Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Natural Resources


The holistic, landscape-based approach of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) in the United States emphasizes the importance of addressing three components of forest management: ecology, community, and economy. Many believe this approach represents an important and positive paradigm shift in natural resource management. In Vermont, as well as many other parts of the United States, parcelized forest ownership presents challenges to the achievement of SFM on private property. These challenges include that of applying concepts of landscape-scale management over a mosaic of small landownerships while addressing ecological, economic, and social dynamics. Many authors have suggested a need for new institutions that are better capable of addressing the integrated, boundary-crossing nature of SFM on private lands. In Vermont, partnerships involving environmental non-profit organizations are implementing innovative management strategies to promote SFM which address the challenges of parcelization. In so doing, non-profit groups are branching out from traditional roles of advocacy and public goods protection to address not only the ecological, but also economic and community aspects of forest management. Examining the strategies, organizational roles, challenges and perceived permanence of these partnerships provides a greater understanding of the nature of these new institutional arrangements for SFM. This study asks the question: How do partnerships involving environmental nonprofit organizations in Vermont attempt to achieve goals of sustainable forest management in the context of a parcelized landscape? Using a multiple case study approach, I examine three SFM-related partnerships in Vermont that involve environmental nonprofit organizations. I assess their strategies, organizational roles, challenges and perceived permanence. Results indicate that partnerships involving environmental nonprofit organizations are playing important roles in defining and institutionalizing SFM in Vermont. Partnerships use diverse strategies through which they strive to account for the three components of SFM. I find three points of entry into SFM-related issues, connected to three strategies used by partnerships to address issues of parcelization: community-based, alternative silviculture and product branding. This diversity in approach may complement the diverse nature of forest landowner’s wants and needs. Furthermore, demonstrated flexibility at the partnership and organizational levels allowed partnerships to better work toward their goals. Challenges encountered by partnerships involved both internal dynamics and external circumstances, including differential organizational capacity and economic conditions, respectively. In addition, perceived permanence of these institutional arrangements may be related to the roles that environmental nonprofit organizations play within each partnership. Findings increase our understanding of the changing roles of non-profit organizations in the forest management sector, raise key questions about the permanence of such arrangements, and provide insights into partnership practices and challenges that may be applied in other settings. The results of this study contribute to a broader analysis of national trends in SFM.