Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Fairlawn Plantation has been designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society.
The National Audubon Society and Audubon South Carolina are working to identify a network of sites that provide critical habitat for birds. This effort is known as the Important Bird Areas Program (IBA).
Audubon and the scientific community recognize that habitat loss and fragmentation are very serious threats facing birds around the world. The IBA program is a global effort to identify areas that are most important for maintaining bird populations, and focus conservation efforts on protecting these sites. Fairlawn Plantation is privately owned, surrounded on three sides by the Francis Marion National Forest (also an IBA) and almost 8,000 acres in size. Timber management and conservation practices are emphasized with a portion of the property managed as a wetland mitigation bank. The plantation includes part of I’on Swamp and natural longleaf stands with a presence of Red‐cockaded Woodpeckers, a federally‐endangered species. The habitat is also home to a number of Audubon’s WatchList Species, including Swainson’s Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Painted Bunting and Brownheaded Nuthatch. WatchList Species are bird species with steadily declining numbers.
Fairlawn also supports nesting Swallow‐tailed Kites, which are a federally‐threatened species. IBAs are critical to birds during some part of their life cycle, whether that be wintering, nesting or migrating. Each IBA nomination is submitted to a review process that addresses objective criteria before being designated as an IBA. The owners and managers of Fairlawn have endorsed the designation and are cooperating to maintain this vital habitat for birds.
Fairlawn Plantation becomes the 50th IBA in South Carolina, which together comprise over 1.3 million acres of critical bird habitat. The 50 IBAs represent most of South Carolina’s major habitat types, from the southern Appalachian Mountains to the Atlantic Coast. Nationwide more than 1,200 IBAs have been designated, encompassing more than 368 million acres.