Green List
Explore

Montague Island Nature Reserve
Montague Island

australia 

First Listed

2014

Area
0.82km2

Why is it Green Listed?

Montague Island is a small island (82 ha) located just offshore on the south coast of New South Wales. The island is an iconic feature of the region, supports abundant wildlife, is a place of significant natural, Aboriginal and historic heritage value, and a popular destination for visitors. The island supports a unique assemblage of nine seabird species from as far away as the Arctic, New Zealand and the Southern Ocean that breed on the island – a successful result of the Seabird Habitat Restoration Program (2004-2014).

Montague Island is one of the few places in the world where visitors can enjoy a unique wildlife experience that includes thousands of breeding seabirds, penguins and fur seals and visit a well-preserved 19th century light station and keeper’s cottages.

Alan Henderson, Area Manager, Euroboda lla Area, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service

“The Green List is a welcome recognition of our conservation achievements. Through the work of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and in collaboration with expert scientists, and the support of volunteers and the community, it is very inspiring for our staff to know that their ‘every-day’ work is recognised as world class by the IUCN. The Green List provides both a framework and inspiration for us to meet these global standards in other protected areas that we manage in this region, and share our success and lessons with others in NSW, throughout Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.”

Key Achievements

Conservation

  • Vertebrate pest free status – all mice, rabbits and goats have been eradicated
  • Internationally significant seabird breeding site for shearwaters, penguins, terns, petrels and gulls – nine species, >22,000 breeding pairs
  • Critical breeding site for Australian and New Zealand fur seals

Good governance

  • The island has been managed for conservation since 1953 and was gazetted as a nature reserve under the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act (1974) in 1990
  • In 2018, large areas of Montague Island were declared as Barunguba Aboriginal Place under the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act (1974) recognising the significance of the island to local Aboriginal people
  • Managers engage rights holders, stakeholders and the community in decision making relating to the management of the reserves, ensuring transparency and accountability

Community benefits

  • Increasing the number of permitted visitors to the island in 2005 from 90 to 200 per day supported expansion of the tour boat fleet from one to five and supported increased regional economic development
  • Montague Island is known as one of the best places for researchers to study seabirds, shorebirds, seals and island ecosystems; attracting researchers from a range of universities over many decades
  • The long-term data set generated by the world’s longest running continuous seabird surveys on Montague Island provides an excellent basis for an analysis of the impact of weather events and climate change

Alan Henderson, Area Manager, Euroboda lla Area, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service

“Over the past 5 years since our initial Green List nomination, we’ve seen increasing populations of threatened seabirds nesting on Montague Island, recorded new species and been successful in controlling emerging weeds and maintaining a vertebrate pest free environment. Being on the Green List brings a renewed focus to Montague Island as it demonstrates how NPWS can achieve goals for conservation and cultural heritage, while supporting the local economy.”

Site Attributes

WDPA ID

Size
0.82km2

Designation(s)
Nature Reserve

IUCN Category
IV

Year Established
1990

Marine Protected Area
No

Governance Type
State government agency

Site Agency
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service

Site Manager
Alan Henderson

Application
15 July 2019

EAGL Evaluation
25 July 2019

GL Committee Submission
17 August 2019

EAGL Chair
Andrea Leverington

ASI Reviewer
Matthew Durnin

Site Summary

Montague Island is a small island (82 ha) located just offshore on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia. The island is an iconic feature of the region, supports abundant wildlife, is a place of significant natural, Aboriginal and historic heritage value, and a popular destination for visitors.

Montague Island Nature Reserve represents an exceptional example of protected area management. Nationally and internationally significant natural and historic heritage values have been conserved and restored with the help and support of local communities and form the basis for a thriving ecotourism industry.

The island supports a unique assemblage of nine seabird species from as far away as the Arctic, New Zealand and the Southern Ocean that breed on the island. The island is now free of vertebrate pests and seabird habitat has been restored due to the long term dedication of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and local communities. Through the Seabird Habitat Restoration Program (2004-2014), mice, goats and rabbits have been eradicated and seabird nesting habitat restored by controlling weeds and replanting over 80,000 native trees and shrubs. The island is also an important haul out and pupping habitat for Australian and New Zealand fur seals.

Montague Island is one of the few places in the world where visitors can enjoy a unique wildlife experience that includes thousands of breeding seabirds, penguins and fur seals and visit a well preserved 19th century light station and keeper’s cottages.

