Working Lands

Bird-Friendly Forests

More bird-friendly forests would let birds like these Northern Bobwhites spread their wings a little. Photo: Christopher Elliot

Fragmentation and loss of habitat is one of the leading causes of the steady decline of bird populations today. Some species of birds, such as the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, have just three percent of their preferred habitat left in the state.  Every other avian species in South Carolina would also benefit from more room for food and shelter.

The Danger of Fragmentation

But land management practices aren't always been practiced with wildlife in mind. Take the Swallow-tailed Kite, which prefers 10,000 acres to roam in.  It's left at a major disadvantage when big tracts of forest are fragmented. Take the Swainsons Warbler, which loves that little eco-niche between different plant communities.  It's out of luck whenever extensive clearcutting occurs. Both species are destined to go the way of Bachman’s Warbler -- it's likely extinct -- if their habitats get fragmented into oblivion.

A Win-Win for South Carolina

Can our state's land managers both make a profit and provide suitable habitat for birds? Absolutely!  There's plenty of overlap between what's best for birds and what's best for forestry. We can give birds two legs (and a plenty of trees) to stand on by, for example, not cutting when it’s nesting season, or staggering the harvest of different sections of timber over time.

Outreach to land owners and foresters is the key to achieving more bird-friendly forests in South Carolina. To learn more, check out this webinar and the documents linked below.  Where birds thrive, people prosper!

PROJECT CONTACT: Matt Johnson