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Location Norfolk Island (to Australia)
Central coordinates 167o 57.19' East  29o 1.84' South
IBA criteria A1, A4ii, A4iii
Area 3,594 ha
Altitude 0 - 318m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

Summary The IBA supports the entire populations of the critically endangered White-chested White-eye, the endangered Tasman (Norfolk Island) Parakeet and Slender-billed White-eye and the vulnerable Norfolk Island Gerygone. The IBA also supports more than 1% of the global population of Wedge-tailed Shearwater and Red-tailed Tropicbird.

Site description The IBA consists of the whole of Norfolk Island and the small Nepean Island, a small (3455 ha) island located in the western Pacific Ocean about 1700 km east of Sydney. The whole island is designated as an IBA given its endemic birds but rainforest is clearly the most important habitat on the island. Norfolk Island is an Australian territory that shares close links with New Zealand (lying 1100 km from Auckland). The climate at Norfolk Island is sub-tropical with temperatures ranging from 19 to 28oC in summer and 12 to 21oC in winter and an average 1328 mm of rainfall per year. Norfolk Island is formed of basaltic rock with overlying Kraznorem and skeletal soils. Today, most of Norfolk Island is covered by mixed farmland (e.g. pasture, croplands, orchards) and residential/commercial areas. The native rainforest and palm and vine forest that once dominated the island have been extensively cleared and are now mostly confined to the 650 ha Norfolk Island National Park. Introduced plants such as Red Guava, African Olive, Wild Tobacco, Lantana and Hawaiian Holly have invaded and in many instances replaced the native vegetation of the island. In addition to these species, the island also now supports some stands of introduced eucalypts. The coastline of Norfolk Island comprises a combination of sandy beaches, rocky shores and coastal cliffs. Nepean Island is a low (~30 m) island formed of aeolianitic calcarenite that supports coastal herbs and forbs (e.g. Pigface and Native Spinach), Moo-oo, Native Rush, Native Flax, some Coastal Fern and several small (less than 2 m tall) White Oaks.

Key Biodiversity Norfolk Island supports various endemic subspecies of bush birds. Several subspecies appear to be declining and are listed as threatened under national legislation: Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta, Grey Fantail Rhipidura fuliginosa pelzelni, Sacred Kingfisher Todiramphus sanctus norfolkiensis and Pacific Robin Petroica multicolor multicolor. The population size of the endemic subspecies of Pacific Robin was estimated at 400-500 breeding pairs in 1988 (Robinson 1988) and numbers appeared to have changed little when the population was re-examined in 1997 (Robinson 1997). A hybrid race of Southern Boobook has been generated by cross-breeding of the now-extinct endemic subspecies Ninox novaeseelandiae undulata with the nominate subspecies N. n. novaehollandiae of New Zealand (Olsen 1996; Norman et al. 1998). Other endemic species and subspecies (e.g. Norfolk Island Ground-Dove and Island Thrush Turdus poliocephalus poliocephalus) are now extinct. Relatively large numbers of White Tern and Black Noddy breed: White Tern were assessed as abundant and widespread on Norfolk Island by Schodde et al. (1983) and thousands of Black Noddy were recorded at breeding colonies near Cascade in 1971, with an additional 200-300 pairs at Nepean Island (Tarburton 1981; Moore 1985; Norfolk Island Parks and Forestry Service 2003), but both species probably declined between 1995 and 2008 (R. Holdaway in litt. 2009). A wide variety of seabirds nest in small numbers on mammal-free Nepean Island.

