Forestry in the Keystone State
Pennsylvania residents benefit from a long and proud history of natural resource conservation. Overall, state contains 16.6 million acres of forest; that’s about 60% of Pennsylvania’s total land area. Public ownership protects over two million acres of state forest land, one-and-a-half million acres of game and wildlife lands, the half-million acre Allegheny National Forest, and 117 state parks. Twenty state forests are located in 48 of the commonwealth’s 67 counties and comprise 13 percent of Pennsylvania’s total forest land. State forests are vast and remote, and represent one of the largest expanses of wild land in the eastern United States.
The value of the forests of Pennsylvania for some is found in the timber or natural gas reserves. Others find value in the opportunities forests create to engage in recreational pursuits. Environmental values of natural biodiversity and provision of clean air and water keep ecosystems and communities vibrant and healthy. Sensory benefits arise from the peace and serenity that can be found in forests.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Forestry is responsible for ensuring the long term health, viability and productivity of the commonwealth’s forests and for conserving its native wild plants. The Bureau manages state forests to provide a broad suite of uses and values, while also maintaining their wild character. State forests are managed for clean water, recreation, scenic beauty, plant and animal habitat, sustainable timber, and mineral resources. The Bureau’s role in forest conservation also extends beyond state-owned lands, as it is charged with protecting all of Pennsylvania’s forests from damaging insects, diseases, and wildfire and with promoting knowledge of forestry and forest stewardship with other government agencies, communities, landowners, forest industry, and the general public.