Tongan mangroves to explore their role as a nature-based solution to support disaster risk reduction. Mangroves provide many ecosystem services to the community, such as food, water filtration and coastal protection from storm surges. Restoring mangroves is a highly effective nature-based solution for coastal protection, compared to “grey infrastructure” such as seawalls. As cyclones are a big problem in the region, coastal protection is a top priority.
The team will use the RLE assessment to determine the condition of the mangroves to identify critical areas and strategies for restoration and monitoring. Once the mangrove assessment is complete, they aim to expand to team to assess all ecosystems across Tonga and the region. This project is a great example of how information from RLE assessments can inform planning and development using nature-based solutions.