Over 4,600 native animals and plant species associated with private forests in the United States are at risk of decline or extinction. Private forests provide habitat for 60% of all at-risk species in the United States. This report identifies areas across the conterminous United States where at-risk species habitats in rural private forests are most likely to decrease because of increases in housing density from 2000 to 2030. The report identifies areas where the future of forested habitats for at-risk species could be compromised by additional pressures from wildfire, insects, and disease. More than 90 percent of the 1,370 watersheds that met our screening criteria support at least one at-risk species.
Number of at-risk species associated with private forest, by watershed. Watersheds with the greatest total number of forest-associated at-risk species are found in much of the East, but some also are located in the South and West.
- Over 4,600 native plant and animal species associated with private forests in the United States are at risk of decline or extinction. Private forests provide habitat for 60% of all at-risk species in the United States.
- Watersheds where increased housing density in rural private forests is likely to contribute to the continued decline of the largest numbers of forest-associated at-risk species are located primarily in the East but also in parts of the West and Southwest.
- Watersheds in which forest habitats for the greatest variety of at-risk species are likely to be affected by wildfire are found in the Southeast, much of the Southwest, and along California’s Sierra Nevada range.
- Watersheds where private forests providing habitat for the greatest variety of at-risk species are most threatened by insects and disease are located throughout the East and also in the Southwest and in northern California.
- Conservation actions can reduce impacts on wildlife and plant species already at risk, while supporting compatible development of housing. A few examples include:
- Wildlife tunnels under highways allowing safe passage;
- Increased awareness about negative impacts of free-ranging cats and other pets; and
- Clustered housing developments that incorporate environmental considerations and help maintain open space.
- This report updates methodology and findings of a previous Forests on the Edge study of development impacts on at-risk species habitats.
Maps for Threats to At-Risk Species in America’s Private Forests
- Location of private and public forest, nonforest, and urban areas.
- Threat to habitat for at-risk species associated with private forests as a result of increased housing density.
- Wildfire threat to at-risk species associated with private forests.
- Insect and disease threat to at-risk species associated with private forests.