Overview - Implementation
Studies and research in bird conservation are important, but to make a difference for priority bird populations, our knowledge and the tools we have developed must be applied to the landscape. The CHJV works with partners to ensure policy makers, land managers, and other resource professionals receive the best information and technologies. By influencing policies, directing management priorities, and providing up to date information to state and federal agencies and non-government organizations, the CHJV keeps priority bird conservation efforts integrated into management efforts on both public and private land.
Natural Community Restoration
Natural communities are important to bird conservation in the Central Hardwoods Bird Conservation Region. Numerous studies have shown that as native grasslands, open woodland and riparian habitats have declined, so have the avian species that use them. Though artificial plantings, managed old fields, and forest manipulations can provide temporary habitat for these species, natural habitat communities such as glades, open woodlands, savannas, and barrens provide a much more diverse, persistent, and resilient environment for many declining bird species. Strategic restoration and proper management of these critical habitats will be vital to reversing the downward trends of many grassland and shrub land birds.
Many of these sites are presently in either a closed canopy condition or have been severely overtaken by cedars and other woody growth. Efforts to restore degraded woodland communities should begin with proper site selection and the reintroduction of fire. If needed, thinning to reduce overstory canopy cover, or clearing to remove encroaching woody growth can also be used. Because many sites are still in a remnant wooded condition the response to fire and increased sunlight often results in a floristically diverse understory of native grasses and forbs. Areas severely degraded by agricultural conversion or invasive plants may require herbicide treatments to remove non-native vegetation followed by restoring native grasses and forbs on the site. Areas of bottomland hardwoods converted to cropland and pasture, especially along streams and rivers should also be restored. Reforestation on these sites should lead to the development of a natural and structurally diverse forest system which complements the riparian landscape in which it is restored.
In order to use natural communities as a frame work for conservation planning, The CHJV developed a “potential vegetation model” stepped down from the National Hierarchical Framework
To guide management of natural communities, CHJV staff have applied their decision support tools to develop a road map for how much restoration, of which communities, to do where in the CHBCR. This design for conservation represents a "top-down" look at how much restoration is needed to support bird populations at desired levels. It also is being used to help on-the-ground initiatives develop "bottom-up" objectives based on their own goals and circumstances.