Warm temperate rainforests receive over 1300mm rainfall each year. They have two layers, consisting of a fairly even canopy of trees and a lower layer of tree and ground ferns, though these are not plentiful. There are usually only 3 to 15 tree species, with slender, even trunks, marked with circular patches of lichen.
Cool temperate rainforests (also called Moss Forests) are found in high places, around 900 to 1500 metres, and get 1750mm to 3000mm of rain each year. When it is not raining, the rainforests are often misty. There are two forest layers. The canopy is more or less even, reaching a height of about 20m. Trees do not have the buttresses found on trees in tropical rainforests. Below the canopy there is a layer of thickly growing tree ferns and other ground ferns. The trees are massive, and there are no large vines or many epiphytes, though there may be thin vines and some orchids. Mosses and lichens are plentiful and grow thickly.
The most common tree in Australian cool temperate rainforests is the Southern or Antarctic Beech, which is evidence that Australia was part of the southern supercontinent, Gondwanaland, more than 130 million years ago.
Australia's largest areas of cool temperate rainforest are found in Tasmania, covering around 10% of the island state. The main trees include myrtle, leatherwood, celery-top pine, sassafras, Huon pine (some of which are over 2000 years old), pencil pine, King Billy pine or deciduous beech. These are ancient species of trees that evolved from trees growing in Gondwanaland, before the eucalypts and acacias evolved. Tasmanian rainforest dates back over 60 million years.
A Tasmanian pademelon with a joey in her pouch. They are also called rufous wallaby.
Animals of the cool temperate rainforests of Australia include ringtail possums, pademelons, spotted tailed quolls, and the dusky antechinus, tree frogs, rosellas and black currawongs. Tasmanian rainforest contains some of the most ancient invertebrates such the large land snail, Macleay's swallowtail butterfly, freshwater crayfish and the peripatus, or velvet worm. There are different animals in temperate rainforests of different countries.
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Human activities threaten rainforests. It takes temperate rainforests several hundred years to mature, and so fires pose a lasting danger. Another threat is clearing of rainforests to use the land for farming, plantations, dams or mining. Rainforest timber is valued for its beauty and usefulness. However, rainforest trees grow slowly so it is not economical to grow them in plantations for timber. Currently, Huon and King Billy pine cannot be exported.
If you use any part of this in your work, acknowledge it in your bibliography like this:
Sydenham, S. & Thomas, R. Rainforest Biome [Online] www.kidcyber.com.au (2002)
Go here for more information about animals of the different temperate rainforests
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