Forests of Australia

Last updated
Australian forest cover Australia forest cover by Global Ecological Zones.tif
Australian forest cover
Total employment in forestry and logging in Australia (thousands of people) since 1984 ABS-6291.0.55.003-LabourForceAustraliaDetailedQuarterly-EmployedPersonsByIndustrySubdivisionSex-EmployedTotal-ForestryLogging-Persons-A2546075C.svg
Total employment in forestry and logging in Australia (thousands of people) since 1984

Australia has many forests of importance due to significant features, despite being one of the driest continents. Australia has approximately 123 million hectares of native forest, which represents about 60% of Australia's land area. [1] The majority of Australia's trees are hardwoods, typically eucalypts, rather than softwoods like pine. While softwoods dominate some native forests, their total area is judged insufficient to constitute a major forest type in Australia's National Forest Inventory. The Forests Australia website provides up-to-date information on Australia's forests. Detailed information on Australia's forests is available from Australia's State of the Forests Reports that are published every five years.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

Hectare metric unit of area

The hectare is an SI accepted metric system unit of area equal to a square with 100-metre sides, or 10,000 m2, and is primarily used in the measurement of land. There are 100 hectares in one square kilometre. An acre is about 0.405 hectare and one hectare contains about 2.47 acres.


Forest types

There are 457 forest communities distributed across Australia. These have been grouped into the following seven native forest types, which are characterised by dominant species and the structure of the forest:

Rainforest type of forest with high rainfall

Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with annual rainfall in the case of tropical rainforests between 250 and 450 centimetres, and definitions varying by region for temperate rainforests. The monsoon trough, alternatively known as the intertropical convergence zone, plays a significant role in creating the climatic conditions necessary for the Earth's tropical rainforests.

<i>Melaleuca</i> genus of plants

Melaleuca is a genus of nearly 300 species of plants in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae, commonly known as paperbarks, honey-myrtles or tea-trees. They range in size from small shrubs that rarely grow to more than 1 m high, to trees up to 35 m. Their flowers generally occur in groups, forming a “head” or “spike” resembling a brush used for cleaning bottles, containing up to 80 individual flowers. They are superficially like Banksia species, which also have their flowers in a spike, but the structures of individual flowers in the two genera are very different.

Eucalypt is a descriptive name for woody plants with capsule fruiting bodies belonging to seven closely related genera found across Australasia: Eucalyptus, Corymbia, Angophora, Stockwellia, Allosyncarpia, Eucalyptopsis and Arillastrum.

Plantation forests (softwood and hardwood) have been defined as an eighth group that covers trees planted for commercial use.



In Australia the states and territories are responsible for managing forests. [2] Guidance is primarily provided by the 1992 National Forest Policy Statement (NFPS). [3] The NFPS allows for the inclusion of Regional Forest Agreements, which are 20-year plans for the management of native forests.

The Regional Forest Agreements (RFA) are 20 year plans for the conservation and sustainable management of Australia's native forests, and are intended to provide certainty to commercial forestry operations while protecting environmental values. The 10 RFA's were progressively signed between 1997 and 2001. The RFA process grew out of the 1992 National Forest Policy Statement.


The New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, a division of the New South Wales Government, is responsible for the administration and development for agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture, forestry, and biosecurity in New South Wales. The Department works to drive innovation in primary industries to improve resilience, productivity and sustainability, and to ensure risks are managed for natural resources, farming and food.

South Australian Forestry Corporation is a business enterprise owned by the Government of South Australia which is responsible for management of publicly owned plantation forests in South Australia including the commercial production of timber and the management of forests for non-commercial purposes such as community use and as protected areas.

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) was a state government department responsible for protecting the environment, boosting productivity in Victoria's food and fibre sector, management of natural resources and managing water resources in the state of Victoria, Australia. It was created in April 2013 by merging the Department of Primary Industries with the Department of Sustainability and Environment.

