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Location Australia, Tasmania
Central coordinates 144o 0.18' East  39o 49.73' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3, A4i, A4ii
Area 19,337 ha
Altitude 0 - 132m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary The IBA supports large numbers of critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot on migration; significant numbers of near threatened Hooded Plover and Flame Robin and vulnerable Fairy Tern; more than 1% of the world's Short-tailed Shearwater, Black-faced Cormorant and Pacific Gull; and populations of ten species endemic to Tasmania, including seven subspecies endemic to King Island.

Site description King Island is a large island in the Bass Strait between Tasmania and the Australian mainland. The IBA includes the entire coastline of King Island, which supports significant numbers of Hooded Plovers; Lavinia State Reserve, which supports Orange-bellied Parrots and endemic subspecies of bush birds; and three inshore islands which support large numbers of nesting seabirds. These islands are Christmas Island (a 63 ha Nature Reserve), New Year Island (a 98 ha Game Reserve, on which harvesting of shearwaters is allowed) and Councillor Island (11 ha of Crown Land). Lavinia State Reserve, a designated Ramsar site, is located 12 km north of Naracoopa on the north-eastern coast of King Island and is comprised of long sandy beaches, coastal heathlands, wetlands and the Sea Elephant River estuary. The coastline is a mixture of rocky outcrops and long sandy beaches with beach-washed kelp. The IBA is defined as the coastal strip extending from the low water mark to 1 km inland of the high water mark around the entire island; this is intended to capture most significant habitat for shorebirds and Orange-bellied Parrots. King Island is a rolling island with a maximum altitude of 168 m above sea-level. It receives the highest rainfall of any island in Bass Strait, with a winter-dominated rainfall pattern averaging 750-1000 mm per year.

Key Biodiversity The extinct King Island Emu was endemic to the island before being exterminated by European sealers. 170 bird species have been recorded from the island but the endemic subspecies of the Brown Thornbill has not been recorded since 1971. Several species of migratory waders have been observed on King Island in numbers less than IBA thresholds, including maxima of 1100 Ruddy Turnstones, 500 Red-necked Stints and 285 Double-banded Plovers (Donaghey 2003; Lovibond et al. 2007). Blue-billed Duck is reportedly at times abundant on Lake Fannigan (Donaghey 2003). 5000 pairs of Common Diving-Petrel and 1500 of pairs Fairy Prion have been recorded on Councillor Island (Brothers et al. 2001).

Non-bird biodiversity: Lavinia State Reserve contains the largest significant area of remnant native vegetation on King Island, and includes a number of rare or threatened plant species. One hundred and thirty nine species of higher plants have been recorded, of which seven species are endemic to Tasmania. A number of plants are considered rare or threatened: Scrambling Ground-fern is considered vulnerable at state level and Lavinia State Reserve is the only reserve in Tasmania in which it has been recorded. Other species include: Tiny Caladenia, Common Sneezeweed, Matted Water Starwort, Blueberry Ash, Bog Clubmoss, Tiny Selaginella, Sticky Daisybush, Cudweed (Gamochaeta purpurea), Hyssop Loosestrife and the violet Viola cleistogamoides.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Short-tailed Shearwater Ardenna tenuirostris resident  1975-1995  458,000-735,607 nests  medium  A4ii  Least Concern 
Black-faced Cormorant Phalacrocorax fuscescens resident  1984-1987  450 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Pied Oystercatcher Haematopus longirostris resident  2006-2007  110 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Sooty Oystercatcher Haematopus fuliginosus resident  2006-2007  50 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Hooded Plover Thinornis cucullatus resident  2006-2007  60 breeding pairs  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Pacific Gull Larus pacificus resident  1984-1987  33 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Fairy Tern Sternula nereis resident  2006-2007  120-150 breeding pairs  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Green Rosella Platycercus caledonicus resident  1998-2008  uncommon  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Orange-bellied Parrot Neophema chrysogaster non-breeding  1980-2007  70 individuals  medium  A1, A3  Critically Endangered 
Yellow-throated Honeyeater Lichenostomus flavicollis resident  1998-2008  common  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Black-headed Honeyeater Melithreptus affinis resident  2001-2002  frequent  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Strong-billed Honeyeater Melithreptus validirostris resident  2001-2002  common  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Yellow Wattlebird Anthochaera paradoxa resident  1998-2008  common  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Scrubtit Acanthornis magna resident  2001-2002  rare  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Tasmanian Scrubwren Sericornis humilis resident  1998-2008  common  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Tasmanian Thornbill Acanthiza ewingii resident  1998-2008  common  A2  Least Concern 
Black Currawong Strepera fuliginosa resident  1998-2008  frequent  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Dusky Robin Melanodryas vittata resident  1998-2008  common  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Flame Robin Petroica phoenicea breeding  1998-2008  uncommon  A1, A3  Near Threatened 

IBA Monitoring

2008 high not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - agro-industry grazing, ranching or farmin happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Cape Wickham State Reserve 2 protected area contained by site 3  
Christmas Island Nature Reserve 105 protected area contained by site 105  
Lavinia State Reserve 6,800 protected area contained by site 6,800  
Lavinia Nature Reserve Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 7,020 protected area contained by site 7,020  
New Year Island Game Reserve 112 protected area contained by site 112  
Seal Rocks State Reserve 529 protected area overlaps with site 300  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Coastline Estuarine waters; Intertidal mud, sand & salt flats; Salt marshes; Sea cliffs, rocky shores & rocky islets  minor
Artificial - terrestrial Improved grassland & pasture  minor
Grassland Tussock grasslands  minor
Shrubland Closed shrublands & low closed woodlands; Heath  major

Land ownership Most of coast is Crown Land; Lavinia State Reserve (and Ramsar site) is managed by Tasmanian NPWS.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research major
not utilised major

Protection status Several - see separate section.

Acknowledgements The nomination was prepared by Eric Woehler; data was also provided by Sarah Lovibond, Richard Donaghey and Nigel Burgess.

References Brothers, N., Pemberton, D., Pryor, H. and Halley, V. (2001) Tasmania's Offshore Islands: seabirds and other natural features. Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery: Hobart.

Donaghey, R.H. (ed.) (2003) The Fauna of King Island. A guide to identification and conservation management. King Island Natural Resources Management Group: Currie, King Island.

OBPRT (1998) Orange-bellied Parrot Draft Recovery Plan 1998-2002. Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery Team, Parks and Wildlife Service: Hobart.

Rudman, T. (2003) Tasmanian Beach Weed Strategy for marram grass, sea spurge, sea wheatgrass, pyp grass & beach daisy. Technical Report 03/2. DPWIE Nature Conservation Branch: Hobart.

Skira, I.J. and Davis, G. (1987) The short-tailed shearwater colonies of King Island. Tasmanian Naturalist 90: 1-5.

Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (2000) Lavinia Nature Reserve (Ramsar Site) Management Plan. Parks and Wildlife Service: Hobart.

Woehler, E. and Park, P. (2006) Inventory of Nationally Important Shorebird Sites in Tasmania. Unpublished report by Birds Tasmania for Birds Australia.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: King Island. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016

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