Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York have much in common: similar challenges, similar assets and a strong regional identity based on the connection between people and the land. Since 1997, the Northern Forest Center has brought people together to build relationships and common strategies, and share tested ideas to strengthen the communities and economy of the region.

In 2019, the Aspen Institute's Community Strategies Group profiled the Center in a report on new approaches to economic development work in rural places. A major focus of the Aspen Institute's research is on integrated approaches and community engagement to improve the economy and infrastructure, and to address social needs while also pursuing equity and long-term prosperity.



"The Northern Forest Center is a national leader in planning and implementing game-changing economic development strategies in rural communities. USDA has invested in these strategies because we believe they will help strengthen rural communities in Vermont and New Hampshire by creating jobs and new economies."

—Ted Brady, Former USDA Rural Development State Director for Vermont and New Hampshire

We use our 4-state perspective to inform and develop long-range solutions. We provide regional leadership on public policy  and economic strategy, and we build and support collaborative projects that deliver benefits to Northern Forest communities. We test new ideas and then replicate the most successful across the region.

The Center is engaged in several strategic initiatives across the region, some focused within one state, others crossing state lines to build regional capacity.

Regional Collaboration & Convenings

The Center develops and supports strong collaboration that works within and across geographic boundaries and diverse interests to advance the region toward shared goals. We periodically host regional conferences that build connections and knowledge across the region on issues such as rural community development, Community Forests, and common economic opportunities such as destination development, wood heat, and wood products.

More about collaboration across the Northern Forest.

Regional Economic Strategy

In 2015, the Center engaged organizations and strategic thinkers across the region to update a regional economic strategy for the Northern Forest. With the 2009 Sustainable Economy Initiative as a base, and in collaboration with the governors of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York, we identified high-level opportunities and specific priorities to guide regional investment by the Northern Border Regional Commission.

Regional Investment

The Center’s work has leveraged more than $200 million of investment in forest conservation, community development and new sustainable economic uses of the forest. Through a variety of initiatives with public and private funders, we help to create coordinated regional investment approaches to shared regional challenges and opportunities.

Read more about how the Center’s Regional Investment work makes a positive impact on the region.

Public Policy Initiatives

We work with state and federal elected officials and agency staff to advance forest-based economic opportunities in the Northern Forest. We do this by improving public policies that support new industries that use the forest sustainably, such as Automated Wood Heat, and by informing and securing public investments in maintaining forestland and building forest-based businesses.

Read more about the Center’s public policy work.

Visit our Resources page for demographic information, maps, publications, policy statements and more.