Both private and public landholdings will play key roles in successful avian conservation now and in the future.
The distribution of conserved lands – public and private – is biased towards high- elevation habitats. Other habitats – notably grasslands and shrublands – are virtually absent from the portfolio of conserved land.
- Shielded from development or conversion to non-natural cover.
- Widespread in some parts of North America, and support the vast majority of populations of some bird species, especially those inhabiting boreal forest and arctic or alpine tundra.
- Less important for birds of the eastern United States, including in Vermont.
- Less than 15 percent is held by the public, split between federal (7.3 percent), state (6.4 percent), and municipal (0.7 percent) ownership.
- An additional 4.9 percent of the state’s land area is held in trust for conservation by private organizations.
- More than 80 percent of Vermont is privately held.
- It is unlikely that bird populations can be sustained without proper management of these lands.
- The choice to manage land with conservation in mind is often based on moral or ethical considerations.
- Ultimately, bird conservation in Vermont may depend largely on individual decisions by citizens.
Assistance and incentives for landowners – examples
- NRCS administers conservation easements or incentive programs such as the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program.
- Vermont’s Use Value Appraisal Law, or “Current Use” law, allows for calculating the tax value of farms and forests based on their productive value, rather than their market value.
- Organizations such as land trusts offer technical assistance and financial incentives to landowners committed to incorporating conservation practices or limiting development.
- Audubon Vermont’s Forest Bird Initiative offers tools and services that help forest landowners provide habitat for birds
- Vermont Coverts educates private landowners in techniques and strategies for wildlife management.