The Foresters for the Birds project has won national recognition from the U.S. Forest Service Wings Across the Americas program for its collaborative approach to forest and bird habitat conservation in Vermont and along the Atlantic Flyway. Every year, the Forest Service recognizes outstanding work by Forest Service employees and their local, regional and international partners in conserving birds, bats, butterflies, dragonflies, and their habitats. The Foresters for the Birds project is an innovative partnership between Audubon Vermont and the Vermont Dept. of Forests, Parks, and Recreation that started in 2008 with support from the U.S. Forest Service State and Private Forestry Program. It is being recognized for breaking down perceived barriers between tree-cutters and bird-lovers in order to achieve common goals of assisting private landowners with protecting and improving forest health, productivity, and habitat for birds of conservation concern.
As home to some of the highest diversities of breeding birds in the continental United States, Vermont’s northern forests are globally important for birds. However, forest fragmentation and conversion threaten birds, forest health, and Vermont’s local forest-based economy. Songbirds need forests, and in order to keep forested land available, “we need to make sure there is some economic benefit to landowners in keeping their land forested”, stated Michael Snyder, Commissioner of the Vermont Dept. of Forests, Parks and Recreation. ”The beauty of this project is that it is a way of connecting human needs with the needs of wildlife. Managing working forests provides economic benefits to landowners and assists them in keeping their land forested, which in turn provides important habitat for wildlife.”
“Vermonter’s overwhelmingly value our working landscape and treasure the birds breeding in our forests. This partnership builds on these complementary interests by giving woodlot owners and their foresters the skills and tools to create a great bird nursery and a vibrant forest industry,” added Jim Shallow, Audubon Vermont’s Conservation and Policy Director.
US Forest Service Forest Stewardship Representative, Roger Monthey, agrees. “The Foresters for the Birds project is a great example of a way forward that integrates Vermont’s working forests with migratory bird habitat management goals,” states Monthey. “Many woodland owners in Vermont are interested in nature, privacy, aesthetics, leaving a legacy, and we feel this project is an excellent fit for these landowners. It’s the strong partnership between foresters, biologists, and woodland owners that makes this project unique.”
The Wings Across the Americas awards will be presented as part of the 78th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference to be held in Arlington, VA, March 25-30, 2013.