Most of the cool temperate rainforests of south eastern Australia are dominated by myrtle-beech (Nothofagus cunninghamii) and in Tasmania these rainforests provide habitat for many primitive flora and fauna. Species diversity and richness of endemic species is highest in the short rainforests in the west and southwest of Tasmania. Among the primitive endemic plants of the short rainforests is leatherwood (Eucryphia lucida), a species of particular importance to the apiary industry.
Flower of Leatherwood (Eucryphia lucida) (Image: Tim Rudman)
Rainforest communities do not need fire for their perpetuation, with the seeds of rainforest plants poorly adapted to fire. For example myrtle-beech and leatherwood do not produce seed every year, and have seeds that are short lived and do not disperse long distances.
Rainforest is not markedly flammable so in normal conditions, fires are generally low intensity and patchy such that many plants escape impact by fire or when damaged, may recover by resprouting. In these conditions fire-impacted rainforest communities may recover within 50 to 100 years.