Drive from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast, between the Glasshouse Mountains and Bribie Island, and you will pass through vast areas of exotic pine plantations. But it wasn’t always this way. Once there were miles of scribbly gum woodlands with a diverse heathy understorey. Today, this vegetation type is endangered: only 10-30% of its original extent remains, and very little is protected in reserves. It’s a beautiful woodland¹ type, and the subject of my next forest portrait.
Scribbly gum is the common name for Eucalyptus racemosa, so-named for the scribbly markings often left in the pale bark by the larvae of a moth (There’s a stand of scribbly gums in an urban park near my house which don’t have the scribbles – so I guess this means that the moths have never found these ones). The scribbly gum is not an endangered tree species in Queensland. It’s the special woodland formed by scribbly gums, combined with other tree species such as the pink bloodwood (Corymbia intermedia), and usually with a heathy understorey, which is endangered. This woodland type is described in south east Queensland as regional ecosystem 12.5.3.²
The map on the left shows all ‘endangered’ vegetation types (in purple) for the area between Beerburrum and Beerwah before clearing; the map on the right shows the extent of these vegetation types today. Note that most of this area was regional ecosystem type 12.5.3 before clearing.³
This woodland type – and the Wallum heath it is associated with – is a botanist’s paradise, since there is a high diversity of plant species, and many pretty flowers. Here’s some that were flowering when I did the preliminary work for the portrait.
So, as before, I took lots of photos and drew some sketches.
Here’s a simple draft of the colour / composition I would be aiming for:
As always, I needed to include some people in the picture, otherwise it’s hard to get an idea of scale. I think it also adds another dimension – of people immersed in, and enjoying the forests they are pictured in. So I always include people who are nature-lovers. This time I’ve included my cousin Belinda, and her two boys Rowan and Quinn. The finished forest portrait turned out like this:
And here’s a guide to some of the more recognizable species:
- In Australia, the term ‘woodland’ is used for a treed ecosystem where the trees are relatively widely spaced, and the foliage cover of the tallest tree layer is less than 30%. The term ‘forest’ is reserved for denser stands of trees where foliage cover of the tallest tree layer is greater than 30%. For simplicity’s sake, I’m using the term ‘forest portrait’ for portraits of either forests or woodlands.
- Queensland has excellent vegetation mapping for much of the state. You can find out the pre-clearing or remnant vegetation types, and their status, for any given location by requesting a map here.
- You can create and view maps like these by using the Queensland Globe.
Reference: Leiper et al. 2008 Mangroves to Mountains. Revised Edition, Society for growing Australian Plants, Logan River Branch.