List of significant forests

ForestImageNotable features
Alpine National Park Mount-howitt-summit.jpg Extensive mountain ash and snowgum forests.
D'Aguilar National Park Large nature reserve on the western boundary of the City of Brisbane, bordering on the Mount Coot-tha Reserve, that supports a large variety of native plants and animals.
Brown Mountain forest Brown Mountain 08 Pengo.jpg Located in East Gippsland, Victoria, abuts the Errinundra National Park, and is notable for containing large tracts of old growth forest, including over fifty mountain ash trees estimated to be over 300 years old. The eucalypt forest provides key habitat for rare and threatened species such as the powerful owl, the spotted quoll, mainland Australia's largest marsupial carnivore, and the long-footed potoroo, Victoria's rarest marsupial.
Central Highlands (Victoria) 1939 Regrowth 01 Pengo.jpg Contain cool temperate rainforests; dominated by myrtle beech and southern sassafras, with an understorey of ferns and mosses. They may also contain eucalypt trees and Australian blackwood. Eastern forests of the Central Highlands such as the Toolangi State Forest and Melbourne's forested water catchments provide habitat for the threatened Leadbeater's possum.
Cumberland Plain Woodland Regionalparksydney.jpg Found in scattered forms in the Greater Western Sydney area, it is made up of dry sclerophyll woodlands and forests, reminiscent of the Mediterranean forests, totaling only around 6400 hectares. Grey Box (Eucalyptus moluccana) and Forest Red Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis) dominate the woodland.
Daintree Rainforest Rain Forest Daintree Australia.jpg Tropical rainforest near Daintree, Queensland. At around 1200 square kilometers the Daintree is Australia's largest contiguous area of rainforest. Contains 30% of frog, marsupial and reptile species in Australia, and 65% of Australia's bat and butterfly species. 20% of bird species in the country can be found in this area including the threatened cassowary. Added to the World Heritage List in 1988.
Disappointment Reference Area Extensive mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans) forest with dense treeferns along many creeks. Prior to the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, which burnt the majority of the reference area, this forest has not been burned since the 1700s, making many of the trees ~300 years old.
Errindundra forests Errinundra National Park 2010.jpg The Errinundra National Park in East Gippland contains the largest remaining cool temperate rainforests in Victoria. These old growth forests harbour many rare and threatened species of flora and fauna, including powerful owls, tiger quolls and long-footed potoroos.
Gloucester National Park ClimbingTheGloucesterTree 2005 SeanMcClean.jpg Karri eucalyptus forests that includes the Gloucester Tree, Western Australia's most famous karri tree (pictured)
Gondwana Rainforests of Australia N Eng NP (1).jpg Remnants of Gondwanaland forests. Pictured is Point Lookout, New England National Park, NSW.
Goolengook Old growth cool temperate rainforest in Eastern Victoria.
Great Otway National Park Otway Fly Treetop Walk 2010.jpg Diverse range of landscapes and vegetation types including some old growth eucalyptus forest.
Karawatha Forest Stretton Karawatha forest.jpg Protected bushland at Karawatha, Queensland.
Kinglake National Park Masons Falls.JPG While much of the forest area was logged in the early part of the 20th century, many old growth trees remain.
Lake Mountain Lake-Mountain-trail.jpg Old growth mountain ash and snowgum forests, including habitat for the threatened Leadbeater's possum.
Lamington National Park Lamington NP 1 Stevage.jpg Part Gondwana Rainforests of Australia of the World Heritage site on the Queensland/New South Wales border. One of the largest upland subtropical rainforest remnants in the world and the most northern southern beech cool temperate rainforest in Australia.
Leard State Forest The biggest remnant of natural bushland on the Liverpool Plains in north-west NSW and the most extensive and intact stand of the nationally listed critically endangered box-gum woodland remaining in Australia. It is habitat for 34 critically endangered species and several endangered ecological communities. [4]
Limpinwood Nature Reserve World Heritage listed wilderness region of 26 km2 situated in the Border ranges of north eastern New South Wales. Vegetation is primarily sub-tropical rain forest with some wet sclerophyll forest.
Mount Buffalo National Park Mt buffalo plateau.jpg Over 550 native species occur; the most significant vegetation communities are the alpine and sub-alpine communities. The lower slopes have communities of mixed gum and peppermint, including the bogong gum, Eucalyptus chapmaniana. These grade into pure stands of alpine ash, Eucalyptus delegatensis around 1100 metres elevation, and subalpine woodland of snow gum, Eucalyptus pauciflora above 1300 metres. Numerous endemic plant species.
Mount Warning National Park AU Mt Warning from Tweed.jpg Included in the UNESCO World Heritage Listings in 1986. Extensive subtropical rainforest remnants.
Mount Read (Tasmania) Despite extensive historic mining and human activity on its slopes, Mount Read has unique and significant stands of rare Huon pine forests on its slopes.
Pilliga forest CkInPilliga.jpg Australia's largest inland native forest. Covering over 450,000 hectares.
Sherbrooke Forest Sherbrooke forest Victoria 220rs.jpg Wet sclerophyll forest with the dominant tree species being the mountain ash, Eucalyptus regnans , the tallest flowering plant in the world. The forest has recovered well from logging that occurred from the mid-19th century until 1930. Sherbrooke Forest is famous for its population of superb lyrebirds.
Springbrook National Park IMAG0310.jpg Part of the World Heritage site Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves. Rainforest and eucalypt forest.
Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest, Yaralla Estate, Concord West, NSW, 2.JPG The main canopy trees are turpentine ( Syncarpia glomulifera ), grey ironbark ( Eucalyptus paniculata ), narrow-leaved ironbark ( Eucalyptus crebra ) and red ironbark. Very few remnants of Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest remain.
Tarkine Tarkine walks.JPG Extensive stands of eucalypt forest and cool temperate rainforest that includes ancient myrtle beech trees.
Tarra-Bulga National Park Tarra Bulga NP600x800.jpg Remnant cool temperate rainforest in the Stzelecki Ranges. The deeply incised river valleys of the park are dominated by wet sclerophyll tall open forest of mountain ash ( Eucalyptus regnans ), with an understorey of blackwood ( Acacia melanoxylon ), hazel pomaderris ( Pomaderris aspera) and tree ferns ( Dicksonia antarctica and Cyathea australis ). Pockets of the park feature cool temperate rainforest, including myrtle beech ( Nothofagus cunninghamii ).
Tuart Forest National Park Contains rare old growth Tuart ( Eucalyptus gomphocephala ) forest.
Walpole-Nornalup National Park Valley of the giants skywalk.jpg Contains rare old growth giant Tingle eucalypt forest known as "The Valley of the Giants".
Wielangta forest Sandspit River Wielangta Forest.jpg Part of remnant glacial refugia forest and contains blue gum eucalypt forest and pockets of cool temperate rainforest. The forest is a key habitat of rare and threatened species, including the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle, swift parrot, broad-toothed stag beetle, spotted-tail quoll and eastern barred bandicoot. A rare orchid (Corunastylis nuda) has also been discovered in the forest.
Wollemi National Park (1)Capertee River.jpg Contains the only known wild specimens of the Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis), a species thought to have become extinct approximately thirty million years ago, but discovered alive in three small stands in 1994.

