Forest Cores: Connecting The Dots

Forest Core: A forest core is an area or patch of relatively intact habitat that is sufficiently large to support more than one individual of a species. Consider that the greater the number of interior species present and the greater the diversity of habitats, the more important it is to conserve the core intact.

Forest Edge: The transitional boundary of a core, where the vegetation assemblage and structure differs markedly from the interior. The structural diversity of the edges (with diferent heights and types of vegetation) affects its species diversity, as well as the prevalence or abundance of native or invasive species.
Picture 1 - The dotted line above shows the border between forest edge and core.



Forest Corridor: A more or less linear arrangement of a habitat type or natural cover that provides a connection between cores and differs from adjacent land. Corridors are used by species to move between cores, so they need to be wide enough to allow wildlife to progress across the landscape within conditions similar to their interior habitat.
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Picture 2 - The dotted line shows how an animal uses forest corridors to move from one forest core to another in safety.



Stepping Stone: Throughout this network of core areas and corridors, certain smaller areas can provide 'stepping stones' between cores. A stepping stone tends to be a smaller area of intact habitat that may not be large enough to sustain a species on it's own, but is vital to a population's sucess over the network as a whole, as it provides a way to move across the landscape.
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Picture 3 - Top - Arrows show how animals use patches of forest to move between forest cores.
Bottom - An illustration of how road construction can limit an animals access to nearby forest cores.


All images and text courtesy of the Green Infrastructure Center.