Historically Lady Elliot Island was a degraded landscape following guano mining in the 1800’s which removed all topsoil and vegetation, leaving only bare rock.

Past and present custodians have worked tirelessly to restore the Island back to its previous natural state.

In 2018, Lady Elliot Island was selected as the first ‘climate change ark’ through the Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s Reef Islands Initiative. This initiative brings the Resort, local businesses, Government, community and Traditional Owners together to fast-track the Island’s restoration through on ground and in water actions.

The major project under the Reef Islands Initiative, is a large-scale 7-year Revegetation Program (2018 – 2025) to remove highly invasive introduced plants such as Lantana, Dragon fruit and Mother of millions (there are 66 introduced plant species on the Island) and plant native coral cay species such as Pisonia trees, sandpaper figs and native grasslands. The aim is to restore the natural cay ecosystem and create a diversity of habitats for migratory nesting seabirds and sea turtles.

Progress to date

7.5 hectares revegetated – weeds cleared, and native coral cay species planted
4,000 coral cay native trees, plants, ground covers and grasses planted
Established 2000m2 nursery with drip irrigation system with capacity to stock 6,000 plants.
Native plants propagated and used from the Island or adjoining coral cays
457 highly invasive Umbrella trees removed
We’ve seen a 125% increase in turtle habitat at the island’s main nesting beach since launching the Initiative at Lady Elliot Island, and continue to discover unique and vulnerable marine life thriving on the island

 “When I first came out to LEI in the early 1990’s, it was kinda like the moon. For many years the people who lived on the Island started mining it and taking the whole top layer off the Island. Now the Island is just flourishing with grass, trees and bushes that were not here before” – Terri Irwin, Australia Zoo