Friends of Bass Strait Islands – Restoring seabird habitat by removing woody weeds

With the support of a birdlife Australia Community Grant, Friends of Bass Strait Islands have just completed a project that forms a critical part of the long-term African boxthorn removal strategy that has been in operation since 2002. The project also aimed to prevent the establishment of mirror bush on the islands regularly visited by FOBSI in the Furneaux Group in Bass Strait.

photo of a green island with hikers

The major objective has been to remove woody weeds including boxthorn and increasingly mirror bush from these locations, to permit the re-establishment of native vegetation from the soil seed bank. This has proven very effective. These follow-up trips aim to stay on top of any regeneration of boxthorn and introduction of mirror bush in bird faeces prior to the woody weeds reaching maturity and producing seed.

A secondary aim has been to remove marine debris, which was collected and disposed of at the Whitemark tip.The priority is to prevent the mirror bush becoming established. We are doing this first, before the boxthorn.The Southern end of Chalky Island. The follow up is under control.

The result of the project has been the removal of woody weed predominantly in an immature stage which is resulting in diminishing numbers of boxthorn being found through the monitored islands including the Wybalenna and Chalky Groups.

Wybalenna Island had an explosion of mirror bush in 2021 including seeding plants. After annual visits in 2021, 2022 and again in 2023 this is now back to being able to undertake follow -up in a day – this includes the small satellite islets to the south. And while some plants have started to flower, none had fruit.

Marine debris removal has been predominantly plastic bottles, buoys and rope. Large articles including freezers and truck tyres have been left.

Read more about the success of the project and the next steps here.