Ene’io Botanical Garden

Name of case study

Ene’io Botanical Garden


  • Vavaʻu
  • Tonga


Started planting in 1971, officially opened to the public in 2006


 Urban/ landscape scale

Area / size

89,000 m2

NbS employed

Botanical Gardens

Type of NbS

Ecosystem Protection


 Haniteli Fa’anunu


Haniteli Fa’anunu – he has put his life savings into the project



Design group

 Haniteli Fa’anunu has been planting on the land since the 1970s.

Haniteli Fa’anunu in the Botanical Gardens. Photo from the Toronto Star
Haniteli Fa’anunu. Photo from Nimrod Catamaran
Climate change benefit
  • Biomass cover loss
  • Changes in rainfall
  • Increased temperatures
  • Indirect health, social, and cultural climate change impacts
  • reduced air quality, urban heat island effect.

The Ene’io Botanical Garden positively contributes to addressing the impacts of climate change, simply by being a large garden full of permeable surfaces, trees and vegetation. Beyond that, its contributions to offsetting the negative effects of climate change in Tonga are significant. The Garden tells a story of Tonga’s agricultural history and protects its native species. It brings communities together, attracts tourists, and is a bird sanctuary. That it was started by one man in the 1970s is a testament to how much of a difference one person can make in their lifetime to climate change adaptation. 

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Societal / socio-cultural benefits
  • Biodiversity health and conservation
  • climate change adaptation, economic and social development
  • human physical health and wellbeing
  • pressures of urbanisation

Traditional Tongan culture and knowledge is closely connected to the Earth and its plants. As climate change threatens biodiversity and ecosystems, being able to preserve plant species is invaluable. Some native Tongan plants have specific uses in Tongan culture, and can be sources of food, clothing, building materials and medicines (Eagles, 2007). The garden holds demonstrations and workshops to teach people how to use local species for weaving, making tapa (traditional cloth made of bark), as well as how to extract vanilla essence, and uses for coconut. 

Providing people with knowledge of how to sustainably use the local natural world around them for food and resources increases resilience to climate change. Additionally, The Ene’io Botanical Garden creates a space for local communities to gather, learn and grow together; reconnecting to each other and the Earth.

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Ecological benefits
  • Aesthetic value / artistic value/ artistic inspiration,
  • climate regulation
  • creation of a sense of place
  • cultural diversity and history
  • habitat provision
  • pollination
  • recreation and tourism

The Ene’io Botanical Garden supports 550 different plant varieties and 150 plant families, including almost all of those native to Tonga. This is an incredible, invaluable resource for education and research, and to ensure that the species are protected. It supports a network of birds, insects, and plants that create an ecosystem essential for the health of the islands.

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Summary of case study

The Ene’io Botanical Garden is the life’s work of Haniteli Fa’anunu, who was the Tongan Director for Agriculture and Forestry for 18 years. When he was eight years old, he was gifted land on the island of Vava’u, and spent his life planning and planting the gardens. He began the work in 1971, putting half his salary and a lifetime of care into the gardens.

The Ene’io Botanical Garden opened to the public in 2006. Today, the garden’s 22 acres (89,000m2) has almost every species of plant in Tonga, alongside hundreds of others, including tamarind, star fruit, jasmine, mahogany, almond trees, lemongrass, cashew, sisal, vanilla, kauri, hibiscus, pine, orchids, coconut, ginger etc. (Paskal, 2010). 

Fa’anumu’s goal was to, save endangered plant species, and educate locals and visitors about the flora and fauna of Tonga. It is the only botanical garden in Tonga. The Garden is now a tourist attraction and makes income from tours, a restaurant, and local cultural experiences. The garden also acts as a bird sanctuary, supporting a vibrant ecosystem that is unique to Tonga. 

‘Ene’io Botanical Gardens. Photo from Tonga Tourism
‘Ene’io Botanical Gardens. Photo from Tonga Tourism