Vermont Biodiversity Project

In the mid-1990s, there was a growing sense of concern in Vermont that biodiversity was critically important for ecosystem integrity, but was at risk of serious decline. Stemming from this sentiment, the Nature Conservancy of Vermont organized numerous leaders of various conservation commissions and agencies across Vermont to work towards the common goal of preserving the viability of native community types and species across the state. This organization became the Vermont Biodiversity Project. The project's first phase focused on designing a map based on existing data that outlined priority conservation areas. Following completion, the project aimed to verify and revise the representation of natural communities in the map across Vermont. The attached document outlines these findings.

Project Contact: Liz Thompson
Project Contact Email:
Year Completed: 1999
Project Lifespan: 1995-1999
Regional Planning Commision: None
Citizen Science, Forest Land, Inventory, Land Management, water, wetland, wildlife
Other Keywords: Biodiversity
Project Accomplishments:

In 1999, the inventory results and statewide assessments was published in a 48 page report called 'Vermont's Natural Heritage.' This information is now available to the public for use in town planning, conservation efforts, and recreational interests. This report puts a tremendous amount of information in the hands of the public and serves as one of the first large scale inventories that focused on conservation planning in VT.

Project Partners:

The Nature Conservancy of Vermont
Vermont Land Trust
Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Green Mountain National Forest
US Forest Service
Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation

Critical to Success:

The funding for the project was provided by grants from the Orton Family Foundation, the Sweetwater Trust and the Environmental Protection Agency. While there was a tremendous number of professionals that provided expertise throughout the project, Jens Hilke was pivotal in bringing the information to town planning meetings where it could be used to advise zoning regulations or bylaws. Volunteers were critical in latter stages of the project that required verification and data collection in the field.


The main challenge for the Vermont Biodiversity Project was dealing with changing political attitudes towards environmental action over the period of work. This presented a few problems as language and messages previously accepted needed to be revised and reworked to suit concerns of new leadership. Other challenges include the logical puzzle of getting all the various partners in the same room and to agree on a common direction to pull the project. The key factor that allowed for the ultimate success of the project remains to be the passion and dedication of partner staff and volunteers.