SC Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy

Conserving South Carolina's Working Forests

This section addresses issues that affect the viability of forests that are managed for such uses as timber production, wildlife habitat, soil and water protection, aesthetics, and recreation. 

 

The forests of South Carolina provide a number of economic and societal benefits such as manufacturing, employment, recreation, aesthetics, and environmental protection.  Demands on our forest resources, as well as threats to the future status of our working forests, are as great as at any time in recent history.South Carolina is experiencing significant change in the management and use of our woodlands.  Population growth, ownership changes, residential development, nonconsumptive demands, and the presence or absence of markets for our forest products will determine the future of South Carolina’s forests.  To ensure that our forests can meet the current and future economic, ecological, cultural, and recreational demands placed on them, managers must focus their efforts to address changing landowner objectives, parcelization and fragmentation, current and emerging markets, forest regulation, critical habitats, and cultural/recreational concerns.

Forest Area

Forests are the predominant land cover in South Carolina.  Forests currently occupy 67 percent or 13 million acres of the land area in South Carolina.  The vast majority of our forests are classified as timberland1 with 54 percent or 6.8 million acres, being hardwood forest types and 46 percent or 5.9 million acres, being softwood forest types.  Loblolly-shortleaf pine is the predominant forest type group occupying 5.3 million acres (Conner et al. 2009).

The remaining 6.3 million acres of land in South Carolina are in other uses such as agriculture or urban development.  Long term trends, 1968 through 2006, show that forest land has been relatively stable while agricultural land has declined by 60 percent which is a decrease of about 2 million acres.  Another long term trend is the increase in area in urban development which has increased from less than 1 million acres in 1968 to nearly 2.5 million acres in 2006.  Analysis of the trends related to agriculture and urbanization are important because shifts in these land uses have direct impact on forest land in South Carolina (Conner et al. 2009).

Historically, the clearing of land for agriculture was the primary cause of deforestation in South Carolina.  However, government incentive programs, such as the Conservation Reserve Program, have reversed this historical trend.  While conversions to agriculture lands from forest lands do still occur, it is much more likely to see agricultural lands converted back into forest lands.  This conversion from agriculture lands to forest lands is the primary reason that forest acreage in South Carolina has been relatively stable over time.  Decreases in funding for federal and state conservation programs may decrease future conversions from agriculture lands to forest lands.

Urbanization is currently the primary cause of deforestation in South Carolina.  Urban areas continue to expand into adjacent rural lands. In most cases, this rural land development reduces the area of economically and ecologically productive forest land.  The loss of forest land to urbanization will continue to be a major forestry concern for the future.  This development and urbanization of forest land will continue and possibly accelerate given the projected population growth in South Carolina (Wear and Greis 2002).

 

Forest Ownership

Most of South Carolina’s forest land are currently owned by private individuals or families, making up about 59 percent of the total.  The amount of forest land held by forest industry in South Carolina, and throughout the southern region, has declined substantially in recent years.  In 2006, forest industry holdings comprised just 1.4 million acres, 11 percent of the total, in South Carolina.  This area is down from the 2.6 million acres reported in 1986 when forest industry holdings were at their peak.  Conversely, non-forest industry corporate ownership has increased and now comprises about 18 percent, more than 2.3 million acres, of the state’s total forest lands.  The majority of corporate ownership is held by timber investment management organizations (TIMOs), real estate investment trusts (REITs), and limited liability corporations (LLCs).  The remainder of South Carolina’s forest lands is divided among national forests (5%); state, county, and municipal government (4%); and other federal lands (3%) (Conner et al. 2009).

Ownership of Forest Land in South Carolina

The majority of South Carolina’s forest land is managed by 262,000 private forest landowners. As shown in Table 1 below, the size of these ownerships varies from 1 to 9 acres to greater than 10,000 acres.

