Australian Dark Sky Sites are a nationwide network of locations that provide great views of the night sky and which are publicly accessible. The list is non-regulatory but requires a commitment by the landowner/local government to have a plan in place to reduce light pollution.
The whole of Norfolk Island is a “Gold Level Dark Sky Town” on the Australian Dark Skies Register, with Norfolk Island Regional Council being the contact. See http://australiandarkskyregister.org/. The GOLD level – Excellent Dark Sky – indicates that the Island is suitable for Deep Sky Observing and Astrophotography. The absence of street lighting is a particular feature of Norfolk’s night-time experience.
Norfolk Island also has an emerging opportunity to become involved in International Dark Skies . Norf’k Ailen Besnes Salan (Norfolk Island Chamber of Commerce Inc) is a member of the International Dark-Sky Association, which is dedicated to reducing to light pollution. The Chamber has been given approval to commence the process for having Norfolk Island declared as an International Dark Sky Place. The International Dark-Sky Association has appointed a Project Manager to assist with this registration process.
The International Dark Sky Places Program was founded in 2001 to encourage communities, parks and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting policies and public education.
The Association’s web-based map shows that the Pitcairn Islands, which share a common cultural heritage with Norfolk, have already been designated a Dark Sky Place. Warrumbungle National Park in New South Wales is the only internationally recognised Dark Sky Park (a special kind of Dark Sky Place) in Australia and the first in the Southern Hemisphere.
President Margaret Christian has explained: “Awareness is growing worldwide about the negative impacts that unshaded or inappropriate lighting have on migratory species. We are well aware of it on Norfolk where enigmatic Little Shearwaters are attracted, often to their death, throughout Kingston and Burnt Pine areas where lighting is not regulated. As the juveniles emerge from their breeding sites on Nepean and Phillip Island (we believe) during October and November, they are confused and attracted by the lights, and crash into walls and dive onto wet roads, where it looks like a body of water. Muttonbirds (Ghostbirds) are also affected here, when they arrive from about the end of October.”
Lighting management policy guidelines
Dr Kellie Pendoley of Pendoley Environmental drafted a Lighting Management Policy for the Norfolk Island Regional Council in 2019. This paper was not commissioned by the Council, but written as a community service. Dr Pendoley revised the paper and re-submitted it to Council, in September 2022. She has generously permitted the Norfolk Island Flora and Fauna Society to re-publish this paper here.
Australia’s National Light Pollution Guidelines (Wildlife) are being used by the UN Convention of Migratory Species which has 130 countries around the world as signatories as a basis for its global policy and advocacy. Also, a lot of work is being done in New Zealand around Dark Sky protection and impacts on marine birds and human health: see the Royal Society of NZ’s blue light summary.