Lord Howe Island Group | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Lord Howe Island Group

Item details

Name of item: Lord Howe Island Group
Type of item: Landscape
Group/Collection: Landscape - Cultural
Category: Other - Landscape - Cultural
Location: Lat: -31.5515554871 Long: 159.0805889570
Primary address: South Pacific Ocean NE of NSW, Lord Howe Island, NSW 2898
Parish: Lord Howe Island
County: Lord Howe Island
Local govt. area: Lord Howe Island


The Lord Howe Island Group is situated in the northern Tasman Sea, 770 Km north east of Sydney. The Lord Howe Island Group has a total area of 1540 hectares, with Lord Howe Island accounting for 1455 hectares, making it the only island in the group large enough to sustain human settlement (Owens 2004).
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
South Pacific Ocean NE of NSWLord Howe IslandLord Howe IslandLord Howe IslandLord Howe IslandPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Lord Howe Island BoardState Government20 Apr 99

Statement of significance:

The Lord Howe Islands Group was inscribed on the World Heritage List for its unique landforms and biota, its diverse and largely intact ecosystems, natural beauty, and habitats for threatened species. It also has significant cultural heritage associations in the history of NSW.
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Physical description: A remarkable example of isolated oceanic islands, born of volcanic activity more than 2,000 metres under the sea, these islands boast a spectacular topography and protect numerous endemic species, especially birds.

The Old Settlement site on Lord Howe Island has a remnant of a critically-endangered ecological community, Lagunaria (Sallywood / Norfolk Island Hibiscus / white oak) Swamp Forest and threatened Aegicereas (mangrove) association. Over 95% of this vegetation community has been lost due to land clearing and grazing (Pickard, 1983, Auld & Hutton, 2002). Three fragments a few square meters in area remain outside of hte permanent park preserve. It also has habitat for the endangered species of climber vine, Calystegia affinis at Old Settlement Creek. This vine was presumed to be locally extinct until it was rediscovered in 1985. Nearby in the permanent park preserve is a Drypetes - Cryptocarya vegetation association (LHI Board, 2015).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The existence of sites of archaeological significance on Lord Howe Island is highly probable. Despite the relatively short period of human occupation on the island, there have been many social and economic processes that have influenced the development of settlement. Occupation, abandonment, re-occupation and long term settlement at numerous locales on the island have led to the creation of a variety of sites ranging from the ephemeral to the extant and cover all aspects of community life on the island in the past and present. Domestic, agricultural, industrial, commercial, social, administrative and memorial sites are all present in different quantities and of varying ages, and all contribute to the significance of the island in terms of state heritage and archaeological research. Following, the archaeological potential of six different archaeological sites identified as being of interest to a proposed PhD research by Kimberley Owen for which an application for archaeological testing is hereby assessed. These sites are generally clustered to the north and south of the island, their occupation covers from 1834 to at least 1918 and they are comprised of domestic, agricultural and possibly industrial sites:

Hunter Bay- Old Settlement Beach (encompassing site 1 Old Settlement Beach Hillside and Site 2 Old Settlement Beach Flats): The first location of occupation on Lord Howe Island is known to have occurred in Hunter Bay, in an area commonly known as Old Settlement Beach (OSB). Historical and map evidence suggests several phases of occupation and possible abandonment and, consequently, two locales of interest have been identified within the area: OSB Hillside and OSB Flats.
White's 1835 map shows a group of huts at the western end of the bay belonging to Ashdown, Bishop and Chapman. When Poole and Dawson bought out the interests of Ashdown, Bishop and Chapman in 1841, it is not clear whether the occupation at Hunter Bay was still on the original hut sites recorded in 1835 or if settlement had spread from those original five sites. A residential and commercial occupation by William and Hannah Nichols sometime after 1871 is known, but from observations it appears that the modern occupation at the eastern end of the bay coincides with the Nichols site. No historic evidence of subsequent settlement at the western end of the bay has been found, however consultation with local informants revealed that this area had been used as a rifle range in the 1920s-1930s.
It seems likely that the rifle range activity has obscured any evidence of earlier occupation at the extreme western end of the bay flat, however it appears to be contained within an area of approximately ten square metres and has not affected sites adjacent to it in any considerable way. Other site disturbance may include stock trampling, occasional incursions from casual farm related excavations, potential incursions from bottle collectors (Birmingham 1984) and human foot traffic. Despite these numerous sources of disturbance, their impact to date appears to have been relatively minimal as there is substantial observational evidence to suggest that there are several archaeological sites that have maintained some integrity on the OSB flats and western foothills.

