The Bent Creek Experimental Forest is headquarters and field laboratory for Upland Hardwood Ecology and Management, Research Work Unit (RWU) 4157 of the Southern Research Station.

The unit’s mission is to develop and disseminate the scientific knowledge and silvicultural techniques needed to provide a full range of benefits in Southern Appalachian Highland forests. The unit is charged with providing ecological information and with developing the silvicultural techniques needed to regenerate and manage Southern Appalachian Highland forests, which includes much of Western North Carolina, NW South Carolina, Kentucky, Northern Georgia, Tennessee, Western Virginia, Northern Alabama. Over time, research emphasis has changed to meet the evolving needs of forest and resource managers.

Research Problem Areas

Problem 1
Land managers need methods for classifying forest sites using ecological approaches to predict species composition and productivity in relation to environmental gradients across landscapes of the Southern Appalachian Highlands.
Problem 2
Land managers need to be able to predict and control changes in the structure and composition of Southern Appalachian Highlands vegetation resulting from natural or silvicultural disturbances with sufficient proficiency to meet the goals of management and restoration of native forest communities.
Problem 3
Land managers need information on how silvicultural and natural disturbances affect wildlife, their habitat, and their food resources such as fleshy fruit and hard mast to effectively manage regional wildlife communities.

Learn more about our current research →