The Forest and Its Future

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.

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10 thoughts on “The Forest and Its Future

  1. Sandi Harsh

    While my family no longer lives in the area, I have wonderful memories of driving by and admiring that gorgeous little forest. To destroy those 20+ acres in order to build anything would be detrimental to the environment and to neighborhood values.

  2. Charlotte Engstrom

    I cannot attend the meeting tonight and would be wearing Green if it could be there. I am in agreement with preserving the 21 acres of forest for the benefit of future generations. I have lived in my DeKalb County home 41 years. We need to leave some green space for future generations and we need to find a way to prevent more traffic problems.

  3. Ben Seibel

    As an architect, treasurer of the Echo Lake Homeowners Association and neighbor, I fully support the planning effort of BCFA. Our neighborhood has a rich natural environment that must be incorporated into all future development.

  4. Mickey Carlton

    I have lived on Briarlake Rd. for 42 years and have seen many changes in the neighborhood. We live between two schools, Briarlake Elementary and Lakeside High School plus a swim and tennis club. Briarlake is a connector street with over 12,000 vehicles of traffic per day. We not only can take anymore traffic but our children are at risk walking to and from school and to the club. The DOT put bike lanes on the street making the lanes even narrower than they were before. We are at risk even going to our mail boxes. I am a real estate Broker and certainly support our builders when they want to improve a neighborhood not destroy it. This land should be left alone as a beautiful forest. I owned vacant lots in Amberwood at one time and was told that a covenant was in place not to have homes built on the land at the entrance of the subdivision..

  5. Pingback: Five Principles of Successful Citizen Action for the Environment | Lessons of 21 Acres

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