The forest ecosystems in Vava’u are scattered in between agriculture and land plots, and the structure of the forests is sub-tropical littoral. The majority of forests are located on the rugged, uninhabited, volcanic islands of Tonga. The rest are found as isolated patches of the larger inhabited islands, such as Vava’u and Tongatapu. Loss of habitats through agricultural and commercial activities and through the introduction of invasive species by humans, have resulted in many species facing extinction.
Benefits of the Forest:
The combined agriculture, forestry, and fisheries sectors are recorded to account for about 28% of GDP in Tonga (Review of Tonga National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan). While this accounts for much of the commercial timber uses, the real value of Tonga’s lush forest is underestimated. The forest plays a vital role in the conservation of biodiversity, maintaining soil fertility, prevention of erosion, coastal protection, carbon seizure, and improving water quality. It is also important to acknowledge the forests beneficial role in supporting sustainable agriculture and building resilience to climate change.
Threats to the Forest:
The seed dispersion of plants in Vava’u are largely spread by birds and bats. However, with the introduction of rats to the islands, the ecosystem has been disrupted through their predation of animals and plants. The forests suffer as the rats interrupt the pollination cycle and pray on plant seeds. This in turn harms the birds and bats as they now compete with the rats for food and other resources.