LIVING IN PARADISE
It’s a privileged few who can call Lord Howe Island home. A spit of land just 7 miles long and 1 mile wide and a UNESCO World Heritage Site off the coast of Australia, the island is a two-hour flight by prop plane from the mainland. Its isolation, the foresight of the Australian government, and active conservation management have ensured that “the island remains much the same as it was for thousands of years,” says Ian Hutton, one of only 300 people who live in this paradise, and the guest speaker for our annual fundraising gala, The Water’s Edge, on October 8th, 2009. Hutton, the authority on the flora and fauna of the island, will present The Pristine Lord Howe Island: Conservation Management at its Best.
Remarkably, Hutton’s residency and his intimate knowledge of this remote and exotic place were the result of serendipity. Always interested in nature, Hutton is a Boy Scout turned biologist with a degree in plant ecology. His background and a bit of the wanderlust led him to a career with the Australian weather bureau a vocation that turned out to be perfect for a young man who loved to travel, as the job took him all over Australia, a country rich with diverse ecosystems and climates. One day a posting for a ‘weather observer’ on Lord Howe Island caught his eye. It seemed, he says, the perfect spot and the perfect job, providing lots of free time to explore and photograph the island. In his new role, he could spend much of his time climbing the island’s rain forests, studying its coral reefs, plants and birdlife and learning about a place that few people will ever get to see. “It’s like living in a David Attenborough documentary,” says Hutton, the enthusiasm of the young Boy Scout still palpable.
For most people, living on Lord Howe Island is a rite passed on through ancestral lineage, as only descendants of its original settlers may own land. There is, however, one way to get around the absence of the correct genes. If you can find a place to rent (without a real estate agent on the island, that’s an exercise which takes both assertiveness and commitment) and are willing to stay for ten years, then you may attain the title, “island resident.” That’s precisely what Hutton decided to do after a brief post there. “It just grabbed me,” he says of the rare opportunity that led him on a new life’s journey.
CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT AT ITS BEST
The Australian government can take a lot of credit for conservation efforts, including the designation of 75% of the island as parkland, instituting an island recycling program and more recently, launching a massive effort to address the increasing problem of ground water pollution due to the small human settlement of the island. A government program has provided each islander a remediation report and a clean-up prescription for his property. Finally, with its limit of 400 tourist beds and 15,000 tourists per year, the government tries to minimize the impact of humans on the island’s ecosystems.
Hutton is equally deserving of the credit to preserve this amazing place. “I see my role, and that of the island, to make people aware that the earth needs a steward.” And, that’s just what he has done. With ten books to his credit, his curatorial role at the island’s museum, his ongoing research of its unique flora and fauna, and his novel approach to ecotourism and island conservation, he is indeed a steward and a role model for us all.
Hutton is passionate about science and the environment. For 28 years he has conducted research in such diverse areas as seabirds, rare plants and endangered snails, and he has monitored climate change. In 1995 he set up bush regeneration ecotours on which tourists assist with weed eradication and conservation. He leads interpretative walks from the museum — walking the island with the scientists, eco-tourists and nature lovers who come every year to revel at the site of a beach where they’re likely to be one of just three people enjoying the surf. The tourists, 95% of whom are Australian, visit the island to scuba dive or see one of the rarest birds in the world, the wood hen. “People are blown away by nature when they come here,” says Hutton, noting that the tiny island boasts species of insects, plants and birds found nowhere else on the planet.
An accomplished photographer, Hutton’s work has been published in major newspapers and magazines worldwide, including The New York Times, Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age. He has produced ten books on Lord Howe Island, the latest being a 264 page photo/art book celebrating the World Heritage values of the Island and stimulating interest in conservation in general.
To learn more about Ian Hutton and Lord Howe Island, go to:
For information on The Water's Edge fundraising gala featuring Ian Hutton at Longwood Gardens on October 8th, please go to:
For reservations or questions regarding the event, please contact:
Kay Dixon of the Development Office at email@example.com 610-268-2153 x 247
For directions to Longwood Gardens, the location for The Waters Edge, go to:
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