Size of Forest Landholdings (acres) Area Owners
Acres (thousand) Percent of Total Number (thousand) Percent of Total
9-Jan 413 5.70% 158 60.30%
19-Oct 425 5.80% 33 12.60%
20-49 1,030 14.10% 36 13.70%
50-99 1,114 15.30% 18 6.90%
100-199 1,203 16.50% 10 3.80%
200-499 1,483 20.30% 5 1.90%
500-999 706 9.70% 1 0.40%
1,000-4,999 777 10.60% 1 0.40%
5,000-9,999 91 1.20% <1 0.00%
10,000+ 58 0.80% <1 0.00%
Total 7,300 100.00% 262 100.00%

Table 1: Size of Ownership of Forest Land in South Carolina

 

The largest class of landowners (158,000 or 60 percent of all landowners) own tracts smaller than 10 acres. These landowners, however, account for only six percent of the forest lands in South Carolina.  The vast majority of forested acres, 94 percent, are in landholdings greater than 10 acres in size.  This information is relevant because conventional wisdom indicates that it is not financially viable to manage forest products on tracts less than 10 acres in size.  Therefore, based on tract size alone, the majority (94 percent) of family forest lands currently have the potential to be managed for a variety of uses including the production of timber (Conner et al. 2009).

Forest management offers many landowners an economically viable means of keeping land in forest use.  Many landowners enjoy multiple benefits from their property, such as recreational opportunities, wildlife viewing, scenic beauty, and personal satisfaction of conserving natural resources.  Periodic income from timber provides an alternative to converting forest land to other uses.  Property taxes are also lower for lands in bonafide agricultural and forest use. 

Millions of acres of forest land in South Carolina have changed ownership in recent years.  Much of this change in ownership can be attributed to the divestiture of timberlands by forest industry.  While the tracts were owned and managed by forest industry there was some assurance that the lands would remain in forests and continue to provide multiple use benefits (Conner et al. 2009).  However, with the transfer of these lands to non-forest industry corporations and private individuals, the future of these forest lands becomes less predictable andsubject to more frequent ownership and management changes.  Certainly, the number of new forest landowners in South Carolina is growing.

It is unknown what changes in land ownership mean for South Carolina’s forest lands, but major concerns are fragmentation, parcelization, and the conversion of forests to non-forest uses.  The distinction between parcelization and fragmentation of the forest is important because their causes and effects can be different.  Parcelization generally refers to division of ownerships that result in smaller holdings. Parcelized ownerships generally fragment the forest landscape, constrain management options, adversely influence forest health and wildlife habitats, and directly and indirectly lead to forest loss.  Fragmentation refers to isolation of forest tracts from one another and generally results from parcelization of ownership. Fragmentation can also be caused by introducing infrastructure, roads and power lines, for example, into the forest or forest management activities that have the same effect.  The effects of fragmentation on habitat of certain wildlife species have been well-documented, but effects on timber availability, water quality, and forest manageability, while believed to be negative, are less certain.  The projected population increase for South Carolina and the related urbanization will only exacerbate these issues.

Timber Supply

South Carolina has an abundant supply of timber.  In 2006 the total live volume on timberland in South Carolina was 21.5 billion cubic feet which is the highest volume ever reported in the state.  All live volume was split almost evenly between softwoods and hardwoods.  The loblolly-shortleaf pine species group accounted for 83 percent of all live softwood volume (Conner et al. 2009).

South Carolina’s supply of timber is still increasing.  Net growth of all live softwood trees averaged 817.0 million cubic feet per year between 2002 and 2006.  Softwood removals during that same period averaged only 596.1 million cubic feet per year.  Hardwoods during the same period averaged 387.3 million cubic feet per year.  This growth was substantially more than the average hardwood removal of 217.7 million cubic feet per year reported for the period (Conner et al. 2009).

While the growth/drain ratio for South Carolina bodes well for the near term, a survey of forest tree nurseries indicates a decline in the artificial regeneration of pine in the state (see Figure 4).   

Acres of Tree Planting in South Carolina

The decline in tree planting over the past six years has been abrupt, decreasing from 168,000 acres in 2000 to approximately half that acreage in 2006.  Continued reductions in tree planting throw into question the abundance of the state’s future timber supply. Maintaining the pine resources at their current levels is difficult which is causing negative consequences for South Carolina’s forest industries.