1. NATURAL VALUES
Suitable nesting habitat for seabirds and shorebirds
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
Extent and distribution of habitat– Mapping using formal island wide mapping / GPS surveys which categorise the vegetation communities
Habitat extent compared to 2005 Unacceptable - <10% extent Undesirable – Trend of decline in extent of habitat without major natural event Acceptable – stable extent of habitat Desirable - Increase extent of habitat
DESIRABLE - Overall status DESIRABLE – Shearwaters, little penguins, Gould’s and white faced storm petrels ACCEPTABLE - Silver Gull, Crested Tern, Caspian Tern
The extent of habitat increased through the Seabird Habitat Restoration Program targeting kikuyu grass and the revegetation with predominately Lomandra longifolia which provides habitat for nesting seabirds (shearwaters and penguins)
Habitat condition assessments - Relative dominance of vegetation species including weeds for major seabird species is mapped every 4 - 5 years by researchers using transect surveys
Cover of habitat modifying weeds in seabird nesting habitat – Very Poor - >75% Poor - 50-75% Fair - 25-50% Good - 5-25% Optimal - <5%
GOOD (North and East zones) – supports Shearwater and Little Penguin species FAIR (Revegetation zone – South) - due to Coastal Morning Glory increase
Kikuyu density reduced in seabird nesting areas. Coastal Morning Glory vine (weed species) has increased in prime Little Penguin Habitat. NPWS now addressing this threat through targeted weed programs.
Population estimates of nesting seabird species – Little penguins
Number of nesting pairs – Little penguins Unacceptable – less than 1000 Undesirable – between 1000 and 3000 Acceptable – between 3000 to 6500 Desirable – more than 6500
ACCEPTABLE – usually, the Little Penguin survey results estimate between 3000 and 6500 stable number of Little Penguin pairs nesting, though there is variation between survey years
An exceptional event occurred in 2015 with strong oceanic currents linked to no /very low numbers of penguins landing in October 2015. A survey is planned for 2019 to determine the current population.
Population estimates of nesting seabird species – Wedge-tailed and Short-tailed shearwaters
Density of occupied burrows Unacceptable – 2 years below 200 occupied burrows / ha with no rain events Undesirable – 200-400 occupied burrows / ha Acceptable – 400-600 occupied burrows / ha Desirable - >600 occupied burrows / ha
DESIRABLE. Wedge-tailed and Short-tailed Shearwater species appear to be having good years of breeding, with density levels and burrow occupancy at suitable levels over the last 3 year period.
Records of low burrow densities in the past (Tiller et al. 2000) have been associated with flooding and have not persisted over multiple years with numbers recovering in subsequent years
Population estimates of nesting seabird species – Gould’s petrel
Number of nesting pairs – Gould’s petrel Unacceptable – <18 pairs for more than 1 year Undesirable –18 - <29 pairs for more than 1 year Acceptable – 29 - 47 pairs Desirable – >47 pairs
ACCEPTABLE – surveys in 2018-19 detected 38 breeding pairs
Gould’s petrel established on Montague Island in 2012 in nest boxes and within atypical habitat -Poa grass (Carlile et al, in prep).
Fur seal haul out and pupping
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
Population surveys of adult Australian and NZ fur seals by NPWS staff and seal experts
Unacceptable – <300 Australian or <18 NZ Undesirable – <500 Australian or < 100 NZ Acceptable –500 to 600 Australian and 100 to 200 NZ Desirable – >600 Australian and > 200 NZ
DESIRABLE – Observations by NPWS staff from November to March 2018/19 indicate of number of individuals for both species has increased since 2014
The populations of both Australian and New Zealand Fur Seals have been increasing on Montague Island since the 1990s. Also more than 15 pups per year observed
2. ECOSYSTEM SERVICE VALUES
Ecotourism – education based guided tours
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
Daily passenger landing numbers
Number of visitors does not exceed carrying capacity for daily or ‘at any time’ limits outlined in the plan of management (2009 amendment). Demand for tours to Montague Island is sufficient to maintain a financially sustainable tourism industry
Meeting the performance measure. High level of compliance with daily, ‘at any time’ limits on visitor numbers Meeting the performance measure. All tour boat operators are running tours year-round
~6000 visitors to the island annually
Observations by and reports to on-site NPWS staff of any breaches
Visitors compliance with code of conduct and restricted to non-sensitive areas (natural and cultural values)
Meeting the performance measure. High level of compliance with code of conduct
Activities that were impacting on natural values have been cancelled or infrastructure installed to reduce interaction of humans and wildlife
Scientific research
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
Local managers support research projects Use / incorporation of research findings into management practices, regulations and permitted activities
Most of the research undertaken on the island improves our understanding of the population dynamics, conservation status, key threats, and supports adaptive management of seabirds, shorebirds and seals on Montague island, regionally and globally. Information is used to update information shared by tour guides and on interpretive material.
Meeting performance measure All research undertaken on Montague Island is reviewed and approved by local managers Seabird monitoring program is the world’s longest continuing survey and data is high quality. The island is described as ‘perfect laboratory’.  Meeting performance measure Research on natural values has informed the methods used for the Seabird Habitat Rehabilitation Project, approach distances for seals and other marine wildlife, management of visitors, threshold levels for management effort of weed control etc. 
Research on Montague Island informs the management of other islands along the NSW and Victorian coastline. It is a global example of how to restore an island.
3. CULTURAL VALUES
Cultural sites documented and protected
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
All sites identified and documented on NSW Aboriginal Heritage Information Management System or known to NPWS as appropriate according to Aboriginal tradition and lore.
Location and significance of sites is documented in NSW government databases or other appropriate locations and available to managers to protect them from disturbance.
69 Aboriginal sites are recorded in AHIMS from surveys conducted in 1970.   Management and research are regulated and visitor activity is prohibited in areas of high cultural sensitivity.
The cultural significance of Barunguba for Aboriginal people has been recognised through the 2018 Barunguba Aboriginal Place Declaration.
Aboriginal custodians are connected to country
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
Aboriginal custodians are connected to country: To be determined in consultation with representative Custodians Roster system, boat crew list schedule
Custodians have access to Montague Island for cultural purposes Aboriginal NPWS staff have opportunities to work on the island
NPWS supports access to the island by Aboriginal people for cultural purposes. Aboriginal staff from Eurobodalla area undertake duties on the Shearwater II which services Montague Island. They are also offered the opportunity to work on the island for maintenance and weed work.
Details of integration of the Barunguba Aboriginal Place declaration into management of Barunguba are in development.

