More than half of Pennsylvania is forested.
Often, those large parcels, in parks and game lands, are protected and groomed by a slew of state and federal agencies. But Penn State Extension and the school’s Center for Private Forests are interested in the other forests, owned by residents. Some are big, thousands of acres, but collectively, smaller parcels — 10 acres or less — make up approximately one million of Pennsylvania’s 16.6 million acres of forest.
Penn State, in partnership with other agencies, is offering a webinar series next month that will help owners of small forests make those properties healthier. The Woods in Your Backyard Webinar Series will consist of nine live episodes, starting Jan. 29, aimed at helping small-forest owners create new habitats for wildlife, improve water quality, expand recreational opportunities, and enhance the beauty of the property. The cost of the webinar is $45 and includes a 108-page manual.
“These small lots, whether wooded or not, can provide numerous benefits,” a spokesperson said in a news release for the webinar.
In 2017, The Inquirer chronicled the Center for Private Forests’ statewide efforts to reach out to forest owners and discuss the future of their land. The selling-off and subdividing of large forests can be detrimental to the overall health of the state’s forests and Penn State helps owners keep those parcels together.
At the time, Penn State’s Center for Private Forests put the number of “woodland owners” in Pennsylvania at 740,000 — more than eight times as many as in New Jersey. That number grows each year, and the parcels get smaller. Maine, the most heavily forested state in the country (89% of the state is forestland), has 250,000 landowners.