New England forests are at a turning point. Following a 200-year resurgence, forest cover has begun to decline in every New England state. What will we do with this challenge and opportunity?
The New England Vision at a Glance
The Wildlands and Woodlands (W&W) vision calls for a 50-year effort to conserve 70 percent of New England as forest permanently free from development. Through the leadership and commitment of landowners, these conserved lands will continue to power the region’s traditional land-based economy and provide environmental and social benefits for current and future generations.
W&W anticipates that voluntary, community-driven conservation will result in approximately 90 percent of the forest conserved as woodlands sustainably managed for timber harvesting and 10 percent conserved as wildlands to protect biodiversity and wilderness. W&W further envisions an expanding amount of acreage devoted to local, sustainable agriculture, compact development, and local communities that adopt sustainable transportation, energy and land use policies.
Achieving the New England Vision
Achieving the W&W vision will require a doubling of current rates of conservation. This cannot be accomplished by sweeping public acquisition or regulatory fiat. It will require helping thousands of willing private landowners who are interested in securing the future of their land through conservation easements and other means; it will require innovative new approaches and diverse partnerships of economic, environmental, and community interests. And it will take a redoubled commitment from all of us in New England to get the job done.
Fortunately, New Englanders have a long history of conservation innovation and a deep devotion to the natural landscapes that sustain us. Through both individual efforts and new collaborations, W&W partners are working to double the pace of conservation in New England, from efforts as diverse as the RCP Network and the New England Forest Policy Group to a number of innovative conservation finance projects and science initiatives.
Today, W&W is both an inspirational vision and a rapidly growing regional initiative to achieve it. Please get involved today!
The Vision for Massachusetts
In 2005, the first Wildlands and Woodlands vision recommended protecting 50 percent of Massachusetts (2.5 million acres) in forest.
The Massachusetts vision called for the permanent protection of: (1) 2.25 million acres of Woodlands, mostly privately owned and managed for multiple goods and services, and (2) 250,000 acres of Wildland reserves, mostly publicly owned and allowed to grow naturally.