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New Study Reveals Promise and Peril of Land-Use Decisions

December 11, 2013
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CT River Valley

A groundbreaking study released today by the Harvard Forest and the Smithsonian Institution reveals that, if left unchecked, recent trends in the loss of forests to development will undermine significant land conservation gains in Massachusetts, jeopardize water quality, and limit the natural landscape's ability to protect against climate change. 

The good news is that the research shows alternatives exist for protecting and enhancing vital forest benefits for people and nature. 

The two-year study is unique in its forward-looking approach and its use of sophisticated computer models to conduct a detailed acre-by-acre analysis of the entire forested landscape of Massachusetts over 50 years. 

(Video produced by CrossCurrent Communications)

The lead authors of the study - Harvard Forest senior ecologist Jonathan Thompson, Harvard Forest Science & Policy Integration director Kathy Fallon Lambert, and Harvard Forest director David Foster - together with state and non-profit stakeholders, will present the study at a news conference at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government on Dec. 11, and at the Springfield Science Museum on Dec. 12.

Funding for the research and report was provided by multiple sources, including the New England Natural Resources Center, Highstead, the Jessie B. Cox Charitable Trust, the Long-Term Ecological Research Program of the National Science Foundation, and the Smithsonian's Grand Challenges Consortia. 

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