2017 Biosecurity and invasive species workshop to protect Tokelau

Apia, 1 December 2017

A successful workshop on biosecurity and invasive species for Tokelau was held in the last week of September, in the offices of the Tokelau National Public Service in Apia. Participants came from all three Tokelau atolls – Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo – and from the Tokelau Apia Liaison Office. The course was led by Dr Monica Gruber of Victoria University in Wellington. She was supported in this by David Moverley, David Sakoda and Bradley Meyer of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in Apia, and by Lesio Saurara of the Pacific Community (SPC) in Suva. Tokelau legal adviser Lise Suveinakama also chipped in.
EDNRE staff and village rep participants with facilitators David Moverley, Dave Sakoda and Bradley Meyer from SPREP (standing far right) and Lesio Saurara from SPC (far left)
Tokelau trainees use microscopes to identify invasive ants. Each village rep took a donated microscope home with them.
During the 5-day workshop, participants were trained in various aspects of biosecurity. The aim was to define a sustainable system for reducing biosecurity risks posed by bringing plant disease and invasive species into Tokelau. Staff of the Department of Economic Development, Natural Resources & Environment (EDNRE) had a particular role to play here. For example, they familiarised themselves with the Biosecurity Rules of Tokelau.
For EDNRE on-all three atolls, the recognition, monitoring and control of invasives such as fruit fly, coconut rhinoceros beetle, mealybugs and whitefly is important, as is the control of Pacific rats. Of particular concern in recent years was were the yellow crazy ant, for the control of which a special Pacific Invasive Ant Toolkit (PIAT) has been developed on the Internet, with the assistance of EDNRE staff and the village of Atafu.

On the vegetation side of things, management of weeds was highlighted as a priority. The Singapore daisy (or Wedelia) is a particularly persistent plant species that, although pretty, can get in the way of many things. Participants were shown how to use a weed sprayer to good effect, without causing further environmental problems. How to keep solar panels free from infestations was also an important review, given that the villages on the atolls derive almost all their electric power from solar energy.

David Moverley and Bradley Myer demonstrate use of the SOLO brand weed sprayer
The week-long workshop was funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the NZ Aid Programme Activity “Building resilience to biosecurity threats from invasive ants throughout the Pacific”, of which Tokelau is a partner.
[Story: iapi, pictures: Monica]

monica-gruber-field300 Dr Monica Gruber is a Research Fellow at Victoria University of Wellington, who manages the university's not-for-profit NGO, Pacific Biosecurity. Monica holds a PhD in ecology on the genetics and populations dynamics of yellow crazy ants. Since 2008 she has contributed to various invasive ant control activities in Australia, New Zealand, Tokelau, Kiribati, Samoa, Tuvalu, French Polynesia and Fiji. Monica developed the Pacific Invasive Ant Toolkit (piat.org.nz). Her research includes the bio-control of social insects such as ants and wasps.

For further information, contact:
Loia Tausi, EDNRE Manager Environment, phone: +691-22218, email: puavasa@gmail.com
Other participants: Faith Ioane, Lili Ahki (Apia), Leuta Tamoa, Betty Tuilotolava, Luta Pati (Atafu); Christian Perez, Himone Alapati (Nukunonu); Aokuso Vavega, Heteli Teao (Fakaofo).