Kiritimati (Christmas Island)

Year of compilation: 2007

Site description
Kiritimati is the largest of the Line Islands, and by total land area is the largest atoll in the world. This ancient atoll consists of a large, flat, island with a shallow tidal lagoon opening to the northwest. At the inner (eastern) end of the lagoon there are several hundred smaller, land-locked, lagoons.

Key biodiversity
The island supports globally-important populations of a number of seabirds, and is also home to the endemic, restricted-range Kiritimati Reed-warbler

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The introduction of alien invasive species, in particular pacific rats and cats, has had a substantial effect on seabird breeding - with islets abandoned when thesee predators are present. In addition black rat is present on parts of the mainland around habitation, and may be impacting on the Kiritimati Reed-warbler. Poaching, egg and adult bird harvesting is also an ongoing issue.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Surveys of seabirds and the warbler have been undertaken in recent years as part of a feasibility study to investigate the opportunities for eradicating rats and other invasive species on parts of the island.

Protected areas
Parts of the atoll have been set aside as restricted reserves or Key Wildlife Areas.

Habitat and land use
Almost half the area is comprised of both tidal and land-locked brackish lagoons. The remaining areas of land comprises tall and dwarf shrub, grassland and herb communities, as well as large areas that have been turned over to coconut plantations. The island is inhabited with several thousand people, and is expected to develop further.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kiritimati (Christmas Island). Downloaded from on 17/01/2022.