Described as “virgin forest” in the memoirs of Grace Gresham Flowers, who was born on Briarlake Road in the 1930’s, the 21-acre wooded property at the intersection of Briarlake Road and Amberwood Drive is currently under consideration by DeKalb County for development of a new residential subdivision.
Outraged by the prospect of the destruction of this precious resource, people from nine surrounding neighborhoods have joined together to form the Briarlake Community Forest Alliance, Inc., a Georgia non-profit corporation. We seek to preserve this forest for future generations.
This forest contains a swath of about 60 trees (see topographic map below) that have trunks at least 30 inches in diameter along the center of the property. There are many kinds of smaller understory trees and a diversity of species that compose this old-growth forest.
Forests provide ecosystem services to their surrounding communities. The value of these services, including cleaner air and water, is being increasingly recognized by governing bodies. The U.S. Forest Service has developed software that assigns an economic value to the services that forests provide. The Millenium Ecosystem Assessment conducted by the United Nations recommends that the economic background to governmental decision making should be changed to “make sure the value of all ecosystem services, not just those bought and sold in the market, are taken into account” (Statement of the MA Board, March 2005).
Development of a new residential subdivision would cause significant disturbance to the land, effectively removing the ecosystem services the forest provides. Of special concern is the potential loss of hydrologic support from the forest that would result in degradation of the streams that receive runoff and feed into two local lakes.
We believe that a much more creative approach than the proposed rezoning and development would best serve this community. Our community has not had adequate time to formulate a complete vision for the future of the forest, but we are beginning a conversation that we hope will lead ultimately to the preservation of all 21 acres of the forest for the benefit of future generations.
Please visit us on Google+