“This continued certification of our state forests is a reaffirmation of the pride we take in managing our state forest system for many values and uses, while maintaining its long-term health and viability,” said Allan. “Today, there are many threats and challenges in forest management, including fragmentation and disturbance, invasive plants, destructive exotic insects and insufficient regeneration.
“The certification process is a strong affirmation that we are doing everything we can to meet these challenges through management plans and practices. More importantly, it helps us identify areas we can improve to ensure our forests are well managed and in line with stakeholder expectations,” Allan said.
For the 14th consecutive year, researchers lauded Pennsylvania’s commitment to its forests, and its exemplary practices and innovation in managing its 2.2 million acres of forest resources.
The review was conducted in September 2011 by SmartWood, a world-leading, New York City-based operation accredited to offer forest landowners independent, third-party certification of sustainable forest-management practices.
Pennsylvania state forests are certified by the Rainforest Alliance under the Forest Stewardship Council™ standards. The council is an independent organization supporting environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world's forests.
SmartWood applauded the Bureau of Forestry for:
-- Continued responsible management of gas drilling activities;
-- Timber harvesting practices that ensure regeneration of future forests;
-- Partnerships used in protecting sensitive species;
-- Use of advanced management practices to further protect and enhance our ecosystems; restore habitat; and promote regeneration; and
-- Identification, adaptation and management of High Conservation Value Forests.
The evaluation team and SmartWood work with the Bureau of Forestry to resolve any issues that may be found during audits. No major shortcomings were cited in the 2011 audit.
The assessment was designed to evaluate the ecological, economic and social performance of the Bureau of Forestry according to forest management guidelines established by the Forest Stewardship Council. The council was formed in 1993 by environmental, social and forest-products industry representatives to establish guidelines for sustainable forest-management practices.
A SmartWood project team consisting of a forest ecologist/silviculturist and a socio-economic assessor toured Lackawanna, William Penn, Delaware and Loyalsock state forest districts. They met with DCNR officials and stakeholders, scoring woodlands on timber-resource sustainability, forest-ecosystem maintenance, financial and socioeconomic considerations and other categories.
SmartWood is recognized as the world's leading Forest Stewardship Council forest management certifier. Certification assures consumers that wood products from the state’s public forests come from a sustainable, well-managed system, which helps Pennsylvania to compete in the growing niche consumer market for “green” label wood products.
“Just as recycled products have become common in the marketplace, many environmentally conscious timber consumers look for ‘green’ wood grown in certified forests,” Allan said. “Continuing certification is especially good news when you consider our quality hardwoods help support the state’s $5 billion forest products industry that employs almost 100,000 people.”