Pests and the Great Barrier Reef
The World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef Islands like Lady Elliot are internationally important. However, the isolation and small size of many islands make them vulnerable to impacts from pests which can easily hide hitch a ride from the mainland or other Islands on people’s clothes and shoes, food, luggage, equipment and supplies.
What is a pest?
A pest is any species that occurs beyond its normal environmental range. Pests can be mammals (rats and mice), insects (ants, geckos etc), birds, plants (and their seeds), amphibians (Cane toads) and even bacteria and fungi in soil. Australian native species can also be pests when they occur outside their normal range. Pest plants are often referred to as "weeds" and pest animals as "feral animals".
Impact of Pests on GBR Islands
These pests can greatly impact an Island’s ecosystem health in many ways:
- Weeds can quickly colonise disturbed areas, pushing out native species making it easier for other pests to take hold. This can decrease habitat for native species such as birds that need certain vegetation types for nesting and protection of chicks.
- Introduced insects including ants, can cause the large-scale destruction of vegetation.
- Larger fauna such as Rats can predate on species, such as seabirds and their eggs, putting even further pressures on already threatened populations.
- Introduced grasses can burn with more intensity, increasing the damage caused by wildfires.
Biosecurity Legislation and Requirements
Under Queensland’s new biosecurity legislation, everyone including staff AND guests must play their part to protect island biosecurity and to take all reasonable and practical steps to ensure a pest is not introduced to the Island or spread to other areas.