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Private Forest Management

Private Forest Lands in New York

Forester and Landowner Looking at a forest trail

Today, 63% of New York's land area is covered with 19.0 million acres of forest land. About 14.0 million acres, or 74% of New York's forest land, are owned by a diverse group of nearly 700,000 private landowners. These private forest lands provide many public benefits including clean air and water, forest products, wildlife habitat, jobs, scenic beauty, and outdoor recreation opportunities. Protecting and sustainably managing New York's private forest land is essential in order to maintain these public benefits.

Programs and Areas of Technical Assistance for Private Forestry

Forest Stewardship Program

If you are looking to protect and improve your woodland, the NYS DEC Forest Stewardship Program can help you. DEC service foresters can help by providing you no cost one-on-one technical assistance that includes creating a stewardship plan tailored to your goals and objectives for your woodland. Regardless of your goals a professional forester can help you meet your objectives for the production of timber products, improving wildlife habitat, or planting trees on your woodland.

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

Who is eligible?- The Forest Stewardship Program is available to all private forest owners who are looking for management and technical advice.

Find a Forester

Forester Reading a management plan
Call a DEC forester for help
managing your woodlot

Whatever your goals are for your woodlot, a professional forester can help. A forester can provide you with the technical expertise to help with a variety of services including improving conducting a timber sale, creating forest trails, creating wildlife habitat, or planting trees. The type of forester you should choose will depend on the type of service and complexity of the service you are interested in.

DEC Foresters- Located throughout the state, DEC foresters are available upon request, depending on availability to help landowners get started managing their land by creating a basic stewardship plan and providing technical assistance at no cost.

Consulting Foresters- Independent individuals and small businesses provide a wide array of forestry services to landowners. The DEC Cooperating Forester Program provides a list of consulting foresters who can help you meet your forestry goals. These foresters charge a fee and are able to provide a wide array of forestry services that complement the free service provided by DEC foresters.

Financial Assistance for Landowners

There are two types of financial help available for New York landowners, 480-a forest tax law, and the EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) cost-share program.

480-a Forest Tax Law- Created to encourage the sustainable management of New York's timber resource, 480-a Forest Tax Law provides property tax savings for landowners who are enrolled in the program.

EQIP- A voluntary cost-share program for private landowners that provides financial and technical assistance to pay for implementing conservation and management practices that will improve their forests. EQIP is funded by United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service with technical assistance provided by DEC forestry staff.

Forestry Assistance for Municipalities

A Municipal Official's Guide to Forestry in New York State is a new 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:

  • Empire Forests for the Future Initiative - a comprehensive forestry initiative aimed at assisting private forest owners and others manage their forests for social benefits such as climate mitigation, wildlife habitat and forest products.
  • Forest Management Assistance - This progressive forestry program is administered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to encourage private forest landowners in New York to apply sound forest management practices to their woodlands.
  • Find a Forester - The Cooperating Forester program is designed to encourage landowners to work with private foresters in managing their woodlots.
  • 480-a 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.
  • Additional Topics and Resources for Forest Owners - This page has links for other imporatant forestry information and recent news in private forestry.