Restoring Norfolk Island's native plant species

A collaborative team led by CBCS PhD candidate Leah Dann published a unique book late last year, A Guide to Propagating Norfolk Island’s Native Plants and Seeds.

Norfolk Island is a remote subtropical island in the South Pacific with 46 threatened plant species, most of them endemic. This is the highest number of threatened plants of any Australian island. Deforestation and biological invasions have resulted in the decline of native plant populations, necessitating continued conservation and restoration activities to protect native species and increase their populations.

The team* responded to this challenge by putting together the handbook using information from locals and practitioners, field and nursery data, and literature and database searches. It details seed collection, storage and propagation techniques for many of Norfolk Island’s native plant species. The handbook also offers descriptions and photos of plants and seeds, information about suitable habitats for each species, seed collection times, seed storage methods and dormancy information, time to seedling emergence, time to plant maturity, and cultural information about various plant species, along with a wealth of other information.

One of the unique features of the handbook is its foreword. Written in Norf’k (the Norfolk Island language) and translated into English, it offers a glimpse into the history of Norfolk Island and describes early botanical knowledge and uses of some of the culturally important plant species. An audio version of the foreword spoken in Norf’k is available online at the link provided below. This handbook is a legacy from the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program (NESP)Threatened Species Recovery Hub islands project (led by Salit Kark’s group) and provides both a cultural contribution to Norfolk Island and an important resource for those interested in propagating Norfolk Island’s native trees and shrubs and contributing to their conservation.

The handbook was supported by the NESP Threatened Species Recovery Hub, the Norfolk Island National Park and Botanic Garden, the Australian National Botanic Gardens, Friends of the Australian National Botanic Gardens and The University of Queensland.

*Leah Dann and Salit Kark (The University of Queensland), Lydia Guja (Australian National Botanic Gardens), and Mark Scott, Melinda Wilson and Nigel Greenup (Parks Australia).

Access a downloadable PDF of the handbook and the audio file of the spoken foreword in Norf’k (with a written English/Norf’k translation) here.

Teaser image: Leah Dann propagating seeds on Norfolk Island. Photo: Emily Erskine
Above: Norfolk Island has more threatened plants than any other Australian island. Photo: Leah Dann

Project members

Leah Dann

PhD Student
School of Biological Sciences
Kark Biodiversity Group

Professor Salit Kark

ARC Future Fellow
School of Biological Sciences