Extent, pattern, and multifunctionality of treed habitats on farms in Vermont, USA

Sarah Taylor Lovell, V. Ernesto Mendez, Daniel L. Erickson, Chloe Nathan, S'ra DeSantis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Agroecosystems can serve as multifunctional landscapes when treed habitats such as woodlots, hedgerows, riparian buffers, windbreaks, and orchards, are conserved on farms. We investigated the extent, pattern, and multifunctionality of on-farm treed habitats for 16 Vermont farms in the Lamoille watershed of the Lake Champlain Basin. The site was selected because the land use pattern is representative of the region, containing a mixture of agriculture and forest in different habitat types. We used a GIS-based approach to delineate treed habitats on farms and conducted semi-structured interviews with farmers to explore their perception of the functions of treed habitats. Through an evaluation of the relationship between farm characteristics and spatial attributes of treed habitats, we found farm size to be an important variable. Larger farms had more land in treed habitats, while the pattern of these habitats was more complex on smaller farms. Average elevation of the farm, an indicator of biophysical conditions, was a stronger predictor of the extent of treed habitats than farm characteristics. From interviews, we found that farmers benefited from alternative forest products, both for direct consumption and sale, including firewood, timber, maple sugar, edible fruits and nuts, and wood crafts. Most farmers also recognized cultural and ecological functions provided by treed habitats. These results have implications for developing policies to promote the conservation of treed habitats, considering the preferences of the landowner or farmer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-171
Number of pages19
JournalAgroforestry Systems
Volume80
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

Keywords

  • Agricultural systems
  • Farm design
  • Landscape agroecology
  • Multifunctional landscape
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Vegetative buffers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Agronomy and Crop Science

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