EXPLORE Henderson Island with this slideshow, check the location map and get all the facts and information below.
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Website Category: Islands
Year of Inscription: 1988
- Outstanding natural beauty (vii);
- Significant number of rare, endemic and/or endangered species (x)
Location and Values: Henderson Island is a raised coral atoll in the middle of the South Pacific, the largest of four islands that make up the Pitcairn group. It is uninhabited and remains in remarkably pristine condition due to its very remote location, 5,000 km from the nearest major land mass. Although it supports relatively few species of plants and animals, it is an important site for the scientific study of island biogeography, evolution and natural selection. In particular it has four endemic species of land birds that have evolved on the island, ten endemic taxa of vascular plants, and important breeding colonies of sea birds.
Conservation Status and Prospects. According to IUCN’s Conservation Outlook Assessment (2017) the conservation status of Henderson Island is ‘of significant concern’. The IUCN report notes that the biodiversity values of the island remain very highly threatened by rat predation, affecting seabird populations and other aspects of the island’s ecology. For example, rats are believed to be responsible for a catastrophic decrease in the recorded population of petrels, from an estimated >1 million pairs on the island before the introduction of rats to just 40,000 pairs today. This has a knock-on impact on other ecological processes, as the guano produced by millions of seabirds would have provided a crucial nutrient source for the island’s ecosystems before the arrival of rats. The site is also at risk of new invasive alien species introductions, which could occur as a result of uncontrolled or poorly managed visitation. A further threat is the increasing accumulation of plastic debris that is washed ashore along the island’s beaches, affecting the natural beauty of the island.
The slideshow ‘tells the story’ of Henderson Island, showing its landscapes and habitats, plants and animals, and illustrating some of the threats and conservation needs. Most of the photos were taken by Steffen Oppel during a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) expedition to Henderson Island in 2015, with additional images by Angus Donaldson, Alice Forrest and Jennifer Lavers. They include photos of many of the seabird and endemic land bird species, and illustrate ongoing efforts by RSPB staff to eradicate predatory rats, and clear the never-ending tide of discarded plastic that washes up on the island’s beaches. This page of the website is still under development and a more detailed description of the various aspects of the Henderson Island will be included in due course – so please come back again soon!