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Biodiversity Management

The different types of land cover found on DCNR state forest and state park lands, including plant communities, have helped shape the diversity of plant and wildlife -- or biodiversity -- found there.

Management for biodiversity conservation requires that it be built into all aspects of management through:

  • Inventory
  • Setting aside important biodiversity areas
  • Managing appropriately to promote and enhance those resources

DCNR works closely with other resource agencies -- PA Fish and Boat Commission and PA Game Commission -- by managing land and vegetation to benefit an array of species.


Wildlife species represent valuable resources in Pennsylvania’s ecosystems and carry a long cultural history. The term “wildlife” refers to any non-domesticated animal.

State forest and park lands provide habitats for a wide variety of wildlife species which play key roles in ecosystem functions, such as:

  • Seed dispersal
  • Pollination
  • Insect and disease control
  • Support of an ecosystem’s food-web

Wildlife also play an important role for people by providing opportunities for hunting, fishing, and bird or wildlife viewing, or the intrinsic value of simply knowing these species exist.

These human values of wildlife contribute greatly to the local economies of our state and visitors expect that DCNR lands will maintain wildlife populations for these purposes.

Wildlife species are integral components of ecosystems. Common and rare alike, each species have evolved diverse physical and behavioral characteristics to compete for vital roles in the cycling of energy and nutrients.


Most animals are neither evenly nor randomly distributed across their geographical range, but occur in patches. Habitat refers to an area occupied by a species that supplies its needs:

  • Food
  • Structure
  • Water
  • Ability to reproduce

As examples, a mature forest is a major habitat component for some wildlife, such as scarlet tanager; bog turtles can be found in wetlands; and meadow voles can be found in open fields.

State forests and parks can provide various habitats including streams, vernal pools, forests of all ages, open prairies, cliffs, and caves. DCNR manages these areas for the species that use them through careful planning.

DCNR focuses on benefitting both rare and common species, from turkeys to turtles, and woodrats to warblers. Habitats are assessed for potential use and areas are selected for targeted management activities to benefit certain species, suites of species, or entire ecosystems.

Habitat Management

DCNR manages lands to provide habitats that support diverse, healthy populations of wildlife that contribute to these important roles and ecological function of ecosystems.

Some of the tools DCNR uses to benefit wildlife include:

Invasive plant and forest pest management maintains biodiversity by removing non-native invasives species that diminish habitat quality.

Using native plantings also boosts biodiversity by promoting richer food-webs. An over-population of deer or other herbivores can negatively affect biodiversity.

Plantings to improve habitat for wildlife, including pollinators (PDF), is planned and tracked on state forest land.

All projects on DCNR lands go through an assessment and review process, either on a small scale or larger scale, to ensure management objectives are met based on wildlife use and needs in the project area.