CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
| August 18, 2005
Contacts: Noah Greenwald, Ctr. for Biological Diversity, 503-484-7495
STUDY FINDS FOREST SERVICE’S GUIDELINES FOR PROTECTING NORTHERN GOSHAWK IN THE SOUTHWEST ARE INADEQUATE
GUIDELINES PRESCRIBE LOGGING THAT HARMS GOSHAWK FORAGING HABITAT
A peer-reviewed study published in the most recent issue of the Wildlife Society Bulletin calls into question major underpinnings of guidelines to protect the Northern Goshawk adopted by all 13 national forests in the Southwest. Although the study supported continued protection for nest stands and mature forest, it found that recommendations calling for logging to benefit the goshawk by increasing numbers of its prey were not supported by research on goshawk habitat use. Most of the research cited by the study was conducted after the “goshawk guidelines” were developed in 1992.
“The Southwest goshawk guidelines no longer represent best available science,” states Noah Greenwald, Conservation Biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity and lead author of the study. “Based on a false assumption that goshawks use habitats opportunistically when foraging, the goshawk guidelines encourage degradation of the bird’s forest habitats.”
The goshawk guidelines were adopted by Southwest National Forests in 1996 based on a set of recommendations developed by Forest Service scientists and titled: “Management recommendations for the northern goshawk in the Southwestern United States.” In response to lack of information, the recommendations assumed that when foraging the goshawk selects habitats opportunistically based on prey availability, rather than habitat structure. Based on a review of 17 studies, in contrast, the new study found that Goshawk’s select forests with mature and old-growth characteristics when foraging and thus that logging would likely do more harm than good.
“Extensive research suggests that Goshawks benefit most from maintenance and restoration of old-forest conditions across the landscape,” states Dr. Len Broberg of the University of Montana. “What’s most troubling is that National Forests outside of the Southwest use the goshawk guidelines to justify logging without also instituting corresponding protections for nest stands and mature forests—protections for the goshawk need to be adopted across the range of the bird in western North America.”
The Southwest Region of the Forest Service recently reviewed the goshawk guidelines in a September, 2004 draft environmental impact statement, but argued that substantial changes to the guidelines were not necessary. A final decision on revision of the guidelines is expected any day.
“We hope these new findings will encourage the Forest Service to reconsider,” states Greenwald. “Protections for nest stands and mature forests need to be bolstered with stronger protections for foraging habitat.”