are the vegetative remnants of Gondwana, the super continent that
broke up about 65 million years ago. They once covered large parts
of Australia but over millions of years had contracted and by the
time Europeans colonised they had been reduced to about 1% of Australias
land area. Today
FOREST (defined as >70% foliage cover such as rainforest etc.) =
36 000 sq. kms or 0.4 % of our forest cover.
rainforests accounts for only 1% of Australias current rainforest
cover (about 40,000 hectares).
has cool-temperate, warm-temperate and dry rainforest types. Rainforest
is sensitive to disturbance and is therefore permanently changed
after logging and does not recover at all in some situations.
In 1980 the Ecological Society of Australia
defined rainforest as ...
broadleaved forest vegetation with a continuous tree canopy of
variable height, and with a characteristic diversity of species
and life forms. The ecological definition of RF includes transitional
and seral communities with sclerophyll emergents that are of similar
botanical composition to mature RFs in which sclerophylls are
technical committee subsequently recommended a similar definition
but their report was altered by management to exclude areas with
gum trees growing through the canopy. This means that while RFs
effectively cover about 40,000 hectares only about 15,000 hectares
receive the already limited and inadequate protection that the
law and DNRE afford.
area, or ecotone, between eucalypt and rainforest is a rare and
rich biological resource. It seems obvious that the excluded 25,000
hectares of RF are not being protected because the eucalypt species
protruding through the canopy are commercially valuable. In addition,
RFs that are meant to be protected by 20 or 40 metre buffer zones
frequently have their buffer zones breached. The cumulative effect
of these policies and practices is to severely compromise the
capacity for rainforests to survive in the long term.