The UGA Warnell School of Forest Resources plays critical role in establishing agreement to recover

ATHENS, Ga. – The UGA Warnell School of Forest Resources is committed to the recovery of bobwhite quail and other early successional habitat dependent species.  In a demonstration of that commitment, faculty members of the school, along with other members of the Georgia Bobwhite Technical Team, signed a Memorandum of Agreement at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield, on Oct. 13, 2005. 

Officials at the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources estimate that more than four million acres of habitat must be enhanced across Georgia to achieve the goals of the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) and reach the statewide recovery of 227,000 coveys (small flocks).

John Carroll, a wildlife professor in the Warnell School of Forest Resources, played an integral role in establishing the technical team and providing research and monitoring programs in support of the recovery effort.

“We view the bobwhite quail as serving as a flagship for conservation of wildlife associated with grassland and farmland ecosystems,” Carroll said about the program.

“Faced with this challenge, I am thrilled that the Wildlife Resources Division formed the technical team to promote a collaborative effort directed at implementing NBCI,” said DNR Commissioner Noel Holcomb.  “I would like to commend the organizations that signed this Memorandum of Agreement to formalize the numerous cooperative efforts among these organizations and to send a message that Georgia is working to address the ecological and economical problems associated with loss of early successional habitat.”

All of the participating organizations are committed to the recovery of bobwhite quail and other species dependent on early successional habitat. In addition to UGA’s Warnell School of Forest Resources, participants include: the U. S. Forest Service, the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests; the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission; the Georgia State Council of Quail Unlimited; the Georgia Department of Natural Resources; the U.S. Army, Fort Stewart and Ft. Benning; the Farm Service Agency; the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University; the Georgia Forestry Commission; the Natural Resources Conservation Service; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In recent decades, the northern bobwhite quail, Georgia’s state gamebird, has experienced drastic population declines primarily because of land-use changes. This has resulted in a loss or degradation of early successional habitat, not only for quail, but also for certain songbirds and many other wildlife species.  This decline has resulted in a reduction of quail hunters and wildlife associated recreation opportunities for Georgia’s citizens and in the loss of millions of dollars of economic revenue in rural Georgia communities. Similar declines are occurring across the South and are a priority concern for all southeastern state wildlife agencies.

In March 2002, the Southeast Quail Study Group of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies published the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, a 22-state recovery plan that establishes habitat and population goals by state and physiographic province for the restoration of bobwhite quail to their 1980 population level.

“The cooperation and collective action of all types of conservation organizations ultimately will result in more effective and more substantial habitat restoration for all species that depend on early successional habitat,” said Carroll. “Being the state gamebird of Georgia it was important for UGA and WSFR to take a lead in this conservation program.”

For more information on the Georgia Bobwhite Technical Team or the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, contact John Carroll.