PA's First Long-term Forest Assessment Finds Challenges Ahead

Aug 31, 2010, 16:29 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 31  /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A first-ever, federally required review shows that Pennsylvania's woodlands will face future challenges requiring continued planning and management, State Forester Daniel Devlin said today.

"Pennsylvania is blessed with abundant forests providing many values and benefits to society, from clean air and water to wood products, biological diversity, recreational opportunities and scenic beauty," said Devlin. "However, there are many challenges to conserving these forests. We can only be successful by working strategically and collaboratively with our partners and stakeholders."

"Overall, Pennsylvania's forests are 'sustainable,' but we need to keep our 'eye on the ball' on certain issues to ensure this trend continues," said Devlin, citing forest-condition indicators featured in the report.

Some of the concerns Devlin cited include invasive plant and insects; white-tailed deer impacts; forest loss and fragmentation; energy development; and overall forest health and tree diversity.  

The state forester's comments came at the completion of a statewide forest assessment performed as part of a national effort toward protecting and sustaining healthy forests—an effort Devlin termed "essential steps" to safeguarding Pennsylvania forests for future generations.

DCNR's Bureau of Forestry documented state, and privately owned forests, and formulated strategies for their long-term sustainability, as well as future management goals and initiatives. The Statewide Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy is prescribed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service and is required every five years under the 2008 Farm Bill in order to ensure continued funding for Pennsylvania's forestry programs.

"Besides meeting federal requirements, the bureau is using this process to undertake a holistic, long-term evaluation and strategic planning effort for Pennsylvania's forests," Devlin said. "The completion of these Farm Bill requirements is the first step of this longer-term, continuous endeavor, including updating the bureau's strategic plan—Penn's Woodswhich was developed and adopted in 1995."

The assessment provides an analysis of forest conditions and trends in the state, and identifies priority rural and urban forest areas and issues, Devlin said. Strategies, meanwhile, provide long-term plans for addressing needs identified in the assessments through state agency initiatives, federal investments and partner engagement.

"The Bureau of Forestry will be seeking additional stakeholder involvement in developing annual work plans to address the assessment and strategies," Devlin said. "Our conservation partners and stakeholders were essential in shaping this document and will continue to play a role in identifying and implementing strategies and opportunities."

The bureau's Assessment and Strategy records compiled a wealth of information on Pennsylvania's forests and strategies for addressing key forest sustainability issues, including forest health, forest management, climate change, communicating natural resource values, energy development, wild land fire and public safety, plant and animal habitat, and recreation and quality of life.

The process was guided by three national priorities: conserve working forest landscapes; protect forests from threats; and enhance public benefits from trees and forests. Using public input, local expertise and the best available data on forest conditions, the documents also incorporate existing forest management plans, including state wildlife action and community wildfire protection plans.

For details of the Pennsylvania Statewide Forest Resource Assessments and Strategy, visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/farmbill/index.html.

Media contact: Terry Brady, 717-772-9101

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources



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