contribute to the
social and economic
Photo by Steven Katovich, U S D A Forest Service
S ustaining quality wildlife
habitat is challenging,
especially where agricultural
that are in the right place to do a
specific job. Whether Working
Trees come in the form of a
corridors for wildlife. But,
remember, not all wildlife
species are benefited by trees.
fields offer little plant diversity windbreak to enhance crop or
Integrating Working Trees onto
and in suburban areas where livestock production or a riparian
the land can add a new source
human development has forest buffer to filter stormwater
of income, improve our
fragmented the landscape. runoff, they add critical wildlife
environment, conserve natural
habitat to the landscape.
Increasingly, these areas are resources, increase property
managed primarily for people. The benefits of Working Trees values, and save time, energy,
But, an amazing variety of extend far beyond providing and water.
animals call the same areas home food, cover, and nesting sites –
Read on to discover how
and depend on us to make sure all essential wildlife habitat
Working Trees support a
that their needs are met. components. Working Trees
seemingly endless variety of
add diversity and help reconnect
Working Trees are trees and wildlife, while they enhance
the landscape by creating travel
shrubs, especially native species, property, income, and our lives.
What Is Habitat?
All animals need a unique combination Territory Nocturnal
of food, water, cover, and territory. This animals, like the
Animals move pocketed free-tailed
environment in which an animal lives is bat, sleep during
called habitat and how these features are daily, searching
the day and are
woven together on the land affects the for food, or as active at night.
quality of their habitat. All of these habitat they migrate to wintering or Original photo by Merlin Tuttle,
Bat Conservation International.
requirements must be met as animal’s breeding grounds. Home range Used with permission.
needs change throughout the seasons. varies from less than one acre for beetles
to thousands of square miles for bears.
Food Water Cover
Most wildlife have food preferences and Almost all animals need access to clean Animals use all tiers of Working Trees,
diets that change with the seasons. water to survive – some simply need from the tree canopy down to burrows
Trees and shrubs provide seeds, berries, drinking water, while others depend on in the ground. They breed, roost, nest,
nuts, and fruits. Some animals also eat water to reproduce and live. Agroforestry rear young, regulate body temperature,
the leaves, twigs, roots, buds, stems, practices protect water quality and hide, and escape predation in tall grasses,
grasses, mosses, and lichens that are provide travel lanes to water sources like dense shrubs, leaf litter, downed logs,
found in a woody environment. farm ponds, streams, and wetlands. stumps, rock piles, and brush piles.
Migratory birds, like the American tree sparrow, spend the winter
in the U S and migrate to northern Canada to breed and nest.
Original photo by Dave Menke, U S Fish & Wildlife Service
Working Trees and wildlife provide a In a Working Trees outdoor classroom,
sense of place to an area and attract students learn to identify plants and
families, nature photographers, bird- animals as they become aware of the
watchers, and those who like to hunt importance of balanced human and
and fish. The linear configuration of environmental interactions.
some Working Trees practices makes
them well suited for a trail oriented Bumblebees are important crop
and wildflower pollinators.
recreation like walking or bicycling. Photo by Keith Weller, U S D A N R C S Original photo by Richard Straight,
U S D A National Agroforestry Center
Trees and shrubs clear toxic elements Working Trees and wildlife
from water and absorb runoff, reduce support a billion dollar
flooding and erosion, replenish industry of non-game
oxygen, cleanse the air, and wildlife appreciation.
enrich and restore soil. Working Trees provide habitat for
native pollinating insects that provide
Amphibians live part of their life in water another billion dollars worth of pollinat-
and part on land. Green tree frogs are
ing services. Properly designed, Working
drawn to open, damp areas and can be
found hidden under flakes of bark on trees. Trees can reduce work and home energy
Original photo by Laurie Reid, South Carolina Forestry Commission. consumption.
