Tasmania's Cool Temperate Rainforest
Tasmania contains Australia's largest tracts of cool temperate rainforest, covering around 10% of the State. Cool temperate rainforest is very different from rainforest found in warmer climates. Unlike tropical and warm temperate rainforests, the trees do not have large buttresses, there are no palms, and climbing plants are rare in Tasmania’s rainforest.
Cool temperate rainforest is a verdant,silent, cool, dark and damp place where both the trunks of trees and the forest floor are usually festooned with a luxuriant carpet of mosses and lichens. In autumn and early winter in particular, the rainforest floor is dappled with an array of brightly coloured fungi.
Tasmania’s rainforest is characterised by three factors:
Where fire has burnt the vegetation eucalypts may occur as emergents over a rainforest understorey, such forest is referred to as mixed forest. If there is a cover of less than 5% eucalypts over a rainforest understorey then the vegetation is termed rainforest. More More eucalypts than this means it is defined as mixed forest.
long-tailed mouse, ringtail possum, pademelon, spotted-tailed quoll and dusky antechinus. Twenty-one species of native birds regularly visit rainforest, including the black currawong, green rosella, olive whistler and grey goshawk. Of the reptiles, the Tasmanian tree frog, tiger snake and brown skink are relatively common. Tasmanian rainforest contains some of the most ancient and primitive representatives of invertebrates. Some of these include the large land snail, Macleay's swallowtail butterfly, freshwater crayfish and the peripatus, or velvet worm.
In the last century over seven per cent of Tasmanian rainforest was burnt. Following fire, rainforest vegetation may pass through several seral stages and if left undisturbed for long enough will return to mature rainforest. If fires are cool and the vegetation long unburnt then some rainforest trees may survive and most species will regenerate successfully from soil stored seed and seed dispersed from nearby areas. However some very fire sensitive rainforest species, such as the conifers King Billy pine and pencil pine, may be eliminated by a single fire event and have no means of recovering.
Another threat to rainforest is from pests and diseases. Myrtle wilt is a serious but natural fungal disease which kills mature myrtles, especially where there has been some form of disturbance. Phytophthora root rot (Phytophthora cinnamomi), can also be a problem at the edge of rainforest, along roads or following fire. Normally rainforest soils are too cool to support this pathogen but where the canopy is opened by disturbance soils temperatures can be warm enough to allow this pathogen to disease susceptible rainforest species.
Rainforest is also used by bee keepers to produce leatherwood honey, and of course, rainforest is very popular with tourists. All of these uses must be carefully managed if we are to maintain rainforest for future generations.
www.parks.tas.gov.au to find out more about these walks.
Forestry Tasmania also have some excellent, interpretive walks through rainforest, such as those at Weldborough Pass in the north-east, Sandspit and Tahune in the south-east and the Julius River Rainforest Walk in the north-west.
Notesheet - Tasmanian Rainforest
Contact: Biodiversity Conservation BranchBiodiversity Conservation Branch
Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment
134 Macquarie Street
HOBART TAS 7000
Phone: 03 6165 4305
Fax: 03 6233 3477
Tasmania Online | Service Tasmania
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