Pennsylvania’s Forests Receive Successful Audit Reports

Cornplanter State ForestImage: PA Department of Conservation And Natural Resources

PENNSYLVANIA — The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) recently announced that their forest system has been deemed soundly managed and sustainable by two independent audit reports. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) conducted audits in three state forest districts and found that the bureau was in full conformance with both SFI and FSC standards. With more than 2.2 million acres, the Pennsylvania state forest system is a vital natural resource for the state, providing habitat for wildlife and countless recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. This recognition of their efforts to manage and maintain sustainable woodlands is a testament to their dedication to the environment and to preserving the beauty of Pennsylvania’s forests for generations to come.

Forests cover nearly 60 percent of the Commonwealth, and Pennsylvania’s Forest Action Plan focuses on an array of values including:

  • Clean air and water
  • Recreation opportunities
  • Wood products
  • Habitat for thousands of plants and animals
  • Carbon storage

“These favorable audits show our state forests meet and exceed standards for sustainable certification, and I am proud of the staff who helped do the work to earn the great reviews,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “These results truly are a stamp of excellence on the Bureau of Forestry’s people, programs and initiatives, all of which chart a path for healthy woodlands of tomorrow.”

Audit results will enable the bureau to continue selling timber as certified under both agency standards.

Auditor findings noted by the Bureau of Forestry included:

  • The bureau practices “solid silviculture” and has management processes that are “proactive in terms of accounting for, reviewing, and protecting environmental and social resources.”
  • Auditors observed that the bureau “maintains exceptional resources for public involvement in all aspects of forest management”
  • According to both SFI and FSC standards, state forest roads are “exceptional [in their] design, construction and maintenance”
  • Auditors observed an “exceptional” water quality protection program
  • There were no non-conformities found and no Corrective Action Requests for the SFI and FSC certification
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Requirements include measures to protect water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, species at risk, and forests with exceptional conservation value.

In 2022, SFI released an updated standard that also included measures to promote Climate Smart Forestry practices and Fire Resilience and Awareness in conducting forest management and educating about forest management.

The Bureau of Forestry was found to be in conformance with this new standard, as it integrates a robust climate mitigation and adaptation plan and maintains and manages a growing and active fire protection, prevention, and management program.

These programs have positioned the bureau as a leader and example to other state agencies in developing similar tools and programs and meeting the SFI standard.

“These audits confirm and validate the efforts of the Forestry team at all levels, especially in the critical areas of climate mitigation and adaptation,” State Forester Ellen Shultzabarger said. “I am proud of the work we do and expect that we will continue strong leadership in these areas, while also maintaining exemplary stewardship of Pennsylvania’s beautiful public lands.”

Visit the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and Forest Stewardship Council for more information.

Pennsylvania’s state forest system extends into 48 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

It offers water and air purification, recreation, aesthetic beauty, plant and animal habitat, economic and societal benefits through provision of wood products, and environmentally sound utilization of mineral resources.

Pennsylvania is divided into 20 forest districts, responsible for protecting all forestland within their boundaries from fire, destructive insects and disease.

Visit DCNR’s website to view the SFI audit and FSC audit.

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Check out DCNR’s Calendar of Events for events on public lands.

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