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Nature, culture and history
Plants and animals
The Misty Mountains tracks cross the Walter Hill and Cardwell ranges, extending from the coastal plain to the tablelands. The area is recognised for its diversity of rainforest types, plant species and outstanding landscape features.
Rainforests are competitive places with numerous plants struggling to gain a place in the sun. Lianas wind up and around trees and epiphytes perch on high branches to reach the light. Strangler figs often germinate high on another tree but put vigorous roots down to the ground, eventually outgrowing and overwhelming their hosts.
These forests are home to many animals. All of the 12 species of birds that are endemic to the Wet Tropics region (found nowhere else in the world) are likely to occur in the Misty Mountains; most of these species live only in upland areas. The upland rainforest is also home to many arboreal (tree-dwelling) mammals. Coppery brushtail possums are common in the Koolmoon Creek area. Other species include the lemuroid ringtail, Herbert River ringtail, long-tailed pygmy and striped possums.
The Misty Mountains tracks have been mostly constructed on former timber harvesting tracks, some of which originally followed Aboriginal walking tracks. Remnants of forestry activities in the area include forestry road construction and maintenance camps, loading ramps and bridges. Former forestry camps are located at Charappa Creek (on Maple Creek Road) and beside the South Johnstone River. Scientific areas were gazetted prohibiting logging between McNamee and Downey creeks and on the Cochable Plateau near Elizabeth Grant Falls. These areas were protected to provide a benchmark for research into the effects of logging on the forest and to secure the future of these special areas.
Conserved for the future
The 1980s saw the beginning of an eight-year campaign to protect the rainforests of north Queensland. Conservationists focused on forestry logging activities in the Daintree, Mount Windsor Tablelands and Downey Creek (Gorrell track). Following the declaration of the area as the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area in December 1988, all commercial timber harvesting operations in the area ceased.