Pulu Keeling National Park

Parks Australia staff work with the local community to conserve Pulu Keeling National Park’s natural and cultural heritage values.

Natural values

Natural conservation on Pulu Keeling is mainly focused on monitoring biodiversity and managing endangered species. The complexity involved in accessing the park makes on-ground management quite difficult, but also reduces the likelihood and impact of threats.

The park provides an important habitat for many seabirds and is listed as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. We continuously monitor bird numbers in the park, with particular attention given to our large population of red-footed boobies.

We’re also monitoring the health of coral and fish species in the waters around the island.

Invasive species

North Keeling Island is one of the few seabird colonies in the Indian Ocean that remains unaffected by feral cats and rats. Protecting the island against the accidental introduction of exotic animals or diseases is paramount.

Yellow crazy ants (Anoplolepis gracilipes) have been found in North Keeling Island’s pisonia forests. This is an important conservation concern – yellow crazy ants have severely impacted bird and crab populations on other oceanic islands, including Christmas Island.

The ants are also associated with large numbers of scale insects, which can kill pisonia canopies. While scale insects have not been detected in the park, Pulu Keeling requires careful biosecurity measures and monitoring to guard against the accidental introduction of scale insects.

Six exotic plant species occur on North Keeling Island, but none of them are a severe environmental problem or are likely to become one in the foreseeable future. We perform regular weed-mapping surveys to monitor the spread of these introduced plants.

Like all coral reefs, the reefs around North Keeling Island are under threat from climate change, disease and coral bleaching, as well as the crown of thorns starfish. These stressors will pose a significant future threat to marine biodiversity in the Pulu Keeling National Park.

We are working to minimise the impacts of local stressors (such as pollution and fishing) so that our corals have the best chance of coping with global threats.

Cultural values

Pulu Keeling’s cultural sites include Malay graves, the former campsites of Malay workers and the wreck of the World War I German raider SMS Emden.

Parks Australia works with the local stakeholders, including the Cocos-Malay community, to identify, assess and protect the values of cultural and historic artefacts in the park.