The Re-introduction of the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker to the Green Swamp Preserve: A Management Plan
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The red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW; Picoides borealis), a once common bird in the southeastern U.S., is now a federally-listed endangered species. The decline of the RCW can be attributed to loss of the pine savannas that serve as critical RCW habitat as a result of commercial logging and the removal of fire from the southeastern landscape. The prevalence of commercial logging in the southeast has greatly reduced the number of old-aged pines in which RCWs construct their nest cavities. By restoring longleaf pine savannas, returning fire to the southeastern landscape, and the construction of artificial nest cavities, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, as well as numerous state and private agencies, are working to restore the RCW to historic population levels. The Green Swamp is a 16,424 acre preserve owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Brunswick County, North Carolina. All that remains of the once viable RCW population in the Green Swamp Preserve are a few abandoned cavities and the occasional lone male. This plan examines the current condition of the Green Swamp Preserve to determine if the preserve can once again support a viable RCW population, as well as the fire and timber management practices associated with the RCW reintroduction. After sampling 12 potential cluster sites for tree DBH, age, basal area, and understory height and density, it was determined that the Green Swamp can eventually support 10 RCW clusters. Two of the sites sampled do not meet the minimum habitat requirements laid out in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife RCW Recovery plan, thus are not considered cluster sites. Of the 10 suitable cluster sites, 4 sites require only minimal management before RCWs can be introduced. The remaining 6 cluster sites have substantial hardwood midstory and/or areas with very high basal area that must be removed before RCWs can be re-introduced.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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