Lord Howe Island Group
The Lord Howe Island Group was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage property in 1982 and falls under the ‘Natural’ category. It is a very fascinating island and has such varied topography and biodiversity that it is universally recognized. It is an extraordinary example of remote oceanic islands, born of volcanic activity more than 2,000 m under the sea. The island’s inaccessibility and its diverse landscape of mountains, valleys, hills, lowlands and sea-cliffs have resulted in an assorted array of habitat types supporting many distinctive types of vegetation and wild life congregations. Vegetation ranges from coastal grasses and heath to lush mossy rainforest masked in mist.
Today, approximately 75 per cent of the island’s original natural vegetation remains undisturbed. Likewise, its beaches, coral reef and marine environment are untouched. It is an area of spectacular and scenic landscapes encapsulated within a small land area, and provides important breeding grounds for colonies of seabirds as well as significant natural habitat for the conservation of threatened species.
It is believed that Lord Howe Island was first discovered by Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball, commander of the First Fleet ship, Supply, in 1788, while en route between Sydney Cove and the penal settlement of Norfolk Island. Ball named the uninhabited island after British Admiral Richard Howe, and the sea stack situated to the island’s south Balls Pyramid, after himself. Tourists first came to the island around the turn of the 20th century by ship and visitation boomed post World War II with the arrival of the flying boats, which operated out of Rose Bay in Sydney. An airstrip was opened in 1974, enabling twin-engine planes to begin flying to the island.
This Island Group is located in the South Pacific, 700 km north-east of Sydney. The property is administered under New South Wales. About 75% of the land area of the property is managed as a Permanent Park Preserve, consisting of the northern and southern mountains of Lord Howe Island itself, plus the Admiralty Group; Mutton Bird and Sail Rock; Blackburn (Rabbit) Island; Gower Island; and Ball’s Pyramid, together with a number of small islands and rocks. The entire island group has incredible volcanic exposures unknown elsewhere. The island’s surrounding waters were declared a Marine Park in 1998 to protect its unique marine environment.
The property is located in the Tasman Sea, approximately 570 kilometres east of Port Macquarie. The entire property including the marine area and associated coral reefs covers 146,300 hectares, with the terrestrial area covering approximately 1,540 hectares.
The most characteristic and boastful feature of the Island according to me is that it is practically Pollution-free. It is considered to be one of the “cleanest” places on earth, with no air or sea pollution or litter.
FLORA AND FAUNA
What really makes Lord Howe Island so exclusive? Definitely it is it’s abundance of flora and fauna. It is home to many of the rarest birds in the world. Some birds were believed to be extinct before they were found here. Ball’s Pyramid is very famous for Bird watching. There are at least 129 native and introduced bird species. Fleshy-footed shearwater breeds in large numbers, with possibly half the world’s population present seasonally.
Some of the Iconic species include:
- The flightless Lord Howe Woodhen (Gallirallis sylvestris), one of the rarest birds in the world.
- The Lord Howe Island Phasmid (Dryococelus australis), the world’s largest stick insect that was feared extinct until its rediscovery on Balls Pyramid.
- They are the only major breeding locality for the Providence Petrel (Pterodroma solandri)
- Red-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon rubricauda), one of its world’s largest breeding concentrations is found here.
- Other important species breeding within the preserve include kermadec petrel, black-winged petrel, wedge-tailed shearwater, little shearwater, white-bellied storm petrel, masked booby.
There are 241 distinct species of native plants, of which 105 are endemic to Lord Howe Island. Most of the island is dominated by rainforests and palm forest. Grasslands occur on the more exposed areas of Lord Howe Island and on the offshore islands.The waters surrounding Lord Howe Island provide an unusual mixture of temperate and tropical organisms. The reef is the southern-most coral reef in the world and provides a rare example of the transition between coral and algal reefs.
PROTECTION AND MANAGEMENT
Lord Howe Island is administered by the Lord Howe Island Board, a North South Wales Statutory Authority established under the Lord Howe Island Act in 1953, which gives a high level of self-governance to the community.
All World Heritage properties in Australia are ‘matters of national environmental significance’ protected and managed under national legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Once a heritage place is listed, the Act provides for the preparation of management plans which set out the significant heritage aspects of the place and how the values of the site will be managed. In 2007 the Lord Howe Island Group was added to the National Heritage List in recognition of its national heritage significance.
Tourist visits are kept at minimum, not allowing more than 400 tourists together at one point. of time. even though a lot safety measures have been taken, key threats which require continuous attention include fishing, tourism, invasive animals, plants and pathogens, and anthropogenic climate change.
I have made a few collages of the pictures of the Island and the native Birds and insects found here. Informative pictures regarding the Fun Facts and Tourist attractions are also there 🙂 Hope you have a good time viewing them!
For Images- Google.
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