Posted by Allison Welde, SFI Director of Conservation Partnerships and Communications
As Earth Day (April 22) approaches, this is a great time to celebrate the fantastic contribution landowners of all sizes make to keep North America’s forests healthy and productive. It’s also a good time to celebrate the partnerships fostered through the SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program which, among other things, are helping family forest landowners adopt and implement practices to improve wildlife habitat on their lands.
I saw an example of this first-hand last week when I joined a field tour in Clemson University’s experimental forest. Wildlife ecology professors Greg Yarrow and Knight Cox, along with colleagues and students, are leading a grant project to test practices and techniques private forest landowners can use to enhance wildlife habitat. Here’s an example – if you make a road clearing a little wider there’s more sunlight on it, ground cover can grow on the road, and it provides food for birds and animals.
It’s a simple solution for landowners who would love to manage their land but are concerned it would be too expensive, demanding, or harmful to wildlife. I talked Brian Murphy from Quality Deer Management Association, one of the partners in the Clemson project, who said hunters can apply some of the Clemson techniques to create habitat on their land not only for specific game species but for other species like songbirds – and they can improve timber growth and earn some revenue as well.
What’s best about the Clemson project is that it gets the information into the hands of landowners and helps them understand how to use the techniques. I was pleased to see media reports about the field tour, and I know Clemson plans more events and webinars, in addition to information posted on its Wildlife Habitat Improvement Practices website.
The Clemson project is one of the first conservation grant projects SFI Inc. announced last spring. Earlier this month, we announced the first of our 2011 grants – to Ducks Unlimited Canada.
Earth Day gives us all a chance to stop and think about our relationship with the Earth and its communities. I’m proud that through great projects like the Clemson grant, the SFI community is about to incorporate Earth Day values into the other 364 days of the year.