CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
WILDLIFE HABITAT SERIES
Openings in continuous and extensive forest blockscan provide the diversity needed to sustain agreater variety of wildlife species. Such openingsprovide food, nesting, resting and brooding sites.Natural forest openings occur as a result ofdamage by insects, fire, storms and disease.
Benefits of Wildlife Openings
Openings provide edge, the place where differentplant communities, successional stages or standconditions come together. The area influenced bythe transition between communities is the ecotone.Ecotones are rich in both the number of wildlifespecies and individual animals because theyprovide more of the needs for a variety of wildlifethan does a single vegetative type.The vegetation in an opening furnishes forage fordeer, wild turkey, cottontail rabbits, grouse, songsparrows, broad-winged hawks, flickers and otherwildlife. The value of a clearing is increased if it ismanaged for herbaceous vegetation and shrubswhich provide valuable wildlife food and cover.Clearings also attract a variety of insects whichsome birds are dependent on as a source ofprotein.
Openings for Wildlife
Openings in forest lands fall into two categories:
(1) Those that will be maintained as aherbaceous opening (grass and legumes), and (2)those that will be maintained to encouragesuccession and native vegetation (brushy areas).
(1) Those that will be cut andallowed to revert to native vegetation or planted to amore desirable tree species. Non-permanentopenings are important to wildlife, but their benefitsare short-lived.Permanant herbaceous openings are the mostvaluable to wildlife. Grasshoppers and otherinsects that thrive in the grasses and forbs providefood for growing chicks, turkey poults and a varietyof songbirds.
Creating and Maintaining Openings
In general, the following guidelines can be appliedto forested land:
Maintain at least two percent of the total acreage in permanent herbaceous openings.
Maintain at least five percent of the total acreage in permanent openings, encouraging early successional native vegetation.