See also

Fauna of Australia

The fauna of Australia consists of a huge variety of animals; some 83% of mammals, 89% of reptiles, 90% of fish and insects and 93% of amphibians that inhabit the continent are endemic to Australia. This high level of endemism can be attributed to the continent's long geographic isolation, tectonic stability, and the effects of an unusual pattern of climate change on the soil and flora over geological time. A unique feature of Australia's fauna is the relative scarcity of native placental mammals. Consequently, the marsupials — a group of mammals that raise their young in a pouch, including the macropods, possums and dasyuromorphs — occupy many of the ecological niches placental animals occupy elsewhere in the world. Australia is home to two of the five known extant species of monotremes and has numerous venomous species, which include the platypus, spiders, scorpions, octopus, jellyfish, molluscs, stonefish, and stingrays. Uniquely, Australia has more venomous than non-venomous species of snakes.

Flora of Australia

The flora of Australia comprises a vast assemblage of plant species estimated to over 20,000 vascular and 14,000 non-vascular plants, 250,000 species of fungi and over 3,000 lichens. The flora has strong affinities with the flora of Gondwana, and below the family level has a highly endemic angiosperm flora whose diversity was shaped by the effects of continental drift and climate change since the Cretaceous. Prominent features of the Australian flora are adaptations to aridity and fire which include scleromorphy and serotiny. These adaptations are common in species from the large and well-known families Proteaceae (Banksia), Myrtaceae, and Fabaceae.

