Maria Island


Country/territory: Australia

IBA Criteria met: A1, A2, A3 (2009)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 10,830 ha

Protection status:

BirdLife Australia
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2008 high not assessed not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here


Site description
This IBA is comprised of Maria Island, which lies off the eastern coast of Tasmania, and the nearby small islets of Ile de Nord (9.7 ha) and Lachlan (2.5 ha), each of which is important for seabirds. The IBA overlaps with much of Maria Island National Park (11,550 ha) but excludes a marine area of 1878 ha which extends around the north-west coast of Maria Island and a number of other small islets, rocks and reefs which are also included within the national park. Maria is virtually two islands, joined by a low, narrow isthmus. The Maria Range forms the spine of the northern island, extending from Bishop and Clerk (630 m) in the north, south to Mt Maria (709 m). Scree slopes have formed on both the eastern and western sides of the range. The eastern coastline consists of an indented line of granite headlands and cliffs, which reach to 140 m in height at Mistaken Cape. In the north, coastal cliffs rise to 300 m at Fossil Bay. The western coastline is comprised of dune-barred lagoons behind a series of sandy beaches, interspersed with dolerite and sandstone points. The major ridgeline of the southern island consists of Big, Middle, and Bottom Hills and ends in the dolerite pillars of Cape Peron. The eastern coastline between Barren Head and Cape Bald consists of a series of rounded granite headlands. The most extensive vegetation unit is open-forest of Eucalyptus obliqua (E. globulus and E. viminalis) with a shrubby understorey. Open-forest containing a mixture of eucalypt species over a predominantly grassy understorey covers most of the low dolerite hills on the western part of the island. The island is fairly dry with a mean annual rainfall at Darlington of 677 mm, and an average of 143 rain-days per annum. The mean monthly temperature maxima are 13oC in July and 23oC in February.

Key biodiversity
One hundred and twenty-nine species of bird have been recorded in the national park including approximately 120-130 introduced Cape Barren Geese. There is an old count of 60 nests of Pacific Gull on Lachlan Island (Higgins and Davies 1996) but numbers of this species are now lower (E. Woehler in litt. 2009), e.g. Brothers et al. (2001) report one nest on Maria Island and a combined 60-70 indistinguishable pairs of Pacific Gull and Kelp Gull on Lachlan Island, of which 53 were suspected to be Kelp Gull. Other species of interest include Fairy Tern (occasional records of non-breeding birds), Short-tailed Shearwater, Hooded Plover, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Common Diving-Petrel, White-faced Storm-Petrel, Fairy Prion, Little Penguin, Brown Falcon and Swamp Harrier. Ile de Nord supports 2000+ pairs of Little Penguins (Brothers et al. 2001).

Non-bird biodiversity: Tasmanian Pademelon, Long-nosed Potoroo, Common Wombat, Commmon Ringtail Possum and Short-beaked Echidna were the largest land animals present when Europeans first arrived on the island. Smaller mammals such as the Water Rat and Swamp Rat are also native to the island. The island supports 56 taxa that are endemic to Tasmania; five of these are endemic subspecies, while the remainder are endemic species. Thirty-four plants that are rare in Tasmania occur on the island; 10 of these are also rare at national level (PWS 1998).


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Maria Island. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/10/2020.