Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 69.70
Liaison Kevin Kirsche
Submission Date June 22, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Georgia
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 2.00 Nate Shear
Sustainability Metrics Intern
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution own or manage land that includes or is adjacent to legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, or regions of conservation importance?:
Yes

A brief description of the legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance:

The University’s Fall 2018 land holdings totaled 38,878 acres in 31 Georgia counties.

See attached page excerpt from UGA's 2018 Factbook with total listing of land holdings.

Odum School of Ecology Field Stations and Facilities:
--Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory
--HorseShoe Bend Ecology Experimental Research Site
--Joseph W. Jones Ecological Reseach Center
--McGarity Wetlands
--Odum Broad River Property
--San Luis, Costa Rica Research Station
--Satilla River Stephens-Hunt Refuge
--Savannah River Ecology Laboratory
--Skidaway Institute of Oceanography
--Spring Hollow, Martha H. and Eugene P. Odum Watershed
--Spring Valley Agroecology Laboratory
--UGA Marine Institute at Sapelo Island

College of Environment and Design:
--Center for Research and Education at Wormsloe

School of Forestry and Natural Resources Outreach Centers and Labs:
--B.F. Grant Memorial Forest
--Charles Terell Memorial Timber Farm
--Cohutta Fisheries Center
--Hardman Memorial Park
--Joseph W. Jones Ecological Reseach Center
--Mary Kahrs Warnell Forest Education Center
--Oconee Forest Park
--Thompson Mills Forest
--Watson Springs Forest
--Whitehall Forest

Campus Arboretum
State Botanical Gardens of Georgia


Has the institution conducted an assessment to identify endangered and vulnerable species (including migratory species) with habitats on land owned or managed by the institution?:
No

A list of endangered and vulnerable species with habitats on land owned or managed by the institution, by level of extinction risk:
---

Has the institution conducted an assessment to identify areas of biodiversity importance on land owned or managed by the institution?:
Yes

A brief description of areas of biodiversity importance on land owned or managed by the institution:

http://www.oconeeriversaudubon.org/botgarden

The State Botanical Garden (SBG) is composed of a mosaic of piedmont successional plant communities that offer diverse habitats for resident, breeding and migratory birds. The 300-acre site contains a primary forest of mesic oak-hickory composed of dry ridgetops, moister slopes and ravines, flats, and heath bluffs. An important part of SBG is riparian and wetlands, including a long stream edge zone and colluvial flat along the Middle Oconee River and adjoining creek, floodplain hardwood forest, a small bog, and several beaver ponds. Adding further diversity are successional forests and pines, and human-made openings and gardens. A power right-of-way offers an important interface between forest, field and garden plant communities. The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is a resource to the citizens of
Georgia, and admission is free.

Whitehall Forest is a 740 acre area located adjacent to the Garden along the Middle Oconee River. It has similar, but less developed and less cultured landscapes which provide excellent habitat for birds. Whitehall Forest is managed by the Daniel B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. This forest serves as a field laboratory for instruction and research, with experimental fish ponds, a wildlife and fisheries lab, a tree nursery, and a wood utilization and plant sciences research lab. Due to the many experimental plots, public access to Whitehall Forest is restricted.

Ornithological Summary
Examples: Cerulean Warblers, Red-headed Woodpecker

The State Botanical Garden (SBG) and Whitehall Forest (WF) are important to many species of high conservation priority in Georgia. The habitat diversity at these sites makes them especially important for birds in the increasingly-developed Georgia piedmont. Significant numbers of land birds, particularly woodpeckers and neotropical migrants such as warblers, vireos, and thrushes, use this area for breeding, winter habitat, and spring and fall migration corridors. Both sites are important as long-term monitoring sites for scientists. Although primarily established for botanical and forest studies and preservation, their status as state-owned properties makes them an oasis for birds within the rapidly developing Athens community.

Sighting Source Key: 1=published reports,; 2=surveys (CBC; BBS; etc.); 3=personal observations; 4=other sources (specify)

Conservation Issues
Invasive species - non-native plants (privit); Natural Events - cowbird parasitism, drought, erosion, fire, flood, natural pests; Pollution - radioactive contamination (Efforts are underway to clean up a toxic waste site adjacent to the SBG.)

Ownership
Both the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and Whitehall Forest are owned by the State of Georgia. Whitehall Forest is managed through the Daniel B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources of the University of Georgia.

Habitat
SBG habitat types: Forested Upland - mixed deciduous forest is the primary habitat type. Secondary Habitats include River/stream; Riparian/Floodplain Forest; Fields; Pond/Lake; Utility right-of-way powercut.

WF habitat types: Forested Upland - mixed deciduous forest is the primary habitat type. Secondary Habitats include River/stream; Riparian/Floodplain Forest; Fields; Pine plantation, railroad right-of-way clearings.

Land Use
Nature conservation and Research--Conservation of natural area, ecological research, other research, environmental education

Tourism/recreation--birdwatching, hiking/jogging, indoor and outdoor displays of diverse botanic samples


The methodologies used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or areas of biodiversity importance and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:

One example of an identification of an environmentally sensitive area:
The Audubon Society - locally, Oconee Rivers Audubon Society - has assessed the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and Whitehall Forest and identified both as an Important Bird Area. IBAs are places that provide essential habitat for one or more species of bird, whether in breeding season, winter or during migration. The designation recognizes exceptional bird and wildlife habitat that is vital to the health and sustainability of bird populations worldwide.


A brief description of the scope of the assessment(s):

Located on the banks the Middle Oconee River, an important migratory corridor for many of eastern North America's imperiled songbirds, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia (SBG) is Athens' premier birding spot. Recognizing its value as habitat for breeding, overwintering, and migratory birds, Bill and Karla O'Grady spearheaded efforts to document bird sightings at the SBG starting in 2004. They recorded their sightings on eBird, the largest online repository of citizen science bird data. To date, 180 bird species have been recorded in the SBG, and the O'Grady's efforts resulted in the State Botanical Garden being declared a Georgia State Important Bird Area.


A brief description of the plans or programs in place to protect or positively affect identified species, habitats, and/or ecosystems:

As previously stated, UGA has over 38,000 acres of land-holdings. As a land-grant and sea-grant university, it is committed to protecting the species, habitats, and vulnerable ecosystems on these lands. The Odum School of Ecology, the Warnell School of Forestry, the Cooperative Extension, College of Veterinary Medicine, the Botanical Gardens, and many more entities of UGA are responsible for the lands which they serve and research. In each of these legally-protected areas, assessments of habitats and species may be conducted as part of the research or as requirements for the basic charge of being stewards of the land and sea. The IBA designation conducted by the Audubon Society listed above is just one example that covers ~1040 acres in two designated land areas.


Estimated percentage of areas of biodiversity importance that are also protected areas :
---

Website URL where information about the institution’s biodiversity initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The Oconee Rivers Audubon Society: http://oconeeriversaudubon.org/node/370
Warnell School of Forestry: https://www.warnell.uga.edu/index.php/outreach/centers-labs-committees
Attached: page excerpt from 2018 UGA Factbook which lists total land holdings

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.