For the 14th year in a row, Pennsylvania's forests have been certified and the state acknowledged for doing a commendable job to ensure their conservation.
SmartWood, a third-party forest-management certification branch of the Rainforest Alliance, honored Pennsylvania for its sound management of 2.2 million acres of forests, including responsible management of drilling activities and protection of sensitive species.
Dan Devlin, director of the forestry bureau for the state Department of Conservation of Natural Resources, said the state is being recognized for balancing conservation and utilization.
"One of the things we do is try and ensure that we're conserving the resources as best we can while still providing some values and uses to the citizens of the commonwealth," he said.
Devlin said the department works hard to protect the forests and uphold the state's namesake, "Penn's woods."
"That pride goes way back. We're about 115 years old, our organization, so there's a lot of pride, a lot of camaraderie," Devlin said.
Devlin said the certification board listed ways the state could continue to progress by being more transparent with the public, especially with a rise in natural gas drilling. The state was applauded for protecting ecosystems and habitats, in addition to promoting timber harvesting practices that ensure the future of the forest. Pennsylvania has become a leader in the consumer market for "green" label wood products, gleaned from timber taken from a well-managed sustainable system.