Another issue that may affect the availability of timber for use by the forest products industry is the capacity of harvesting contractors.  Current studies have shown that logging capacity has fallen to a level that will not be able to sustain manufacturing demands if they return to pre-recession levels (Lewis 2009).   With the tightening of credit, many loggers have not been able to stay in business.  In addition, lower market demand for finished goods coupled with landowners pulling stumpage off the market due to falling prices has resulted in inadequate markets to deliver wood and insufficient stumpage to harvest (WSRI 2008).

Economic Impact

Forestry is a critical segment of the economy of South Carolina.  The most recent study on the status of the forest products sector in South Carolina’s economy showed it to be the largest industry in terms of the number of jobs and total labor income, providing a total economic impact of nearly 84,000 jobs with nearly $4 billion in wages (Woodward 2009).  In the current economic downturn, however, demand for traditional timber, solid wood and pulp, and paper-related products have been declining (Johnson and Adams 2009).  The 2009 Timber Product Output Survey will document the severity of the decline in production of forest  products as a result of the recession.  Forest product companies, as well as forest landowners, are suffering from reduced demand and lower prices for the raw materials and manufactured products that they produce.

Nationwide, mill and machine closings and idlings have caused a decline in paper and pulp capacity since 2000 (AF&PA 2009).  Furthermore, current and future pulp and paper manufacturing capacity and the associated wood fiber plantations are locating in South America and Asia(Suckling 2006).  South Carolina’s forest products industry has resisted this trend with steady manufacturing output and an abundant supply of wood fiber (Conner et al. 2009).  In spite of the economic downturn and general nationwide forest industry shrinkage, South Carolina’s forests and traditional forest products companies appear well-positioned to take advantage of increased wood volumes, investment, and product demand.

Concurrent with the economic recession and in part an effect of it, economically and politically driven development of new, and until now, minor business opportunities in timber and non-timber forest products is occurring.  The demand for alternative fuels has stimulated an interest in examining and experimenting with the potential of woody debris, non-merchantable trees and other wood products usually considered waste, as a supplement to or replacement for oil and natural gas.  Similarly, business leaders, government officials, and entrepreneurs are researching the potential of woody biomass plantations for the production of wood derived ethanol and other energy products (Gonzalez et al. 2009).  A recent report documents the availability of 16.1 million tons per year of biomass in South Carolina for energy production (Conner et al. 2009a).  A significant portion of this biomass is already being utilized.

Exports of forest products have increased by more than 59 percent since 2001 and now exceed $1 billion annually.  South Carolina port facilities serve as a great asset to the forest products industry in reaching a global market.  Forest products have been the top export commodity for the four leading markets from the Port of Charleston (SCSPA 2004).  Japan, Canada, and China were the top markets for South Carolina forest products in 2003 with Japan and China being South Carolina’s fastest growing markets (SCEC 2004).   The declining value of the US dollar relative to foreign currency offers an opportunity to expand export activity, especially for biomass products (SCFC 2007).

Ecosystem services and non-timber forest products have the potential to grow into significant markets in the future.  Naturally-occurring carbon sequestration by trees now has commercial value through carbon trading, credits, and markets.  Other natural forest processes, such as water quality and water flow, may develop commercial value or be further regulated to maintain quality and quantity.  Meanwhile, family forest owners continue to market mushrooms, Christmas trees, various recreational activities, such as hunting leases, and other non-timber products and services, so that they will have cash flow at a sufficient level to allow them to keep land in a forested state or, in some cases, simply to keep ownership of the land.

While timber demand has fallen, our forest resource has continued to grow (Conner et al. 2009).  South Carolina now has more land area in forest and more timber volume than ever recorded. Timber volumes, however, are not evenly distributed by age or size class because large acreages of young forests were created over a short time span through the Conservation Reserve Program (late 1980’s and early 1990’s) and reforestation efforts after Hurricane Hugo (early 1990’s).  This concentration of same-age wood, identified as a “wall-of-wood,” is available to support a variety of new and expanded forest-based economic activities.

