After extensive monitoring, no new sites of Myrtle Rust infestation have been located on the island. Importantly, as of yesterday (23 March), there were no active spores at known sites.
Following the extensive treatment & monitoring program, and the isolation of the myrtle rust infected plants, vegetation adjacent to formal tracks in the Permanent Park Preserve have been assessed and a staged re-opening of tracks is underway.
Based on technical advice, the successful treatment of known myrtle rust sites, and establishment of hygiene stations and rigorous protocols, the walking tracks in the northern section of the island reopened on Saturday, 25 March.
We have confidence that, with the support of walkers, the necessary hygiene practices can be implemented consistently and effectively to support visitation. Continued vigilance will be required along with rapid treatment of any future detected outbreaks.
Visitors will be provided with pre-trip information on biosecurity hazards and actions they can take to reduce the risk of transmission. Community information sessions will be held and information distributed via the website and Facebook page in the coming days and weeks.
PPP northern tracks open from Saturday 25th March
The northern walking tracks in the Permanent Park Preserve (PPP) reopened 25 March, as part of a staged approach to re-open the PPP to managed visitation.
A review of whether to re-open access to the southern PPP will be made by the end of next week, after additional searches and a review of the implementation of hygiene protocols in the northern walking tracks.
Signage and equipment to undertake treatment before entering the Permanent Park Preserve is available at the start of walking tracks, the airport, the Lord Howe Island Board Office and the Community Hall.
In response to a request by the Lord Howe Island Board to help manage this outbreak of Myrtle Rust, a contingent of National Parks and Wildlife (NPWS) staff are on the island assisting with assessments of the Permanent Park Preserve and running an incident management team in collaboration with the Lord Howe Island Board to oversee the response to the outbreak.
As an initial response LHIB and NPWS staff will be located at track heads during key times when walkers set off on their journey, to help walkers better understand correct biosecurity protocols.
The reopening of the PPP is a result of the combined effort of the community, LHIB and NPWS in planning for the continued protection of the unique values of Lord Howe.
Tracks that have been re-opened
- Kim’s Lookout
- Max Nicholls Memorial Track
- Transit Hill
- Clear Place
- Middle Beach
- Valley of the Shadows
- Blackburn Island
- Mt Eliza
- Old Gulch
- North Bay
The LHIB is working hard to ensure a staged re-opening of the island can occur as soon as possible, in a manner that does not pose a risk to the world heritage values of the island or the long term viability of the industries that depend upon them.
Myrtle Rust is a serious threat to the health and integrity of ecosystems. It will be a great credit to the Lord Howe Island community if it can be eradicated after this 2023 incursion, noting successful eradication also occurred in 2016.