A picture of Vermont taken today from a satellite would show a heavily
forested state with dense forests straddling the spine of the Green
Mountains. Accept in the Champlain Valley, only tiny ribbons of farmland
along the state’s major rivers, and the occasional “hill
farm” break the forest cover.
Our great-grandparents would hardly recognize the Vermont we have become
so accustomed to; many of the hay fields, pastures, barns and homes
of their youth are all but memories today. In their place, stand forests
of tall white pine, sugar maple, white ash and red oak.
One of the key tools for assessing the health and sustainability of
Vermont’s forests is the Forest Inventory
and Analysis (FIA)
conducted by the US Forest Service. The latest
inventory, conducted in 1997, found that Vermont’s forests contain
over 117 million cords of wood, an average of over
26 cords per acre. Since 1966, the
average diameter of these trees has increased from
8.3 to 9.16 inches (diameter breast height), and
the average number of trees per acre has
increased from 170 to 187 (trees 5”or larger in diameter).
The FIA not only monitors growth, but also assesses the level of removals
from forests to calculate a “growth-to-removals ratio”.
Net growth is the total growth of trees plus gains from land coming
into forest, minus losses to mortality from insect and disease outbreaks,
and disturbances such as wind or ice storms. Removals include harvesting
as well as losses due to land use change. Since 1948, the net growth
of trees has exceeded removals. In fact, about twice as much wood has
been grown as was cut or otherwise removed!
For more information on the Forest Inventory
and Analysis Program and the state of Vermont’s
forests, check out the documents and links below:
Vermont's Forest Inventory - 2006, USDA Forest Service, Forest Inventory & Annalysis
Forests of the Green Mountain State; A Half-Century
of Change, USDA Forest Service, NE-INF-142-01.
Forests of the Green Mountain State, USDA Forest Service,
Resource Bulletin NE-158. 2003.
Forest Inventory & Analysis, 1997 Statistical Tables -
VT Forest Resource Harvest Summary 2005
VT Forest Resource Harvest Summary 2004
VT Forest Resource Harvest Summary 2003
VT Forest Resource Harvest Summary 2002
Forest Inventory and Analysis