Alabama is one of the nation’s most biodiverse states. One particularly unique region is nestled between the Alabama and Conecuh rivers known as the Red Hills. This is the only place in the world you can find the federally threatened Red Hills salamander. But its forested landscape faces immense, irreversible risks of being broken up and lost to conversion and development. That is why, when a large working forest property in the Red Hills became available, we knew we had to act quickly to secure it and are now on a path toward permanently protecting it.

Red Hills salamander, photo courtesy of John P. Clare


In July 2023, The Conservation Fund purchased approximately 23,000 acres of at-risk forestland in southern Alabama — a critical first step in securing as much of the property as possible for future long-term protections. Now known as the Alabama Red Hills Salamander Forest, the property is being temporarily held and managed through our Working Forest Fund®, an innovative forest conservation program dedicated to protecting natural ecosystems, mitigating climate change and strengthening rural economies.

Our goal is to support habitat protection, restoration, public hunting and fishing access, and climate change benefits, as well as economic opportunities via forest-related jobs and a potential new community forest.

“The rapid loss of our nation’s intact, working forests is an immense threat to biodiversity, rural economies and our fight against climate change. Since the launch of our Working Forest Fund, we have secured nearly 1 million acres of at-risk forestland across the U.S., and we have an ambitious goal to protect 5 million acres over the next 10 years. Our 2023 acquisition of the Alabama Red Hills Salamander Forest in Monroe County works towards that larger national goal while also securing a critical resource for local species and community members.”

— Larry Selzer, The Conservation Fund President & CEO

Over the next several years, we will work with partners and seek private philanthropic donors to help us protect the forest in perpetuity through a multitude of conservation solutions. We’re collaborating with partners like the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, who are interested in protecting a portion of the Alabama Red Hills Salamander Forest for wildlife conservation and public recreational access. Using capital from our green bonds and a generous loan from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, we are buying time for the agency to secure the funding needed to implement that solution. We are also working with McIntosh S.E.E.D., a grassroots nonprofit in the Deep South, to explore the idea of developing a locally owned, 1,000-acre community forest on a portion of the land. The community forest would offer local access and economic benefits from the working land’s resources.

Photos of Alabama Red Hills Salamander Forest by Jay Brittain


The Alabama Red Hills Salamander Forest is in dire need of protection, for it is home to the federally threatened Red Hills salamander that is ‘endemic’ to the region, meaning it is the only place in the world where the species can be found. Protecting this habitat could help remove the Red Hills salamander from the endangered species list.

Additionally, securing landscapes like this is critical for our fight against climate change. The Alabama Red Hills Salamander Forest contains thousands of climate resilient acres and stores roughly 3.5 million tons of CO2 equivalent, which is comparable to removing 779,000 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles from the road for one year.

It is also a critical economic resource for the local community. According to the USDA Forest Service’s 2023 state report, Alabama’s forest industry is the second leading economic driver in the state, employing over 40,000 people. The Alabama Red Hills Salamander Forest itself has a total economic impact of more than $10 million.

We Need Your Help

The Conservation Fund and its partners are actively raising funds for a permanent conservation solution for these lands. For more information about how you can support the conservation of the Alabama Red Hills Salamander Forest, please contact Shannon Lee.

Property Map

Credit: The Conservation Fund