STEP (Forest 20 in the National Arboretum) is a regional botanic garden, education and conservation centre demonstrating southern tablelands’ species of eucalypt trees and understorey plants.
The Arboretum forests mostly consist of a single tree species, but Forest 20 differs in two ways: STEP is growing 16 species of eucalypt trees, selected to represent the major vegetation types of the region; and it includes shrubs, herbs and grasses to demonstrate the understorey plants commonly found in the region’s forests and woodlands.
The STEP forest is an educational resource where visitors and school students can easily identify the trees and plants typical of the Southern Tablelands. Of particular significance are the trees and plants of the critically endangered ‘Yellow Box/Red Gum Grassy Woodland’ ecosystem. In this way, Forest 20 complements other Arboretum forests in telling an important conservation story about land use in south-eastern Australia.
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.