Protecting the Prom's islands

Monday 24 July, 2023

Using helicopters and highly skilled professionals, Parks Victoria and Pennicott Wilderness Journeys are protecting native wildlife on the islands surrounding Wilsons Promontory National Park

The islands are home to significant seabird species such as the Short-Tailed Shearwater, Fairy Prion and Little Penguin, along with colonies of Australian Fur Seal.

The natural environment is under threat from exotic, invasive weeds crowding out native vegetation and nesting habitat for seabirds.

This year, two visits in April and May saw staff from Parks Victoria and environmental tourism operator, Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, treat invasive weed species and survey native and invasive plant species.

Simply getting weed removal crews to the islands is a challenge, as their remote location and rugged terrain mean they can only be visited by chartered boat or helicopter. The weather needs to be perfect, no rain and only light winds – rare conditions for the Prom.

Once on the island, crews trek to find invasive weeds among the thick undergrowth and animal burrows.

A young woman in Parks Victoria uniform stands amid dense undergrowth with sea and a rocky island in the distance behind her.

Parks Victoria Team Leader Cassie Nolan, with Anser Island in the background. Credit Parks Victoria.

While Parks Victoria conducts annual weed removal works on these islands, this year’s partnership with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys has allowed rangers and contractors to dedicate twice as much time as usual to the project.

The environmental tourism operator’s provision of staff, equipment and financial support has meant more resources for weed removal on the Corner Inlet Islands, and Kanowna Island, where Parks Victoria rangers also surveyed the island’s endangered native plants.

The Wilsons Promontory National Park encompasses a range of different environments. It forms part of an Aboriginal cultural landscape that contains physical and intangible heritage, and places significant to Boonwurrung, Bunurong and Gunaikurnai Traditional Owner groups.

Quotes, attributed to Brett Mitchell, Area Chief Ranger, Wilsons Promontory National Park & Marine National Park, Parks Victoria

“The successful collaboration between Parks Victoria and Pennicott Wilderness Journeys demonstrates the power of partnerships in conservation. Together, we are working towards a common goal of safeguarding the unique biodiversity and natural heritage of Wilsons Promontory National Park.”

“By eradicating these weeds which are degrading key ecological attributes, we aim to restore the natural balance and ultimately ensure the long-term conservation of these precious offshore islands."

Quotes, attributed to Robert Pennicott, Managing Director, Pennicott Wilderness Journeys

“Island restoration is a long-term commitment for Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. We have a proud tradition of protecting island habitats and restoring ecosystems through pest eradication and invasive weed control. Seabirds depend on islands as safe places to breed which at the same time contributes to the health of other plants and animals.”

“We are proud to partner with Parks Victoria on protecting the islands of Wilsons Promontory. We are privileged to operate in this very special part of the world and we are committed to ensuring we contribute to the long term conservation of this unique environment.”

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