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Pinchot focus areas:

Climate & Energy
Pennsylvania's Forests: How they are changing and why we should care
Pennsylvania remains one of the most forested states in the nation. It includes some of the most intact and bountiful hardwood forest lands in the temperate world. This was not always the case. As the early seat of agriculture for a young United States, Pennsylvania was dominated by farms until the early 1900s. Over the last century, Pennsylvania has regained much of its historic forest land, reaching approximately 17 million acres during the last two decades. This is the largest amount of forest to stand in Pennsylvania since it became a state.

A complex, dynamic community of plants, animals, and organisms lives within the forest. Healthy forests exist in many forms—from small re-growing saplings to old stands of gnarly behemoths.

PA Forest Report Cover Forests provide invaluable services, like clean water and air, wood for building and heating homes, and places for recreation and spiritual renewal. Pennsylvania’s forests were foundational to the growth of the state. They continue to support a significant part of the economy and enrich the lives of its residents.

Despite these benefits, we are slowly losing and carving up Pennsylvania’s forests. For the first time in a century, the forest lost to clearing is not being replaced with new forest growth. We will never fully inventory and understand the historical diversity of Pennsylvania’s forests, nor the complex ways in which forests provide all the values on which we have come to rely. Therefore, the conservation of forests and sustaining these values into the future must be conservative. This is especially true as changes in climate and land use gain speed and intensity.

Many organizations compile information and data on the value, trends, and threats to the condition and sustainability of forests in Pennsylvania. This report brings together information to offer a complete picture of what we know, what we must learn, and how we must act to conserve the health of forests and sustain the many forms of wealth they provide—the wealth in biological diversity and other very real forms of wealth, like drinking water, timber, and days spent with family in the woods.   

This report contains data and information compiled by many organizations, data that represents a snapshot in time, and earnest effort by the Pinchot Institute to interpret what this data means.

We hope this report is both a resource and catalyst for Pennsylvanians—spurring action among government agencies, environmental organizations, and other groups that recognize forest conservation as a key strategy for improving the region’s environment, economy, and quality of life.

Download a full PDF of the report here.

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