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A land manager's guide to conserving habitat for forest birds in ...

A land manager's guide to conserving habitat for forest birds in ...

“We do not

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” Native American Proverb American Robin — Photo: Brandon Holden

Male Scarlet Tananger — Photo: Jeff Nadler Skunk cabbage in swamp Photo: Robert McCaw PREFACE Forests are important for our communities, socially, economically, and ecologically. They maintain clean air and water, provide habitat for thousands of plants and animals, present recreational opportunities, provide income, and contribute to human health and general well being. In southern Ontario, the amount of forest has been dramatically reduced from what it was before European settlement in the early nineteenth century. Today, ensuring the quality and ecological integrity of those remaining woodlands is vital. Healthy forests continue to provide natural goods and services while maintaining biodiversity. Individual landowners are stewards over much of these remaining woodlands. Though many recognize the value of ensuring long-term health and ecological function, how to accomplish this is often unclear. For example, landowners of forests with economically valuable mature trees may be interested in harvesting, but are uncertain of the associated effects on wildlife and overall forest health. Some may wish to identify the most appropriate harvesting method to meet their management goals. Others may wish to employ management techniques that can benefit wildlife, or preserve wildlife areas. Finally, some landowners may want to know how their woodlot contributes to biodiversity conservation at a larger, landscape scale. This guide is designed to address these questions and provide landowners with information on the habitat requirements of local forest bird species, and the effects of different land management strategies on their populations. A clever woodlot owner has the awareness and knowledge to effectively manage his or her forests for profit and still preserve diverse and healthy forests for future generations. Although the forests of southern Ontario provide habitat for a variety of organisms including plants, invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals (some of which may be sensitive to disturbances associated with timber harvesting), we have chosen to focus this discussion on forest birds. Birds are one of the most visible wildlife groups, comprising hundreds of different species of extraordinary variety from hummingbirds to eagles. Each species is unique in appearance, habits, and habitat. Some occur in huge numbers while others are sparse; some are sedentary, preferring to spend their entire lives within a few hectares, while others undertake extraordinary annual migrations. Birds are an obvious and diverse component of our forest ecosystem and among one of the most valued and appreciated components of our biodiversity. Land birds in particular, provide billions of dollars in ecosystem services (natural processes that benefit humans) as consumers of pest insects, pollinators, dispersers, and predators of native seeds. They help maintain the same ecosystems that support human life. Many forest birds are sensitive to the structure, composition, and configuration of forests and are good indicators of general forest health. Because birds are valuable to humans in a multitude of ways, current declines in some populations are cause for concern. As wildlife habitat is directly affected by how humans use the land, we all have a responsibility for not simply preventing extinctions, but in maintaining healthy populations of species that are still common. Preface 1

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