The Beauty and Benefits of Eucalypt Forests

Welcome to Tips Tree Planting, where we share our juiciest secrets about gardening and all things green! Today, we’re diving into the enchanting world of Eucalypt forests, those iconic Australian trees that capture the essence of our beautiful land.

The Beauty and Benefits of Eucalypt Forests

Did you know that Eucalypt forests cover a staggering 101 million hectares in Australia? That’s a whopping 77% of our total native forest area! This forest type is the most common in Australia and is home to approximately 800 species of Eucalyptus trees. Talk about biodiversity!

The Origins and Adaptations of Eucalypts

Eucalypts have a fascinating history. They evolved from rainforest ancestors, adapting to an environment where drought, nutrient-poor soils, and fire became increasingly common. These trees developed oil-rich foliage that burns readily, but they also display incredible strategies to survive and recover from fire. Many Eucalypt species are evergreen, keeping their leaves year-round.

Distribution and Ownership

Eucalypt forests can be found throughout all states and territories in Australia, except for the driest regions. Queensland and the Northern Territory boast the largest areas of Eucalypt forests, with 35 million and 20 million hectares respectively. These forests are distributed across leasehold land, private land, and nature conservation reserves (see Table 1).

Distribution of Eucalypt forests

Table 1: Ownership of Eucalypt native forest, by state and territory, 2018 (‘000 hectares)

Tenure ACT NSW NT Qld SA Tas. Vic. WA Australia
Leasehold forest 8 2,832 7,221 19,315 1,127 0 0 1,962 32,464
Multiple-use public forest 5 1,591 0 2,484 18 510 2,953 1,318 8,879
Nature conservation reserve 112 4,799 7 2,339 1,598 924 3,044 4,702 17,525
Other Crown land 4 591 760 946 79 286 231 6,568 9,466
Private forest 0 5,582 11,773 9,731 1,446 742 947 2,052 32,273
Unresolved tenure 0 65 2 368 15 0 0 0 451
Total 129 15,460 19,764 35,184 4,283 2,461 7,175 16,602 101,058

(Source: ABARES, 2019)

Diverse Forest Types

Eucalypt forests come in a variety of types, each with its own unique characteristics. The River red gum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, is the most widely distributed Eucalypt species, found in all Australian mainland states. In the forests of south-eastern Australia, you’ll discover a stunning array of dominant Eucalypt species, including the majestic mountain ash, messmate stringybark, alpine ash, silvertop ash, blackbutt, and spotted gum.

In the south-western region of Australia, jarrah and karri dominate the Eucalypt forests, while the northern parts of the country are home to Darwin woollybutt and Darwin stringybark. The inland regions of southern Australia are graced by multi-stemmed mallee Eucalypts, while in the arid zones, Eucalypts cling to the edges of rivers.

It’s worth noting that Eucalypts are not typically found in tropical and subtropical rainforests in eastern Australia, nor in the temperate rainforests of Victoria and Tasmania.

Forest Structure and Biodiversity

Eucalypt forests are divided into eleven subtypes based on the form of individual trees, crown cover, and tree height. Single-stemmed trees and multi-stemmed mallee are the two main growth forms. Woodland forest and medium-height forest make up the majority of non-mallee Eucalypt forests, covering 60 million and 71 million hectares respectively.

The Beauty and Benefits of Eucalypt Forests

Mature mountain ash trees, for example, can reach astounding heights of up to 90 meters, making them the tallest flowering plants on Earth. On the other hand, mallee Eucalypt forests are mostly low forests, providing a unique landscape for exploration and discovery.

The Importance and Uses of Eucalypt Forests

Eucalypt forests play a crucial role in conserving Australia’s rich biodiversity, supporting numerous species of flora and fauna. These forests are home to endemic species and protect threatened species under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Since ancient times, Indigenous Australians have made use of almost every part of the Eucalypt tree. From medicinal properties found in leaves and leaf oils to adhesive resins extracted from saps, Eucalypts have been an invaluable resource. Bark and wood have been fashioned into vessels, tools, and traditional weapons like spears and clubs.

Due to their impressive size, quality, and widespread distribution, Eucalypts are also a significant source of wood. Their versatility makes them suitable for various applications. Sawn wood is used in construction, furniture-making, and wood-turning, while engineered wood products find their way into flooring and other building materials. Eucalypt wood is even used for chipping, paper pulp, and fuelwood. And let’s not forget the aromatic oils distilled from Eucalypt leaves, which have found their place in aromatherapy and perfumes.

In Conclusion

Eucalypt forests truly embody the natural beauty and resilience of Australia’s unique landscapes. From their evolutionary adaptations to their important role in biodiversity conservation and sustainable resource utilization, these forests are a testament to the wonders of nature.

To learn more about gardening, tree planting, and all things green, visit Tips Tree Planting. Happy gardening, my green-thumbed friends!

References:

  • ABARES 2018, Forests of Australia (2018), Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra.
  • Boland, D, Brooker, M, Chippendale, G, Hall, N, Hyland, B, Johnston, R, Kleinig, D, McDonald, M & Turner, J 2006, Forest trees of Australia, 5th edn, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.
  • Carnahan, JA 1990, Atlas of Australian resources, vol. 6, Vegetation, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
  • Montreal Process Implementation Group for Australia & National Forest Inventory Steering Committee 2018, Australia’s State of the Forests Report 2018, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra.

Sub-alpine eucalypts