An Ecological Approach to Managing Southern National Forests for Red-cockaded Woodpecker Recovery

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) recovery strategy is based on conservation biology principles. It implements landscape-scale management by identifying 26 habitat management areas (HMAs) totaling nearly 810,000 hectares. Within these designated HMAs, longer timber harvesting rotations will be established. Management intensity levels (MILs) will be established based on red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) population size. The smallest populations will receive the most intensive direct RCW management while being most restrictive regarding forest management. The combination of identifying HMAs and implementing longer timber harvesting rotations and appropriate MILs should overcome the effects of past fragmentation and demographic isolation. Prescribed burning regimes will mimic historical fire regimes of southern pine ecosystems.

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