New York Forest Action Plan
View the SUMMARY (PDF, 3.5MB)
In 2008, Congress passed legislation requiring the states to prepare Forest Resource Assessments and Strategies (now refered to as Forest Action Plans) to assess the status of forests in their states and to develop strategies to protect those forests for the future.
The requirement comes at a critical time for New York's forests:
More than a century has passed since New York took the pioneering steps to protect our forests by creating the Adirondack and Catskill Forest preserve;
More than 80 years have passed since the creation of the State's first Forest Tax Law to promote forestry on private forest lands;
More than 75 years have lapsed since the creation of the State Forest system, which today contains 776,00 acres of well managed, "green certified" public forest land;
More than 60 years have passed since the State legislature passed the Forest Practice Act (FPA) to encourage sustainable forest practices on private forest lands.
- During the last 15 years, the State has invested more than $100 million to purchase working forest conservation easements on three quarters of a million acres of productive private forest lands to ensure continued sustainable forestry on these private lands.
- In 2010, 2,762 private forest landowners covering 839,964 acres participated in the State's Forest Tax Law program which provides significant local property tax reductions in return for a commitment to continue active forestry on their properties.
- Today, New York's forest-based sector provides employment for 49,200 people generating a payroll of over $1.6 billion; forest-based manufacturing and forest-related recreation and tourism contribute over $11.0 billion to the New York State economy.
- Every day New York's forests remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, sequestering carbon, and producing oxygen critical for all life on earth.
- Every day, New York's forests help filter and buffer clean drinking water for millions of New Yorkers.
New York's extensive forests, both those publicly owned and managed, and those under the ownership of some 687,000 New Yorkers, which together comprise nearly 19 million acres and 63% of New York's land area, represent an incredible asset when wisely managed, and an invaluable resource to address the modern environmental challenges of global climate change and the economic difficulties facing the State.
The report, Keeping New York' s Forest as Forests, assesses the status of New York's nearly 19 million acres of forest land, and provides practical recommendations on how landowners, forest stakeholders and federal, state and local governments can work together to sustain the many benefits and ecosystem services our forests provide to our society. Among the many recommendations made, highlighted below are key initiatives:
- Develop new landowner incentive and tax abatement programs to encourage private forest owners to keep their lands in forest land use for the myriad of ecosystem services they provide to society at large;
- Encourage the growth and development of third party forest certification programs that can reach more and smaller land owners to ensure sustainable forestry across all ownerships;
- Promote the development of more community owned forests in New York;
- Ensure that New York's forests play a critical role in federal, state and local climate action plans and programs in recognition of the substantial carbon sequestration potential and adaptation role our forests provide;
- Enhance the State's forest health program to ensure that forest pest outbreaks are discovered early and responded to rapidly;
- Continue and enhance the stewardship of State Forests by maintaining green certification;
- Protect the State's Forest Preserve and manage user impacts through the Unit Management Planning process;
- Engage & educate communities on the importance of urban forestry & green infrastructure;
- Reduce the threat of subdivision & land use change on private forestland through State purchases of working forest conservation easements from willing sellers and enhancement of partnerships with non-governmental organizations and local governments; and
- Develop the next generation of New York's forest constituency.
At a time of great environmental and economic challenge, planting trees and conserving our great forest lands are among the best strategies we can take to keep New York green while building our communities and contributing to the State's economic recovery.
Forests and trees work hard every day to protect water and air quality, shelter us from the sun and wind, provide wildlife habitat, and generate employment for thousands of people in the forest products, outdoor recreation and tourism industries. With some modest investments in their future as outlined in the report, our trees and forests can remain an important part of New York's future, a future in which we continue to reap the benefits from our rich legacy of forests.