Lord Howe Island located 600km off the New South Wales coast is renowned for its 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.
Undisputedly one of the most unique and beautiful places in the world, World Heritage Lord Howe Island is made up of 75% protected park preserve, encompassed in a marine park, and is as fascinating as it is beautiful. With a legacy of world-class conservation projects under its belt, the latest project has been 10 years in the making and is the largest undertaking of its kind anywhere in the world.
Your involvement in our Conservation Volunteers LHI Program will assist in the species recovery of the world’s rarest insect as well as allowing you to participate in a program that will change the lives of critically endangered animals including the Lord Howe Island Phasmid and the Lord Howe Island Woodhen; all whilst enjoying the pristine natural environment of Lord Howe Island.
MAY – BIRDS – FEATURING PROVIDENCE PETRELS
Showcasing Lord Howe Island’s incredible bird species, including the Lord Howe Island Woodhen, one of the rarest birds on earth. With its thriving seabird colonies, Lord Howe Island is also a pilgrimage site for birdwatchers and was declared an Important Bird Area in 2008.
Lord Howe Island Woodhen: “During the mid-1960s the woodhen was one of the most endangered birds in the world, but with a successful breeding program and other conservation programs it has been brought back from the brink of extinction.” Australian Museum. Hear firsthand from locals involved in bringing this iconic species back from the brink of extinction.
Providence petrels: The only known breeding sites of the Providence Petrel are Lord Howe Island and Philip Island, NI. Included by David Attenborough in his series ‘Life of birds’ he described this species as ‘extraordinarily friendly to human beings’. You will accompany a team from the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and experience the amazing phenomena of ‘calling’ wild seabirds down from the sky as you assist in research into the life of these rare seabirds.
Take part in Bird Species ID workshops, which contribute to Birdlife Australia’s LHI Bird Monitoring Project and participate in lectures and tours with local specialists and the Taronga Zoo captive management team as part of our current conservation project.
Partnering with: Taronga Zoo and OEH
May – Bird conservation
Lord Howe Island and its surrounding islets (the LHIG) are home to thousands of seabirds for breeding in spring summer. The island forest has eighteen breeding landbird species, and northern hemisphere waders visit the shores in summer. The LHIG was declared an Important Bird Area in 2008.
In May there will be a range of bird related activities for visitors
- Pelagic bird watching and Identification boat trips with local operators
- The Taronga Zoo Captive Management Team will be doing regular presentations talking about their Woodhen and Currawong holding facilities on Lord Howe Island.
- Weekly lectures on birds of Lord Howe Island at the Museum.
- Weekly screenings of documentaries on bird and island conservation projects.
- Self guided landbird surveys
Partners: Taronga Park Zoo, NSW OEH
During the week of May 19 to 26:
There will be guided bird watching and Identification activities. Volunteers will be photographing and recording bird numbers for base-line monitoring pre and post rodent eradication. BirdLife Australia have teamed up with the Lord Howe Island Board and the Lord Howe Island Museum to set up a number of bird monitoring sites at well visited locations around the island. The data collected will flow into the BirdLife Australia Atlas and regular analyses undertaken to determine the health of the bird populations on the island.
While most of our seabirds migrate away during winter we will be showcasing the winter breeding Providence Petrels in a special week of monitoring with researchers Dr Terry O’Dwyer and Nicholas Carlile (Acting Principle Scientist) for the Office of Environment and Heritage. Visitors can go to the breeding grounds of the Providence petrel to experience the arrival of these special birds in a stunning mountain setting.
We will also be showcasing our endemic Woodhen. During the 1970’s the Woodhen was one of the most endangered birds in the world, but with a successful breeding program and other conservation programs it has been brought back from the brink of extinction.
There will be activities carrying out beach micro plastic monitoring and learn about the impact of ocean plastic on our seabirds.
JUNE –MARINE FEATURING SEABIRDS AND PLASTIC
Our seabirds are being impacted by ocean plastic debris. To combat this impact, Lord Howe Island has a number of successful community-driven waste reduction programs, working towards reducing single-use plastic and is home to a world-class waste management facility that diverts 86% of the island’s waste from landfill.
This project monitors both micro and macro ocean plastic. Plastic is collected off the beaches, sorted and classified into various categories then recorded into national databases, including Tangaroa Blue – marine debris initiative. Partnering with DPI Marine Parks LHI help survey Lord Howe Island’s diverse intertidal ecosystems and provide valuable data to help understand the issue and support solutions.
June – Marine conservation
Lord Howe Island is surrounded by marine ecosystems in near pristine conditions, including the most southerly coral reef in the world. These waters are protected by World Heritage Listed Marine Parks which cover over 110,000km2 of State and Commonwealth waters. These Marine parks are home to a globally unique mix of tropical and temperate species, including many which are endemic and occur nowhere else in the world. The Marine Park is also free of any known marine pests, and volunteers can help keep it pristine by participating in marine pest monitoring conducted by marine park staff.
