Norfolk Island

Year of compilation: 2008

Site description
The IBA consists of the whole of Norfolk Island and the small Nepean Island, a small (3455 ha) island located in the western Pacific Ocean about 1700 km east of Sydney. The whole island is designated as an IBA given its endemic birds but rainforest is clearly the most important habitat on the island. Norfolk Island is an Australian territory that shares close links with New Zealand (lying 1100 km from Auckland). The climate at Norfolk Island is sub-tropical with temperatures ranging from 19 to 28oC in summer and 12 to 21oC in winter and an average 1328 mm of rainfall per year. Norfolk Island is formed of basaltic rock with overlying Kraznorem and skeletal soils. Today, most of Norfolk Island is covered by mixed farmland (e.g. pasture, croplands, orchards) and residential/commercial areas. The native rainforest and palm and vine forest that once dominated the island have been extensively cleared and are now mostly confined to the 650 ha Norfolk Island National Park. Introduced plants such as Red Guava, African Olive, Wild Tobacco, Lantana and Hawaiian Holly have invaded and in many instances replaced the native vegetation of the island. In addition to these species, the island also now supports some stands of introduced eucalypts. The coastline of Norfolk Island comprises a combination of sandy beaches, rocky shores and coastal cliffs. Nepean Island is a low (~30 m) island formed of aeolianitic calcarenite that supports coastal herbs and forbs (e.g. Pigface and Native Spinach), Moo-oo, Native Rush, Native Flax, some Coastal Fern and several small (less than 2 m tall) White Oaks.

Key biodiversity
Norfolk Island supports various endemic subspecies of bush birds. Several subspecies appear to be declining and are listed as threatened under national legislation: Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta, Grey Fantail Rhipidura fuliginosa pelzelni, Sacred Kingfisher Todiramphus sanctus norfolkiensis and Pacific Robin Petroica multicolor multicolor. The population size of the endemic subspecies of Pacific Robin was estimated at 400-500 breeding pairs in 1988 (Robinson 1988) and numbers appeared to have changed little when the population was re-examined in 1997 (Robinson 1997). A hybrid race of Southern Boobook has been generated by cross-breeding of the now-extinct endemic subspecies Ninox novaeseelandiae undulata with the nominate subspecies N. n. novaehollandiae of New Zealand (Olsen 1996; Norman et al. 1998). Other endemic species and subspecies (e.g. Norfolk Island Ground-Dove and Island Thrush Turdus poliocephalus poliocephalus) are now extinct. Relatively large numbers of White Tern and Black Noddy breed: White Tern were assessed as abundant and widespread on Norfolk Island by Schodde et al. (1983) and thousands of Black Noddy were recorded at breeding colonies near Cascade in 1971, with an additional 200-300 pairs at Nepean Island (Tarburton 1981; Moore 1985; Norfolk Island Parks and Forestry Service 2003), but both species probably declined between 1995 and 2008 (R. Holdaway in litt. 2009). A wide variety of seabirds nest in small numbers on mammal-free Nepean Island.

Non-bird biodiversity: The extant endemic non-avian fauna of the IBA consists of two species of reptile (the nationally vulnerable Lord Howe Island Gecko and Lord Howe Island Skink, now only on Nepean Island), two species of freshwater fish (Short-finned Eel and Long-finned Eel) and a rich variety of invertebrates (Commonwealth of Australia 2000).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Conduct exhaustive surveys to determine status of White-chested White-eye. Eradicate introduced mammals from the National Park. Control introduced plant and animal pests. Investigate and implement management programs to rehabilitate and expand native vegetation.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Quarantine protocols are in place to prevent introduction of non-endemic animals, plants and/or diseases. A variety of conservation actions have been implemented in the National Park to benefit threatened endemic species and control introduced pest species including active protection of parakeet nests. Residents of Norfolk Island are encouraged to have their domestic cats de-sexed. A proposal is being developed to eradicate all mammalian predators from within fenced areas of the National Park or, much more usefully, from the entire island.

Protected areas
The main protected area is Norfolk Island National Park but there are also a number of smaller secondary reserves, these being: Quarantine Reserve, Cascade Reserve, Point Blackbourne Reserve, Bucks Bay Reserve, Ball Bay Reserve, Cemetery Reserve, Point Hunter Reserve, Government House Grounds, Kingston Recreation Reserve, Kingston Common Reserve, Bumbora Reserve, Point Ross Reserve, Rocky Point Reserve, Headstone Reserve, Selwyn Recreation Reserve, Anson Bay Reserve and Nepean Island Reserve. All of these reserves are contained within the IBA.

Land ownership
A mix of private (freehold and leasehold land) and Commonwealth/Federal government (managed by Parks Australia).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Norfolk Island. Downloaded from on 17/01/2021.