To be a leading proponent of sustainable forestry in Pennsylvania and provide a network for the exchange of ideas and information.
The Pennsylvania Forestry Association, organized in 1886, has worked continuously to promote forest stewardship to ensure the sustainability of all forest resources. Our membership is broad-based and includes private citizens, forest/woodland owners, forest industries, resource professionals, academia, government agencies, and environmental groups. Simply stated, anyone who cares about Pennsylvania Forest Resources.
We believe William Penn would be proud of the forest stewardship efforts the Pennsylvania Forestry Association has made on behalf of Penn’s beloved New World Colony. In 1681, Penn admonished the colonists to leave one acre of trees for every five acres cleared. We have done better than that. Approximately three of five acres in the Commonwealth are forests—forests that provide resources benefiting not only all Pennsylvanians but people beyond the borders of our state, the coastlines of our country.
Our forests influence and touch our lives every day. What would the quality of our water or air be without forests? Where would our wildlife live? Where else would we go for refuge and inspiration? What other natural resource offers us food, paper, and furniture prized the world over for the quality of its wood? With science-based forest management, our forest—Penn’s Woods—will remain and thrive, renewing with each generation to serve humanity in countless ways.
There is much concern today about environmental degradation and forest depletion. Since 1886, The Pennsylvania Forestry Association has been working to promote forest stewardship to ensure the sustainability of all forest resources. Among our members are forest landowners, forest industries, resources professionals, loggers, private citizens, environmental groups, and businesses who care about Pennsylvania’s forest resources. Working together we can ensure the sustainability of our forests and the vital resources they provide. Our stewardship efforts today will assure future generations a strong, healthy working Penn’s Woods.
The Pennsylvania Forestry Association, by design, has three major partners. A three-legged stool you might say. One leg is of course the forest landowner, which could be a private citizen, an industry owner, or a government entity. The second leg is the educator or government agent. The third leg is the forest industry.
What should I be considering if I’m a forest landowner?
“Those of us with land of any kind are blessed with a privilege and responsibility. The privilege is to have in our hands for a while a piece of land – and a chance to enjoy and perhaps gain financially from it. We are the envy of millions. With this privilege comes a responsibility. This is to use the land wisely, to protect it while it is under our temporary stewardship and to pass it on as a wooded, natural heritage…”
-James R. Fazio. The Woodland Steward: A Practical Guide to the Management of Small, Private Forests. The Woodland Press, Moscow, Idaho. 211 pp. 1979
Aldo Leopold, the naturalist, and author, once wrote, “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” With these words, Leopold began a philosophy now known as the stewardship ethic.
You may not be aware of it, but as a forest landowner, you may already practice stewardship on your land: the use and care of your land so that it remains fruitful and healthy for future generations. The practice of stewardship is not limited by the size of a woodlot, the type of ownership, or even the boundaries of the property. The stewardship ethic can be employed by any landowner, and by landowners with a wide variety of ownership.
Forests are more than just trees — they are an integrated community of plants, animals, soils, and water. As a forest owner, you are more than just a guardian or investor but also a steward who pursues personal goals by caring for and using the forest today while sustaining long-term forest health and continuity.
Forest Stewardship can be represented by these seven principles:
- Maintain or improve plant, animal, and tree diversity in the forest and landscape
- Maintain or improve forest productivity for diverse values
- Maintain or improve forest health and vigor of the forest and its landscape/watershed
- Improve water and soil resources
- Manage forests for growth and energy storage
- Manage community and cultural resources
- Comply with laws and Pennsylvania Best Management Practices
- Becoming a Good Steward
Becoming a Good Steward
Forest stewardship is an ongoing, long-term, and adaptive process — you learn from your actions, investments, and even inaction as each decision is manifest on the land. Progress can be complex since variables such as climate, soils, and the interaction among trees, plants, and animals govern a forest’s health and vigor. These often make progress subtle, intermittent, and difficult to gauge. Taking the time to consider what efforts, events, milestones, or accomplishments you might use to track your plan’s success can help focus your work and avoid surprises, as well as maximize satisfaction and returns on your investment.
Forest stewardship is as challenging as it is rewarding. Like most other worthy undertakings, you measure successful stewardship both as steps along the journey as well as in reaching your personal goals. It is a commitment to paying at least as much attention to the forest that remains as is paid to harvests. It is discovering that forests respond to the science and practice used in their stewardship. It is rewarding for all the above, as well as for the pleasure of working and enjoying time in your forest. The work you do and the expertise you access from other sources when shaped by standards, plans, and indicators are key to sustaining your forest and its long-term benefits.
“Your woodlot is in fact, a historical document which faithfully records your personal philosophy. Let it tell a story of tolerance toward living things, and of skill in the greatest arts: how to use the earth without making it ugly.”