Youth Field Report: Monitoring Red List Ecosystems with Department of Environment and Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.

The first in a series of reports from the youth team, as they learn and explore working in the field and office. Grateful as always to the assistance of Lisa Fanua, Susana Ika and Sesimani Loni for their efforts to guide and support the youth team. Malo lahi to Department of Environment and Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources for sharing their valuable knowledge and experience.

Field blog report by Mae’e ‘Esau


Mangroves are one of the most important plants found along the coastal shore where there is tidal flow. The significance of mangroves is that they provide shelter and food for many marine species. By preventing coastal erosion, mangroves serve as defensive soldiers in the coastal environment. Humans, on the other hand, have become a growing threat to the majority of the planet’s ecosystems. The location of the mangroves site influences the ecology of mangroves. A team representing MEIDECC conducted a survey with the support of the Vava’u Environmental Protection Association (VEPA) to learn more about the different types of mangroves and how they are being affected in various areas of Vava’u.

Method of conducting the Survey.

On Tuesday, 23rd of March, one of my co-workers (Lisa) and I were able to join the mangrove survey team in visiting mangrove locations to different sited in the Eastern side of the island. The survey team were using a GPS to identify the mangroves at each site and wrote observations on the mangrove names and their conditions. The sites were Masilamea (Site A), Tefisi (Site B), Vaimalo (Site C) and Mataika (Site D).


Site A: Masilamea (Quarry Site)

The type of mangroves was the Tongolei (RS: Rhizophora stylosa). The Tongolei was spotted by its seed color, green to yellowish green. However, the mangroves were highly covered with creeper therefore its flowers were not clearly spotted.

Major Component          Tongolei Rhizophora stylosa (RS)  Source: Direct Observation

Site B: Tefisi

The type of mangrove mostly located at Tefisi coast was the Tongolei (RS: Rhizophora stylosa). Mangroves are estimated to grow 3 meters tall, green in colour which means there are no human threats around this area.

Major Component     Tongolei (RS: Rhizophora stylosa)          Source: Direct Observation

Site C: Vaimalo

Mangroves at Vaimalo consist of two varieties of Tongolei mangroves which is the Rhizophora mangle and the Rhizophora stylosa. Rhizophora mangle is different from the other variety shown by the seeds or fruits. Its seed color is dark green on top and brownish to the bottom. As for the Rhizophora stylosa, its seed is yellowish green. However, the mangroves were dying along the coastal area. The figure shown below does not clearly display the mangroves of Vaimalo instead, it is the coast view of Vaimalo that has mangroves on the Western side which is not shown in the picture.

Mangroves in the distance at Vaimalo.


Site D: Mataika

There were 4 varieties of mangroves located at the coast of Mataika. The Rhizophora mangle and Rhizophora stylosa (Tongolei), Heritiera littoralis (Mamea) and Excoecaria agallocha (Feta’anu).  The Rhizophora mangle and Rhizophora stylosa were also located in the previous sites. The Heritiera littoralis was located from its leaves, dark green with its seed which is green to brown color. The Excoecaria agallocha was easily identified by its shape and leaf.

Threats to Mangroves Growth.

There was a huge threat to the mangroves at Vaimalo (Site C). The location of mangroves at Vaimalo, land area is slopy therefore all waste from land washed down to the mangroves. In addition, the land area happens to be the dumping area of the village. Waste such as nappies, plastics, cans, and clothing are all washed to the coast together with the soil. Also, at Site D there was a threat to mangroves as unattended nets are found on the area of mangroves. There are also threats such as constructing wharfs, dumping rubbish and other human activities that affects the growth of mangroves.

                                    Site C: Vaimalo

Unattended Net
     Source: Direct Observation


Association, Vavau Environmental Protection. “Environmental Ambassador Workbook.” VEPA. Mangroves for Climate Change Adaptation Manual. 2013. 10.

“Mangrove Report 1: Identification of Mangrove Species.” Shunsuke Yarita, Hoifua Aholahi, 2012. 22-31.

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