New Island Restoration
New Island is beautiful. With its rich cliff-lined shores teaming with albatross, seals and burrowing seabirds, it truly is a wildlife sanctuary. In fact, it is not only a National Nature Reserve, but also an internationally recognised Important Bird Area and its inshore waters are a major hotspot for seabirds. But that wildlife is under threat.
4 invasive species, introduced in the past 2 centuries by whalers and sealers, are competing with and predating on native birds and damaging vegetation. These are rats, mice, feral cats, and rabbits.
Since FC’s acquisition of New Island in 2020, it has been our long-term goal to continue the great work of the New Island Conservation Trust (NICT) to conserve its native wildlife and habitats, prevent further damage, and restore populations and habitats to a more natural state.
Over the course of the next two winters, we will investigate the best course of action for a possible future removal of the invasive species. This will involve trialing non-toxic bait to better understand take-up rates from both target and non-target species and looking at the most effective ways to safeguard native species. We’ll also bolster biosecurity to reduce the risk of new invasive species establishing and causing harm.
So what are the threats?
Predation of passerines
New Island is home to several small seabird and passerine species that are vulnerable to predation from rats, cats and mice. The endemic Cobb’s wren has been made locally extinct and tussacbird numbers are severely depressed.
Egg & chick predation
Eggs and chicks of white-chinned petrels and slender-billed prions are predated on by rats, cats and mice. Research has shown rat-infested islands have drastically fewer shorebirds, compared to rat-free islands.
The combined effects of climate change and grazing from rabbits is increasing land degradation and soil erosion, which not only destroys important habitats for our wildlife, but releases carbon from the eroding peatlands.
The grazing pressures of rabbits on native vegetation, combined with other effects such as mice and rats eating seeds, suppresses the ecosystem’s resilience and recovery.
The surrounding islands in the New Island group are free of these invasive species and are key breeding grounds for native bird species, such as Cobb’s wren and slender-billed prions. By removing the invasive species from New Island, we also ensure they don’t spread to other islands, where they could cause great harm.
The below is a recorded interview by FIRS with our Biosecurity and Invasives Manager, Ross James, on the announcement of the New Island Restoration project.
If you have any questions about the restoration work on New Island please don’t hesitate to contact email@example.com
This is a Darwin-plus funded project, in partnership with the RSPB and the Falkland Islands Government.