Virtual Tour of the Forest: Special Use Forest

Small areas of forest in special locations can have a big impact on the environmental values of a larger landscape or ecosystem.

Forest buffers, narrow borders of trees preserved along streams and rivers, or beside roads, or adjacent to open or developed areas, provide numerous benefits to the quality of life for both people and wildlife.

Forest buffers provide a diversity of habitats beneficial to a variety of wildlife species. Animals and birds use these special forest areas at different stages in their growth and in different seasons for food supply, nesting, and raising young, as protected travel corridors and cover for survival.

Often these border areas provide basic habitat needs during critical times such as bad weather or when food is not available.

Clean water is an important forest product. Forest buffers maintained along watersheds or restored in agricultural or developed areas provide tremendous benefits in filtering runoff and preventing erosion, which improves water quality for aquatic life and societal needs. Shading streams and moderating water temperatures is critical for many fish and aquatic organisms.

Buffers are valuable for numerous other benefits including slowing flood waters, enhancing aesthetics, stopping the spread of wildfire, providing recreation opportunities, or protection of endangered species and habitats.