Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Gov. Wolf Unveils State Forest Action Plan To Address Next 10 Years Of Strategic Initiatives In PA Forests; Shale Gas Development Promotes Forest Fragmentation

On August 24, Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled a
State Forest Action Plan, which assesses the condition of Pennsylvania forests and sets a framework for strategies for long-term forest sustainability in the Commonwealth.

"Since the founding of our Commonwealth, 'Penn's Woods,' our forests have been critical natural resources that we must continue to preserve, maintain and grow," said Gov. Tom Wolf. "The State Forest Action Plan provides a wealth of strategies to ensure that our forests continue to thrive for future generations of Pennsylvanians."

The 681-page plan highlights current conditions and trends of forests, delineates priority landscapes, and provides a suite of broad strategies to ensure the long-term sustainability of Pennsylvania’s forests and trees. 

Of the 18 indicators of forest sustainability, 13 indicators are either in the unsustainable category or on the border between unsustainable and sustainable.

The Plan identifies six indicators as unsustainable--

-- Extend of forest land conversion, fragmentation & parcelization pointing to shale gas drilling as one cause;

-- Investments in forest  health, management, research and wood processing;

-- Status of forest/woodland communities & associated species of concern;

-- Forest type, size class, age class and succession stage;

-- Area and percent of forest land affected by biotic & abiotic processes and agents; and

-- Wood and wood products production, consumption and trade.

Seven indicators are on the borderline between sustainable and unsustainable--

-- Area of total land, forest land, protected forest land, forest ownership;

-- Forest certification;

-- Forest-related planning, assessment, policy and law;

-- Area of timberland;

-- Soil quality on forest land;

-- Employment and wages in forest-related sectors; and

-- Area of forest land adjacent to surface water and forest land by watershed.

Click Here for a summary of the State Forest Action Plan.

In addition to making recommendations for all public and private forests in Pennsylvania, the plan also includes stakeholders and partners to help ensure a shared vision and coordinated efforts.  

“Now more than ever, it is critical that we are good stewards of our forests and the natural resources within them,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “This plan will help protect and maintain diverse ecosystems in the Commonwealth, help provide guidance in the fight against climate change, help the department carefully manage our energy resources to minimize and mitigate negative impacts, and address important areas of need in our forests. I am grateful to Bureau of Forestry staff for developing this comprehensive plan to protect the future of our forests.”  

Forests cover more than 60 percent of Pennsylvania’s land and provide an array of values including clean air and water, recreation opportunities, wood products, habitat for plants and animals, carbon storage. 

“Maintaining healthy forests is key in ensuring a healthy environment in the commonwealth,” said State Forester Ellen Shultzabarger. “Accomplishing this goal will require support from the legislature, stakeholders and the public. We intend to build on the progress we have made since implementing 2010 Forest Action Plan and will continue to make positive strides in managing our forests and improving their overall quality.” 

The Forest Action Plan builds on the sustainability meters developed in the 2010 plan and notes changes in the past 10 years. 

The plan also the identifies the 11 priority issues to address, which are: Land use change; Forest health; Sustainable forest management; Climate change; Communicating natural resource values; Energy management and development; Wildland fire and public safety; Plant and animal habitat; Forest-related economy and jobs; Forest recreation; and Water and soil.

Pennsylvania’s 10-year strategic plan is a part of a national forest planning effort required by the federal government and a mandate from the Farm Bill.  

Visit DCNR’s website to learn more about the Pennsylvania Forest Action Plan.  

Click Here to learn more about federal forest action plans

  For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter, Visit the Good Natured DCNR Blog,  Click Here for upcoming events, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

Related Articles:

-- Commonwealth Court Dismisses Petition Asking DCNR To Follow The State’s Constitution In Adopting State Forest Management Plans; PEDF To Appeal

-- PA Forestry Assn: Oct. 9 Annual Forestry Symposium; Invasive Plant Workshops; Role Of Climate Change On Forest Trees; Much More

[Posted: August 24, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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