Interface Forestry logo, egg-shaped logo bordered by recycling arrows with ponderosa pine tree and roots

Interface Forestry

forest stewardship in the wildland-urban interface

Notes and Research

Managing forest stands and landscapes for wildlife habitat

Stewardship activities pertaining to wildlife habitat must be a complex, adaptive process, affected by a multitude of contingencies, some of which land stewards can control, most of which we cannot. Among these contingencies are large-scale disturbance (like fire), climatic variation (drought or severe winter), systematic habitat destruction (due to subdivision and development), disease and population crashes, and other factors over which the landowner has no control.

In addition, various wildlife species respond differently to habitat conditions and seasons, and likewise, individuals within a group will vary in behavior. At the stand level, the needs of one species may conflict with the needs another. (For example, good elk cover requires dense thickets that make hunting difficult for the larger raptors.) Also, a species may have differing needs in relation to the season or activity (cover, feeding, or reproduction being the main categories). Elk, for example, require a mix of open forage for feeding and dense stands for thermal and hiding cover. Thus, large diverse areas are necessary for creating effective wildlife habitat.

To further complicate the task of wildlife stewardship, many species are highly mobile and routinely cross ownership boundaries. As a result, human activities on adjacent lands (or even lands in the general area) will affect and maybe disrupt the steward's wildlife objectives. Thus, larger management areas are more suitable for maintaining wildlife habitat.

An important consideration in attempts to plan for wildlife conservation and biological diversity is whether to plan for species richness (the broadest range of desired species) or for featured species (such as elk or an endangered species). In some situations, managing for species richness will conflict with managing for featured species, while in other situations, they can be commensurable. If the featured species has habitat needs that are general enough to agree with the habitat of several other species (or is an indicator species, frequently associated with other species in the same habitat), then the two approaches will be commensurable.

For example, the needs of elk and deer encompass a range of stand structures, from open ground to densely packed trees, and these structures must be in close proximity to each other and to water. Thus, the appropriate stand structures would include a higher density of edges and ecotones (transitions) adjacent to large areas of consistent stand structure. Such ecotones, particularly those resulting from natural or inherent edges, work well for many other species as well. In addition, elk prefer areas away from roads and people, so some stands should remain remote and relatively undisturbed. Since such privacy considerations are also important to the other larger mammals, stewardship for elk will benefit these species as well. In this case, a featured species approach is reconcilable with a species richness approach.

An important indicator of ecosystem wildlife health is the seasonal presence of migratory song-birds. Many bird species have evolved in direct relationship to historical stand structures. Due to the elimination of these structures due to logging and development, many species of song bird suffer the effects of severely diminished habitat, including population decline. Thus, the presence or lack of a bird species that should be prevalent is an indicator of the "naturalism" characterizing a stand.

Return to Top of Page

Bibliography and Links

Baker, W., "The Landscape Ecology of Large Disturbances in the Design and Management of Nature Reserves," Environmental Policy and Biodiversity, ed. R.Brumbine (Covelo, CA: Island Press, 1994), 75-98.

Bond, W.J., "Keystone Species," Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function, Eds. E. Schulze and H. Mooney(New York: Springer-Verlag, 1994), 237-253.

Bull, Evelyn L., Catherine G. Parks, and Torolof R. Torgersen, Trees and Logs Important to Wildlife in the Interior Columbia River Basin(Portland, OR: USDA, Forest Service, PNW, 1997). (Companion to PNW-GTR-390).

Carey, Andrew, B., "Induced Spatial Heterogeneity in Forest Canopies: Responses of Small Mammals",Journal of Wildlife Management 65(4), 1014-1027.

Christensen, A.,, Elk Management in the Northern Region: Considerations in Forest Plan Updates or Revisions(Ogden, UT, USDA Forest Service, 1993). General Technical Report INT-303.

Creighton, Janean H., and Jim Bottorf, "Habitat Management for Bats on Small Woodlands," (Pullman, WA: Washington State U. Cooperative Extension, 2000). MISC0226.

Creighton, Janean H., and Chris O. Loggers, "Wildlife Ecology and Forest Habitat," (Pullman, WA: Washington State U. Cooperative Extension, 2001). EB1866.

Creighton, Janean H., John F. Lehmkuhl, David M. Baumgartner, and Chris O. Loggers, "Wildlife Considerations for the Private Landowners from the Management of Overstocked Small-diameter Forest Stands in Eastern Washington," (Pullman, WA: Washington State U. Cooperative Extension, 2001). EB1905.

Deusen, Millard, and Paul W. Adams, "Riparian Areas: FIsh and WIldlife Havens," (Pullman, WA: Washington State U. Cooperative Extension, 2004). MISC0133.

Hann, Wendel, "Characterization of Biodiversity in the Northern Region," Proceedings: Northern Region Biodiversity Workshop(Missoula, MT: USDA, Forest Service, Region One, 1992), 15-20.

Hatz, Russ, "Managing Ponderosa Pine Woodlands for Fish and Wildlife," (Pullman, WA: Washington State U. Cooperative Extension, 1991). MISC0133.

Hunter, M., Wildlife, Forests, and Forestry: Principles of Managing Forests for Biological Diversity(Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1990),

Long, J.N., "Silviculture: Shaping Future Forests," Utah Science Winter 1988, 109-114.

Lyon, L. Jack, HIDE2: Evaluation of Elk Hiding Cover Using a Personal Computer(Ogden, UT: USDA, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, 1992). Research Note-INT-365.

L. Lyon, Jack, and Aland G. Christensen, A Partial GLossary of ELk Management Terms(Ogden, UT: USDA, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, 1992). GTR-INT-288.

Miller, Richard, "Managing Western Juniper for Wildlife," (Pullman, WA: Washington State U. Cooperative Extension, 1998). MISC0141.

Pederson, R., "Beaver, Muskrat, and Nutria on Small Woodlands," (Pullman, WA: Washington State U. Cooperative Extension, 1996). MISC0196.

Shay, Ron, John Crawford, Ken Durbin, and Jim Bottorff, "Managing Small Woodlands for Grouse,"

Thomas, J.W., ed., Wildlife Habitats in Managed Forests: the Blue Mountains of Oregon and Washington(Washington, D.C.: USDA, 1979). Ag. Handbook no. 553.

Thomas, J.W., Chris Maser, and Federick C. Hall, "Silviculture for Improved Wildlife Habitat", Proceedings of the 1979 Convention of The Society of American Foresters(Bethesda, MD: Society of American Foresters, 1980).

Return to Top of Page