Box Gum Woodlands
Most of Australia’s remaining box gum eucalypt woodlands are found on private land. The fate of these woodlands and the many plants and animals that rely on them, some of them endangered, lies in the hands of rural property owners.
Healthy box gum woodlands and their associated grasslands typically possess white box, yellow box or Blakely’s red gum trees and a rich understorey of native grasses, herbs and shrubs. However, very few survive intact and those that remain are a fraction of their original size.
Mature trees in these woodlands, including the box gum, provide important breeding and foraging habitat for a variety of native animals including regent honeyeaters, superb parrots, spotted-tail quolls and squirrel gliders.
Where can we find box gum woodlands?
The box gum woodlands and associated grasslands occur in an arc along the western slopes and tablelands of the Great Dividing Range from southern Queensland through NSW to central Victoria. In NSW, they occur on the North Coast, in the Brigalow Belt South, New England Tablelands, Nandewar region, Sydney Basin, South Eastern Highlands, South-east Corner and South Western Slopes.
Threats to box gum woodlands
Many of these ecological communities, which are now listed as critically endangered, are the victims of land clearing for agriculture, and grazing and pasture pressures have effectively destroyed their understoreys. Data suggests that perhaps 95 per cent of the original box gum woodlands have been cleared; those that remain are small islands in a sea of agricultural land and degraded woodlands.
The box gum woodlands are subject to further threats in the form of clearing, intensive grazing on travelling stock routes and reserves, and weed invasion. Salinity, nutrient enrichment and altered fire regimes are also a problem.
Solutions – What can be done?
There are a number of conservation measures that will help protect the box gum woodlands that remain. Retaining standing timber and bush rocks, either excluding or carefully managing grazing, preventing cultivation and fertilizer use in the vicinity, and controlling exotic plants can all play a positive role in restoring woodland habitat.
The Nature Conservation Trust’s work in private land conservation is helping to protect the habitat of the box gum woodlands.