WRC Releases Forest Stewardship Report
Do you know what threats, both global and local, face our forests and our forest economy? Are you concerned that climate change and invasive species could change the composition of forests as we know them? Is Windham County really the “Timber Capital of Vermont?” The Windham Regional Commission’s recently-released report, “Landscape Based Forest Stewardship,” provides insight into topics such as these, including what strategies exist to preserve the region’s forestlands.
The report, available at www.windhamregional.org/forestry, is the result of several years of work by WRC, with support of a project steering committee made up of area natural resource professionals.
With the goal of “keeping forests as forest,” the report outlines the characteristics of the region, and what makes our forests, and our forest economy, special, before examining the threats and barriers to sustaining our forests. Finally, the report outlines various forest stewardship methods and presents over four dozen potential action steps to help sustain our forests.
Some highlights from the report:
- 86% of the region is forested, and 22% of it is conserved;
- Windham County ranks first in the state for the volume of standing trees, sawlog and veneer log production, and the amount of wood milled;
- Forest fragmentation from parcelization and development is one of the leading threats to our forests and the viability of our forest economy;
- the region’s population is aging, meaning in the next decade or so many forested parcels will be changing ownership, possibly to new owners with different priorities than those current owners; and
- Vermont’s Use Value Appraisal program provides state-reimbursed tax breaks to landowners and is regarded by many as key to keeping our forests as forests, ensuring sound forest management, and supporting the forestry industry.
Two other documents available on the WRC website are excellent resources and companions to the WRC report. These are Doug Morin’s report on “The Forest Products Industry of Windham County, Vermont: Status, Challenges, and Opportunities,” which takes a detailed look at the economics of our forests, and “Woodlands of the Windham Region—Our Working Landscape,” by Rachel Edwards, Anna Fialkoff, and Jessica Orkin of The Conway School in Massachusetts.