Nearly 80 percent of Vermont is forested. Forests are a defining feature of our landscape and way of life. Our forests are critical to our rural economy and our drinking water. They are a source for maple sugaring and wood products They support wildlife and offer tremendous recreation, aesthetic and spiritual benefits for residents and visitors alike. And, these days our northeast forests cannot be overlooked as a globally important storehouse of carbon that have a positive impact on the Earth’s climate.
For over three decades, we have worked with families, towns, and businesses to protect nearly 400,000 acres of forestland from subdivision, fragmentation, and development.
What kinds of forestland we conserve
We protect both large blocks of forestland that bolster our forest economy and smaller-scale forest parcels, including privately and publically owned forestland that contributes to communities' sense of place.
When protecting large blocks of forestland, we work with landowners to conserve reasonably stocked parcels with a history of good management.
We try to conserve large forested properties of more than 500 acres, or if smaller, that are among the largest forested tracks in the region, or when the forestland adjoins public land or other conserved properties.
Often large tracts of forestland are protected through the donation of a conservation easement, but sometimes we have been able to purchase conservation easements on special properties through funding from the federal Forest Legacy Program.
At times, we have also chosen to conserve poorly managed or liquidated forestland with a history of high-grading or clear-cutting. When these parcels are more than 1,000 acres and there is likelihood of regeneration, we have considered conservation for the long-term benefits on such significant tracts of land.
Small-scale community forestland
Smaller parcels of forestland often serve community goals of linking residents and visitors with the recreational and ecological benefits of the woods; these properties can include town forests and other types of community-owned forestland.
Town forests are wonderful resources for towns to own. They allow the community to manage land under the permanent protection of a conservation easement. Once the town forest is created, the town's management will determine how the town will balance the land’s many uses, including timber management, wildlife habitat protection, educational uses, and a variety of recreational activities such as hiking and hunting.
We have also been exploring community-owned forestland opportunities, which can bring the benefits of forestland ownership to Vermonters of all income levels. Read about the Little Hogback Community Forest in Monkton.
Small-scale private forestland
Much of Vermont's forestland is owned by nearly 80,000 private landowners. These smaller plots of family forestland—generally over 50 acres—support our state's timber and sugaring industries, and collectively provide critical habitat to wildlife.
Many landowners have deep connections with their land and want to see the land remain whole and forested for generations to come. It's these connections with the land that has inspired hundreds of landowners to donate conservation easements on their family forestland to the Vermont Land Trust.
While most small, forested plots are protected through the donation of an easement, in some circumstances—such as when there is a high-quality, well-managed sugaring operation that has a high likelihood of continued management for sap production—we will work to get funding toward the purchase of a conservation easement on the land.