VII. REVIEW OF TRAINING AND INFORMATION NEEDS
B. Public awareness and educational programmes
2. Existing measures for dissemination of information
The critical importance of raising public awareness and including education in environmental management is fast gaining recognition. Important steps have thus been taken in recent years to increase awareness, disseminate the relevant information, educate the public, influence attitudes, and promote sustainable use of resources across a fair cross- section of the Tongan population.3
Several of the government establishments with responsibility for the natural and social environment have some form of an awareness-raising programme. The radio is the most popular medium, as it reaches all the inhabited islands of Tonga, followed by the weekly local papers. Workshops, conferences, village meetings or specific group meetings are also widely used. The local television station has become a popular educational medium, especially for Tongatapu.
Annual events that promote environmental awareness among the public include:
The regional awareness programme in which Tonga participates included: the 1995 Year of the Sea Turtle Conservation, the 1997 Pacific Year of Coral Reef Conservation, and various regional workshops and conferences covering not only on the environment but also other sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism and forestry.
Through the awareness programmes, a good collection of songs, poems, stickers, posters and speeches has been built up over the years. In addition, NGOs active in Tonga, such as Tonga Trust, Langa Fonua `a Fafine Tonga and the Association for Sustainable Development, play an important role in promoting public awareness.
The use of the media, whether radio, television or newspapers, has proved to be the most effective way of disseminating information about the environment. The Environmental Planning Section currently runs a fortnightly radio programme devoted to sharing of relevant environmental information. Shared information can either be the result of research projects or practical experience gained through the implementation of daily responsibilities. The same information is also shared through television and newspapers, but with less frequency because of the high cost involved.