Happy International Day of Forests!

Date posted: 21 March 2018

Happy International Day of Forests! Established by the United Nations in 2012, today’s a global celebration of forests, providing a platform to raise awareness of the importance of all types of woodlands and trees, and celebrate the ways they sustain and protect us.

This year’s theme is Forests and Sustainable Cities, and the UN’s International Day of Forests website provides some epic information on why forests are so important.

For example, did you know forests store carbon (helping to mitigate the impact of climate change in and around urban areas)? Or that forests in and around urban areas help filter and regulate water, contributing to high-quality freshwater supplies for hundreds of millions of people?

Our three botanic gardens (Adelaide, Mount Lofty and Wittunga) all feature intriguing and beautiful forests trees and sections, some of which we’ll explore in more detail below.

Stop by to check them out during your next visit for a reminder of what make forests so special.

Adelaide Botanic Garden

Australian Forest: It’s hard to believe you’re in the heart of a city when you’re standing in the middle of the Aussie Forest, along the western edge of the Bicentennial Conservatory. Talk a walk through here to discover the diversity of Australian plants including spectacular trees dating back to the original plantings of the Garden over 150 years ago, as well as trees from across Australia. Highlights include our huge Queensland Bottle Tree (Brachychiton rupestris) and towering Kauri Pines (Agathis robusta).

Bicentennial Conservatory: You’ll find a lush display of lowland rainforest plants from northern Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and the Pacific Islands inside the “BiCon”. Many of these plants are at risk or endangered in their natural habitats.

Moreton Bay figs: They’ve become iconic sights in our Murdoch Avenue and Botanic Park so it’s easy to forget Ficus macrophylla these stunning trees are native to rainforests on Australia’s East Coast. Moreton Bay figs are a key source of food in the rainforest due to the huge number of fruit the trees produce.

Mount Lofty Botanic Garden

Our cool-climate Adelaide Hills gem is bursting with diverse forest tree species (e.g. from coniferous forests) from the Northern Hemisphere, pretty much throughout the entire Garden.

Many were planted in the Garden in the 1950s, so they’re getting pretty huge! Highlights include:

  • Douglas fir trees (Pseudotsuga menziesii), native to western North America, which is used extensively for timber.
  • Pinus patula (native to the highlands of Mexico), which our horticultural supervisor tells us is used to make Paddle Pop sticks in New Zealand!
  • A range of oak trees (Quercus), which are used to make wine and whiskey barrels.
  • Sequoia and Sequoiadendron (coast redwoods and giant redwoods), from California and Oregon. These trees are among the oldest living things on Earth and, in the giant redwoods’ case, are the world’s largest single trees.
  • Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), one of the largest conifers in the world, from North America. The famous 1947-built “Spruce Goose” airplane, made by Howard Hughes’ aircraft company, was reputed to have been constructed from Spruce timber, despite it having been made almost entirely of birch.

Other forest trees and sections to keep an eye out for include:

  • Araucaria – the ancient genus found in South America, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, Australia and New Guinea. It’s believed vast forests of these trees provided one of the major high energy food sources for long-necked Sauropod dinosaurs during the Jurassic period.
  • Fern Gully, which is full of high-rainfall plants from Australia and New Zealand, creates a temperate rainforest.
  • Our Spring Gully and Nature Trail sections feature native dry sclerophyll forest trees (Eucalyptus obliqua). These sections allow you to get up close to the native flora that would’ve dominated the Mount Lofty Ranges prior to European settlement.

Wittunga Botanic Garden

Wittunga features a Woodland (low density forest) section full of Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa).

This is the main, naturally-found ecosystem in this part of the Adelaide Hills and now occupies less than 3 per cent of the area it once did before European settlement due to urban development.

Grey Box Woodland provided important natural habitat for native animals and if you’re lucky, you might spot a koala or two.