Craftsbury's Forestry Plan

How and why do we “manage” a Forest?
To put it simply, we humans need forests. Our society requires a diverse array of products and services generated by forest ecosystems, including water, wood, wildlife, and wild places. Trails for biking and skiing are another notable forest product! The concept of forestry and forest management developed to ensure such resources are available to both current and future generations. Using an approach that the 20th century conservationist Aldo Leopold called “intelligent tinkering”, foresters develop strategies that promote the values and products society requires while ensuring the long-term integrity of the entire forest ecosystem. Forestry is fundamentally about the future, and it is the future that guides management actions today. Forest managers use harvesting (logging) as one of many tools, to influence the development of individual parts of a forest in order to “tinker” and promote a healthy and productive forest today and in the future.

“Land health is the capacity for self-renewal in the soils, waters, plants, and animals that collectively comprise the land.” - Aldo Leopold 1944

Let's examine the state of the forest prior to the Summer 2016 harvest.

harvest16 before

Summer '16 Forest Conditions (illustration above):
• Mixed-wood forest, comprised of conifer species spruce and pine, and deciduous species like maple and birch.
• Dense stocking of trees with heavy competition for sunlight and resources.
• Significant mortality of mature trees in spots, especially among white pine.
• Limited presence of tree regeneration in form of seedlings and saplings.
• Simplified canopy structure, most stems are the same age and height.

harvest16 after2

The harvest in 2016 will promote the following conditions (see above illustration):
• Mixed-wood forest, with healthy diversity of conifer and deciduous species.
• Complex canopy structure marked by a diversity of canopy heights representing multiple ages of trees, and by different stem densities and tree diameters.
• Presence of dead trees both standing and on the ground, serving as critical wildlife habitat.
• A forest with significant stocking of high quality trees capable of producing valuable forest products.

Together with our consultants, Northern Forest Conservation Services, LLC (Ross Morgan, Dawn Morgan and Rick Morrill) we have developed a long term forest management plan which supports our vision of a multi-use forest that serves several important values:

- Protection of the water and soil resources
- Recreational use which benefits both users and the local economy 
- Wildlife habitat maintenance and enhancement, from birds to bears
- Production of commercial forest products such as sawtimber used for lumber and furniture as well as products like firewood, some of which helps support our our fossil-fuel free heating system goals
- Educational resource to support knowledge and awareness of forest stewardship

In summer 2016 we started our first harvest in an area with active trails. While we regret the inconvenience to our users, we're committed to the responsible management of the forest and doing our part to contribute to the local forest products economy. The Center mission emphasizes the use and teaching of sustainable practices. Our forest management program achieves both the sustainable use of the forest while demonstrating best practices in land stewardship, to serve as an example and educational resource in the community. By participating in the Vermont State Current Use Program we are committed to maintaining the land as part of working forest.