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Preserving endangered species is critically important to preserving the complex ecosystem and natural resources of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s border lands. FRIENDS provides both much needed funds for scientific studies and volunteers who act as research assistants to the biologists who study threatened species.

The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it.
David Attenborough
Broadcaster, Naturalist

The Appalachian/Blue Ridge forests’ ecoregion encompasses major portions of the central and southern Appalachians. This region stretches north from northeastern Alabama and Georgia, through eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland, and into central Pennsylvania. The Blue Ridge Parkway and its border lands occupy a central swath through this ecoregion. Here, the large variety of landforms, climate, soils, and geology, coupled with a long evolutionary history, has led to one of the most diverse assemblages of plants and animals found in the world’s temperate deciduous forests.

The biodiversity of this ecoregion is exceptional. In fact, the Parkway represents one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the world with about 100 varieties of trees, 1,600 plant species, 54 mammals, and 159 species of birds, ranking it among the highest ecoregions in North America for total floral diversity. A number of plants, invertebrates, salamanders, crayfish, freshwater mussels and fish are restricted to single watersheds or peaks in this region due to millions of years of isolation and favorable conditions.
[courtesy of World Wildlife Federation, Appalachian-Blue Ridge Forests]
One of the primary focuses of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s purpose, as laid out in the legislation establishing it, is to provide the general interpretation of the Parkway which includes the understanding of the natural resources of the central and southern Appalachian Mountains.

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