“Flooded Forest and Desert Creek: Ecology and History of the River Red Gum” by Matt Colloff

Matthew Colloff is a Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO Land and Water. His interests are in how ecosystems work, how they are changing, and what we can do about managing them.

“Flooded Forest and Desert Creek: Ecology and History of the River Red Gum” by Matt Colloff

The river red gum, the most widely distributed species of Eucalyptus in Australia, forms extensive forests and woodlands in south-eastern Australia and provides the structural and functional elements of important floodplain and wetland ecosystems. Along ephemeral creeks in the arid Centre it exists as narrow corridors, providing vital refugia for biodiversity. This tree has played a central role in the tension between economy, society and environment: subject of government enquiries over its conservation, use and management. We have begun to move from a culture of exploitation of river red gum forests and woodlands to one of conservation and sustainable use. The author traces this shift through the rise of a collective environmental consciousness, in part articulated through the depiction of river red gums and inland floodplains in art and literature. The future management of river red gum forests and woodlands in eastern Australia under a dryer climate and reduced water availability is the subject of major public policy concerns. Yet the interaction between people and the trees in arid Australia is, as the author explains, quite different from that further east, serving to emphasise the hopeful and enduring nature of our relationship with these trees in the face of environmental change.


ABC Rural 19 August 2014. ‘Unravelling the mystery of the river red gum.’


Book review

Book review: Flooded Forest and Desert Creek, by Matthew J Colloff. Canberra Times, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age 25 Oct 2014