NSW ecosystems on show - Rainforests

trees within a rainforest
Rainforests have high biodiversity
layers within a rainforest
Light is a scarce resource in a rainforest


Rainforests are forests characterised by high rainfall, with definitions setting minimum normal annual rainfall between 1750-2000mm. A rainforest is typically divided into four main layers, each with different plants and animals adapted for life in that particular area: the emergent, canopy, understory, and forest floor layers.A total of 40 to 75% of all species on the world's habitats are indigenous to the rainforests. It has been estimated that many millions of species of plants, insects and microorganisms are still undiscovered. There are three types of rainforests in the Dorrigo area, sub-tropical rainforests, warm-temperate rainforests and cool-temperate rainforests.

Sub-tropical and warm temperate rainforest in North Eastern NSW

Beautiful subtropical and warm temperate rainforest, including booyong, crabapple and coachwood trees, surround much of the townships of Coffs Harbour and Dorrigo and the village of Cascade.

Sub-tropical rainforest is the most luxuriant type in Dorrigo National Park and is found under the most favourable habitat conditions. Characteristic features include the great variety of tree species, tall closely placed trees, a wealth of epiphytic ferns, orchids, numerous large vines and the frequency of trees with special growth forms such as palms, strangling figs, trees with large buttresses and trees with large simple or compound leaves.

Warm-temperate rainforest is also an important rainforest type and is found in Dorrigo and Cascade National Parks where coachwood and hoop pine form a dominant alliance. This rainforest type is particularly important in terms of area and occurs extensively on the northern plateau section and to a limited extent on the escarpment to the South. Its distribution appears to be determined by the poorer soils derived from the slated and siltstones of the moombil beds and the light granite soils derived from the Dorrigo Mountain complex. A plant typical of this area is the Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii).

Cool-temperate rainforest is restricted to a particular climatic regime which may only prevail over an increasingly limited area due to climate change. This ancient vegetation type features Antarctic Beech with a relatively sparse understory.

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