Thursday, January 7, 2016

DCNR Convenes Green Ribbon Task Force On Forest Products, Conservation, Jobs

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Thursday convened the first meeting of the 30-member Green Ribbon Task Force on Forest Products, Conservation and Jobs at the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg.
The Task Force is intended to bring together experts from private industry, academia, marketing, forest science, economic and workforce development and related disciplines to analyze current limitations to forest conservation and job growth and to develop an action plan to address both objectives.
“One of Pennsylvania’s greatest strengths is our natural resources,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “Over 57 percent of Pennsylvania is forested and prioritizing conservation and job growth related to this field is vital to creating a sustainable, dynamic industry.” “We envision the Green Ribbon Task Force as a catalyst to create new ideas, approaches and momentum for an industry and a landscape that need additional measures of protection and assistance,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “This short-term infusion of multi-disciplinary expertise can help shape new directions and provide an example of government that works and jobs that pay. The temporary nature of the task force ensures that long-term growth and progress will be the product of an energized industry and conservation community.”
Pennsylvania's 17 million acres of forestland provide critical values to society, such as clean water, recreation opportunities, plant and animal habitat, and raw materials for a long-established forest products industry.
In recent decades, numerous factors, including changing land-use patterns, declines in forest health, and the economic recession have begun to threaten forest-related values and reduce the number of forest-based jobs.
Over the next 6 months, the Task Force will identify programs, investments, legislation, and other recommendations for conserving forestland and forest-based jobs that:
— Restore forest-related jobs that pay here in Pennsylvania;
— Expand markets for local wood products grown and manufactured in Pennsylvania;
— Expand conservation and improve sustainability and resiliency of Pennsylvania’s forests;
— Broaden public awareness of the quality, availability and variety of timber and non-timber products grown in Pennsylvania; and
— Increase public use and value of working forestlands for multiple benefits and purposes.
The Task Force will include three workgroups, each co-chaired by two members of the task force. The workgroups include:
— Forest Conservation: issue recommendations to retain, improve, and promote working forests;
— Forest Jobs: expand and improve upon recruitment and workforce development efforts; and
— Forest Products: review existing marketing strategies and develop partnerships to promote all forest products.
The goal of the Task Force is to have recommendations by June.
The group will be assisted by the staff of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture and Hardwoods Development Council, and the Department of Community and Economic Development. Task Force members were selected by the Governor’s Policy Office.
For more information, visit the Green Ribbon Task Force on Forest Products, Conservation and Jobs webpage.

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