In contrast to the monocultural forests at the Arboretum, the Southern Tablelands Ecosystems Park (Forest 20) grows 16 different species of eucalypt trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses typically found in the Southern Tablelands region of New South Wales and the ACT.
Planted in 2009 and 2010, the Park includes trees and plants of the critically endangered 'Yellow Box/Red Gum Grassy Woodland' ecosystem. Trees are arranged in bands representative of their natural position in the landscape, and are complemented by the Central Garden display of native understorey species typical of the forests, woodlands, grasslands and ephemeral wetlands of the local region. Understorey species are located close to the eucalypt species they commonly grow near in their natural habitat. This design enables visitors to learn about tree and understorey associations and further develop their understanding of the natural environments of the Southern Tablelands.
The STEP forest includes a small ephemeral wetland habitat for frogs, and is an educational resource where visitors and school students can learn about native and critically endangered local plant species.
The forest features the notable Bush Tucker Garden, as well as The Clearing and Sheoak Nook which provide spaces for groups to meet, and a place for visitors to rest, reflect or enjoy a picnic.
Forest 20 is managed by the STEP community group in partnership with the National Arboretum Canberra and welcomes individuals, community groups, schools and others to join this exciting project. STEP have regular working bees and other activities. For more information visit the STEP website