Development of existing and emerging markets for South Carolina’s forest products requires ongoing research and development (R&D) activity in the areas of forest management productivity and wood products development.  University-based research cooperatives are being tested as forest industry withdraws its financial support after eliminating land ownership from its business model, and state budgets are cut.  Increased productivity gains from tree improvement are falling upon the shoulders of a few state forestry agencies and the remaining private sector tree improvement cooperative members.  The status of product development R&D is also uncertain.  The USDA Forest Service’s R&D budget has been relatively steady since 2004 (USFS 2010).  An internet search reveals that much of the readily identifiable forest-related research and development being conducted in the United States is directly related to wood-based energy and is funded by the Departments of Agriculture and Energy.

An October 2009 conference of forest sector leaders and analysts endorsed an initiative termed “20 by ’15.”  The goal of this initiative is to grow forestry’s economic impact in South Carolina from $17 to $20 billion by 2015.  Conference attendees identified six action items:  (1) retain and grow existing businesses and seize new opportunities: (2) fully utilize the state’s record timber volume; (3) aggressively promote South Carolina forest products and business opportunities; (4) expand forest management and forest products R&D; (4) address infrastructure needs including wood export capabilities at the state’s ports; and (5) rebuild the SC Forestry Commission’s capacity for protecting and developing the forest resource.

The SC Forestry Commission will develop a business plan to implement the recommendations from this conference.  This plan will be implemented by the agency with the assistance of multiple partners.  Because the Forestry Commission’s capacity for rural development projects has been lost through successive budget cuts, the agency will seek financial and manpower assistance to complete the plan.  Currently, the SC Forestry Commission receives no federal funding for rural development.

Forest Regulation

Forestry in South Carolina is subject to federal regulation such as air quality, water quality, and endangered species laws; state regulation related to prescribed burning; and county regulation such as tree protection ordinances, road use permits, smoke ordinances, and harvest notification requirements.  Many, if not all, of these well-intentioned laws and regulations restrict forest management activities, reduce land managers’ options, and increase the cost of forest management (Hickman and Martus 1991) (Haney and Cleaves 1992).  In many cases, forest regulation can be a disincentive for forest landowners to actively manage their forests and may be an incentive to convert their forest land to another use. 

Most regulation are premised on the theory that society has an interest in the conservation of forests and other natural resources.  Federal and state regulations often are instigated by politically active interest groups that have various objectives that are unrelated to forestry.  The Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act were directed not directed at the forestry industry, but at local governments and manufacturing polluters. At the county level, regulations are often proposed in response to citizen concerns about logging, clearcutting, muddy roads, noise, aesthetics, and more.  State and local regulations also seek to protect public assets such as watersheds, wildlife, and roads and bridges (Seigel 1991)(Hickman and Martus 1991).

Local government planning commissions sometimes are not aware of the broad impact that their attempts to solve a local urban concern may have on the forest.  For example, thirteen counties have enacted tree protection ordinances to preserve trees during development (see Figure 5).Counties in South Carolina with Tree Protection Ordinances

These laws were an attempt to prohibit developers from using an exemption for forestry operations that existed in earlier regulations.  In an effort to tighten the regulations, however, lawmakers put an undue burden on forest land managers whose intent was to carry out legitimate forestry operations.  An ordinance that was proposed in Charleston County, for example, required anyone who planned to harvest trees to conduct a detailed and costly survey of the property to ensure that the provisions of the tree protection ordinance were not violated.  This type of ordinance could make timber harvesting and other proactive forest management activities prohibitively expensive and time-consuming.

Outdoor burning ordinances are another type of regulation that has the potential for negative effects on forest management.  These ordinances were enacted in several counties in the state primarily to address nuisance smoke from yard debris burning (see Figure 6).

Counties in South Carolina with Outdoor Burning Ordinances

They also were designed to address air quality issues, especially in those areas where non-attainment2 may be an issue.  The SC Forestry Commission provides advice to counties considering such legislation to ensure that prescribed burning for forestry, wildlife, and agriculture purposes is excluded from these ordinances.   Unlike yard debris burns, prescribed burning for land management is monitored and regulated through the Smoke Management Guidelines in cooperation with the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), and; therefore, takes into consideration atmospheric conditions.  Since the trend is toward increasing regulation, the agency will need to continue to monitor outdoor burning ordinance proposals to ensure that forestry, wildlife, and agriculture burns are exempted from such ordinances.

