The Daintree Rainforest Australia

If you want to learn about the Daintree Rainforest in Australia, this page contains lots of useful information, including how it is affected by human actions.

The Daintree Rainforest in Queensland, Australia

The Daintree Rainforest is a tropical rainforest near Daintree, Queensland, on the coast, north of Cairns in tropical far north of Australia. At around 1200 square kilometers the Daintree is the largest continuous area of rainforest on the Australian mainland.

Named for Richard Daintree, part of the forest is protected by the Daintree National Park and drained by the Daintree River. The Daintree 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. All of this diversity is contained within an area that takes up 0.2% of the landmass of Australia.

The Daintree Rainforest's addition to the World Heritage List in 1988 in recognition of its universal natural values highlighted the rainforest. The Daintree is an outstanding example of the major stages in the earth's evolutionary history, an example of significant ongoing ecological and biological processes, and an example of superlative natural phenomena. It contains important and significant habitats for conservation of biological diversity.

The Daintree Rainforest is over one hundred and thirty-five million years old – the oldest in the world. Approximately 430 species of birds live among the trees, including 13 species that are found nowhere else in the world. The primitive flowering plant Idiospermum australiense is also endemic to the Daintree.

Environmental threats

Logging
is an industry that put the Daintree Rainforest on the map decades ago, and remains a force in the area. Parts of the rainforest are controlled by the Queensland Forestry Department, who could fell ancient trees and sell the timber for high prices. From the mid-late 20th century, logging has been a major factor contributing to the vulnerability of the Daintree. After World War 2, Australia’s economy began to expand rapidly and the demand for timber was high. Numerous timber mills were built to log trees from the Daintree and transport infrastructure was built by such firms to make logging more rapid and efficient. Not only did logging become more rapid but this infrastructure also burnt fossil fuels to fuel the production and transportation which contributed to greater carbon based pollutants in the biosphere and hydrosphere in the surrounding area. For example, in 1945 a steel punt barge was built to carry large logs. However, due to a greater global awareness of logging (especially in large rainforests such as the Amazon) logging has curbed in recent decades and government policies and organisations (such as the Queensland Forestry Department) have aided this. However, on a global scale logging in the Daintree is minor compared to larger rainforests such as the Amazon in Brazil and the Borneo Rainforest in Indonesia.

Mining
is another threat, although has not yet become active. Tin mining leases are held over parts of the area, and if these go ahead many plants and animal species will be lost.

Tourism
also has an effect on the area. More than 400,000 people visit the region each year, which means thousands of buses, 4WD’s, and passenger cars drive through the rainforest. Tourism is arguably the most detrimental environmental force to the Daintree’s vulnerability. The demand for tourism will also increase the amount of cars and infrastructure built in the area. A major reason for the large number of tourists who visit the Daintree each year is due to its close proximity to another major Australian tourist destination, the Great Barrier Reef. Tourists may stay in nearby Cairns or Port Douglas and visit both the rainforest and the reef in the one holiday. However, most tourism operators are mindful of their negative environmental footprint and take steps to keep their businesses environmentally sustainable.

Development by private enterprise
impacts negatively on the vulnerability of the Daintree. Due to an increasing emigration to Queensland from other states due to a lower cost of living along with tourism, the demand for more public and housing infrastructure has increased in North Queensland. This has caused the creation of many fences, subdivision of land in the area, building of roads as well as sewage and drainage infrastructure taking place. These impacts create dangerous conditions for fauna in the Daintree and may cause animals to cross roads or fences in order to search for food. It will also increase pollution due to the development and creation of new infrastructure. Development will also make the rainforest more accessible to tourists which will increase the number of tourists even more.

We are supporting the World Land Trust (WLT) - a conservation charity involved in numerous projects worldwide. Particularly relevant to this site is their work in helping to purchase rainforest land to protect and preserve it.
You can Help to Buy Rainforest and Save it by donating to the WLT to save some of this land through a personal contribution or buying as a gift.

If you have any photos, stories or drawings of The Daintree Rainforest in Queensland or anything else to do with the rainforest environment that you would like to see shown on the site, please feel free to send them in. We always welcome contributions or constructive comments.