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What makes the Cumberland Plain Woodland a special place?

The Cumberland Plain Woodland is the original vegetation that covered much of western Sydney. It is found nowhere else in Australia!

Why is the Cumberland Plain Woodland important?

The Cumberland Plain Woodland is the original vegetation that once covered most of western Sydney. Whilst much of the Cumberland Plain Woodland has been overlooked in the past, this bushland is now recognised as a unique type of woodland not found anywhere else in Australia, and serves many important roles in the western Sydney landscape. Brainstorm some other reasons why this bushland may be important and add your ideas to the mind map below

Unfortunately, this bushland is threatened with extinction, with the Federal and State governments listing the Cumberland Plain Woodland as an Endangered Ecological Community. This is the first time a whole plant community has been recognised as being in danger of extinction.

What are the unique features of the Cumberland Plain Woodland?

The Cumberland Plain Woodland grows in areas with deep clay soils and low rainfall. Because of this, it has many unique features. Look at the photo of the woodland below. What do you notice about the types of trees? What about the layers of vegetation? How might this woodland be different to bushland near your house or school?

Trees, shrubs and grass
Vegetation profile of the Cumberland Plain Woodland

The trees in the woodland have spaces between them, allowing light to reach the ground.
This means the Cumberland Plain Woodland is dominated by understorey plants such as shrubs, herbs and grasses.

Within each vegetation layer of the Cumberland Plain Woodland, not only do we find a wide range of plant species, but an even wider range of birds, mammals, invertebrates and microfauna.

Watch the ‘Layers of Life’ video below to learn more about the vegetation layers of the Cumberland Plain Woodland.

The Cumberland Plain Woodland at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan

At the Australian Botanic Garden, there are three main tree species that make up the Cumberland Plain Woodland in the ‘Woodland Conservation Area’. Compare the images below and think about how each tree can be spotted amongst the others. 

Virtual Woodland Wander

As well as trees, the bushland also consists of several shrubby species such as Blackthorn (Bursaria spinosa) and over 120 small herbs and grasses.

You can explore part of the ‘Woodland Conservation Area’ at the Australian Botanic Garden using our Virtual Woodland Wander.

Can you locate each of the three main tree species? What other plant and animal species are found here?

Activities - ‘What makes the Cumberland Plain a special place?’

1. Comparing two environments through nature journaling

Use nature journaling as a tool to compare a local vegetated area and the Cumberland Plain Woodland. Click the links to access the teacher resource and student resource for this activity.  

2. Features of the woodland

Represent the Cumberland Plain Woodland through a collaborative vegetation profile mural. Click the links to access the teacher resource and student resource for this activity. 

3. Woodland treasure hunt

Test your literacy and orienteering skills to guide a scientist toward a chosen treasure in the Cumberland Plain Woodland. Click the links to access the teacher resource and student resource for this activity.  

4. Audio tour of the Cumberland Plain Woodland

Record an audio tour for the Virtual Woodland Wander describing its key features and activity within the woodland. Click the links to access the teacher resource and student resource for this activity.  


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