About Savannas

Savanna at sunset, Kakadu National Park, Top End, Northern Territory

Northern Australian Savanna

Tropical savannas are a distinctive landscape type found, or formerly found, in parts of Australia, Africa, South and Central America, India and South-East Asia.

The vast savanna sweeping across more than 1.5 million square kilometres of Northern Australia is one of the greatest natural areas of the world. It is the world’s largest expanse of savanna left in good condition, since globally ~70% of the area of original savanna has been lost.

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Map of global savanna integrity ( from Woinarski et al 2007)

This savanna is the product of a monsoonal climate, relatively infertile soils, regular dry season fire, and the cultural history of the North. It is characterised by grasslands with scattered trees of varying densities, but always with an open canopy. 

Eucalypts are the dominant trees in the Northern Australian savanna, with 188 species present including 105 endemics. These are tolerant of the annual drought and usually highly resilient to burning, at least when mature.

Savanna grasses include annuals and perennials, and both types have short, intense growing periods during the Wet season, then either die or dry off to the roots during the Dry. Many grasses respond positively to fire, resprouting rapidly after burning.

In the Kimberley to Cape initiative the term ‘savanna landscape’ includes floodplains, rivers, wetlands and stone country.

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Eucalypt and other savanna vegetation types across Northern Australia