Non-bird biodiversity: The extant endemic non-avian fauna of the IBA consists of two species of reptile (the nationally vulnerable Lord Howe Island Gecko and Lord Howe Island Skink, now only on Nepean Island), two species of freshwater fish (Short-finned Eel and Long-finned Eel) and a rich variety of invertebrates (Commonwealth of Australia 2000).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Wedge-tailed Shearwater Ardenna pacifica resident  1978-2008  10,000-100,000 individuals  poor  A4ii  Least Concern 
Red-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon rubricauda resident  1978-1979  200 breeding pairs  unknown  A4ii  Least Concern 
Cyanoramphus cookii resident  2007-2008  50-400 individuals  medium  A1  Not Recognised 
Norfolk Island Gerygone Gerygone modesta resident  2000  1,500 breeding pairs  poor  A1  Near Threatened 
Slender-billed White-eye Zosterops tenuirostris resident  2000-2008  1,000 breeding pairs  poor  A1  Near Threatened 
White-chested White-eye Zosterops albogularis resident  2000  10 breeding pairs  poor  A1  Critically Endangered 
A4iii Species group - seabirds 10,000 breeding pairs  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2014 very high not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now whole area/population (>90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Norfolk Island National Park 695 protected area contained by site 480  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial Improved grassland & pasture; Other urban & industrial areas; Perennial crops, orchards & groves  major
Coastline Intertidal mud, sand & salt flats; Sea cliffs, rocky shores & rocky islets  minor
Forest Other forests & woodlands; Rainforest & vine thickets  major
Introduced vegetation   major

Land ownership A mix of private (freehold and leasehold land) and Commonwealth/Federal government (managed by Parks Australia).

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture minor
rangeland/pastureland major
urban/industrial/transport major
nature conservation and research major

Protection status The main protected area is Norfolk Island National Park but there are also a number of smaller secondary reserves, these being: Quarantine Reserve, Cascade Reserve, Point Blackbourne Reserve, Bucks Bay Reserve, Ball Bay Reserve, Cemetery Reserve, Point Hunter Reserve, Government House Grounds, Kingston Recreation Reserve, Kingston Common Reserve, Bumbora Reserve, Point Ross Reserve, Rocky Point Reserve, Headstone Reserve, Selwyn Recreation Reserve, Anson Bay Reserve and Nepean Island Reserve. All of these reserves are contained within the IBA.

Acknowledgements Information was kindly supplied by Margaret Christian, Richard Holdaway, Penny Olsen and Ron Ward.

References Bell, B.D. (1990) The Status and Management of the White-breasted White-eye and Other Birds on Norfolk Island. Canberra: Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Christian, M. (2005) Norfolk Island...the birds. Green Eyes Publications.

Commonwealth of Australia (2008) Norfolk Island National Park and Norfolk Island Botanic Garden Plans of Management 2008-2018. Canberra: Environment Australia.

DEWHA (2009a) Cyanoramphus cookii in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra. Downloaded from in May 2009.

DEWHA (2009b) Zosterops albogularis in Species Profile and Threats Database. Canberra: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Downloaded from in May 2009.

Garnett, S.T. and Crowley, G.M. (2000) The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. Canberra: Environment Australia.

Hermes, N. (1985) Birds of Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island: Wonderland Publications.

Hermes, N., Evans, O. and Evans, B. (1986) Norfolk Island birds: a review 1985. Notornis 33: 141-149.

Moore, J.L. (1985) Norfolk Island notes 1968 to 1984. Notornis 32: 311-318.

Norfolk Island Parks and Forestry Service (2003) Nepean Island Reserve Plan of Management Part B. Norfolk Island: Norfolk Island Parks and Forestry Service.

Norfolk Island Tourism (2005-2006) Downloaded from on 9 November 2007.

Norman, J., Olsen, P. and Christidis, L. (1998) Molecular genetics confirms taxonomic affinities of the endangered Norfolk Island Boobook Owl Ninox novaeseelandiae undulata. Biological Conservation 86: 33-36.

Olsen, P.D. (1996) Re-establishment of an endangered subspecies: the Norfolk Island Boobook Owl Ninox novaeseelandiae undulata. Bird Conservation International 6: 63-80.

Robinson, D. (1988) Ecology and Management of the Scarlet Robin, White-breasted White-eye and Long-billed White-eye on Norfolk Island. Canberra: Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Robinson, D. (1997) An Evalutation of the Status of the Norfolk Island Robin Following Rat-control and Weed-control Works in the Norfolk Island National Park. Unpublished report. Canberra: Environment Australia.

Rooke, I. (1986) Survey of the White-breasted White-eye and the Norfolk Island Boobook Owl on Norfolk Island, October-November 1985. RAOU Report 22. Melbourne: RAOU.

Schodde, R., Fullagar, P., and Hermes, N. (1983) A Review of Norfolk Island Birds: Past and Present. Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service Special Publication 8.

Tarburton, M.K. (1981) Seabirds nesting at Norfolk Island. Notornis 28: 209-211.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Norfolk Island. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

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