North Bay (encompassing North Bay Ephemeral Swamp and Site 4 North Bay Nichols Garden Site): The abandoned domestic and farming sites at North Bay constitute the most westerly settlements on the island and sources indicate were occupied in some form from the 1840s to at least the 1890s. These occupations appear to have been in two distinct locations and were occupied by at least three different family groups at different times. The date of complete abandonment of North Bay settlement is unknown, but there was some agricultural activity still being undertaken in 1898 and unnamed leases are marked in the bay on several cadastral maps until the declaration of the Permanent Park Preserve in 1952.

Several sources indicate that the earliest settlement in North Bay was established in the early 1840s with the arrival of Captain Middleton and his wife, who built a thatch hut and dug a well at the foot of Mt Eliza. In 1855, the Middletons sold their interest to Captain Stevens. When the Stevens left North Bay is not clear, but sources indicate that Campbell Stevens, the son, left for New Zealand for educational purposes, and returned to Lord Howe Island in 1868 (Rabone 1940). The third group to reside in North Bay appear to have settled on the western side of Mt Eliza, with the arrival of William Nichols in 1862. Nichols built a palm framed and thatched house with calico lining and split palm floor, and commenced farming in the bay by growing onions and other vegetables for trade. It is not clear whether the Nichols maintained their gardens at North Bay, but it appears that either they or an unknown group continued to do so until at least 1898.

There appears to have been no residential occupation of the bay after Nichols left, and the remoteness of the bay seems to have discouraged regular activity there since residential abandonment. Sources indicate that groups collecting palm seed visited the bay for a few days every year from the late 1890s, and today the bay is periodically visited by bush walkers and small snorkelling groups. Despite the small amount of regular visitors, there is little impact on the sites as the Nichols garden is only accessible by following an overgrown creek, and the possible Middleton/Stevens site is overgrown and by-passed by all walking tracks. Occasional trampling by feral goats and pigs may have been a possibility, but it is likely to have been fairly minimal, with no large animal disturbance after park proclamation in 1952.

Site 5: Wright/King Farm- The Rose Garden: According to local informants, the Rose Garden was the site of a house occupied from the 1850s to the 1870s when a new residence was built closer to the shore. The Wilkinson and Denham maps do not clearly denote dwelling location, however written sources suggest that this is indeed the site of one of the earliest dwellings in the area as it is situated directly at the foot of Mt Lidgbird and in close proximity to Soldiers Creek (Rabone 1940). Other evidence suggests the house was empty but extant and habitable in 1876 (Finch and Finch 1967). By 1898 all remains of the dwelling are likely to have disappeared as the 1898 map does show very clearly the locations houses and the only dwellings shown on the map is the later house built in the 1870swhich is partially extant today.

The site consists of a defined area of remnant vegetation from a house garden, which has been fenced off for some years to prevent cattle trampling, and a series of hand dug ditches running along the southern and western edge of the site. The site has been arbitrarily fenced off to protect the remnant vegetation and is probably not indicative of the site's extent. Due to the thick cover of pasture grass, the identification of surface scatters or other surface features was not possible, but the remnant vegetation in the fenced area may offer some clues.

The expected remains from this site cover all aspects of domestic life and given the proximity of the drainage ditches, perhaps some agricultural activity in the form of a kitchen garden. The actual form of the house is not known, but as with other sites is likely to take the form of the majority of dwellings at the time, being palm frame and thatch, with a detached kitchen. The effort of establishing a garden may have been suggestive of a house of more permanence, but its apparent abandonment within 20 years indicates this was probably not the case. It is unknown how many people may have resided at the house, but the likelihood of a family occupation is high and the volume and variety of goods on the site is expected to fluctuate as it was probably occupied during both the peak and decline years of whaling trade on the island. Macro and micro botanical evidence of other flower and kitchen garden plantings may remain, along with further evidence of oleander windbreaks and boundary plantings. A well located directly across the modern road from the site is still in use and is likely to have been the same one that serviced the house during its occupancy.

