email a friend
printable version
Location Australia, Queensland
Central coordinates 146o 9.63' East  17o 44.50' South
IBA criteria A4i
Area 15 ha
Altitude 0 - 46m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary These two seabird islands have supported more than 1% of the world population of Lesser Crested Tern and Bridled Tern.

Site description The South Barnard Islands are in the inner Great Barrier Reef, 6 km off the north Queensland coast, about 26 km south-east of Innisfail. The group consists of two high forested islands, Stephens and Sisters, joined by intertidal sand. Sisters is 2.5 ha, mostly low dense rainforest with a mangrove fringe. Most terns nest on the 0.3 ha eastern islet, which is dominated by grasses. Stephens is a 12 ha rainforest island surrounded by cliffs. There are relatively few surveys from many other neighbouring islands, which may also qualify for inclusion within the IBA, especially as Lesser Crested Terns often move breeding sites between years.

Key Biodiversity 120 pairs and 700 adult Roseate Terns in 1985; up to 1000-1500 non-breeding Black-naped Terns.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis resident  1985-1986  850-1,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus resident  1987-1998  3,000-10,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2008 medium not assessed not assessed
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Climate change and severe weather storms and floods likely in long term (beyond 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Barnard Island Group National Park 31 protected area overlaps with site 15  
Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Site 34,870,000 protected area contains site 15  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Coastline Mangrove wetlands; Sand cays, islets & bars  major
Forest Rainforest & vine thickets  major

Land ownership Australian Federal Government with management the responsibility of GBRMPA.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%

Protection status Barnard Island Group National Park.

Acknowledgements Paul O'Neill provided advice and access to the GBR seabird database. The nomination was prepared in consultation with Mike Short.

References GBRMPA. (1997) Guidelines for Managing Visitation to Seabird Breeding Islands. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority unpublished report.

Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service (2007) GBR seabird database (accessed May 2007).

Walker, T.A. and Oldroyd, A. (1991) South Barnard islands, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Corella 15: 112-114.

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: South Barnard Islands. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife