Why This Project Matters
This project will help address threats to biodiversity. Over 1,300 different species in the United States are listed as endangered or threatened, according to the US Environmental protection Agency. Private forest owners care for more than 450 million acres of forestland – 60% of US forests – and they are critical to successful conservation initiatives. This project will quantify the role of sustainably managed forest landscapes in conserving species at risk, listed species, and maintaining aquatic and terrestrial communities. The study area encompasses approximately 500,000 acres of private, working forests in six Alabama counties: Monroe, Escambia, Baldwin, Conecuh, Covington, and Butler; and three Florida counties: Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa.
How the Project is Supporting the Contribution of Sustainable Forest Practices for At-Risk Species
The National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI), along with a coalition of partners working through the Wildlife Conservation Initiative will examine multiple species over an extended time horizon in a landscape dominated by SFI‑certified, private forests managed primarily for timber production. The work will involve sampling environmental DNA (eDNA) that is collected from a variety of environmental samples such as soil and water, rather than directly from individual organisms. Target at-risk species that will benefit from this research include the Alabama map turtle, alligator snapping turtle, gopher tortoise, Red Hills salamander, and eastern diamondback rattlesnake.
The SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program is supporting this project. This work will expand on past SFI conservation grants: Working Forests for Birds, and Quantifying Impacts of SFI’s Fiber Sourcing Standards in Georgia. Multiple SFI-certified organizations, that own or manage forests in the project area, are engaged in this work. Their engagement includes active participation in study design and implementation, in-kind support, and access for researchers to SFI-certified forests.
How the Project Helps Forest Managers
Active forest management is critically important for most SFI-certified organizations and understanding how these actively managed forests can contribute to conservation of at-risk species is needed. The project is part of a large-scale effort to document the value of private, working forests for conservation of at-risk species. The project will help forest managers and forestland owners in the region by quantifying how their high compliance rates with best management practice (BMP) have supported at‑risk species. It will establish the presence and persistence of upland amphibians, terrestrial reptiles, aquatic turtles, avian communities, fish communities, freshwater mussels, and plants.
The project will demonstrate the value of SFI-certified forests for conservation of species at risk and the value of implementing forestry BMPs for water quality and long-term conservation of aquatic communities. A direct link between forestry BMPs and aquatic species conservation is generally lacking, and this work will help inform that gap. Additionally, various communication tools will be shared to help SFI‑certified organizations communicate the conservation value of their work.
This partnership includes conservation NGO’s, government, and forestry companies to quantify the role of sustainable forestry in supporting at-risk species. These partners include:
Project Lead: NCASI
Sustainable Forestry Initiative
US Fish and Wildlife Service
National Alliance of Forest Owners
Tangled Bank Conservation
Wildlife Conservation Initiative
Conservation Resources (SFI‑certified organization)
Forest Investment Associates (SFI‑certified organization)
Hancock Forest Management (SFI‑certified organization)
Molpus Woodlands Group (SFI‑certified organization)
Potlatch Deltic Corporation (SFI‑certified organization)
Rayonier (SFI‑certified organization)
Resource Management Service, LLC (SFI‑certified organization)
The Westervelt Company (SFI‑certified organization)
Weyerhaeuser Company (SFI‑certified organization)
University of Georgia: Quantifying Impacts of SFI’s Fiber Sourcing Standards in Georgia
Working Forests for Birds
SFI and NCASI Partner to Address the Climate Challenge with Carbon and Water Tools: media release
NCASI Foundation Receives Federal Conservation Grant for Collaborative Research Directed at Protecting At-Risk Species: media release