Forest Management for Biodiversity

A Baltimore oriole using young forest habitat in Sussex County.  photo courtesy John Parke, NJ AudubonIn 2012, Gracie & Harrigan discussed the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service's Working Lands For Wildlife (WLFW) program with several of our clients. In our area, WLFW funds projects to improve habitat for either golden-winged warbler or bog turtle on private lands.  Three client properties (two of which are leased by the Hudson Farm Club) accepted proposals to conduct habitat work to benefit golden-winged warbler and "other species sensitive to canopy closure."  In 2013, the first modified seed tree harvest was conducted on the Hudson Farm Club properties, followed by harvests at Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco (owned and operated by the Northern NJ Council, BSA) and elsewhere on the Hudson Farm Club properties in 2014.

In May and June of 2016, the sites were surveyed for bird species by the DEP Division of Fish & Wildlife's Endangered and Nongame Species Program.  The 2013 harvest area on the Hudson Farm contained 34 different bird species, of which 19 (yes, nineteen!) are species of special concern, regional concern, or uncommon.  The 2014 harvest area on Hudson Farm contained 38 different bird species, of which 17 are species of special concern, regional concern, or uncommon.  At Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco, 32 different bird species were identified, of which 18 (not a typo!) are species of special concern, regional concern, or uncommon, including cerulean warbler.

Two items of note.  (1) These sites are remarkable because they were not supposed to be attractive to species that require young forest until about 5 years after harvest.  To see species -- especially forest ground-nesting birds such as black-and-white warbler -- using sites that are barely 2 years post-harvest hopefully means that we are doing something right.  (2) Given golden-winged warbler's preference for young forest within a larger forested matrix, there was some concern regarding these harvests and avoidance of the harvest areas by forest interior birds.  Interestingly enough, one of the few species that was observed at all three harvest areas was scarlet tanager, a forest interior bird.

Gracie & Harrigan thanks the Hudson Farm Club and the Northern NJ Council, BSA for participating in this program.

Over the years, we have received an increasing number of requests from clients to specifically include projects to benefit certain imperiled wildlife and plant species in Forest Management Plans.  If there is a particular species or suite of species that you would like to specifically encourage on your property, let us know.  We maintain a list of willing partners in the wildlife and botany fields that we can collaborate with to meet your needs.

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Benefits

Practicing sustainable forestry  works to:

  • Protect water quality
  • Increase water yield
  • Promote forest health
  • Restore damaged forest ecosystems
  • Promote wildlife through the creation of habitat
  • Yield renewable forest products