Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
About the document
An Ecological Character Description describes the ecological character of a wetland at the time of its listing as a Wetland of International Importance. The Ecological Character Description is a fundamental management tool for site managers, forming the basis of management planning and action as well as including guidance on site monitoring requirements to detect changes in the ecological character of the site.
The Cocos (Keeling) Islands, which include North Keeling Island, are a group of 27 coral islands forming two atolls 24 kilometres apart and located 2900 kilometres northwest of Perth in the Indian Ocean. The Ramsar site includes the marine area surrounding North Keeling Island along with terrestrial area of the Island, matching the boundary of Pulu Keeling National Park.
The ecological character of a wetland is the sum of all the components, processes and services of that wetland. Ecosystem components are physical, chemical and biological parts of a wetland, from large-scale to very small-scale (e.g. habitat, species and genes). Ecosystem processes are the dynamic forces within an ecosystem. They include all those processes that occur between organisms and within and between populations and communities, including interactions with the non-living environment, that result in existing ecosystems and bring about changes in ecosystems over time. Ecosystem services are the benefits that people receive from ecosystems.
This document describes the critical components, processes and services for the Pulu Keeling National Park Ramsar site. Pulu Keeling National Park has five critical components and processes: seagrass; marine invertebrates; fish; turtles; and waterbirds. It also has four critical services: biodiversity; threatened species; supports near natural wetland types; and provides physical habitat for breeding waterbirds. The description also identifies limits of acceptable change which describe the range of variation which key aspects of the ecology of the site can vary without representing a change in the ecological character. Limits of acceptable change for Pulu Keeling National have been proposed for all critical components, processes and benefits and services based on existing data.
This document also describes the current Ramsar listing criteria met by the site, the key threats and knowledge gaps for Pulu Keeling National Park. Recommended monitoring needs and communication messages are also provided.
Further information on what Ecological Character Descriptions are and how critical components, processes and services are identified is available in the National Framework and Guidance for Describing the Ecological Character of Australian Ramsar Wetlands – Module 2 of the National Guidelines for Ramsar Wetlands – Implementing the Ramsar Convention in Australia.