From its start as a vision for Massachusetts to today’s efforts to galvanize support for land protection across New England, the Wildlands, Woodlands, Farmlands & Communities vision has evolved to meet a growing understanding of the urgency and opportunity for the region.
The 2017 Broadened Vision for New England
The 2017 report was co-authored by 31 scientists, conservationists, urban planning experts, and environmental historians from around New England. The report broadens the perspective of the 2010 report to connect both forests and farms to climate resilience and economic sustainability, and it honors the region’s diverse conservation needs across cities, suburbs, and rural areas in both northern and southern New England. Its specific findings report that New England has been losing forestland to development at a rate of 65 acres per day, and that public funding for land protection has also been steadily declining in all six New England states (down 50% since its peak in 2008), with land conservation trends following suit. The authors end by identifying emerging opportunities for gaining ground, based on New England’s remarkable conservation capacity, and assert that the targets outlined in the 2010 vision for the New England landscape are still attainable.
The 2010 Vision for New England
The 2010 report, written by 20 scholars from institutions across New England, scaled up the Wildlands and Woodlands vision from Massachusetts to the entire region. The authors reported that forest cover was now being lost in every New England state, and set a regional target by calling for a doubling of the pace of conservation to permanently protect 70% of New England in managed forests (90% of forest base) and wildlands (10% of forest base) by 2060. This scale of conservation, according to authors, would retain and enhance the many benefits that forests currently provide, including clean air and water, tourism and recreation, and an array of forest products.
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.