In late 2016 the Invasive Species Council and Island Conservation, working with the local community, began a project on Norfolk Island to better control existing invasive pests and prevent the introduction of new potential pest species.
The project had two objectives:
The first was to help the Norfolk Island community protect threatened species at risk from invasive pests by controlling rodents at Anson Bay and supporting eradication of Argentine ants.
Norfolk Island faces considerable pest threats to its forest ecosystems – among the worst are rodents and ants. Many native species, including the endemic Norfolk Island Green Parrot, are directly threatened with extinction by invasive pests. Seabirds once common on Norfolk Island are prevented from breeding by rats and uncontrolled cats, and a lack of nutrients from nesting seabirds is believed to result in a root disease that threatens the iconic Norfolk Island pine.
These pests are also threatening the livelihoods of Norfolk Islanders – they have devastating impacts on food crops – and represent an ongoing source of potential health problems. The highly invasive Argentine ants are a major concern – they can eliminate other insects, swarm and kill birds and small animals, and are a major pest for landholders.
The Anson Bay community rat baiting network aimed to create a network of rat baiting stations along property boundaries in the Anson Bay area. We provided funding to help the community buy equipment and supplies to carry out their work.
The project was first conceived by the Anson Bay community and has been extensively supported from the start by conservation organisation, Wild Mob, who, before 2017, funded materials for a small-scale baiting program on several properties and provided support, encouragement and connected the community to expert advisors.
Parks Australia provided in-kind support with bait transport, storage and distribution, and participation at working bees. To support the Anson Bay community rat baiting project, Parks Australia increased the density of their trap network along the national park boundary adjoining the private land at Anson Bay. The Threatened Species Commissioner provided a grant to increase the access track network to allow this work to take place.
Island Conservation Regional Director Ray Nias said,
Baits and materials for bait stations were purchased and put in place in 2017. Community volunteers in the Anson Bay area regularly replace baits in the bait stations in 2018 and beyond. Ongoing monitoring of bird numbers will occur.
The second objective was to improve the biosecurity of Norfolk Island and prevent the introduction of new invasive pests.
Through the project we gathered information about the status of the island’s biosecurity system while it transitions from the former independent Norfolk Island government to one managed jointly by the Australian government and the newly-formed Norfolk Island Regional Council.
Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said,
The report Norfolk Island: Protecting and Ocean Jewel was released in November 2017 and contained 25 recommendations for stronger biosecurity for the Norfolk Island group.
Islands are critical habitat for around one third of Australia’s threatened animal species but also especially at risk from invasive species.