The garden and likely dwelling site have been fenced off for a number of years, and as such the volume of recent stock and human traffic on the site has been negligible. Prior to fencing, there may have been some trampling by stock and feral pigs and goats, but as with other sites the damage is likely to have been moderated by the thick cover of vigorously growing grass. During the early years of abandonment there is a possibility of legitimate and furtive scavenging from the site for building materials, however occupational debris is unlikely to have been significantly disturbed, particularly privy and dump-sites. The likelihood of casual investigation and disturbance of the site is low. As the site is situated at the foot of Mt Lidgbird and is within the Soldiers Creek catchment, there ordinarily would be potential for significance flooding of the area, however, the silted up ditches on the margin continue to divert considerable volumes of water around the site and significantly reduce any water disturbance or erosion of the site.

Site 6: The Johnson's Farm- Johnson House Site: The Johnsons farmed a large parcel of land adjacent to Soldiers Creek, and Perry Johnson excavated a complex series of deep ditches to drain his land. The Johnsons dwelt for at least 20 years in a typical Lord Howe Island palm thatch hut as shown in an 1882 photograph taken during the visit of Commissioner Bowie-Wilson. The Johnson's property was often a locale of community activity. Throughout their 60 year occupation of the site, it appears that the Johnson's house remained on the original site, but whether their thatch house of 1882 was replaced with a timber structure is not clear. Similarly, what happened to the house following their deaths is not clear. The houses have now disappeared, and the timing of the eventual decay of these dwellings is not clear, but surface evidence of their presence remains. Owens (2004) has confirmed the presence of evidence of Johnson's former house and garden previously identified by Birmingham (1984:4) and has identified a well still in current use, which has been ascribed by local informants to the Johnson's occupation.

The expected remains on the site would constitute an important and varying assemblage as it would potentially represent over 60 years of occupation spanning from early settlement, peak and decline of whaling trade, and the economic and administrative transitions that occurred during the early 20th century. Occupational debris from at least two adults and perhaps three or four individuals at different times would be expected, along with possible evidence of a family with children in more recent layers. Given the relatively long period of occupation of the site, definitive stratigraphy may be possible in features such as privies and dumps, and the assemblage of remains could constitute an important 'timeline' of general material culture on the island. Micro and macro botanical remains from nearby gardening activities and food preparation in the probable kitchen site are also possible, along with the expected range of faunal remains.

Disturbance on the site is potentially varied, but does not appear to have been significant in recent years. Stock and feral animal trampling appears to be constant and long term, but the thick pasture moderates potential damage, and the volume of stock grazing has been consistently low. The modern road is also likely to have caused some disturbance as cars may park on or near the site and the lease holder occasionally drives across it in the course of daily activities. The modern road is also likely to have disturbed other features in the area, and possibly separates the house site from associated features closer to the shore. After possible material scavenging following site abandonment, human foot traffic and casual foraging is likely to have been minimal, but dump or privy features may have been compromised by bottle collectors, given that local knowledge of this site is more widespread.
Further information: Located in the South Pacific Ocean, 700km north-east of Sydney and included administratively in New South Wales. The preserve includes some 75% of the land area of Lord Howe Island and all of the offshore islands and rocks of significant size in the region. These include the Admiralty Group (immediately to the north-east of Lord Howe Island); Mutton Bird and Sail Rock (just east of the central part of Lord Howe Island); Blackburn (Rabbit) Island (in the lagoon on the western side of Lord Howe Island); Gower Island (just off the southern tip of Lord Howe Island); and Ball's Pyramid (25km south-east of Lord Howe Island), together with a number of small islands and rocks. The seaward boundary follows the mean high water mark and consequently excludes all littoral and marine areas (Davey, 1986). A detailed description of the boundary is given in Schedule 1 of the 1981 Lord Howe Island (Amendment) Act. 31°30'-31°50'S, 159°00'-159°17'E
Current use: Island, Toursim
Former use: Island


