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map of New York State showing forested areas of 5 acres in size and greater
Map of NY State showing forested areas of 5 acres and larger

Note: For descriptions and maps of DEC-managed recreation lands see the Places to Go page.

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New York state is 61% forested - forests cover 18.6 million acres of our 30.2 million total acres. Much of this land is privately owned and managed for wood or pulp. Most of the land owned by the State is forested.

DEC's Division of Lands and Forests cares for and manages nearly five million acres of land including the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve, State Forests, Unique Areas and the State Nature and Historic Preserve, and Conservation Easements. The majority of these properties provide recreation opportunities for the public.

New York's forests are also important economic resources. According to Cornell University, the forest industry employs more than 60,000 people and directly contributes some $4.6 billion to the state's economy each year.

Protecting and enhancing our forests benefits individuals, local communities and industries, and the state as a whole.

Get into the forest for your health. Read about the benefits of forests on human health.

Children enjoying the forest at Turkey Point State Forest

New York's Forests at a Glance

New York Land Area: 30.2 million acres. State Population: 19.4 million

  • New York State forest area: 18.6 million acres, 61% of land area, about one acre per resident
  • Publicly-owned forest land: at least 3.7 million acres
  • Privately-owned forest land area: 14.4 million acres; 76% of forest land; owned by 687,000 landowners
  • Number of tree species: more than 100 commercial and non-commercial
  • Most common forest type: maple/beech/birch (53% of forest land area)

Economic Importance of New York's Forests and Harvest Information

  • $300 million in annual payments to private landowners
  • 488 million board feet of logs
  • 2.1 million green tons pulpwood and wood chips
  • 25% of New York timber harvest is exported for processing
  • Economic contribution of forest products-related manufacturing and services: $14 billion (US Census)
  • Forest-related tourism: $1.9 billion
products made from wood: bowling pins, snowshoe and baseball bat
Forests provide materials that are used
to create many types of products.

Why Forests are Important

Forests cover 31% of total global land area.

  • Forests are home to 300 million people around the world.
  • Forests house 80% of our terrestrial biodiversity.
  • The livelihood of over 1.6 billion people depends on forests.
  • Approximately 60 million people, mainly members of indigenous and local communities, reside in forests.
  • Forests store more than 1 trillion tons of carbon.
  • Over 40% of the world's oxygen is produced by rainforests.
  • More than 1/4 of modern medicines originate from tropical forest plants.
  • 32.5 million acres (roughly the size of NY State) of forest continue to be lost worldwide per year.
  • Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20% of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
  • The five most forest-rich countries (Russia, Brazil, Canada, United States of America, and China) account for more than half of the total forest area in the world.
  • More than 60 million people are employed by forest-based industries. The annual value of wood removed from forests is estimated to be more than $100 billion.

More about Forests:

  • New York's Forest Preserve - These public lands include 2.6 million acres in the Adirondack Forest Preserve and 286,000 acres within the Catskill Forest Preserve.
  • State Forests - Reforestation areas and multiple use lands outside the Adirondack and Catskill Parks.
  • Conservation Easements - Conservation easements are used to protect a variety of important natural resources and landscape values, such as water quality, wildlife habitat, sensitive ecosystems, wetlands, riparian areas, scenic areas, agricultural land, working forests, and historic sites. Easements allow for continued private ownership and traditional management while limiting or eliminating future development and undesirable land uses on a property.
  • Stewardship of DEC Lands - The land managed by DEC on behalf of the people of NYS includes some of the most spectacular scenery in New York, and includes every major ecosystem type in the State, ranging from the salt marshes of Long Island to the alpine tundra of the Adirondack High Peaks.
  • Forests and Climate Change - How forests affect climate change, how New York State is taking action against climate change, and how private forest owners can get involved.
  • Forest Health - The DEC Forest Health program is responsible for monitoring the ecological health and function of all of the forests of New York State. The highest priority is placed on early detection of and rapid response to high-impact invasive species that may threaten the health of our forests.
  • Private Forest Management - Foresters provide expert advice on wildlife habitat improvement, erosion control, tree planting, recreation enhancement, sugar bush management and silviculture
  • Forest Products Utilization - The Forest Products Utilization and Marketing program deals with many aspects of the utilization, significance, understanding and promotion of New York's forest resources and forest industries.
  • Urban and Community Forestry - Urban and community forestry is the management of trees and forests within populated areas from small villages to large cities
  • Forest Legacy Program - The FLP is a federal grant program that protects forest lands from conversion to non-forest uses.
  • New York State Forest Action Plan - This planning effort looks at all forests statewide: public and private, rural and urban.
  • Forests and the Environment - Forests provide critical ecosystem services essential to human life and a high standard of living: clean water and air, forest products, fish and wildlife habitat, scenic beauty, recreational opportunity, carbon sequestration, open space, and energy independence.
  • Immerse Yourself in a Forest for Better Health - Research shows that spending time among trees and in nature is good for your health.
  • Catskills Fire Tower Challenge - A listing of fire towers open to the public in the Catskill Park
  • Wildfires - Information on wildfire in New York