The New Hampshire Forest Action Plan continues a tradition of statewide forest resource planning that began in 1952 when Governor Sherman Adams appointed a committee to develop a statement of policy focused on the condition of the state’s forests. Like earlier plans, this plan responds to new issues and ideas that are important to our forests at this time. Our forest action plan is organized around three priorities: to "Conserve New Hampshire’s Forested Landscape", "Protect Forests from Harm", and "Enhance Benefits from Trees and Forests". Within each priority, key issues and strategies for addressing the issues are identified. Following each strategy is a list “key cooperators” – a partial list of agencies, organizations, groups, or individuals necessary for successful implementation of the strategies in the document.
The forests of New Hampshire are integral to the economy of the state from both the forest products and the recreation/tourism sides of the equation. The annual contribution of forest-based manufacturing to the state’s economy is nearly $1.15 billion supporting 8,160 jobs while forest-based recreation and tourism is worth $1.12 billion supporting 11,401 jobs. The three main sectors of the wood using industries in New Hampshire are solid wood, pulp, and wood energy. While there are no longer any primary pulp processing facilities in New Hampshire, the state has nearly 50 substantial sized sawmills and specialty wood products mills and seven wood-fired electricity generation plants. The recommendations in New Hampshire’s Statewide Assessment and Resource Strategy encourage the wise use and conservation of our forests in order to support a vibrant forest-based industry.
New Hampshire is the second most forested state in the nation, with nearly 84% of the land area covered by trees. While the rate of loss of open space, including forests, has slowed in the past decade, concern regarding forest land conversion and forest fragmentation remains high. Over the next 20 years, New Hampshire’s population is projected to increase by 14%. Forest loss linked to population growth indicates the conversion of approximately 225,000 acres by the year 2030, dropping the state's forested land area to 78.5%. We must keep as much of our forestland in forest condition as possible, ensure that these forests are sustainably managed for their many benefits, and encourage wise growth and development of our communities.
The health of New Hampshire’s forest is defined by its ability to maintain native biological diversity and remain vigorous while sustaining its role in the environment and its role in the socioeconimic world. Damage to our forests can come in the form of insect pests, invasive plants, ice storms or wildfire. In some instances, this is a normal part of nature and considered a positive agent of change. However, at larger scales these forces can negatively impact the large array of goods and services we rely on from our forests. One of the biggest threats to the health of our forests is the introduction of non-native insects and diseases. Pests at high risk of invading our forests include the emerald ash borer, Asian long-horned beetle, sudden oak death, oak wild, Asian gypsy moth, Browntail moth and, most recently, the sirex woodwasp. It is critical to maintain and enhance strong partnerships between private landowners, agencies, and organizations to minimize the impact of invasive pests.