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Vermont Family Forests
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Conserving The Health Of Our Local Forest Community


Stewardship Incentive Programs: How Can We Interest More Landowners?

Vermont Family Forests research project assesses landowner participation in forest management programs.

If you received a survey from Vermont Family Forests in early August, 2005, that’s because you’re part of a VFF study to identify strategies that sustainably yield vital forests, economically viable timber, accessible beauty, and social connectivity.

Since 1897, America has invested both public and private money in various programs to influence the management of private forestland. These funds have been directed toward education, technical assistance, cost-sharing for management activities, preferential tax treatment linked to appropriate management, conservation easements, various management organizations, and, more recently, green certification.

While each program has been successful in reaching some landowners, many do not take advantage of existing options. For example, over half of the land potentially eligible for Vermont’s Current Use program is not presently enrolled. This significant failure to engage citizens or understand their forest management strategies and concerns constitutes a serious challenge to the sustainable future of Northern Forest communities, and to the future of the forest itself.

Wanting to find out why landowners do not participate in existing programs, VFF associates Susannah McCandless and Deb Brighton, with funding from the Northeastern States Research Cooperative, created the survey and distributed it to more than 1000 Vermont landowners in Addison and Essex Counties. We’ll keep you posted about our findings.