About VEPA and Vava'u

Vava'u, located in the northern part of the Kingdom of Tonga, consists of more than 40 picturesque limestone islands that many consider an ultimate tropical paradise. Each year hundreds of yachts cruise through Vava'u's crystal clear water to anchor near white sandy beaches with lush palm trees, coconuts are everywhere, root crops grow in abundance, and the ocean is filled with an assortment of marine life. Vava'u has an incredible environmental landscape and VEPA works to protect its unparalleled beauty and preserve its natural resources.

The Vava’u Environmental Protection Association was started in May 2009 by a group of local leaders concerned with the pressing environmental conservation issues facing the islands of Vava’u. VEPA has four focus areas aimed at ensuring biodiversity and conservation, increasing knowledge exchange, and securing sustainable livelihoods.  

Biodiversity and Conservation
VEPA works on conservation projects in a range of environmental habitats including coral reefs, mangroves, and forest areas. We work to protect and restore these natural resources for the benefit of Vava’u and the world around us. In doing so we hope to ensure that Vava’u maintains its unique biological diversity.

Education and Awareness
VEPA seeks to educate the youth of Vava'u so that Vava'u'a environment and resources will be available for future generations.  We run education and awareness projects to all areas of the community on the importance of sustainably managing their environment. Perhaps more than in an industrialised nation, maintaining a healthy environment is truly essential for life on these islands.  Our work helps fishermen, farmers, and women's groups provide for their families in a way that will be sustainable for years to come. 

Resource Development
VEPA strives to increase awareness on current environmental issues and connect environmental advocates. Everyone has a stake in the health and beauty of Vava'u, and VEPA is a resource for different communities to unite and work towards this mutual goal. We support individuals with backgrounds ranging from law, environment, health, to tourism and development.  We aim to build the capacity of volunteers so they have the skills set to manage environmental projects in their respective villages. 

Legal Requirements
VEPA works closely with the Department of Environment (MEIDECC), Ministry of Fisheries, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Governor's office in Vava'u on all our projects.  All VEPA's projects follow the current legislation under the Kingdom of Tonga. We collect independent, accurate data, using recognised methodology on Vava'u's environment, which can ultimately be used in helping develop effective environmental legislation.  

International and National Partnership

IUCN: International Union for Conservation of Nature
SPREP: Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme
Waitt Foundation
SOPAC: Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission 
Department of Environment (MEIDECC)
Ministry of Fisheries
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Foods
Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (no website)