Some 370 miles east of the Australian mainland lies Lord Howe Island. Uninhabited when the British first came upon it in 1788, the Island served for nearly a century as a port for whalers. As that industry declined, trade in the native kentia palm boomed, along with regular visits from scientific expeditions. The Island is now regarded as a prime biodiversity hot spot, with many of its plant and animal species found nowhere else on Earth. With just a few hundred inhabitants, much of the Island is protected as a natural preserve and marine park. In 1982 the entire Lore Howe Island Group was designated a UNESCO world Heritage Site.