Stewardship Incentive Programs:
How Can We Interest More Landowners?
Vermont Family Forests
research project assesses landowner participation in forest management
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.