Historical notes: The main island of Lord Howe measures 10km from north and south and is little more than 2km in width. It roughly describes a crescent, enclosing a coral reef lagoon on its south-western side. The island's topography is dominated by the southerly Mount Gower (875m) and Mount Lidgbird (777m). Steep cliffs rise several hundred metres to form the seaward flanks of Mount Gower. Only a narrow isthmus of lowland country in the north-central part of the island is habitable. The northern tip consists of steep hillsides culminating in extensive sea cliffs against the northern coastline. Scattered around the main island are several groups of smaller islands and rocks. The most distant of these is a group of small islets and rock stacks around the 650m pinnacle of Balls Pyramid, 25km to the south-east of Lord Howe.

Lord Howe Island is the eroded remnant of a large shield volcano which erupted from the sea floor intermittently for about 500,000 years, 6.5 to 7 million years ago in the late Miocene (McDougall et al., 1981). The island group represents the exposed peaks of a large volcanic seamount which is about 65km long and 24km wide and which rises from ocean depths of over 1,800m. The Lord Howe seamount is near the southern end of a chain of such seamounts, mostly below sea level, extending for over 1,000km. These mark the successive movement of the Australian tectonic plate over a 'hotspot' within the upper mantle below. Four separate series of volcanic rocks are recognised on the main island group, the oldest being exposed in the Admiralty Group and on the north-eastern tip of Lord Howe. These include tuffs, breccia and basalts, with widespread intrusion of basaltic dykes, and are overlain by progressively younger units to the south (Davey, 1986). The youngest volcanic rock is Mt Lidgbird basalt, which is present in lava flows up to 30m thick. Sedimentary aeolian calcarenite or dune limestone characterise the lowland parts of the main island (Davey, 1986).

The dominant landforming process on Lord Howe since the last of the volcanic eruptions has been marine erosion, which has cut and maintained major cliffs. Slope failure and accumulation of talus at the foot of some cliffs, especially in the south, have modified their original shape. Local variations in lithology are the major determinant of the shape of the irregular rocky coastline and of the small residual islands and rock stacks. There are numerous resistant projecting points and sea caves (Davey, 1986).

Subsequent erosion means that the present islands occupy only one-fortieth of the original area. Lord Howe Island has sedimentary deposits of Pleistocene and Holocene (Recent) age, including cross-bedded calcarenite with intercalated soil horizons, lagoonal deposits, a single sand dune, and alluvium. The island supports the southernmost true coral reef in the world, which is of Pleistocene to Recent age and differs considerably from more northerly warm water reefs. It is unique in being a transition between the algal and coral reef, due to fluctuations of hot and cold water around the island. The entire island group has remarkable volcanic exposures not known elsewhere, with slightly weathered exposed volcanics showing a great variety of upper mantle and oceanic type basalts. Ball's Pyramid represents the nearly complete stage in the destruction of a volcanic island. The intercalated soil horizons have yielded important palaeontological data, with interesting fossil finds such as the shells of land snail Placostylus and the terrestrial giant horned turtle Meiolania platyceps, which probably became extinct more than 20,000 years ago. A fossil bat skull, uncovered in 1972, has been described as a new species Nyctophilus howensis; it may have persisted into modern times. Significant landforms in the preserve are listed in Davey (1986).

CLIMATE Climate is humid subtropical with a mean temperature of 16C in August and 23C in February. Both diurnal and seasonal temperature range is about 7C. A temperature of 0C has been recorded on the summit of Mount Gower. Mean annual rainfall in the lowlands is almost 1700mm, with a pronounced maximum in winter and a mean rainfall of 100mm in February. The highest annual rainfall recorded in the lowlands is 2870mm, with a minimum of 1000mm. The southerly part of Lord Howe Island is generally wetter due to orographic effects. Relative humidity is high at 75-78% and wind levels average 13 knots in August, 9-10 knots in January and March. Climatic data and summaries are available in Anon. (1969), Gentilli (1971), Pickard (1983) and Rodd (1981).

