Forestland Conservation

Virginia is fortunate to have abundant forestland that sustains the Commonwealth’s economy, rural communities, and overall environmental health. From the mountains to the Bay, intact managed forests provide substantial benefits to Virginia’s people and natural communities.

Unfortunately, rapid population growth and expansion put these forests and their benefits at risk. Each year, significant portions of Virginia’s forests are converted to other uses, primarily for development. Conversion of forest acres, as well as the fragmentation of the remaining acres, reduces the potential of the forestland base to provide economic, social, and ecological benefits.

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) is committed to slowing the loss of valuable forestland to non-forest land uses. Because forest conversion results from the choices of individual landowners, VDOF works with landowners to help them keep their land in forest.

Landowner Options for Forestland Conservation

Across the Commonwealth exists a mosaic of family forest and farmland. Forestland conservation is a landscape-scale effort achieved through the cooperation of the individual landowners that steward the majority of Virginia’s forested properties. Your forest can be a critical part of conserving Virginia’s beautiful, valuable forestland, but each family or landowner has unique circumstances and visions for their land. You can find a path to forest conservation that works for you. Conservation doesn’t happen by chance – it takes planning to protect forests in perpetuity. VDOF and our partners offer resources to help landowners take the first steps toward making long-term plans for their properties.

Read more…


Get started, contact your local VDOF forester for guidance.

Find a VDOF Forester


Additional Resources

Learn more about legacy planning for forest landowners.

Learn more about Virginia’s state forests and how VDOF manages state forests to provide conservation benefits.

ImageTitleIDDescriptionContent Typedocument-category_hfilterMedia_hfilter
Century Forest Application
Century Forest Application10.03

Application to apply for the recognition in the Century Forest Program.

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Forest Legacy Program
Forest Legacy ProgramP00200

Brochure provides information regarding the Forest Legacy Program available to landowners for conserving their forestland, including program overview, public purposes, methods of acquisition, application process, and program requirements. Printed copies available.

Viewforestland-conservationpublication
Forest Legacy Program Application - Conservation Easement
Forest Legacy Program Application – Conservation Easement10.04Viewforestland-conservationform
Forest Legacy Program Application - Fee Simple Purchase
Forest Legacy Program Application – Fee Simple Purchase10.05Viewforestland-conservationform
Forest Legacy Program Application - Property Data Sheet
Forest Legacy Program Application – Property Data Sheet10.06Viewforestland-conservationform
Forestland Conservation Review 2013-04
Forestland Conservation Review 2013-04P00210

Report provides an update on current forest conservation topics in the Commonwealth, such as Forest Legacy Program, VDOF conservation easements, Virginia Grown program and more.

Viewforestland-conservationpublication
Forestland Conservation Review 2013-12
Forestland Conservation Review 2013-12P00210

Report provides an update on current forest conservation topics in the Commonwealth, such as Forest Legacy Program, VDOF conservation easements, Virginia Grown program and more.

Viewforestland-conservationpublication
Forestland Conservation Review 2014-10
Forestland Conservation Review 2014-10P00210

Report provides an update on current forest conservation topics in the Commonwealth, such as Forest Legacy Program, VDOF conservation easements, Virginia Grown program and more.

Viewforestland-conservationpublication
Forests: Providers of Ecosystem Services
Forests: Providers of Ecosystem ServicesP00142

Brochure provides insight into the other ecosystem benefits that forests provide, such as carbon sequestration, water quality, wetland and species mitigation banking. Printed copies available.

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Landowner Options for Forestland Conservation
Landowner Options for Forestland ConservationP00146

Brochure provides information regarding options available to landowners for conserving their forestland, including use-value taxation, ag and forestal districts, riparian Buffer tax credit, cost-share assistance, conservation easements, purchase of development rights, grants for fee-simple acquisition and easements, and donations of property. Printed copies available.

Viewforestland-conservationpublication
NRCS Conservation Activity Plan (CAP 106) Landowner Information
NRCS Conservation Activity Plan (CAP 106) Landowner Information7.09Viewforest-managementform
Open-Space Easement Donation Application
Open-Space Easement Donation Application10.01Viewforestland-conservationform
Open-Space Easement Landowner Checklist
Open-Space Easement Landowner Checklist10.02Viewforestland-conservationform
Plan Your Forest's Future
Plan Your Forest’s FutureP00205

Brochure provides information regarding the responsibility of owning forestland and the importance of planning your forest’s future, conserving your forestland, forest planning options, types of plans, elements of a plan, and benefits of a plan. Printed copies available.

Viewforest-managementpublication
Services for Landowners
Services for LandownersP00112

Brochure provides information about the services available to landowners from the Virginia Department of Forestry, including forest management and Forest Health, timber harvesting and water quality, land conservation, tree seedling production, and resource protection. Printed copies available.

Viewfire-and-emergency-response forest-health forest-management forestland-conservation nurseries urban-and-community-forestry water-qualitypublication
Valuing Virginia's Forests - Ecosystem Benefits Provided by Our Forests
Valuing Virginia’s Forests – Ecosystem Benefits Provided by Our ForestsFT0005

Forestry topic information sheet provides a brief overview of the indirect benefits, such as ecosystem services, that we derive from our forests. Printed copies available.

Viewforestland-conservationpublication

GIS Data Resources

VDOF has made available various GIS data sets – one specifically related to forestland conservation (GIS software required.) The Forest Conservation Value (FCV) is a modeled raster layer (geo tiff format) that identifies high-value conservation forests across Virginia. The current version of the model was produced in 2020. It is meant as a tool to help drive strategic, informed, and targeted decisions about where to focus forest conservation efforts. The model is based on a weighted combination of six component layers (e.g., forest management potential, threat of conversion). A detailed description of the methods used to produce the layer is included in the materials for download.

GIS Data Set


Contact Us

If you’re unsure where to start, contact your local VDOF forester for guidance.

For more information or questions, e-mail us or use our contact form.