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Friends of Lord Howe Island

Newsletter No.11

Autumn 2004

2004 shaping up for another great weeding season
Numbers have come in strong for this years weed trips – three are full and the last two trips have solid bookings. The only anomaly was the second June trip – quite a number of inquiries but no deposits, and so as not to hold on to seats too long, the decision was made to cancel that one and concentrate on filling the other dates. As usual, we have very strong numbers of repeat weeders who enjoy the week of conservation, learning about the environment, good company and good food. New members will be welcome, and are sure to enjoy the experience.
The morning activities will include some follow up work over previous areas, expanding the areas so far weeded, plus assisting the LHI Board with various restoration projects that have been funded by successful joint grant applications. In the afternoons we will visit the favourite places such as North Bay, Boat Harbour plus some new activities.
So if you haven’t booked yet, there are a few vacancies left on August 14 to 21 and August 29 to September 5. Cost is $1593 for the week.
Contact Ian Hutton on 02 6563 2447 or email

Murray and Linda Carter sharing hospitality with Friends of LHI weeders.
Biodiversity Management Plan for Lord Howe Island.
The Biodiversity Plan is being prepared by the NSW Dept Conservation and Heritage, the LHI Recovery team and the LHI Board. The plan is intended to direct a holistic approach to future management of biodiversity on the Lord Howe Group. The plan will identify significant ecological areas, threatened species hotspots, threats, and management units for the islands.
The Biodiversity Management Plan also constitutes the formal National and State Recovery Plan for the threatened species of Lord Howe Island and, as such, considers the requirements of these species on the island. It identifies the actions to be taken to ensure the long term viability of these species in nature and the parties who will undertake these actions. A major aim of this plan is to be a”one stop shop”, i.e. managers should generally need to refer only to the one plan. This should also assist with prioritisation of what may be conflicting management actions.
Progress on the plan is well underway, with further meetings and workshops in May and July expected to finalise details. The Plan will then go out for public comment when complete.
Murray Carter moves on.
Lord Howe Island Board Manager Murray Carter has moved back to Western Australia, taking up a position with the W.A. conservation department CALM. Murray was a great asset for Lord Howe Island in the five years he was here, as with his background and interest in the environment he instigated some very sound conservation initiatives. Murray was a great supporter of the Friends of LHI and the weeding trips – and for all weeding weeks that Murray was on the island he and wife Linda opened their home - Government House - to the groups for informal drinks and an inspection of the historic home built around 1880. We wish Murray and his family all the best in their new situation.

Presidents Report
It is very pleasing to see the work being carried out at Signal Point and other locations around the island. Previous visitors to the island will note the pleasant change and improvement at several foreshore locations. The local community are very excited to see the steps being taken to regenerate the previously overgrown areas.
The Lord Howe Island Board are fortunate to have received grants that have assisted greatly with the above projects. We are also fortunate to have the services of Terry Wilson and his work team to carry out these very worthwhile projects.
I note with interest that the Rodent eradication project study is progressing and I am sure we will hear more about this very important project in the months ahead.
The Lord Howe Island Board are to be congratulated on their ongoing initiative and participation in what I believe is vital for the welfare of Lord Howe Island.
The eradication of weeds continues to occupy a major portion of the Boards’ outdoor staff time. I believe that with the assistance of the visiting Friends of Lord Howe groups each winter some dramatic reductions are being made in the weed population on the island.
We look forward to having the bush regenerators with us once again this winter and want to assure them that their efforts are very much appreciated by the island community.

Des Thompson


Friends of Lord Howe Island (Inc.,)

Treasurers Report
Well Friends it is that time of year again. I can feel it in the air as the season’s change. It is nearly time to return to Lord Howe and tackle those weeds again. I am certainly looking forward to it and I hope you all are too.
The end of our financial year also approaches and I will be busy over the next few weeks finalising our accounts and posting out cheques and receipts for the refund of the boards environmental levy. If you were a weeder in 2003 and have not received a letter from me by the end of May then please send me a note C/- P.O Box 155 Lord Howe Island 2898.
We have at present $10,247 in our Gift fund account. The bulk of this is due to our successful application for a grant from the Norman Wettenhall Foundation. This grant is for the removal of bamboo from the walk to clear place. The remainder is from the kindness and generosity of you, our Friends. All donations over $2 to the Friends of LHI are now tax deductible- so hang on to those receipts for tax time.
In our main account we are still maintaining good cash reserves of $25,679. This is after having purchased all safety material for this years weeding trips. Gloves will be free issued for keeps to all weeders this year.
That’s it from me folks. I hope to see you on Lord Howe soon.
Steve Gale

