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Citizen Science and Great Southern Bioblitz 2023

Citizen Science Conference: 20 November 2023 @ 9:18 am – 24 November 2023 @ 10:18 am
University of Sunshine Coast

The Australian Citizen Science Association Conference, CitSciOz23 will be held on 21-23 November at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. The themes this year are “Inspire, Impact, Influence”.

  • Monday 20th November (side event): Workshops & excursions
  • Tuesday 21st November: Conference Day 1 (Opening, Keynotes, breakout rooms, short talks, long talks, posters, & official welcome evening event)
  • Wednesday 22nd November: Conference Day 2 (Keynotes, short talks, long talks, posters, dinner TBA)
  • Thursday 23rd November: Conference Day 3 (Keynotes, short talks, long talks, posters, conference official close, dinner TBA)
  • Friday 24th November (side event): Bonus Bioblitz Day! Join us as we kick off the Great Southern Bioblitz 2023. Learn how to use iNaturalist from experts, get to know the local wildlife, meet the locals and discover species new to science in the Sunshine Coast area.

See after the event has closed to access the papers.



Bioblitz on Norfolk Island

The Great Southern BioBlitz 2023 can be of special interest to Norfolk Islanders. It is an opportunity to focus the attention of Islanders in observing features of the natural environment around them. It also encourages collaboration amongst like-minded people and allows those who are simply curious to be supported by those with expert knowledge. See the flyer for details.

Posted in Get Involved |


EcoNorfolk Foundation is a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting ecologically sustainable development on Norfolk Island.

Founded by environmental activist Denise Quintal, the Foundation aims to assist in advancing the science of sustainability with the wider international community to lead the way for sustainability in the South Pacific.

Its role within the community is to support the preservation of natural resources through education, publicity campaigns, scientific research and development, and merging this with the everyday activities and practices of the Norfolk Island people.

EcoNorfolk Foundation has been involved in projects such as Footprinting and Experimental Prototype Communities, to foster awareness of the global context of local environmental issues. For example, the ‘Sustainable Islands Project’ focuses on the training of skilled professionals from small remote islands, in the area of sustainable environmental and economic development.

EcoNorfolk at the date of writing (March 2023) is in recess.

Posted in Get Involved |

Anson Bay Volunteers

Anson Bay has to be one of the loveliest beaches on Norfolk, which is really saying something! Sometimes though, a combination of wind, tide and swell can toss up large quantities of ocean flotsam, much of it plastic, marring the otherwise stunning beauty of this little bay.

Click here for photos of Anson Bay beach, the Anson Bay stalwarts, Headstone tip and samples of the rubbish.

Since June 2021, a small group of concerned island residents has been going down to Anson Bay, usually twice a week, to clear the beach of these unsightly deposits.


Some of the plastic seems to have washed in from the shipping lanes, but most is domestic waste which has clearly made its way round from the Waste Management depot at Headstone, with the most common items found being the white or blue seals from inside the caps of wine and Coca-Cola bottles.


In the early days of the clean-up, an astonishing amount was collected each time the group ventured down – 23 kg on the worst day, and generally upwards of 10kg. By November 2021, the quantity of plastic had diminished significantly, with 3 kg or less being the new norm. This may be due to differing marine conditions, or to there being less plastic in the waters around Norfolk Island as new waste management practices are implemented by the Norfolk Island Regional Council. It is proposed to conduct seasonal comparisons from year to year.


To encourage participation of visitors who come to the beach, Council has given permission to place beside the rubbish bins, a box containing a couple of reusable bags made of shadecloth. The group plans to monitor the bins for evidence that others are sharing the task of keeping Anson Bay plastic-free.

The Great Formosan Lily Hunt


For several years the Flora and Fauna Society offered a reward for collection of stems of the introduced Formosan Lily. These lilies are a very invasive weed and in some places, infestations have totally precluded any native species from continuing to thrive in their native habitat. They will grow in sun and shade, in wet and dry conditions, and on flat land, slopes and steep cliffs.

Windy conditions are perfect for the ripened seed pods to disperse their thousands of seeds.

A number of parents have expressed concern at the number of lilies, making it easy for their little collectors to see the purpose and so to get great results. We hope this results in a better understanding as to why this problem needs to be tackled soon in a strategic manner across the Island. If we allow all the soil and water, sun and shade to be used by white lilies that don’t belong here, we are denying the natives the ability to survive in the only place they know, and belong.

Members understand that we are not removing the problem, but are simply reducing the size of the population, which has the potential to expand exponentially if left unchecked.

If we are to preserve the island’s all-important native plants we need to make sure they have some space to grow. Without the native plants, we could lose our native insects and our unique bird species and the wonderful experiences we all enjoy through being in our precious environment.


