Audubon Receives Forest Landowner Support Award for Bird-Friendly Maple Program

Funding will help evaluate, unify, and scale the program in the Northeast and Midwest.
Scarlet Tanager. Photo: Russel Smith/Audubon Photography Awards

Today the National Audubon Society received $2 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service to support the Bird-Friendly Maple program. The investment is part of $145 million in Inflation Reduction Act funding to connect landowners to emerging climate markets. Funding will help expand the program with a focus on engaging small-acreage private landowners in sustainable forestry practices. 

“Through Audubon’s Bird-Friendly Maple program, maple producers in the U.S. can commit to sustainable forest management practices that support bird conservation. The USDA grant funding will allow us to scale up the program which started in Vermont in 2014 and empower more small landowners across the Northeast and Midwest to participate in the emerging bird-friendly maple syrup market. This will have a significant impact on how forests and songbirds like Scarlet Tanagers and Wood Thrushes can thrive and adapt to a changing climate,” said Jillian Liner, Director of Conservation for Audubon Vermont

“Sugarbushes don’t just make for great maple syrup: they provide important nesting and foraging habitat for over thirty birds including declining songbirds like the Eastern Wood Pewee and Veery. On a wider scale, healthy forested landscapes provide benefits like carbon sequestration and storage and watershed protection. By creating a more structurally and biologically diverse sugarbush, maple producers can play a vital role in conservation that benefits birds and people,” said Suzanne Treyger, Senior Forest Program Manager for Audubon Connecticut and New York

Audubon’s Bird-Friendly Maple program is a market-based approach that incentivizes maple producers to manage their sugarbush (a forest stand that consists of mostly sugar maple tree species) in support of bird habitat and forest resilience through unique product labeling and marketing opportunities. Through the USDA Forest Service funding, Audubon and Virginia Tech will evaluate, unify, and scale the program in the Northeast (Vermont, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maine) and Midwest (Minnesota, Wisconsin) in partnership with Maine Audubon, Food Alliance, and Vermont Northeast Organic Farming Association.  

“As we’ve learned in other contexts, listening to landowners is the foundation of a successful private lands conservation project. Developing projects with them ensures that they will have lasting benefits for people, habitat, and birds,” said Ashley Dayer, Associate Professor in the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech.   

The future of forest birds and the maple sugaring industry are tightly linked: the same northern hardwood forests that supply the U.S. with maple syrup each year are also home to some of the highest diversity and abundance of breeding birds in the continental United States. Through applied forest management, recognized bird-friendly maple producers work to improve habitat quality in their sugarbushes to optimize breeding and foraging opportunities for forest birds in decline.  This natural climate solution can absorb greenhouse gases and naturally store carbon, making forests more resilient while reducing climate risks.

For more information about this conservation initiative, visit the Audubon Connecticut, Audubon New York,  and Audubon Vermont program pages. Participating retailers can be found on the Audubon Marketplace page.  


About Audubon    
The National Audubon Society is a nonprofit conservation organization that protects birds and the places they need today and tomorrow. We work throughout the Americas towards a future where birds thrive because Audubon is a powerful, diverse, and ever-growing force for conservation. Audubon has more than 700 staff working across the hemisphere and more than 1.5 million active supporters. North America has lost three billion birds since 1970, and more than 500 bird species are at risk of extinction across Latin America and the Caribbean. Birds act as early warning systems about the health of our environment, and they tell us that birds – and our planet – are in crisis. Together as one Audubon, we are working to alter the course of climate change and habitat loss, leading to healthier bird populations and reversing current trends in biodiversity loss. We do this by implementing on-the-ground conservation, partnering with local communities, influencing public and corporate policy, and building community. Learn more at and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.