Vermont is the “Green Mountain State” and is defined by its forests. This forested ecosystem forms the basis for biological diversity, natural communities, wildlife habitats, scenic landscapes, working landscapes, a diverse array of forest products, and recreational opportunities. Livable communities and our quality of life depend on healthy, sustainable forests. Recognizing that change is constant and new issues arise, the updated 2016 Vermont Forest Action Plan is a proactive, comprehensive, and balanced approach to the management of Vermont’s forests. It provides an assessment of conditions and trends of the forest resources in the state, discusses threats, and identifies priority landscapes and focus areas on which to target resources.
Conserve native biological diversity across all landscapes, from remnant forests in our cities and towns to woodlots and rural forest blocks in our remote landscapes.
The Forestry Division works with partners to educate and engage Vermont landowners, municipalities, and land-use decision makers about the economic and ecological benefits of forest blocks. It also addresses the connectivity among smaller forest blocks and the effects of forest fragmentation that go beyond the outright loss of forested land and affect the configuration, condition, and connectedness of the forest that remains.
In addition, it encourages investments in land conservation, supports existing landowners to keep their land forested, and develops and creates markets for Vermont forest products that support working lands and sustainable forestry practices.
Protect forest ecosystem health and ecological productivity
Healthy forests are ecosystems that possess the long-term capacity for self-renewal of their ecological productivity, diversity, and complexity. The Division continues to place healthy forest ecosystems at the center of its programming through monitoring, education, and advocacy that advances an understanding and ethic that places healthy forests first.
To promote sustainable timber harvesting that ensures long-term forest health and sustainability, the Division released the 2015 Voluntary Harvesting Guidelines with the goal of raising the bar for timber harvests that are sustainable and result in a healthy forest. The Division is tracking the spread of non-native invasive plants (NNIPs), supporting collaborative efforts across property lines, and promoting integrated management of high priority invasions. The Division also engages with principal partners to assess forest vulnerability, anticipate forest responses, and develop resources to assist licensed foresters and forest landowners in preparing for climate change.
Enhance forest contributions to ecosystem services
Vermont’s working landscape, which supports a forest products industry estimated to generate over $1 billion annually in the state, is an important part of our rural economy that helps private forest landowners cover ownership costs and subsidizes conservation practices on public lands. Vermont’s Working Lands Enterprise Initiative was created in 2012 to stimulate economic development in Vermont's agriculture and forest products sectors by making investments in entrepreneurism, business development, and job creation.
Vermont’s forested landscape also provides a range of ecosystem services that are harder to monetize; these include water supply and water quality protection, flood control and protection, wildlife habitat and biodiversity, clean air, and CO2 sequestration, outdoor recreation, and scenic beauty. The Division is addressing forest-based water quality improvement through minimizing nonpoint source pollution associated with logging and development. It is also creating strategies to increase sustainable forest-based outdoor recreation on state lands and promote recreation opportunities on private land.