pennsylvania statewide forest resource assessment

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  • Pennsylvania Statewide Forest Resource Assessment

    June 2010

    Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry

    Rachel Carson State Office Building 400 Market Street, P.O. Box 8552

    Harrisburg, PA 17105-8552

  • Table of Contents Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: Benefits and Services Chapter 3: Forest Conditions and Trends Chapter 4: Issues, Threats, and Opportunities

    4A Land Use 4B Forest Health 4C Forest Management 4D Climate Change 4E Communicating Natural Resource Values 4F Energy Development 4G Wildland Fire and Public Safety 4H Plant and Animal Habitat

    Chapter 5: Priority Landscape Areas Chapter 6: Summary Chapter 7: Appendices, References, Methodology, Data, and Gaps*

    A Stakeholder Engagement B Other Plans Incorporated into the Statewide Assessment and Strategy

    C List of Acronyms 4D-1 Projected Habitat Maps for Pennsylvania for 5 Softwood Tree Species 4D-2 Projected Habitat Maps for Pennsylvania for 31 Hardwood Tree Species

    4H State Wildlife Action Plan Summaries 5A Priority Landscapes GIS Analysis Methodology 5B Priority Landscapes GIS Analysis Datasets 5C Forest Legacy Program Assessment of Needs 5D Forest Legacy Program Guidebook 5E NE Multi-State Area: Highlands 5F NE Multi-State Area: Chesapeake Bay Watershed 5G NE Multi-State Area: Delaware River Watershed 5H NE Multi-State Area: Great Lakes 5I NE Multi-State Area: Ohio River Basin 5J NE Multi-State Area: I-95 Corridor 5K NE Multi-State Area: Appalachian Region

    * Not included in this PDF document - please see the separate PDF files for these appendices.

  • Chapter 1: Introduction

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    Chapter 1

    Introduction Background Forests cover 60 percent of Pennsylvania and provide citizens with an array of values including clean water, clean air, recreation opportunities, wood products, and habitats for thousands of plants and animals. Sustaining these values for future generations requires a shared vision and coordination among many stakeholders including agencies, landowners, forest industry, natural resource professionals, conservation organizations, and community leaders and policy makers. The purpose of this Forest Assessment is to document the condition of Pennsylvanias forests across all ownerships and establish a framework for developing strategies to achieve long-term forest sustainability. The Bureau of Forestry receives funding from the US Forest Service for Forest Stewardship, Urban and Community Forestry, Forest Health, and Wildland Fire programs. Completing this five-year Assessment, along with the associated Strategy, is a requirement of the 2008 Farm Bill, thus ensuring continued funding for these programs. In addition to meeting the Federal requirements, the bureau is utilizing this process as an opportunity to undertake a holistic, long-term evaluation and strategic planning effort for Pennsylvanias forests. The completion of the Farm Bill requirements by June 18, 2010 is the first step of this longer-term, continuous endeavor, including updating the bureaus strategic plan: Penns Woods, which was developed and adopted in 1995. Overview The Assessment contains four main components:

    Existing and Emerging Benefits Forest Conditions and Trends Issues, Threats, and Opportunities Priority Landscape Areas

    Part two of the overall effort, the Strategy, proposes long-term strategies for each of the issues, threats, and opportunities. Below is brief description of each of the four main components of the Assessment. Existing and Emerging Benefits Pennsylvanians value their forests for many different reasons. Understanding and documenting the benefits and services our forests provide is an important step in developing long-term strategies to ensure their sustainability. Including the range of

  • Chapter 1: Introduction

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    landscapes from rural to urban, benefits and services of Pennsylvanias trees and forests are described in five broad categories:

    1. Quality of Life: Recreation, Aesthetics, and Sense of Place 2. Water 3. Wildlife and Biodiversity 4. Air Quality and Climate Change Mitigation 5. Wood, Energy, and Other Economic Values

    Forest Conditions and Trends Understanding and documenting forest conditions and trends is a critical part of developing long-term strategies for sustainability. Using the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators for sustainable forestry, this chapter documents current conditions and future trends, and provides an assessment of sustainability for each of eighteen Indicators. The intent of the chapter is to present in a concise format, relevant data and our interpretation of the data related to sustainability. At the conclusion of each indicator, a Sustainability Meter, similar to the one pictured below, is presented as a visual interpretation of the indicator. The image below reflects our overall assessment of Pennsylvanias forests. Our forests face many challenges and threats including land use change and development, forest health concerns, ownership demographics, poor management decisions, and uncertainties of Marcellus shale development. The evaluation of many indicators resulted in sustainable conclusions, but with many causes for concern. Overall, the Bureau of Forestry is concerned about the future sustainability of Pennsylvanias forests.