National Reserve System Protected area in Australia

Australia's National Reserve System (NRS) is a network of more than 10,000 Commonwealth plus state and territory protected areas which, in combination, on a national scale, protect more than 137 million hectares unique biodiversity and most significant ecological landscapes for future generations. The aim of the NRS is protect the diversity of all native landscapes, flora and fauna across Australia through strategic habitat protection.

Related Research Articles

<i>Eucalyptus</i> genus of plants

Eucalyptus is a genus of over seven hundred species of flowering trees, shrubs or mallees in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae commonly known as eucalypts. Plants in the genus Eucalyptus have bark that is smooth, fibrous or stringy, leaves with oil glands, and sepals and petals that are fused to form a "cap" or operculum over the stamens. The fruit is a woody capsule commonly referred to as a "gumnut". Australia is covered by 92,000,000 hectares of eucalypt forest, comprising three quarters of the area covered by native forest.

Alpine National Park Protected area in Victoria, Australia

The Alpine National Park is a national park located in the Central Highlands and Alpine regions of Victoria, Australia. The 646,000-hectare (1,600,000-acre) national park is located northeast of Melbourne. It is the largest National Park in Victoria, and covers much of the higher areas of the Great Dividing Range in Victoria, including Victoria's highest point, Mount Bogong at 1,986 metres (6,516 ft) and the associated subalpine woodland and grassland of the Bogong High Plains. The park's north-eastern boundary is along the border with New South Wales, where it abuts the Kosciuszko National Park. On 7 November 2008 the Alpine National Park was added to the Australian National Heritage List as one of eleven areas constituting the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves.

Hartz Mountains National Park Protected area in Tasmania, Australia

Hartz Mountains National Park is located in the south of Tasmania, Australia. It is one of 19 Tasmanian National Parks, and in 1989 it was included in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, in recognition of its natural and cultural values. The Hartz Mountains were named after the Harz mountain range in Germany.

<i>Eucalyptus regnans</i> species of plant

Eucalyptus regnans, known variously as mountain ash, swamp gum, or stringy gum, is a species of Eucalyptus native to Tasmania and the state of Victoria in southeastern Australia. It is the tallest flowering plant and one of the tallest trees in the world, second only to the coast redwood of North America. A straight-trunked tree with smooth grey bark, but with a stocking of rough brown bark from 5 to 20 metres above the ground, it regularly grows to 85 metres (280 ft), with the tallest living specimen, the Centurion in Tasmania, standing 100.5 metres tall. White flowers appear in autumn. Victorian botanist Ferdinand von Mueller described the species in 1871.

Leadbeaters possum species of mammal

The Leadbeater's possum is a critically endangered possum largely restricted to small pockets of alpine ash, mountain ash, and snow gum forests in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Australia, north-east of Melbourne. It is primitive, relict, and non-gliding, and, as the only species in the petaurid genus Gymnobelideus, represents an ancestral form. Formerly, Leadbeater's possums were moderately common within the very small areas they inhabited; their requirement for year-round food supplies and tree-holes to take refuge in during the day restricts them to mixed-age wet sclerophyll forest with a dense mid-story of Acacia. The species was named in 1867 after John Leadbeater, the then taxidermist at the Museum Victoria. They also go by the common name of fairy possum. On 2 March 1971, the State of Victoria made the Leadbeater's possum its faunal emblem.

Temperate rainforest

Temperate rainforests are coniferous or broadleaf forests that occur in the temperate zone and receive heavy rainfall.

Old-growth forest A forest that has attained great age without significant disturbance

An old-growth forest — also termed primary forest or late seral forest — is a forest that has attained great age without significant disturbance and thereby exhibits unique ecological features and might be classified as a climax community. Old-growth features include diverse tree-related structures that provide diverse wildlife habitat that increases the biodiversity of the forested ecosystem. The concept of diverse tree structure includes multi-layered canopies and canopy gaps, greatly varying tree heights and diameters, and diverse tree species and classes and sizes of woody debris.

Styx Valley a valley on the island of Tasmania, Australia

The Styx Valley is a valley located adjacent to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Site on the island of Tasmania, Australia. The Styx River is the main drainage system of the valley that lies about 100 kilometres (62 mi) northwest of Hobart, with the nearest town being Maydena.

