Temperate Rainforest

Rainforest vegetationTemperate rainforest is most extensive in western Tasmania and in the north east highlands. It also occurs sporadically in most mountain ranges in eastern Tasmania. The canopy is dominated, either singly or in combination, by myrtle beech (Nothofagus cunninghamii), deciduous beech (Nothofagus gunnii), sassafras (Atherosperma moschatum), King Billy pine (Athrotaxis selaginoides), pencil pine (Athrotaxis cupressoides), leatherwood (Eucryphia species), horizontal (Anodopetalum biglandulosum), Huon pine (Lagarostrobus franklinii), celerytop pine (Phyllocladus aspleniifolius), and Cheshunt pine (Diselma archeri).

Where to see rainforest

All the main roads in western Tasmania pass through stands of temperate rainforest. Temperate rainforest can also be seen along many of the roads in the north east highlands, at Mt Field, and at locations on the east coast such as the Sandspit Forest Reserve.

Biodiversity values of rainforest

Although there has been some clearing of temperate rainforest for forest plantations on private land in recent years, the vegetation type is well reserved.

Refer to Threatened Species page for more information.

Management issues in rainforest

Rainforest vegetationThe main management issue for rainforest is the exclusion of fire. This vegetation type is not suitable for planned burning because of its fuel load. Fire can lead to the destruction of temperate rainforests, especially when repeated.

Extreme stock disturbance or logging can open up the understorey of these vegetation types sufficiently to allow the invasion of some weeds, notably blackberry (Rubus fruticosus).

The management recommendations for this vegetation type are:
  • exclude fire
  • control woody weeds
See also Weeds on this site for more information.

Myrtle beech, the major dominant of temperate rainforest, suffers from a natural dieback called myrtle wilt. This dieback accelerates when the forest is disturbed.

The opening up of the temperate rainforest canopy on infertile soils less than 800 m above sea level has also been associated with dieback caused by the cinnamon fungus (Phytophthora cinnamomi).

If you manage rainforest with myrtle beech do not disturb the area around the tree roots or expose the trees by removing adjacent vegetation. If you manage temperate rainforest on infertile soils below 800 m avoid breaking the canopy and introducing soil to the area on machinery.