Preserve Our Forests

Wildlife need forests to survive

The pending biodiversity crisis has many causes and solutions. One critical solution that President Biden can implement: let mature trees grow.


Image by Todd Kay from Pixabay. |
A Michigan forest

Wildlife populations have decreased dramatically, an estimated 69% between 1970 and 2018.  With a 20% decrease, North America fares better than some other parts of the globe:the statistics are still troubling. While there are a variety of causes for wildlife populations declines, habitat loss is one of the major reasons. Their homes are being logged, mined and paved over. And with 80% of our non-aquatic animals and plants found living in forests, preserving our wooded habitats, especially mature and old-growth forests, is an essential piece of the solution to the biodiversity crisis. 


No animal is more closely associated with forests and trees than birds. In American forests, hundreds of bird species breed, nest and stop over. Bird species live in all parts and different types of forests, including nesting in the upper canopy, roosting in tree cavities, living in the shrubs and fishing in ponds and streams. Scientists have concluded that old-growth forests may actually help stop population loss in bird species that are particularly affected by the impacts of climate change. Scientists have found this by tracking population declines of the Hermit warbler and Wilson’s warbler, both of which suffered less population decrease in areas with old-growth forests. Leaving our mature trees and forests standing will help these and other bird populations survive.

Aquatic species

According to the Forest Service, “more than 150,000 miles of streams and 2.5 million acres of lakes are found on U.S. national forests and grasslands.” Roots, canopy cover and fallen trees create important habitat in forest streams and lakes. These lakes and streams are critical habitat for fish, amphibians and aquatic insects, of which the United States is a world leader in population diversity. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “one-third of the planet’s amphibian species are threatened with extinction.” The “Salamander Capital of the World” is in the Great Smoky Mountains of southern Appalachia where water is abundant and dozens of these moisture-dependent salamander species lay their eggs. Leaving our forests, especially our eastern forests, intact will help protect salamanders and other critical aquatic species. 

Forest mammals

Of the more than 400 land mammals that live in the United States, many depend on forests for their food and homes. With 77 species in a single watershed, the highest diversity of mammals occurs in the Coronado National Forest of Arizona and New Mexico. Our forests across the continent are home to voles, bats, wolves, bears, lynx and mountain lions. All of these species are dependent on the forests and other species living in them. For species that require a large range, such as bears and mountain lions, logging roads and traffic can disrupt their lives and ability to mate. Red tree voles actually live in the canopy, above ground, and are mostly associated with old-growth and mature forests. Bats, which are in decline, play an important role controlling insects in the forests. All of these critters and more have a better chance of survival if we let our mature forests grow. 


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