report-2.doc

Vermont Forest Values

A list of Vermont forest values and a score of

their importance and vulnerability

(from 9/18/06 Vermont Roundtable on Forest Parcelization and Fragmentation, sponsored by Vermont NRC)

 

Background

  • Brainstorming was used to generate a list of forest values, things that were important to the participants about Vermont’s forests.
  • There were three brainstorming groups one for each value group: environmental, social, and economic.
  • Andy Whitman consolidated values from each group (see Appendix below for original values) and added a “Theme” column that to help organize and stimulate thinking (Andy Whitman: ignore the themes if they are confusing or unhelpful!).
  • Participants were allowed to add addition values to the consolidated list (none elected to do so) if something was missed in the group brainstorms or by Andy Whitman’s consolidation.
  • There were two dot exercises.  In the first exercise, participants were given three blue dots to identify 3 environmental, 3 social, and 3 economic values of greatest importance to them. Participants were allowed to put all three of their environmental dots on one value.  In the second exercise, participants were given three blue dots to identify 3 environmental, 3 social, and 3 economic values most threatened by forest parcelization and fragmentation in Vermont to them.  Participants were allowed to put all three of their dots on one value in any one of the value groups (environmental, social, and economic).

 

Consolidated List of Environmental Values
Theme Value

Importance

(number of dots)

Vulnerability

(number of dots)

Ecological processes Long-term ecological functioning (including ecological processes that maintain water, air, and soil productivity and quality; forest health; and forest productivity)

19

19

Structure Habitat connectivity (including the maintenance of gene flow)

13

17

Composition Maintain plant, fish, wildlife, and natural heritage (diverse native species)

12

9

Other Environmental amenities (aesthetics, recreation, etc.)

6

2

Ecological processes Carbon storage (to affect global climate change)

4

3

Other Forests are references or benchmarks to assess environmental change

4

1

 

 


Consolidated List of Social Values
Theme Value

Importance

(number of dots)

Vulnerability

(number of dots)

Values held by individuals  Forest ethics and sense of stewardship for diverse forest values

11

7

Sense of place Rural remote sense of Vermont (including diverse habitat for wildlife and large remote tracts)

10

10

Values held by individuals Diverse and wholesome recreational opportunities

8

2

Values for society Intergenerational connection to forests

6

8

Values for society Forest-based economy supporting a community and diverse society

4

5

Values for society Traditional uses (hunting, fishing, etc.)

4

5

Values for society Self-sufficient culture

3

4

Values for society Personal connection to forests supporting social connections

2

9

Sense of place Dependence on diverse forests

2

1

Values held by individuals Spiritual, aesthetic values

2

0

Values held by individuals  Forest experiences available to all regardless of income level (low or no cost)

1

2

Sense of place Visual experience of pastoral wooded matrix

1

1

Values for society Economic safety net

0

1

 

 

 


Consolidated List of Economic Values
Theme Value

Importance

(number of dots)

Vulnerability

(number of dots)

Jobs Primary forest-based jobs (industrial – logging, manufacturing, etc.)

15

16

Forest materials Water (e.g., clean water)

11

10

Jobs Secondary forest-based jobs (e.g., tourism, recreation, etc.)

8

7

Economic opportunities Economic opportunities supported by forested landscape (including amenity dependent jobs)

6

2

Forest materials Energy source

6

3

Forest materials Sustainable resource flow (long-term)

5

9

Land asset Keeping land asset in family (intergenerational)

4

3

Jobs Forest-based jobs related to traditional uses (hunting, fishing, etc.)

4

2

Economic opportunities Economic opportunities uniquely supported by large forested land parcels

0

2

Land asset Support of local tax base

0

2

Land asset Land asset value

0

0

 

Andy Whitman’s commentary:

 

My summary: The group was most interested in maintaining forest-related jobs, and flow of forest-based materials (wood and clean water), forest ecosystem function (related to the previous item), landscape configuration and values held by individuals (sense of place, sense of stewardship, and valuing outdoor activities).  All of these values were considered to highly vulnerable to the impacts of forest parcelization and fragmentation.

