Unlocking the Secrets of Lord Howe Island Banyans
Set adrift in the South Pacific, there lies an island so beautiful and serene that the word paradise holds meaning. Born of volcanic origin, and eroded over time to perfection–leaving towering mountains above a crystal-clear lagoon, lined with swaying palm trees. Visually, this island could be the work of an artist, a painter or God himself. But peek beyond the canvas, into the forest and under the sea, and you will find an ecosystem rich with biodiversity and life; a land time has nearly forgotten, and the reason for my visits.
Lord Howe Island, 600 km (370 miles) off the east coast of Australia, was first spotted by Lt. Henry Lidgbird Ball in 1788, while commanding the HMS Supply on a run between Port Jackson (Sydney) and the penal colony at Norfolk Island. It would be another half century before humans settled the island, making it one of the last untouched places on earth. This isolation, and minimal human interference, has led to an environment that’s remained nearly intact.
Approximately 75 percent of the original forest still stands, just as it has for countless millennia. Today, the same 500+ species of fish continue to inhabit the waters around the island, and coral reefs fringing the lagoon. Stands of kentia palms, banyans and sallywoods create a natural patchwork of vegetation that blankets the slopes leading up to the cloud forests of the twin mountains Lidgbird and Gower. It’s easy to see how special this place is, and why there is such a desire to protect it’s future.