Alabama’s Ecology and Wildlife
Sometimes the costs and benefits of not doing something are overlooked.
Here at Alabama Sawyer, we use urban trees to custom mill timbers and build sustainable, beautiful products - But we aren’t here to talk about what we do today.
This particular entry is about what we don’t do - which is to harvest our materials from the incredible ecology that our state is home to. In this piece, we’re going to explain how urban lumber is helping save some of the most important habitats in the world.
We’re also going to explore some of what makes these particular environments so incredibly precious. There’s got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started.
The Incredible Biodiversity of Alabama
Alabama; The Heart of Dixie is home to one of the most biologically diverse ecologies in the United States. From the coastal wetlands to our many great rivers, Black Belt Prairie, and Appalachian Mountains, this state is home to more species per square mile than any other.
With more than 6350 species of wildlife living amongst vast, thick, and untamed forests, Alabama is home to more than just crayfish. Freshwater mussels, reptiles, amphibians, freshwater snails, and all kinds of fish and turtles can be found throughout the wetlands, rivers, and woods.
This state is also home to some of the largest intact wetlands and wilderness in the country, which exists in close proximity to a big American city. This coexistence is unique and is something to be respected and admired.
Let’s begin the journey through the rivers, tributaries, and waterways and take a closer look at life where land meets water.
The Rivers of Alabama
Life would not exist in such a magnificent fashion as it does now without the many major rivers that make up some of the most unique river basins in the world. Life thrives in places where resources are abundant - and that happens to be where water and land meet. Even our human society is not immune to this rule - our infrastructure always begins at a port and follows the coast, inlets, harbors, and rivers inland.
The Cahaba river, in particular, is a jewel of biodiversity that has remained relatively untouched by man and industry.
It is home to Alabama’s longest free-flowing river. While the Cahaba River Watershed may only be a fraction of other major river watersheds in the country, the reverse is true when it comes to native fish species.
To put this in perspective. The massive Columbia Watershed is home to 33 native fish species. The equally giant Colorado River Watershed is home to 25. Our little Cahaba Watershed, while a fraction of the size of the Columbia or Colorado, is home to a stunning 128 species of native fish!
These also include freshwater mussels, whose shells are found in abundance on the riverbanks. Our talented collaborators then take these shells and fire them into wonderful decorative bowls.
At Alabama Sawyer, we are proud to carry The Little Cahaba River Bowls by Civil Stoneware alongside our urban lumber furniture. We’re a big fan of finding neat ways to honor nature, without causing harm.
With 132,000 miles of river in the state of Alabama, it is no surprise that this state is home to some of the most biologically diverse waterways in the world. This is a wonderful ecology and we are proud not to source any species of wood from these wonderfully intact landscapes.
If you were to look at a physical map of Alabama, you would notice that the Alabama River runs from Montgomery in the North all the way South and West, down into Mobile. This great river isn’t the only geological feature to swipe across much of the landscape in this way.
The Black Belt
If you were to look at that same map you would also see that most of Alabama is very heavily wooded, but not all of it. There is a stretch of prairie in the shape of a crescent moon that runs up to Mississippi.
The Black Belt Prairie of Alabama can be viewed from outer space and is historically where farmers have found incredibly fertile soil to sow. The Black Belt is known for having the richest soil in the US.
This soil, as it happens, dates back to the cretaceous period, and the age and subsequent concentration of minerals contribute greatly to its richness. Alabama isn’t only home to some of the most diverse rivers and fertile, ancient soil in the US.
It is also the beginning of the Appalachian Mountains.
The Appalachian Mountains and the Pinhoti Trail
Some may think of mountains as being a stark and bleak landscape that is home to little if any life at all. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The plethora of microhabitats along the hills, valleys, and recesses of the Appalachian Mountains make an extremely diverse landscape.
The famous, rugged and astonishingly beautiful Appalachian Trail (AT) may officially begin in Georgia, but that could soon be subject to change. The Pinhoti trail effectively extends the entrance to the AT from Georgia, 250 Miles through the Talladega National Forest, to an entrance roughly halfway between Birmingham and Montgomery.
This Talladega National Forest, through which much of the Pinhoti traverses, is another beautiful and rich part of Alabama. It is home to coyotes, black bears, deer, foxes, and more.
The trees in this area are home to beautiful species of birds such as the Bachman’s Sparrow and the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. This is yet another wonderful and ecologically rich area of Alabama from which we source no lumber.
The immense number of different living beings that inhabit our state makes it one of the most important places in the country and the world to conserve. We cannot live without an environment to sustain us, and it is for that reason, that we are proud to source our materials in a totally sustainable fashion.
Urban Trees: Taking the Fall for America’s Amazon
We may get 90% of our materials from Alabama - but what we don’t do is take them from the beautiful ecology that surrounds our cities.
When a tree is felled in the city for one of many reasons - often safety we intervene before they are wasted. By procuring urban lumber and breathing new life into these trees we save them from landfills while preserving the natural habitat that surrounds us.
This kind of thinking will preserve our most vital resource - our environment, which is a huge part of our mission It’s important to us not only as a company but as individuals who live in this beautiful, uniquely diverse state.