Conservation Value of the Daintree
The area known as the Daintree Lowland Rainforest is a narrow, 23km strip of tropical coastal lowland rainforest between the mountains of the Great Dividing Range, the Daintree River Estuary and Cape Tribulation in Far North Queensland. It is located two hour's drive north of the city of Cairns.
In many parts of this narrow strip the hilly slopes of the Great Dividing Range fall quite steeply into the Coral Sea leaving only about 70km of lowland including mangroves.
Approximately half of the rainforest in these lowlands has been cleared and much of the rainforest that remains has been selectively logged. The remaining rainforest is of very limited extent and high in biodiversity.
Widely acknowledged by scientists as the oldest tropical rainforest in the world (over 135 million years old) the Daintree Lowland Rainforest is of exceptionally high biodiversity and conservation value. It contains an almost complete record of the evolution of plant life on Earth, and has more ancient families of flowering plants than anywhere else in the world, including the entire Amazon jungle.
The Idiospernum, which is only found in the Daintree Rainforest, is one of the rarest and most primitive flowering plants known and scientists believe is a vital link for the search into the origins of flowering plants.
The Daintree Rainforest is home to an amazing variety of plants and animals including 122 rare, threatened and endangered species. Many of these are 'endemic' to the region meaning that they are found nowhere else on the planet.
These includes the Endangered Blue Tassel Fern (huperzia dalhousieana), the Rare Russell River Lime (Microcitrus inodora) and Cooper's Creek Walnut. Endangered animal species include the Musky-rat Kangaroo, Spotted-tail Quoll and the Southern Cassowary.
The Daintree is also home to:
- 30% of Australia's marsupial species
- 20% of Australia's reptile species
- 29% of Australia's frog species
- 58% of Australia's Bat & Butterfly species