Northeast Section releases position on forest management

The Northeast Section of The Wildlife Society has released a new position statement titled Managing for Biodiversity in Northeastern Forests.

Approved last month, the statement expresses concern that the effects of unsustainable logging in the 19th century, suppression of natural disturbances like wildfire and a move away from regenerational harvests have resulted in shifted tree age-class distributions. Today, northeastern forests are increasingly homogenous, as second-growth stands of 40 to 100 years dominate the landscape, according to the statement.

The Section’s statement highlights that several wildlife species rely on mixed, young and old-growth forest habitats while an increase in homogenous forest has contributed to population declines in the region. Without tree stand variety, species dependent on young or old-growth forests lose breeding and nesting grounds, cover vegetation and foraging grounds. The American woodcock (Scolopax minor), for instance, prefers areas with young conifer stands or low ground cover for nesting, while the barred owl (Strix varia), uses old-growth trees for nesting cavities.

The Northeast Section will encourage and support management practices that

prevent species decline and support biodiversity. The statement highlights that developing young and old-growth forest habitats will create the forest heterogeneity necessary to support a diverse range of wildlife species. The Section will also advocate further researching the habitat needs of forest-dependent species and monitoring their response to forest changes to better inform policy and management decisions.

“This position paper is intended to promote the importance of biodiversity in forest management and the need for wildlife managers to work closely ​with our forestry professionals and practitioners toward shared goals of improving forest ecology in the Northeast landscape,” said Eric Schrading, TWS Northeast Section Conservation Affairs Committee chair.

The Section’s statement also encourages the use of Forest Stewardship Council standards that promote sustainable use and management of forests.

TWS section and chapter policy priorities and position statements are set by each unit’s Conservation Affairs Committee (CAC). The CACs form the Conservation Affairs Network that unifies efforts to advance wildlife conservation policy issues.

Header Image: Many species need young and old-growth forests for foraging and nesting grounds, including the American woodcock (Scolopax minor), which nests in young conifer stands. ©