Protecting land from development is important, but today’s forests are seeing unprecedented threats to their natural regeneration of young trees that require active stewardship if they are to survive.
A healthy landscape has a mosaic of habitat types, including young forests, and supports a diversity of wildlife. In the early 1900s New York State was more farmland than forest. Today 63% of the landscape is forested with predominantly middle-aged trees. Over the past 50 years, young forests and shrub lands have dwindled, along with 60 species of mammals, songbirds and other wildlife that rely on them for habitat to survive.
The majority of Hudson Valley forests are over 40-year-old and lacking the dense regrowth of small trees and shrubs that typically occur after natural disturbances like fire, wind-storms and flooding. The major component of Winnakee’s stewardship model is to help forests reset their regenerative capabilities that re-establish their natural life cycle so that younger trees and wildlife can thrive.
A healthy forest is one with the ability to support robust wildlife and plant populations, as well as its surrounding human population far into the future. Given the effects of a changing climate, the lands Winnakee works every day to protect have the right characteristics to help at risk species populations as the world faces an ongoing biodiversity crisis.