South Carolina forest landowners realized the threat to forestry posed by local forestry regulation and worked with the SC Forestry Commission and other forestry groups to encourage the state legislature to pass the Right to Practice Forestry Act in 2009.  This law prohibits counties and municipalities from enacting ordinances that “restrict or regulate certain forestry activities,” thereby removing the burden of local regulations from those landowners who are carrying out legitimate forestry practices.

In addition to promoting this type of legislation, the SC Forestry Commission has joined forces with advocates of forestry in South Carolina to educate lawmakers about the economic importance of forestry and agriculture in the state.  For example, the Palmetto Agribusiness Council sponsored an assessment in 2009 on the impact of agribusiness.  This assessment showed that forestry and farming combined is a $34 billion industry that supports 200,000 jobs (Miley et al. 2008).  The Council has sent this report to state and local leaders to help them develop, as explained by Bob Scott, President of the SC Forestry Association, “policies and regulations that encourage growth of agribusiness, rather than restrict its growth and global competitiveness.” Efforts of this nature raise awareness among lawmakers and are important.  Joey Ferguson of Resource Management Services observed that “when sectors of the economy get positive attention, they tend to be protected…from harmful regulation.”

Excessive income and property taxes can have the same negative effect on forest management as restrictive regulations.  Fortunately, South Carolina’s tax environment is friendly to forestry. Federal and state capital gains treatment of timber sale revenue and the ability to expense reforestation costs, for example, provide incentives for landowners to continue managing their forest land.  South Carolina’s property tax assessment is also pro forestry in that it is based on either current use of the land or its relative productivity.  According to Bob Scott of the SC Forestry Association, the average statewide tax rate is relatively low at just $3.25 per acre, so it encourages timber production.

Instead of a severance tax, South Carolina assesses a small tax on the forest products industry that is based on the amount of wood that is processed each year.  This tax funds the $1 million Forest Renewal Program (FRP), which pairs the $800,000 that is collected from forest industry with $200,000 that is allocated by the General Assembly (SCFC 2010).  Through this Forestry Commission-administered program, forest landowners are eligible for partial reimbursement for reforestation practices that they implement.  Because FRP helps ensure a sustainable supply of wood, the forest products industry supported creation of this program.

Unfortunately, not all of the effects of tax laws are positive.  Forest landowners are much more likely than other Americans to incur the federal estate tax.  “Nationwide, about 2.6 million acres of forest land must be harvested and 1.4 million acres must be sold each year to pay the federal estate tax” (Wear and Greis 2002).  In addition, many of these tracts that are sold are soon converted to non-forest uses.

The trend in South Carolina is for this land conversion to increase as expansion of urban areas continues (see section on population growth).  As the population of the state becomes more urban, the citizens will lose touch with the land and become less tolerant of forest management activities.  Forestry advocates will need to remain diligent to ensure their voices are heard when federal, state, and local lawmakers propose restrictive regulatory and tax legislation.

Critical Habitats

Specific habitats, considered and protected for the benefit of wildlife, are critical  The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies identified bottomland hardwood forest conservation and longleaf pine ecosystem restoration as regional priorities (SEAFWA 2006). Bottomland forests are important habitats for a variety of wildlife species, including neotropical migratory birds, bats, waterfowl, wild turkeys, game mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.  This general habitat type includes linear or small-patch communities such as canebrakes, floodplain pools, riparian forests, and hardwood and pine-dominated hammocks.  Maintenance of mature, intact and contiguous bottomland forests is important for conservation of South Carolina’s wildlife diversity.  In particular, old-growth canopy trees, snags, large woody debris, and diverse midstory and understory vegetation are important elements to maintain in these forests.

The South Carolina Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy identifies longleaf pine savannahs as a critical habitat type. Longleaf pine forests once covered a vast range from Texas to Virginia, but have been reduced to three percent of historical acreage due to conversion to other land uses and forest types.  Longleaf pine forests are highly valued for their resistance to damage by insects, diseases, wildfire, and storms, and for their yield of high quality wood products, biological diversity, and beauty.  This ecosystem is so significant that a group of conservationists assembled in 2005 and developed a 15-year plan designed to increase the acreage of longleaf pine across the South from 3.4 million to 8 million (America’s Longleaf 2009).

