Forest and Habitat Fragmentation

The forested landscape of Vermont is an enduring natural resource to residents and visitors alike. Maintaining the long-term viability of Vermont’s forests for wildlife, recreation, carbon sequestration, watershed protection, sustainably managed forest products, and many diverse ecological services is integral to our economy and quality of life. This is why the increasing forest fragmentation is an issue that deserves much attention.

Research by VNRC shows that the phenomenon of forest fragmentation through parcelization and the subdivision of forestland into smaller and smaller pieces and multiple ownerships is gaining momentum.  When larger parcels are divided and sold into multiple parcels, the result can be housing infrastructure that fragments the landscape and negatively affects plant and animal species, wildlife habitat (called habitat fragmentation), and water quality. It can also affect the contiguous ownership and management of forest parcels and the viability of large tracts of forestland to contribute to Vermont’s rural economy.

VNRC has launched a campaign to reduce forest and habitat fragmentation in Vermont. The campaign includes many strategies such as developing an action plan, hosting a roundtable on the topic, conducting research on trends in the state, providing technical assistance to communities, promoting sound planning to address fragmentation and parcelization, and working with landowners to promote the long-term viability of forests in Vermont.

In addition, VNRC is supporting efforts by the Vermont Legislature to address forest fragmentation, including improving the state’s land use review law Act 250. To learn about H.233, click here.