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Harvard Forest Land Management

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The Harvard Forest has a Land-Use Master Plan, developed in 2008, that was written to guide management and research activities of the Forest into the future. It provides a framework for evaluating and locating future research and education activities, determining appropriate levels and locations of development, management and recreation activities, and guiding land protection efforts.

The Master Plan uses a Wildlands and Woodlands framework to guide research, education, recreation, and forest management within three broad zones. The majority of the land base is available for flexible research use, but 600-700 acres each are specifically zoned as Wildlands (forest reserves; low impact activities only) or Woodlands (active forest management to be guided by site-specific Forest Stewardship Plans).

It is important to note that the 2008 Land-Use Master Plan is grounded in an inadvertent - and yet still very harmful - omission. The Plan does not mention or honor the vital perspectives of the Nipmuc, the sovereign Indigenous nation whose unceded homeland Harvard Forest occupies. Since 2021, in an effort to begin to redress this harm and to contribute to Nipmuc sovereignty, as an organization we have been working to build relationship with the Hassanamisco Band of Nipmuc, collaborating on education, land stewardship, and research projects. In fall 2022 we are taking the important next step of working together to write the forest management plan for a 1,000-acre tract of land - a management plan which will center Nipmuc goals and values. Learn more about this work by contacting Clarisse Hart, Harvard Forest Director of Education & Outreach, at or 978-799-6282.

Related projects

Plantation Management & Research

In 2001, the Harvard Forest began planning how to bring nearly a century of plantation research to a grand finale, and developed a management plan in which 80 of about 125 acres of our remaining plantations were harvested between 2008-2010. We are now conducting long-term studies of the flora and fauna in the early successional habitats that are created by the harvests (see the deer and moose study). More information and an FAQ on these harvests are available in the plantation harvest info sheet.

Harvard Forest Thermal Biomass System

A January 2014 Open House at the Forest celebrated the dedication of a new, super-efficient thermal biomass system that heats the campus's 5 main buildings using wood harvested from Harvard Forest land.