Since 2016, the Farm and Forest Viability Program has been working with community partners to provide in-depth ownership succession planning for forestland owners in Vermont. The focus of this programming is to forestall the well-documented forest fragmentation that can result from a lack of sufficient land-transfer planning. This work allows families to engage specialized and skilled advisers who can play a neutral role as guide and facilitator during family discussions. With this guidance, landowners develop a vision for long-term stewardship and ownership, identify and address questions or needs they may encounter in the process, and create a framework for transfer of the forest to the next generation, new owner or conservation organization. Throughout the planning process, landowners may also seek specialized support from foresters, accountants, financial advisors, attorneys and mediators in the course of developing and formalizing a succession plan.
For Service Providers:
Through the Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program’s forest landowner succession planning, participating families are matched with a lead adviser, who serves as a guide through the succession planning process. We expect that each client enrolled in the in-depth transfer planning process receives at least 20 hours of coaching/support from their lead advisor, and up to approximately 100 hours. The lead advisor role includes:
- Providing information & guidance on transferring ownership of forestland, with particular focus on the legal, financial & family dynamic involved
- Clarifying options for families
- Convening meetings
- Acting as a neutral party to family discussions
- Connecting families with subject-area specialists & preparing them for taking best advantage of those services
- Encouraging forward movement of the succession planning process
To be eligible for the in-depth succession planning advising services offered by the Viability Program, forest landowners must own forest in Vermont that is of significant scale or ecological importance. Vermont residency is NOT a requirement for eligibility. Landowners must be willing to commit significant time to this process, and must be on board with participating in the program model described in these guidelines.
The next round of applications is anticipated to open in late winter 2023. At the time of application, there is a one-time $75 fee for enrollment in the Viability Program.
*Landowner applications are currently closed. For more information, contact Mark Raishart, Forest Program Specialist, at m.raishart[at]vhcb.org*