Treasurer FLHI

Leaders for 2004
In 2004 we have a different bush regeneration leader for each trip. All of these people have a love of the natural environment and a commitment to conservation. Each person brings their own experience, talent and personality to the week and this is shared amongst the participants plus gradually assimilated into the overall structure of the scheme to improve the effectiveness of the work and enjoyment of all.

Trip 1 June 12 to 19 Colin Lambert.

Colin is a retired chemical engineer and has taken up bush regeneration as a serious hobby since 1995. With his background in chemistry he enjoys experimenting with different herbicides to get the most effective treatment from the lowest dose herbicides to minimize environmental damage. Colin has been coming to Lord Howe with the bush regeneration trips since 1999 and with his effective communication and sense of humour is a popular leader.

Trip 2 July 10 to 17 Rymill Abell.

Rymill had a career with CSIRO and since his retirement has been actively involved in bush regeneration at Lane Cove since 1986. In 1996 on a visit to LHI Rymill met Ian Hutton and the two developed the Lord Howe Island bush regeneration program from 1998. Rymill coordinated bush regeneration activities for all of the trips from 1998 to 2000 but with his many other interests he has stepped back to allow wider participation and now takes one trip each year.

Trip 3 July 24 to 31 Danny Hirschfield.

Danny is a Bushcare Officer for a Sydney Council. He has been doing bush regeneration for 10 years and supervising Bushcare groups for the past 8 years. Danny heard of the Lord Howe bush regeneration trips through the bushcare network and came on his first trip as a volunteer in 2001. His first year as a coordinator for the LHI program was 2003, and has been able to bring his wide professional experience and his enthusiasm for the environment to the program.

Trip 4 August Elizabeth Brown.

Elizabeth works as a botanist at the herbarium of the Royal Sydney Botanic Gardens, in the fields of Epacridaceaea and liverworts. Elizabeth has been involved in research of flora of LHI for some years now and came on her first weeding trip as a volunteer in 1999 and has been every year since, with 2003 being first as coordinator. Her botanical knowledge is a great input to the week.

Trip 5 Bill McDonald

Bill is a career botanist with the Queensland Herbarium, and has been involved in many projects across the state. Bill is also a keen conservationist and first visited Lord Howe Island on a bird tour in 2001. He was impressed by the bush regeneration program and has been on two trips in 2002 and 2003. He will bring his wide experience and knowledge this year as a coordinator..

Update on LHI Board environmental programs - Terry Wilson LHIB World Heritage Officer
Rodent Eradication Cost Benefit Study
A cost benefit analysis into the feasibility of undertaking a rodent eradication program on the Island was recently completed. The cost of the eradication programme has been estimated at $800,000. Major costs include preparation of Species Impact Statements, field trials, aerial baiting and helicopter hire, rodent stations, labor costs and captive management of key species. Based on estimated loss of Kentia Palm seed due to rat damage, the payback period for the $800,000 eradication program would be approximately 4 years.

Ship rat Rattus rattus on LHI
Rats and mice are one of the key threats to a range vertebrates, invertebrates and plant species on the Island. Species such as the Lord Howe Island phasmid, the endemic gecko, endemic lizard and wood eating cockroach have been greatly reduced in numbers or are only found in isolated areas free of rodent predators.
A range of issues need to be addressed prior to the implementation of an eradication plan, in particular the potential threats to non target species which may occur as a consequence of any broad based aerial baiting programme. The Board is proposing to implement a number of recommendations from the cost/benefit study including, warfarin resistance testing for the Island’s rat population, assessment of current quarantine measures to prevent any future reintroductions and a potential trial in the north part of the Island to replicate a larger scale eradication plan.
The study also identified a number of new technologies, which would avoid the potential non-target risks of aerial baiting including rat specific baits and a genetically modified mouse using a cytomegalovirus. Some of these technologies are currently in the trial stage
Successful grants to assist in weed control
The LHI Board and the Friends of Lord Howe Island have been successfully recently as the recipients of three grants.

