Learn About Young Forest in New Book, Website

Learn About Young Forest in New Book, Website

A new website, www.youngforest.org, and book, Under Cover: Wildlife of Shrublands and Young Forest, recently released by the Wildlife Management Institute describe young forest ecosystems and why they are critically important to wildlife. The 92-page book, authored by Meghan Gilbart, explains what constitutes shrubland and young-forest habitats and why they are so important to an array of wildlife whose populations have declined in recent decades. Published by WMI, Under Cover will be available as a softcover book from the WMI Store and is currently available as a free 9.6-megabyte download on the new website's home page.

Young forest and shrubland are also known as "early successional habitat" ? a growth-stage of vegetation that is dwindling as abandoned farmland grows to become mature forest, development fragments natural landscapes, and humans suppress large-scale disturbances, such as wildfires and beaver activities, that once created large swaths of young regrowing forest. Under Cover presents individual profiles for 65 different birds, reptiles, and mammals listed as Species of Greatest Conservation Need in states from Maine to Virginia and west to the Great Lakes. The book cites pertinent scientific papers and lists preferred habitat management practices.

Under Cover works hand-in-hand with the new website on young forest management that is designed to educate the general public on habitat management techniques necessary to maintain young forest systems. The site describes the importance of young forest habitats and techniques such as harvesting trees or renewing over-mature shrubs through mechanical cutting or burning. These science-based techniques may not be fully understood by the public and an important goal of the website is to reduce potential opposition to projects.

The text on youngforest.org is information-packed yet easily grasped by persons as young as middle-school age. WMI hopes the website will answer questions from the media ? there is a section of FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) such as "How much young forest do we need?" and "Why can't we just let nature take its course?" The FAQs will also help inform private landowners, another major audience for the website.

Dropdown menu items explain how to manage habitat effectively and wisely, and point landowners to agencies and entities to help them plan and fund projects. A "Habitat Projects" section includes popular articles about on-the-ground projects that people can visit ? young forest and shrubland created by private landowners both large and small, state and federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, towns and municipalities, land trusts and more.

The new website links to a pair of sister sites, www.timberdoodle.org, about the American woodcock and how conservationists are striving to reverse its population decline, and www.newenglandcottontail.org, which details efforts to keep this brush-dwelling regional rabbit off the federal Endangered Species List. Visitors will be able to move freely between all three websites, learning about wildlife and their habitat requirements and how best to create young forest on lands they own or manage.

Website managers continue to add content to www.youngforest.org and to solicit links to the website from the many partners who are working to create and renew young forest that will secure a home for wildlife now and into the future. (cf)

August 20, 2012