Improving a woodlot
This section explains
how forest owners can increase the abundance and diversity of
wildlife habitats in their forests.
The enjoyment of wildlife
and contribution to habitat enhancement are major reasons why
people own forestland. There are lots of projects that will attract
wildlife to your woodlot. Before
making decisions about which wildlife projects you will work on,
consider the following best management practices for attracting
the woodlot for habitats and evidence of existing wildlife.
should have a good understanding of what species of wildlife already
favor the habitats found in their woodlots. Create a small map
that indicates what kind of forests, trees, streams, ponds, brushy
areas, and unique features are available. Make notes of wildlife
signs, tracks, and other evidence. Many woodlot owners are surprised
to find that their woods are richer in wildlife that they had
Protect unique habitats.
Woodland pools, rock ledges, snags, and tree cavities are important
wildlife habitats that have become scarcer. Make an effort to
identify and protect these natural features. If you suspect that
you have a special woodland habitat and want to be sure, contact
a nature center, Cornell Cooperative Extension, a regional NYS
DEC office, or other qualified wildlife educator.
Develop the woodlot
for a variety of indigenous wildlife.
Your wildlife projects should create habitats that will benefit
a wide array of wildlife rather than focusing on one or two species,
like deer and turkey. For example, a woodland pool benefits songbirds,
turtles, frogs, insects, deer, game birds, and many animals. In
general, woodland habitats benefiting insects and amphibians are
also beneficial to many other species.
wildlife feeding projects.
Avoid projects that require the placement of feed in the woods.
These projects are often abandoned or attract nuisance species.
They require a great deal of effort and expense to maintain. Put
more effort into establishing native plantings for birds, mammals,
and insects. As of summer 2003, feeding white-tailed deer is illegal
in New York.
cover and complexity around coldwater streams.
Forest streams, even dry washes, should be shaded. This keeps
the temperature of stream water naturally cooler. Add logs and
rocks to water bodies to maintain ecological complexity. Pools
and riffles attract a wider variety of insects and the fish and
wildlife that consume them.
Learn tracks and
signs to better understand evidence of wildlife.
Attracting wildlife is more satisfying if you can recognize the
songs of birds, the tracks of mammals, burrows, and other evidence
of wildlife. Many forest owners are surprised at the abundance
of wildlife signs they start finding.
People interested in
this topic should also read the Cornell Cooperative Extension
bulletin, "Wildlife and Timber from Private Lands: A Landowner's
Guide to Planning," available through your local county Extension
office as #147-IB-193.