Vermont is made up of an interesting mix of working and protected landscapes. The state also has a long-standing track record of establishing and managing natural areas and serves as a model of public and private partnerships in land conservation. As increasing demands are placed on these important natural amenities, however, professionals and citizens alike need to be prepared to deal with the complex issues of land use planning, protection, and management. The University of Vermont is well positioned to provide training and expertise in these endeavors.
The Natural Areas Center at the University of Vermont was established to promote and integrate activities and programs at the University related to natural areas and land conservation. The mission of the Center is to provide educational opportunities, research support, professional development, and outreach services to individuals and groups both within and beyond the University concerning the protection and management of natural areas and other conservation lands.
The Natural Areas Center sponsors courses and other academic opportunities in natural areas identification, protection, and stewardship. The Center also provides students with opportunities to pursue internship and practicum experiences in a variety of settings with local and regional natural areas programs. These opportunities include working with town conservation commissions and school systems, private environmental organizations and land trusts, and various state and federal agencies involved in land conservation and management.
The Natural Areas Center's research activities are directed in several areas. Developing strategies for the protection and management of natural areas, specifically those used for research and educational activities, is a primary focus for research. Emphasis is placed on promoting, demonstrating, and communicating low impact field research and teaching techniques to faculty, students, and others. Identifying appropriate land protection tools and testing various management approaches for sensitive landscapes is also a focus for research. Designing the most effective information and training delivery systems for the diversity of participants in land conservation is another research priority of the Center.
The Natural Areas Center seeks to attract to campus outside students and members of the land conservation community by offering workshops and professional development opportunities in land conservation techniques, preserve selection and design, and natural areas stewardship and monitoring. The Center also provides outreach to area communities and school systems offering assistance and training in local natural areas inventory, management, and education programs.
Programs and Activities
Each year, the Natural Areas Center sponsors a Summer Land Conservation Program which offers a series of short courses, workshops, and field experiences for students, professionals, and others interested in land conservation and stewardship. Other courses, seminars, training sessions, and conferences are hosted throughout the year. The Center places student interns with local schools, conservation organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and the Vermont Land Trust, and public agencies including state natural areas and natural heritage programs where they assist with a variety of conservation activities. A data base is maintained by the Center allowing it to respond to information requests and to serve as a clearinghouse for information on natural areas and land conservation.
Resources and Facilities
The University of Vermont owns and manages a system of nine natural areas. From high elevation alpine communities to forests, lakeshores, and wetlands, these natural areas represent some of the finest examples of Vermont's natural heritage. The Natural Areas Center utilizes the natural areas system as field sites for its many educational, research, and outreach activities. The Center also maintains office and workshop space at the University and has access to a variety of classroom, laboratory, and other support facilities available on campus.
How to Find Us
The Natural Areas Center is housed with the Environmental Program on the University of Vermont campus in Burlington, Vermont. Our red colonial brick building is on the corner of South Prospect and Main Streets, diagonally across from the campus green. Come visit! We would welcome the opportunity to show you around and to talk with you further about our activities and programs.