Following on from last month, some of Lord Howe Island’s seabirds and marine life are severely impacted by ocean plastic so volunteers can also take part in workshops monitoring macro and micro plastics on our beaches. Data collected will be entered in national databases as a tool to understand the problem and develop solutions.
In June there will be activities to learn about the Lord Howe Island Marine Park and contribute to its ongoing management.
- Marine pest monitoring with marine park staff
- Marine plastic and debris clean-up activities
- Weekly lecture on marine life at the Museum
- Screenings of marine conservation documentaries at the Museum
- Self-guided sea slug searches
- Marine activities with local operators
Partners: NSW DPI (Lord Howe Island Marine Park), University of Wollongong
Critters of the Sea – Invertebrate Biodiversity in the Lord Howe Island Marine Park
During the week of June 3-9:
There will be intertidal marine biodiversity activities, hosted by resident researcher. Volunteers will be given a presentation and induction to the marine macro invertebrates commonly seen on the reef platforms at low tide, and can assist by surveying plots to count and record these species. Later in the week a dedicated species identification session will give volunteers an opportunity to look up any tricky critters they came across (during surveys or at any other time during their visit) and help with data entry.
This survey project will assist research in to the habitat associations of invertebrates on the intertidal platforms, and help inform biodiversity monitoring program within the LHI Marine Park.
The week will wrap up with a celebration of the very special marine ecosystems surrounding Lord Howe island, coinciding with World Oceans Day on June 8th
JULY- INVASIVE SPECIES – FEATURING REMOTE WEEK
Invasive weeds are identified as one of the most serious threats to Lord Howe Island’s biodiversity and world heritage values. The Lord Howe Island Board has implemented an ambitious 30 year Weed Eradication Program to remove at least 25 priority invasive weeds. This program will be showcased in July with Volunteers having the opportunity to hike remote and settlement locations of the island to assist in weed removal with our experts.
There will be rainforest plant identification workshops and an opportunity to assist in the revegetation of Blackburn Island – a project aimed at preparing the island for the reintroduction of the Lord Howe Island Phasmid, the world’s rarest insect.
Partnering with: Melbourne Zoo
July – Plant conservation
Lord Howe Island has a diverse flora with relatives from around the surrounding Tasman Sea – Australia, New Caledonia and New Zealand. The Island has 240 native plants species and nearly half are found nowhere else in the world. The Island has a network of walking tracks that visitors can take to explore and observe the rainforest close up.
Like most islands where humans have settled, introduced plants have become weedy and have the ability to displace the native species. Lord Howe Island is half way through a thirty-year intensive weed eradication program funded by State and Commonwealth government grants.
In July there will be activities to learn about the island flora species and weeding programs.
- Guided walks to learn about the weed eradication program
- Weekly lectures on plants of Lord Howe Island at the Museum
- Weekly screenings of documentaries on plant and island conservation projects
- Guided walks to Mount Gower
- Local tour guides include commentaries on island plants
During the week of July 21 to 28:
You will be able to participate in weed eradication projects alongside the Lord Howe Island Board weed team. You will learn weed identification and removal techniques in native forest areas. There will be supervised activities removing Sea spurge from the island beach dunes to protect the seabirds and the dune biodiversity.
During this week there will be plant identification workshops and guided walks to different parts of the island to discover the rainforest plant species. Learn bout the evolutionary stories and patterns of island plant species.
You will be able to participate in a project with Melbourne Zoo and the Lord Howe Island Board to replant parts of Blackburn Island with native plants as a trial area for future release of phasmids.
AUGUST – INVERTEBRATES – FEATURING PHASMID CELEBRATION
Rodents are voracious predators of invertebrates. The loss of invertebrates is particularly significant because invertebrates play an important role in maintaining natural ecological functions on Lord Howe Island. Rodents are also responsible for the local extirpation of the endangered Lord Howe Island Phasmid, now found only on the nearby rock stack Balls Pyramid, the world’s tallest rock stack.
This month we will celebrate the discovery and revival of the rare Phasmid and the wider context of invertebrate conservation on the island and across the globe.
Partnering with: Melbourne Zoo and Australian Museum.
August – Invertebrate conservation
Lord Howe Island has a prolific invertebrate fauna, with relatives from around the surrounding Tasman Sea – Australia, New Caledonia and New Zealand. The Island has about 1600 described invertebrate species, including 530 different beetle species and 130 different snail species. Having evolved in the absence of predators, many of these invertebrates were heavily impacted when rodents arrived on the island.
One of these invertebrates has received a lot of worldwide attention- the Lord Howe Island phasmid. This 10cm long stick insect was believed to have been eaten into extinction by the rats; however in 1964 rock climbers photographed a dead one on nearby Balls Pyramid and in 2001 scientists found living phasmids there. Melbourne Zoo has carried out a world class breeding program with the phasmids and have sent some of this rare insect back to the island for public viewing.
