following people are part of the Rare Plants of Tonga Project.
We also acknowledment the assistance of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, Conservation International.
B. Thomas, PhD
Art Whistler is a botanist whose field of expertise is the plants of the tropical
Pacific islands, including Hawaii, the rest of Polynesia (including Samoa, Tonga,
and Tahiti), Fiji, and Micronesia. Born and raised in Southern California, where
he attended the University of California for his bachelor's degree (Riverside)
and master's degree (Santa Barbara), he began his Pacific experience with a three
year stint in the U.S. Peace Corps teaching
college biology in Western Samoa (1968-70). Following the Peace Corps assignment,
he moved to Hawaii where he attended the University
of Hawaii and received his Ph.D. in Botany (1979), with his dissertation focusing
on the vegetation of Samoa.
He subsequently became a lecturer in botany
at the University of Hawaii until he received
a post-doctoral appointment at the National Tropical
Botanical Garden on Kauai. He worked at that garden for nine years as an ethnobotanist
(a scientist who studies how people use plants in native cultures), with particular
emphasis on herbal medicine in Polynesia. This was followed by his current work
with the small consulting company he founded, Isle Botanica, located in Honolulu.
As a consultant, he has worked on numerous botanical projects in the Pacific Islands,
including Samoa, Tonga, Niue, Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Yap,
Chuuk, Guam, and the Northern Marianas. Dr. Whistler has published numerous scientific
articles about plants, as well as ten books, including Tropical
Ornamentals: a Guide (2000, published by Timber Press), Plants
in Samoan Culture (2001), Polynesian
Herbal Medicine (1992), Tongan
Herbal Medicine (1992), Samoan
Herbal Medicine (1996), Flowers
of the Pacific Island Seashore (1992), Rainforest
trees of Samoa (2004), The
Samoan Rainforest (2002) and Wayside
Plants of the Islands (1995).
Dr. Whistler was a visiting Professor
of Biology at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji in 2007. He is also
an Adjunct Associate Professor with the University of Hawai'i Botany Department
and with the Lyon Arboretum,
and a research affiliate at the Bishop Museum Botany Department in Honolulu. Current
projects include work on the flora of Samoa and Tonga and a book (expected 2008)
on the ethnobotany plants of Polynesia.
Michael Thomas is a botanist whose specialization is bioinformatics and its application
towards the preservation of bio-cultural knowledge. He attended Virginia
Tech, and received his bachelor's degree in Forest Resource Management. He
intiated his interest in the tropics and the developing world by serving in the
Peace Corps teaching tropcial fruit
crop/medicinal plant nursery management and plant propagation in the Kingdom of
Tonga. Following his Peace Corps experience (1989-93), he attended the University
of Florida and received his MS (Tropical Horticulture), and Ph.D. in Botany
(2001), with his dissertation focusing on the ethnopharmacoeia of the Pataxo,
Bahia, Brazil. Dr. Thomas is a researcher at the University of Hawaii at Manoa
and an affiliate at the Bernice P. Bishop Museum in Honolulu.
is currently developing floristic databases and traditional knowledge retrieval
systems. His research interests include digital
processing of biological informatics, floristics data and database development
related to museum/herbaria collection management and Dr.
Thomas has published several scientific articles and a book on the Common Medicinal
Plants of Portland, Jamaica..
a international consultant, he has worked on numerous development projects in
the Pacific Islands, including Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, and
in Nepal, Ghana, French Polynesia, Kosovo, and Guatemala. His experience with
donor agencies includes USAID, Winrock International, GTZ, FAO, GCIAR, and the
United Nations. His consultancies have specialized in improving the capacity of
private sector small Agribusiness enterprises to access and supply domestic and
foreign markets, increase integration of smallholder agriculture in the supply
chain for value-added agro-processing, medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) and
valuation/assessment of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), ethnobotanical and
forest (Urban) inventories, botanical/biological surveys, biodiversity assessment
for potential economic opportunities of forest resources, and forest crops.
Since March 2007, Sione has been the Executive Director for the Tonga Community Development Trust, a nonprofit organization working with disadvantaged communities to foster self reliance. Tonga Trust is implementing a number of community-based projects, ranging from health, water, and sanitation to disaster preparedness, environmental protection, climate change adaptation, good governance, democracy and voter education. Prior to joining Tonga Trust, Sione was a National Project Coordinator in Tonga's Department of Environment for two consecutive regional projects. Firstly, the Ha'apai Conservation Area Project under the South Pacific Biodiversity Conservation Program (SPBCP) from 1995-2001. Secondly, the Nukuhetulu Waste Reduction Pilot Project under the Strategic Program for the International Waters of the South Pacific (IWP) from 2002 to 2007. Both programs (SPBCP and IWP) used a community-based participatory approach to conservation and were funded by GEF, implemented by UNDP and executed by SPREP. In 1994 Sione obtained a Master of Arts in Sociology from the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.