State Forest Certification
Managing New York State Forests for Present and Future Generations
photo courtesy of Melody Wolcott
In January 2008, State Forests managed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) Bureau of State Land Management earned the highly coveted status of "certified" from the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) - two organizations internationally recognized for establishing forest management standards. With this recognition, DEC has demonstrated that the forests under its care are managed to the highest sustainability requirements.
More than 780,000 acres have been set aside as State Forests throughout New York. Forest certification means that the millions of dollars of forest products harvested annually from these acres are eligible to carry the FSC and SFI labels, which are in increasing demand in the marketplace. Along with growing some of the best timber in New York, DEC foresters continue their long tradition of managing State Forests to benefit everyone in a variety of ways.
DEC's Commitment to Forest Certification
DEC is committed to maintaining forest certification under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) 2010 - 2014 Standard and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) FSC-US Forest Management Standard (v1.0) on its State Forests, and promoting programs that broaden the practice of sustainable forestry on all forest lands. DEC employs scientifically, environmentally, socially and economically sustainable forestry practices to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. This is accomplished by practicing a land stewardship ethic, which integrates reforestation, growing, and harvesting of trees for useful products with the conservation of soil, water quality, wildlife and fish habitat, historical significance, recreation and aesthetics.
Well managed State Forests ensure
clean water for all living things.
DEC's "Certification" Program
Stimulating Local Economies:
Encouraging the efficient use of the forest's multiple products and services to ensure economic viability and a wide range of environmental and social benefits...
Protecting Water Quality:
Protecting water quality in streams, lakes, and other water bodies, by following guidelines that address erosion control and minimize forest damage during tree harvesting, road construction, and any other disturbances that may affect water quality...
Providing Recreational Opportunities:
Managing thousands of acres of State Forests for hunting, fishing, hiking, nature observation and many other exceptional outdoor recreational opportunities...
State Forests offer a wide variety
of recreational opportunities.
Maintaining Forest Health:
Monitoring forests to halt the spread of tree diseases and invasive pests, as well as using techniques like thinning and controlled-burns to promote healthier tree growth and maintain unique ecosystems...
High Conservation Value Forest
High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF) are those portions of State Forests which have known high conservation values that the Department feels should take precedent over all other land use and management decisions. Areas identified as having exceptional values may be harvested, but management activities must maintain or enhance the high conservation values present. Currently, HCVFs are assigned to one or more of five land classifications, four of which may be found on State Forests:
- Rare Community - Forest areas that are in or contain rare, threatened or endangered ecosystems.
- Special Treatment - Forest areas containing globally, regionally or nationally significant concentrations of biodiversity values (e.g. endemism, endangered species, and refugia).
- Cultural Heritage - Forest areas fundamental to meeting basic needs of local communities (e.g. subsistence, health) and are critical to their traditional cultural identity (areas of cultural, ecological, economic or religious significance identified in cooperation with such local communities).
- Watershed - Forest areas that provide safe drinking water.
- Forest Preserve - Forest areas containing globally, regionally or nationally significant large landscape level forests, contained within, or containing the management unit, where viable populations of most if not all naturally occurring species exist in natural patterns of distribution and abundance. Forest Preserve lands inside both the Adirondack and Catskills Park Blue line. Although Forest Preserve is not considered State Forest, they offer a significant high conservation value for lands managed by the Department.
As stated earlier, a HCVF designation does not necessarily prevent future active management and in certain cases might require silvicultural treatment to achieve site conditions that will perpetuate the representative value. In addition, treatment of an HCVF to mitigate unfavorable conditions that threaten the continuation of the target value will be allowed (ex. fire, natural pests or pathogens). Although allowed, sivilcultural treatment or infrastructure development should not impact the HCVF in a way that will degrade or eliminate the viability of the specific assemblage or community value now or in the future. Through GIS analysis an HCVF layer has been created. The HCVFs in the layer were delineated using the following definitions:
HCVF GIS definitions-
Rare Community - Natural Heritage Element Occurrences (community type only) with survey dates between 1990-2011 with a state "rarity" rank of S1, S2, and S1S2. Clipped to State Forests
Special Treatment - Natural Heritage Element Occurrences (non-community type only) with survey dates between 1990-2011 with a state "rarity" rank of S1, S2, and S1S2. Clipped to State Forests
Cultural Heritage - Historical Significance (cemeteries, homestead sites, battlefields, markers/plaques/monuments found on State Forest lands). Unique Area that are listed in Article 45 of the ECL. Wild and Scenic River corridors. Areas of tribal cultural heritage significance (ex: black ash forest). State Nature and Historical Preserve Trust designated lands.
Watershed HCVF- Portions of State Forests that overlay Sole and Primary Source Aquifers, have public water supply intakes downstream within the Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) 12 watershed or are within the Dept of Health Source Water Assessment Program Plan (DOH SWAPP) delineated buffers (zone of influence) around public ground water wells that are surface water influenced.
HCVF Land Classification Ranking -
Some areas may be part of more than one HCVF land classification. Therefore, it is necessary to rank all values against each other to help land managers incorporate management decisions based on the highest priority for the forest. Ranking from highest to lowest priority is: 1) Rare Community; 2) Special Treatment; 3) Cultural Heritage; 4) Watershed.
Representative Sample Areas (RSA)-
Representative Sample Areas are stands which represent common ecological communities (i.e. forest types) of high or exceptional quality in their natural state. RSAs are setup to serve one or more of the following purposes:
1. To establish and/or maintain an ecological reference condition; or
2. To create or maintain an under-represented ecological condition (i.e. includes samples of successional phases, forest types, ecosystems, and/or ecological communities); or
3. To serve as a set of protected areas or refugia for species, communities and community types not captured in other protection standards such as an endangered species or a High Conservation Value Forest.
RSAs can simply be viewed as an effort to keep high quality examples of common ecosystems or assemblages from becoming rare in the landscape. An RSA designation does not prevent future management and in certain cases might require silvicultural treatment to achieve site conditions that will perpetuate the representative community. In addition, treatment of an RSA to mitigate unfavorable conditions that threaten the continuation of the target community will be allowed (ex. fire, natural pests or pathogens). Although allowed, sivilcultural treatment or infrastructure development should not impact the RSA in a way that will degrade or eliminate the viability of the specific assemblage or community.
For more information about DEC's Certification program, e-mail email@example.com or call the Certification Coordinator at 518-402-9428.
Also, for more information about the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and their programs, please use the links to their websites, located in the right column of this web page.
Ask us about our FSC availability.
Preserving features such as this
Civilian Conservation Corps
fire control pond help tell the
story of New York's history.
Fostering responsible timber
harvesting while protecting the
The initial New York State Forest Audit Reports can be found in the right column of this page under Important Links.