The property lies along the Pelham Escarpment between the Tifton Upland and the Dougherty Plain. The landscape is predominately comprised of ridge tops interspersed with steep ravines. The uplands are made up of planted loblolly pine and natural mixed pine/hardwood stands of various ages. There are many small headwater streams on site buffered by relatively undisturbed hardwood riparian zones.

The following is a press release about the site's designation as an IBA: Southlands Forest in Georgia as Important Bird Area
04/08/2001
International Paper announced that the Atlanta Chapter of the Audubon Society has designated the company's Silver Lake tract at its Southlands Forest near Bainbridge, Ga., as an Important Bird Area (IBA). This important recognition establishes International Paper as the only industrial landowner in Georgia with an IBA designated on its property. "International Paper has broken new ground again with its habitat conservation plan for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW)," said Jim Wilson, Georgia IBA coordinator for the Atlanta Chapter of the Audubon Society. "IP's ongoing effort to protect and expand the RCW habitat on its own property at the Southlands Forest captures what the IBA Program seeks to recognize: landowners that take a proactive, voluntary, participatory approach to providing essential habitat for one or more species of bird." International Paper's Habitat Conservation Plan for the RCW is the first of its kind whereby a private landowner took steps to increase and enhance the species' habitat on its land rather than simply maintaining current populations or relocating the species to public forestlands. In the red-cockaded woodpecker habitat plan's first full year of implementation, the population is already growing. (International Paper)

Ornithological Summary

Large concentrations of breeding Acadian Flycatcher, Hooded Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, and Wood Thrush. Other common breeding species include Bachman's Sparrow, Summer Tanager, Northern Parula, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Northern Bobwhite, Common Ground Dove, and Orchard Oriole. Wintering species include American Woodcock, and occasionally Henslow's Sparrow. Swainson's Warbler is an uncommon regular breeder and there has been an active Bald Eagle nest on-site for the past 9 years. International Paper (the owner) has a successful Red-cockaded Woodpecker habitat conservation plan that has increased the number of individual birds on the property.

Sighting Source Key: 1=published reports,; 2=surveys (CBC; BBS; etc.); 3=personal observations; 4=other sources (specify)

Ownership

Site is owned and managed by International Paper. This excerpt is from their web site:
Federally listed threatened and endangered species are a top priority, and we work within the framework of the Endangered Species Act to maintain and enhance habitat for more than 30 federally protected species on our forestlands. Programs such as International Paper?s first-of-its-kind habitat conservation plan (HCP) to protect red-cockaded woodpeckers (RCW) on our forestlands have been praised by environmentalists as ?bold, innovative and groundbreaking.? This U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-approved plan was the first in which a private landowner took steps to expand and enhance habitat for these endangered birds rather than simply maintaining existing habitat or relocating the birds to public forestlands. This HCP established an economic incentive for the protection of an endangered species with the first RCW mitigation bank ever created in the southeast United States on private forestland. During 2005 International Paper, Environmental Defense, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources celebrated the five-year anniversary of our RCW HCP. Implementation of this landmark agreement has resulted in a dramatic increase in the RCW population at our Southlands Forest in Bainbridge, Georgia from three male birds in two groups of family units to fifty birds comprising thirteen potential breeding pairs. By combining regulatory flexibility, economic incentives and cooperation between various organizations, the agreement has been successful in protecting an endangered species through an innovative "conservation banking" program.

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