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Why We Harvest Trees in Connecticut State Forests

Many times people have said that there should be no harvesting of trees in Connecticut. However, the science of sound forest management actually encourages the periodic harvesting of trees to weed out diseased or deformed trees and to make room for the healthiest, most vigorous trees to grow. A healthy, vigorous forest is better able to ward off diseases, defoliating insects and the effects of natural disasters such as fires and hurricanes. A well-managed forest provides a variety of habitat conditions and contributes to biological diversity while being resilient enough to handle the recreational demands of Connecticut’s increasing population.

These pages are intended to explain the basics of why and how the dedicated people of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Division of Forestry manage your State Forests. It’s more than just cutting trees.

DEP Foresters inspecting a harvest area 10 years after a clearcut
DEEP foresters inspect a harvest area 10 years
after a final regeneration cut.

When the first European settlers arrived in what was to be the Connecticut colony, the forest they encountered was quite different from what you might imagine. Instead of a continuous sea of mature, old-growth forest, they found grasslands along the coast and major rivers, areas of woodlands with open, park-like understories, and a mature forest interrupted by patches of young and middle-aged forest growth. This patchwork provided specialized habitats for a wide variety of native plant and animal species. Most of Connecticut’s forests were clear-cut and/or burned until the early 1900s. From that time on, the forest began to re-develop, but was more uniform in age and species – the forest was much less diverse than the forest that had greeted the Europeans. As part of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s mission to promote healthy and high quality sustainable forests, trees are cut to restore the forest landscape and the diversity of forest life, as well as to provide society with forest products.

The Shaping of the Forests

How Do DEEP's Professional Foresters Promote Healthy and High Quality, Sustainable State Forests?

How Does a DEEP Forester Know Which Trees to Harvest?

How Much of the Forest Is Harvested?

Are Trees Cut for the Money?

What About the "Mess"?

What About Replanting?

Challenges for Our Future

Content last reviewed February 2020