Favored by hundreds of thousands of birds that migrate to South Carolina after wintering in South America, the Audubon?s Francis Beidler Forest was recognized as an Important Bird Area in 2001 and in 2008 was designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. Encompassing over 15,000 acres, this site is home to the largest remaining virgin forest of bald cypress and tupelo gum trees in the world, including 1500 year-old trees long vanished from the rest of North America. Audubon has managed the forest sanctuary for 35 years.

Embedded in a matrix of old growth and maturing bottomland hardwood, all bordered by strips and blocks of upland forest habitats, Beidler Forest is a large fraction of the much larger Four Holes Swamp drainage system, spanning 60 miles in length. The land within this site is primarily used for wildlife conservation and education and secondarily for recreation and tourism.

The Audubon Center at Beidler Forest offers a full range of environmental educational opportunities. In 2007 over 12,000 people visited the Center, contributing to the National Audubon Society?s nationwide effort to connect people with nature

More about Beidler...

Information about {link:Visiting Beidler Forest|http://sc.audubon.org/Centers_FBF.html}, {link:Beidler Blog|http://beidlerforest.blogspot.com}, or Watch the {link:Feature Video|http://audubon.org/bird/Ramsar/multimedia.html}

Ornithological Summary

The ornithological significance of Audubon's Francis Beidler Forest is species assemblage associated with a rare and threatened habitat type. Much of Beidler Forest is within Four Holes Swamp, with extensive bottomland hardwood forest, with 1700 + acres old-growth. Prothonotary Warblers, on Audubon's Yellow WatchList, are prolific. The Watch-Listed Red-headed Woodpecker is found year round. Other associated species are Hooded Warbler, Swainson's Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, and Wood Thrush. All except Worm-eating Warbler nest in Beidler Forest. Since 1979 breeding bird surveys have been conducted and documented on two plots on alternationg years.

Conservation Issues

Serious Conservation Threats are deforestation (upstream), accelerating adjacent and nearby land use changes and continued impoundment of small tributary streams. Other conservation problems are overgrazing by White-tailed Deer, introduced species (alligator weed, kudzu and feral hogs), bird disturbance (low-flying aircraft), non-point source pollution, and mining by the nearby cement plants. Potential problems include a proposed nearby auto speedway, widening bridges and road fills caused by Port of Charleston expansion and over-extraction of groundwater.
Conservation Measures Taken, in Progress or Proposed: Re-establishment of 3 small long-leaf pine stands; 20 large culverts recently installed in a 1960's logging road to restore natural hydrology; continual procurement of wetlands and upland habitats to increase overall size and complexity of the preserve and buffer the wetlands; educating private landowners about the importance of their lands (and the management of their lands) to the maintenance and enhancement of the Four Hole Swamp natural system

Ownership

The Francis Biedler Forest is wholly owned by the National Audubon Society.

Habitat

The dominant habitat at the Biedler Forest is the mature bottomland hardwood swamp which can be best seen from the long boardwalk. At the end of the boardwalk is a wider part of the main channel of Four Holes Swamp which offers a small amount of open water habitat. The entrance to the sanctuary and the area around the education center is an upland of mixed southern forest which contrasts sharply with the cypress tupelo swamp that is the main feature.

Land Use

The Francis Biedler Forest Sanctuary was established to preserve one of the last virgin bottomland hardwood swamp ecosytems in the world. The primary purpose and landuse is conservation, but this is closely allied to a comprehensive environmental education program aimed at school children. The boardwalk system contributes to a small amount of ecotourism enjoyed by this resource.

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