Whether you plan to regularly harvest your forest or allow it to grow naturally, there are specific practices that will enhance the forest habitat for the benefit of a variety of wildlife. Ensuring that adequate food, water and shelter are available will enable your woodlot to support a diversity of wildlife species.
Underwater woody debris is a healthy component of lake environments. Sunken logs, trees, branches, and root balls provide excellent habitat for wildlife, including fish, turtles, birds, invertebrates, and more. Beaver activity, wind, erosion, or water inflows from rivers or creeks naturally deposit such woody debris into a lake. However, human activity and development have significantly reduced the amount of natural woody debris in lakes.
Many people move to a rural setting with the expressed desire to observe more wildlife. Then, once they’ve had a few first-hand encounters, the romantic ideal begins to wear a little thin. Perhaps you imagined enjoying a multitude of songbirds at the birdfeeder, but a black bear keeps getting into it, as well as your barbecue. Or you’ve just discovered a litter of baby raccoons in the attic.
If you have purchased a rural property which includes a wetland, don’t assume that this area is good for nothing. Your wetland is providing tremendous unseen benefits, and not just for turtles and ducks. Wetlands help filter pollutants and keep our water clean. Because they hold water like sponges, they help with storage, control flooding and prevent soil erosion. Local climate conditions are stabilized by wetlands. They provide crucial habitat for many species.
The area along the water’s edge is known as the “riparian zone” or the green ribbon of life. The vegetation within this zone protects both the shoreline and the water. It holds the soil in place to prevent erosion and it filters out potential pollutants. Shallow waters closest to the shoreline are a rich breeding and feeding ground for aquatic life.
Across North America, ecologically sound agricultural practices are commonly called Best Management Practices, or BMPs. Some best management practices might include: using crop rotation, minimizing tillage, using cover crops or sod to keep the soil covered, intercropping, using manure and compost and avoiding commercial fertilizers, caring for animals humanely, feeding animals a natural diet appropriate for their species, minimizing pesticide use, using buffer strips and hedgerows to support beneficial insects, and integrating crop and livestock production.