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Location Australia, Tasmania
Central coordinates 148o 12.04' East  40o 17.24' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4ii
Area 1,725 ha
Altitude 0 - 168m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary These small islands support more than 1% of the world population of Cape Barren Goose, White-faced Storm-Petrel, Short-tailed Shearwater, Black-faced Cormorant, Sooty Oystercatcher and Pacific Gull and may still have nesting Fairy Tern (vulnerable). The near threatened Flame Robin has been reported.

Site description This IBA consists of the important islands in Franklin Sound, between Flinders Island, and Cape Barren Island off north-east Tasmania. These include Woody (=Anderson), Tin Kettle and Vansittart, which are important for Cape Barren Goose, and some smaller intervening islands which support large numbers of Short-tailed Shearwater (Little Dog Island, Great Dog Island, Little Green Island, Puncheon Island, Pelican Island), White-faced Storm-Petrel (South-east Great Dog Islet and Spences Reefs) and/or Pacific Gull (Neds, Oyster Rocks, Mid Woody Islet, Briggs Islet, Ram Island). Woody (=Anderson) Island is 166 ha of Crown Land with little value for bird species other than Cape Barren Goose. It is joined at low tide to Little Anderson Island, which is 13 ha of Crown Land. Mid Woody Islet is a 0.7 ha low grass and herb covered island of Crown Land. Tin Kettle is 176 ha of Crown Land with introduced pasture grasses and scrub and which is leased as a farm. Oyster Rocks is a 5 ha rocky Conservation Area. Neds Reef is 3 ha of granite islets on Crown Land. Little Dog is a 83 ha Game Reserve leased for harvesting of shearwater, dominated by ungrazed Poa poiformis grassland. Great Dog is a 354 ha privately owned grazing island with forest remnants amongst grassland. Briggs Islet is a 3.4 ha grassy Conservation Area. Little Green island is a 87 ha Conservation Area with a private lease for farming and shearwater harvesting. Spences Reefs is 0.65 ha of Crown Land. Ram Island is a 1 ha grassy private property. Puncheon Island is a 18 ha private property used for grazing. Pelican Island and Pelican Reef are collectively 7 ha of grassy and rocky Crown Land. Vansittart Island is a 807 ha private and leasehold island used for cattle grazing and has some scrub and forest remnants. Cape Barren Geese use these islands as they have short grassland herbage suitable for grazing, not dense tussocks which cover many other nearby islands. In the non-breeding season, most geese move to agricultural land on Flinders Island where a total of 5000-10,000 geese can be found in the Australian summer. The geese are distributed unpredictably across Flinders Island depending on the distribution of agricultural crops suitable for grazing. Licences to shoot small numbers of birds are issued in January/February to move remove birds from sensitive crops; these fields have not been designated as an IBA. Great Dog is a developing Indigenous Protected Area project.

Key Biodiversity Fairy Terns have been recorded on Long Island and Briggs Island in 1986 (Skira & Brothers 1987; Brothers et al. 2001) and 50 pairs of White-fronted Terns bred unsuccessfully on Briggs Islet in 2002 (Britton and Skira 2004). 50 pairs of White-fronted Tern reported at Briggs Islet in 2002 and 21 pairs in 1986 are regionally significant (although numbers at this location are normally much lower). The IBA also supports large numbers of Little Penguin: Neds Reef (50 pairs), Oyster Rocks (40 pairs), Anderson Island (100 to 150 pairs), Little Anderson Island (30 pairs), Mid Woody Islet (>30 burrows), Tin Kettle Island (100 pairs), Little Dog Island (up to 100 pairs), Briggs Islet (397 pairs), Little Green Island (50 pairs), Spences Reefs (100 pairs), Ram Island (30 pairs), Vansittart Island (160 pairs); and Pied Oystercatcher: Anderson Island (several nests and many feeding on tidal mudflats), Little Anderson Island (one pair), Tin Kettle Island (one nest), Little Dog Island (two pairs and one non-breeding individual), Great Dog Island (six pairs), Little Green Island (recorded), Spences Reefs (one pair), Pelican Island (five individuals), Vansittart Island (seven pairs) (Brothers et al. 2001). Terrestrial species recorded in the island group include the Australian cool/temperate biome-restricted Striated Fieldwren (Atlas of Australian Birds database).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Cape Barren Goose Cereopsis novaehollandiae resident  1989-2007  473 breeding pairs  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Short-tailed Shearwater Ardenna tenuirostris resident  1975-1995  1,322,000 nests  medium  A4ii  Least Concern 
Black-faced Cormorant Phalacrocorax fuscescens unknown  1978-1997  247 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Sooty Oystercatcher Haematopus fuliginosus resident  1978-1997  74 breeding pairs  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Pacific Gull Larus pacificus resident  1978-1997  51 breeding pairs  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Flame Robin Petroica phoenicea unknown  1998-2008  common  A1  Near Threatened 
White-faced Storm-petrel Pelagodroma marina resident  1978-1997  19,000 breeding pairs  poor  A4ii  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

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

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - agro-industry grazing, ranching or farmin happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: large scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Briggs Islet Conservation Area 5 protected area contained by site 5  
Little Dog Island Game Reserve 50 protected area contained by site 50  
Little Green Island Conservation Area 95 protected area contained by site 95  
Oyster Rocks Conservation Area 8 protected area overlaps with site 5  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial Improved grassland & pasture  major
Coastline Sea cliffs, rocky shores & rocky islets  minor
Grassland Tussock grasslands  major
Shrubland Closed shrublands & low closed woodlands  minor

Land ownership Oyster Rocks West (Conservation Area), Oyster Rocks (Conservation Area), Anderson Island (Nature Reserve), Mid Woody Islet (non-allocated Crown Land), Tin Kettle (non-allocated Crown Land, lease), Little Dog Island (Game Reserve and private property leased annually), Great Dog Island (private), Briggs Islet (Conservation Area), Little Green Island (Conservation Area and leasehold), Ram Island (private), Puncheon Island (freehold), Pelican Island (Game Reserve and non-allocated Crown Land),and Vansittart islands(freehold and leasehold).

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
hunting minor
Notes: muttonbirding
nature conservation and research major
rangeland/pastureland major
Notes: Badger, Mount Chappell, Tin Kettle and Vansittart islands

Protection status Several - see separate section.

Access/Land-Owner requests Many islands are private and permission must be gained before visiting.

Acknowledgements Greg Hocking of DPIW supplied the data on goose numbers and distribution. Rachael Alderman & Rosemary Gales of DPIW kindly commented on the nomination.

References Britton, P. and Skira, I. (2004) Breeding White-fronted Terns in Tasmania. Tasmanian Bird Report 30: 14-15.

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

Brothers, N. P. and Skira, I. J. (1990) Spences Reef, Furneaux Group, Tasmania. Corella 14: 67-78.

Skira, I. J. and Brothers, N. P. (1987) Briggs Islet, Furneaux Group, Tasmania. Corella 11: 79-80.

Skira, I.J., Brothers, N.P. & Pemberton, D. (1996) Distribution, abundance and conservation status of Short-tailed Shearwaters Puffinus tenuirostris in Tasmania, Australia. Marine Ornithology 24: 1-14.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Franklin Sound Islands. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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