VEGETATION A wide variety of vegetation types has been described for the islands, with the diversity corresponding with the range of habitats, viz. lowland, montane, valleys, ridges and areas exposed to the maritime influence. Variable exposure to wind and penetration of salt spray appear to be the main determinants of vegetation occurrence, structure and floristics. Lord Howe Island is almost unique among small Pacific Ocean islands in that its mountains have sufficient altitude for the development of true cloud forest on their summits. These are 241 native species of vascular plants on the island, including 105 endemics (DEST/ERIN (1995). Sixteen of these are considered rare, endangered or vulnerable. There are four endemic palm species in three endemic genera. There are also two other endemic genera in the families Asteraceae and Gesneriaceae. Other endemic species are widely scattered among families. Endemism is particularly noticeable among ferns and in the families Asteraceae, Myrsinaceae, Myrtaceae and Rubiaceae. There are 48 species of indigenous pteriodphytes (including 19 endemic ferns) belonging to 32 genera, and 180 species of angiosperms (56 endemics) in 149 genera. A further four species are represented by endemic subspecies or varieties; there are no gymnosperms. Some of the endemics suggest recent speciation, and many have confusing origins, such as the three endemic palm genera Howea, Hedyscope and Lepidorrhachis, and also Dietes sp., the three congeners of which are endemic to southern Africa and which has seeds with apparently only short range dispersal capacity. Other noteworthy endemics are Dendrobium moorei and Bubbia howeana. Many species are threatened or have restricted distribution on the island; there is only one known plant of non-endemic Pandanus pedunculatus, and Chionochloa conspicua ssp. nov. (Poaceae) is an endemic known only from one clump on Mount Lidgbird.

The vegetation has affinities with sub-tropical and temperate rain forests, and 129 plant genera are shared with Australia, 102 with New Caledonia and only 75 with New Zealand. There are 160 naturalised, introduced plant species, mostly, but not exclusively, in the lowland settlement area. Weed species of the greatest immediate concern within the preserve are bone seed (biton bush) kikuya grass (Davey, 1986) and asparagus fern Protoasparagus eathiopicus (Lord Howe Island Board in litt., August 1995). Many other species are potentially serious problems (Davey, 1986).

Twenty-five vegetation associations in twenty alliances have been identified (Pickard, 1983). Fourteen of these associations have endemic species as their dominant components. The slopes of the northern hills are dominated mostly by Drypetes/Cryptocaria rain forest, with Howea forsterana palm forest on the flats behind North Bay and H. belmoreana palm forest in the narrower gullies running down towards Old Settlement Beach. Melaleuca/Cassinia scrubs and Cyperus and Poa grasslands occur on the exposed slopes of Mount Eliza and along the crest of the sea cliffs on the northern coast. The southern mountains are covered with a more variable suite of rain forest and palm associations, often with Pandanus along drainage lines, and with scrub and cliff associations in the more exposed parts and along the coastline. Mutton Bird Point (on the east coast) and King Point (at the southern tip) have small occurrences of Poa grassland. The upper slopes of mounts Gower and Lidgbird include areas of forest dominated by another of the endemic palms, Hedyscepe canterburyana. The very humid summit plateau on Gower and the summit ridge on Lidgbird consist of structurally distinct gnarled mossy forest (Davey, 1986).

