What Is The Oldest Forest In The World?

Mossman River, Daintree National Park, Queensland, Australia.
Mossman River, Daintree National Park, Queensland, Australia.

Some of the world’s natural forests are so old that it is almost impossible to put a date to them. However, the use of modern scientific technology has made it possible to roughly estimate how old some of these natural forests are. From Kakamega Forest in Kenya to Bialowieza Forest in Poland, Tarkine Forest in Australia, and Yakushima Forest in Japan, ancient forests are still present in all the continents of the world except Antarctica. Some of these forests have been marked as world heritage sites and national parks and are protected and preserved by the government. Daintree is considered the oldest forest in the world.

A Brief Overview

Daintree Rainforest, located in Australia, is one of the world’s oldest forests. The forest which covers an area of approximately 460 square miles, is estimated to be 100 to 180 years old. It dates back to the prehistoric times, before the discovery of Australia by the Europeans. Daintree is Australia’s largest rainforest and is part of the large continuous tropical rainforest of the continent of Australia. It is also part of the Wet Tropics Rainforest which is also the world’s oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest. The rainforest was named after Richard Daintree, an Australian photographer, and geologist.

Ecology Of The Rainforest

Daintree Rainforest has a complex ecosystem. Its structural complexity and biodiversity is unmatched and is a representation of the origin of other flora of Australia. The tropical rainforest thrived when the climate of Australia was humid and warm and received plenty of rainfall. As the continent became arider, some parts of the rainforest could not survive. However, the topography and climate of the Daintree region were ideal, making it the only region where the rainforest could survive. Several species successfully thrived and their descendants are still alive today.

Daintree Rainforest is home to about 3,000 species of trees, some of which have been classified as threatened or rare. One particular species is the Idiospermum australiense or the idiot fruit. It is among the most primitive and rarest flowering plants in the world. The plant was discovered in 1970 and has been used to estimate the age of the forest. There are only 19 such rare flowering plants on earth of which 12 are found in the Daintree Rainforest. The rainforest also supports several species of birds, with over 2,600 square kilometers of land designated as Important Bird Area. About 7% of all birds species in Australia live in the rainforest. It also contains 30% of Australia’s reptiles, frogs, and marsupials as well as 90% of butterflies and bat species. There are over 10,000 insect species in the Daintree Rainforest. Some of the endangered species in the forest include Bennett’s tree-kangaroo and Southern cassowary.

Geography Of The Daintree Rainforestt

The Daintree region comprises fringing reefs, tropical rainforest, and sandy beaches. These attractions can be accessed by roads or numerous walking tracks in the Daintree National Park. The national park is drained by Daintree River. Mount Pieter Botte which is a massive granite outcrop is located on the west of Cape Tribulation. A large part of the tropical rainforest is within the Wet Tropics Rainforest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site listed in 2015.


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