HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) released the results of an independent review team's annual study of state forestlands today, affirming the state's efforts to conserve resources through sound management. "The auditors were very pleased with our forest management and our staff's dedication, and I extend thanks to each of the districts involved in this year's audit for another job well done," DCNR Secretary Richard Allan said. "This continued certification is an affirmation of the pride we take in managing our state forest system for many values and uses, while maintaining its long-term health and viability." "Forest management faces many threats and challenges, including fragmentation and disturbance, invasive plants, destructive exotic insects and insufficient regeneration," Allan said. "The certification process shows we are doing everything we can to improve our management plans and practices. More importantly, it helps us identify areas we can improve to ensure our forests are well managed and in line with stakeholder expectations." For the 15th consecutive year, when a team of scientists first began reviewing management of Pennsylvania's 2.2 million acres of state forestlands, researchers lauded Pennsylvania's commitment to its forests, and exemplary practices and innovation in managing forest resources. The independent, third-party review was conducted in late August 2012 by Rainforest Alliance, recognized as the world's leading forest management certifier. Certification assures consumers that wood products from the state's public forests come from a sustainable, well-managed system, which helps Pennsylvania to compete in the growing niche consumer market for "green" label wood products. The annual assessment is designed to evaluate the ecological, economic and social performance of DCNR's Bureau of Forestry according to guidelines established by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The FSC® is an independent organization supporting environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world's forests. It was formed in 1993 by environmental, social and forest-products industry representatives to establish guidelines for sustainable forest-management practices.