Skip to content

Distribution

Australia contains tropical and subtropical, dry (Dry Rainforest & Vine Thicket), and temperate rainforest, which collectively occurs across the Top End, down the east coast into Tasmania, and even in southern Western Australia.

The estimated distribution of rainforest in Australia prior to European settlement (Pre 1750) and the rainforest remaing today (Current). Data adapted from the National Vegetation Information System, 2000.

The above map shows the approximate distribution of rainforest areas in Australia today (current) and what was thought to have existed before the arrival of the First Fleet in 1770 (Pre 1750). As with other countries, much of the Australian rainforest areas have been cleared and degraded - that which remains (only 0.5% of our entire landmass2), is highly fragmented and incredibly vulnerable. 

According to analysis completed as part of the Rainforest Conservation Project, there are over 5000 species of native plants occurring in Australian rainforest. This represents approximately 24% of the 21000 species for the whole country3. This makes rainforest one of the most diverse ecosystems within Australia, emphasising its value and importance.

Australia has unusual types of rainforest including the dry ‘Vine Thicket’. This somewhat scrub-like type of vegetation can occur hundreds of kilometres inland, as long as there is a permanent water sources available to maintain vegetation through the drier periods of the year. Vine thickets are easily identifiable from other plant communities by the presence of verdant green vegetation often juxtaposed against drier plant communities. Inside the thicket is cooler, and there are many typical rainforest plants and characters such as figs and ferns, epiphytes and lianas.

More information on the National Vegetation Information System
 
  1. NVIS Version 3.1 National Vegetation Information System, NT Data Compilation (2000) Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Commonwealth of Australia
  2. Stork, E., Goosem, S., and Turton, S. 2011 Status and threats in the dynamic landscapes of Northern Australia's tropical rainforest biodiversity hotspot: the Wet Tropics. In: Zachos, Frank E., and Habel, Jan Christian, (eds.) Biodiversity Hotspots: distribution and protection of conservation priority areas. Springer, Berlin, Germany, pp. 311-332.
  3. Chapman, A. (2009) Numbers of living species in Australia and the World. (2nd) Department of the Environmnet, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Australian Government Canberra. 
scripttarget