Pennsylvania’s forests provide an array of benefits and values, including clean water, clean air, climate change mitigation, recreation opportunities, wood products, and habitats for thousands of plants and animals. Sustaining these values for future generations requires an understanding of the conditions and trends of forests and trees, along with a shared vision and coordination among many stakeholders, including agencies, landowners, forest industry, natural resource professionals, conservation organizations, community leaders, and policymakers. This Forest Action Plan describes current conditions and trends of forests across all ownerships, identifies 11 priority issues, delineates priority landscapes, and provides a suite of broad strategies to ensure the long-term sustainability of Pennsylvania’s forests and trees.
Conserve Pennsylvania working forests and the full suite of values they provide to society
Maintaining the forest land base is critical to ensuring functional ecosystems and providing various resources and values. Although the forested acreage in PA is vast and net acreage has been stable for decades, these forests are threatened due to several factors that convert forest to non-forest and fragment existing forestland. The threats and intensity of land use changes differ by region. In addition to the net acreage of forestland, the composition, distribution, and character of the forests are important to consider, as forests possess differing features and may not contribute equally to ecosystem services and functions and the spatial arrangement of forests has important implications for diversity and connectivity. The Forest Action Plan includes strategies to conserve the forested land base through easements and acquisitions, but outlines strategies promote best practices to keep forests that are healthy, resilient, and providing all the ecosystem services and benefits.
Protect forest health, water quality, and special ecological features and communities
Insects and disease, invasive plants, climate change, inadequate forest regeneration, and over-abundant deer populations are critical and ongoing threats to the health of the forests of the commonwealth. These and other issues have compounding impacts on the well-being and function of PA forests and require coordinated, strategic action at appropriate scales and across ownerships. This plan includes strategies throughout to protect forests from threats, create forests that are diverse and resilient, and share information to empower others to incorporate best practices to ensure healthy, functional forest ecosystems across the Commonwealth.
Enhance partnerships by connecting people and communities to landscapes
Healthy forests and trees provide various benefits to society, including wood products, clean air and water, carbon storage, opportunities for healthful recreation, as well as thousands of jobs and billions of dollars into the Pennsylvania economy. To maintain the health of our forests, we must minimize or avoid new impacts to these systems and mitigate past damage through restoration projects, implementation of BMPs, and education about the consequences of human activities. Efforts to restore degraded forests and plant new trees must be paired with education and outreach. Connecting the public with forests and the benefits they provide ensures the continued stewardship of the natural resources of the Commonwealth. Throughout this plan, there are strategies that highlight the importance of restoration (e.g. establishing and maintaining riparian forest buffers), education and partnership to empower private landowners and communities to care for their forests and trees, and sound stewardship of public lands and the common natural resources of Pennsylvania.
Best Management Practices
Pennsylvania’s best management practices (BMPs) program is quasi-regulatory. The agencies responsible for BMPs policy development are the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of Forestry, Penn State Extension, and the SFI Implementation Committee.
Click here to view the most recent BMPs recommendations on the state forestry agency website.