IF YOU BUILD IT, they will come–or at least if you don’t knock it down, they will. I promise. That’s the progress report on my wildlife tree, or snag, created at the end of 2014 when a large, multi-trunk old birch was starting to die back and fall apart.
One of my best moves ever was to let nature show me how to manage dying and dead trees in a smarter way than simply by removing them. You may recall that when the old tree was dropping big pieces of its crown, I confused the arborist by asking that he top it but leave most of the trunk standing, creating a snag or wildlife tree rather than a compulsively tidy erasure.
A snag is a place for wildlife to nest or den; a source of food for insects (who are in turn food for many other creatures); a perch for lookout, and more.
“By some estimates,” the National Wildlife Federation says, “the removal of dead material from forests can mean a loss of habitat for up to one-fifth of the animals in the ecosystem.”
I can attest that the local animals are loving the birch snag as much or more than they long loved the living version of that tree, as is evidenced by endless antics I get to witness up and down its length, and by the increasing woodpecker excavations in its trunk (top photo and the one just above). Learn more:
- How, and why, to create a snag from a dying or dead tree.
- An interview with environmental scientist Joan Maloof about why “managing” woodlots and forests by thinning them isn’t always where it’s at.