Bundled up in bright orange on a sunny winter day, a fo
Sustainable Forestry: A forester sustainably harvests a tree. © George C. Gress/The Nature Conservancy

Stories in Pennsylvania

Working Woodlands

More than 70 percent of Pennsylvania’s forests are privately owned. Many are vulnerable to development and fragmentation because small landowners often lack the resources they need to take advantage of the most current management techniques and sustainable forestry opportunities.

To address these challenges, The Nature Conservancy’s Working Woodlands program secures forest management expertise for private landowners. These arrangements require no out-of-pocket expense, only a commitment to protecting the land from development, forever.

Benefits to Landowners

The principle behind Working Woodlands is simple. Landowners agree to keep their forested lands undeveloped. In return, they receive conservation and management assistance to help them improve the value and the health of their forests. Specifically, participating landowners receive:

  • A detailed assessment of the forests, wildlife habitats and carbon on the property.
  • A customized 10-year forest management plan that often includes working forest conservation easements to permanently protect the privately owned land.
  • Certification by the Forest Stewardship Council® FSC C008922 which allows the sale of forest products under the FSC-certified label.

Working Woodlands properties also qualify for access to high quality carbon markets. A portion of these revenues help to pay for program expenses. The majority goes to the landowner.

The Process

Working Woodlands participants complete the following steps with the help from TNC:

  • Initial Assessment: Meet with the landowner to clarify goals for participation to ensure they understand expectationsn and benefits of the program. 
  • Forest Resource Inventory and Analysis: Conduct an inventory to assess the forest and wildlife habitats on the property. Provide a report and maps to the landowner.
  • Forest Management Plan: Develop a custom FSC-certified forest management plan for the property covering at least the next 10 years.
  • Sustainable and Certified Forest Product Markets: Verify that all forest products flowing from the property may be sold as FSC-certified.
  • Forest Carbon Payments: Verify that the landowner is eligible to receive payments for forest carbon.
A large tree trunk dominates the forest floor.
Hemlock A hemlock tree trunk at Bald Eagle State Forest in Pennsylvania © The Nature Conservancy


Working Woodlands is open to individuals, companies, hunting and social clubs, water authorities, municipalities and land trusts who own a minimum of 1,500 forested acres. Eligible landowners begin the process with a meeting to learn about benefits of the program and to discuss their goals for participation. 

In addition to including a minimum of 1,500 forested acres, properties enrolled in Working Woodlands should be located in the following locations identified as containing essential forests and key connector lands:

  • 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: portions of Clinton, Lycoming, Centre, Union, Snyder, Huntingdon, Mifflin, Juniata, Perry, and Franklin counties
  • Northeast PA: portions of Pike, Monroe, Carbon, and Luzerne counties


Landowners interested in enrolling their property in Working Woodlands should send the following information (which will be kept confidential) to: workingwoodlands@tnc.org.

  • Name, e-mail, telephone number
  • Total acres
  • Total wooded acres
  • Property address
  • County, Township
  • Tax Map ID#

TNC offers additional information about managing forest lands of all sizes for landowners whose properties do not meet Working Woodlands eligibility requirements. 

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