    Sustainability Meter Overall Assessment

  • Chapter 1: Introduction

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    Issues, Threats, and Opportunities Considering the sustainability analysis (Chapter 3), existing programs and future directions, and stakeholder input, the Bureau of Forestry identified eight priority issues for Pennsylvanias forests:

    1. Land Use 2. Forest Health 3. Forest Management 4. Clim ate Change 5. Communicating Natural Resource Values 6. Energy Development 7. Wildfire and Public Safety 8. Plant and Animal Habitats

    For each issue, the situation is described, available data are presented and discussed, and a foundation is set for developing long-term strategies which are presented in the Strategy part of the overall project. Priority Landscape Areas Pennsylvanias forests occur in diverse landscapes ranging from urban park and street trees to scattered woodlots in highly developed areas to the heavily-forested PA Wilds. These landscapes are influenced by many factors including geology, the spatial arrangement and sizes of forested tracts, and local communities and development patterns. Understanding geography and landscape variability helps policy makers and program leaders tailor programs to meet local, specific needs while working within a broader statewide context. Developing regional or landscape-level programs is not a new concept in Pennsylvania. Several models and programs already occur, though implementation among the states 2,562 separate municipalities poses a significant challenge. The intent of this section of the Assessment is to acknowledge and build upon existing landscape-level approaches while identifying additional areas for future consideration. These landscape areas will be utilized as a basis for implementing the Strategies developed for the Priority Issues identified in Chapter 4. Seven categories of Priority Landscape Areas have been identified for Pennsylvania:

    1. GIS-derived Landscape Areas

    2. DCNR Conservation Landscape Initiatives

    3. Bureau of Forestry Private Lands Regions

    4. Major Watersheds

    5. Marcellus Shale Region

    6. PA Forest Legacy Areas

  • Chapter 1: Introduction

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    7. Northeast Area Multi-state Areas

    Overview diagrams on the following two pages illustrate the general location of these areas across Pennsylvania. Overall, there are more than 40 priority landscapes for Pennsylvania, including potential Multi-state efforts that cross state boundaries.

  • Chapter 1: Introduction

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  • Chapter 1: Introduction

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    Connecting to National Priorities and Funding Opportunities As part of the State and Private Forestry nationwide planning effort, the US Forest Service identified a set of national priorities and objectives for guiding investments in forest resources across the Nation. Pennsylvanias priority issues and landscapes clearly connect to the national priorities:

    1. Conserve and Manage Working Forest Landscapes for Multiple Values and Uses

    1.1. Identify and conserve high priority forest ecosystems and landscapes.

    1.2. Actively and sustainably manage forests.

    2. Protect Forests from Threats

    2.1. Restore fire-adapted lands and/or reduce risk of wildfire impacts.

    2.2. Identify, manage and reduce threats to forest and ecosystem health.

    3. Enhance Public Benefits from Trees and Forests

    3.1 Protect and enhance water quality and quantity.

    3.2. Improve air quality and conserve energy.

    3.3. Assist communities in planning for and reducing forest health risks.

    3.4. Maintain and enhance the economic benefits and values of trees and forests.

    3.5. Protect, conserve, and enhance wildlife and fish habitat.

    3.6. Connect people to trees and forests, and engage them in environmental stewardship activities.

    3.7. Manage trees and forests to mitigate and adapt to global climate change.

    Once completed, the bureau will utilize the Assessment and Strategy for determining priorities for staff, justifying funding for projects, and identifying opportunities for engaging partners and stakeholders. The strategies developed for each of the priority issues will provide direction for how the bureau utilizes US Forest Service funding for Forest Stewardship, Urban & Community Forestry, Forest Health,

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