Rabbits and rats are posing a severe threat to World Heritage values on Macquarie Island, as research reveals widespread damage to terrestrial ecosystems. This includes destruction of vegetation (habitat for threatened albatross species and other seabirds), and catastrophic erosion.
Erosion and heavy spring rains have caused a large landslip on Macquarie Island, in the Southern Ocean about 1500 kilometres south-east of Tasmania, killing penguins in an important colony.
The finer details of introducing dogs to rid a sub Antarctic island of rodents are still be worked through.
Turnbull to the rescue:
The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources
4 June 2007
AGREEMENT TO ERADICATE RABBITS ON MACQUARIE ISLAND
The Australian and Tasmanian Governments have today reached an agreement to jointly fund the eradication of rodent pests on Macquarie Island to protect its World Heritage values.
The seabird populations and vegetation of the Island are under serious threat from plagues of rabbits, rats and mice.
Following from discussions between our Governments, I am please to announce that we have agreed in principle to provide funding of $24.6 million in equal shares to implement the Plan for the Eradication of Rabbits and Rodents on Subantarctic Macquarie Island.
The Prime Minister has today written to the Premier Lennon confirming the agreement under which the Australian and Tasmanian Governments will provide $12.3 million each to implement the eradication plan.
As Macquarie Island is part of Tasmania, the plan will be implemented by the Tasmanian Government, which will also meet any costs in excess of $24.6 million agreed funding.
The Australian Government funding is conditional on the eradication being managed by a joint Government steering committee supported by a scientific advisory committee.
As it takes two years for the for specialised training of dogs to hunt rabbits without impacting on the wildlife, our Governments have agreed that Tasmania will let contracts for this training and commence all other long-lead work immediately.
The Australian Government provided funding for the development of the eradication plan and in addition will continue to provide $1.6 million per year to support Tasmanian rangers who manage the nature reserve.
Macquarie Island was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1997 on the basis of its outstanding natural universal values:
• as an outstanding example representing major stages of the earth’s evolutionary history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features; and
• containing superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.
Macquarie Island is situated about 1500 km south-south-east of Tasmania, about half way between Tasmania and Antarctica at around 55 degrees south. The main island is approximately 34 km long and 5.5 km wide at its broadest point.
Media contact: (02) 6277 7640 – Minister’s office.