NSW Environment Minister Robyn Parker and the member for Bega Andrew Constance visited Montague Island on Friday to recognise conservation efforts which have contributed to the first ever recorded sightings of Gould’s Petrel and White-faced Storm-petrel on the island.
Ms Parker said many years of habitat rehabilitation and pest control works undertaken on the island were of the highest standard and the emergence of native Petrels indicated the success of the important project.
“Researchers confirmed in December last year that a pair of vulnerable Gould’s Petrels were incubating an egg on the island in addition to about 50 pairs of White-faced Storm-petrels discovered nesting there,” Ms Parker said.
"NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) staff have conducted highly successful pest control programs on Montague Island, eradicating goats in the 1990s and rabbits and rodents in 2007, effectively creating tremendous benefits for birdlife.
“Also the ongoing major efforts to control introduced kikuyu grass are paying off and this runner grass is not entangling Little Penguins and other sea birds as it once did on the island.”
Ms Parker said Petrels were responding in other areas of NSW to habitat restoration works like those at Montague Island.
“Gould’s Petrels were downgraded on the NSW Threatened Species List from endangered to vulnerable around five years ago and we aim to see they are the first of many threatened species to increase in number,” Ms Parker said.
Mr Constance said the appearance of the petrels was an important environmental breakthrough.
“That the petrels are not only on the island but there is evidence the birds are breeding is testament to the effectiveness of the National Parks and Wildlife Service’s pest eradication initiatives,” Andrew Constance said.
Mr Constance said Montague Island is the only site in NSW where the public has easy access to view unique island wildlife either on day trips or while staying at the heritage lighthouse keepers’ houses.
“I encourage anyone who has not visited Montague Island to plan a trip because the environment and buildings are unique and offer a once in a lifetime experience of Australian nature and heritage,” Mr Constance said.
Meanwhile, Minister Parker the day before on Thursday formally handed not-for-profit training and education organisation Auswide the keys to Green Cape Lightstation, which recently underwent $1 million in heritage restoration works ahead of the new Light to Light Walk ecotourism venture.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) selected Auswide to develop environmentally sensitive infrastructure and run guided tours on the popular bushwalking route from Ben Boyd Tower to Green Cape Lightstation.
Ms Parker said the new Light to Light Walk aimed to draw domestic and international tourists to Ben Boyd National Park while creating rewarding local jobs and helping to protect the environment.
“The Light to Light Walk has always been popular with keen bushwalkers and Auswide’s ecotourism venture will see it rival Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain and Victoria’s Great Ocean Walk for a must do Australian experience,” Ms Parker said.
“We are especially keen to educate visitors and locals about the rich Aboriginal heritage along the Light to Light Walk and we are working in close partnership with the NPWS and the Eden Local Aboriginal Land Council to ensure this becomes a reality.”
New Light to Light Walk experiences will include guided sea kayaking, luggage transfer, meals, accommodation and local expert knowledge of flora, fauna and Aboriginal cultural heritage.
For more information on the Light to Light Walk please call Auswide on 6495 5555.