Mentoring – support for the professional and managerial skills of the Head of Forestry and his staff in Tonga

June 13, 2019

The Crawford Fund Tasmania Committee commenced a mentoring program in Tonga, from 16 to 23 May 2019, to support the professional and managerial skills of the newly appointed Head of Forestry, Mr Heimuli Likiafu, and his staff.  The mentor for this project was Graham Wilkinson, member of the Foresters without Borders (FwB) committee of the Institute of Foresters of Australia (IFA). Graham has undertaken several projects in Tonga and the Asia-Pacific region over the last 20 years.

Graham and Heimuli inspect sandalwood seedlings in the forest nursery

Over the week-long program they inspected forest nurseries and recent plantings of sandalwood on the main island of Tongatapu and on ‘Eua Island to evaluate current management regimes and outcomes being achieved.  From these inspections they have formulated actions to improve the management of sandalwood, including training for forestry extension staff, the development of practical management manuals for farmers, and the establishment of demonstration areas on government and farmers’ lands.

Graham also assisted with the planning and delivery of a program for a visiting delegation and with the preparation of a presentation by Heimuli to a regional conference.

Graham and Heimuli have identified a number of priorities for support and training under the mentoring program, including training in forest monitoring for 15 forestry staff,  improvements to the business and administrative systems, and a potential short-term work experience placement for one or two young foresters in Tasmania (preferably in summer, not winter!)

Heimuli in the forest nursery amongst coconut seedlings

Heimuli was very pleased with the support of the Crawford Fund and said “I wish to thank the Crawford Fund and Graham for the commencement of this mentoring program and I am looking forward to the support that can be provided to help with training and the professional development of my staff”.

This mentoring program builds on the success of the study tour of forest management in Tasmania in 2018, which was supported by the Crawford Fund and attended by 15 Pacific Island foresters.