Springbrook Rescue
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The High Country

A refugium     Map of High Country

The high country of Springbrook above 800 metres harbours true cloud forests and the highest rainfall on mainland Australia outside of the Wet Tropics. It is the focus area for the rainforest restoration project and is of the highest priority for conservation.

Australia today is one of the lowest, flattest, most stable and driest continents on Earth. Deserts predominate where rainforests flourished more than 23 million years ago. Compared to now, climates were much wetter and more equable and soils were much richer in nutrients.

Volcanism resulting from the Australian tectonic plate passing north over a weak hotspot in the earth’s mantle as Gondwana broke up, elevated and rejuvenated landscapes and created safe refuges for species from that Golden Age of rainforests in an otherwise increasingly inhospitable world.

The high country of the Springbrook Plateau above about 800 metres represents remnants from the last two eruptions of the Tweed Shield volcano and abuts the vertical cliff faces of the erosion caldera to the south and the younger, deeply incised gorges to the north.

The high country is the wettest part of the Springbrook Plateau, most closely resembling the ancient conditions when species giving this area its World Heritage Status arose. Its rainforests are potentially the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and human settlement. Even without these impacts, survival of ancient lineages of plants and animals in a world vastly different from their origins is only possible through a range of buffering mechanisms that ameliorate those contrasts to create a refugium.