Rainforests cover just 2% of the earth’s surface yet are home to about half of the world's 5 to 10 million plant and animal species. Many of the foods we eat today originated in rainforests and about a quarter of all medicines available contain natural ingredients derived from rainforest plants. Rainforests also play a major role in stabilising the world's climate.
Global warming is predicted to increase global surface temperatures by 1.5°C by 2100, and this is expected to drive many species to extinction. Rainforest species are often restricted to specific habitats and are unable to adapt or move in response to these predicted changes. Global warming will increase the frequency and intensity of wildfires to which many rainforest species are poorly adapted. Unsustainable logging, urban and agricultural development into rainforest areas will further impact on rainforest viability. This is leaving many rare and threatened flora and fauna species vulnerable to extinction due to the rarity of their rainforest habitat1.
Australia's rainforests are significant and highly biodiverse, including three World Heritage Areas. Find out about their distribution, biogeographic history and unique features.
This project aims to increase the global capacity to conserve rainforest plants by investigating seed storage and alternative conservation methods for Australian species.
Our research integrates an innovative combination of genomic, ecological and environmental data to uncover the evolutionary secrets of our unique rainforest flora, and support its conservation.
The Gardens are working to deliver real solutions to this critical environmental and biodiversity issue. We need your support!
Content developed by Zoe-Joy Newby, Patricia Meagher, Cathy Offord, Karen Sommerville, Rob Kooyman and Maurizio Rossetto, editing by Amelia Martyn Yenson. Page last updated in 2018.