Promoting the conservation of wildlife by providing an abundance of quality habitat is a priority for the Indiana Wildlife Federation. Active management of our forests is essential to effectively provide young, intermediate, and older stages of growth within our forests. IWF wholly supports active forest management, including the sustainable use of sound timber harvesting practices, as a means of providing varied habitats required by our state’s wildlife.
Indiana’s forests cover about 5 million acres, which is approximately 21 percent of our state’s total land base. These forests support an amazing diversity of plants and wildlife enjoyed by many Hoosiers across the state. Active management of forests is accomplished with the help of several tools such as timber harvests and prescribed fires, which mimic historic disturbances and maintain structural diversity within forests that serve as vital habitat to our state’s wildlife.
Forests support a tremendous proportion of Indiana’s wildlife. From small woodlots to blocks of over 50,000 acres, a variety of species can be found inhabiting Indiana’s forested lands. Each species has its own set of habitat requirements within a forest, which can range from any age, structure, and composition of vegetation imaginable. Currently, an overwhelming majority of 90 percent of our forests are at an intermediate successional stage of maturing secondary growth between stand age classes of 20 and 99 years. Some species that prefer the widespread, intermediate secondary growth forests are doing well in the state, while other species that require substantial areas of much younger or older growth have shown declines due to the lack of suitable habitat. Thus, IWF supports a statewide forest management strategy that will increase the percent of forest in the <19 and >100 years old age classes.
Timber management by private landowners, state and federal agencies, land trusts, and many others will determine the composition of Indiana’s forests. The age, structure, and composition of our forests translate into habitat characteristics, ultimately affecting the types of wildlife that will persist in Indiana. The use of several sustainable management techniques, including timber harvesting, prescribed fires and invasive species control, are vitally important to a large proportion of Indiana’s native plant and animal communities, and are necessary to maintain high levels of local (patch) biological diversity within our forests. Since, high local biological diversity does not equal high diversity at the landscape (statewide) scale, these forest management techniques should be utilized within the context of a statewide forest strategy that promotes high local diversity while maintaining the highest sustainable landscape diversity.
As one of our most precious and important natural resources, it is imperative that forests are effectively managed to provide quality habitat for our wildlife and to sustain the resource for future generations. Recognizing this need, the Indiana Wildlife Federation wholly supports and encourages active management, including the sustainable use of sound timber harvesting practices, within Indiana forests.
Indiana Code 14-23-4-1:
“It is the public policy of Indiana to protect and conserve the timber, water resources, wildlife, and topsoil in the state forests for the equal enjoyment and guaranteed use of future generations. However, by the employment of good husbandry, timber that has a substantial commercial value may be removed in a manner that benefits the growth of saplings and other trees by thinning, improvement cuttings, and harvest processes and at the same time provides a source of revenue to the state and counties and provides local markets with a further source of building material.”
Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment (HEE) is a long-term, large-scale experimental study of forest management and its impacts on plants and animals.
Findings thus far:
For more information click here.
Forestry Strategic Plan 2005 (Cooperative Forestry Management):
For more information click here.