The Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project was launched to work for permanent protection of Southern Appalachia's public lands as well as sustainable management of its private lands. SABP established an office in Asheville, NC and became a leading defender of public land as a refuge for ancient forests and native wildife. Promoting the reintroduction of native wildlife that has been extirpated from the region (such as the red wolf) was also a priority. When necessary, SABP was prepared to take legal action to protect critical habitat and assure full enforcement of conservation laws on public lands. In part through its bi-monthly journal, Wild Mountain Times, SABP educated the public about how forest fragmentation, chronic air pollution, and exotic pests and diseases threaten native forests. SABP also advocated for an end to corporate welfare policies that hurt our economy and natural heritage.
In 2000 SABP became an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. In 2007 SABP merged with Wild South, a small grassroots forest protection organization based in Moulton, AL, dedicated to inspiring individuals and groups to preserve, restore and enjoy the South's natural landscapes. SABP adopted the name Wild South, which is more appropriate because SABP had already early on extended its range of activity well beyond the Southern Appalachians. The new name also offers much better name recognition and marketing (fundraising) potential. SABP's Asheville offices became the headquarters of the new organization. It has increased efforts to develop grassroots constituencies in additional states, and its board of directors now includes members from several states adjoining North Carolina and Alabama. For more information, see the Wild South website.
The mountain forests of the Southern Appalachians are a priceless living treasure. Rising in north Georgia and extending into Kentucky and Virginia, Southern Appalachia hosts the highest mountains and largest collection of public land in eastern North America. Mountain balds and spruce-fir forests crest the highest peaks. Ancient rock outcrops and highland bogs rest on the mountain slopes. Rainforests feed waterfalls which tumble into river gorges. Precious ancient forests cloak backcountry ridges and coves.
Walking through old
growth forests in the Southern Appalachians, one may find as many tree species
as all that occur in Europe, among them white oaks 400 years old and poplars 150
feet tall. Black bear hibernate in the heart of ancient, hollow trees. The
forest floor is rich with ferns, mosses, and wildflowers. Bird songs call from
nests high in the forest canopy. Southern Appalachia's public forests are a
critical refuge for endangered wildlife and one of America's great ecological
treasures. The public forests are also a refuge for the people who like to hike,
camp, and fish in the Southern Appalachian mountains each year. They offer a
sanctuary of solitude and sanity in an over-civilized
Industrial logging in the beginning of the 20th Century crippled Southern Appalachia's ancient forest communities, rendered many species extinct, and wounded the health of the land. Now, after decades of recovery, Southern Appalachia's forests are threatened once again
Each day airborne pollutants from coal-fired plants and automobiles poison the mountain air, killing trees and acidifying streams. Urban sprawl and second home construction swallow the forests and farms on private lands. Intensive logging, road construction, and strip mining ravage our public lands.
During the last 20 years, tens of thousands of acres of national forest have been logged, many of them replanted as pine plantations. Over 5000 miles of roads have been cut across the steepest mountainsides on our national forests. Millions of taxpayer's dollars have been thrown away to carry out money-losing timber sales. Multinational mining companies are targeting the public lands for large scale strip mining.
As a result of these
threats, ecosystems are collapsing and species are being rendered extinct. The
very survival of many creatures and the health of natural and human communities
is in jeopardy. Back to Programs Page
For additional information about Wild South and forest health in Southern Appalachia, go to the Wild South website.
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