Parks Australia, within the Australian Government Department of Environment and Water Resources is responsible for administering the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) on Christmas Island and managing the park for the Director of National Parks in accordance with the Act and the park Management Plan.
Parks Australia has an office at Drumsite with a staff of seventeen, including the Government Conservator, and is adjacent to the Christmas Island Minesite to Forest Rehabilitation Program (CIMFR) plant nursery, behind the lookout above Flying Fish Cove.
National Parks are protected areas of land and/or sea managed mainly for ecosystem protection and recreation. The EPBC Act establishes that reserves must be managed in accordance with the IUCN - The World Conservation Union (Commission on National Parks and Protected Areas) Guidelines as prescribed for each IUCN Category.
Christmas Island is formally listed as a category two IUCN protected area - National Park.
The park is managed:
- to protect natural and scenic areas of national and international significance for spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational or tourist purposes:
- to perpetuate, in as natural state as possible, representational examples of physiographic regions, biotic communities, genetic resources and species, and to provide ecological stability and diversity.
- to manage visitor use for inspirational, educational, cultural and recreational purposes at a level which will maintain an area in a natural or near natural state; to eliminate and thereafter prevent exploitation or occupation inimical to the purposes of designation,
- to maintain respect for the ecological, geomorphological, sacred or aesthetic attributes which warranted designation.
Relatively undisturbed natural areas are an increasingly scarce resource in the context of a globally expanding population. The island's unique tropical rainforest, large variety of endemic plants and animals, extensive coral reefs and spectacular landscapes are outstanding natural features. Maximising the opportunity for people to appreciate this, without damaging the environment or degrading the individual's experience, is a significant management challenge.
Within Christmas Island National Park are two Ramsar wetlands - The Dales and Hosnies Spring.
The Dales includes permanent and perennial streams, permanent springs, and include the majority of surface water on the Island. Most rainfall on Christmas Island filters down through the soil and limestone, and surface runoff only occurs after heavy rain. The Dales contain numerous wetland types including surface and karst features, and inland and coastal wetlands.
The Dales support a number of unique ecological and geomorphic features including anchialine cave communities, surface karst including the unique stepped tufa deposits at Hugh's waterfall, a stand of Tahitian chestnuts, a large number of endemic terrestrial species and a significant number of seabirds including Abbott's booby, red-footed booby and the brown booby, all of which breed at the site.
Vegetation in The Dales ranges from tall plateau rainforest to lower coastal vegetation. Migratory or vagrant bird species use The Dales as a staging site during migration, and a landfall for vagrant bird species outside their range.
Hosnies Spring is a small area of shallow freshwater streams and seepages, 20-45 metres above sea-level on the shore terrace of the east coast of the island. The Ramsar site consists of a stand of two species of mangroves of the usually tidal genus Bruguiera. The Ramsar site includes surrounding terrestrial areas with rainforest grading to coastal scrub, and includes an area of shoreline and coral reef.
Whilst mangroves of this group are distributed widely across the region, on Christmas Island the species are rare. The stand represented at Hosnies Spring is most unusual in that it occurs high above sea level (24-37 metres) on an inclined surface, the mangroves are unusually tall (up to 30-40 metres high) and because it appears that the stand has persisted at the site for approximately 120 000 years. The stand is maintained by the permanent freshwater spring.
The structure of the stand is also unusual in that it consists of a few very large individuals and abundant saplings and seedlings, typical of a population of long-lived trees where few individuals reach full height. The site is an example of a specific type of wetland unique to Christmas Island and perhaps unique worldwide.