Delaware’s forests—rural and urban, public and private—are vital to our environment, our way of life, and our economy. The Delaware Forest Service, working with other organizations and our citizens, strives to ensure that our forests continue providing the numerous benefits that all Delawareans enjoy. Our agency recently completed a statewide forest resource assessment with guidance from the Delaware Forest Stewardship Committee. This Forest Action Plan identifies the priority issues, threats, and opportunities currently facing Delaware’s forests. We worked closely with a variety of stakeholders to develop 19 comprehensive and long-term strategies to guide us in these efforts. Each strategy contains multiple action items with performance goals to help measure success. Many of the action items will require years, if not decades, to achieve and will also require partnering with multiple organizations, public and private, to accomplish. Nonetheless, we believe this document is an excellent guide to help the Delaware Forest Service and cooperating partners focus limited resources on the most important issues currently facing Delaware’s valuable forestlands.
Public awareness and appreciation of forests is a critical element to the success of our strategy. Everyone—including landowners, homeowners, community and civic leaders, and students—must appreciate and understand that forests and their proper stewardship are necessary for our continued high quality of life. Credible, current, and easy-to-understand information within the context of ongoing student and adult education can help the general public to not only understand the broad array of benefits that forests provide, but also the intricacies, techniques, and practices necessary to achieve stated forest management objectives.
Forest markets must be available to forest landowners to satisfy the goals of sustainable forest management on their properties. A stable, robust, and diverse market for all forest products—not just for high quality timber but also for poorer quality species and non-timber commodities—contributes to Delaware’s economy and helps ensure long-term sustainable forest management.
Forest health and functionality is of utmost importance. A sufficient, healthy forestland base ensures the perpetual production of forest outputs (clean air, timber, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, water quality protection, etc.). Landowners and foresters must work together to ensure that our forests are as free from forest pests and invasive species as possible.