About Wet & Dry Sclerophyll Forests
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Sclerophyll forests form most Australian wooded habitats. Eucalypts, with in excess of 600 species dominate, with often only one or two species producing extensive stands of timber. Melaleucas, Allocasuarinas, Acacias and Banksias are also well represented. Sclerophyll forests are sculptured by fire both naturally occurring and by human management. The seeds of many species cannot germinate unless exposed to bush fires.
In the Wet Tropics sclerophyll forests are open in nature and the boundary between closed rainforest and open wet sclerophyll forest can be dramatic, being a distance of only two or three metres. An excellent example is McDonald's track in the Barron Falls National Park Kuranda, with rainforest on one side of the track and open forest on the other. In this case a change in soil is responsible, however in most cases the boundary is maintained by fire. Pollen studies reveal that the western boundary of rainforest has moved significant distances over thousands of years in response to climate changes. The boundary is a diversity hot spot for birds and reptiles with species favouring each habitat found within a small area.
Wet sclerophyll forest has similar rainfall requirements to rainforest and if not subject to fire that kills rainforest tree seedlings, the habitat will be eventually be reclaimed by rainforest. Open forest tree species cannot germinate in a closed canopy environment or without fire. Wet sclerophyll forest is critical for ectonal species both on the rainforest and the more open dry sclerophyll forest boundaries. Rainfall in dry sclerophyll forest is insufficient for both wet sclerophyll and rainforest species, therefore without fire wet sclerophyll forest will be squeezed out by rainforest and diversity lost.
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|Giant of wet sclerophyll forest|
Rose Gum (Eucalyptus grandis)
|(Eucalyptus grandis) young tree canopy|
|Highland dry sclerophyll forest|
|Highland riparian vegetation|
dominated by (Allocasuarina torulosa)
|Open dry sclerophyll forest on volcanic sill|
|Tropical Savannah Einasleigh Uplands|