  • The NSW State Government Environmental Trust awarded $68,000 over three years for control of woody weeds in the Intermediate Hill/Grey Face area. The grant will largely target the eradication of Cherry Guava from areas adjoining the southern mountains.

Cherry guava forest on LHI

  • The Federal EnviroFund awarded $ 5,000 to assist the Friends of Lord Howe Island in fencing and rehabilitating the Sallywood Swamp Forest Vegetation Community on Special Lease 1978.01. This vegetation community has recently been listed as a Threaten Community under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act (TSC Act)

Intact Lagunaria swamp forest Cobb’y Corner

  • The Norman Wettenhall Foundation a private philanthropic group has provided $10,000 for the Friends of LHI and LHIB staff to eradicate bamboo, Arundinaria simonii from the Valley Garden east of Transit Hill.

The Friends and the Lord Howe Island Board are extremely grateful for the support of the organisations above. These monies will provide valuable assistance in expediting the Boards prioritised weed control works as identified in the Island ‘strategic Plan for Weed Management’
Throughout the second half of 2003 and early 2004, significant planting works have continued in a number of key areas. These include Cobby’s Creek, Old Settlement the Lagoon Foreshore and Signal Point. The areas have been mulched with a combination of shredded paper from the tip and slashed kikuyu. The heavy mulching provides a valuable use of recycled paper and will lead to less moisture loss, less herbicide use and improved growth rates.

Signal Point rehabilitation site
The Signal Point works were completed as part of a Coast Care grant. The plantings will greatly enhance this popular lookout area and provide improved habitat for nesting Flesh Footed Shearwaters.

The revegetation of part of the Old Settlement creekline was linked to the priorities identified in the Rehabilitation Strategy and the listing of the Sallywood swamp vegetation community as a Threatened vegetation community under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act. (TSC Act). The works were completed with the assistance of the Friend’s of Lord Howe Island and through the support of local landholders. Funding assistance was provided through the Federal Governments Enviro Fund.

Friends of LHI assisting replanting at the Old Settlement Lagunaria swamp forest in 2003.
Friends visiting the Island this year will notice considerable changes along the lagoon Foreshore area where large numbers of immature Norfolk Pines have been removed and replaced with native species particularly Palms and other local species tolerant of windy conditions.
Plant Importation Policy
The Lord Howe Island Board has adopted a revised Plant Importation Policy. The policy will provide an important element of the Islands broader Quarantine strategy. The Plant policy will continue to allow the importation of a large number of plants, which currently exist on the Island but have not proven to be invasive by reproducing in the wild.
Other species of plants, which have escaped and become environmental weeds, will be prohibited from importation. Plants, which are not on the Island, but have proven to be invasive in similar climates on the mainland, will also be prohibited. Plants not on the Island and whose potential to invade bushland on the mainland is unknown will be subjected to a weeds risk assessment test to determine their potential to spread.
Potted plants can also potentially harbor unwanted pest species such as ants or soil borne pathogens.

Terry Wilson

House to rent on Lord Howe Island
Modern comfortable fully furnished 3 bedroom house centrally located available for 6 months rental end June 2004 to end December 2004. Will consider two 3 month leases.

For details contact 02 6563 2320

Twin Islands

Lord Howe Island
Could Lord Howe Island have a twin?

These two photographs show two different islands, but they appear similar and both have many similarities. Both are in the Pacific Ocean; both are remnants of old hot spot volcanoes; both are about 700km from a nearby continent, both have striking landscape and flora and fauna- and both are listed as World Heritage.