Make A Difference In Your Neighborhood, Your Landscape
Every landscape area has a dominant species prefer the patches and corridors. In patch or travel corridor to connect other
landcover, most likely woodland, grassland, many cases, humans have altered, reduced, patches of habitat. To help reestablish
row crop, or urban land. Patches and and even eliminated natural areas and the suitable habitat, first identify regional
corridors like streams, fence rows, roads, vegetative diversity that wildlife depend on, landscape patterns around you. Then devise
woodlots, or urbanized areas dissect this creating a “fragmented” landscape. a plan that will have the greatest impact for
dominant cover. Some wildlife species Working Trees help offset fragmentation by wildlife in your area. Work with your
inhabit the dominant area, while other providing basic habitat, often a diverse neighbors to have even greater impact.
Working Trees And Wildlife
A. Forest Farming B. Riparian Forest Buffers C. Windbreaks
High value specialty crops like ginseng Vegetative buffers along waterways create Properly designed and located wind-
and goldenseal can be cultivated under travel corridors for wildlife. While the breaks protect soil, crops, livestock,
the protection of a forest canopy. This tree canopy reduces water temperature, buildings, and wildlife from harsh winds.
provides a harvestable product for the roots and fallen debris provide food and Over 50 bird species are known to use
landowner which provides incentive to hiding places for aquatic animals. windbreaks during the breeding season.
keep the land in forest habitat. The Riparian buffers filter nutrient-laden The microclimate that windbreaks create
diversity created with forest farming runoff from adjacent land to improve enable native insects to pollinate crops
attracts a variety of wildlife species. water quality. more efficiently.
D. Alley Cropping E. Silvopasture F. Special Applications
Alley cropping systems are designed to Silvopastures combine trees, forage, and Many Working Trees practices have been
grow an annual crop between rows of livestock in an intensively managed adapted to help people and communities
high value trees, like oak, pecan, or system. Silvopastures are typically less deal with problems, such as wastewater
walnut, until the trees are harvested or diverse than a natural forest understory, and stormwater treatment, with fast
the alley crops are shaded out. but incorporating clumps of native grasses growing willows and cottonwood trees.
Alley cropping diversifies and forbs can provide quality habitat These trees provide wildlife habitat and
plant structure for for wild turkey and other animals. may be a future energy source.
Working Trees help keep water clean and
cool for aquatic wildlife, like brook trout.
Original photo by Eric Engbretson, U S Fish & Wildlife Service.
Designing For Wildlife
Beneficial insects, like
the ladybird beetle, help
control insect pests.
Original photo by
Placement within landscape Diversity of vegetation Disturbance
The way elements are arranged within the By combining a variety of native conifer- Historically, fire, floods, wind, ice, and
larger landscape determines the habitat ous and deciduous trees and shrubs and wildlife browsing disturbed the land which in
value for different species. Having food, including perennial and annual herbaceous turn helped control invasive species and pro-
cover, and water located in the same vegetation, summer and fall fruiting and mote native plant growth. Today,
vicinity creates optimal habitat, and must flowering dates are extended. Use native vegetation can be managed by mowing,
consider the wildlife species’ normal range plants whenever possible because they disking, thinning, prescribed burning, and
of mobility. For example, if the desired usually provide better habitat and are grazing. The extent and timing of distur-
species seldom feeds more than 200 yards adapted to local growing conditions. A bances helps create diversity and structure.
from escape cover, it does little good to mixture of vegetation reduces the Timing can also minimize impact to wildlife,
provide cover a half mile from the food. possibility of losing all plants to disease, such as mowing after nesting is complete.
insects, or a catastrophic event.
Vertical structure Horizontal structure Travel lanes
Different layers of vegetation allow an Arrange vegetation to provide the greatest Many species of wildlife need a minimum
assortment of wildlife to utilize the same width practical and transition smoothly amount of a particular habitat type; if it
area. Each tier creates a niche in the habitat into the adjoining land use. Incorporating gets to be too small they won’t use it.
area. Five or more layers are optimal and clump plantings under a tree canopy or Vegetation can be used to connect several
include the canopy, understory, shrub layer, along the outside edge improves horizontal small isolated areas within a landscape, thus
herbaceous layer, and the floor. structure. Minimize straight lines in the making it more viable and increasing the
design if possible. usable space for wildlife.
