Flooded Forest and Desert Creek

eBook - August 2014 - eRetailers

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The ecology and life history of the most widely distributed species of Eucalyptus in Australia – the river red gum.

The river red gum has the most widespread natural distribution of Eucalyptus in Australia, forming extensive forests and woodlands in south-eastern Australia and providing the structural and functional elements of important floodplain and wetland ecosystems. Along ephemeral creeks in the arid Centre it exists as narrow corridors, providing vital refugia for biodiversity. + Full description

The tree has played a central role in the tension between economy, society and environment and has been the subject of enquiries over its conservation, use and management. Despite this, we know remarkably little about the ecology and life history of the river red gum: its longevity; how deep its roots go; what proportion of its seedlings survive to adulthood; and the diversity of organisms associated with it.

More recently we have begun to move from a culture of exploitation of river red gum forests and woodlands to one of conservation and sustainable use. In Flooded Forest and Desert Creek, the author traces this shift through the rise of a collective environmental consciousness, in part articulated through the depiction of river red gums and inland floodplains in art, literature and the media.

- Short description


Please note this title is no longer available in print. The eBook edition is still available; see links at the top of this page.

Listen to Matthew Colloff interviewed by Lauren Fitzgerald on ABC Rural.


"I'm possibly biased in that I’ve long been on the record as describing the River Red Gum as my favourite tree, but this book is something special...It is a fascinating account at all levels, very readable and rich in photos and illustrations. A very valuable addition to the shelf and desk of anyone interested in this land."
Ian Fraser, ABC Canberra, September 2014

"a strong, well-researched and well-written scientific account"
Sydney Morning Herald, October 2014

"this is a study of importance not just to environmental managers, ecologists, policy-makers, conservationists, or historians, but to all Australians who are connected or who are seeking a connection to a particular landscape"
Ruth A. Morgan, Australian Book Review, November 2014, pp. 15-16

"This is a fine book, produced to the high standards that we expect from CSIRO Publishing. I hope that it will stimulate a social and political history with the same rigour that Colloff brings to the ecological history."
John Dargavel, Australian Forest History Society, 2015

"The book is an information-rich resource that tackles the myriad of issues affecting the Murray River and the iconic tree species and plant communities that grow along its bank."
David Lee, Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, Vol 22 (2), 2015, 261-262

"This book’s relevance to many disciplines justifies its addition to a school and individual teacher’s library."
David H. Jones, Geographical Education, Vol 28, 2015, 69

"this book is fascinating and a pleasure to read. Colloff provides invaluable insights and interesting perspectives, and demonstrates the close connection he has with the trees, their landscape and their history. I am sure this book will become a highly desired reference, not only because of its scientific worth, but also because it delves into so many aspects of our history and lives."
Maria Gibson, The Victorian Naturalist, Vol 133(1), 2016, pp 29-32

"This is an admiring tribute to a forest, but it has been compiled with a rigorous eye to detail and unstated assumptions... Matt Colloff's story of the red gum provides great insights into the history of a river-dependent landscape that integrates vast swathes of Australia and the long relationship humans have had with it."
David Freudenberger, Austral Ecology, Vol 41(1), 2016


ePDF | August 2014
ISBN: 9780643109209
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Available from eRetailers

ePUB | August 2014
ISBN: 9780643109216
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Available from eRetailers


  • Looks at the ecology and life history of the most widely distributed Eucalyptus species in Australia
  • An account of the importance of river red gum forests and woodlands as part of Country and Law for Aboriginal people; the uses of the tree in the context of cultural history and traditional knowledge
  • Documents the threats and changes in river red gum landscapes and environment since European settlement
  • Richly illustrated with photographs, maps and colour paintings


Part 1. The Unfolding Forest
Chapter 1. Floodplain and River
Chapter 2. Names and Relationships
Chapter 3. Life History
Chapter 4. The River Red Gum as an Ecosystem Engineer
Part 2. Forces of Change
Chapter 5. Fire
Chapter 6. Grazing
Chapter 7. Timber Harvesting
Chapter 8. Flood, Drought and River Regulation
Part 3. From Exploitation to Conservation and Multiple Values
Chapter 9. River Red Gum Consciousness
Chapter 10. Conservation and Multiple Values
Chapter 11. The Future of the River Red Gum


Matthew Colloff is a Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences. He currently researches floodplain ecosystem function and biodiversity. He has worked on ecosystem services, soil nutrient cycling, restoration of degraded agricultural landscapes, environmental weeds, and the interface between natural resource management science, policy and practice. His interests are in how ecosystems work, how they are changing, and what we can do about managing them.