 

Other underlying themes (we did not set the conversation up to effectively get at these themes)

 

Scale:  All groups acknowledged that scale was important.  Some values may be easiest to maintain in landscapes with large forest blocks (as opposed to landscapes comprised of small forest blocks).  Scale and values is also a social question, a matter of social or personal preference.  It is important to ask your self:  at what scale do you want to maintain a value?  In Maine, for people who value old forest, we often ask do you want old forest in every town, every county, or is it enough to have it in a few places in the state?

 

Intergenerational issues: All conversation included a sense of future.  The passing of values to the next generation was best articulated though in the social and economic groups.  In the social group, it came up with respect to passing on a sense of stewardship.  In the economic group, it came up in terms of keeping land in the family over multiple generations.  Future generation of Vermont residents may not have the same values for Vermont’s forests as you do!  I encourage you all to have intergenerational conversations about forest values (have a number of 5 minute conversations with a variety of teenagers) to begin to understand intergenerational differences.  My limited experience with this issue is that there is an intergenerational disconnect that goes beyond what you could attribute to a gap age stage differences in perspective.

 

Change:  My sense was that most of the conversations focused on looking at what people appreciated in the past and/or present for Vermont forest values.  It may be helpful to acknowledge change; think about how change can be used to maintain important existing values; and think about new, positive forest values that change will bring or could bring if change is well-managed. For example, new and second homes in Maine for retirees are contributing to rising land prices and taxes, shortage of affordable housing, and habitat loss/fragmentation.  On the other hand, these retirees can be tremendous community assets as they fill up their time volunteering for schools, local non-profit organizations, and local government.  They also require much less community resources (education and social services) than the average local resident.

 

Appendix: Lists of values (things that are important about Vermont’s forests) from 9/18/06 morning brainstorming session

 

 

Environmental Values

  • Long-term ecological functioning
  • Conservation of Vermont’s plant, fish, and wildlife and overall natural heritage
  • Ecological processes that maintain water, air, and soil productivity and quality
  • Carbon storage (offset global climate change)
  • Forest Health
  • Gene flow : connected habitats on a regional level
  • Natural system allows us to monitor our impacts on the system (living classroom)
  • Environmental amenities ( aesthetics, recreation, tourism, healthy living environment for people)

 

Economic Values

  • Keeping forest as an asset for family through generations of ownership
  • Tourism
  • Water
  • Sustaining community/stability in region
  • Jobs – consistent with character of Vermont and capable of supporting infrastructure of forest industry
  • Secondary and tertiary employment – supporting entire chain
  • Timber and forest products – all types
  • Recreation
  • Forest parcels that are large enough and connected enough to support the above
  • Forest landscape that supports jobs and attracts employers (includes amenities that attracts jobs/new employers)
  • Quality of life
  • Real estate
  • Forest parcels to support carbon market
  • Contribute to rural atmosphere
  • Sustainable and renewable products (long –term (i.e., 500 years)
  • Energy
  • Support wildlife and associated activities hunting, wildlife watching
  • Contribution to tax base

 

Social Values

  • Forest ethic – forest-based life values
  • Rural, remote sense of Vermont (sense of place)
  • Promotes sense of stewardship, connection to land, sports, recreation, wildlife, economic values
  • Spiritual, aesthetic, artistic solitude, seasonal, natural harmony
  • Connecting to forests, healthy forests, essential to political decision making
  • Support diverse forest-based economy to maintain diverse culture and social fabric
  • Recreation resource – wholesome, diverse, active rich outdoor way of life
  • Supports energy, self-sufficiency (woodstove culture)
  • Provides children with opportunity to explore, feel connected to and understand the wild (“The Last Child” book theme –  no child left indoors)
  • Cultural heritage/ historic activities – hunting, fishing, gathering maintained
  • Community viability and vitality through economic, social, and environmental benefits to towns, etc.
  • Dependence of humans on flora and fauna of forests – they suffer, we suffer
  • “Free” resource for enjoyment
  • Big enough to get lost in … bigger than what’s familiar
  • Wildlife habitat, knowing that there is a place for wildlife
  • Friendships formed, strengthened in woods and wild places (.e.g., building forts), forests as unifying glue in Vermont
  • Safety net – food, shelter, energy resource in forests, water, forest products – survival source