A program to restore Lord Howe Island, home to the locally extinct, Critically Endangered Lord Howe Stick Insect has been given the green light.
Blog credit: Island Conservation
Island Conservation applauds the decision of the Lord Howe Island Board to proceed to the implementation stage of the Rodent Eradication Project that aims to remove all invasive rats and mice from the World Heritage listed island in 2018.
Lord Howe Island is home to many threatened, endemic and migratory species. Rodents have previously caused extinction of five bird and 13 invertebrate species on the island and currently threaten another 70 species. Eradication of rats and mice will be another significant step for recovery of unique threatened species and the island’s ecosystem following eradication of feral cats, pigs, and goats in the 1980s.
The decision follows many years of exhaustive research and trials on environmental impacts, economic costs and benefits and human health assessment.
Benefits of the project include:
- Increase in numbers and breeding success for a range of seabirds such as Kermadec Petrel, Masked Booby, and White-bellied Storm Petrel
- Recovery of endemic ground lizards and invertebrates such as land snails
- Increased seeds and seedlings for numerous plant species including the Critically Endangered Little Mountain Palm
- Reintroduction of the world’s rarest insect, the Lord Howe Island Phasmid
- Long term benefits to tourism and the Island’s economy through improved visitor experience
Island Conservation Regional Director, Ray Nias commented that the decision marked a high point in his career as a conservationist:
From the time that I volunteered to conduct surveys of the endangered Lord Howe Island Woodhen in 1987 through to my more recent involvement on the Scientific Advisory Panel I have always hoped that this project would go ahead. Lord Howe really is a piece of paradise and one that deserves to be rescued from the impacts of invasive species such as rodents.
Lord Howe Island Board CEO, Penny Holloway commented:
The project will be the single biggest conservation action to date to protect and enhance the World Heritage values of Lord Howe Island.