Pennsylvania, or “Penn’s Woods,” provides countless benefits and services to its citizens. Pennsylvania’s 17 million acres of forest provide a vast array of values, including clean air and water, recreation opportunities, wood products, and habitats for thousands of plants and animals. Understanding the forest’s status and condition is necessary to conserve it for future generations. Our Forest Action Plan describes current conditions and trends, identifies priority issues, delineates priority landscapes, and sets the stage for developing long-term management strategies. It evaluates the condition of Pennsylvania’s forests across all ownerships and establishes a framework for achieving long-term forest sustainability.
Maintaining Pennsylvania’s forest land base is fundamental to conserving the array of resources and values our forests provide. Pennsylvania’s landscape has changed dramatically over the past several decades as forests and farms are converted to residential and commercial developments. Energy development, in the form of wind farms, natural gas activity and utility rights-of-way, are also affecting the state’s forest land base. While economic growth is critical to Pennsylvania, poorly planned development can negatively impact natural systems and causes permanent forest loss.
Forest insects and diseases, invasive plants, inadequate forest regeneration, and overabundant deer populations are the principal factors affecting forest health in Pennsylvania. DCNR Bureau of Forestry has the responsibility for “protecting forestlands in Pennsylvania from harmful insects, diseases, and other factors.” Providing leadership in the field of forest health management will help lead to sustainable and healthy forests in Pennsylvania.
The concept of sustainability refers to the forest’s ability to produce the full suite of ecological, economic, and social benefits and services for both current and future generations. The interconnectedness of plant and animal habitats, ecosystem health, and meeting human needs and desires is a central theme of forest sustainability. In an effort to measure and track progress toward achieving forest sustainability, DCNR Bureau of Forestry measured a set of 18 indicators that evaluate the sustainability of Pennsylvania’s forests.