When you think of the stereotypical Australian Bush, you’re probably picturing a box-ironbark or stringybark forest. 

There are many types of dry forests and woodlands across the drier northern slopes of the Great Divide, as well as in Victoria’s foothills, coasts and plains.

Stringybark forests dominate the near-coastal landscape east of Western Port; grassy woodlands are scattered throughout the Western district; and box-ironbark forest cover a wide arc from west of Stawell to east of Wangaratta.

During the gold rush of the 1850s, tree felling was uncontrolled. Huge areas of forest were cut to provide wood for fuel and building. These actions have long-term impacts for this ecosystem. The Box-Ironbark forests and woodlands that exist today are dominated by large numbers of skinny trees, instead of the original forests that were dominated by large, wide-crowned, hollow-rich, and widely spaced trees. 

Significant areas of Victoria’s dry forest and woodland have since been cleared for urban development, wood products, and agriculture particularly in the more fertile plains and valleys. The remaining forests are highly modified, fragmented and prone to invasion by weeds and pest animals.


More about dry forests and woodlands

  • They support a wide variety of plants and animals including a range of reptiles and significant mammals such as the Brush-tailed Phascogale, Squirrel Glider and Regent Honeyeater
  • Their sparse understorey, scattered with wildflowers, shrubs, herbs and grasses over gentle terrain, provide easy access to many species.
  • Heavy winter flowering of trees and shrubs in dry forests and woodlands attracts nectar-feeding birds, such as the Swift Parrot, from across the state.
  • They support some of the state’s rarest orchids.
  • Larger (older) trees provide abundant and reliable nectar, a variety of foraging sites, such as dead branches, peeling bark and fallen timber and have more hollows. 
  • Many native species rely on tree hollows for shelter and breeding. 
  • Studies have shown that eucalypts in gold-rich areas extract gold from the soil and transport it up into their leaves (in tiny quantities)


Key Threats

  • Fragmentation across the landscape
  • Weed invasion
  • Over grazing by introduced and native herbivores
  • Illegal firewood harvesting
  • Phytophthora cinnamomi (a fungal dieback)


Where to see dry forests and woodlands


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