The Tarkine contains an extraordinary expanse of temperate rainforest – one of the world’s greatest remaining tracts of temperate rainforest. Running continuously for more than 70 kilometres and reaching beyond the Arthur and the Pieman rivers, this magnificent rainforest includes the Rapid, Keith, Donaldson and Savage River systems. This tract of rainforest is Australia’s largest single tract of rainforest wilderness. Globally, it is one of the most significant remaining tracts of temperate rainforest left on the planet.
More than three quarters of Australia’s rainforests have already been permanently destroyed, and it is critical that we protect the fragments that are left. In 2005, the Tasmanian and Australian government’s agreed to protect an additional 70,000 hectares of rainforest in the Tarkine from logging. This was a big breakthrough for conservation of the Tarkine, but there is still much work to do. Significant sections of rainforest in the Tarkine are still open to logging. Much of the rainforest that is protected from logging, isn’t managed by Tasmania’s Parks & Wildlife Agency, but is managed by Forestry Tasmania, the state-owned logging agency.
The IUCN(International Union for the Conservation of Nature) has twice recommended that the Tarkine be put forward for World Heritage listing, the Australian Heritage Commission recognised the Tarkine by listing it on the register of the National Estate in 2002, and the Australian Heritage Commission is currently investigating the Tarkine’s National Heritage and World Heritage values. The Tarkine’s Rainforests are one of the key values that contribute to the Tarkine’s National and International significance. Globally, temperate rainforests, like those found in the Tarkine, are becoming increasingly rare and threatened by logging and other human activities. Temperate rainforests have a much smaller global distribution than tropical rainforests, and their rarity therefore makes temperate rainforests a priority for conservation.
The Tarkine contains three of the four broad categories of rainforest types found in Tasmania: Callidendrous Rainforest, Thamnic, and Implicate, and contains a high diversity of rainforest communities, fourteen in total. The Arthur Lineament, a geological feature in the Tarkine, is Tasmania’s most extensive basalt plateau that retains its original temperate rainforest ecosystem. This region “forms the largest wilderness dominated by rainforest in Australia” (Kirkpatrick.J 2003), and contains some of the tallest and best example of old-growth undisturbed rainforest in Tasmania (PWS 2001).
Myrtle dominates the Tarkine’s callidendrous (tall, open) rainforests, and is a key indicator of Tasmania’s Gondwanic origins. Gondwana, was an ancient supercontinent which broke away from Pangaea between 600 and 240 million years before the present day. Australia’s history as a part of Gondwanaland is a key reason explaining why there is a high degree of similarity between plants in Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, New Caledonia, Madagascar and South Africa.
To walk in, see, and feel the Tarkine’s magical rainforests is to disappear into a timeless world and once experienced will never be forgotten.