Lord Howe Island is well known to Friends of LHI, and to most Australians, but the other island is not at all well known. It is Juan Fernandez Island, about 700km off Valparaiso Chile. An alternative name is Robinson Crusoe’s Island – because it is this island where Scotsman Alexander Selkirk was shipwrecked and his account was the basis for a novel by Daniel Defoe which has become a classic around the world.
Lord Howe Island is at 31 S latitude and is dated at 6.9 million years old and is 11km x 2km; and has nearby Ball’s Pyramid, the remnant of another island 23km to the southeast. The Juan Fernandez archipelago has 3 main islands – Santa Clara, Robinson Crusoe’s Island and Alexander Selkirk Island. Robinson Crusoe’s island is dated at 4.2 million years old and is 18km x 5km. Lord Howe Island’s highest peak is Mount Gower at 875metres high; on Robinson Crusoe’s island the highest peak is El Yunque at 916m. Both Islands have mist forests on the high mountain areas.
The Juan Fernandez Archipelago has 150 native flowering plant species, with 69 % endemic; Lord Howe has 180 with 44 % endemic. Some plant genera are the same – e.g. Sophora
Marine fauna around the islands is different – Lord Howe Island for some months of the year is under the influence of the warm East Australian

Robinson Crusoe’s Island
Current from the tropical north; and has many tropical marine species including the world’s most southerly coral reef, and many tropical fish species. Robinson Crusoe’s Island is under the influence of the cooler Humboldt current and has a species of seal (the Juan Fernandez Seal) breeding on its shores, and is well known for its large lobsters- with the largest lobsters in the world found here – up to 1.5 metres long!
The two islands have a different human history. Lord Howe Island was discovered in 1788, and settled in 1834. The settlement grew slowly, with the residents depending on supplying whaling ships with food until the late 1860’s when whale stocks were depleted. Then the Kentia palm provided another economic activity which has continued right through until today. Tourism started in a small way around 1900 and remained small until the flying boat service commenced after WW2. Another boost was given after the construction of the airstrip in 1974. Today the islands tourist numbers are around 12,000 annually, and the island is probably regarded as Australia’s premier ecotour island; a reputation spreading around the world.
The Juan Fernandez Archipelago was discovered by a Spanish pilot of that name in 1563. He obtained a grant of the islands from the Spanish government and he resided there for some time with a few families, stocking the islands with goats and pigs. He soon however appeared to abandon his possessions, which were only occasionally visited by fishermen and sailors.
In October 1704, while at Juan Fernandez Islands, Alexander Selkirk quarreled with the Captain of the galley Cinque Porte over the poor repair of the ships and told the captain he would rather stay ashore than sail another league in the boats. The captain disliked his outspokenness and ordered him ashore. (the ships did indeed break up and the sailors were captured by the Spanish and became slave labour in the silver mines of Peru). Selkirk became the islands most famous colonist, as his adventures are thought to have inspired Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinsons Crusoe. Selkirk survived on goats, fruit, shellfish and lobsters. Each day he scaled an 800m high ridge and surveyed the horizon for ships. He lived there for 4 years and four months before being rescued when two English ships called in for water.
In 1741 the English Commodore Anson led a proposal for a settlement. In reply the Spanish set up a garrison in 1750. With independence for Chile at the beginning of the 19th century Juan Fernandez Islands passed to Chile. From 1687 seasonal sealers visited to slaughter the Juan Fernandez seal-, which was considered extinct by 1850 (although rediscovered in 1965.) In 1935 the Chilean government declared the two larger islands National Parks, and now they are a Biosphere Reserve. Juan Fernandez Islands receives about 2,000 visitors from Chile and 600 international visitors each year.

