Vermont Woodlands and the Tree Farm Committee believe that the relationship between a forest landowner and the forester is the most critical factor in becoming, and remaining a successful Tree Farmer. That individual is your key to education, advice, and assistance in recognizing, developing, and reaching your goals for your forest. VWA takes the responsibility to provide you with a list of certified Tree Farm inspectors. If you have a forester who is on this list, he or she can guide you through this process. If you forester is not an inspector, VWA can provide training for him or her. It is up to you to make initial contact with an inspector or forester of your choice.
Once you and your forester have agreed on the direction your TF should take, he or she will develop a Forest Management Plan (FMP) for your forest outlining the forest’s present condition, your goals, and how the goals are to be achieved. Your management plan may also be used to qualify for the Vermont Use Value (Current Use) program if your forest is over 25 contiguous acres (27 if your home is on the same parcel). If you elect to enter this program, and are successful, your property taxes on the forested portion in the program will be significantly reduced, and penalties may be incurred if you attempt to develop that area. [See Use Value Program.]
WHOA! What’s this going to cost? See “A Note on Costs”
A Tree Farm is, again, privately owned forest that is managed for wood, water, wildlife, and recreation. You determine the aspects that are to be emphasized. Additional benefits include improved habitat, watershed protection, outdoor recreation, and aesthetic values.
- To become a Certified Tree Farm a forest must:
• Be a minimum of 10 acres (excluding homestead) and a maximum of 20,000 contiguous acres. • Be privately owned. • Meet AFF Standards (See AFF STANDARDS in Definitions), which includes having an acceptable Forest Management Plan. • Successfully pass an inspection of forest activity progress, based on the activities outlined in your FMP, every 5 years or less if property is selected for random sampling inspection.
When beginning the process of becoming a Certified Tree Farm, you may first be designated a Pioneer Tree Farm, but must graduate to “Certified” status within 5 years (see Pioneer). Those not graduating or those Certified Tree Farms that do not successfully complete required inspections in a timely manner fall to a “Member” status until the deficiencies are rectified.
Properties sold, divided, developed, or violating objectives in the FMP are immediately decertified and removed from the program. However, a change in ownership within a family does not necessarily mean a loss of TF status. Many families structure their properties to bridge the generations.
Once accepted into the program your progress is largely your and your forester’s responsibility. Your forester is required to evaluate your progress every five (5) years. On or about that anniversary your forester will complete an AFF “004” Form with his evaluation. A successful evaluation means continued designation as a Certified TF for the next 5 years.
Sometimes a little self-help goes a long way in answering questions. And most successful Tree Farmers do not rely on VWA or their forester to answer all their questions or provide all their education. The VTFC and VWA recommend several publications to assist you in your long-term educational needs and help you decide what your forest goals might be. See Resources.
|Pioneer Tree Farm|
|Tree Farm Standards|
|VWA Tree Farm Inspectors (PDF)|
2008 Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Tour