Corms of Formosan Lily


We have had fantastic results from our collectors in the three years 2017-2019. The project offered a bounty for Formosan Lilies collected in bundles of 50. Bounty 10c per stem + prizes of $100, $50 and $75 for the most stems collected.

In the summer season 2016-2017, a total of 257 bundles @ 50 stems bringing to a total of 12,850 plants were collected. With only a single flower per plant this has prevented the spreading of notionally at least 15,420,000 new plants. With some plants having been seen to have 12 flowers the potential increases to 805,040,000! Thanks so much to the collectors and their support teams for participating in this important project.

There was again a fantastic response in the 2018 Great Lily Hunt, resulting in the prevention of a possible 383+ million seeds germinating to make new plants. Due to the wet weather conditions at the time of the collection, some participants were also able to easily remove the bulbs along with the stems, making it a wonderful bonus number of possible future plants now not in the landscape.

In 2019 Society representatives, Liz Nobbs-Hewson and Bev Buffett presented certificates and cheques to students who participated in the Hunt. Total prize money was $4362.50, made up of a Community Grant from Norfolk Island Regional Council of $2500 with the balance of $1862.50 funded by Norfolk Island Flora & Fauna Society. Over 40,000 Formosan Lily plants were collected, preventing at least 86 million new plants being produced. Another fantastic effort!

In 2020 $5715 was paid in prizes. The Society thanks Norfolk Island Rotary and Foodlands for $2500 each in sponsorship.

Seeds of Formosan Lily

In 2021 the Society decided to review the project seek to have it mainstreamed into the official work program of the Council.

Cascade Creek community planting day at Cockpit

The weather gods blessed a group of about 40 volunteers on Sunday 3 October 2021 with clear skies and a gentle breeze – perfect conditions for breathing life back into one of our many degraded waterways, Cockpit Creek. The aim of the planting was to kick start the rehabilitation of the creek, its banks, and the beetles, larvae and eels that call it home. Starting at 9.00 am, the volunteers came together to put 320 native trees in the ground.


Our riparian areas here on Norfolk are an extremely important, yet also extremely overlooked ecosystem that have been exploited and degraded for generations. The threats facing our waterways are numerous: high nutrient content, invasive weeds, cattle disturbance and past land management practices are just some of the issues that threaten the biodiversity of these fragile systems.



As we all know, Norfolk has become home to many invasive weed species over the years. Olive, Hawaiian Holly and Porpieh (Cherry Guava) are some of the most prolific examples and while they can be a nuisance in paddocks or in gardens, they also pose a threat to the general health of our creeks. Many of these exotic species are allelopathic, meaning that they inhibit the growth of any other species in the area through the use of biochemicals that they release into the soil. This can create areas with little to no biodiversity, both amongst the plants and as a result amongst birds, fungi and freshwater organisms. Not only do these weeds have the ability to reduce biodiversity around our creeks, they can also greatly affect the quality of the water in them. Porpieh for example, produces masses of fruit each year. Although this fruit is enjoyed by humans and birds alike, much of it falls to the ground or into the waterways and is left to rot. In those creeks with relatively slow water movement, the fermentation of these fruit-falls acidifies the water, creating an environment often uninhabitable for the freshwater creatures within them.


As well as battling woody weeds, our creeks are also being invaded by water weeds. Papyrus, Water Hyacinth, Elodea (Oxygen Weed) and Salvinia to name a few, are widely established throughout most of Norfolk’s creeks. With plenty of sunlight, nutrients and water, they overtake and clog up a once healthy and trickling stream, turning it into a stagnant and smelly pool. Although we can visually see the clogging effect of these water weeds on the surface, much of the damage that they do is actually deeper down. In a healthy ecosystem, plants will photosynthesise and release oxygen into the water which can then be used by other living organisms in the creek.


In a damaged system, like many of the ones that we see here, there can be massive imbalances. These imbalances can occur when there are excessive nutrients in the water (from silt, cow manure, fertiliser runoff, old septics etc), which in turn allows a higher growth rate of algae and plants. When these plants and algae die off, an enormous amount of oxygen is consumed by the bacteria that are trying to breakdown the dead organic matter, thus depriving the other fish, eels, shrimp etc. in the creek of that precious oxygen.


By planting the creek banks out with native trees, ones which would have naturally occurred there in years gone by, we can aim to rejuvenate the ecosystem. We can increase habitat for birds and help to improve water quality. Eventually in coming years the shade created by the canopy will help to suppress excessive water weed growth, which means there will be less need for human intervention to manage them.


