5 June 2011 T
onga joins the world in commemorating World Environment Day (WED) on 5 June which is a day that stimulates awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and public action.
Each year, Tonga's Ministry of Environment and Climate Change organizes an Environment Awareness Week which involves a week-long celebration of the environment, with schools, businesses and government offices participating in a variety of activities.
In celebrating the World Environment Day 2011 theme, "Forests - Nature at your service", Tonga will mark its national environment week from 4 - 10 June by promoting "Forests: a service to Tonga (Vaotata mo hono ngaahi ‘aonga ki Tonga).
Although individual projects and themes vary from year to year, this year's awareness program will include TV Panels and Radio Broadcasts Talkbacks; a combined Sunday service; site visitation and tree planning at various government primary schools as well as schools posters and essay competitions that will focus on the usefulness of Tonga's forests and people's obligation to protect it.
Since 1984, when the Government of Tonga first began an Environment Awareness Week, the success of such program stems from the Ministry's consistently persuading and involving the commitments of Churches, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), schools, government departments and businesses including the community in the promotion and sponsorship of the Awareness week.
Tree planting is one of the key activities each year. The Agriculture Department provides seedling trees for free, where thousands of people gets to plant a tree. Example of such activity is the "Pick up a Spade and plant a Shade" which will take place on Thursday 9 June. This will be a mass tree planting program at designated areas of Toloa, ‘Atele and the Nuku'alofa waterfront and mangrove planning at Sopu.
On the same day, everyone is encouraged to wear green or something green to put emphasis on "green forest day". The awareness week will conclude on Friday 10 June with a "Clean up " inspection of Tongatapu and an "Open Day" to the public with displays, promotional stalls, live performances and award presentations conducted to highlight the environmental importance of the week.
Similar environmental awareness weeks are also conducted in Samoa and American Samoa and other Pacific island countries.
Issued by the: Ministry of Information and Communications, Nuku'alofa, 2011.