Christmas Island Biodiversity Conservation Plan DRAFT

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  • Christmas Island Biodiversity Conservation Plan

    DRAFT

    March 2014

  • b / Draft Christmas Island Biodiversity Conservation Plan

    Prepared by: Director of National Parks

    Made under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

    Commonwealth of Australia, 2014

    This work is copyright. You may download, display, print and reproduce this material in unaltered form only (retaining this notice) for your personal, non-commercial use or use within your organisation. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, all other rights are reserved. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to Commonwealth Copyright Administration, Attorney-Generals Department, Robert Garran Offices, National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600 or posted at: ag.gov.au/cca

    Note: This recovery plan sets out the actions necessary to stop the decline of, and support the recovery of, listed threatened species. The Australian Government is committed to acting in accordance with the plan and to implementing the plan as it applies to Commonwealth areas. The plan has been developed with the involvement and cooperation of a broad range of stakeholders, but individual stakeholders have not necessarily committed to undertaking specific actions. The attainment of objectives and the provision of funds are subject to budgetary and other constraints affecting the parties involved. Proposed actions may be subject to modification over the life of the plan due to changes in knowledge.

    While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that the contents of this publication are factually correct, the Commonwealth does not accept responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the contents, and shall not be liable for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the contents of this publication.

    This plan should be cited as:

    Director of National Parks (2014) Christmas Island Biodiversity Conservation Plan. Department of the Environment, Canberra.

    http://ag.gov.au/cca

  • CHRISTMAS ISLAND BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION PLANDRAFT

  • ii / Draft Christmas Island Biodiversity Conservation Plan

    Invitation to commentBefore making a recovery plan under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), the Minister must consider all comments made. Under s.275 of the EPBC Act, comments are invited on the draft Christmas Island Biodiversity Conservation Plan.

    All comments submitted by the due date (below) will be carefully considered and this draft plan will be revised accordingly.

    To ensure your comments are clear and concise please:

    list your points in order, numbered according to the relevant parts and page numbers of the draft plan

    state whether you agree or disagree with statements and give your reasons

    if you disagree, suggest alternatives

    include any matters you may wish to raise that are relevant to the plan but not covered by the draft plan.

    Comments on the draft plan must be submitted by 9 July 2014 and may be emailed to recoveryplans@environment.gov.au or posted to:

    The Director Terrestrial Species Conservation Section Wildlife, Heritage and Marine Division Department of the Environment GPO Box 787 CANBERRA ACT 2601

  • iii

    AcknowledgementsThe Director of National Parks is grateful to the many organisations and individuals who contributed to or provided information for the preparation of this recovery plan and have been or are still involved in implementing conservation and threatened species recovery efforts on Christmas Island.

    In particular the Director acknowledges authors of previous recovery plans, researchers and conservation experts, including university, Commonwealth and Western Australian Government staff, Christmas Island National Park staff, the Crazy Ant Scientific Advisory Panel as well as the contribution of its individual members, the Christmas Island community and island based individuals and organisations, and the Christmas Island Expert Working Group.

    Finally, the Director acknowledges the Christmas Island based Working Group, established to contribute to and provide advice for the plans preparation. The Working Group comprised representatives of the Shire of Christmas Island; Australian Government departments and agencies with biodiversity conservation and/or land management responsibilities on Christmas Island; Christmas Island Phosphates; and the then Administrator of the Indian Ocean Territories, who was the Chair of the Working Group.

  • v

    ContentsInvitation to comment ........................................................................................................ ii

    Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................ iii

    Executive summary ...........................................................................................................viii

    Executive summary in Bahasa Malay .............................................................................x

    Executive summary in Mandarin ...................................................................................xii

    Part 1Introduction ...........................................................................................................11.1 Vision 1

    1.2 Why conserve Christmas Island native species and their habitats 1

    1.3 Purpose and scope of the plan 2

    1.4 Interaction with other documents and other management programs 4

    1.5 Legislative context 7

    1.6 Planning approach 9

    Part 2Description of Christmas Island .....................................................................112.1 Socio-economic aspects of Christmas Island 11

