DRAFT Management Plan 2012 | Christmas Island National Park

2012

Director of National Parks, 2012

A draft management plan has been prepared for Christmas Island National Park. This plan will guide management of the park for a period of 10 years.

Download the plan in sections:

 Executive summary

Introduction

Christmas Island is an isolated oceanic island, approximately 135 square kilometres in area, located in the eastern Indian Ocean. It rises steeply from the sea floor which reaches depths of 5,000 metres. The island geology consists of porous limestone derived from ancient coral reefs overlaying volcanic basaltic rock. A uniquely structured tropical rainforest covers most of the island. About one quarter of the island has been cleared for mining and settlement purposes since 1888. Many endemic species and sub-species are found on Christmas Island.

Christmas Island National Park covers approximately 85 square kilometres (64 per cent) of the island's land area. In addition to this terrestrial zone the park includes a marine zone extending 50 metres seaward of the low water mark and incorporates much of the island's fringing coral reef system. The park also includes subterranean/cave and wetland ecosystems.

The park is established for the following purposes:

  • the preservation of the area in its natural condition
  • the appropriate use, appreciation and enjoyment of the area by the public.

Natural, scientific, and recreational values of the park

Christmas Island National Park is the only declared nature conservation area on Christmas Island, and performs an important role preserving examples of the natural features of the island. These features include:

  • an area of uniquely structured tropical rainforest
  • unique wildlife, including 254 endemic taxa and 165 taxa occurring nowhere else in Australia, and 110 species listed as threatened, migratory or marine under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)
  • nesting colonies of large populations of diverse Indian Ocean seabirds
  • diverse and abundant populations of land crabs
  • relatively simple but largely intact fringing coral reefs and waters which support a number of marine species with over 600 fish species, including hybrid species
  • significant geomorphological features including the island's terraces and cave systems
  • a scenic landscape
  • The Dales and Hosnies Spring wetlands which are listed as Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention
  • opportunities for ecological studies of the long-term processes of dispersal, immigration, adaptation, colonisation, predation, extinction, and how these events influence species
  • the park also contributes to the island's economy by helping to support commercial tourism activities and businesses, and
  • provides environmental services and products such as filtering and provision of drinking water for human use.

Management of the park

The Director of National Parks is responsible for managing Commonwealth reserves including Christmas Island National Park, that are established under the EPBC Act, and does so in accordance with management plans that are also prepared under the Act.

This plan sets outs how the park and its natural and cultural values will be managed, protected and conserved for a period of ten years. The park is assigned by this plan to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) category II (national park) and will be managed mainly for ecosystem protection and recreation in accordance with relevant Australian IUCN reserve management principles (Appendix A).

Natural heritage management

Park management will focus on maintaining landscapes and seascapes and their associated ecosystems and natural processes as near as possible to their natural state. However, as an isolated oceanic island, Christmas Island is particularly vulnerable to invasive species such as yellow crazy ants (Anoplolepis gracilipes). A major focus of this plan is to identify and manage the impacts of threatening processes to minimise impacts on ecosystem functions, processes and services and on native species.

Significant efforts will continue to be made to monitor the park environment including population trends for threatened, significant and keystone native species.

Ecosystem rehabilitation will continue, particularly within areas previously subject to phosphate mining, in order to increase viable habitat for native flora and fauna.

There may be an opportunity to expand the area of land and sea that is included within the park. Subject to public consultation and Australian Government priorities, the Director will seek to extend the area of the park to include other areas of high conservation value and possibly remove areas of low conservation value. If areas are added to the park they will be managed in accordance with relevant provisions of this plan.

Two wetlands within the park, The Dales and Hosnies Spring, are listed on the Ramsar Convention and are managed consistently with the Ramsar requirements for Wetlands of International 4 Draft Management Plan 2012-2022 Importance. The park and adjacent areas are listed on the Commonwealth Heritage List and are managed consistently with the relevant management principles under the EPBC Act (s. 341Y).

Environmental research provides a better understanding of the island's natural environment and information for environmental management. This plan includes research priorities that will help increase understanding and conservation of the island's land and marine environments.

Climate change may affect all aspects of the park including the park's natural environment, visitor use, and maintenance of facilities and infrastructure. Based on the latest scientific information available, management activities will be adapted where possible to help reduce the impacts of climate change on park values.

Cultural heritage management

There are some places of historic and cultural heritage significance within the park including Chinese temples and other sites used by island residents. It is important to recognise the values of historic and cultural sites and to enable visitor and cultural use of the park while minimising impacts on the park environment.

Use and appreciation of the park

The park's terrestrial and marine environments and the diverse range of species they support are major attractions for visitors to the island. Visitors to the park can participate in a range of naturebased recreational activities including observing wildlife, scuba diving, snorkelling, bushwalking and scenic walks and drives.

This plan encourages and supports visitor use and appreciation of the park that does not impact on the park's natural environment or visitor safety. Increasing visitor understanding and appreciation of the park's environment is an important part of improving the visitor experience.

Park facilities and infrastructure will help manage visitor impacts on the park environment while enabling visitors to enjoy and safely use the park. Incidents that may affect people's safety and protection of the park's natural environment will be managed using standard emergency management procedures.

Commercial tourism activities that have minimal impacts on the park are encouraged. People wishing to conduct commercial activities in the park require a permit.

Stakeholders and partnerships

Developing and maintaining good working relationships and partnerships with key stakeholders - including the community, non-government organisations, private industry, research institutions and governments - will be critical in the implementation of this plan. Where possible, the Director of National Parks (the Director) will engage in effective partnerships that support island-wide conservation, natural heritage research and nature-based tourism initiatives which provide benefits to the park as well as socio-economic and scientific benefits for partners, stakeholders and residents.

Business management

The EPBC Act prohibits certain activities being undertaken in the park except in accordance with a management plan. New activities not described or foreseen in this plan need to be assessed to determine whether they will impact on the park. Provision has been made in the plan to enable the Director to take or authorise action in response to proposed new activities and issues not currently specified in the plan.

Before the next management plan is prepared, this plan will be evaluated to determine how effective and efficient it was in achieving its intended aims.