RD282 - State of the Forest Annual Report on Virginia’s Forests – 2021

Executive Summary:

After twenty years working at the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), I am clearly biased in my impression of the work that we do. That being said, I think the accomplishments and the impact of the work done by the VDOF over the past year has been remarkable. Our highly qualified Incident Management Team (IMT) members continued to provide their unique skillset to the Commonwealth in response to COVID by helping to establish mass vaccination sites. Many of these same individuals also lent their talents to other states to fight wildfires and respond to other natural disasters. Throughout all the turmoil of the last year, VDOF staff have continued our important work here in Virginia helping landowners manage their forest, helping loggers protect water quality, helping partners plant trees, and all the other critical services we provide to ensure that Virginia’s trees and forests continue to provide all the benefits we rely on.

This year, we celebrated a milestone with the 50th anniversary of the Reforestation of Timberlands (RT) program. Virginia provided a model for other states with this innovative partnership between forest industry, government, and landowners that has ensured a sustainable pine resource. This year, Virginia launched another, even more ambitious partnership to improve the management of our hardwood forests and create much needed habitat for wildlife. We have also significantly increased our efforts to plant trees and establish forested riparian buffers to improve water quality and ultimately the health of the Chesapeake Bay. This includes more agency resources dedicated to tree planting in urban areas to protect water quality as well as addressing urban heat islands and the health impacts that come from the lack of trees in dense urban areas.

You can learn more about these efforts, and lots more, on the new agency website we also launched this year. I think VDOF launched everything but a rocket this year. We did launch a bunch of drones which are greatly increasing our productivity and safety. Thank you for reading this year’s State of the Forest report and please reach out if you would like to learn more.

Rob Farrell, State Forester