SPREP Announces Discovery of New Species in Tonga
6 March 2014: A two-week Rapid Biodiversity Survey (BIORAP) of Vava'u in Tonga has led to the confirmation of the existence of rare species, among other discoveries. An Ecosystem Service Valuation (ESV) will follow the BIORAP.
The Survey, coordinated by Tonga, through the Ministry of Lands, Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources (MLECCNR) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), along with partner organizations, showed that the friendly ground-dove (or tooo) has extended its range in Tonga. The Survey also found a new species of iguana similar to the Fijian banded iguana. The marine survey team also reported 75 species of coral previously not seen in Tonga, and potentially three entirely new species. They also noted range extensions on reef fish biodiversity.
Tim Carruthers, SPREP, noted that an ESV is the practice of using economic methods to quantify the human benefits provided by the functions of a given ecosystem. Once the valuation is completed, the Vava'u archipelago will be one of the first sites in the Pacific where up-to-date biodiversity and ecosystem information has been linked with ecosystem valuation approaches. [SPREP News]