Contiguous habitat Units (Habitat Blocks) are areas of contiguous natural cover separated by roads, developed areas and agricultural lands. Ideally, these areas are connected with other similar areas so that the animals that use them can move freely to other forested areas and habitats. It is important to keep in mind that there is no minimum or maximum number of acres to define contiguous habitat in all cases throughout the state. Rather, it is important to consider the size of the contiguous forest habitat and associated species of plants and animals within the context of the level of fragmentation in the region. In addition, the configuration of the habitat is also an important consideration for identifying contiguous habitat. For instance, an area of forest habitat that is highly irregular in shape, with a high degree of forest edge may be less functional for some species than forest habitat of the same acreage with a regular shape. Contiguous habitat is important because it:

  • supports the biological requirements of many plants and animals;
  • supports viable populations of wide-ranging animals by allowing access to important, feeding habitat, reproduction, and genetic exchange;
  • serves as habitat for source populations of dispersing animals for recolonization of nearby habitats that may have lost their original populations of those species;
  • supports public access to and appreciation of Vermont 's forested landscape;
  • provides forest management opportunities for sustainable extraction of forest products;
  • provides forest management opportunities to yield a mixture of young, intermediate, and older forest habitat;
  • helps maintain air and water quality; and
  • provides important opportunities for education and research of forest ecosystems.