Sophora is one plant genus shared by both islands
The environmental problems faced by both islands have similarities. Early on goats and pigs had been placed on the islands- to provide food for passing sailors. Rabbits had also been placed on Juan Fernandez Islands, which have had a devastating effect. A major problem facing both islands are the plants that have been introduced and have become weeds. For Lord Howe Island Cherry Guava, Ochna and Asparagus fern are probably the worst weeds. On Juan Fernandez Islands it is Blackberry, Honeysuckle and Lantana.
World Heritage Listing brought with it the responsibility of the New South Wales and the Australian Government to provide funding for projects to conserve the natural assets of Lord Howe Island. The Lord Howe Island Board administers the island and some impressive environmental projects have been completed or initiated. Feral pigs and cats were removed in 1979, domestic cats banned 1982 and dogs kept under strict control. Goats have almost been eradicated. A feasibility study for rodent eradication has been completed. The northern and southern forest has been protected from grazing cattle by an electric fence. Strategic plans for weed control, rehabilitation and quarantine have been drawn up.
Probably the most impressive conservation project on LHI was the rescue of the Woodhen- a flightless bird that was hunted by introduced animals almost to extinction, with around 30 individuals left in the 1970’s. The Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife provided funding of around $250,000 for a captive breeding program where 93 Woodhens were bred and released into the wild (after feral animals removed) and now Woodhens range across the island with 250-300 individuals.
The formation of the Friends of Lord Howe Island contributes to the LHI Board’s efforts by providing volunteer labour to eradicate Asparagus fern, and access to grants and funds for projects including rehabilitation of the Lagunaria swamp community, and sponsorship of teams to travel to the island eradicate Cherry guava. Lord Howe Island is well on the way to overcoming the major environmental problems, as long as funding continues to implement strategic plans, particularly in respect to Cherry Guava eradication.
It is not so bright for Juan Fernandez Islands. Although CONAF is working to save the endemic plant species with support from the Chilean government and several international organizations, the incipient restoration work seems to be insufficient to stall the effects of many aggressive introduced plant species, which can cover areas and totally outcompete native species. On Alexander Selkirk Island several thousand wild goats still roam, and rabbits are on all islands.
Sharing of information on environmental problems and conservation efforts between the two islands could stimulate cooperation and enhanced conservation outcomes. Friends of Lord Howe Island newsletters will be sent to a contact on Robinsons Crusoe Island and may inspire a similar group to be set up.


Experienced Bush Regeneration

Volunteers wanted for 14 Day Project.

Airfares, accommodation & meals provided
The Friends of Lord Howe Island & Lord Howe Island Board are currently planning a major weed control project for August/September 2004. As a part of this project funds are available to cover airfares, accommodation and meals for selected volunteers.
As a part of this project the following will be provided:

  • Airfares (Sydney/Brisbane - LHI return);

  • Basic accommodation at the Research Facility (share rooms with bunks, with share bathroom & kitchen facilities);

  • Provisions for breakfast, lunch & dinner;

  • Tools, gloves, herbicide & safety equipment as required;

  • Induction training and facilitation of some nature based activities on the Island.

Volunteers will be required to commit to:

  • Working in remote, rugged terrain under difficult field conditions and using herbicide

  • Working as a team alongside local Board staff (i.e. working the same hours 7am to 3pm, Monday to Friday).

  • 10 days of volunteer work for a 14 day project;

  • Providing their own work clothing (i.e. boots, hat)

**** A high level of fitness, enthusiasm and humor is essential ****


This program is different to the regular volunteer groups that stay at Pinetrees. The work involved in this project is in more rugged and remote areas of the Island, and volunteers will be working longer days. This project will complement the great work of the Friends groups.

Friends of LHI members will have first preference to participate in this project.


Please address the following criteria in your application. Please DO NOT exceed 2 pages.


  1. Member of the Friends of Lord Howe Island, experience as a volunteer bush regenerator or experience working with volunteers;

  2. Experience and formal training in bush regeneration. Willingness to undertake a variety of weed control techniques. Previous experience in controlling Pittosporum undulatum, Cherry Gauva, Ochna or Cotoneaster;

  3. Self motivated with ability and fitness to work in remote locations often in steep terrain amongst dense bushland with minimal supervision. Skills (preferably certified training) in chainsaw use are desirable;

  4. Excellent verbal communication skills. Ability to work as part of a team as well as the ability to work with minimal supervision.

  5. Knowledge of and ability to implement OH&S principles.

For any further information please contact Ian Hutton on (02) 6563 2447 or Terry Wilson at the Lord Howe Island Board on (02) 6563 2066.
Please send written applications (not exceeding 2 pages in length) to

Lord Howe Island Board

PO Box 5

Lord Howe Island NSW 2898

Closing date : 25th June 2004.
Friends of Lord Howe Island newsletter prepared by Ian Hutton.


Friends of LHI

PO 155

Lord Howe Island

NSW 2898

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