Survey of Daintree’s Lot 21 finds spectacular old growth rainforest

The spectacular old-growth rainforest at Lot 21 Camelot Close at Cape Tribulation justifies its immediate purchase and protection. 

Old-growth tropical rainforest on Lot 21 Camelot Close 

Before making a commitment to the purchase of land in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest we undertake a survey to confirm the natural values of each property.

Ecologist and botanist Kristopher Kupsch conducted a vegetation survey of Lot 21 Camelot Close on the 29th of April and again on the 20th of June 2021. He found remnant tropical rainforest on the entirety of the site. The forest is well developed and free of human disturbance other than the immediate road front of Camelot Close. The survey found 215 native species of native plants on the 2.306 hectares making this an important refuge for biodiversity.

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We've provided an outline of the report below including a description of the Threatened and endemic plants found on the property.

The forest contains many examples of large specimens such as enormous Papuan Rosewoods (Dysoxylum papuanum), Cassowary Satinash (Syzygium graveolens), Cairns Hickory (Ganophyllum falcatum), Cairns Pencil Cedar (Palaquium galactoxylon), Tulip Oak (Argyrodendron peralatum), Spur Mahogany (Dysoxylum pettigrewianum), Damson Plum (Terminalia microcarpa) and Northern Silky Oak (Cardwellia sublimis). The native Nutmeg (Myristica spp.) dominate the mid canopy with the understorey layer having Hope’s Cycad (Lepidozamia hopei), Walking Stick Palms (Linospadix minor), Polyalthia xanthocarpa, Glossy Laurel (Cryptocarya laevigata), Rambling Spearflower (Ardisia brevipedata), Tapeinosperma (Tapeinosperma pallidum) and the ubiquitous Rattan (Calamus spp.) thickets.  The ground is nearly absent of grasses, sedges or forbs. Bordering the stream on steep terrain are ferns such as Adiantum, Crepidomanes and Marattia salicina.                                                        

Old-growth tropical rainforest on Lot 21 Camelot Close 

The vegetation Regional Ecosystem (RE) mapping by The Department of Environment and Science, Queensland Herbarium is consistent with the site appraisal. Subtle changes in the habitat can be found along the streams of Lot 21. There is an increased abundance of Alexander Palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae) and also is where Mulgrave Satinash (Syzygium xerampelinum) is dominate. In the south of Lot 21, the forest is even grander with many large tall straight buttressed trees suggesting little disturbance and deep fertile well drained soil.

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The mapping indicates Lot 21 as having Regional Ecosystem 7.11.23b “Complex mesophyll vine forest. Fertile, well drained metamorphics of footslopes in the very wet and wet rainfall zones, of the Daintree-Bloomfield Subregion”.

RE 7.11.23b is listed as “Of Concern” under the Vegetation Management Act 1999.

The Queensland government indicates a pre-clearing amount of 900 ha existed with 800 ha hectares remaining in 2019 and much of that is within reserves.

The Queensland government specifically states that this vegetation type has “Special Values” being:

“This ecosystem is habitat for a large number of endemic plant species”.

Two (2) species found on Lot 21 are listed on the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992.

     1,     Gray’s Walnut (Endiandra grayi)

This large Vulnerable (NCA) tree is only found between the Daintree River and Cape Tribulation in lowland rainforest below 40m asl. Its large seeds are solely dispersed by the Southern Cassowary.

     2,     Noah’s Walnut (Endiandra microneura)

Commonly found on Lot 21 and is listed as Near Threatened (NCA). This species is only found naturally within the Daintree rainforests predominately north of the Daintree River and south of Cape Tribulation.

Noah’s Walnut (Endiandra microneura)

Other Significant species found during the survey:

     1,     Daintree Cleistanthus (Cleistanthus myrianthus)

Many large specimens and smaller examples of Daintree Cleistanthus are found on Lot 21.

This species of small tree also occurs in South East Asia however in Australia is only found between the Bloomfield and Daintree rivers in lowland rainforest. Its seeds are dispersed by gravity which allows independence from an animal vector however the trade-off is limited dispersal from the parent tree and poses the question how the species also occurs thousands of kilometres to the north but not in between.

Kelvin Davies with Daintree Cleistanthus

     2,     Cooper Creek Haplostichanthus (Polyalthia xanthocarpa)

This species is common on Lot 21 and occurs as a small understorey plant to just over head height.

