The Massachusetts Commission on Financing Forest Conservation, which includes David Foster, Director of the Harvard Forest, and James Levitt, Director of the Harvard Forest Program on Conservation Innovation, presented its final report to the Mass. Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), and several state legislators, at the State House on February 13.
The central idea behind the Commission's several years of work, and its final report, is that the best way to sustain the forests of Massachusetts--and the ecosystem services and recreational opportunities that they uniquely provide--is to simultaneously pursue conservation and sustainable economic development strategies.
The Commission was established in 2009 by a bill signed by the governor. A 2009 grant from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust supported a companion study, Financing Forest Conservation Across the Commonwealth, to augment the Commission's work. The idea for the Commission was originally proposed by a Wildlands and Woodlands Conservation Finance Roundtable held at Harvard University in fall 2006.
Specific strategies that will be emphasized at the February 13 event include: aggregation for conservation; mitigation for conservation; compact land development; and targeted forest-related economic development. Significant progress can and is being made using each of these strategies. The Commission's report makes the case that continued resolve and action by public, non-profit, private, and academic leaders and citizens on these strategies can once again make Massachusetts a global precedent-setter in the field of forest conservation.
For more on these topics, please read the Commission's full report.