Managing Disturbance-adapted Ecosystems: an Information and Education Challenge

The Florida Ocala National Forest's sand pine scrub supports 26 species of endangered, threatened, or sensitive wildlife and plants as well as a thriving population of white-tailed deer. Scrub is adapted to a cycle of burning and regrowth, and scrub wildlife benefits from clearcutting and fire. Clearcutting in sand pine scrub is a successful and profitable method for ecosystem management because it simulates the effects of fire. Disturbances are negatively perceived by many in the general public. This perception is a challenge in management of ecological communities which are adapted to disturbance. An open forum including interested people from federal agencies, universities, and conservation groups was held to review management practices with a view to improvement of scrub habitat while sustaining an economically viable forestry program in the Ocala National Forest.

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