FAUNA A small population of little cave eptesicus Eptesicus sagittula still occurs. No other indigenous native mammals are known. Introduced species, however, include mouse Mus musculus and rats Muridae, goat Capra hircus and, formerly, pig Sus domestica. There are at least 129 native and introduced bird species, mostly vagrants, with 27 breeding regularly. A partial species list is given in Davey (1986). Lord Howe is now the only known breeding ground for providence petrel Pterodroma solandri, although it also probably breeds on Ball's Pyramid. Fleshy-footed shearwater Puffinus carneipes hullianus breeds in substantial numbers on Lord Howe, with possibly half the world's population present. Other important species breeding within the preserve include Kermadec petrel Pterodroma neglecta, black-winged petrel P. nigripennis, wedge-tailed shearwater Puffinus pacificus, little shearwater P. assimilis, white-bellied storm petrel Fregetta grallaria, masked booby Sula dactylatra, red-tailed tropic bird Phaeton rubricauda in greater concentrations than probably anywhere else in the world. Sooty tern Sterna fuscata, noddy Anous stolidus and grey ternlet Procelsterna cerula. Several migratory wader species are regular visitors to the island, principally are double-banded dotterel Charadrius bicinctus, eastern golden plover Pluvialis dominica, turnstone Arenaria interpres, whimbrel Numenius phaeopus and bar-tailed godwit Limosa lapponica. Four endemic birds are present. Lord Howe Island woodhen Tricholimnas sylvestris, reduced to some 26 individuals in 1975, has been successfully bred in captivity and now numbers around 220 (DEST/ERIN, 1995). The other endemic land birds are silver-eye Zosterops tephropleura, Lord Howe Island golden whistler Pachycephala pectoralis contempta, both reasonably abundant (Davey, 1986). The Lord Howe Island currawong Strepera graculina crissalis is relatively common in the southern mountains, with lesser number found in the north (Lord Howe Island Board, in litt., August 1995).

The islands support two species of terrestrial reptile, skink Leiolopisma lichenigera and gecko Phyllodactylus guentheri, which are threatened with extinction on the main island but are abundant on other islands in the group. Many of the endemic invertebrates from the moss forest on the summit of Mount Gower have been collected and described. The small terrestrial gastropods (Hydrobiidae) comprises nine species and sixteen subspecies, a greater number of subspecies than those found on the eastern Australian mainland. The terrestrial molluscs have suffered from habitat changes; two colonies of large ground snails Placostylus sp. appear to be maintaining their numbers, though distinct forms seem to have become extinct on other parts of the island. There are five endemic species of flies (Diptera) and a further nine confined to Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. Specimens of Lord Howe Island phasmid Dryococoelus australis (Ex), a large flightless phasmatid thought to be extinct on Lord Howe Island, is known to occur still on Ball's Pyramid. Over 50% of more than 100 species of spiders recorded for Lord Howe Island arethought to be endemic. One endemic species of leech and ten endemic species of earthworm have also been recorded. The terrestrial and freshwater crustacea are not well known, but include a freshwater crab Halicarcinus lacustris and a freshwater prawn Paratya howensis. Three new genera and 12 new species of terrestrial isopod have been recorded and recently anew species of talitrid amphipod from the top of Mount Gower was described. The waters around Lord Howe Island provide an unusual mixture of temperate and tropical organisms, 477 fish species having been recorded in 107 families of which 4% are unrecorded elsewhere other than in Norfolk Island-Middleton Reef waters. Lionfish Pterois volitans is protected in the marine waters (ANPWS, 1981).

CULTURAL HERITAGE The earliest European discovery of Lord Howe appears to have been in 1788 by the British colonial vessel HMS Supply. There is no recognised evidence of prior Polynesian or Melanesian discovery or settlement. A small permanent settlement was established in the 19th century, subsisting on trade with passing ships. With numerous fluctuations over the years, the settlement slowly expanded and consolidated, developing a distinctive social structure and culture with the passage of time (Davey, 1986). The island is an interesting example of restricted island settlement, although the World Heritage nomination was not made on cultural grounds (ANPWS, 1981).

LOCAL HUMAN POPULATION There is currently a resident population of approximately 300 individuals inhabiting the relatively level ground in the central part of the main island. Tourism is the major component of the island economy, followed by public administration and community service. Approximately 10% of the main island's vegetation has been cleared for agriculture, and another 10% has been subject to physical disturbance. Commercial activities within the preserve include collection of palm seed, especially Kentia palm Howea forsterana and cutting of Pandanus foliage for production of baskets and other craft items, subject to control by the Lord Howe Island Board (Davey, 1986).

