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Phillip Island, South Pacific

The amazing story of the birth, decline and rebirth of a natural treasure ---- by Peter Coyne
ISBN 9780980652802

Australia’s most spectacular restoration project.  Devastated by feral animals but recovering dramatically since rabbit eradication in 1986.

Reviews below

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At left: a view of Norfolk Island showing how Phillip Island probably looked in 1788.

At right: three landscapes of Phillip Island in 1981 showing the extreme effects of feral grazing animals.

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Table of contents

Feral animals


Rabbit eradication


Before and after





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Phillip Island Trek Video 

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Topography of Phillip Island is forbidding, as it is surrounded by high cliffs and treacherous waters, with the only access point permitting a difficult climb up through a narrow valley to the main expanse of the island. … the highest point, 286 m asl, sits on a small peninsula reached only by traversing a long, narrow knife edge with a sheer drop of 200 mon either side. Coyne’s book opens with an extensive description of the geological history of Phillip and the entire Norfolk group, including the fact that, intermittently, and at least as recently as 20,000 years ago, the entire group was part of a single, much larger island. This fact aids attempts to provide a reference for the Phillip Island restoration, as the entire biota was devastated by introduced mammals within a few years of Europeans first visiting the island in 1789. …

The main outlines of the devastation and progressive recovery were provided in a short professional publication by the author …, but his book provides a wealth of additional fascinating and instructive details, extensive photographic evidence, and an entertaining account of sometimes heroic restoration activity.

Daniel Simberloff, Restoration Ecology, July 2014, Vol 22, pp 564–565

Dan Simberloff gives a big thumbs up to this gripping tale by Peter Coyne. Core to our entire field of restoration ecology, the book's narrative is one of the best out there that examines a living (originally unintentional) 'experiment' and it is indeed a success - no spoiler there, given the title and fame of the Island. … For those who want good examples of restoration that will still stir up controversy and perhaps even fistfights over best management practices of invasive species, this is the book for you. If you want a boring book, try the Thomas Hardy or Walter Scott sections of bookstores near you.

 SER News, August 2014, Vol 28, Issue 3


 Text Box: Copyright Peter Coyne.  No part of this page may be republished without permission.