Why Love Woodlands?
Box Gum Grassy Woodlands are central to Australian identity, history, and culture. Indigenous people for thousands of years managed woodland landscapes, for cultural, social and spiritual outcomes. When Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth finally made it across the Blue Mountains, the land of bounty they discovered was the Box Gum Grassy Woodlands.
Our woodlands and their inhabitants are enshrined in our national symbols, the emu on our Coat of Arms, the wattle providing our national sporting colours, and the open spaces of our national capital respectful of the landscape in which it is located (Box Gum Grassy Woodland).
Unfortunately the woodlands of today are a relic of their former glory. We have lost many beautiful and charismatic species from the woodlands, including parrots, quolls, bettongs, and bouquets of lovely plant species. Our experience of the woodlands today is a vastly depauperate one compared to what we would have enjoyed centuries ago.
Yellow Box Blakely’s Red Gum grassy woodland is an ecological community dominated by mixtures of Yellow Box and Blakely’s Red Gum. In combination with White Box, this community once occurred over an extensive area of south-eastern Australia, including the western slopes and tablelands of the Great Dividing Range, southern Queensland, western New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Victoria.
Since European settlement, 92% of this woodland has been cleared (over 5 million hectares) and consequently, it is recognised as a critically endangered ecological community.
What is in a name?
Box Gum Grassy Woodlands are named after the two key structural elements of the system – the big trees and the grasslands in-between. Locally, Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) and Blakely’s red gum (Eucalyptus blakelyi) comprise the commonly abundant tree species (although a variety of other eucalypt and non-eucalypt tree species occur). The trees also provide significant habitat for a variety of fauna – from birds and bats when they are standing to lizards and snakes when they fall onto the ground.
These trees are historically at low-enough densities to enable diverse grasslands to exist on the ground amongst them. Here is where the abundance of biological diversity lies. In a ‘good condition’ grassy woodland there is an abundance of grass, herb, forb, and orchid species that flower profusely through Spring and Summer.
Woodlands at Mulligans
The vast majority of Box Gum Grassy Woodland has been cleared for agricultural purposes – to create the ‘Sheep-Wheat Belt’. In addition to clearing, much has been fertilized for enhanced production of fewer plant species. Firewood has been collected and, all-in-all, there has been a simplification of woodland habitat areas – from complex messy ones, to neat pasture- or paddock-like systems. Lay the impacts of feral cats and foxes over this landscape, and the resulting loss of many fauna species, and you can see why most woodlands don’t inspire people anymore.
Thankfully, for a variety of historical reasons, the woodlands at Mulligans Flat Woodlands Sanctuary and the adjacent reserves have had little modification. Taken together they represent the single largest and most important block of Box Gum Grassy Woodland habitat in protection on the eastern sea-board of Australia.
With the exclusion of cats and foxes we have created a safehaven, or sanctuary, for wildlife. When you enter Mulligans Flat you can tell it is different – you see more animals and plants, you hear more animals, you experience woodlands like they once were.
Help us continue the journey of re-creating the woodlands of yesteryear: visit, volunteer or donate…