Caves, sinkholes, and springs (both karst-related and fault-related) represent some of the most sensitive natural habitats in South Carolina and are susceptible to impacts from a wide variety of land-use practices, including forestry.  Karst environments harbor many of the state’s rarest and most imperiled species such as salamanders in the Four Hole Swamp area, and provide habitat to game animals in areas of intense agriculture. Fault-related springs in the Piedmont that flow, even during periods of drought, represent specific habitats to other rare species.  These springs also provide water to game animals and birds as well as other fauna.  Protection of karst environments, springs, and related wetlands is essential for maintenance of South Carolina’s biological diversity and water quality (personal communication Dr. C.W. Clendenin, Jr., State Geologist, SCDNR, January 21, 2010).

Open canopy forests with diverse grass-forb-shrub groundcover characterize pine savannas. Prior to European settlement this habitat type dominated as much as three-fourths of the southeastern coastal plain landscape (Platt 1999). These forests were predominately two-layered with an overstory of widely spaced pines (Plummer 1975) and an herbaceous ground cover that was maintained by frequent fire (Frost 1998). Restoration of this habitat type, especially the longleaf pine savanna, is a high priority in a variety of conservation plans developed by federal, state and non-governmental conservation organizations. Examples include: America’s Longleaf Initiative; North American Wild Turkey Management Plan (NAWTMP); Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI); South Carolina Department of Natural Resource’s (DNR) Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS) (http://www.dnr.sc.gov/cwcs/species.html); Partners in Flight North American Landbird Conservation Plan; and Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation’s Habitat Management Guidelines for Amphibians and Reptiles of the Southeastern United States.

The widespread loss of pine savanna, resulting primarily from conversion to other land use types and reduction in fire, has contributed to the severe decline of numerous wildlife species that rely fully, or in part, on savanna habitats to meet their life requisites. Longleaf pine forests were ranked as the third most endangered ecosystem in the United States (Noss et al 1995).  South Carolina’s CWCS identifies several plant and animal species associated with pine savanna that are threatened or are species of concern.

The Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) serves as one example of a species in conservation need that is largely dependent on pine savanna restoration. South Carolina’s bobwhite population has declined by over 70 percent since 1966. Research has shown that closed canopy pine stands provide poor quality habitat for bobwhites and may also serve as ecological sinks; thereby, negatively impacting bobwhite populations on adjacent grassland habitats. Establishing and maintaining high quality pine savanna is a priority focus of bobwhite quail habitat restoration efforts.

When appropriately applied, frequent prescribed burning and forest thinning mimics the ecosystem processes that once occurred naturally across the landscape to create and maintain woodland savannas. Without thinning, tree canopies close and shade-out ground cover.  Without frequent prescribed burning, grasses and forbs are replaced by woody species.  Through active management, functional pine savanna systems, including the associated wildlife species, can be restored in existing loblolly, shortleaf, slash, and longleaf stands. Necessary management includes periodic thinning to maintain at least 60 percent of the ground in direct sunlight followed by prescribed burning on a two to three year rotation as well as chemical control of exotic grasses and/or planting of native ground cover.

Large landscape, multi-owner partnerships and conservation efforts provide a means to restore critical habitats and increase populations of declining wildlife.  In 2004, the SC Forestry Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the SC Department of Natural Resources, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the USDA Forest Service, the Newberry Soil and Water Conservation District, the East Piedmont RC&D Council, the State and Newberry Chapters of Quail Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and Clemson Cooperative Extension Service to implement a restoration of woodland savannas on national forest lands as well as private lands in Newberry County.  The Indian Creek Wildlife Habitat Restoration Initiative has been very successful in obtaining cost share assistance for private landowners as well as technical assistance in establishing management practices.  The combination of USDA Forest Service Stewardship Contracting and Agreement Authorities, the Wyden Amendment, and USDA Farm Bill programs were instrumental in this highly successful example of multi-partner collaboration. 

