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Biological Diversity

The most obvious aspect of biodiversity is species diversity, the number of species. There are a number of measures that reflect important aspects of species diversity.  Species diversity across a landscape or ownership is often produced by differences in topography, soils, water, plant communities, and disturbance history.  Topography, soil and water are a part of the landscape that produces species diversity. Management affects diversity through forest regeneration, forest age and disturbance (harvesting, fire).

We tend to first think of terrestrial organisms when considering biodiversity, but a major source of the diversity in Alabama is due to aquatic species. Streams: A Natural Heritage Worth Conserving details aspect of stream protection and stream biodiversity in Alabama.  For forest owners the major consideration in aquatic biodiversity are riparian forest management and the implementation of forestry best management practices.

Riparian forests are those forests that contribute most to aquatic life and diversity because of their proximity to the water body.  In fact its likely that portions of riparian areas may be wetlands. The establishment of riparian forest buffers is important to wildlife habitat and water quality. To maintain riparian forest values consider managing hardwood species (Alabama and South) to the extent of the flood plain and transition to more intensive management, if desired, at the edge of the flood plain.  Uneven-aged management in riparian areas will also contribute to biodiversity.

Riparian areas highlight the importance of landscape diversity in conserving biodiversity.  Diversity in stand age, timber type, and management practices all contribute to landscape diversity.  Connections or corridors between landscape components helps plants and animal communities to maintain populations as forests change over time. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative has developed a publication titled Biological Diversity and Wildlife Habitat Considerations in Managed Forests.  The publication discusses issues for conservation of biodiversity at the stand, ownership, and landscape level.

The presence or possibility of endangered species on your property is an indication of a rare or important habitat for these species.  Endangered species in Alabama that might be impacted by forest management are catalogued in T&E Species of Alabama: A Guide to Assist with Forestry Activities. The guide identifies which species have been found in your county, a brief discussion of their habitat, and their impact on forest management activities. Taking of endangered species is prohibited by the Endangered Species Act.

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