The Forests of New York State
New York’s forests have experienced tremendous changes over the past four centuries. The rich,
diverse forests we see today stand as a testament to nature’s resilience. In 1770, approximately 90% of the state was covered by forests. But by 1870, following decades of clearing for new farms, heavy cutting, and burning, forests were reduced to just 22% of the total area. Today, forests are back.
However, today’s forests are under new threats; these include: invasive pests and diseases that are threatening entire species of trees such as Northern White Ash; parcelization and fragmentation of the forest; and timber harvesting that does not use the best scientific methods for sustaining a healthy supply of fiber to the forest products industry and society as a whole. Urban forests also make a major contribution to our quality of life, providing beauty, cleaner air, green spaces and, overall, healthier environments. However, urban and suburban street trees are susceptible to fast spreading pests and diseases.