Phillip Island (Norfolk Island)

Country/territory: Norfolk Island (to Australia)

IBA Criteria met: A1, A4i, A4iii (2009)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 192 ha

Protection status:

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
The IBA consists of Phillip Island, a small (190 ha) uninhabited island located approximately 6 km south of Norfolk Island in the western Pacific Ocean. The climate is sub-tropical with temperatures ranging from 19 to 28°C in summer and 12 to 21°C in winter and an average 1328 mm of rainfall per year. Phillip Island is formed of volcanic rock (basaltic lava and tuff) overlaid by a scant and diminishing layer of topsoil. The surface of the island is mostly bare rock and earth, but the island does support a rapidly re-generating if still sparse vegetation comprising more than 60 species of native and introduced plants. Pigs, goats and rabbits were deliberately released on Phillip Island shortly after Norfolk Island was settled by the British in 1788. These species had a profound impact on the local fauna and flora and ecological integrity of the island; by the time the pig and goat populations died out (circa 1870), the island was severely denuded and the local seabird colonies were almost eliminated. In the ensuing decades, massive amounts of soil were lost through erosion. Since rabbits were eradicated from the island in the late 1980s, the extent of vegetation on the island has been increasing, aided by a restoration program undertaken by the Australian Government; by 2002, approximately 73% the island was covered with vegetation (Cogger et al. 2006). It now supports small populations of petrels which became extirpated from Norfolk Island from hunting and depredation by introduced mammals and are now otherwise restricted to single other islands. Visitation to Phillip Island is generally seasonal and limited. However the popularity of the island for recreation is increasing. Activities included rock-fishing, general sightseeing and limited private and commercial guided tours for special interest groups.

Key biodiversity
Phillip Island is a breeding location for 13 species of seabird including current estimates of 10-100 pairs of Kermadec Petrel, 1000-10,000 pairs of Black-winged Petrel, 1000-10,000 pairs of Wedge-tailed Shearwater, 1-10 pairs of Flesh-footed Shearwater, 100-1000 pairs of Little Shearwater, 100-1000 pairs of Red-tailed Tropicbird (one of the largest breeding colonies of this species in Australia), 300 pairs of Masked Booby, 1000-10,000 pairs of Sooty Tern (eggs of this species are harvested by islanders during a legally sanctioned and regulated collecting season) and 100-1000 pairs of Black Noddy (D. Priddel and N. Carlile pers. comm. 2009). Two pairs of Australasian Gannet were breeding on the island in November 2006 (D. Priddel and N. Carlile pers. comm. 2009), with up to four pairs recorded previously (McKean et al. 1976; Moore 1999). No Common Noddy were observed on Phillip Island in early November 2006 (D. Priddel and N. Carlile pers. comm. 2009), but previous surveys have documented an estimated 100–1000 pairs (Tarburton 1981; Fullagar in Schodde et al. 1983; Hermes et al. 1986). Other species recorded on the island include Swamp Harrier, Nankeen Kestrel, Purple Swamphen, Rock Pigeon, Southern Boobook, Sacred Kingfisher, Eurasian Blackbird, Welcome Swallow, Silvereye, House Sparrow, European Greenfinch and European Goldfinch (D. Priddell and N. Carlile pers. comm. 2009).

Non-bird biodiversity: The non-avian fauna of Phillip Island includes a suite of invertebrates (e.g. 25 species of springtail and a combined 76 species of butterfly and moth have been recorded on the island) and two species of reptile, these being the nationally vulnerable Lord Howe Island Gecko and Lord Howe Island Skink (Naumann 1990; Commonwealth of Australia 2000; Department of the Environment and Water Resources 2007).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Phillip Island (Norfolk Island). Downloaded from on 20/05/2019.