Central Highlands (Victoria) region of Victoria, Australia

The Central Highlands is a region of Victoria. This term is mainly used in a geological context to describe the part of the Great Dividing Range in Victoria that is outside the Alpine areas. The area is situated east of Ballarat, south of Bendigo, north and east of Melbourne, west of the Alpine areas and includes the Great Dividing Range. Major towns of the highlands include Castlemaine, Creswick, Daylesford, Gisborne, Kyneton and Woodend. All these towns are located in the western part of the Central Highlands usually referred to as the West Central Highlands. The eastern part of the Central Highlands referred to as the East Central Highlands also contains areas of rainforest.

Toolangi, Victoria Town in Victoria, Australia

Toolangi is a rural township in Victoria, Australia. At the 2011 census, Toolangi and the surrounding area had a population of 289. It is situated on the edge of the Toolangi State Forest.

Woodchipping in Australia

Woodchipping is the act and industry of chipping wood for pulp. Timber is converted to woodchips and sold, primarily, for paper manufacture. In Australia, woodchips are produced by clearcutting or thinning of native forests or plantations. In other parts of the world, forestry practices such as short rotation coppice are the usual methods adopted.

Quamby Bluff mountain in Tasmania, Australia

Quamby Bluff is a mountain in Northern Tasmania, Australia that is an outlying part of the Great Western Tiers mountain range.

Mount Banda Banda mountain in Australia

Mount Banda Banda, a mountain of the Mid North Coast region of New South Wales, Australia, is situated 320 kilometres (200 mi) from Sydney within the Willi Willi National Park. Banda Banda can be seen on the south western horizon, 39km from the town of Kempsey. At 1,258 metres (4,127 ft) AHD  it is the highest mountain in the region.

Eastern Australian temperate forests

The Eastern Australian temperate forests, or temperate eucalypt forests, are an ecoregion of open forest on uplands starting from the east coast of New South Wales in the South Coast to southern Queensland, Australia. Four distinguishable communities are found within this ecoregion: subtropical rainforest, subtropical dry rainforest, warm temperate rainforest, and cool temperate rainforest, where they may also grade to other biomes, depending on the location.

Aroostook State Park

Aroostook State Park is public recreation area located within the southern municipal boundary of the city of Presque Isle in Aroostook County, Maine. The state park's 898 acres (363 ha) encompass Quaggy Jo Mountain and sit adjacent to Echo Lake. "Quaggy Jo" is an altered version of the mountain's Native American name, "Qua Qua Jo," which means "twin-peaked."

Tasmanian dry sclerophyll forests

Dry sclerophyll forests occur throughout northern and eastern Tasmania. Characterised by the population of hard-leafed (sclerophyll) and often spiky, drought-adapted plants, dry sclerophyll forests are found in regions of where annual rainfall is below 1000m.

Toolangi State Forest

The Toolangi State Forest region in southern Australia extends from Mount Monda in the south up to Murrindindi in the north and includes the township of Toolangi. The forest is mainly Eucalypt forest that has regrown from the 1939 Victoria Bushfires.

Farm Forestry Toolbox

The Farm Forestry Toolbox is a collection of computer programs, referred to as 'Tools', intended to be used by farm forest owners and managers to aid decision making. The Toolbox includes a set of simple 'Hand Tools'; conversion of measurements and map co-ordinates; measuring the volume of stacked logs, slope, basal area; and a survey tool. A second set of more complex tools or 'Power Tools'; can be used to estimate site productivity, volume and value of wood grown for individual trees, at the coupe or stand level and forest estate level.

Forests Commission Victoria

The Forests Commission Victoria (FCV) was the main government authority responsible for management and protection of State forests in Victoria, Australia between 1918 and 1983.

Redwoods of the Otway Ranges

A small sheltered grove of Coast Redwoods, Sequoia sempervirens, can be found about 5 km south of Beech Forest in the Otway Ranges in southwestern Victoria.


  1. Australian Forest Profiles Archived 2011-06-04 at the Wayback Machine . – Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
  2. "Australia's Forest Policies". Department of Agriculture. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  3. "National Forest Policy Statement". Department of Agriculture. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2014.