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Wild Plants

Plants play a major role in every ecosystem on the planet. They create the oxygen we breathe and are the first link in the food chain.

They convert energy from the sun into usable forms. In fact, plants are so important that a special law, the Wild Resource Conservation Act (PDF), established a procedure for protection of wild flora in Pennsylvania.

DCNR has jurisdiction for native wild plants in Pennsylvania, which includes:

  • Investigating plant populations
  • Classifying them
  • Providing for their conservation

Why Plants Are Important

Plants perform many functions for humans and the environment. They:

  • Filter water
  • Stabilize soil
  • Store carbon
  • Provide valuable commodities to humans such as food, medicines, and raw materials for construction and technology
  • Provide habitat and nutrition for wildlife, including pollinator species
  • Are responsible for biodiversity within ecosystems

Aesthetics, relaxation, and recreation are also enhanced by the beauty of plants.

Plants are essential to wildlife by providing food and shelter they need in their habitats. Pollinators depend on plants. The types of wildlife found in an area depend on what plants are present; plants are responsible for biodiversity within ecosystems.

DCNR’s Role

DCNR manages 2.2 million acres of state forest land and 200,000 acres of state park lands for the conservation of native wild plants for the benefit of Pennsylvanians.

On DCNR lands and other lands across the Commonwealth, the department is committed to conserving native plant species by:

  • Classifying plants as rare, threatened, or endangered and conserving them
  • Promoting the use of native plantings in landscaping and revegetation efforts to maintain protection of the Commonwealth’s native wild plants and providing habitat to Pennsylvania's native pollinators
  • Managing and enhancing communities of native plants, and the habitats that they provide
  • Addressing invasive plant species issues
  • Management of American ginseng and other plants that are vulnerable to decline because they are removed from the wild for personal or commercial use
  • Providing a program for acknowledgement of exceptionally managed properties through the Wild Plant Sanctuary Program
  • Providing education and tools to combat invasive plants in Pennsylvania