This is an understorey shrub to 3m in height and is restricted to the rainforests of the Daintree lowlands, albeit found as far south as the Daintree village, the large majority of records comes from the vicinity of the Cow Bay-Cape Tribulation area. It is a recently described species formally recognised in 2007 as Haplostichanthus ramiflorus and then redescribed as Polyalthia xanthocarpa in 2012. It is very common where it occurs but has a very restricted occurrence.

Cooper Creek Haplostichanthus (Polyalthia xanthocarpa)

     3,     Walters False Uvaria (Pseuduvaria froggattii)

Is a small understorey tree restricted in distribution from near Port Douglas to just north of Cape Tribulation. It is relatively common on Lot 21 and easily mistaken for its close relative Polyalthia xanthocarpa however P.froggattii is larger in all parts and has noticeable cauliflorous bumps on the trunk from which the unusual clusters of flowers arise followed by orange fruit.

     4,     Daintree Satinash (Syzygium monospermum)

This species is only found in lowland rainforests between Cape Tribulation and Julatten. The tree provides food for the Endangered Southern Cassowary and owing to the size of its large white fruit that it produces straight from the trunk, few other animals other than possibly Fruit bats, would disperse it.

The species is myrmecophilous in that it shares a symbiotic relationship with Ants. This tree was only botanically named in 2003 and is not uncommon on Lot 21.

Daintree Satinash (Syzygium monospermum)

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Other values of Lot 21:

Great numbers of species occur on Lot 21 within the Lauraceae, Meliaceae, Moraceae, Rubiaceae and Sapindaceae families. All these species are food for rainforest frugivorous birds. The larger fruiting Lauraceae, Endiandra grayi and E.microneura are important food for Cassowaries. Native Nutmeg (Myristica globosa ssp. muelleri) is common throughout the site and a favoured food of rainforest avifauna.

Hopes Cycad (Lepidozamia hopei)

Lot 21 has many examples of Hope’s Cycad. This species of Cycad is the largest growing in the world and was once utilised by Aboriginal people as a food source. It has evolutionary links dating back some 200 million years and along with other ancient species form some of the reasons why the Wet Tropics World Heritage area has been afforded protection within the National Parks estate.

Hopes Cycad on Lot 21 Camelot Close 

Boyd's Forest Dragon (Lophosaurus boydii).

The Boyd's Forest Dragon was found on Lot 21 Camelot Close. They are a species of arboreal agamid lizard found in rainforests in the Wet Tropics region of northern Queensland, Australia.

Boyd's forest dragons spend the majority of their time perched on the trunks of trees, usually at around head height. Boyd's forest dragons are sit-and-wait predators, catching prey that they spy from their perches, although once on the ground, they will frequently move over a wider area, catching prey as they go.
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Boyds Forest Dragon 

There has been an attempt of habitation with a dwelling (bush shack) in the lower reaches however is now dilapidated and unliveable. It appears little to no clearing took place upon settlement. 

Weeds:

The most noticeable and potentially problematic of all exotic plant species identified on Lot 21 are Brazilian Cherry (Eugenia brasiliensis), Santol (Sandoricum koetjape) and Singapore Daisy (Sphagneticola trilobata).

It must be noted that this particular region of the Daintree is a hotspot for a number of exotic plant collections, notably Palms. Two exotic Palm species were noted, one which constitutes the first record of this clumping Spiney American Palm species in Australia.

Recommendations:

  1. Removal is recommended for all the exotic woody species associated with the road front of Lot 21. Two exotic fruit trees appear especially weedy, these being Grumichama (Eugenia brasiliensis) and Santol (Sandoricum koetjape). Both species illustrate high naturalisation potential with thousands of seedlings present.
  2. Engage with adjacent property owners to identify common goals and strategies to minimise foreign influences occurring on Lot 21, be they stray pets, stray plants, stray people, excessive noise, disturbance to bordering vegetation and waterways.
  3. Remove all human-derived objects from the site. Currently, an old dwelling is located prior to the creek in the central-eastern portion and a very rusted vehicle is located in the north eastern corner of Lot 21.
  4. Establish Feral pig management strategies on Lot 21.

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  • Kelvin Davies
    published this page in Latest News 2021-07-08 13:47:49 +1000