VISITORS AND VISITOR FACILITIES Some three to four hundred tourists may be present simultaneously during the summer (Davey, 1986), although neither the annual total number of visitors, nor the revenue derived from tourism is known. The principal means of access to the island for visitors is by light aircraft. There are four licensed guest houses providing full board accommodation and 13 self-contained apartment complexes (Lord Howe Island Board in litt., August 1995). Walking, often for nature study, bird watching or photography, is the major recreation activity. There is an extensive system of walking tracks ramifying throughout the reserve and a guide service is available. Scenic flights are available over the entire island group and several commercial operators offer boat tours. Proposed interpretation and environmental education activities are outlined in the current management plan (Davey, 1986).

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND FACILITIES There has been considerable scientific interest in Lord Howe ever since discovery of the island. A succession of scientific expeditions in the 19th century quickly established the international significance of the island's natural history. In the early 1970s the Australian Museum undertook a terrestrial environmental survey of the island for the Lord Howe Island Board (Recher and Clark, 1974) which included inter alia a recommendation to establish an extensive land reserve for the protection of terrestrial flora and fauna. Land use planning studies undertaken for the Board (Ashton, 1974) also recommended the establishment of a substantial reserve on the island. A major research project culminated in the successful captive breeding of Lord Howe Island woodhen in the early to mid-1970s. A research bibliography is given in Davey (1986).

CONSERVATION VALUE The Lord Howe Islands Group was inscribed on the World Heritage List for its unique landforms and biota, its diverse and largely intact ecosystems, natural beauty, and habitats for threatened species.

CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT The affairs, care, control and management of Lord Howe Island, including the smaller islands offshore, are administered by the Lord Howe Island Board. The Lord Howe Island (Amendment) Act, 1981, reconstituted the Board, such that one of its members is an officer of the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, nominated by the Minister administering the 1974 National Parks and Wildlife Act. Section 15B of the amended Act provides for the preparation of a management plan in respect of the preserve, prepared by the Director of Parks and Wildlife, in terms of Part V of the 1974 Act. The plan is to be approved by the Minister administering the Lord Howe Island Act. The Board has adopted a "land use policy set", based on a model that proposes that the region comprises two components: the settlement area, and the preserve. One of the objectives of the land use policy set is "to ensure that the management plan for the settlement area will complement the future permanent park preserve plan of management and form a plan of management for the island as a whole".

The Lord Howe Island management plan (Davey, 1986) states that the fundamental management objectives are to: maintain the natural land-forming processes; protect significant landforms; maintain natural plant and animal populations; avoid all unnatural disturbances of plant associations and habitats; protect all individuals and the population of each species from unnatural disturbances; eliminate human disturbance; restore disturbed areas; control or eliminate introduced species; preserve outstanding natural scenery and natural character of the preserve; promote appreciation and enjoyment of the preserve; maintain the full range of plant genetic diversity; and make provision for continued livelihood of the local populace. Specific management activities have included the elimination of goats from the Northern Hills, resulting in substantial recovery of the understorey and a severe reduction in the number of feral pigs (Davey, 1986). Pigs are reported to have subsequently been eliminated (Lord Howe Island Board in litt., August 1995). Funds and labour have been allocated to an intensive effort to control weed infestations and feral animals affecting native vegetation and birds. However, funding and labour constraints have so far only allowed the control, and not elimination, of introduced flora and fauna. The Board is seeking Commonwealth Government funding in order to fully implement the eradication programme (Anon., 1989).

MANAGEMENT CONSTRAINTS Nine of the fifteen species of land birds recorded when the Island was first discovered are now extinct, of which seven were endemics. Their destruction has been due to hunting, introduction of black rat Rattus rattus, owls and feral cats, or through habitat changes caused by introduced goats and pigs. The size of some seabird colonies on the main island has also declined. Endemic land snails are less abundant and confined to isolated colonies although exact details are not known, and the two lizards are very restricted if not extinct on the main island. There are 175 introduced species of plant, although most of these have not invaded the indigenous plant communities. In the lower-lying areas, destruction of native vegetation has been virtually complete where clearings have been made for settlement, grazing, agriculture, and regrowth tends to be of invading weed species, including introduced plants such as guava, bitou bush, ferny asparagus and asparagus fern. However, adequate samples of intact lowland vegetation remain in less accessible parts of the island, some of them in special flora reserves (ANPWS, 1981).

