Located 700 kilometres north-east of Sydney and covering an area of 1,463 km 2, the Lord Howe Island Group comprises Lord Howe Island, Admiralty Islands, Mutton Bird Islands, Ball's Pyramid, and associated coral reefs and marine environments.
Description of place
Nearly seven million years ago geologic movement of the Lord Howe Rise (an underwater plateau) gave birth to a large shield volcano on its western edge. Over time the sea eroded 90 per cent of the original volcano, leaving the islands that today comprise the Lord Howe Island Group.
Lord Howe Island has a spectacular landscape with the volcanic mountains of Mount Gower (875 metres) and Mount Lidgbird (777 metres) towering above the sea. The central low-lying area provides a marked contrast to the
adjacent mountains and northern hills. There are 241 different 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. Most of the main island and all of the offshore islands are included in the Lord Howe Island Permanent Park Preserve.
The islands support extensive colonies of nesting seabirds, and at least 168 bird species have been recorded either living on, or visiting, the islands. A number of these are rare or endangered. The endangered woodhen is one of the world's rarest bird species. During the 20th century the population of woodhens experienced a significant decline in numbers as a result of hunting by humans, habitat loss and disturbance by feral animals. Over the last few years a successful captive breeding program and other conservation measures have increased the numbers of these small flightless birds to around 220.
The islands are one of two known breeding areas for the providence petrel, a species that is also found nesting on Phillip Island, near Norfolk Island. The Lord Howe Island Group contains what is probably the largest breeding concentration in the world of the red-tailed tropicbird, and the most southerly breeding colony of the masked booby. 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. A marine national park was declared by the State of New South Wales in 1999 to increase protection of the marine environment. A Commonwealth Marine Reserve was declared in 2002, covering most of the World Heritage property and extending around Lord Howe Island and Ball's Pyramid from three to 12 nautical miles.
It is believed Europeans discovered Lord Howe Island when it was sighted from the British colonial naval vessel HMS Supply in 1788, en route from Sydney to the penal colony on Norfolk Island. The first landing was made two months later on the return voyage to Sydney.
By the 1830s there was a small permanent settlement in the lowland area of the main island. The settlers made a living by hunting and fishing, and by growing vegetables, fruit and meat for trade with passing ships. Pigs and goats, which were introduced to Lord Howe Island for food, later went wild and caused extensive vegetation and habitat changes, threatening populations of native species. Rats arrived on the island in 1918 from a wrecked ship, and have since been responsible for the extinction of five bird species. Over the last decade there have been intensive efforts to control these feral animals. Wild pigs, cats and goats have been successfully eradicated. The Lord Howe Island Board has also embarked on an ambitious weed eradication strategy and is in the early stages of planning for a rodent eradication programme subject to necessary licensing approvals and field trials.
Management of the Lord Howe Island Group
Lord Howe Island and its associated islands are under the care, control and management of the Lord Howe Island Board. When carrying out its functions, the Board is required to have particular regard to the World Heritage status of the area and to conserve those values for which the area was inscribed on the list.