Virginia Department of Forestry

Our Mission

We protect and develop healthy, sustainable forest resources for Virginians.

In addition to the contact information at the bottom of this page:

The Virginia Department of Forestry:

  • Protects 15.8 million acres of forest land from fire, insects and disease.
  • Manages 22 State Forest lands totaling 67,920 acres for timber, recreation, water, research, wildlife and biodiversity.

More than 300,000 forest landowners in Virginia control 77% of forest land, which:

  • Enhances the quality of life in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • Supports the forest industry, a significant contributor to the state's economy.

The Department has an operational budget of approximately $25 million and employs 240 salaried staff.

You can learn about the strategic goals and objectives of the Virginia Department of Forestry and how we're achieving them.


The VDOF was established in 1914 to prevent and suppress forest fires and reforest bare lands. Since our inception, we have grown and evolved to encompass other protection and management duties:

  • Protecting Virginia's Forests from Wildfire
  • Managing the Forest Resource
  • Protecting Virginia's Waters
  • Conservation of Virginia's Forests
  • Manage the State Lands and Nurseries
  • Regulated Incentive Programs for Forest Landowners

Fire and Forest Resources

The VDOF is charged with the protection of the forest resources from fire. The principle goals of the Forest Protection Program are to prevent injury or loss of human life, minimize property damage and protect resources. The activity falls into six components:

  • Forest Fire Suppression
  • Forest Fire Prevention
  • Prescribed Fire Management
  • Law Enforcement
  • Woodland/Urban Interface Initiative
  • Non-Fire Emergency Readiness and Response.

Each year approximately 2,000 fires burn an average of 10,000 acres of forest land. Wildfires cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to control and to protect homes. In Virginia, 99% of wildfires are caused by people. The largest fires occur from February through May, during "spring fire season". "Fall fire season" occurs in October, November and December.

Virginia's 4:00 p.m. burning law goes into effect each February 15 and extends through April 30. Outdoor fires are unlawful before 4:00 p.m.

Manage the Forest Resource

The Department provides technical assistance to private landowners to assist them in managing their forest land for forest products, water quality, protection of threatened and endangered species, historic resources and wildlife habitat; provides marketing and utilization assistance to forest industry and provides technical assistance in managing state owned lands of other agencies. This activity falls into five components:

  1. technical assistance and resource management plans,
  2. forest renewal,
  3. cost-share incentives,
  4. harvesting assistance,
  5. community grant assistance.

These programs are mandated in the enabling legislation for the State Forester, (10.1 - 1105). There are no federal mandates for these components.

  • Technical Assistance and Management Plans for Landowners
  • Forest Renewal
  • Cost-Share Incentives
  • Timber Resource Development
  • Community Grant Assistance
  • Forest Riparian Management
  • Silvicultural Water Quality - Silviculture is the scientific nurturing of forests to meet human needs.
  • Aerial Application of Herbicides
  • Mandates

State Forests and State Lands

The VDOF is responsible for managing the forest resource on 22 State Forest properties located throughout Virginia. Approximately 67,920 acres of publicly owned forestland are under the State Forest system in tracts ranging from 147 acres in Fauquier County to 19,535 acres in Buckingham and Appomattox Counties. For each of these properties, ten-year forest management plans are prepared to allow scheduled operations such as timber harvests, preparing the site for tree planting, tree planting, timber stand improvement, and intermediate cuttings to occur at the proper time. Forest inventories are made to determine growing conditions in each timber stand and wood volumes are recorded. Mature forest stands are sold in sealed bid timber sales made to private vendors. Sustainable growth is maintained when final harvest occurs, followed by reforestation of harvested lands.

  • Management of Other State Lands
  • Seed Orchards
  • Land Management Mandates

State Nurseries

The development of the Virginia forest tree nurseries was to provide tree and shrub seedlings to be used on private, industry and public lands. State nurseries produce seedlings to be used to establish timber stands, pulpwood crops, Christmas tree plantations, wildlife habitat, streambank stabilization, urban forests, biodiversity and improvement of watersheds as mandated by Title 10.1 - 114 of the Code of Virginia. Portions of the land and the physical facilities are used to educate and inform the public and used for research by state and private universities. The offices and quarters are used by university students and faculty for field trips. Established nature trails are used by local school students for nature study to supplement school curriculum. In addition to research and public education, New Kent Forestry Center conducts a series of ten special deer hunts yearly for handicapped sportsmen, many of which are disabled Veterans. The local communities, businesses and civic groups support these activities with volunteers, donated equipment supplies and money.

Maintain Forest Health

Improvement of forest health is necessary to sustain an adequate supply of raw materials and protect natural water supplies while providing a high quality of life - all key elements of the Department's mission. Every phase of forest development involves forest health, including the proper establishment of appropriate, healthy trees on productive sites; cultural practices that favor vigorous growth of the best trees; reduction of losses to pest organisms; and well planned, careful harvesting that protects standing trees from injury and maintains the integrity of riparian areas.

  • Monitoring, Surveys, Analysis
  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Forest Genetics Improvement
  • Forest Health Technical Assistance
  • Resource Assessment, GIS, Data Collection
  • Forest Health Mandates

Contact Virginia Department of Forestry

900 Natural Resources Drive
Suite 800
Charlottesville, Virginia  22903
Phone: (434) 977-6555
Fax: (434) 296-2369


Service Area

Statewide service provider in:
  • Virginia

To request additions or corrections to this entry email the Administrator
3 Introductory articles were found for Virginia Department of Forestry

pdf Firewise Communities in Virginia

pdf Virginia Prescribed Burn Management Plan

pdf Virginia State and Private Forestry Fact Sheet