In 2004, eighteen counties in the upper and lower coastal plain of South Carolina were identified as high priority areas for bobwhite restoration. Within these counties there are 293,661 acres of longleaf/slash pine and 1,825,374 acres of loblolly/shortleaf pine that potentially could be restored to functional pine savanna (USFS 2008). Additionally, there are over 1.8 million acres of harvested cropland, a portion of which might be restored to longleaf pine.  If achieved, this could contribute as much as 50 percent toward South Carolina’s NBCI recovery goals. The Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) is the first-ever landscape-scale habitat restoration and population recovery plan for northern bobwhites in the United States.


The plan focuses on population and habitat objectives needed to achieve the overall goal of recovering bobwhite densities to 1980 levels on remaining improvable portions of the landscape. The plan's building blocks are fifteen Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs), developed for and utilized by the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI). The plan consists of separate chapters for each BCR, in addition to population and habitat objectives for each region.  Another important foundation of NBCI is the land-use data collected and analyzed every five years by the National Resources Inventory (NRI), a database of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. The goal of the NBCI is to restore northern bobwhite populations range wide to an average density equivalent to that which existed on improvable acres in 1980. This will necessitate impacting habitat on about 7 percent of 81.1 million acres of farm, forest, and rangeland so as to increase the current quail population by 2.7 million coveys. The plan is currently under revision.

Further cooperation between the SC Forestry Commission, the National Wild Turkey Federation, the USDA Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Defense, and other federal agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) can leverage resources to accomplish multiple resource management objectives.  The use of the Stewardship Contracting and Agreement Authorities, the Wyden Amendment, and the “All Lands” approach from the Secretary of Agriculture provides the tools for successful collaboration among federal and state agencies, NGO’s, and private landowners.   Further examples of locations of opportunities to implement landscape scale restoration projects with multiple partners include:

 State Property      Federal Property
Sand Hills State Forest  Sand Hills National Wildlife Refuge
Wee Tee State Forest Francis Marion National Forest
Manchester State Forest Shaw Air Force Base
Poe Creek State Forest Sumter National Forest
Keowee-Toxaway State Park Sumter National Forest
Jocasee Gorges (DNR) Sumter National Forest

 

Additional private lands programs, practices, and funding are needed for longleaf and other pine savanna restoration, especially for lands that do not have a recognized cropping history. Specifically, funding is needed to cost share longleaf planting, prescribed burning, herbicide application, planting of native ground cover, and heavy thinning of existing pine stands. Additionally, new and emerging programs, such as biofuels, need to be assessed for potential impacts to longleaf restoration efforts. When formulating or providing input on forest policy, landowner subsidies, and program delivery, consideration should be given to long-term ecological impacts and desired future landscape conditions as it relates to pine savanna ecosystem restoration and management.

Literature Cited and References

America’s Longleaf. 2009.  Range-wide conservation plan for longleaf pine. 52 pp.  Available online at http://www.americaslongleaf.org/resources/the-conservation-plan/Conservation%20Plan.pdf

American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA).  2009. 49th Annual Survey of Paper, Paperboard, and Pulp Capacity.  Available online at http://www.statmill.org

Conner, Roger C.; Tim O. Adams;  and Tony G. Johnson.  2009a.  Assessing the potential for biomass energy development in South Carolina.  Res. Pap. SRS-46.  Asheville, NC:  USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station.  19 p.  Available online at http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/34364

Conner, Roger C.; Tim O. Adams; Tony G. Johnson; and Sonja N. Oswalt.  2009.  South Carolina’s forests, 2006.  Res. Bull. SRS-158.  Asheville, NC: USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station.  57p.  Available online at http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/33449

Frost,Cecil C.  1998.  Presettlement fire frequency regimes of the United States:first approximation. In: Pruden,Teresa L. and Leonard A. Brennan, eds. Fire in ecosystem management: shifting the paradigm from suppression to prescription. Proceedings, 20th Tall Timbers fire ecology conference, 1996. May 7-10. Tallahassee, FL. Tall Timbers Research Station. pp. 70-81.

Gonzalez, Ronalds; Jeff Wright; and Daniel Saloni.  2009.  Filling a Need.  Forest Landowner, Vol. 68, No.6; November/December 2009, pp. 26-29

Haney, Jr., Harry L. and David A. Cleaves.  1992.  Potential cost of forestry regulation in the South.  Forest Farmer: Vol. 51, No. 6. pp. 8-11, 21.