    2.2 Climate and geography of Christmas Island 15

    Part 3Ecology and biodiversity of Christmas Island ...........................................173.1 Ecosystems and ecological processes 17

    3.2 Species 25

    Part 4Threats ................................................................................................................... 344.1 Known threatening processes 34

    4.2 Likely or potential threatening processes 44

    4.3 Processes considered and determined not to currently be a threat 47

    Part 5Overview of previous and existing biodiversity management ......... 485.1 Management of threats 48

    5.2 Species and ecosystem recovery and management 52

    5.3 Research and monitoring 54

    5.4 Communication 57

    5.5 Marine conservation 57

  • vi / Draft Christmas Island Biodiversity Conservation Plan

    Part 6Objectives and actions ................................................................................... 586.1 Objectives 58

    6.2 Recommended actions 62

    6.3 Management practices 74

    Part 7Implementation ................................................................................................. 757.1 Priorities 75

    7.2 Implementation stakeholders 76

    7.3 Timing and costs 77

    7.4 Plan review 77

    7.5 Social and economic benefits and impacts 80

    7.6 Affected interests 82

    7.7 International agreements 83

    Glossary and acronyms .................................................................................................... 84

    Bibliography ........................................................................................................................ 87

    Appendices .......................................................................................................................... 96Appendix AHow the recovery plan addresses the Government response to the recommendations of the Expert Working Group 96

    Appendix BInternational Agreements relating to species on Christmas Island 102

    Appendix CEndemic vascular plants of Christmas Island 104

    Appendix DEPBC Act listed Christmas Island flora and fauna 105

    Appendix ENon-endemic vascular plants of Christmas Island of possible conservation concern 107

    Appendix FBirds of Christmas Island 109

    Appendix GTerrestrial mammals and reptiles of Christmas Island 110

    Appendix HLand and shoreline crabs of Christmas Island 111

    Appendix IThreat risk assessment 112

    Appendix JReview of existing recovery plans 114

    Appendix KSpecies profiles 137

  • vii

    TablesTable 1: Terrestrial plants and animals of Christmas Island listed as threatened 3

    Table 2: Relevant national threat abatement plans 4

    Table 3: National recovery plans and threat abatement plans relevant to marine areas 5

    Table 4: Land tenure and uses on Christmas Island 13

    Table 5: Description and distribution of rainforest vegetation 20

    Table 6: Species of Christmas Island identified as significant 27

    Table 7: Key threatening processes relevant to Christmas Island 34

    Table 8: Some research studies conducted on Christmas Island since 2002 55

    Table 9: Estimated cost and current priority of recovery actions 78

    FiguresFigure 1: Location of Christmas Island 11

    Figure 2: Land tenure and park boundaries 14

    Figure 3: Native vegetation 19

    Figure 4: Ramsar wetlands 23

    Figure 5: High density crazy ant colonies 36

  • viii / Draft Christmas Island Biodiversity Conservation Plan

    Executive summaryBoth residents and visitors recognise Christmas Island as a very important and unique part of Australias and the worlds natural heritage.

    Christmas Island is of international conservation significance and value for many reasons which include: the presence of several internationally threatened species and many endemic species (species found nowhere else in the world), including internationally significant seabird breeding areas; the presence of over 20 land crab species, most notably tens of millions of red crabs; subterranean ecosystems that contain endemic species; two wetlands of international importance, The Dales and Hosnies Spring; and the largely pristine coral reef marine ecosystems, which include internationally threatened and/or significant fauna.

    Christmas Islands native species and their habitats have been subject to a range of threatening processes since settlement. These include invasive species, such as crazy ants, cats, rats and weeds; as well as direct human impacts, such as vehicle impacts on red and robber crabs and vegetation fragmentation from clearing of native vegetation, resulting in the loss habitat for many threatened species.

    This biodiversity conservation plan meets the requirements of a recovery plan under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and has been developed to provide the management and research actions necessary to stop the decline of, and support the recovery of, terrestrial threatened species listed under the Act. It includes actions needed to protect their habitats, including the recovery of red crabs, which are responsible for maintaining the health of Christmas Islands forests. The recovery of Christmas Islands native species and their habitats will rely on the use of the latest information from research and scientific studies, as well as a coordinated approach and cooperation between stakeholders, both on and off-the island.

