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Vermont Family Forests
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Conserving The Health Of Our Local Forest Community

Forest Economics

The Economics of Ecological Forestry

VFF's economic strategy follows the principle of market-driven ecology, whereby the demand for green forest products will boost economic incentives and thus encourage greater participation in ecological forestry. In the conventional timber harvest model, harvesting trees from "family forests" generally yields less than $25 per acre per year from the sale of standing trees into undifferentiated commodity markets. This small annual return often fails to cover the costs of forest ownership, not to mention the costs of forest stewardship.

To date, forest certification, in and of itself, has not proven to be an answer to this problem. Indeed, forest certification more often than not costs landowners more than it yields, if they are simply selling certified logs to sawmills. VFF believes that certification becomes profitable through value-adding, meaning that rather than selling raw logs, landowners would sell certified, manufactured products, like flooring or paneling. VFF has conducted a number of high-visibility research projects to demonstrate the potential for such marketing.

We are in the process of developing a portfolio of trees the forest is "willing to yield" to allow forest health, rather than market appetite, to drive timber harvesting decisions. Our rigorous monitoring of all harvests conducted on Vermont Family Forests-certified forestlands ensures the integrity of VFF's Family Forest ® brand. Customers know that the forest products carrying the Family Forest® brand came from locally owned, ecologically managed family-owned forests.