Maintaining and enhancing ecological function across the landscape is fundamental to conserving biological diversity.
Ecological function – the ability of plants and animals to thrive, reproduce, migrate, and move as climate changes and the ability of natural ecosystems to function under natural processes – is served by high-quality terrestrial and aquatic habitat, natural connections across the landscape, a wide variety of habitat features from low elevation to high, clean water, and healthy rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and wetlands.
Landscape-level Conservation Design
A landscape-level conservation design for Vermont is a practical approach to protecting and enhancing ecological function into the future.
The lands and waters identified in this project are the areas of the state that are of highest priority for maintaining ecological integrity. Together, these lands comprise a connected landscape of large and intact forested habitat, healthy aquatic and riparian systems, and a full range of physical features (bedrock, soils, elevation, slope, and aspect) on which plant and animal natural communities depend.
When conserved or managed appropriately to retain or enhance ecological function, these lands will sustain Vermont's natural legacy into the future.
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Each section below provides guidelines on what is needed to maintain ecological functions for that element.
It is our hope this information will inform land management, local planning, and land conservation decisions throughout Vermont. Private landowners, municipalities, state agencies, and conservation organizations should find this information helpful as we all work together for a vibrant and healthy Vermont, now and into the future.