Saturday, January 24, 2009

Natural Community Restoration and Management

Kentucky is a biologically diverse state. Geology, soils, topography, assemblages of native plants and animals, along with other factors, combine in unique ways that make up natural communities. Forests, wetlands, glades, grasslands and other habitat types can be classified into categories that are known as natural or ecological communities. High quality natural communities are very rare due to widespread human disturbance but remnants do exist. Commission ecologists use the Natural Areas Inventory to survey the state for the remaining high quality natural communities. Areas containing these communities are glimpses into what Kentucky’s landscape looked like before it was settled and developed. When the commission does locate a significant natural area, efforts are made to protect it, usually as a dedicated state nature preserve.

Once a unique natural area is protected as a state nature preserve, the nature preserve manager’s work begins. It is very rare to secure a new nature preserve in pristine condition. It is the manager’s job to correct the human influences that have adversely affected a site. Invasive plants, fire suppression and poor land-use practices are some of the issues that must be addressed when planning for site restoration.

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