Forest Cover

Latest Score:


in 2021

Weight: 8%
score trend is flat over time

Forest cover is a measure of how much total forest exists in Vermont. The Vermont forested landscape has experienced drastic changes over its history, from widespread land-clearing to subsequent reforestation. In recent years, however, forest cover has been in decline due to development pressures. Declining forest cover means that there are reductions in timber resources, wildlife habitat and food sources, and ecosystem services such as air quality mitigation, recreational opportunities, and carbon storage. Here, forest cover is measured as a percent of the state with tree cover. A high score means that the amount of total forest cover is remaining stable over time

Increasing for a long time and now decreasing again, this time due to urbanization rather than agricultural expansion. Urbanization represents a more permanent land cover change than agriculture, and is accompanied by a larger set of demands from and impacts on the surrounding forest.

Interpretation provided by:

Rachel Rienmann, Research Forester/Geographer; USDA U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station


The score is calculated using a target value and the historical range of the the entire long-term dataset. The higher the score, the closer this year's value is to the target.

Once the score is computed for each year, the trend in scores over time is calculated. If the trend is significantly positive or negative, the long-term trend is marked as increasing or decreasing respectively.

Component Description
Scored as

Deviation from the target (scaled between 1 and 5)

Target value

Long-term mean

Directionality of scores

No change from the long-term mean is better

Minimum value used in scoring

Data minimum - 10% of the range

Maximum value used in scoring

Data maximum + 10% of the range

We used forest cover estimates generated by the USFS Forest Inventory and Analysis Program EVALIDator1 (“0079 Area of sampled land and water, in acres”). We relied on the query and methods set by FIA to compute these estimates (Accessible forest as defined by FIA)/(Total land– (Noncensus Water + Census Water)) x 100%). We then converted them to a percentage of the state of Vermont using the total area of the state. The target was set as the long-term mean value. The current year is scored for where it falls between the target and the upper scoring bounds (maximum value in the dataset +10% of the range) or the lower scoring bounds (minimum value in the dataset -10% of the range), scaled to be between 1 and 5.

1 USDA Forest Service. 2019. FIA EVALIDator. Available at: