Darwin is home to a diverse range of habitats from the coastal, marine and mangrove environments to the monsoon rainforests, woodlands and sandstone escarpments. To manage our land well we must understand each habitat and how to look after them.
The climate of the Darwin region is wet-dry tropical. This means that it is in tropical climatic zone, and experiences strongly seasonal rainfall, with two main seasons the ‘Wet’ season and the 'Dry'. The Wet is where we receive the majority of our yearly rainfall. This season typically occurs between October to April and can be very warm with temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius, and has very high humidity. The period between May and September is referred to as the ‘Dry’ season. During these months, the region receives little to no rainfall. Temperatures are cooler and there is less humidity. It is this strongly seasonal pattern of rainfall that directly influences the habitats and ecosystems in the region, as the species that occur here are forced to adapt to periods of very high rainfall followed by months of no rainfall at all.
Did you know in Darwin we have different habitat types all with their own uniquely adapted plant species?
The Darwin Harbour ecosystem supports a range of estuarine, freshwater and terrestrial environments. It is such a special place that is has been classed as a Sites of Conservation Significance.
Two main rivers, the Elizabeth and Darwin Rivers drain into the harbour. The tidal range in Darwin harbour is very high, approximately 8m! Two high tides and two low tides are experienced daily, which produces very strong currents in the harbour and creates distinct ecosystems including seagrass beds, coral reefs and mangroves.
Coastal and mangrove environments
These are low lying areas found along beaches and and areas of coastline. From Nightcliff to Mindil beach along the foreshore to East Point a mix of coastal species and areas of mangroves exist. Mangroves support specialised flora and fauna suited to the intertidal zones and includes species that are entirely restricted to mangrove environments such as the Chestnut Rail and White breasted Whistler. The Harbour itself has 15 threatened species calling it home and is right on our doorstep.
In the Top End wetlands include areas of permanent and seasonally inundated lakes and water bodies, some areas only have water in them for a few months of the year. They provide habitat and refuge for a range of animal species.
Riverine vegetation occurs along the edges of rivers, creeks and streams and is the transitional zone between aquatic and terrestrial environments. Within the northern suburbs of Darwin, a good example of riverine habitat occurs along Rapid Creek. The vegetation is characterised by tall shady trees over a mix of grasses and smaller shrubs but can include monsoon forest, sedgelands, grasslands and woodlands.
This vegetation has many different names it is sometimes called Monsoon Vine Thicket, Dry Vine forest or simply Rainforest.
These areas contain a variety of species adapted to a moist microclimate, as you walk through areas such as East Point or Casuarina Coastal Reserve you can feel the temperature difference. Features of this habitat include an over storey of mature shade trees with an open understory ideal for bush walking.
Much of Darwin was once completely covered in woodland, it has a multi layered vegetation structure of trees over shrubs, grasses and herbs.
Ranges and rocky outcrops are identifying features of sandstone escarpments. This type of habitat can be seen in areas alongside Tiger Brennan Drive. These plants are well adapted to the rocky soils, and lower rainfall.
Green Spaces and Reserves
In Darwin we have over 1074 parcels of land classed as parks, reserves or green spaces. We looked at each one and assessed its potential as both a biodiversity and community asset. We use this assessment to help guide our future actions at each park and figure out how we can make them better!
Want to learn more about our largest and most biodiverse areas in Darwin check out the East Point Science Trail.