Categorized | Imperiled Wildlife

New Report Highlights the Importance of Private Lands to Biodiversity Conservation

Forest in the Fall

Copyright Raul Touzon/National Geographic Stock

For those of us who are dedicated to protecting private forests, a recently released 20-page report by the USDA adds even more credence to our work.  “Threats to At-Risk Species in America’s Private Forest” contains a number of important findings that can lend additional weight to your conservation efforts.  Here are some findings that I found especially helpful in “fueling my fire” for protecting forest on private lands:

  • “Sixty percent of the at-risk species of plants and animals in the conterminous, or ‘lower 48’, United States are associated with private forests (Robles et as. 2008)”
  • “Seventy-five percent of all forest lands in the East are privately owned”.
  • “More than 4,600 native animal and plant species associated with private forest in the United States are at risk of decline or extinction.”
  • “In some watersheds, up to 95% of forest-associate at-risk species occur only in private forests.”

Clearly, these findings show that working with private-forest landowners, especially in the East, is an absolute must if we care about protecting biodiversity.

And this is just the big picture – the report also contains maps of the US in which the number of at-risk species and the relative threat to their habitat from increased housing density, wildfire, and insect and disease are shown by watershed.  So, for example, if you work in a watershed in the northwest corner of North Carolina, you will discover the relative threat to forest-associated at-risk species in your little corner of the world compared to the other hundreds of watersheds in the US.

Whether you work to reduce vehicle-wildlife collisions, negotiate conservation easements, or advocate for tax incentives for landowners for forest stewardship, this report reaffirms that forest wildlife needs you!

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Judy Boshoven is the Manager of the Living Lands program, an initiative aimed at connecting land trusts to financial and technical resources that will assist them in making strategic decisions about where to work to conserve high priority native species and habitats.

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dotWild is the blog of scientists and policy experts at Defenders of Wildlife, a national, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.

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