The biggest impacts to forests can be seen in areas where population and development are rapidly expanding, on the edges of towns and cities across the South. This zone where forested lands and urban lands are side by side or intermixed is the wildland-urban interface.
The trend to move to the outskirts of urban centers into more rural settings has led to the fragmentation of forested lands and wildlife habitat. Forest fragmentation and other factors, such as the introduction of invasive exotic plants, are impacting the character and health of forests. The end result is a threat to the values that attract people to the wildland-urban interface.
Natural resource managers are faced with the challenge of sustainable management of our natural resources as forests become increasingly developed. They must also address the needs of the public, which increasingly demand non-commodity uses of the forest, such as watershed protection, recreation, and aesthetic value, versus traditional consumptive uses like timber production. Wildland fire is also a big interface issue (photo by SC Forestry Commission).
Interface South was developed by the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station and Southern Region to heighten awareness of wildland-urban interface issues. It also addresses the growing need for information and tools by natural resource professionals, private landowners, homeowners and others affected by the changes occurring in southern forests.