Wet sclerophyll forests (grassy sub-formation)

Vegetation formation map


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Key:
<1%
1-10%
10-50%
>50%
Estimated percentage landcover for vegetation formation

Overview

The wet sclerophyll forests of New South Wales occur on moderately fertile soils in high rainfall areas, and are characterised by a tall, open, sclerophyllous tree canopy and a luxuriant understorey of soft-leaved, mesophyllous, shrubs, fern and herbs. Many understorey plants are rainforest species or have close rainforest relatives. Rainforests may be embedded within a matrix of wet sclerophyll forest and the two often blend together as intermediate forms.

Wet sclerophyll forests can be divided into two subgroups according to their understoreys; the shrubby subformation and the grassy subformation. Both have a tall, straight-trunked eucalypt canopy and a mesophyllous understorey, however the grassy subformation has a more open form with fewer shrubs and small trees, and occurs in slightly drier habitats.

The wet sclerophyll forests of New South Wales are limited to the coastal ranges and eastern side of the escarpment. Eucalypts dominate the canopy and include blue gums, mahoganies, peppermints and green-leaved ashes. Wet sclerophyll forests are highly combustible and fire seasons in the State are determined by rainfall. Northern forests have a peak fire season in late spring to early summer, while in the south, the low rainfall and humidity and high winds at the end of summer may produce fierce crown fires.

Few animal species are unique to the wet sclerophyll forests, however many are more common in this environment, due to its diverse abundance of resources. The copious amount of fallen wood and leaf litter provide food, habitat and shelter for a complex invertebrate ground fauna, while insects, mites and spiders provide a bountiful resource for insectivorous birds. Mammals include possums, gliders, potoroos and pademelons.

With the demise of rainforests resources, early settlers turned to the timber of wet sclerophyll forests for hardwood construction materials. Many regions were converted to agricultural land after clearing, however many proved to be unproductive. Two million hectares of forest were reserved for more sustainable harvesting, which is still conducted today. The shift from old, hollow-bearing trees to younger saplings has reduced the number of breeding and shelter sites for many animal species.

Threatened species in this vegetation formation

See a list of species, populations and ecological communities associated with the Wet sclerophyll forests (grassy sub-formation) formation.

Find species in a more specific vegetation class

The Wet sclerophyll forests (grassy sub-formation) formation can be divided into the following classes. Select a vegetation class on the list below to see a list of species associated with it: