Since the first exploration of Christmas Island, there has always been interest in its unique natural history. John Murray (one of the partners in the original Christmas Island Phosphate Company) commissioned C.W. Andrews to study the natural history of the island prior to the start of mining. This study has served as a baseline for later natural history investigations.
The prevailing view until the late 1960's was that mining would not cause excessive damage to the natural environment, because it was planned to mine only limited areas of the island. However, the impact of mining became a matter of general concern when the Phosphate Hill and South Point phosphate deposits were worked out and mining activities commenced in the western sector of the island. In 1973 the Island Administrator formed an environmental advisory committee to report and advise on general environmental topics, and in 1974 the British Phosphate Commissioners appointed a conservation officer.
In 1974 the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation examined the effect of mining and other activities on the flora and fauna of Christmas Island, one of the Standing Committee's recommendations was that an area be reserved for conservation. A reconnaissance team of scientists visited Christmas Island in 1975 and broadly endorsed the recommendations of the Standing Committee. In 1977 a Government Conservator was appointed to advise and assist the Administrator on conservation, the initiation of a comprehensive program monitoring the breeding success and conservation problems of Abbott's booby and the declaration of Christmas Island National Park.
The island is part of the network of habitats of migratory species that Australia must protect under international agreements such as the Japan-Australia, China-Australia and the Republic of Korea-Australia Migratory Birds Agreements (JAMBA, CAMBA and ROKAMBA). Many other islands in the Indian Ocean and the South East Asia region are losing habitat to expanding human populations, so the habitats on Christmas Island, by default, are of ever-increasing importance.
Christmas Island National Park was declared on 21 February 1980.