High nutrient levels in our creeks, whilst at first sounding like a good thing, is in fact detrimental. Though nutrients are obviously needed for growth and regeneration, nutrient-rich waterways are often a result of mismanagement. On Norfolk, many of our creeks are open to cattle. This form of grazing, whilst not only unnatural, negatively impacts the health of the creek. Cows eat a lot! And obviously what goes in, must come out. Much of what comes out then winds up in the waterways and it has been proven that cows defaecate up to 5 times more often when they’re standing in a stream as compared to on land!


This creates an unhealthy environment, not only for the freshwater species, but for the wading birds and humans. As a cow walks through a creek, it damages the bank, the creek-bed and the underwater habitat. `Pugging’ occurs when the cows leave their deep footprints in the soft, muddy banks of a creek, creating small pools of water that are then trapped, unable to flow away. These little pools become stagnant, with oily slicks and rotting plant material creating a toxic puddle of sludge that eventually permeates into the rest of the stream.


Cockpit is prized as a place of beauty by much of the Norf.‘k Island community. It is home to one of our very few waterfalls and has been the playing ground for children of many generations. Norfolk Island Regional Council recognises not only the intrinsic and historical value that this reserve represents for Norf.‘k Islanders, but also the ecological value. We would like to thank the Norfolk Island Cattle Association for their co-operation in the exclusion of cattle from the creek, and also the Norfolk Landcare Group for all of their past work in the area. Thank you also to all of the volunteers that came along to help bring this vision to life.


Picture this: a beautiful stream, flowing and gurgling over big basalt boulders. The sunlight filtering down through a soft canopy of Pungas, Cordylines and Whitewoods, catching on the iridescent wing of a dragon fly as she flits around dipping her tail into the clear water, laying eggs. Overhead a Golden Whistler whips its song through the branches of the Ironwood and the quick red breast of a male robin darts amongst the Meryta flowers.


This is our vision. Thank you to all those who have shared it.


Thanks to The Norfolk Islander for publishing this article in its 9 October 2021 issue.


Coral Berry crusade at Hundred Acres

Coral Berry, Rivina humilis, is a native of the Americas and a serious “environmental weed”. A dedicated group of volunteers has been working diligently to clear the Hundred Acres reserve of this pest. By the time that the reserve had been largely treated in the first round, the next generation of seedlings was ready to flower and the task recommenced, early in 2021. On Wednesday 28 July 2021 the group celebrated the first anniversary of its mission with special morning tea in the reserve. Contact the Society to join the crusade!

Organiser Judith Andersen at work


Posted in Get Involved |

Norfolk Island Conservation Volunteers

Norfolk Island Conservation Volunteers (NICV) was formed in July 2020 under the auspices of the Norfolk Island Flora & Fauna Society Inc., and with the support of Norfolk Island Regional Council and Norfolk Island National Park.


The Coral Berry Crusade

The first NICV project, and the only project to date, has been tackling a heavy infestation of the very invasive coral berry (Rivina humilis) in 100 Acres Reserve. This South American native had established itself in the reserve over many years, and had become the dominant ground cover. Quick-growing and with numerous very hardy seeds produced per plant, its dominance was affecting other native ground cover, and also the slower growing seedlings of native trees and bushes, out-competing them for space, light, water and nutrients.

In its first year, NICV was able to make one full sweep through the reserve and was well into its second or in some spots, third sweep, aiming to catch the coral berry before fruiting  and thus progressively exhaust the seed bank. This strategy has been extremely successful so far, with coral berry now replaced by a delicate native herb, Parietaria debilis, as the dominant ground cover. Prior to this, P. debilis had become very scarce in the reserve.

In addition to coral berry, NICV has been pulling up other known weeds as encountered. These have included African boxthorn, silky oak, lantana, tomato, guava, ochna, cape gooseberry, black olive, Hawaiian holly, Morning Glory vine, Madeira vine, chickweed and milkweed.

As the work on coral berry now appears to be approaching maintenance phase, NICV is discussing options of extending into other reserves and the National Park, or remaining in 100 Acres but becoming more systematic in tackling the other weed species found there.


Reef Life Survey

Reef Life Survey is a non-profit citizen science program in which trained SCUBA divers undertake standardised underwater visual surveys of reef biodiversity on rocky and coral reefs around the world.

A team of five divers visited Norfolk Island in February/March 2021 to replicate two previous surveys. See the Coral reefs page. Group coordinator Antonia Cooper has advised that it would be wonderful if some Norfolk Islanders who are capable at diving would be willing to form a local group of volunteers to continue and expand the surveys. Science education is not required.

Given the threats to coral reefs world-wide from land-based pollution, over-fishing and, in particular, climate change, isolated reefs surrounded by deeper water such as those around Norfolk become particularly valuable as reference points. Reef Life Survey would welcome contact from Islanders willing to join this unique form of citizen science.

Posted in Get Involved |