The natural areas at Mt. Cuba Center are a precious resource and critical to preserving the integrity of the remaining natural habitats of this physiographic region in Delaware. We conduct a variety of projects and programs which support our management and conservation goals and allow us to better understand the impact on our unique Piedmont ecosystem.
The Appalachian Piedmont of Delaware was settled by European immigrants and their descendants more than three centuries ago. As a result, the Red Clay Valley region has a history of heavy and repeated disturbance from logging, agriculture, grist mills, and railroad activities to mention just a few. Since the majority of our lands are disturbed and surrounded by development, we seek to restore, support and enhance the natural ecosystem functions and processes.
Mt Cuba Center’s land stewardship standards transcend our physical property boundaries as we lead by example and share our stewardship methodologies and information with our Red Clay Valley neighbors, forming partnerships to attain common biodiversity enhancement goals. As long as our Natural Lands require protection and intervention, we are committed to insuring we are proactively managing these precious resources.
Habitat loss and the invasion of exotic invasive species are the primary factors threatening species and ecosystems. Habitat protection and restoration programs have been proven to address the problem of species decline and habitat loss.
35 state-rare flora species and 3 state-rare fauna species can be found in our Natural Lands. Of this total, seven species are presently ranked as “S1” (five or fewer occurrences in the state). Twenty-one others are “S2” species (occurring in six to twenty sites in Delaware). Since the majority of these species are forest-dependent, we have committed our own professional resources, as well as outside partners in a myriad of forest-related research studies. Collaborative effort with the
and University of Delaware’s department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, and Department of Plant and Soil Science
allows us to accurately assess the habitat needs of our rarest plants and animals. These target species appear on the Delaware Species of Conservation Concern list compiled by the Delaware Natural Heritage Program and are monitored annually through field surveys.
Improving the understanding of Piedmont natural history, biology, and ecosystem functions requires ongoing research and scientific studies. Scientific studies are critical for building sound stewardship strategies. Monitoring techniques are necessary to measure changes in natural community composition and rare species population status over time. Monitoring also helps assess the effectiveness of stewardship management actions. The effectiveness of land stewardship strategies, therefore, is based upon evaluating changes in natural community composition and rare species populations.