Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Private Forest Management

Our new Benefit Your Land With A Plan booklet offers exciting insights into what you can do to care for your forest. Check it out today!

Today, 61% of New York's land area is covered with almost 19 million acres of forest land, and 74% of those forests are owned by more than 700,000 private landowners. These private forest lands provide many public benefits including clean air and water, carbon storage, forest products, jobs, scenic beauty, and outdoor recreation opportunities.

DEC's Division of Lands and Forests recognizes that private forest lands are an important component of New York's economy and character and we're here to help keep it that way. DEC provides a variety of programs including free site visits to help support sustainable forest management.

Support for Private Forest Owners

Forest Stewardship Program

All private, non-industrial, forest landowners who are looking for introductory management and technical advice are eligible for a free visit with a DEC forester. Often a visit is a landowner's first step towards getting professional guidance for their property. A DEC forester can accompany you on a tour of your woodland and outline management opportunities that can help you meet your goals as a landowner.

How to get started - Contact your local DEC forester and make an appointment to meet and discuss your goals for your woodland.

When to Call a DEC Forester

DEC foresters are here to help. Reach out to a DEC forester:

  • When you need help getting financial assistance for your land.
  • If you're just getting started managing your forest.
    • If you need help understanding what's on your land.
    • For guidance on planning out landownership goals.
  • To get helpful advice along the way.

When to Use a Private Consulting Forester

For additional services that DEC foresters don't provide such as timber sale administration, forest stand improvement, forest tax law plans, appraisals, and more, one of our cooperating foresters can help. Additional information and a list of participating private foresters can be found on the Find a Cooperating Forester webpage.

The Benefits of Stewardship Planning

Our Benefit Your Land With a Plan booklet (PDF) can offer you insight into the many benefits that your land can offer. The guide also offers guidance on finding a forester who can help you establish a stewardship plan for your forest. Stewardship plans are documents that can guide the actions you need to take in order to maintain a healthy forest for yourself and future generations to enjoy.

Forestry Assistance for Municipalities

A Municipal Official's Guide to Forestry in New York State (PDF) is a publication that highlights the value of our forests, identifies some of the greatest threats to forestry and encourages municipalities to promote forestry and forest stewardship.

More about Private Forest Management:

  • DEC Stewardship Forester Coverage - DEC stewardship forester coverage across the state of New York.
  • Regenerate New York Forestry Cost Share Grant Program - Program information and application details about Regenerate NY cost share grants for private forest landowners.
  • Posting Your Land - Guidance on marking private property boundaries for landowners.
  • Find a Cooperating Forester - The Cooperating Forester program is designed to encourage landowners to work with private foresters in managing their woodlots.
  • 480a Forest Tax Law - The provisions of Section 480-a of the Real Properly Tax Law.
  • Financial Assistance for Landowners - EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to eligible private forestland owners who are willing to address priority environmental issues by implementing conservation practices.
  • Timber Harvesting - A well-managed forest is vigorous and healthy, aesthetically pleasing, effective in preserving the watershed system and valuable for the production of timber and other forest products.