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DCNR Receives Two Successful Independent Audits for Forest Management


Reviews praised agency’s forest management practices, conformance with new standards for climate change and adaptation.

Harrisburg, PA -- The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) today announced DCNR’s state forest system, totaling more than 2.2 million acres, has received two successful independent audit reports deeming it soundly managed as sustainable woodlands.

The audit reports by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) were conducted in October 2022 in the state forest districts of Gallitzin, Moshannon, and Sproul. The audit was successful, and the bureau was identified as being in full conformance with both the FSC and SFI standards.

This announcement comes after Governor Josh Shapiro, in his budget address, highlighted the importance of clean air and water in the Commonwealth.

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

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 (PDF) and FSC audit (PDF).

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Wesley Robinson, 717-877-6315

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