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A Letter from the Director of the Center for Private Forests at Penn State

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the 2013 Private Forest Conference: The Future of Penn’s Woods. We hope that you enjoy the conference and find both new knowledge and new friends.

We estimate that Pennsylvania now contains nearly 740,000 individual woodland parcels comprising about 11 million acres. We know that most of these holdings are relatively small, but in sum, those of less than 20 acres in size account for about one of every four acres.

Clearly, every year, the individual actions, decisions, or inaction that play out on each holding affects the future values and benefits each of us receives from these private woodlands. Truly, those of us gathered here for the next two days really do make decisions that reach far beyond our tenure – we control the options for a healthy forest environment, and all the values it can provide are in our hands.

While we will not spend time in one room talking about the Future of Penn’s Woods, this gathering is really about that future. As you participate in conference sessions, look at displays, take breaks, and enjoy a meal, you will have hundreds of opportunities to share ideas, talk about challenges, and consider how your actions and decisions will demonstrate the stewardship of your woods.

Forest stewardship is about conserving options for the future. It is about doing the best you can today and tomorrow to make your woods healthier, more resilient, and reflective of your values. It is about leaving a legacy that demonstrates your love for a piece of the earth that you can pass forward to those who follow.

Enjoy your time here. Make a new friend. Share what you learn with others. Look to the future and know you can make a difference.

While you are here, look for the green buttons in the crowd. If you have a question or comment, share it with that person. These button-wearers are landowners trained in good forest stewardship who have made a commitment to sharing what they’ve learned. They are also a great resource of experience as they work to care for their land.

None of us knows all the answers, but together we can discover new ideas and address the challenges of stewarding our forests.

Thanks for coming.

Jim

Ibberson Professor Forest Management
Director, Center for Private Forests at Penn State