- Report Published -
|Annual Report on the Actions, Conclusions and Recommendations for Conserving the Commonwealth's Forest Supply|
|Welcome to the second annual edition of the State of the Forest Report. We received a number of positive comments about our first edition, published last year at this time, and hope that you find this year’s issue just as helpful and informative. |
The 2005 – 2006 fiscal year brought many new challenges and opportunities to the Virginia Department of Forestry. One of the most troubling issues was – and continues to be – the permanent loss of forest land to development. For the past several years, Virginia was experiencing an average net loss of 20,000 acres of forest land each year. Our analysis this year shows a net loss of more than 26,000 acres – an increase of 30 percent! This is certainly not an increase that Virginians should celebrate.
To put this loss of forest land in perspective, Virginia’s largest State Forest (the Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest) is approximately 20,000 acres in size. Losing more forested acreage in one year than what exists in an entire State Forest is an issue that should concern us all since this is land that will never be forested again. Never again will we enjoy the aesthetic beauty, the water and air quality protections or the wildlife habitat afforded us by these forested acres. Unfortunately, this disturbing trend is likely to continue.
On the positive side, within weeks of his inauguration, Gov. Tim Kaine announced his goal to conserve 400,000 acres of land in the Commonwealth by the year 2010. To make this goal a reality, much of the land will be forested acreage that is part of Virginia’s working landscape. The Virginia Department of Forestry has one of the lead roles in this conservation effort.
Providing services to forest landowners remains a cornerstone of the Agency. VDOF staff developed forest management plans for private landowners that covered nearly 152,000 acres; assisted with the replanting of nearly 81,000 acres of forest land, and produced 40 million tree seedlings for Virginians. Another positive item that I’m proud to share with you involves the Agency’s efforts to ensure the quality of Virginia’s water. During this reporting period, VDOF staff inspected more than 4,700 active timber harvest sites across the Commonwealth – 97 percent of which showed no evidence of active sedimentation. While this is excellent news, we won’t rest until 100 percent of the harvest sites are compliant.
The fall 2005 fire season brought great sadness to us all as the chief of one of Virginia’s rural volunteer fire departments was killed while battling a wildland fire in Buchanan County. That was followed by spring 2006 fire season, which proved to be the worst we’ve seen in six years. There were more fires and more acres burned in those 75 days than burned in all of calendar year 2005. Lack of rain, low humidity and high winds combined to make conditions ripe for wildland fire. What’s frustrating is that most of these fires wouldn’t have happened if people had just taken some basic precautions before burning their debris.
These are but a few of the highs and not-so-highs of the 2005 – 2006 fiscal year. I invite you to learn more about your Virginia Department of Forestry by reading the rest of this report, visiting our Web site (http://www.dof.virginia.gov) or contacting your local forester or forestry technician. We’re here to protect and develop healthy, sustainable forest resources for Virginians.