baumzaehlen - Primeval Forests & Their Trees

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Barrington Tops National Park, New South Wales, Australia - high altitude forests

Barrington Tops National Park (739 km 2 ) is a part of Gondwana Rainforest of Australia World Heritage Site which is composed of several separate parts. The park comprises an ancient volcano rising to an elevation of over 1500 metres. Due to fertile soils on basalt, demanding rainforest trees thrive in sheltered valleys; low elevation rainforest is classified as subtropical and Opens internal link in current window Nothofagus moorei (Antarctic beech) forests at high elevations as cool temperate 1 . Fire-dependent eucalypts penetrate to the sites which burn more easily, like ridges. Annual precipitation is approx. 1500 mm with maximum in summer 2 . Persistent fogs further increase the “precipitation” 2 .

Tree species diversity at high elevations is relatively low. Identifying high elevation rainforest trees is not difficult but Eucalyptus identification is laborious (for more about Eucalyptus identification, see Opens internal link in current window Snowy River National Park ). N. moorei only forms tall forests as small groves at sheltered sites, mainly on upper slopes 3 . It achieves heights of over 40 metres, and stand basal area may exceed that of any other New South Wales rainforest type 4 . Opens internal link in current window Dicksonia antarctica (soft tree fern) strongly characterizes these groves. It is very resistant to damage by fire and surprisingly may live for 50 0–1 000 years 5 . The high plateau is mostly covered by Opens internal link in current window Eucalyptus pauciflora (snow gum) forest which is considered subalpine woodland rather than rainforest, despite being as moist as adjacent N. moorei forest. This is because Eucalyptus spp. are not considered rainforest trees. (For more about the definition of Australian rainforest, see Opens internal link in current window Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park .)

Off-trail hiking and camping are allowed but difficult: slopes are steep and outside well developed rainforest progress is often extremely slow due to thorny climbers.


1 Keith, D. (2004): Ocean Shores to Desert Dunes, the Native Vegetation of New South Wales and the ACT. Dep. of Environment and Conservation (NSW).

2 Floyd, A. (1990): Australian Rainforests in New South Wales, Volume 1. Surrey Beatty & Sons.

3 Zoete, T. (2000): Opens external link in new window Vegetation Survey of the Barrington Tops and Mount Royal National Parks for use in Fire Management . Cunninghamia 6 (3).

4 Read, J. & Brown, M. J. (1996): Ecology of Australian Nothofagus Forests. In Veblen, T. T., Hill, R. S. & Read, J. (eds.): The Ecology and Biogeography of Nothofagus Forests . Yale University Press.

5 Hunt, Davidson, Unwin & Close (2002): Ecophysiology of the Soft Tree Fern, Dicksonia antarctica Labill. Austral Ecology 27 , 360–368.

Official site:

Doryphora sassafras (sassafras, the dense-crowned trees) invading Nothofagus moorei (Antarctic beech, thicker trunks) forest. Also Dicksonia antarctica (soft tree fern). Elev. 1430 m.
Nothofagus moorei (Antarctic beech, large trees) forest. Also Doryphora sassafras (sassafras) saplings with dense foliage, and Dicksonia antarctica (soft tree fern).
On the ridges Eucalyptus spp. (light green canopies), in the valleys rainforest trees, on the steep slope in the background Nothofagus moorei (Antarctic beech) forest, on the mountain top Eucalyptus pauciflora (snow gum) forest. Below the acute peak (Careys Peak, 1545 m), a landslip area.
Eucalyptus pauciflora (snow gum) forest. Elev. 1400 m.
Upper reaches (1200 m) of Chichester River. On the left, trifoliolate leaves of Vesselowskya rubifolia (southern marara). Also Dicksonia antarctica (soft tree fern).
Low Elaeocarpus holopetalus (black olive berry) dominated thicket in the upper Chichester River catchment. Elev. 1300 m.
Some rainforest trees of high altitudes (1200-1400 m).