Program Essentials

A Tree Farm is a 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, which includes having an acceptable Forest Management Plan
  • Successfully pass an inspection of forest activity progress, based on the activities outlined in your Forest Management Plan, every 5 years or less if property is selected for random sampling inspection

Acceptance into the Tree Farm Program

Once you meet the above guidelines and are accepted into the TF program, your progress is largely yours and your forester’s responsibility. Your forester is required to evaluate your progress every five (5) years. Your forester will complete an AFF 021 Form with his or her 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. Most successful Tree Farmers do not rely solely on the Vermont Woodlands Association (VWA) or their forester to answer all their questions or provide all their education. The Vermont Tree Farm Committee (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.

You and Your Forester

VWA and the VTFC believe that the relationship between a forest landowner and the forester is the most critical factor in becoming, and remaining a successful Tree Farmer.

Your forester 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.]

Changes in Ownership

Properties sold, outside the family, sub-divided, developed, or violating objectives in the FMP are immediately decertified and removed from the program. Changing ownership within a family does not necessarily mean a loss of Tree Farm status. Please be sure to notify the administrative office and your forester about changes in ownership within the family as certification requires that all records be kept up-to-date and accurately reflect both property and owners. Many families structure their properties to bridge the generations.

If property is sold to someone other than a family member, the Tree Farm status does not transfer to the new owners. New owners should be advised that they will need to contact their foresters and/or the administrative office if they wish to keep the property certified in the Tree Farm Program. Although historical records can be tied to the parcel, a new tree farm number will be assigned and an inspection must be completed for enrollment.

Learn More About Costs You May Incur on the Costs Page.

Get started by reaching out to a Vermont Tree Farm Inspector (PDF)

2008 Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Tour