Hickman, Clifford A. and Christopher E. Martus.  1991.  Local Regulation of Private Forestry in the Eastern
United States.  In: Proceedings of the Southern Forest Economic Workshop.  Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center: pp. 73-87.

Johnson, Tony G. and Tim O. Adams.  2009.  South Carolina’s timber industry – an assessment of timber product output and use, 2007. Resource Bull. SRS-150.  Asheville, NC:  U.S.D.A. Forestry Service, Southern Research Station.  28 pp.

Lewis, R.  2009. Looking Toward a Logging Force in Recovery. Forest Operations Review. Forest Resource Association, Inc. Vol. 11, No. 4, pp. 7-9.

Miley, Gallo and Associates.  2008.  The economic impact of the agribusiness industry

In South Carolina.  Columbia, SC. 34 p.   Available online at http://agriculture.sc.gov/UserFiles/file/PDFS/Econ%20Impact%20of%20Agribusiness%20Sept%20162.pdf

Noss, R.F.;  E.T. LaRoe; and J.M. Scott. 1995. Endangered ecosystems of the United

States: a preliminary assessment of loss and degradation. Washington, DC. US Department of the Interior. Biological Report 28.

Platt, W. J. 1999. Southeastern pine savannas. In: Anderson, R.C.; J.S. Fralish; and J. Baskin (eds.) The savanna, barren, and rock outcrop communities of North America, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. pp. 23–51.

Plummer, G.L. 1975. 18th century forests in Georgia. Bulletin of the Georgia Academy of

Science 33:1-19.

Siegel, William C.  1991.  Emerging Legal Issues in Hardwood Management.  Proceedings of the 19th Annual Hardwood Symposium of the Hardwood Research Council. Memphis, TN: Hardwood Research Council: pp. 27-37.

South Carolina Export Consortium. 2004.  South Carolina Forest Products:  An Export Overview.  Columbia, SC.  156 p.

SC Forestry Commission (SCFC). 2010.  Cost-share programs.  Available online at http://www.state.sc.us/forest/mcs.htm
South Carolina Forestry Commission (SCFC).  2007. South Carolina forest products export fact sheet.  Columbia, SC.  2 p.

South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA).  2004. Trade Routes, a special issue of Port Charleston Magazine.  15 p.

Southeastern Association of Wildlife and Fish Agencies (SEAWFA).  2006.  A Summary Report of Phase I. Southeastern Regional State Wildlife Action Plans Meeting. p. 2, 48.  Available online at http://www.seafwa.org/index.php

Suckling, Clive.  2006. Global Investment Trends.  Paper Age, Vol.122, No. 4; March/April 2006, pp. 38-44.

USDA Forest Service (USFS). 2008.  Forest Inventory and Analysis Data.  Forest Inventory Data Online.  Available online at http://199.128.173.26/fido/index.html

USDA Forest Service (USFS).  2010.  US Forest Service Fiscal Year 2011 President’s budget in brief.  p. 13.  Available online at www.fs.fed.us/aboutus/budget

Wear, David N. 2002. Southern forest resource assessment: chapter 6: land use. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-54. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 22 p.  Available online at http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/sustain/report/socio1/socio1.htm

Wear, David N. and John G. Greis, 2002. Southern forest resource assessment: summary report. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-54. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 103 p.  Available online at http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/sustain/report/socio3/socio3.htm
Wood Supply Research Institute (WSRI). 2008.  Research Findings. Available online at http://www.forestresources.org/WSRI/findings.html

Woodward, Doug.  2009.  Underappreciated assets:  the economic impact of South Carolina’s natural resources.  Darla Moore School of Business.  University of South Carolina.  24 pp.   Available online at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/green/greenreport.pdf

 

Glossary

timberland – forest land capable of producing 20 cubic feet of industrial wood per acre per year and not withdrawn from timber utilization

non-attainment area – an area where the amount of ground-level ozone exceeds the EPA standard of 0.075 parts per million

 

Priority Areas

For Priority Area Maps see Appendix 2 (page 178)

SC Forest Resource Assessment Page