Study Shows Mass. Decline in Forest Cover - NECN

Study Shows Mass. Decline in Forest Cover



    Study shows Mass. decline in forest cover

    State forests face environmental challenges, development pressure; decline in cover is 1st in 150 years (Published Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014)

    (NECN: Kristen Carosa) - Bob Perschel works to maintain forests in New England - a job he says is getting more difficult as cities and towns continue to build and expand.

    "It used to be at 70 percent in the 1970's and now its down to 60 percent - we know there is a trend occurring," he said. "There are a lot of things forests provide for us such as clean water and clean air - but as forests diminish so do those benefits."

    Perschel is just one expert that has contributed to a new study that took two years to release.

    It's a joint effort between Harvard Forest and the Smithsonian Institute.

    The study looks at different decisions that are made and the way the state's landscape could develop over the next 50 years.

    "If we think about this carefully and if we plan wisely we can develop a very clean and enjoyable place to live," said Harvard Forest Director David Foster.

    Jonathan Thompson, who works for Harvard Forest, helped to develop four different scenarios for the study.

    He says current trends, such as new roads and commercial development, are contributing to the loss of forest cover. But he says decisions we make today can help combat that loss.

    "This report will help people make decisions about their individuals towns and at the next level in the state," said Thompson.

    Both Thompson and Foster say the computer models that were created play out the impacts of land use.

    That data will now be used by land owners - policy makers and conservationists.

    Perschel says now that the study is done, it's up to decisions-makers to learn from it.

    "Now, the whole community in Massachusetts - the whole forestry community - the environmental community - we can now all get together and chart the path to the future we want to get to," he said.