Studies of floral ecology & minesite rehabilitation on Christmas Island, Indian Ocean


Two technical reports1 detailing aspects of the floral ecology of Christmas Island were recently uploaded into ResearchGate and Academia.  The observations and data were initially gathered over several years of study and later assembled in a Draft Environmental Impact Assessment submitted to the Australian Government2 seeking approval to proceed with further mining of phosphate on the Island.  The information is too extensive to be condensed into journal papers and too important to be left languishing in the EIS document (which was in fact published and subjected to public review).  The reports capture the two main components of the research.

The first report details studies of the composition, ecology and structure of vegetation on Christmas Island.  Many features of the Island’s native vegetation are quite remarkable.  These new data and observations provide the basis for effective and sustainable rehabilitation of areas in which, over a period of more than 100 years, the phosphate-rich regolith has been mined and landscapes that are completely changed from the original have been left.

Fig 2_Paper 1

The second report describes comprehensive vegetation surveys, based on the ecology and distribution of unique flora on Christmas Island, of proposed (but subsequently not approved) new areas for phosphate mining.  Detailed analysis of the data and observations are used to assess the potential impacts of disturbance by mining.

Fig 3_Paper 1

The research may be of interest to those working more widely on aspects of minesite rehabilitation, a perennial problem in many countries.


1 REDDELL, P, ZIMMERMANN, A & MILNES, A R (2019)  Floral ecology of Christmas Island, Indian Ocean: key to self-sustaining phosphate mine rehabilitation.  Unpublished Technical Report

REDDELL, P, ZIMMERMANN, A & MILNES, A R (2019)  Vegetation surveys to assess potential impacts of phosphate mining, Christmas Island, Indian Ocean.  Unpublished Technical Report

2 Phosphate Resources Limited Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Christmas Island Phosphate Mines (9 sites). EPBC 2001/487. November 2005.  Main Report & Technical Appendix F. (EIS prepared by EWL Sciences P/L & Tallegalla Consultants P/L; edited by A R Milnes & D Gillespie).  The research was undertaken by P Reddell, A R Milnes & A Zimmermann from EWL Sciences P/L.

Dr Tony Milnes, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Adelaide

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