Meet Ian Hutton

Naturalist, Photographer, Conservationist

As a young biology graduate and budding naturalist, Ian Hutton accepted a posting as a weather observer for the Bureau of Meteorology on Lord Howe Island in 1980. That decision changed the course of his own life and our collective understanding of the flora, fauna and natural history of this World Heritage Listed oasis.

Ian often says that “living on Lord Howe Island is like living inside a David Attenborough documentary”, and from the beginning he set out to emulate the great naturalist, exploring and documenting the Island’s diverse habitats, marine life, plants, birds and weather patterns. Over more than forty years he has become the world expert in his own, very special backyard.

Ian has worked with universities, botanic gardens and museums from around the world, contributing to numerous documentary films and research papers on Lord Howe Island’s unique ecology.

He has played an important part in preserving Lord Howe Island’s ecosystem, spearheading eradication projects to rid the island of the feral weeds and rats that threatened the Island’s delicate balance. Since 1995 he has run Weed Eco Tours, allowing visitors to the Island to join his mission to eradicate non-native weeds.

A gifted photographer, Ian has recorded the raw beauty, birds, marine life and plants of the island since he first arrived with an old Edixa 35mm camera. He has published his photographs in over 20 books and field guides on Lord Howe Island.

And, of course, he has revelled in sharing his passions and encyclopaedic knowledge of the island’s natural history with visitors to Lord Howe. His first guided walk was in 1982 and he has led innumerable private tours, day walks and multi-day trips since then, as well as conducting regular lectures at the Lord Howe Island Museum where he also acts as a part-time curator.

As well as his Museum responsibilities, Ian plays an active role in numerous local community groups, including Marine Parks Advisory Committee, Permanent Park Preserve Advisory Committee, Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan group and Lord Howe Island Tourism Association.

Although Ian is a very humble man, his ongoing contribution to the protection and understanding of Lord Howe Island has not gone unnoticed. In 2006 he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to conservation and tourism on Lord Howe Island. In 2021 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Environmental and Physical Sciences by Southern Cross University, recognising his lifetime contribution to the ecology of the island. Ian is deeply grateful to have been able to live and work on Lord Howe Island for over four decades. There is little he enjoys more than the chance to share his passion for the island and its environment with others. An experience with Ian is an opportunity to view Lord Howe Island through the eyes of its greatest expert and guardian.

Ian maintains the website ianhutton.com.au where he keeps information about his research, observations from the island and a collection of his photographs. It’s a great resource for those interested in exploring the Island in greater detail.

Snapshot: Ian Hutton

1980
Ian moved to Lord Howe Island.
1981
BSc Biology from Macquarie University, majoring in Climatology and Plant Ecology.
1982
First guided tours.
1985
Published his first book on Lord Howe Island.
1990
First contracted as wildlife guide for documentary film by BBC England (has since worked with ZDF Germany, NHK Japan and various Australian production companies.
1990
Started Lord Howe Island Nature Tours
1995
First organised volunteer weeding tour, now known as Bush Regeneration EcoTour
1998
Wrote and illustrated Australian Geographic book on Lord Howe Island.
2001
Sponsored by WWF to attend IUCN Island Invasives Conference in Auckland and initiated weed and rodent eradication strategies for Lord Howe Island
2002
Appointed part-time curator of Lord Howe Island Museum (a position he continues to hold)
2004
Published the photo of skeleton of a mutton-bird full of plastic and an essay about ocean plastic pollution on Australian Museum, pioneering the Australian conservation on ocean plastic issues.
2006
Awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to conservation and tourism on Lord Howe Island
2008
Published large format World Heritage Guide to Lord Howe Island.
2016
Sponsored by Wild Mob to attend the Island Arks conference on Norfolk Island to present his paper: ”Social aspects of island conservation, lessons learnt from the rodent eradication project on Lord Howe Island“.
2021
Awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Environmental and Physical Sciences from Southern Cross University