During this month (final date TBC) there will be a celebration of the re-discovery of the phasmid. Meet locals and scientists involved in the rediscovery of the phasmid, and scientists who have been successfully breeding the phasmids.
In August there will be activities to learn about the island invertebrate species.
- Guided night walks to learn about the island’s invertebrates
- Weekly viewing and presentation on the Lord Howe Island phasmid
- Weekly lectures on invertebrate of Lord Howe Island at the Museum
- Weekly screenings of documentaries on island conservation projects
During the week of August 11 to 19:
During this week there will be guided walks and workshops with invertebrate specialists with groups such as beetles or snails. This will involve carrying out a variety of survey techniques in different forest habitats and recording species as baseline data for pre-rodent eradication to compare with future surveys post-rodent eradication.
SEPTEMBER –PROTECTING PARADISE – SHOWCASING THE BEST OF THE BEST
September will showcase the very best of Lord Howe Island’s conservation and sustainability initiatives.
Lord Howe Island’s renowned pristine natural environment is maintained through world-class conservation efforts that began more than 100 years ago and continue today.
With a long history of successful and ongoing sustainability and conservation programs to protect and enhance the World Heritage values; Lord Howe Island’s sustainability programs have recently been recognised with five prestigious environmental awards in 2018. Winner of the 30th Anniversary Gold Banksia Award for excellence in sustainability for the island’s holistic approach over more than a century, the Lord Howe Island Board were also awarded the Banksia sustainability award for a government. Adding to two Green Globe awards for Regional Sustainability Award and the Natural Environment Award and a SERA (Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia) award, recognising Lord Howe Island as a flagship for sustainability, providing a model that can be shared by others.
These programs include the development of the tourist bed cap of 400 people at any one time, community-driven recycling and waste reduction programs and a world class waste management facility that diverts 86% of the island’s waste from landfill.
From a conservation and rehabilitation perspective the island has delivered many successful programs over several decades including eradication of feral pigs, cats and goats, a world-renowned Weed Eradication Program which is in its 14th year and our volunteer programs (inc: LHI Conservation Volunteers 2018), whilst recovery programs have brought species back from the brink of extinction including the Lord Howe Island Phasmid and Woodhen.
We are now on the cusp of one of the most significant conservation projects in the world in 2019 – the Lord Howe Island Rodent Eradication Project. The eradication of rodents from Lord Howe Island will have significant ecological impacts, with our conservation volunteers establishing important baseline monitoring data for this incredible conservation effort.
In September, we will also be focusing on specialised Marine Park projects that monitor endemic fish including the Lord Howe Island McCulloch’s anemonefish (Amphiprion mccullochi).
The LHI McCulloch’s anemonefish is an endemic fish, found only within Lord Howe Island Marine Park and nearby Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs. Due to its small geographic range, low abundance at Middleton and Elizabeth Reefs to the north, and its reliance on anemones, A.mccullochi may have the greatest extinction risk of the endemic fishes for LHI Marine Park. This anemonefish is locally abundant at LHI where its host anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor) is also abundant. LHI Marine Park is the last remaining stronghold in the world for these anemonefish. Volunteers will be logging data on this and other endemic species which along with our coral health checks make up the key indicator species for the marine park.
Partnering with: DPI Marine Parks
September – Protecting Paradise
Lord Howe Island Marine Park has a high number of regional endemic marine species, many of which are found no-where else in the world. The McCulloch’s anemonefish are found only within LHIMP and nearby Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs. Due to its small geographic range and its reliance on anemones, they may have the greatest extinction risk of the endemic fishes for LHIMP. Ongoing monitoring is undertaken on these populations to provide consistent long-term data. LHIMP is the last population stronghold for this endemic fish and monitoring their numbers will provide valuable information on their conditions across locations on LHI reefs
In September there will be activities to learn about the island unique marine and terrestrial species.
- Join Marine Ecologists to undertake observational snorkel surveys to assess numbers of the endemic McCulloch’s Anemonefish, Amphiprion mccullochi, and other regional endemic fish in different locations within the LHI Marine Park
- Guided snorkel and glass bottom boat tours to assess coral health within the LHI Marine Park
- Guided walks to learn about the island’s conservation history
Partners: NSW DPI (Lord Howe Island Marine Park), Southern Cross University and James Cook University and UNSW
Finding Nemo – surveying for endemic McCullochs anemone fish in the Lord Howe Island Marine Park
During the week of September 1-8
Join local marine tour operators and marine experts to snorkel and survey various locations within the Lord Howe Island Marine Park to record and document abundance of adult and juvenile McCullochs anemone fish and their associated host anemones.
Methods involve snorkelling, and participants will need to be competent at snorkelling techniques. No specific survey experience needed.
Due to its small geographic range and its reliance on their host anemones, McCullochs anemone fish may have the greatest extinction risk of the endemic fishes for LHIMP. Ongoing monitoring is important for these populations to provide consistent long-term data on their population numbers.