What are the forests of Australia like?
Australia has the common perception of being an arid, dry continent, with low rainfall and many deserts. However, Australia also has an important forest ecology, covering about 19% of the total continental land. Most of the remaining indigenous forest is now preserved in national parks, and there is a thriving plantation forest industry. The native forests of Australia fall into the following categories:
- Melaleuca forests
- Eucalypt forests
- Casuarina forests
- Callitris forests
- Acacia forests
- Mangrove forests
Each of these forests is unique in some way. For example, Eucalypt plants are evolved to survive fires, making them a common plant across the dry parts of the continent. Melaleuca plant are medicinal, while Casuarina trees increase soil fertility. The dominant species in Australia is the Eucalypt, which makes up almost 79% of all the forest on the continent; Eucalypt plants are the major food source for Koalas. The vast majority of Australia's forests are in the northern part of the continent, where the climate is more temperate, and forests occur around the shorelines; the hottest areas in the center have almost no forests at all.