The forests of the Atlantic Flyway provide vital habitat for millions of resident and migratory birds throughout their annual life cycles, from breeding areas in North America to wintering areas in the Caribbean and Central and South America. Sadly, nearly one third of eastern forest bird species have experienced significant population declines over the past fifty years, including several high-profile species such as Wood Thrush, and Canada, Cerulean, Golden-winged, and Prairie Warblers, which have lost more than 60 percent of their populations in that time.
Although forests in the U.S. have largely rebounded since the height of agricultural land clearing in the early 20th Century, many remain fragmented or provide habitat of poor quality due to incompatible management, invasive species, and overabundant deer, while others continue to be lost to development and stressed by a changing climate. Audubon New York is collaborating with other state programs within the Atlantic Flyway to address these threats and to protect and improve forest bird breeding habitat in North America.
New York’s forests offer some of the largest and most intact forested landscapes in the Atlantic Flyway. Stretching from the Pine Barrens of Long Island, through the Hudson Highlands and Catskills, across the Allegheny Plateau, all the way north to the Tug Hill Plateau and the Adirondacks, New York’s forests are home to more than three dozen bird species of conservation concern. A well-managed, resilient, and diverse forest ecosystem provides critical habitat for birds during all seasons.
A healthy forest is an intact forest, made up of diverse age classes of trees and other plants to provide essential habitat for forest birds. Healthy forests are also resilient to undesirable stressors such as climate change and invasive species, and they provide critical ecosystem services that benefit people, including flood control, water quality protection, and carbon sequestration, as well as forest products and recreational opportunities.
Economically, forests in New York State contribute to a $4 billion forest products industry and generate nearly $14.5 billion in revenue related to outdoor recreation and tourism.* They also provide related jobs and contribute to the viability of many local communities. Clearly, conservation and stewardship of New York’s forests are important to birds and other wildlife as well as to quality of life for many New Yorkers.
* Source: United States Forest Service