Research on State Forests


Research is a valid use state forest land that increases knowledge and provides benefits to society. The Bureau of Forestry has a long history of cooperating with researchers and the application of research results has kept the Bureau among the leaders in public forest land management.

State Forest land and Bureau of Forestry personnel are subject to increasing demands and pressures from a wide range of users and user groups. Careful planning and coordination are essential for avoiding overuse of forest resources, minimizing potential conflicts and allocating staff time. To address these concerns, the Bureau of Forestry requires all requests to conduct scientific studies on state forest land involving significant commitment of Bureau resources, including personnel time, be approved by the State Forester. This policy facilitates communication between the Bureau of Forestry and researchers using informal agreements.

Requests to conduct research on state forest land should be submitted via email to the Forest Resource Planning section through PAForester@pa.gov. If you are unable to submit your request via email, please mail a written proposal to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Forestry, Resource Planning and Inventory Division, PO Box 8552, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8552.

The initial request should include the following information applicable to the project:

  • List all individuals involved in the study, including those proposing the study and those collecting field data. 
  • Describe any Bureau of Forestry personnel involvement required. Please include tasks and estimated time requirements.
  • If Bureau personnel are involved as investigators or cooperators, submit a proposal outlining manuscript handling. This proposal should identify who has publication rights, who will be on the pre-publication review team, and who will be credited.
  • Describe the location and list the name of the state forest district(s) where the proposed study will occur. Include a map (digital if possible) outlining the proposed research area. Additionally, please provide the latitude and longitude coordinates of all research points in decimal degree format.
  • All research conducted on state forest land requires a review of the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory (PNDI). The online PNDI Environmental Review Tool can be accessed at: www.naturalheritage.state.pa.us Please save the PNDI receipt in PDF format and attach it to the proposal.
  • Provide background information on the subject and related ongoing research.
  • Define the research objectives.
  • Describe methodologies proposed for conducting the study.
  • Provide the expected time frame of the study.
  • Describe any proposed and/or potential disturbances to the study area, along with clean up and/or mitigation measures available.
  • List any permits or other approvals required by federal, state, or local government agencies.
  • Provide copies of labels from any chemicals used in association with the project.

Items such as maps and chemical labels that cannot be submitted electronically should be mailed to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Forestry, Resource Planning and Inventory Division, PO Box 8552, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8552.

If necessary, the Bureau of Forestry may request additional information in order to properly evaluate your proposal. The review process takes approximately four weeks.

If the initial request is tentatively approved, The Bureau will provide a Research Conditions Acceptance agreement. Potential researchers can download and review a sample of the standard research conditions. If they accept the conditions, researchers are required to sign and submit the form to the Forest Resource Planning Section. Projects receive final approval when this signed form is on-file with the Bureau. Questions and comments concerning research on state forest land should be directed to the local district forester or to the Forest Resource Planning Section at 717-425-5368 .