obtained from the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage
The rainforest is the most
complex and diverse ecosystem on earth.
Being home to more than half the world's plant and animals species.
The rainforest is a valuable source of cultivated plants, drugs and
The rainforest now covers less than 10% of the earth's land surface,
this is why we must utilise the few remains of our forests wisely.
In Australia, rainforests covers 0.3 percent of the continent (about
2 million hectares)
An overview of Australia's Wet Tropics
Treetop canopies are so dense they they are virtually closed and
little sunlight penetrates to the forest floor. The true tropical
rainforest is only found in Far North Queensland, In isolated areas
along the east coast.
Buttresses: Are distinctive flanges at the base of large
rainforest trees. Buttressing probably helps trees breathe in
waterlogged soils or enables them to take up nutrients from shallow
Epiphytes: Grows on another plant for support or anchorage.
They live on rainwater that washes
down the trunks of trees and rotting leaves and animal droppings.
Examples of epiphytes are: ferns (elfhorns & staghorn) lichens
Lianas: Lianas are climbing vines which grow from ground
roots but use other
plants for anchorage as they climb toward the light of the sun.
Strangler Figs: Starting from seed dropped in humus
(Pronounced As: hyooms , organic matter that has decayed to a
relatively stable, amorphous state. It is an important biological
constituent of fertile soil. Humus is formed by the decomposing
action of soil micro-organisms (e.g., bacteria and fungi), which
break down animal and vegetable material into elements that can be
used by growing plants.) high in a canopy tree, the strangler fig
sends down prop roots
which thicken, interlace, join and eventually strangle its host tree
to death. This process can take from
500 to 1000 years!
Cauliflory: A cauliflower like mass of flowers and fruits
that grow directly on the tree trunk and main branches of some
trees. These are essential food for many birds, fruit bats and
Palms: With woody stems, few or no branches and surface roots
at the base. Typical of moist rainforests.
The ever-changing world of the
In a typical rainforest eco system there is a never-ending cycle of
generation, growth, maturity and death.
Change can be very rapid when mother nature steps in with a cyclone,
strong wind, flood or land slip.
humans can cause catastrophic changes to any forest eco system by
clearing the forest of trees and under growth.
Although regeneration of a forest is fast, it may take a 100 years
to fully recover from a major cyclone or flood.
Threats to conserving our rainforest:
Weeds such as rubber vine and lantana, fire, feral pigs, cats and
dogs, clearing for residential development
and visitor pressures such as vandalism and littering threaten the
very life our remaining forests.
Caring for the forest:
It is up to us to help maintain the
forest when we visit. Follow these few simple rules and every little
bit will help conserve what's left of this natural wonder.
Stay on walking tracks. Delicate ground cover plants are easily
disturbed by trampling.
Use only a fuel stove when needing a fire: Nutrient recycling is
critical in a rainforest environment, so gathering leaf litter and
branches for fires can cause unnecessary damage.
REMEMBER: Everything is protected. Don't pick, break or remove
ferns, vines or any other plant.
Take your rubbish with you when you when you leave. Don't bury it,
as feral pigs will quickly smell out the rubbish and dig it up.
Leave your pets at home: They chase, scare and even kill the local
Whatever you do, don't be tempted to feed the wild life. Human food
can be harmful to the animals and feeding may lead to aggressive
Where the mountains hug the coast and the
Coral Sea brings drenching rains to the lowlands and creates the
lush and complex world of the tropical rainforest.
A scenic grandeur on the Atherton Tablelands is
created by cloud capped mountains, carpeted by steamy jungles that
tower over the lowlands. The jungle represents the largest remaining
fragments of tropical rainforest in Australia. North of Cairns,
between Port Douglas and Mossman, The Great Dividing Range rises to
the peaks and gorges of the Mount Windsor Tableland. The precipitous
mountain slopes, covered in thick forest, plunge uninterrupted to
meet the shoreline.
The World Heritage Area covers about 900,000
The rainforests now only exist as a patchy belt
up to 70kilometres wide from Cooktown to almost as far south as
Townsville. Modest sized waterfalls and cascades flowing with
crystal clear water are found through out the Wet tropics
rainforest. They carve a ruggedly spectacular landscape into the
mountains and provide breathtaking sights for the visitor. Wallaman
Falls at 305 metres (1000 ft) are Australia's highest single drop
falls. The north-eastern highlands have Australia's heaviest
rainfall, with an annual reading of over 4000 millimetres for the
Did you know?
That the Wet tropics Rainforest were World
Heritage listed in 1989!
Mount Bartle Frere is Queensland’s highest mountain at 1622 metres.
That the wettest parts of the rainforest receive
as much as 7600mm [296inches] of annual rainfall.
The wet tropics covers only 1% of the Australian
continent yet contains 30% of all marsupials, 23% of the reptiles
and 18% of the bird populations