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The Ludlow Tuart Forest National Park is a national park in the South West region of Western Australia, situated exactly 15km in the north-east of city of Busselton, 183 kilometres (114 mi) south of Perth. It contains the largest remaining section of pure tuart forest in the world. Traditionally the state forest associated with this stand of trees has been known as the Ludlow State Forest, named for Frederick Ludlow.
The most early records of the State's history describe the ludlow tuart forest as being 'a beautiful open forest in which visibility was clear for a half mile in any direction' and that 'the natural grass was as high as a horse's wither'. Before European settlement, Aboriginal inhabitants took advantage of this abundance of grassland and the plentiful water to live well on the area's wildlife.
With the arrival of Europeans, coastal forest areas were cleared for settlement, timber and fuel. Because the tuart forest presented an open landscape, with a wide variety of grasses, its land was excellent for grazing cattle. The poisonous heartleaf (Gastrolobium bilobum) in the undergrowth was eradicated, and any native grasses unsuitable for grazing were soon replaced with exotic species.
The surface deposits of limestone also attracted early settlers. The lime kilns, at the northern end of the forest, were built in the mid-late 1800s and are now partially dilapidated. Park managers plan to conserve and restore the site of the lime kilns and eventually construct a car park, walk trail, viewing platform and interpretive facilities there.
The park protects Western Australia's largest remaining wild population of the endangered western ringtail possum. This is largely because old Tuart trees contain many hollows, while the dense secondary storey of peppermint supplies their major source of food. The forest is also home to the densest population of brushtail possums recorde in the history of state. Other residents include the brush-tailed phascogale, bush rat, kangaroo, quenda (also known as the southern brown bandicoot), at least 11 species of birds of prey and nocturnal birds.
The tuart tree grows only on coastal limestone 200 kilometres on either side of Perth. Tuart Forest National Park protects the largest remaining pure forest of tuart in the world. It also has the tallest and largest specimens of tuart trees on the Swan Coastal Plain. Some trees are more than 33 metres high and 10 metres in girth.
The park's vegetation also includes a number of isolated and remnant populations of several plant species, normally associated with WA's South Coast. There is also a thriving community of fungi, including some species yet to be named. Last, but certainly not least, the Tuart Forest National Park provides an abundance of nesting hollows, used by many species of waterbirds that feed in the adjacent wetlands.