Brief Background • Kakadu National Park is in the Northern Territory of Australia, 171 km southeast of Darwin. • Kakadu National Park is located within the Alligator Rivers Region of the Northern Territory of Australia. • It covers an area of 19,804 km2 (7,646 sq. mi),extending nearly 200 kilometers from north to south and over 100 kilometers from east to west. It is the size of Slovenia, about one-third the size of Tasmania, or nearly half the size of Switzerland.
Flora • Kakadu's flora is among the richest in northern Australiawith more than 1700 plant species recorded which is a result of the Park's geological, landform and habitat diversity. Kakadu is also considered to be one of the most weed free national parks in the world. • The distinctly different geographical areas of Kakadu have their own specialized flora. The environmentreferred to as ‘the Stone Country’ features ‘resurrection grasses’ that are able to cope with extreme heat and long dry spells followed by periods of torrential rain. Monsoon forests often develop in the cool moist gorges dissecting the stone country. The southern hills and basins support several endemicplants that are only found in Kakadu such as Eucalyptus koolpinensis near Jarrangbarnmi (Koolpin Gorge). Lowland areas form a large proportion of Kakadu National Park and are mainly covered in eucalypt-dominated open woodland with the ground layer consisting of a large range of grasses including spear grass, sedges and wildflowers. • The floodplains, which are inundated for several months each year, feature sedges such as spike rush as well patches of freshwater mangroves (itchy tree), pandanus and paper bark trees (Melaleuca). Varieties of water lilies, such as the blue, yellow and white snowflake, are commonly found in these areas. Estuaries and tidal flats are populated with varieties of mangroves (39 of the 47 Northern Territory species of mangrove occur in Kakadu) that are important for stabilizing the coastline. Mangroves serve as feeding and breeding grounds for many fish species including the barramundi. • On the tidal flats behind the mangroves, hardy succulents (samphire), grasses and sedges grow. Isolated pockets of monsoon forest grow along the coast and river banks. These forests contain several impressive trees, among them the banyan fig, which can be recognized by its large, spreading aerial roots, and the kapok tree, which has a spiny trunk, large, waxy red flowers and pods full of cotton-like material.
Fauna • The diverse environments of Kakadu National Park support an astonishing array of animals, a number of which have adapted to particular habitats. Some animals in the Park are rare, endangered, vulnerable or endemic. Responding to the extreme weather conditions experienced in the Park, many animals are active only at particular times of the day or night or at particular times of the year.
Introduced Species/ Issues and Threats • Asian water buffalo, cattle, pigs, horses, donkeys, dogs, cats, European bees and cane toads are introduced animals present in Kakadu. Introduced animals spread weeds, increase erosion and prey on native animals. In collaboration with Aboriginal traditional owners, a comprehensive program to reduce the number of these animals is in place. • Weeds are a significant threat as they decrease food sources and habitats for animals and compete with native plants. Mission grass and gamba grass are two weeds that increase the intensity of fires. Staff use manual weed control programs, biological control techniques and regularly carry out monitoring and research to manage them.
Ways to Help • Plant native plants and remove any invasive plants in your garden. There are many good native plant alternatives to common exotic ornamental plants. • Learn to identify invasive species in your area. Report any sightings to your county extension agent or local land manager. Learn more about invasive species in your state. • Regularly clean your boots, gear, boat, tires and any other equipment you use outdoors to remove insects and plant parts that may spread invasive species to new places. • When camping, buy firewood near your campsite (within 30 miles) instead of bringing your own from home, and leave any extra for the next campers. Invertebrates and plants can easily hitch a ride on firewood you haul to or from a campsite -- you could inadvertently introduce an invasive to a new area.