Our Johnsonburg Mill has joined a partnership to improve habitats for Pennsylvania’s state bird, the ruffed grouse, as well as other wildlife. As we celebrate World Wildlife Day, this partnership demonstrates yet another example of how sustainable forestry benefits the habitats for a variety of wildlife.
In this effort in Pennsylvania, Domtar joins the Ruffed Grouse Society & American Woodcock Society (RGS & AWS), American Bird Conservancy (ABC), Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and Audubon Mid-Atlantic (AMA) to improve habitats for game and non-game wildlife, using a unique approach that creates landowner income and jobs in rural Pennsylvania.
“Domtar is happy to be able to support this innovative partnership to help restore balance to the landscape,” says Luke Dillinger, Domtar’s wood procurement manager in Johnsonburg. “The committed organizations involved bring the experience, dedication and know-how needed to be effective at the landscape level.”
Declining Habitat Puts Ruffed Grouse at Risk
Populations of ruffed grouse and other forest birds, including the golden-winged warbler and wood thrush, have declined as critical habitat has disappeared. Too little young forest and too much closed-canopy, single-aged forest don’t provide the necessary structure for nesting and foraging for many of these species.
The new partnership will address these issues by promoting sustainable, science-based timber harvesting that diversifies forest age classes, structure and tree species variety at landscape scales.
In some cases, the work will involve restoring forest stands with a history of poor management, such as removing only the most valuable sawtimber trees, that left degraded stands with limited economic and wildlife value.
Domtar provides a stable, robust market for low-grade wood (pulpwood). Harvesting this low-grade material is a critical to good forest management that increases long-term value to landowners while benefitting wildlife such as the ruffed grouse. Without markets for pulpwood and other types of wood, private forest owners and public land managers would have to pay for this type of forest management, which would greatly decrease the number of acres of habitat that can be improved.
Domtar will support the partnership and have the option to purchase pulpwood from the habitat-oriented forest management projects. The organizations involved in the partnership are collaborating with local consulting foresters, who will write forest management plans as needed and assist landowners in implementing them.
“As conservationists, we need to act quickly to reverse the decades-long decline in ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other forest bird populations. New opportunities like this help us fast forward our conservation progress,” says Ben Jones, president and CEO of RGS & AWS. “The beauty of working with Domtar is that they create value out of the low-grade trees we would otherwise have to pay to remove. We deeply appreciate Domtar’s support for our partnership, which will efficiently create critical habitat at scale.”