Eastern Australia Temperate Forests

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Huon Pine Forest, Tasmania, Australia.
© WWF-Canon / Edward PARKER

About the Area

This Global ecoregion is made up of 4 terrestrial ecoregions: Southeast Australia temperate forests; Eastern Australian temperate forests; Tasmanian temperate forests; and Australian Alps montane grasslands.

Located on the populated southeastern tip of Australia, Southeast Australia temperate forests stretch from the mountains to the sea. Many eucalyptus trees grow here.

The Eastern Australia Temperate Forests, home of the Blue Mountains, enjoy a moderate climate and high rainfall that give rise to unique Eucalyptus forests and open woodlands dominated by Acacia trees. The Blue Mountains get their name from a distinctive blue haze caused by the oil released by the eucalyptus trees.

Tasmanian temperate forests are home to the largest populations of echidna, or spiny anteater, on Tasmania. The echidna is a monotreme, i.e. a mammal that lays eggs. The Australian Alps are more than 372 miles long, with 50 species of eucalyptus trees found here - about 10% of all Australian eucalypt species.

The region served as a refuge for numerous plant and animal species when drier conditions prevailed over most of the continent. The result is a remarkably diverse spectrum of organisms with high levels of regional and local endemism.

Size:
525,000 sq. km (203,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Temperate Broadleaf and Mixed Forests

Geographic Location:
Southeastern Australia

Conservation Status:
Critical/Endangered
Local Species
Species include koala (Phasolarctos cinereus), golden-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus), squirrel glider (Peterus norfolcensis), wombat (Vombatus ursinus), Southern forest dragon (Hypsilurus spinipes), Lesueur's velvet gecko (Oedura lesueurii), collared scalyfoot (Delma torquata), Australian red-eyed tree frog (Litoria chloris), and the tusked frog (Adelotus brevis).

The ecoregion is also home to a number of endemic species such as Leadbeater's possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri), false water rat (Xeromys myoides), Hastings river mouse (Pseudomys oralis), Eastern little mastiff bat (Mormopterus norfolkensis), red-necked pademelon (Thylogale thetis), Parma wallaby (Macropus parma), long-footed Potoroos (Potorous longipes), and Eastern barred bandicoot (Perameles gunnii).

Birds include endemic species such as Albert's lyrebird (Menura alberti) and russet-tailed thrush (Zoothera heinei), as well as a vast number of wider ranging species like black-necked stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus), Australian king-parrot (Alisterus scapularis), and the yellow-tailed black-cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus funereus).
 / ©: WWF / Frédy MERCAY
Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus), Australia.
© WWF / Frédy MERCAY

Featured Species

Southern forest dragon (Hypsilurus spinipes)

A superb master of camouflage, the southern forest dragon's imposing appearance belies its placid nature and inactive lifestyle. Ranging from a mossy greenish-grey to mid-brown in color, it is characterized by a raised flap of skin adorned with spines on the neck which merges into a row of smaller spines along the middle of the back. The toes are long and thin and terminate in a sharp claw designed to assist with climbing. Total length is around 35 cm, over half of which is tail.

Southern forest dragons are also known as angle-headed dragons because of the shape of their head. Although appearing slow and sluggish, forest dragons can move with speed and agility when pursuing potential prey items such as beetles, cockroaches and spiders. Female forest dragons congregate at a suitable nesting site to deposit their clutch. 2-7 eggs are laid in a shallow depression dug into the soil. These hatch some 2-3 months later.

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Threats
With the exception of southwestern Australia, this is the most heavily altered area on the continent as these forests have suffered conversion to a number of uses such as suburban/urban centers, livestock production, agriculture, and timber production, among others. Invasive plant and animal species are numerous and problematic throughout the ecoregion.

Eucalyptus trees are harvested for log, paper, pulp, and wood chip exports. The forest re-growth that occurs after clear-cutting is not suitable habitat for many species.
WWF’s work
WWF-Australia is working to conserve native vegetation for future generations. The programme aims to eradicate land clearing - the greatest single threat to species in Australia - and reduce the effects of salinity and introduced species on the environment. Together with Australian communities, WWF is also aiming to expand protected areas and ensure the land is well managed for the future.

Species conservation lies at the heart of all WWF's work throughout Australia. 20% of Australia's animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction. WWF is addressing these major threats to species survival in Australia through broad-ranging campaigns and programmes. In the years ahead, WWF-Australia will continue to analyze the effectiveness of long-standing species recovery plans and work with scientists to develop new models for recovery.

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