HABITAT CONSERVATION OVERVIEW

Wildlife Mississippi works with landowners, public agencies and others to improve a variety of habitats that support the state’s rich natural heritage, its quality of life and its strong economy.

Wildlife Mississippi is working to protect, restore and enhance bottomland hardwood forests and wetlands through conservation easements, incentives offered through Wetlands Reserve Easements and the Conservation Reserve Program, mitigation lands, expansion of habitat on public lands and other efforts. These forests and wetlands help maintain wildlife populations, lessen flood risks, capture atmospheric carbon and protect water quality.

In Southern Mississippi, we are working with partners to protect, restore and enhance imperiled longleaf pine forests, which support hundreds of species of plants, reptiles, amphibians, birds and other wildlife. Well-managed longleaf pine forests also can provide solid economic returns to private landowners and have a lower risk from damage of high winds, such as we witnessed after Hurricane Katrina.

Wildlife Mississippi established its Mississippi Gulf Coast Program to help guide habitat restoration, watershed planning and water quality improvements in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. As a result of fines and settlements from the spill, Mississippi and other Gulf Coast states are receiving substantial funding for environmental restoration. Wildlife Mississippi wants to ensure that this important funding is spent wisely and for the benefit of healthy and resilient coastal ecosystems. Learn more by reading our Strategic Plan for people, wildlife and the economy.

Native prairies are among the most endangered habitats in Mississippi, covering less than 1 percent of their original extent. In response, Wildlife Mississippi created its Blackland Prairie Restoration Initiative to work in partnership with landowners, public agencies and researchers to provide incentives for science-based native prairie restoration.

Upland hardwood and pine forests are found throughout most of Mississippi and are imperiled. Our work in upland forests focuses on protecting, restoring and enhancing stands that have been converted to a monoculture of loblolly pine and are not as economically productive as mixed stands.

Much of Wildlife Mississippi’s wetland protection, restoration and enhancement work occurs along rivers and streams, which support significant populations of fish and other aquatic life. Riparian forest corridors provide crucial wildlife habitat and help protect water quality.

A number of types of financial assistance are available to private landowners wanting to improve habitat, enhance wildlife populations and protect water quality, among other benefits. Recently, Wildlife Mississippi and several partners developed a user-friendly online tool, the Conservation Finance Center, to assist private landowners in making conservation decisions based on economics. A landowner can make a comparative financial analysis of land uses to visualize the economic results of undergoing certain conservation practices.

Wildlife Mississippi also provides technical assistance to landowners through its staff, publications, field days and workshops.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Total Acres Protected 102,499
Total Acres Restored 68,065
Total Acres Enhanced 194,392
Grand Total (To Date) 364,956