Peru State Forest provides important wildlife habitat for a wide variety of animal and plant species. Peru State Forest, included as part of the Middlefield/Peru Forest Reserve, plus the Dorothy Francis Rice Sanctuary and the Peru Wildlife Management Area create an intact mountain ecosystem that is a very significant wildlife corridor.
Within a 2-mile buffer extending from the outer boundary of the Forest Reserve, 27% of the area (5,870 acres) is permanently protected open space. This includes 5,160 acres that are owned by the Commonwealth. 2,945 acres, including Peru State Forest, are managed by
Recreation (DCR) and 2,215 acres are managed by the Department of Fish and Game.
The remaining 710 acres are owned and managed privately, including the New England Forestry Foundation and The Nature Conservancy, and other landowners who have protected their land through the Berkshire Natural Resources Council.
Such large intact forested areas are crucial for wildlife survival. Habitat fragmentation is one of the greatest threats to biological diversity. Large undeveloped forested areas help mitigate threats to biodiversity. Corridors between important wildlife habitat areas allow animals and birds to travel from one area to the next increasing the chances of survival for those species. In addition, hawks and eagles use thermal wind currents over mountains during their annual migrations. Large mammals including black bears need these protected areas.
The Massachusetts Natural Heritage map, with descriptions of identified habitat areas, can be found here: http://maps.massgis.state.ma.us/dfg/biomap2.htm