(Information and references from UNESCO World Heritage listing)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Exploration-Activities associated with making places previously unknown to a cultural group known to them. (none)-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation (none)-

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions Exemptions as appeared in the NSW Government Gazette 9 January 2015: HERITAGE ACT 1977 HERITAGE (LORD HOWE ISLAND EXEMPTION) ORDER 2014
Order under Section 57 (2) to Grant Exemption from Approval for Specific Activities at Lord Howe Island
I, the Minister for Heritage, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, make the following order under section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977 (“the Act”). Dated, this 22nd day of December 2014 ROBERT STOKES MP
Minister for Heritage
1 Name of order
This Order is the Heritage (Lord Howe Island Exemption) Order 2014.
2 Commencement
This Order commences on the day that it is published on the NSW legislation website.
3 Repeal the previous order
The Order made on 17 October 2005 published in Gazette No 132 of 28 October 2005 at page 9223 is repealed.
5 Grant of exemption
An exemption is granted from section 57 (1) of the Act to a person carrying out any activity described in Schedule B in relation to the item described in Schedule A.
6 Exclusions from the grant
This Order does not grant an exemption from the requirement to obtain an excavation permit under section 139 of the Act for the disturbance of relics.
The item known as the Lord Howe Island Group listed in the State Heritage Register (number 00970) comprising the land described in section 3 (1) of the Lord Howe Island Act 1953.
1. Development permissible under the Lord Howe Island Local Environmental Plan 2010, other than development that requires consent under clause 39, provided any approval required under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 has been obtained.
2. Installation of a solar energy system (including a photovoltaic electricity generating system, a solar hot water system, or a solar air heating system) on the roof of a building provided that the system:
(a) is not visible on the primary roof plane, and
(b) does not protrude more than 0.5m from the point of attachment to the roof.
3. Work, activity or use of land that:
(a) is for the purpose of carrying out an activity listed in the Implementation Table of the Lord Howe Island Permanent Park Preserve Plan of Management dated November 2010; and
(b) does not contravene the Lord Howe Island Permanent Park Preserve Plan of Management November 2010.
4. Work activity or use of land that is permissible under Part 4 Lord Howe Island Marine Park Zoning Plan of the Marine Parks (Zoning Plans) Regulation 1999 under the Marine Parks Act 1997.
5. Work, activity or use of land by the Lord Howe Island Board or other public authority that involves any of the following:
(a) pest management;
(b) wood collection;
(c) maintenance and re-surfacing of roads;
(d) maintenance of visitor facilities;
(e) erosion control measures;
(f) environmental protection works.6. Erection, removal and modification of signage for information, interpretation or directional purposes by or on behalf of the Lord Howe Island Board or other public authority.
7. Maintenance, repainting, cleaning of buildings, works, public services and utilities and landscape features including but not limited to erosion control, road and path resurfacing and routine horticultural maintenance.
8. Repair (such as refixing and patching) or replacement of missing, damaged or deteriorating fabric of buildings, works, public services, utilities and landscape features which:
(a) matches the existing fabric in appearance, material, and method of affixation;
(b) does not involve damage to or removal of signifi cant fabric; and
(c) does not extend to the cumulative replacement of large amounts or a high proportion of the fabric of an item.
Jan 9 2015

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0097002 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     
National Heritage ListLord Howe Island Group 21 May 07 S99 
World Heritage List     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 2015Lord Howe Island Draft Revegetation Strategy 2015-2025
WrittenAuld, and Hutton2010Calystegia affinis Old Settlement, Lord Howe Island - Rehabilitation Project Report
WrittenKimberley Owens2004Archaeological Assessment Lord Howe Island New South Wales
WrittenLord Howe Island Board2000Strategic Plan for Management 2000-2005
WrittenOEH2012Upgraded Vegetation Mapping of the Lord Howe Island Settlement Area
WrittenPickard1983Vegetation of Lord Howe Island
TourismTourism NSW2007Lord Howe Island View detail

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5001478
File number: S95/00339

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