SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vermont (WCAX) – A roadmap for the future of Vermont’s forests is coming soon.
Mike Snyder, Commissioner of the Department of Forest Parks and Recreation, is challenged to create the strategic roadmap for the future of the forest, to strengthen, modernize, promote and protect our forests and their products. The state is now in the process of setting up an advisory committee that will begin meeting, so they can begin to define the future of Vermont’s forests.
As Vermont cheers for the future of our largely green state, Mike Snyder says an abundance of trees can play a bigger role.
“Forests are important, they are not guaranteed, and there are multiple strategies for conserving forests, forests,” says Snyder.
The Strategic Roadmap for the Future of the Forest charts the course for keeping the Green Mountains green in the decades to come. A big part of it is to strengthen the forest economy.
Snyder says, “What are the levers for securing the future of forests and the role of good forestry, especially from an economic perspective.”
They want to strengthen the forest products sector – industries like timber harvesting, forestry and sawmills to create jobs – but do so strategically. Snyder says that if properly planned, the use of forest products will protect our forests. This is because places where trees are part of the economy cannot be built. It is also a cycle; produce harvested in Vermont will stay in Vermont, going toward things like housing development.
The current forest economy is responsible for approximately 13,000 jobs and $2 billion in economic output. Experts believe that forests that receive this attention are a positive thing.
Bill Keeton, professor of forest ecology at UVM, says the development pressures facing Vermont’s forests will continue to change. He says, “this adds to a long history of investing in our forest landscape here.”
He adds that calls for more housing can only grow stronger, and planning for this is crucial to protecting our forests. “We need a lot of different incentives, market-based approaches and tax-based approaches to help keep these forests going,” Keeton said. He hopes these will get attention in the roadmap.
Snyder says we are losing forests converted to non-forest land of about 5,000 to 15,000 acres per year, out of about 4.5 million acres of forest land. Creating a stronger economy rooted in these forests is key to a more resilient forest landscape.
Snyder says, “We can continue with this really good business that we have of being strong in the forest. This is the grand prize.
The first draft of the report is due to be presented to the General Assembly in July 2023 and the final report is due on January 1, 2024.
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