Foresters for the Birds

Photo by Ed Zlonis

Forestry with birds in mind

In response to declines in songbird populations in New England, Audubon Vermont and Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation launched Foresters for the Birds, a program that promotes forest stewardship to enhance bird habitat. The success of the program is the integration of silviculture with songbird habitat enhancement. The Foresters for the Birds program provides forest stewards with tools for effectively communicating with landowners about the benefits of managing forests with bird habitat in mind. Essentially, Foresters for the Birds “lets the birds tell the story about how forests can benefit from thoughtful management,” engaging woodland owners in a positive manner to take stewardship steps on their property.

The Forestry for Birds programs are built on partnerships among landowners, academics, foresters, non-profit agencies, and government agencies on local, regional, and national levels. The program is voluntary, and allows landowners to draw on the parts of the program that work for them.

The Forest Stewards Guild has helped to develop the program in Maine (Forestry for Maine Birds) and is further expanding and adapting the framework to the Southeast, Lake States, and Pacific West. Each region has distinct interests and opportunities reflected in the partnerships, forest types, and bird species. Many foundational elements are shared by all programs including educational workshops that bring landowners and professionals together to share knowledge about the program and how it can be applied, as well as pocket field guides, online resources, and demonstration sites that help to illustrate program content.

The goals of the program are to:

  • Encourage forest health through the enhancement of bird habitat to keep common birds common
  • Promote the connection between bird habitat and working woodlands
  • Collaborate and support others to bring Foresters for the Birds across the landscape
  • Working with biologists and conservationists to identify habitat and silvicultural recommendations for at-risk bird species and bird species with populations in decline
  • Hosting educational workshops that engage the network of foresters, woodland owners, tree farmers, land trusts, and conservation organizations in promoting the connection between bird habitat and working woodlands.

“I appreciate the additional information and the great workshop you put on. I now have a different view of my forest and how I will manage it. I have been having a lot of fun with the Merlin app.”

- Landowner attendee of a Forestry for the Birds Western Oregon Guide workshop

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