Beidler Forest was originally established to preserve 1,800 acres of old-growth cypress-tupelo swamp forest. Unlike most of the world’s forests, this land has never been axed or chain-sawed to the ground. It’s a perfectly intact ecosystem — one of just two old-growth cypress-tupelo swamp forests in South Carolina.
Today, Beidler Forest includes more than 18,000 acres. Most of the land lies within Four Holes Swamp, a 45,000-acre matrix of blackwater sloughs and lakes, stands of bottomland hardwood, and bald-cypress and tupelo-gum flats. Four Holes Swamp, in turn, is a major tributary of the Edisto River, part of the Charleston area’s famous ACE Basin.
So our ecological treasures are all connected — and here's why the Beidler piece of the puzzle is so important:
Research at Beidler
This forest is where Audubon South Carolina does some of its most important research, which helps our state’s birds thrive. If you’re a data geek (we proudly are), check out our new MAPS station and Project Protho, which tracks Beidler's tiny birds thousands of miles south on their winter migrations.
If you want a clean river, you’ve got to protect the land around it. That’s because a natural landscape filters out pollutants. But if you want an exceptionally clean river, you’ve got to protect the whole watershed — meaning all the little waterways that drain into the river.
“Watershed conservation” is what we’ve been up to at Beidler for more than 40 years. In addition to assembling 18,000 acres of our own, we’ve also helped neighbors protect 25,000 more acres. That translates into protection for 30 miles of a 34-mile floodplain.
The benefits flow downstream. A clean Edisto River helps keep the ACE Basin biologically vital. It also supplies clean drinking water to homes and businesses in the Charleston area, lowering the cost of water treatment now and in the future.
Restoration & Flood Prevention
At Beidler Forest we’re also restoring wetlands — 7,000 acres and counting. Wetlands absorb excess water during storms, minimizing flooding downstream.
Plus, Beidler is joining other conservation groups across the Southeast in restoring key pieces of the longleaf pine ecosystem, which once covered ninety million acres in this region. Longleaf restoration is great news for the federally-endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker, along with Northern Bobwhites, Brown-headed Nuthatches, Bachman’s Sparrows, and more.
Finally, Beidler Forest shelters birds in a changing world. Some of the biggest challenges birds face are rising seas and shifting weather patterns. So not only do we need to protect places that vulnerable birds need today; we also need to protect places they'll likely be driven by changing weather.
These safe spots, called "climate strongholds," have the right temperature, precipitation, and seasonal changes to support a diversity of birds, now and in the future. Beidler Forest is in a climate stronghold. By protecting and restoring habitat here, we not only help the bird species that frequent Beidler today; we also help the species that will seek shelter here in future years.
If you’re excited that your visit to Beidler links you to these important conservation efforts, please consider getting involved with Audubon South Carolina. You could host a speaker, volunteer outside, speak up for birds, and/or make a donation. Every dollar gifted to Audubon South Carolina protects birds and habitat in South Carolina!