Vermont Tree Farm Program
The Vermont Woodlands Association sponsors the Tree Farm Program in Vermont. Tree Farms range in size from small woodlots to large industrial forests. The goals of the Tree Farm Program are disseminating information about the benefits of proper forest management and establishing good forest management practices on as many acres as possible. The American Tree Farm System, first organized in 1941, is the Nation’s oldest certifier of privately owned forestland. Tree Farm members share a unique commitment to protecting watersheds and wildlife habitat, conserving soil, and providing recreation; and at the same time producing wood products on a sustainable basis.
Vermont has 428 Certified Tree Farms managing a total of 137,482 acres. Among this number there are 22 land stewards who have been Tree Farmers for more than fifty years and 118 are twenty-five year land stewards in Tree Farm.
The American Tree Farm System is NOT about Christmas trees, although some of our members grow Christmas trees… It is NOT about monoculture tree plantations or genetically engineered nonnative tree programs! It is about the sustainability and promotion of our native, working forest! Today’s Tree Farm program is sponsored by the American Forest Foundation (AFF), a landowner-managed nonprofit organization dedicated to the working forest concept and the stewardship of sustainably managed forests.
Since 2019, Tree Farm has changed and matured dramatically to reflect the lessons learned in forestry in the US and to showcase the high standards expected by the public in forest management.
Since 2009, Tree Farm has been third party certified through PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification), the largest internationally recognized certifier of sustainably-managed forests. Under a group certificate issued by PEFC, Tree Farms across the country may now sell their timber as third party certified.
The Vermont Tree Farm program is also a proud sponsor and participant in Project Learning Tree (PLT) steering committee. Vermont Project Learning Tree envisions a future where every young person understands, appreciates and loves the natural world, and enjoys spending time outdoors. Our community’s future depends on a strong connection between children and the natural world.
On the national level, Project Learning Tree is owned and operated by Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Vermont PLT recently did a radio interview on Common Sense Radio with Bruce Shields hosting. Several steering committee members were in Little Rock, AK for the national PLT convention. Committee members participating in the interview were Ed Larsen, VT SFI coordinator and Esther Cowles, National PLT Education Director. They were joined by Kathy Abusow, president of SFI International.
Vermont’s landscape is about 75% forested, accounting for about 4.5 million acres, with 80% in private ownership. During the last several decades, the number of woodland owners has increased to about 80,000 while average parcel sizes has decreased. At the same time, the average age of woodland owners has risen to 65.
No matter where you’re at in your legacy planning process, there’s help available.
This makes planning for the future of our forests even more important. As a landowner, have you considered what you want to become of your land in the future? If, like many woodland owners, you want to leave a land legacy for your heirs, you need to make a legacy plan.
Legacy planning not only allows you to successfully transfer your property to your heirs (estate planning) it also addresses the challenges and risks that can prevent your heirs from keeping the property. Seventy-five percent of family forest owners want to leave a land legacy but only 20% of family forests remain in the family in the long run. Legacy planning is a strategic process that generally takes place over a number of years. Most of the work that happens occurs before you visit an attorney to develop an estate plan.
Woods, Wildlife, & Warblers
Vermont and northern New England forests are home to some of the highest concentration of bird species breeding in the continental United States—meaning this region provides rich, essential habitat for all local wildlife species. As a result, small Vermont landowners are essential to bird and wildlife conservation. Woods, Wildlife, and Warblers is working to give landowners the knowledge, tools, and resources they need to better care for their woods.
Working with landowners to protect the woods of Vermont.
Woods, Wildlife, and Warblers is a partnership between Audubon Vermont, the Vermont Tree Farm Committee, Vermont Woodlands Association, and the American Forest Foundation. Our focus is on providing southern Vermont landowners with the knowledge, tools, and resources that will allow them to better care for their woods and the critters that call them home. We offer free, no obligation services to landowners, such as informational materials and site visits from a woodland expert. The expert will walk your land with you and discuss goals you may have for your land.
To learn more about this program and how to access services, visit Woods, Wildlife, & Warblers website.