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Restoring an Ecosystem

Fernbank Museum has a long history of protecting Fernbank Forest.

Fernbank, Inc., which is familiarly known as Fernbank Museum of Natural History, was founded in 1939 to preserve and protect Fernbank Forest, making it one of the oldest environmental conservation not-for-profit in the United States. The conservation of Fernbank Forest remains a vital part of Fernbank Museum’s mission today.

“Fernbank Forest is one of the most diverse and pristine woodlands inside the Perimeter. We are lucky to have this local gem so close to the center of the city. Trees Atlanta is excited to partner with Fernbank Museum of Natural History to restore areas of the forest by removing invasive plants like thorny olive and leather leaf mahonia which will allow native plants to grow once again. This work will enable the community to learn from this model forest for generations to come.”

—Greg Levine, Co-Executive Director & Chief Program Officer, Trees Atlanta

Fernbank Forest is special.

The U.S. Forest Service notes that forests are vital parts of the water, nutrient and carbon cycles that support life on the planet. Trees clean the air, moderate temperature, buffer noise, provide wildlife habitat, protect the soil from erosion, regulate water storage and affect water quality. Although Fernbank Forest is one of the largest assemblages of such land in the Piedmont region of the United States, it is a small remnant of the type of majestic forests that originally covered this area.

Fernbank Forest is much more than what you see above the surface. With some trees up to 300 years old, some ultimately fall and remain on the forest floor, creating opportunities for other organisms to thrive. Beneath the surface lies the foundation for the forest. The soil geology and microorganisms are essential to the continued survival of the ecosystem and are some of the oldest elements of the forest.

Not only does Fernbank Forest contain some of the most common species of the Piedmont region, it also is home to rare and threatened species that help support the high biodiversity and adaptive ability of the ecosystem.  

Fernbank Museum is working to make Fernbank Forest healthier.

Fernbank Museum resumed management of Fernbank Forest in the summer of 2012 after the maturation of a 48-year lease to DeKalb County. Like many urban forests, Fernbank Forest has been burdened with nearly 50 non-native, invasive species, including English ivy, Chinese privet and more. The Museum has set in motion several ambitious goals to restore the ecological balance of this incredible forest.

The restoration of Fernbank Forest is a forever, ongoing project that also includes educational programming and research within the forest. Fernbank Museum’s comprehensive restoration program includes the completion of several important benchmarks:

Fernbank Forest remains open for educational programming throughout the year.

Fernbank Museum offers the following opportunities to explore the forest:

Fernbank provides opportunities for free access to Fernbank Forest.

There are several ways to enjoy free access the forest.