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​Addressing Climate Change on Public Lands

In response to climate change, Pennsylvania is experiencing:

  • Higher temperatures
  • Increased precipitation
  • Higher numbers of large storm events
  • Decreased snow cover
  • Changing distributions of some plants and animals

As the caretaker of 2.2 million acres of state forest and 124 state parks, and the state’s primary conservation agency, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has a unique role and responsibility in helping the Commonwealth reduce and adapt to climate change.

While climate change presents significant challenges, there is much we can do, from:

  • Managing our forests to sequester an increasing amount of carbon
  • Ensuring that our public lands remain resilient
  • Helping private landowners and communities reduce their carbon footprint and adapt

DCNR Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Plan

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Plan (PDF) -- developed with the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science -- outlines 123 action steps to be undertaken to make the Commonwealth more resilient to potential impacts from a changing climate.

During 2017, staff members from across all of the department’s bureaus participated in a rigorous process to determine and prioritize the department’s greatest climate change vulnerabilities, and identify strategies to address them.

The resulting plan includes objectives to prepare for and mitigate the risks associated with potential climate impacts to Pennsylvania, including:

  • Higher temperatures and more extreme weather events
  • Range shifts for wildlife and plant species
  • An increase in invasive species.