Tonga

The origin of this Action Strategy lies in the RETA (Regional Environmental Technical Assistance Project). No. 5403. funded by the Office of ihe Environment of the Asian Development Bank and executed by the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme. The Kingdom of Tonga was one of five countries which agreed to participate in a regional programme directed at strengthening the environmental management capabilities of Pacific Island member countries of the Asian Development Bank.

The importance of coastal and marine environments to every aspect of the lives of Pacific Islanders cannot be overstated. Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) maintain resource rights and management responsibilities for over 30 million square kilometres of ocean, equivalent to the total land area of Canada, China and the United States of America. The total population of coastal Pacific Islanders is only 2.6 million. There are 11 square kilometres of ocean for each Pacific Islander.

The influence on crop damage of Rattus norvegicus, Rattus rattus, and the native Polynesian rat, Rattus exulans, was studied during the establishment of a rat control program for the Tongan Department of Agriculture in 1969. This was the first long-term study of Tongan rodents. Previous scientific literature on Tongan mammals is very sparse. The Kingdom of Tonga, or Friendly Islands, consists of approximately 150 small islands with a combined area of about 256 square miles at lat 21 0 S.

The Pacific islands of Oceania cover almost 15% of the world's surface and are characterised by a high degree of ecosystem and species diversity. The region is characterised by thousands of isolated small coral atolls and higher volcanic islands, which has led to the high diversity of species found today. In fact, the number of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth (endemic species) is extremely high - often up to 90% for particular groups. Often, these rare and endemic species are adapted to specialised habitats and limited to small areas of a few islands.