Australia’s State of the Islands Report

Case studies and reports on islands in each state in Australia.

Australia holds custodianship of one of the most diverse sets of island landscapes of any country. These range from the sub-Antarctic (Heard and Macquarie Island) and include oceanic islands (such as the exposed sea-mounts that form Lord Howe and Norfolk), sea stacks and temperate islands, tropical atolls (Keeling), continental islands and coral cays. Islands represent only 0.0042% of Australia’s landmass, but form 40% of its coastline (Geosciences Australia, 2013). Islands under Australian stewardship number around 8,200. These are repositories for a staggering amount of Australia’s biological diversity. For example, 30% of all Australia’s threatened fauna are island inhabitants. What is of critical importance here is that only on islands can key threatening processes, such as presence of feral animals, be cost effectively eliminated. Further, robust bio-security arrangements could prevent island incursions by the feral animals, weeds and diseases that continue to ravage biological diversity on mainland Australia. It is important also to consider that islands play a very large role in human society. For example, islands form the foundation of an estimated $13 billion/annum nature based tourism industry.

Island Arks Australia

Despite their demonstrably critical importance to the conservation of Australia’s biological diversity and regional economies; islands have never received a commensurate amount of management attention. Co-operative research centers and aligned management efforts have been formed for numerous other landscapes; coral reefs, rainforests, deserts, Antarctic and savannahs but not islands. Islands are also overlooked within protected area systems. For example, nationally, less than 30% of islands are protected within Nature Reserves (Taylor, 2010). The purpose of Island Arks Australia is to initiate and/or assist and/or develop partnerships across Australia that would improve the sustainability of island environments, communities and economies. The ‘State of Australia’s Islands’ report is a key initiative that will help island communities, managers, users and decision makers understand the current status of Australia’s island, their management challenges, and the opportunities that exist to make best use of these iconic landscapes.’

The State of Australia’s Islands

The State of Australia’s Island report is in two parts. One, a synopsis of what is known about islands on a state and territory basis. Key sections include geography, tenure and jurisdictional arrangements, geographically related marine protected areas, key conservation values, community and people, current condition, threats and information sources. Two, a selection of case studies that highlight what is possible when well-designed management interventions are undertaken in partnership with island communities. The State of Australia’s Island report will grow and change over time. The intention is that updates will be regularly made as new information becomes available, and new and better management interventions are undertaken. All islanders, island managers and visitors are welcome to be involved.

Table of Contents

The report is presented in two formats: PDF chapters and blog post chapters. To download chapters are PDFs, click on the links below. To view the chapters as blog posts, scroll down and click on the title of the chapter you wish to view. 

  • The State of Tasmania’s Islands. Sally Bryant, Tasmanian Land Conservancy (Download PDF – 213Kb)
  • The State of New South Wales Islands. David Priddell & Robert Wheeler, NSW Office of Environment & Heritage (Download PDF – 225Kb)
  • The State of Victoria’s Islands. Michael Johnstone, Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment. (Download PDF – 213Kb)
  • Case Study – Building capacity to eradicate invasive species from islands. Alan Saunders, IUCN Oceania Office. (Download PDF – 2.1Mb)
  • Case Study – Eradicating feral goats from Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Pip Masters, Nuck Markopoulos & Brenton Florance, Natural resources Kangaroo Island. (Download PDF – 3.2Mb)
  • Case Study – Pest Eradication on Macquarie Island. Keith Springer, Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (Download PDF – 4.6Mb)


Presented as blog posts. Please click on the title of each chapter to view the full entry. 

New South Wales: State of the Islands

Author Information David Priddel and Robert Wheeler NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, PO Box 1967, Hurstville, NSW 2220 Summary NSW islands are important sites for breeding seabirds, and some co
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State of the Islands Report Case Study: Building capacity to eradicate invasive species from islands

Author Information Alan Saunders IUCN Oceania Office, Private Mail Bag, Suva, Fiji Introduction Eradicating invasive species from islands presents some of the most exciting opportunities, and daunting
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Tasmania: State of the Islands

Author Information Sally. L. Bryant Tasmanian Land Conservancy, PO Box 2112 Lower Sandy Bay, Tasmania 7005 Summary Tasmania’s offshore islands contain nationally and globally significant natural value
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