Imagine a volcanic island of exceptional natural beauty rising up from the Tasman Sea 600km off the Australian coast. Lord Howe Island’s outstanding universal value is recognised in its World Heritage listing for spectacular scenery, important breeding grounds for colonies of seabirds, and its rich biodiversity including many endangered and critically endangered species not found anywhere else in the world.
The Lord Howe Island Board has taken a holistic approach in protecting this remarkable oceanic island. Together with the community, the LHI Board has long history of sustainable and conservation programs designed to protect and enhance the World Heritage values. A tourist bed cap of 400 people at any one time and a world-class waste management facility that diverts 86% of the island waste from landfill reduces adverse environmental impact and waste generation. The eradication of invasive alien species including pigs, cats, feral goats, noxious weeds, plant pathogens and a world first eradication of African big-headed ant (on an oceanic island) ensures Lord Howe Island’s unique biodiversity is safeguarded. Recovery programs have brought species back from the brink of extinction, such as the LHI Woodhen and the world’s rarest insect, the LHI Phasmid, affectionately known as the land lobster—soon to be returned thanks to successful breeding programs with our valued partner Zoos Victoria.
An integral part of this approach is the Lord Howe Island Weed Eradication Project. Possibly one of the most ambitious island weed eradication programs on an inhabited island, in the South Pacific – if not globally – given the density, distribution and diversity of weed populations that were present on the island at the program’s commencement. The use of innovative techniques such as a helicopter lance-spray apparatus for targeted treatment in remote areas and GPS tracking of weed blocks to record search effort and report data future proofs the program. 2 million weeds removed and over 170,000 hours searched, mature weed infestations have been reduced by 90% across island. Next to weeds, rodents present the highest risk to the island’s biodiversity values. The LHI Rodent Eradication Project nearing the implementation stage in 2019 will be another world first as the largest populated island to undertake a full-scale eradication of rodents. The $9.5M project will be the change that sees the historic return of the LHI Phasmid.
By ramping up biosecurity measures and bringing in a couple of new furry faces, two biosecurity dogs, Sebbi and Zuma the LHI Board is serious about keeping invasive alien species out and protecting this precious piece of paradise for future generations.