    This plan has been prepared based on the latest available information from research, scientific and natural heritage studies, and under the advice of a Working Group comprising:

    Shire of Christmas Island

    Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport (now the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development)

    Department of Immigration and Citizenship (now the Department of Immigration and Border Protection)

    Christmas Island Phosphates

    DAFF Biosecurity (now the Department of Agriculture)

    The Director of National Parks

    The Administrator of the Indian Ocean Territories, who was the Chair of the Working Group.

    The long-term vision for the natural environment of Christmas Island is: Resilient ecosystems with self-sustaining populations of native species. Achieving this vision will conserve Christmas Islands native species and their habitats and may also provide socio-economic benefits for the Christmas Island community by maintaining populations of iconic species, such as red crabs and seabirds like the Abbotts booby, which are major attractions for nature-based tourism, as well as helping to support environmental educational and research activities.

  • ix

    The plans objectives, which will help achieve the long-term vision, are to:

    1. Maintain the ecological integrity of forest ecosystems.

    2. Maintain or increase populations of significant species.

    3. Maintain the ecological character of Ramsar wetlands.

    4. Contribute to maintaining groundwater ecosystems.

    5. Increase community and stakeholder understanding of, and engagement in, the recovery of ecosystems and native species.

    6. Effectively coordinate and implement actions to address threatening processes and recover ecosystems and native species.

    The actions in this plan have been designed to protect and ensure as far as possible the recovery and continued survival of Christmas Islands threatened and iconic species and their habitats, avoiding the species declines of the past. The plan will be implemented in an adaptive manner to ensure that actions for recovering and reversing the decline of the islands native species and their habitats are based on the most up-to-date information, from management, monitoring and research programs.

  • x / Draft Christmas Island Biodiversity Conservation Plan

    Executive summary in Bahasa Malay

    Ringkasan eksekutifPulau Krismas diakui oleh penduduk mahupun pelawat sebagai warisan semula jadi yang sangat penting dan unik bagi Australia dan dunia.

    Pulau Krismas memiliki nilai pemuliharaan yang tinggi di mata antarabangsa, antara lain kerana: wujudnya sebilangan spesies yang terancam di peringkat antarabangsa dan banyak spesies yang endemik (tidak ditemui di mana-mana tempat lain di dunia), termasuk kawasan pembiakan burung-burung laut yang besar; wujudnya lebih 20 spesies kertah (ketam darat), terutama ketam merah yang berpuluh juta bilangannya; ekosistem bawah tanah yang mengandungi pelbagai spesies endemik; dua taman tanah lembap yang penting di mata antarabangsa, iaitu The Dales dan Hosnies Spring; serta ekosistem terumbu karang laut yang sebahagian besarnya masih belum diceroboh, merangkumi spesies fauna terancam dan/atau penting di mata antarabangsa.

    Spesies asli Pulau Krismas dan habitatnya telah diancam oleh berbagai-bagai proses sejak pulau ini didiami manusia. Ancaman ini termasuk pelbagai spesies penceroboh, seperti semut kuning, kucing, tikus dan rumpai; juga kesan langsung kegiatan manusia, seperti kesan kenderaan pada ketam merah dan ketam kelapa, serta fragmentasi tumbuh-tumbuhan akibat penebangan tumbuh-tumbuhan asli, menyebabkan hilangnya habitat untuk banyak spesies terancam.

    Rancangan pemuliharaan kepelbagaian hayat ini memenuhi syarat-syarat rancangan pemulihan di bawah Akta Perlindungan Alam Sekitar dan Pemuliharaan Kepelbagaian Hayat 1999. Rancangan ini dibangunkan bagi mewujudkan tindakan pengurusan dan penyelidikan yang perlu demi menghalang kemerosotan pelbagai spesies darat terancam yang disenaraikan dalam Akta, serta menyokong pemulihannya. Rancangan ini merangkumi tindak...

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