~ Tropical and Subtropical Rainforest ~
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Kuranda / Rainforeststation
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Kata Tjuta

Rainforests are one of the greatest and most fascinating wonders of nature. They are home to at least 50% of all living animal and plant species on the planet. The diversity of species, in particular in the tropical rainforests, is unequalled. Although rainforests cover only about 0.3 % of Australia, they contain about half of all Australian plant families and about a third of Australia's mammal and bird species.

Basically there are three types of rainforests:
The evergreen tropical Rainforest (Wet Tropics) in all year round wet, tropical areas, the subtropical rainforest and the temperate rainforest in areas with temperate climate. Rainforests have very distinct layers, with specific plants and animals.

Wet Tropics rainforest jungleThe World Heritage listed area of the Wet Tropics in the tropical North of Queensland stretches for about 450 km along the north-east coast from Townsville to Cooktown and covers about 900,000 hectares of mostly public land, the majority of which; is a region of spectacular scenery and rugged topography with fast-flowing rivers, deep gorges and numerous waterfalls. The Wet Tropics of Queensland are an unique biotope, that shaped the flora and fauna of Australia over the past 415 million years. It is a habitat for a particularly extensive and varied array of plants, as well as marsupials and singing birds, along with other rare and endangered animals and plant species. The climate is continuously humid and warm 68 - 93°F ( 20 - 34°C), also in the dry season from May to October (Australian winter).;During the wet season from November up to April (Australian summer) heavy rainfalls and even tornadoes (Darwin area). often make it impossible for unrestricted travel.

jungle tour - slide show
Wet Tropics rainforest jungle
Wet Tropics rainforest jungle
Wet Tropics rainforest jungle
Wet Tropics rainforest jungle

Rainforest Layers
Subtropical and some temperate rainforests - booyong tree
Subtropical and some temperate rainforests

occur in NSW (307 284 ha) and south east Queensland (59 223 ha) as discontinuous patches and are on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage as the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves (CERR) . They include the most extensive areas of subtropical rainforest in the world, large areas of warm temperate rainforest and nearly all of the Antarctic beech cool temperate rainforest. They mainly are held in National Park tenure likewise. A very common tree there is the Booyong (picture to the right).
rainforest layersTropical and subtropical rainforests in the lowland usually have four very distinct layers with different plants and animals, adapted for life in that particular area:
Emergent trees are spaced wide apart, and are 164 to 240 feet (50 - 70 m) tall with umbrella-shaped canopies that grow above the forest. Eagles, butterflies, bats and certain monkeys inhabit this layer.

The upper canopy usually consists of 100 to 130 ft tall trees (30 - 40 m), which form with their adjacent tree tops a more or less close roof over the two remaining layers. It is the area with the biggest diversity of species and it is understood to be home to 40% of all plant species! The fauna subtropical rainforest flooris similar to that of the Emergent layer, including also snakes, toucans and treefrogs.

The understorey gets only little sunshine and one can find here many shrubs, 60 ft. (18 m) trees and young growth. It is home for an abundance of birds, snakes, lizards and insects, but also for predators, like jaguars, leopards, boa constrictors and armadillos.

The forest floor is in constant shade. Thus, the forest floor has almost no vegetation and the humid, warm conditions promote a rapid decay of plant and animal matter. Many forms of fungi and giant anteaters can be found here.

However - where there is no close canopy for any reason and the sunlight can reach the ground of the rainforest, as along the river banks, an impenetrable jungle will develop quickly. And this was, what we experienced at the rainforest village Kuranda - jungle in the rainforest - an exciting experience!

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UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia*)
Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves (CERRA)

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