Lord Howe Island Conservation

Protecting Paradise

Lord Howe Island is one of the most unique and beautiful places in the world, made up of 75% protected park preserve. The LHI Conservation Volunteers program provided by the Lord Howe Island Board, LHI Museum, Marine Parks and the Lord Howe Island Tourism Association in conjunction with local businesses launched in 2018 and gives visitors an opportunity to participate in the award winning, island-wide conservation effort ‘Protecting Paradise’. The program allows volunteers to make a valuable contribution to conservation projects on Lord Howe Island throughout May – September, giving a better understanding of what it takes to protect Lord Howe Island’s unique biodiversity while showcasing world class conservation in action.

May: Bird Conservation

Lord Howe Island and its surrounding islets become home to thousands of flourishing seabirds during breeding season in the warmer months. Declared an Important Bird Area in 2008, you can now explore bird monitoring sites and participate in conservation activities around these stunning islands.

You can take part in bird conservation activities, including:

  • Ocean bird watching boat trips
  • Guided tours of Woodhen and Currawong quarters
  • Weekly lectures at the Lord Howe Island Museum
  • Weekly screenings of documentaries on bird and island conservation projects
  • Self-guided land bird survey tours

Visit the breeding grounds of the winter-breeding Providence Petrel to experience the arrival of these special birds in a stunning mountain setting, as the weather cools. Enjoy a showcase week of monitoring these birds with researchers.

You will also meet the fascinating Woodhen. Once one of the world’s most endangered birds, a successful breeding program has brought this local phenomenon back from the brink of extinction.

Partners: Taronga Park Zoo, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage

Feature Week: Birds of Lord Howe Island 19 – 26 May.

June: Marine Conservation

Surrounded by a pristine World Heritage-Listed Marine Park, including the most southerly coral reef in the world, Lord Howe Island’s marine ecosystem is home to countless tropical species, some found nowhere else in the world. They are, however, impacted by ocean plastic and the ongoing threat of pests.  

You can learn about the management of marine conservation, with activities including:

• Marine pest monitoring with marine park staff

• Marine plastic and debris clean-up activities

• Weekly lecture on marine life at the Museum

• Screenings of marine conservation documentaries at the Museum

• Marine activities with local operators

There will be marine biodiversity activities, hosted by resident researchers. Volunteers will be given a presentation and the opportunity to look up any tricky critters they came across and help with data entry.

The week will wrap up with a celebration of the very special marine ecosystems surrounding Lord Howe Island, coinciding with World Oceans Day on 8 June.

Partners: NSW DPI (Lord Howe Island Marine Park), University of Wollongong

Feature Week: Lord Howe Island Marine Park 3 – 9 June.


July: Plant Conservation

Lord Howe Island thrives with remarkable plants species, many unique to the valleys and mountain ridges of this spectacular island. With a network of walking tracks into the rainforest you can explore and observe this diverse flora, learning about introduced plants that become weedy and displace native species.

Learn more about the island flora species and participate in weeding programs, with activities including:

• Guided walks to learn about the weed eradication program

• Weekly lectures on plants of Lord Howe Island

•  Weekly screenings of documentaries on plant and island conservation projects

• Guided walks to Mount Gower

• Local tour guides include commentaries on island plants

Participate in weed eradication projects and learn about weed identification and removal techniques in native forest areas. Visit the island beach dunes and remove sea spurge to protect the seabirds and the dune biodiversity.

You can also learn the evolutionary stories of island plant species and participate in a project with Melbourne Zoo and the Lord Howe Island Board to replant parts of Blackburn Island.

Partners: Melbourne Zoo

Feature Week: Invasive Species 21 – 28 July.


August: Invertebrate Conservation

Lord Howe Island has a prolific population of invertebrates, including 530 beetle species, 130 different snail species - and the famous phasmid. This unique stick insect was once believed to have been eaten into extinction by introduced rats, until scientists found phasmids living on Balls Pyramid in 2001.

Celebrate the rediscovery of the phasmid and join activities to learn about the island’s other invertebrate species, Including:

• Guided night walks to learn about the island’s invertebrates

• Weekly viewing and presentation on the Lord Howe Island phasmid

• Weekly lectures on invertebrate of Lord Howe Island at the Museum

• Weekly screenings of documentaries on island conservation projects

Enjoy guided walks and workshops with specialists and help carry out a variety of survey techniques in different forest habitats. You will also help record species as baseline data for pre-rodent eradication to compare with future surveys post-rodent eradication.

Having evolved in the absence of predators, many of local species were heavily impacted when rodents arrived on the island.

Partners: Melbourne Zoo

Feature Week: Amazing Invertebrates 11 – 19 August.


September: Protecting Paradise

Lord Howe Island Marine Park is home to a spectacular assortment of fish and marine species, many found nowhere else in the world. McCulloch’s anemonefish, found only in Marine Parks waters and nearby Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, faces the greatest extinction risk due to the small geographic range and reliance on anemones.

There will be activities to learn about the ongoing monitoring of McCulloch’s anemonefish and other unique species, including:

• Observational snorkel surveys with Marine Ecologists, to assess populations of McCulloch’s Anemonefish and other unique fish species

• Guided snorkel and glass bottom boat tours to assess coral health within the Lord Howe Island Marine Park

• Guided walks to learn about the island’s conservation history

Lord Howe Island Marine Park is the last stronghold for McCulloch’s anemonefish, and monitoring their numbers provides valuable information on their conditions across locations on Lord Howe Island’s reefs. Ongoing monitoring provides consistent long-term data.

Methods involve snorkelling, and participants will need to be competent at snorkelling techniques, but no specific survey experience is required.

Partners: NSW DPI (Lord Howe Island Marine Park), Southern Cross University and James Cook University and UNSW

Feature Week: Protecting Paradise 1 – 8 September.


For more information on the ‘Protecting Paradise’ program please email Darcelle.Matassoni@lhib.nsw.gov.au