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Land-Use Change and Forest Effects

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The Forest's ongoing science & policy work on land-use and forest change in New England are exemplified in the Wildlands and Woodlands Initiative and the Future Scenarios of Forest Change project.

Wildlands and Woodlands 

The Wildlands and Woodlands Initiative (W&W) began with a series of publications led by Harvard Forest scientists and collaborators around the region. The W&W reports for Massachusetts and New England (2010 and 2017) synthesized regional research on trends in conservation and land cover and developed a vision to stem the loss of forest and farmland cover now occurring in all six New England states, and to protect the region's natural benefits for generations to come. The W&W Initiative works collaboratively with landowners, land managers, conservation organizations, regional planners, academics, funders, farmers, sportsmen, governments, and others to increase the pace of land conservation in the region. Harvard Forest contributes to this work by generating new research products (see below) and communications tools that propel conservation work forward.

Future Scenarios of Forest Change

Landscape scenarios provide a way of analyzing the interactive effects and potential consequences of future climate and land use. They begin with narratives developed by stakeholders on a range of possible human decisions that could lead to future change. Then scientists - at the Harvard Forest, this is done in Jonathan Thompson's lab - perform quantitative modeling of associated land-use changes and climatic conditions.

Through a partnership with Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Long-Term Ecological Research Network, the Harvard Forest released a future scenarios report in 2013 for Massachusetts and is now developing a New England-wide analysis via the "Scenarios, Services, and Society" Research Coordination Network funded by the National Science Foundation.