Date of Award



Deane Wang, PhD

Liz Thompson, MS

Cathy Paris, PhD

Allan Strong, PhD

Document Type



Merck Forest & Farmland Center is a 3190-acre property in Rupert, VT. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to the education of sustainable land management and farming practices. The Board of Trustees of Merck Forest is considering placing a conservation easement on the property through the Vermont Land Trust. In order to inform the easement recommendations a site assessment is necessary. During the summer of 2014, I mapped the natural communities to discover any ecologically sensitive areas on the property. Following the guidelines set by the Vermont Natural Heritage Program, I determined the element occurrence of rarity for each natural community and provided recommendations on management for the property. Using the Vermont Center for Ecostudies’ bird monitoring plot data I estimated the value of Merck Forest for habitat availability and diversity. Using the criteria of habitat connectivity, landscape complexity, and resiliency, I assessed the current and potential ecological value of this parcel in a regional context. I recommend a conservation strategy that follows a nested approach of preservation or ‘no-touch’ management areas within a larger matrix of conserved, actively managed land.