Lord Howe Island is a gem of the natural world. Its dramatic scenery, lush subtropical forests, rare flora and fauna, pristine beaches and colourful marine life are breathtaking and unique. Sir David Attenborough once wrote that Lord Howe is “so extraordinary it is almost unbelievable… Few islands, surely, can be so accessible, so remarkable, yet so unspoilt.” Lord Howe is also relatively undiscovered. Vast areas of World Heritage wilderness are rarely visited or researched. Like the Galapagos, Lord Howe is a hot spot for endemic species.
The 2020 Australian Geographic Expedition is for ‘citizen scientists’ to work with experts from Australian Geographic and the Lord Howe Island Board. With dedicated support, people with a good level of fitness (i.e walk 5km in 1.5 hours) and interest in science (i.e. you don’t need any scientific training!) can help with important conservation projects.
It’s an exciting time for conservation on Lord Howe. During the winter of 2019, a comprehensive rodent eradication project was completed, and while monitoring will continue for a few years, we’re quietly confident about a rodent-free future. If so, the removal of rodents will have a significant impact on our bird life, and this is the focus of the 2020 Expedition. Over six days, we’ll survey the established Birdlife Atlas sites from North Bay to the summit of Mt Gower to help study populations of local and migratory birds. We hope to find species recovering in existing breeding grounds, species expanding into to new breeding grounds, and perhaps some new species to the island (or species that disappeared after the introduction of rodents in the 1920s). Anything is possible. We’ll also do some marine life surveys with NSW Marine Parks, and if conditions allow, we’ll do some invertebrate surveys. Our previous Australian Geographic Expeditions in 2016, 2017 and 2018 focused on invertebrates, and we found a new species of soldier fly and a new species of native bee. For a better feeling of what to expect, watch the video about the 2017 Expedition, by film-maker Andy Lloyd. You should also read the Australian Geographic reviews of the 2016 Expedition and the 2018 Expedition.
After a memorable day of genuine conservation work (i.e your input will make a difference), you’ll return to Pinetrees for a hot shower, sunset drink, exceptional 4-course dinner, great wine and comfortable bed. You could even find the perfect balance of adventure, mental stimulation, social interaction and, well, some of life’s more enjoyable treats. And there’s no mobile phone coverage on Lord Howe!