LORD HOWE ISLAND - RODENT ERADICATION PROJECT
Lord Howe Island’s isolation and its varied landscape are home to many unique and endemic species, including 241 species of indigenous plants, almost 50% of which are found nowhere else in the world, 207 species of bird, including the endangered Lord Howe Island Woodhen, and 1,600 terrestrial insect species, including the world’s rarest insect, the Lord Howe Island Phasmid.
The Lord Howe Island Board’s overarching environmental vision is to protect the island’s World Heritage values, rich biodiversity and threatened species. To achieve this the LHI Board is currently delivering the Protecting Paradise Program, an island-wide holistic ecological restoration program underpinned by the LHI Biodiversity Management Plan.
At its core, the Protecting Paradise Program aims to support the removal of destructive invasive species, namely rodents and noxious weeds, whilst maintain protection of threatened species by establishing a sustainable and robust bio security system to prevent the introduction and establishment of invasive species.
The presence of exotic rodents on islands is one of the greatest causes of species extinction in the world. Rats have already been implicated in the extinction of five endemic bird species, at least 13 species of endemic invertebrates, and two plant species on LHI. Rodents are also a recognised threat to at least 13 other bird species, 2 reptiles, 51 plant species, 12 vegetation communities, and 7 species of threatened invertebrates on the Island. Seven of these species are listed as “Critically Endangered” under NSW and Commonwealth legislation.
These programs complement significant achievements to date including the eradication of cats and pigs in the 1980’s, feral goats in 1999, and Myrtle Rust in 2018, a world-first.
The Protecting Paradise Program was the Gold winner of the 2018 Banksia Sustainability Awards and the 2018 NSW Green Globe Awards in the Natural Environment and Regional Sustainability categories.
After more than 15 years of detailed research and planning, final implementation of the Rodent Eradication Project (REP) is almost complete.
For an overview of the project click here
HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?
During 2019 the REP was included in the LHI Conservation Volunteers (CVLHI) program. Running from May-September the CVLHI focused on protecting Lord Howe Island’s unique biodiversity while showcasing world-class conservation in action. The project was dedicated to empowering like-minded people to make a difference through robust citizen science, inspiring educational experiences, and tangible local conservation action.
Our globally recognised conservation projects had experts from all over the world working side by side with our conservation volunteers, monitoring, collecting and exploring this unique natural environment. Participants experienced nature like nowhere else and were part of sustaining our amazing environment and experienced firsthand the species that our conservation projects are safeguarding.
Lord Howe Island’s outstanding universal value is recognised in its World Heritage listing for exceptional diversity of spectacular and scenic landscapes and for its rich biodiversity including many threatened and endemic species found nowhere else in the world.
The island’s small community of 350 people has a long history of successful and ongoing sustainability and conservation programs to protect and enhance the World Heritage values. Sustainability 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 islands waste from land fill.
From a conservation and rehabilitation perspective the island has delivered many successful programs over several decades including eradication of feral pigs, cats and goats and recovery of species that were on the brink of extinction such as the Lord Howe Island Woodhen and Lord Howe Island Phasmid – the world’s rarest insect.
The island is midway in to a 30 year weed eradication program targeting over 60 invasive weed species.
The next positive step is the eradication of rats and mice, with the Rodent Eradication Project (REP) planned for winter 2019. Rodents are significantly impacting Lord Howe Island’s World Heritage values, including impacts to more than 70 species of plants and animals. Eradication of rodents will have significant benefits to the islands biodiversity, threatened species recovery and improve the visitor experience. The $10.5M project will be the single biggest conservation action to date on Lord Howe Island.
LHI is the largest, permanently populated island on which the eradication of rodents has been undertaken to date. The evidence showed that the best long-term solution was to eradicate both rats and mice from the LHI Group in a single eradication operation. However, given the island’s permanent human population, its highly developed tourism industry and its endemic and threatened species, considerable planning has been undertaken to ensure all environmental and human health issues were thoroughly examined during the Planning and Approval stage.
Many methods of eradication have been carefully investigated in order to identify the one most suited to the LHI Group, including a number of different toxins and different means of delivering them, as well as undeveloped and unproven fertility control methods.
Based on a range of data from over 300 successful eradication programmes on islands around the world, the proven and most effective method for LHI was deemed to be the distribution of poison baits by three main methods: aerial distribution in the uninhabited mountains, and a combinations of hand broadcast and locked bait stations in the settlement area. The bait, Pestoff 20R®, contains brodifacoum, which has been shown in trials to be highly palatable to both ship rats and house mice.
The REP has received significant funding ($10.6M). $9.5M was received in 2012 for planning and implementation from the Federal Government’s former Caring for our Country Program (now National Landcare program) $4,500,000 and the NSW Environmental Trust $4,542,442. An additional $1.1M was received from the Federal government through North Coast Local Land Services in 2019 to implement the baiting component in winter 2019.
Visit Lord Howe
The best way to experience the true beauty of Lord Howe Island is to see it for yourself; be involved in a world class conservation effort and make a difference in the continued protection of this World Heritage treasure.
Lord Howe May-Sept 2019.
The programs features citizen science programs, talks and lectures. See the species which this project is safeguarding.
Volunteering & Citizen Science
LHI Conservation Volunteer program ran from May – September 2019. Participants were involved in a world-class, award-winning, holistic conservation effort – protecting paradise.
When you donate to Protecting Paradise you are becoming a part of our team.
Your donations help us carry our globally recognised conservation projects that keep Lord Howe Island’s reputation as the last paradise intact for generations to come.
More information coming soon!