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treeIn 2008, the Vermont Land Trust’s Board of Trustees developed a list of the central outcomes and purposes of our organization after discussions among the trustees, staff, members, landowners, and partners. These principles guide us when we weigh investments of resources in our effort to best serve current and future residents and visitors to Vermont.



The mission of the Vermont Land Trust is to conserve land for the future of Vermont.



  • Conserve land that supports or enhances the vitality of the communities and economy of Vermont.
  • Support farm and forest enterprises that foster consumer–producer connections, especially enterprises that increase product value through processing such as milling lumber, producing cheese, or making maple syrup.
  • Promote thrifty, responsible, long-term, productive use of the land.
  • Increase the opportunity for a diversity of people to own or use working farms and managed forestland.
  • Support settlement patterns that give residents a sense of place, heritage and continuity; where vital villages and community centers retain the open space that surround and define them.
  • Protect natural communities, biological diversity, and aquatic resources when achieving community land, farmland and forestland protection goals.


In our effort to protect Vermont’s rural economy and way of life, our work focuses on community, farmland, and forestland conservation.

Community principles
We seek to support traditional settlement patterns, people’s physical and spiritual connection to the natural world, renewable energy production that meets community needs, and opportunities for public access.

Farmland principles
We seek to protect and assure the long-term affordability of owner-operated family farms with productive agricultural soils that host viable agricultural enterprises. Our farmland conservation work encompasses operations of various types and scales and reaches out to farms with close connections to communities and consumers. This includes farms that help to diversify our agricultural economy and produce food to meet our regional needs. Recognizing that climate change presents both challenges and opportunities to farmers, we will support efforts to both mitigate climate change and adapt farming practices to the reality of a warming world.

Forestland principles
We seek to protect large blocks of forestland that bolster our forest economy, and to help create smaller-scale community forests including locally owned forestland that contributes to community sense of place. We also recognize the importance of forests in mitigating and adapting to climate change.


Evolution of Our Principles: Ends Policies and Land Ethic

Our guiding principles were developed in three phases. Our first policy (called an "ends policy") was adopted in 1998. In 2004, we revised our agricultural ends policy. In 2005, we developed a land ethic (below), which guided a revision of our ends policy in 2008. Most recently, in 2011, climate change principles were integrated into our ends policy. What you see above is a summary of the current policy; the complete policy can be downloaded in PDF format here.


Land Ethic

The Vermont Land Trust's Board of Trustees developed this "land ethic" to guide the work of the organization and to help when making decisions about the allocation of resources.

The Vermont Land Trust:

  • Encourages the economically and environmentally sustainable management of productive woodland and farmland, and advances people’s working relationships with that land.
  • Protects air and water quality, and soil fertility, advancing biological diversity, fostering healthy ecological communities, and honoring the value of all plant and animal life.
  • Supports healthy human communities, including thoughtful settlement patterns and protecting the visual and other aesthetic contributions of open land.
  • Supports economic vitality, and farm and forest enterprises that promote consumer-producer links, engage in local processing and manufacturing, or otherwise support the flow of capital within local economies.
  • Advances community equity and fairness by supporting broad access to affordable and healthy food, clean air and water, safe and affordable housing, and to the spiritual and recreational benefits of land.


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