A forester wearing orange protective gear harvests trees. Six large logs lay piled together on the snow covered ground.
Sustainable Forestry A forester cuts a tree. © George C. Gress/TNC

Stories in Pennsylvania

Working Woodlands

TNC's Working Woodlands program partners with private landowners in Pennsylvania to protect and sustainably manage forests.

Around the country, states like Pennsylvania are losing healthy, mature forests to development, pests, wildfires and unsustainable timber operations. TNC's Working Woodlands program helps landowners ensure that their forests remain healthy, productive and profitable for future generations. 

Landowners who enroll their forest in TNC's Working Woodlands program enter into a forest management plan that focuses on creating a diverse, native ecosystem that is capable of withstanding current and future forest threats that are exacerbated by a changing climate.

A forester wearing a red vest uses spray paint to mark a tree in the forest. A tree in the foreground has already been tagged with a blue paint mark.
Working woodlands Measuring and marking trees, Lock Haven, PA. © Melissa Farlow

Once a forest management plan is in place, the forest can provide a stable and predictable source of income for the landowner through sustainable timber harvesting and carbon credit sales tied to the additional carbon that will be stored by the forest.

As the Working Woodlands easement holder, TNC receives a percentage of the income generated by the forest, which goes entirely back into work that advances the protection, management and restoration of PA's forests. Businesses that participate in the Working Woodlands program through the purchase of carbon offset credits are only eligible to participate if they are also working to reduce their own carbon emissions resulting from business operations.

In a landscape like Pennsylvania, where the forests we enjoy today were clear-cut within the last 150 years, the value of longterm and permanent land protection that comes along with a Working Woodlands easement will keep our forests healthy for future generations to enjoy.

View of the Susquehanna River valley seen from a rocky outcrop. A bend in the river is visible to the right. Green forests and open fields stretch out to the horizon.
Hawk Rock Overlook View of the Susquehanna River valley. © Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community

Woodlands at Work in Central PA

Over the years, the Borough of Duncannon, located just outside Harrisburg, regularly harvested timber on a 1,620-acre forested property to generate money for the community. The property is also boasts popular local hikes, like the Hawk Rock Overlook on the Appalachian Trail. Over time, invasive and exotic species like striped maple, mile-a-minute vine and tree of heaven took over the native trees, leaving the forest compromised and lacking its former vitality.

Enter TNC, who worked with the Borough to enroll the property in the Working Woodlands program, with the aim of transforming it into a more diverse, resilient native forest ecosystem capable of standing up to current—and future—forest threats exacerbated by a changing climate. With a forest management plan in place, the forest will once again generate timber revenue.

Mapping the Future of Our Forests Microsoft’s AI for Good initiative features The Nature Conservancy's Duncannon Borough project to illustrate how the company created our nation's first high resolution inventory of all forests to provide better data for making better decisions.

Pennsylvania Guidelines: Enrolling in the Working Woodland Program

In addition to being a minimum of 1,500 forested acres, Pennsylvania properties enrolled in Working Woodlands should generally be located in the following areas:

  • North Central Highlands (portions of Lycoming, Clinton, Tioga, Potter, McKean, Cameron, Elk, Clearfield and Centre counties)
  • Endless Mountains (portions of Lycoming, Tioga, Bradford, Sullivan, Wyoming and Luzerne counties)
  • Bald Eagle/Tuscarora/Saint Anthony's (portions of Clinton, Dauphin, Lebanon, Schuylkill, Berks, Lycoming, Centre, Union, Snyder, Huntingdon, Mifflin, Juniata, Perry and Franklin counties)
  • Northeast PA (portions of Pike, Monroe, Carbon and Luzerne counties)

Contact Josh Parrish, Working Woodlands Program director, to learn more.

Working Woodland Program

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