Programs and Priorities

Program Areas

DOF has a number of program areas, each focused on a specific aspect of forestry. These program areas are administered at the agency headquarters level, with a majority of the projects and activities conducted through our field staff assigned to the three operational regions. Program areas include:

  • Wildfire Suppression, Prevention and Public Safety
  • Forest Health
  • Forest Legacy and Land Conservation
  • Forest Stewardship & Management
  • Urban & Community Forestry
  • Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA)
  • Water Quality Protection
  • Forest Research
  • Tree Improvement
  • Forest Products Marketing and Utilization
  • Conservation Education
  • Tree Nursery Program
  • State Forest System
  • State-Owned Lands Program

Agency Priorities

Manage and Conserve Virginia’s Forest Resources

The agency’s mission is to protect and develop healthy, sustainable forest resources for Virginians. To achieve this mission, DOF staff work with private landowners, forest industry professionals, government agencies and partner organizations to manage, conserve, and grow Virginia’s forests and tree canopy. Our staff members serve as forest management experts, trusted public advisors, and stewards of Virginia’s invaluable forest resources. DOF is also responsible for administering a number of community grants, landowner incentives, and cost-share programs that support sustainable forest management across the Commonwealth.

Learn more about DOF’s forest management and health programs or urban and community forestry programs.

Manage State Lands and Nurseries

Virginia’s state forest system serves as a demonstration of sustainable forestry management. All of Virginia’s state forests are certified to the standards of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and American Tree Farm System (ATFS). These certified forests cover more than 68,000 acres.

Learn more about Virginia’s commitment to practicing sustainable forestry with our state forests.

DOF forestry centers house orchards and nurseries where DOF cultivates, grows, and sells the best seedling stock for Virginia’s climate and landscape.

Learn more about DOF seedling nurseries.

Protect Virginia’s Forests from Wildfire

DOF is charged with the protection of the forest resources from wildfire. The primary goals of the agency’s forest protection program are preventing injury or loss of human life, minimizing property damage, and protecting forest resources.

In Virginia, nearly all wildfires are caused by people, whether it’s intentional (arson) or unintentional (e.g., escaped debris burning). Through proactive wildfire prevention programs, such as youth education and homeowner outreach, the agency is able to mitigate the leading causes of wildfire.

Early detection, well-trained personnel, and modern equipment are key elements in the agency’s suppression efforts. The training and equipment required of DOF’s field staff for emergency fire response can be equally applied to non-fire disasters and emergency situations, such as storms, flooding and ice damage.

Learn more about DOF’s wildland and prescribed fire programs.

Protect Virginia’s Waters

Forests are vital for preserving and improving water quality; in fact, forest conservation is one of the most effective measures to protect our water resources. DOF has played an important role in the protection of our forested watersheds since the early 1970s when the first set of Forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Water Quality were developed.

The agency is tasked with promoting and enforcing the Virginia Silvicultural Water Quality Law (Code of Virginia §10.1-1181.11181.7), developing BMPs for forest harvesting operations, and working cooperatively with agencies and landowners throughout the Commonwealth to preserve riparian buffers and protect water quality –from rivers and streams to the Chesapeake Bay.

Two of DOF’s performance measures involve water quality. One focuses on BMPs on forest harvesting operations and protecting streams from sediment. The other focuses on protecting and improving watersheds through forest management and land conservation.

Learn more about DOF’s water quality protection programs.