Consider wildlife conflicts
deer are a
When human habitats and natural habitats
animal. They overlap, even in the best of circumstances,
are also valuable conflicts like crop or yard damage can
as watchable wildlife occur. Through proper planning and
and as a huntable design these negative issues can be
resource. minimized or eliminated.
Original photo by Mark Gocke.
Used with permission.
Get Started Today
Small changes that Minimize pesticide use Have fun with the border
you make today Pesticides can kill more than just An unmowed grassy area alongside Working
target pests; they harm animals Trees provides spring nesting areas and a fall
will add up to a big that eat the sprayed vegetation and seed supply. Irregular borders and curves
difference for eliminate pollinators. are aesthetically pleasing and provide room
Consider spot spraying to add clumps of berry-producing shrubs
wildlife. or biological control that will attract all types of wildlife.
Many threatened and endangered species,
Raccoons like the red cockaded woodpecker, are
benefited by permanent vegetation, such as
well- snags a short-leaf pine silvopasture.
wooded Original photo by Bill Lea, Southern Research Station,
areas. All A snag is a U S D A Forest Service.
mammals deteriorating or
have hair dead standing
tree. Over 85 Supply rocks and
milk to feed
North American stone piles
Original photo by Terry bird species rely on Large flat rocks offer a
Spivey, U S D A Forest Service
snags to nest, feed, or seek place for lizards, butterflies,
shelter. If they don’t pose a chipmunks, snakes, and
Let the natural form hazard, leave snags standing. skinks to bask in the sun,
dominate which they need to do to
Provide artificial regulate body temperature.
Thickets, brush piles, and fallen
branches provide cover for rabbits, shelters or food sources
thrushes, and snakes. Minimize Identify “host” plants
While your agroforestry planting
pruning to encourage natural develops into quality habitat, Some animals are dependent on
diversity in the structure of plants. erect special houses and feeders a specific plant. Incorporate host
to attract bluebirds, purple vegetation into your Working
Go native and think martins, bats, bees, or toads. Trees planting.
Leave woody debris Provide perches
Native plants are adapted to local
soil, rainfall, and sunlight condi- Limbs, rootwads, and whole trees Eagles, hawks, and other raptors
tions; they are apt to thrive and in streams supply food for critters like to perch on high branches
require less maintenance. Choose at the bottom of the food chain from which they can spot prey.
plants that provide food through- and create a place for small fish Erect poles to provide perches
out the year. to hide. until trees are established.
Contact: USDA National Agroforestry Center (NAC ), East Campus–UNL, Lincoln, Nebraska 68583–0822. Phone: 402–437–5178; fax:
402–437–5712; Web site: www.unl.edu/nac.
The USDA National Agroforestry Center (NAC ) is a partnership of the Forest Service (Research & Development and State & Private
Forestry) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. It is administered by the Forest Service, Southern Research Station; its pro-
gram manager and headquarters are located in Huntsville, AL, on the campus of Alabama A&M University, while its research, clearing-
house, and technology transfer staff are concentrated in Lincoln, NE, at the University of Nebraska. NAC ’s purpose is to accelerate the
A partnership of development and application of agroforestry technologies to attain more economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable land use sys-
tems. To accomplish its mission, NAC interacts with a national network of partners and cooperators to conduct research, develop tech-
nologies and tools, establish demonstrations, and provide useful information to natural resource professionals.
USDA prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, political
beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs). Persons with disabilities who
require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact the USDA ’s
TARGET Center at 202–720–2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA , Director, Office of Civil
Rights, Room 326–W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250–9410 or call 202–720–5964 (voice
and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity employer.
First Edition 1999, Second Printing 1999; Second Edition 2005; Third Edition 2007