The Young Forest Project

Helping Our Wildlife

Most people know what old-growth forest is. Same with wetlands. Both of those habitats are needed to have diverse wildlife and a healthy landscape.

Bobcats need young forest.

Bobcats find prey in young-forest habitat./G. Kramer, USFWS

Another type of habitat is less well known, yet every bit as important.

It’s called young forest, and it's essential for many different animals from small reptiles to large mammals. Many birds need this habitat, too. It's used by rare species of wildlife and by those that are more abundant.

What is young forest? Basically, it’s young trees and shrubs growing together densely. Young forest can be an old field coming up in saplings. A wetland thick with shrubs. A burned-over pine barrens greening up again. Trees springing back on a wooded tract after a timber harvest. Young forest is ephemeral: It doesn’t last long, in most cases only 10 to 20 years. After that, it becomes older forest, often less useful to wildlife.

To keep the land healthy, we need a balance of different habitats. As we have come to understand the value of wetlands, we’ve stopped draining them and even begun restoring them. We've protected thousands of acres of older forest, benefiting the animals that live there. Now we need to meet the challenge of providing enough young forest for our native wildlife.

Brown thrasher in young-forest habitat

Many birds, including brown thrashers, need young forest./E. Guthro

Making Young Forest

This website introduces the wild creatures that need young forest. It shows how conservationists are carefully recreating the kinds of natural events that once provided a steady supply of young forest. It tells the story of how your neighbors – towns, land trusts, businesses, and owners of working farms and woodlands - are helping wildlife by creating this valuable, vibrant habitat.

Making and renewing young forest is an ongoing task – and, fortunately, one that can be done in a way that delivers sustainable forest products while providing critically needed homes for our region’s wildlife. This cooperative effort will help preserve our natural heritage for our children and grandchildren. You can help, too!

Welcome to the Young Forest Project.