Our Cloud Forests need your help – Volunteer and escape to the lush wildlife haven of Northern QLD

Posted on Posted in Cape York, crawly, East coast, feathered, furry, Nocturnal, North QLD, Places, scaly

Cloud forests, or fog forests, get their name due to a persistent cover of cloud at the canopy level. These tropical or subtropical forests can be as vast as an entire mountain range, or as confined as a small ‘patch’ on the saddle of a mountain.

What makes them so special? They’re perfectly engineered to retain almost every drop of moisture from clouds – thick mist combined with dense canopy cover greatly reduces sunlight penetration and evapotranspiration. Fog condenses on leaves and simply drips to the ground, resulting in remarkably rich humic soils which nurture lush vegetation including mosses, bromeliads, ferns and orchids.

A section of incredibly dense ‘cloud forest’ canopy within Queenslands Wet Tropics region. Photo courtesy of www.wettropics.gov.au.

Cloud forests support high abundances of endemic species in many regions across the globe. Sadly, they are critically at risk of disappearing in countries like Mexico, due to land clearance and climate change. 

This month not for profit organisation Earthwatch are busy chasing volunteers for their expeditions to discover more about the unique and fascinating wildlife of our Cloud Forests here in Queensland…


Escape the sounds of the bustling city as you step into the lush and tranquil tropics on Earthwatch’s Wildlife of the Cloud Forests expedition. The sounds of a bird chorus at dawn and trickling waters of nearby creeks and streams will be your new home, as you immerse yourself in this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Inside the World Heritage listed Wet Tropics of Northern Queensland lies an exotic array of wildlife and plants. As the last remaining part of forest that once dominated half of Australia, you will find animals that cannot be found anywhere else in the world including cassowaries, a variety of parrots, pythons, possums, tree kangaroos and primitive looking reptiles.

Striped possums (Dactylopsila trivirgata) are uncommon and rarely seen in Australia. Their distribution is limited to two small patches of rainforest between Townsville and Cape York, where they usually reside among dense epiphyte clumps. Photo courtesy of A. Zimny.

Working alongside world renowned Ecologist, Prof. Steve Williams, you will move through a wide variety of landscapes from the crystal clear coral shorelines and beaches, to lowland lush rainforests right through to spectacular mountains covered in cloud forests. Throughout this time you will be helping to shape our understanding of what changes are occurring to our climate and landscape and what this means for the unique species in the area.

One of Australia’s largest geckoes, the Chameleon gecko (Carphodactylus laevis), thrives in cloud forests where it sleeps among the heavy leaf litter at night and forages on the ground and low tree trunks during the day. Photo courtesy of S. Williams.

As part of a research team, you will be actively involved in a range of activities including:

  • Bird watching
  • Reptile trapping and surveys
  • Nocturnal wildlife spotting
  • Bat surveys


One or two weeks, it’s your choice.

Choose to join this expedition for either, the first week, the last week or continuing through for the entire two weeks. The first week will be spent in the beautiful South Johnstone Forestry Camp, while on the second week you move onto Shiptons Flat camp with a few days inCairnsin between. Both locations are on different tablelands to ensure a variety in wildlife and scenery and are often closed off to the wider public.

2012 dates and pricing:

–          7 days   | 5-11 Aug or 28 Oct-2 Nov       | $1,690

–          8 days   | 12-19 Aug or 3-11 Nov             | $1,890

–          15 days | 5-19 Aug or 28 Oct-11 Nov    | $3,500

Prices include all food, accommodation, return transfers fromCairnsairport as well as a contribution to this important research.

The elusive Bennett’s tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus bennettianus) is a resident of the cloud forests surrounding the Daintree region. They feed exclusively on rainforest vegetation such as ferns and the leaves of the Umbrella Tree (Schefflera actinophylla). Photo courtesy of A. Zimny.

Sign up today
So if you are looking for an excuse to escape, why not join one of our research teams and explore the hidden wonders of our most beautiful and remote rainforests. Book online, or call Earthwatch on 03 9682 6828.

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