Friends of Lord Howe Island Combating Weeds
The Friends of Lord Howe Island (TFLHI) was set up in 2001 following concerns about weeds on the island that had resulted from a lack of resources from the Lord Howe Island Board to tackle the issue. The group consists of holiday makers with a difference, who pay to holiday on Lord Howe Island whilst removing weeds and exploring the islands biodiversity. The group is led by Ian Hutton, a naturalist, who has lived on Lord Howe Island for over 40 years.
Initially the group’s focus was removing Asparagus Fern, an invasive plant species, but has since expanded to sea spurge management, following the incursion of the weed on coastal foredunes. As funds were not available for the islands weed team to tackle the sea spurge invasion, TFLHI group decided to take this task on themselves, which has resulted in hundreds of hours of volunteer work on weeding ecotours. Several interested local residents have become aware of the problem, and carry out removal of Sea spurge plants in their own time.
TFLHI are involved in promoting conservation broadly on the island, and when the problem of ocean plastic impacting the island’s seabirds came to light in 2001 the Friends became involved in beach clean-ups, and community workshops to sort and report the various plastic types into a national web plastic database, to raise awareness. The group became involved in surveying and monitoring the number of plastics that seabirds deposit in the colonies on the island, guided by a PhD student. Seabirds accidently ingest plastic when they forage, which is then sometimes vomited out in their burrows on the island. Each year when the birds come back, they dig out any excess sand which flicks out plastic, which is then counted and cataloged by TFLHI.