MSU avian conservation efforts soar with Tombigbee Forest Chicken Partnership

Contact: Trey Barrett

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Whereas the U.S. and Canada have misplaced roughly 1 / 4 of fowl life—or 2.9 billion breeding grownup birds—since 1970, Mississippi State researchers are discovering methods to enhance working forests for avian conservation.

Kristine Evans
Kristine Evans, an affiliate professor within the Mississippi State Division of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, participates in a fowl rely in a working forest. Evans is a part of the Tombigbee Forest Chicken Partnership, an effort to showcase and preserve the values of sustainable forest administration in personal forestlands to extend fowl populations. (Photograph by David Ammon)

Two-thirds of Mississippi, or roughly 19.2 million acres, is forestland. The state’s working forests help a $13.8 billion forestry and forest merchandise trade. A brand new partnership, the Tombigbee Forest Chicken Partnership, goals to showcase and preserve the values of sustainable forest administration in these personal forestlands to extend fowl populations.

Kristine Evans, an affiliate professor within the Mississippi State Division of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture and the affiliate director of MSU’s Geosystems Analysis Institute, is working carefully with companions from a number of organizations and personal corporations on this effort. She has carried out in depth work with landbird conservation efforts and just lately was acknowledged as one in every of three avian conservationists within the Western Hemisphere to obtain the annual Companions in Flight Award, given by a community of greater than 150 landbird conservation organizations.

Evans, a scientist in MSU’s Forest and Wildlife Analysis Heart, defined how working forests could make a distinction in avian conservation.

“Throughout the southern U.S., 86% of forests are privately owned, many managed for timber manufacturing. Working forests are essential to sustainability of biodiversity and financial safety in rural southern landscapes, and help many imperiled species,” she mentioned.

Whereas the partnership will give attention to enhancing avian conservation in these forests, Evans identified what number of of those lands already present vital habitat for birds.

“At one TFBP web site, we detected 76 fowl species. That’s corresponding to most protected, non-production forests,” she mentioned. “We search to boost consciousness of the worth of those managed forest methods for biodiversity whereas making small administration enhancements that may improve sustainability of forest assets for wildlife with out impacting financial returns.”

Evans has additionally helped lead the East Gulf Coastal Plain Landbird Conservation Plan, which particulars long-term inhabitants and habitat aims of 29 prioritized landbird species throughout six Southern states. The aims recognized within the plan shall be utilized within the partnership.

Evans’ present analysis and monitoring in collaboration with the TFBP members consists of evaluating the affect of forest administration actions on species variety.

“We should improve our understanding of how forest administration actions affect species variety and abundance on the panorama scale to assist obtain forest sustainability aims. By combining ecological idea with forest administration, we will higher combine conservation measures, significantly for at-risk species, whereas concurrently reaching land use aims,” Evans mentioned.

The partnership—which spans a 1 million-acre, 75-mile radius round Starkville, encompassing 19 northeastern Mississippi counties and 6 northwestern Alabama counties—consists of the American Chicken Conservancy, which helms the trouble.

Emily Jo “EJ” Williams, vice chairman of the American Chicken Conservancy’s Southeast and Atlantic Coast Area and challenge lead, acknowledged the challenge’s targets.

“We need to talk the values of the forests, maintain and improve conservation amongst avian species and make the most of the TFBP space for demonstrations and outreach to native communities,” Williams mentioned.

Native communities, together with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, are additionally concerned. The tribe has about 28,000 acres of land and is within the technique of rebuilding its dictionary. ABC scientists are aiding the tribe in figuring out native fowl species.

“We’re studying in regards to the cultural significance of the birds from Choctaw Native Individuals and a number of the names for timber and birds within the Choctaw language,” Williams mentioned. “It’s so necessary to consider that in our panorama.”

Via this challenge, William hopes native communities can study the impacts personal forests have on avian ecology.

“We would like communities to understand how they will profit from these forested landscapes and assist them understand why these landscapes are so helpful,” Williams mentioned.

Along with the ABC and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, different collaborators embody the Sustainable Forest Initiative, Worldwide Paper, Weyerhaeuser, the Westervelt Firm, C.A. Barge Timberlands LC, McShan Lumber, Wildlife Mississippi, Quail Endlessly and Alabama Forestry Affiliation.

For extra on MSU’s Forest and Wildlife Analysis Heart, go to

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