Special Report

Largest Rainforests in the World

Source: AustralianCamera / Getty Images

11. Daintree Rainforest
> Size: 463 square miles
> Location: Queensland, Australia

Believed to be the oldest continuously surviving tropical rainforest, Australia’s Daintree has existed for about 150 million years. Though this wet tropics region takes up only 0.1% of Australia’s land, it contains 35% of the country’s frog, marsupial and reptile species; 65% of its bat and butterfly species, 20% of its bird species, and at least 70 endemic animals. UNESCO World Heritage offers protection to some but not all of the Daintree area, leaving it vulnerable to residential development, habitat fragmentation, invasive plant species, and feral nonnative animals.

Source: Valery Bocman / Getty Images

 

10. Westland Temperate Rainforests
> Size: 4,587 square miles
> Location: South Island, New Zealand

Sited at the collision point of the Pacific and the Indo-Australian crustal plates, steep wooded slopes and deep gorges are features of this dramatic landscape. An estimated 60% of New Zealand’s known species live within the rainforest’s borders. Penguins, butterflies, freshwater fish and more than two dozen threatened bird species find shelter among a variety of forest types from coastal to mountainous, and some of the fastest-moving glaciers on Earth. Predators such as rats, stoats and possums present a threat to wildlife, while deforestation for pastures and pine plantations take their toll on forest and foliage.

Source: Rebecca Ore / Wikimedia Commons

9. Bosawás Biosphere Reserve
> Size: 7,722 square miles
> Location: Northern part of Nicaragua

Protected by UNESCO for more than two decades, among its cloud forests, mountain peaks and humid jungles, Bosawás shelters species that have disappeared everywhere else in the region, including jaguars, poisonous snakes, rare mammals, scarlet macaws and scores of migratory bird species. Slash-and-burn clearance for agriculture and grazing livestock are among the dangers to this reserve.

Source: TonyFeder / Getty Images

8. Eastern Australian Temperate Forests
> Size: 85,753 square miles
> Location: New South Wales to Queensland, Australia

Coastal plains, cliffs, gorges, mountains, tablelands and freshwater lagoons and lakes are among the varied terrains in this region. The dramatic landscape is inhabited by thousands of varieties of native plants, animals, birds, freshwater fish, reptiles and amphibians, some of which are rare and endangered. Environmental threats include invasive plant and animal species, chemical runoff from agriculture, tourism, fires, and urban encroachment.