Forested peatland management in southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina, USA

Frederic C. Wurster, Sara Ward, and Christine Pickens

controlled-drainage, forested-peatland, national-wildlife-refuge, peatland-restoration, pocosin




The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manage 130,000 ha of forested peatlands in southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina, U.S.A. at three national wildlife refuges: Pocosin Lakes, Alligator River, and Great Dismal Swamp. The refuges contain extensive networks of roads and drainage canals; the legacy of past logging and farming activities. Canals have contributed to peat subsidence and facilitated the conversion of wetland forest communities to upland forest communities. During drought periods, drained peat is prone to wildfires that can burn for several months and pose health risks to neighboring communities. Refuge managers are working to restore historic forest communities and stop peat loss through hydrologic restoration, forest management, and fire…