The lush temperate forests of the Ozark and Appalachian mountains face a range of threats, from a legacy of over-logging to a rapidly warming climate. American Forests works with partners across this vast area to restore healthy forests that are critical for jobs, rare wildlife, drinking water and the climate. Each year, we carry out dozens of forest restoration projects in this region, from supporting controlled burns that benefit white oaks in Indiana to planting red spruce in former surface mines in West Virginia.

The Appalachian Mountains, which run from New York to Georgia, are an ancient home to some of the most biodiverse temperate forests on the planet. At lower elevations, the region’s forests are dominated by oak trees and other hardwoods, giving way to rare red spruce at higher elevations. The Ozark Mountains are part of the same vast biological region as the Appalachians, and their landscapes share many of the same characteristics.

A mother black bear and her cubs play on tree branch.

Black bears are some of the most recognizable wildlife of the eastern United States. Like many other animals, they relish dining on the acorns of white oaks, a species whose future is at risk.
Photo Credit: Debbie Steinhausser / Shutterstock

American Forests’ priority project in this region is ensuring a sustainable future for white oaks, the most ecologically important tree on the East Coast. While mature white oaks are currently the most abundant tree across their range, there are almost no young oaks to take the place of aging trees. The loss of this species jeopardizes the industries that rely on the white oak’s valuable wood for whiskey barrels, furniture and flooring, as well as the hundreds of species of mammal, bird and insect that depend on oaks for food and shelter.