Conservation Summary

Site visit report // EAGL meeting minutes

EAGL vote results : Five of the eight EAGL members were present at the meeting and all agreed that Montague Island should be included on the IUCN Green List. The three other members all reviewed documentation and did not raise significant concerns.


EAGL summary statement:

While the EAGL was concerned about the age of the Plan of Management, (1994) a review is currently underway. In addition to the Plan of Management, State of Parks reporting is a triennial monitoring report, and an operational plan is prepared every year with tasks tracked quarterly. The revised Montague Island PoM will include climate change projections for each site value and direct management actions which will enable focussed and pro-active adaptive management of the natural and associated cultural values in the future. The PoM will also include a sustainability study which will assess sustainable levels of visitation to guide future management with a sustainable, conservation-based strategy. The EAGL agreed that it is highly desirable that the new Plan of Management is finalised as soon as possible.

The natural heritage values of Montague Island are of state and national significance. These values are very well understood as a result of extensive, long-term research and monitoring undertaken by seabird and seal experts. These studies are of international significance due to their ability to detect climate signals in long-lived species. Montague Island provides for regional connectivity of seabird communities on islands along the NSW and Victorian coasts.

The field visit by two EAGL members strongly supported the view that management excellence was clearly demonstrated and observed on the Island. The long term management of the site is directed by the Montague Island Plan of Management, which is currently being reviewed. Montague Island NR is managed for its natural and cultural values, with provision for only sustainable, low level visitation that is focussed on education and awareness of natural and cultural values. Incorporation of Aboriginal place management into the new PoM for Montague Island/Barunguba, will weave cultural social context into the planning and management of the island.

The EAGL agrees that the sites meet the thresholds for the conservation of natural values, ecosystem services and the cultural values. The EAGL also acknowledges the excellent work done by staff to develop appropriate thresholds and performance indicators for the natural values, ecosystem services and cultural values of the sites. The EAGL recognises the significant work over the past 30 years to eradicate vertebrate pests, control weeds and rehabilitate the island as a critical site for fur seal, seabird and shorebird breeding. 

The EAGL recognises that the Montague Island Nature Reserve was one of the first sites to be awarded the IUCN Green List status in 2014. Excellent management of the site continues. The EAGL members approved by consensus to recommend the Montague Island Nature Reserve for inclusion on the IUCN Green List.


Reviewer statement:

Site Visit and Review of site application by EAGL was extremely thorough and meets all of the required guidelines for submitting the PA to the Candidate Phase Committee Decision.

Trevor Sandwith, Deputy Chair, IUCN Green List Management Committee, Director, IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme

“As some of the first parks in the world to achieve IUCN Green List status in the pilot phase, this renewal demonstrates their continued dedication to conservation leadership and sharing it with the global Green List community. We congratulate these remarkable parks and the park staff and supporting communities and stakeholders that have enabled this outstanding distinction.”

Please note that our website is in a BETA phase and is still undergoing final testing before our official launch.
IUCN Green List

IUCN Green List
Protected | Conserved Areas


Subscribe to our mailing list

Privacy Policy Legal Sitemap

© 2020 IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature
Site by Design Factory
This website is possible thanks to the support from:

Join the conversation


IUCN Green List