Forests of East Australia: The 35th Biodiversity Hotspot

  • Kristen J. Williams
  • Andrew Ford
  • Dan F. Rosauer
  • Naamal De Silva
  • Russell Mittermeier
  • Caroline Bruce
  • Frank W. Larsen
  • Chris Margules

Abstract

The newly identified “Forests of East Australia” Global High Biodiversity Hotspot corresponds with two World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Ecoregions: the Eastern Australian Temperate Forests and Queensland’s Tropical Rain forests. The region contains more than 1,500 endemic vascular plants, meeting the criterion for global biodiversity significance, and more than 70% of natural areas have been cleared or degraded, meeting the criterion for a hotspot. The hotspot, although covering a large latitudinal range (15.5°–35.6° South), has a predominantly summer rainfall pattern with increasing rainfall seasonality northwards into tropical areas of north Queensland. It covers large tracts of elevated tablelands and drier inland slopes, particularly in New South Wales, where it extends inland beyond the New England Tablelands and the Great Dividing Range. Varied soils result in a mosaic pattern of vegetation. Sclerophyllous communities dominated by Australia’s iconic plant, the gum-tree (Eucalyptus species), are the most prevalent vegetation type. Significant areas of rain forest exist throughout the region, much of which has persisted continuously since Gondwanan times, providing a rich living record of evolution over more than 100 million years. The human population of the hotspot as of 2006 was over nine million, with a population density of 36 people per square kilometer, mainly concentrated along the coast. About 18% of the land area is under some form of formal protection for its natural values. Gaps in the protected area network include some centers of plant endemism and some areas of critical habitat for threatened species. Whole of landscape conservation initiatives are enhancing connectivity throughout the Great Dividing Range through voluntary protection and restoration programs.

Keywords

Rain Forest World Wildlife Fund Protected Area Network Primary Vegetation World Heritage Area 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are grateful for the use of data or assistance provided by the following institutions and individuals: CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Atherton and Canberra; the Queensland Herbarium, Department of Environment and Resource Management, Brisbane; Australian National Herbarium, CSIRO Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Canberra; John Benson and Doug Benson, Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney; Daniel P. Faith and The Australian Museum, Sydney; David Keith and Department of Conservation and Environment, Sydney; Cameron Slatyer and Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra; Trevor Parker; Richard Thackway and Bureau of Rural Sciences, Canberra; National Land and Water Resources Audit, Canberra; Queensland Museum, Brisbane; CSIRO Australian National Wildlife Collection, Canberra; Birds Australia; NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change; NSW Department of Primary Industry, Forests NSW; Geosciences Australia; World Wildlife Fund; Kellee Koenig, Ian Harrison, and Conservation International; IUCN; Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Queensland; Land and Property Information, New South Wales; Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory; Museum Victoria; South Australian Museum; Western Australian Museum; Commonwealth Department of Defence; Northern Territory Department of Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts; WildNet, Queensland Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane; South Australian Department for Environment and Heritage; Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water; Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment. Support also was provided by the “2010 Working Group” within the Australian Research Council, Environmental Futures Network (see Williams et al. 2006). Photographs in Fig. 16.3 by A.F., CSIRO.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristen J. Williams
    • 1
  • Andrew Ford
    • 1
  • Dan F. Rosauer
    • 1
  • Naamal De Silva
    • 1
  • Russell Mittermeier
    • 1
  • Caroline Bruce
    • 1
  • Frank W. Larsen
    • 1
  • Chris Margules
    • 1
  1. 1.CSIRO Ecosystem SciencesCanberraAustralia

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