Ecological science enhances our understanding of the natural world and can help inform and inspire landowners, policymakers, and other stakeholders to sustainably manage and permanently conserve the woods and waters of New England.
Although conservation is often achieved at a local scale, ecological impacts can be regional, national, and even global in scope. Better understanding the dynamics of single woodlots, local watersheds, or the New England region as a whole — and factoring in the role of people in those ecosystems — helps to inform decisions that sustain rather than degrade the natural landscape.
W&W partner science initiatives include:
The W&W Stewardship Science initiative provides a clear methodology that allows groups and individuals throughout New England to monitor long-term plots on their conserved land. This “citizen science” initiative is contributing to a growing database on New England forest dynamics. The project encourages landowners, organizations, and agencies to better understand and use ecological research results in forest management and policy decisions.
The Land-Use Scenarios Initiative, a multi-year project led by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and W&W leader Harvard Forest, published its Massachusetts landscape-change scenarios report in December 2013. The report evaluates how the extent and distribution of development and forest harvest could impact the Massachusetts landscape and the ecological and economic values they provide. The four scenarios examine how carbon sequestration, water flows, wood products, and wildlife habitat could change over the next fifty years in Massachusetts—depending on the decisions we make today.