Maine has the largest contiguous block of undeveloped forestland east of the Mississippi. Maine’s resilient forests have been harvested for wood products for over 200 years, yet 90% of the state remains forested - the highest percentage in the country – and we have largely maintained our forest biodiversity. We also have a long history of multiple-use management on private land and a tradition of free public access to private land. The Maine Forest Action Plan is a keystone of the Maine Forest Service’s continuing efforts to inform our citizens about the condition of and trends in our forests and forest economy. It draws from a long history of strategic thinking on the issue of how to address Maine’s most important forestry issues. The plan addresses a number of topics, including, but not limited to: criteria and indicators of forest sustainability, threats and opportunities, priority forest areas, and strategies and resources needed to address threats to the state’s forest resources.
Conversion of Forest Land to Development and Parcelization: Over the period of 1995-2007, Maine lost nearly 80,000 acres of forestland, a 0.4% reduction over this period. This may be an important tipping point as the acreage of forestland in Maine has been increasing or stable for the previous 100 years. In addition, forest ownerships are being broken up into smaller parcels. Parcelization makes good forest management less likely and more difficult, even if the land remains forested. Parcelization and forest land conversion are significant issues, particularly in southern and central Maine.
Insect and Disease Threats: A number of exotic insects and diseases, some established, some not yet here, threaten significant components of Maine’s forests. Existing threats include beech bark disease, balsam woolly adelgid, browntail moth, and hemlock woolly adelgid. Potential threats include sudden oak death, Asian longhorned beetles and emerald ash borers.
Keeping our Forests as Forests for the Long-Term: This is fundamentally important given public attitudes, current land ownership, limits on funding, and the importance of the forest products industry. In large part, this means maintaining a sustainably managed, economically viable working forest land base. This is critical, not only to rural economies and Maine’s forest products industry, but also to providing the large contiguous habitats needed to allow forests to adapt a changing climate and to maintaining the many public values provided by Maine’s privately-held forests.