New York is one of the most heavily forested states in the Northeast. Nearly 63% of the State, about 18.9 million acres, is now forestland. It wasn't always so; at the end of the 19th century, forested land had shrunk to less than 25%. Yet today New York has more forest than it has had in the past 150 years. New Yorkers enjoy many benefits from this forested land, benefits which have improved the lives of all residents, even those living in cities far away from large tracts of forests. These benefits, collectively known as ecosystem services, include clean water and clean air, fish and wildlife habitat, flood protection, open space and reduction of greenhouse gases. Other forest benefits include recreational opportunities, scenic beauty and economic benefits from forest products.
Nearly two million acres of New York’s forests are certified lands under the American Tree Farm System, Forest Stewardship Council™ and Sustainable Forestry Initiative™. In addition to sustainable harvest levels, these voluntary standards cover a full range of requirements covering forestry, ecological, economic, and social issues.
Responsible forest management ensures a sustainable and consistent supply of fiber to the market.
In addition to the Forest Stewardship Council™ and Sustainable Forestry Initiative™ certified lands, over 1.3 million acres of New York’s forestland are enrolled in a state program that requires landowners to use good timber harvesting prescriptions and address threatened and endangered species and water quality Best Management Practices.
Sustainable forestry ensures:
- the natural productivity of forests and the benefits obtainable from them are maintained;
- nutrients are retained on-site for the benefit of remaining trees and other vegetation;
- wildlife and non-timber forest values (including scenic beauty and recreational opportunities) are preserved;
- waterways and soils are protected; and
- local communities are involved in management decision-making and share in the benefits of forest utilization.