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Prairie Warbler. Photo: Bill Hubick.
“This policy shift to protect sensitive areas and discourage the destruction of hardwood forests is a much-needed and welcome step in the right direction for preserving dwindling important bird habitat in the Southeast,” said Dave Younkman, Chief Conservation Officer for ABC, the nation’s leading bird conservation organization.
Georgia-Pacific worked with scientists and environmental groups including the Rainforest Action Network, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Dogwood Alliance to identify 11 key sites totaling 600,000 acres in the Mid-Atlantic Coastal area, as well as 90 million acres of natural hardwood forests in the southern region. Five of those 11 areas are ABC-designated IBAs:
Francis Marion National Forest in South Carolina (8,000 acres): Among the various forest types in this area are bottomland hardwood forest. The forest includes the I’on Swamp, among the last places the presumably extinct Bachman’s Warbler was known to exist. The area is still important habitat for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Brown-headed Nuthatches, and Prairie Warblers, among others.
Congaree Swamp in South Carolina (26,000 acres): The site has the largest tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood in the United States. It has a very diverse hardwood forest with 87 species of trees, including seven that are the largest examples in the U.S., and more than 150 trees with a circumference of greater than 12 feet. This area is one of the few intact examples of great freshwater swamps found in the southern coastline. The Congaree has high densities of migrating and wintering landbirds and hardwood residents such as the Pileated Woodpecker and Barred Owl. Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and Red-headed Woodpeckers are also in the area, as well as many other birds such as the Brown-headed Nuthatch, Prothonotary Warbler, and Swainson’s Warbler.
Alligator River Region in North Carolina (213,000 acres): The wet hardwood habitat supports concentrations of several thousand ducks and swans during the winter. Many wading birds, shorebirds, and songbirds are found during migration and breeding. As many as ten clusters of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers may exist there.
Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia (180,000 acres): The 3,000-acre Lake Drummond is a prominent feature of the swamp that contains large numbers of red maple and black gum trees, but also numerous stands of Atlantic white-cedar and bald cypress. The elusive and hard-to-observe Swainson’s Warbler is more common here than anywhere else on the Atlantic Coast. Among the breeding bird species in the area are the Chuck-will’s-widow, Wood Thrush, and Kentucky, Prairie, and Worm-eating Warblers.
Croatan National Forest in North Carolina (40,000 acres): Bordered on three sides by water, the area contains the largest collection of carnivorous plants in any U.S. forest. Birds found here include the Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Bachman’s Sparrow, Red-cockaded Woodpecker (62 clusters), Swallow-tailed Kite, Painted Bunting, and more.
These sites were listed in The American Bird Conservancy Guide to the 500 Most Important Bird Areas in the United States, published in 2003.
American Bird Conservancy conserves native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas by safeguarding the rarest species, protecting and restoring habitats, and reducing threats while building capacity of the bird conservation movement. For more information, visit, www.abcbirds.org
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