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Woodland Owners

 

In Connecticut, early successional habitat (shrublands, fields) and young forest habitat have declined by 31% since 1950. So many species depend upon early successional habitat and young forest that the loss of these habitats affects biodiversity at a regional scale. The decline of wildlife species, particularly birds, follows at an alarming rate, with grassland and shrubland birds suffering the greatest habitat loss. Historically, natural disturbances such as wind, fire, Native American agriculture and beaver activities created sufficient early successional habitat to maintain species diversity with beaver activity creating the preponderance of continuous early-successional habitat availability. Wind remains as an agent of natural disturbance, and beaver populations exist, but in limited numbers. Beaver activity is restricted and wind cannot be harnessed to such an exacting degree. Humans are now the main agents of change and active habitat management through silviculture is required to create and maintain the early successional habitat for species that depend upon disturbance.

In the 200 years prior to European settlement in New England, the existence of young forest and early successional habitats depended on natural disturbances. While fire and wind played a role in creating these conditions, most of the shifting mosaic of early successional habitat in New England was the result of beaver activities. The Young Forest Mosaic Project will strategically locate, demonstrate best management practices for canopy treatments and create young forest habitat on palustrine forested wetlands, partnering with public and private landowners in eastern Connecticut. This two-year pilot project will establish a strategic approach to restoring a shifting mosaic of young forest and related upland habitat supporting populations of American woodcock, New England cottontail, golden-winged warbler and other young forest and early successional habitat dependent species. The demonstration sites will serve as centerpieces to educate private landowners and other interested parties on best management practices for restoring young forest and early successional habitat in wet-forest areas. Public land demonstration sites will also provide opportunities for outdoor recreation such as birdwatching, hiking, and photography.