IV. ANALYSIS OF MEASURES USED TO IMPLEMENT ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES
A. Measures for protecting the environment
The Land Act, 1903 (amended), makes provisions for every male aged over 16 years to be allocated two pieces of land: a town allotment of 3.3 ha and a town allotment of 0.2 ha. However, with the growth of population since the Land Act was enacted, that particular provision is no longer feasible.
The Minister of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources as the representative of the Crown in all matters concerning land, has the power to:
The Land Act, 1936, makes provisions for control over development within the littoral zone. Under section 113, the foreshore is the property of the Crown; the Minister of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources may, with the consent of the Cabinet, grant permits to erect stores, wharves and jetties, or reside on any portion of the foreshore, or grant a lease for such purposes.
Given the scarcity of land for residential purposes in and around the main town, Nuku'alofa, land distribution there is becoming both an environmental as well as social problem. The Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources is responsible for ensuring, as far as possible, that every male over the age of 16 has access and title to a town allotment. In most places this can only be done in environmentally sensitive areas, i.e., mangrove areas, littoral zones, and swampy and low-lying areas. Allocations and settlements have been allowed in those areas, but they are the very areas that should not be allocated on valid environmental grounds. Thus, a fundamental conflict of interest and responsibilities has been created, and the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources cannot do justice to either need. Allocations of land for residential and even commercial purposes around Fanga'uta Lagoon has damaged the credibility of the Ministry.
One of the more serious environmental concerns faced by Tonga is supplying adequate sources of sand for building purposes without destroying beaches and fragile littoral areas. That problem is the subject of ongoing investigations by the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources. As with the abuse of other resources, there are legal provisions for dealing with the illegal removal of sand from beaches. Unfortunately, the penalty under the Land (Removal of Sand) Regulations, 1936, is far too lenient, with a fine of up to only T$ 100 and, in default of payment, up to three months' imprisonment. There is no indication in available records of anyone having been fined for illegal removal of sand, although it happens frequently; offenders have been caught but they are generally let off with a gentle warning of "don't do it again or if you do, don't get caught."