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Land Use Change and Forest Effects

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Two visible science & policy projects related to land use and forest effects are the Wildlands and Woodlands Initiative that began in 2004 and the Future Scenarios of Forest Change research project that began with a pilot project in Massachusetts in 2008.

Wildlands and Woodlands 

The Wildlands and Woodlands Initiative (W&W) began with a series of publications led by Harvard Forest Scientists.  The W&W reports for Massachusetts and New England synthesized regional research related to trends in forest cover and condition into a series of publications aimed at non-scientists that call for stemming the loss of forest cover now occurring in all six New England states and for balancing preservation of wildlands with large areas of actively managed woodlands. W&W has contributed to important policy and management advances, including:

  1. establishment of permanent wildland reserves on public lands in Massachusetts;
  2. drafting of a conservation finance bill in Massachusetts to accelerate the pace of conservation;
  3. launching of an innovative effort to aggregate multiple parcels into a single conservation project with the goal of conserving ≈10,000 acres in western Massachusetts; and
  4. a conservation policy document written by sixty NGOs in the region based on W&W recommendations.

Future Scenarios of Forest Change

Scenarios provide a way of analyzing the interactive effects and potential consequences of future climate and land use for specific landscapes. They bring together narratives developed by stakeholders concerning the range of possible human decisions with quantitative modeling of associated land use changes and climatic conditions. Through a partnership with Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and members of the Long-Term Ecological Research Network, a future scenarios project was released in 2013 for Massachusetts and is in development for New England via the "Scenarios, Services, and Society" Research Coordination Network.