Hardwood Forested Uplands

Photo: NPS


lower vulnerability
higher vulnerability

General Information

These communities include mesic and xeric forests dominated mainly by hardwood trees, but may have a closed deciduous or mixed deciduous/evergreen canopy. They are mainly in the panhandle and central peninsula on upland areas with sand/clay and/or calcareous substrate. Fire is rare in these communities. Common species include American beech, southern magnolia, hackberry, swamp chestnut oak, white oak, horse sugar, flowering dogwood, and mixed hardwoods.

Slope forests are found on areas of steep slope on bluffs or in sheltered ravines with a sand/clay substrate within the Apalachicola drainage. They typically have a closed canopy of mainly deciduous species, including: American beech, Florida maple, white oak, Ashe’s magnolia, southern magnolia, spruce pine, and Shumard’s oak.

Xeric hammocks are found in upland areas with deep sand substrate, primarily in the eastern Panhandle to central peninsula. They have a closed canopy of evergreen hardwoods.

Rockland hammocks only occur in south Florida (see rockland hammock description).

This conservation asset includes Upland Hardwood Forest, Mesic Hammock, Rockland Hammock, Slope Forest, and Xeric Hammock.


  • 161,908 hectares within Florida (modeled)
  • 57,274 hectares (35%) is located on public lands

Area impacted by up to 3 meters sea level rise:

6%1 meter12%3 meters88%not impacted

Climate Impacts

Altered fire regimes or the absence of fire could lead to compositional and structural changes to hardwood forests, potentially altering their suitability to the current suite of species. Additionally, the reduction or lack of prescribed fire (fuel reduction) coupled with increased evapotranspiration rates could lead to more frequent and intense wildfires.

Changes in temperature and precipitation regimes could lead to altered composition and structure of these systems, as trees and other vegetation more suited to hotter/drier or hotter/wetter conditions replace some of the more heat and moisture sensitive species. Increased temperatures, as well as extreme events (e.g., flood, drought, fires) will enhance invasive species processes, from introduction through establishment and expansion. Drought and increased temperatures can lead to stress, mortality and increased insect outbreaks and mortality in forests. While the statewide acreage of hardwood forested uplands isn't expected to be significantly impacted by sea level, rise, some communities, such as rockland hammock may experience significant loss due to sea level rise.

More information about general climate impacts to habitats in Florida.

Climate Impacts to Species

Species dependent upon mast (acorns, nuts) as a major component of their diet could be impacted if mast producing trees are impacted by changes in temperature, precipitation, insect outbreaks, disease or invasive species. If trees become stressed or diseased the amount of mast produced could be reduced. These same conditions could lead to shifts in tree composition, potentially leading to more or less mast producing trees within a particular region.

Increased invasive plants would lead to shifts in habitat composition and structure and would lead to habitat degradation or loss for some species.

Increased temperatures would allow for an increase in the abundance and diversity of invasive animals, as well as a northward shift of some invasive animals that are restricted in range by temperatures.

Introduction of additional species (native and non-native) in an area could alter community dynamics by impacting predator-prey relationships and competition for resources (food, water, refugia). Loss of hardwood forests leading to a more fragmented landscape would impact wide-ranging species such as the Florida black bear that utilize forested areas as travel corridors.

More information about general climate impacts to species in Florida.

Other Non-climate Threats

  • Conversion to agriculture
  • Conversion to commercial and industrial development
  • Conversion to housing and urban development
  • Conversion to recreation areas
  • Groundwater withdrawal
  • Incompatible fire
  • Incompatible forestry practices
  • Incompatible resource extraction
  • Invasive animals
  • Invasive plants
  • Roads
  • Surface water withdrawal

More information about climate change interactions with existing threats and stressors in Florida.

Vulnerability Assessment Details

This conservation asset was assessed as part of the Standardized Index of Vulnerability and Value Assessment - Natural Communities (SIVVA).

This conservation asset has a SIVVA vulnerability score less than 70 SIVVA.

Read more information about SIVVA natural communities.