Territory Stories

Tiwi Islands



Tiwi Islands


Harrison, L.; McGuire, L.; Ward, S.; Fisher, A.; Pavey, C.; Fegan, M.; Lynch, B.; Natural Heritage Trust (Australia)

Issued by

Northern Territory. Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts And Sport. Biodiversity Conservation Unit. Division of Environment, Heritage and the Arts


E-Publications; PublicationNT; E-Books; Site 09; Sites of Conservation Significance




Tiwi Islands


This is one of 67 dossiers on sites of conservation significance in the Northern Territory. The whole report is "An inventory of sites of international and national significance for biodiversity values in the Northern Territory"�. Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport, Darwin, NT (2009).; Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).




Conservation of natural resources -- Northern Territory -- Tiwi Islands; Conservation significance; Threatened species; Endemic species; Wildlife aggregations; Wetlands

Publisher name

Northern Territory Government

Place of publication



Site 09; Sites of Conservation Significance


279 - 283 pages : colour illustration and map ; 30 cm.

File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Northern Territory Government



Related links

http://hdl.handle.net/10070/240659 [An inventory of sites of international and national significance for biodiversity values in the NT]; http://hdl.handle.net/10070/265569 [Sites of conservation significance maps]

Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

T I W I I S L AN D S - S I T E O F C O N S E R V AT I O N S I G N I F I C AN C E D e p a r t m e n t o f N a t u r a l R e s o u r c e s , E n v i r o n m e n t , T h e A r t s a n d S p o r t 2 8 2 O TH ER E N VI R O N M EN TA L VA LU ES The Tiwi Islands are proposed to be nominated by Birds Australia as an internationally-recognised Important Bird Area (G. Dutson in prep.) due to the occurrence of numerous endemic, restricted range and threatened bird species. Seagull Island is also proposed to be nominated due to occurrence of globally significant numbers of Crested Terns. 55 species recorded from this site are listed under international conventions or bilateral agreements protecting migratory animals. The Tiwi Islands support abundant and widespread mammal fauna in contrast to the mainland where many species have been substantially reduced in abundance or distribution (Firth et al. 2006). An important conservation value of the Tiwi Islands is some level of protection to the plants and animals from processes affecting mainland areas (Woinarski et al. 2003b). Ten vine thickets on the Tiwi Islands are listed on the Register of the National Estate for their natural values including: Big Pig Jungle, Ilinga Jungle, Hanguana Jungle, Gully Gully Jungle, Tarracumbie Creek Jungle, Jump Up Jungles, Imanawudi Jungle, Third Spring Jungle, East Tjipripu Spring Jungle and Mangkipp Jungle (Australian Heritage Council). The marine areas within this site are likely to encompass significant biodiversity values and these are currently being explored and collated in a project by the Marine Biodiversity Group of NRETAS (K. Edyvane, NRETAS, pers. comm.). M A N A G EM EN T IS SU ES Fire: In the period 1993-2004, 35% of the site was burnt in fewer than three years, and 12% was burnt in more than six years. Much of the fire control on Melville Is. is currently focused on protection of forestry plantations. Feral animals: African Big-headed Ants and Tropical Fire Ants are present on the Tiwi Islands (CSIRO undated), as are feral buffalo, cattle, horse, pig, dog and cat. Pigs occur on Bathurst Is. and only a small section of Melville Is., but recent reports suggest that they are increasing in range on Melville Is. Weeds and invasive exotic plants: Two Weeds of National Significance (Lantana camara and Mimosa pigra), 17 declared Category A and B weeds, and seven undeclared but problematic environmental weeds (high priority weeds: Smith 2001) are recorded from the Tiwi Islands. Weeds are mostly confined to the township and forestry areas, but there has been a very substantial expansion of weeds from increased disturbance and traffic associated with forestry. The grasses Pennisetum polystachion and Megathyrsus maximus are a particular threat to the conservation values of the Tiwi Islands due to their capacity for rapid spead and high biomass resulting in increased fire intensity. Similarly, Andropogon gayanus is a serious threat that could escalate if current work towards eradication on the Islands is relaxed. Spread of the major plantation species such as Acacia mangium away from plantations is of potential concern. Other: Great Southern Limited has approvals to clear 33 000 ha for plantation forestry on Melville Is. Forestry operations have led to substantial loss of native vegetation, disturbance for roads and other infrastructure, and may potentially affect groundwater supplies to wet rainforest. Sand mining occurs on both islands and causes localised intensive disturbance. NRM groups Land Management Team and Tiwi Marine Rangers, Tiwi Land Council. Protected areas The site is not included within the formal network of protected areas in the NT. Current management plans Site-specific plans: Tiwi Islands Regional Natural Resource Management Strategy (Tiwi Land Council 2004) http://www.tiwilandcouncil.net.au/Land/Land_home-all.htm Biodiversity Conservation on the Tiwi Islands, Northern Territory: Part 3. Management and Planning for biodiversity conservation (Woinarski et al. 2003c). National recovery plans for threatened species: marine turtles (Environment Australia 2003); threatened plants of the Tiwi Islands (Liddle et al. 2008); Partridge Pigeon and Tiwi Masked Owl (Woinarski 2004a); Butlers Dunnart (Woinarski 2004b); Red Goshawk (Baker-Gabb in prep); False Water-rat (Qld EPA in prep.). Other management plans: Australian Weeds Strategy (NRMMC 2007); Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats (Environment Australia, 1999); Threat Abatement Plan for Predation, habitat degradation, competition and disease transmission by feral pigs (DEH 2005); Threat Abatement Plan to reduce the impacts of tramp ants on biodiversity in Australia and its territories(DEH 2006); A management program for cycads (PWCNT 1997); FIREPLAN: Fire management for the savanna community (Russell-Smith et al. in prep.). M A N A G EM EN T IN FO R M A TI O N Monitoring programs and research projects Threatened plant populations and the condition of rainforest patches are being monitored at permanent plots on the Tiwi Islands (D. Liddle, NRETAS unpubl.). A monitoring program for Butlers Dunnart is currently being implemented (S. Ward, NRETAS, pers. comm.). Populations of threatened species, including Tiwi Masked Owl, Red Goshawk and Partridge Pigeon are being monitored as part of forestry operations (Great Southern 2007). Research on nesting and foraging behaviour of Olive Ridley turtles in this site have recently been reported (Whiting et. al. 2007a; Whiting et. al. 2007b). Irregular counts of seabirds are conducted at Seagull Island (S. Ward, NRETAS, pers. comm.). Indigenous rangers conduct annual surveys of marine debris on selected sandy beaches as part of the NT Marine Debris Monitoring program (NRETA 2007). They also carry out weed monitoring and control, and monitor a network of Cane Toad traps under the Tiwi Land Councils Cane Toad Action Plan. Major wildlife surveys of the Tiwi Islands were conducted in 2000 and 2001 (Woinarski et al. 2003a; Woinarski et al. 2003b; Woinarski et al. 2003c). Irregular aerial surveys of feral animals (Woinarski and Baker 2002). Fire in the tropical savannas is mapped continuously under the North Australia Fire Information Project http://www.firenorth.org.au/nafi/app/init.jsp

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