As a landowner, you want to do the right thing for your land. Know that just by owning your land and keeping it in its natural, undeveloped state you are providing tremendous public benefits.
There is no one “right” way to care for your land. Instead there are a number of options. You should evaluate these options and choose the one(s) that best helps you meet your goals.
Passive Approach: One way to care for your land is to simply “do nothing,” leave it to natural processes, and enjoy it your land for its beauty, wildlife, and privacy. If you take a passive approach, know that your forest will not stay the same. It will continue to change and grow. Learn more about taking a passive approach to your land.
Finding and Working with a Forester: Foresters can help you understand your options, explore your opportunities, design stewardship strategies that meet your goals, and let you know what new challenges might be on the horizon. By working with a forester, you can achieve multiple objectives, including managing your woods for timber, wildlife, forest resilience, and carbon. A forester can help enhance the existing positive attributes you enjoy while providing guidance for the future. To learn more about finding and working with a Forester in Massachusetts, please read the Foresters and the Care of Your Land publication.
Ensuring Forest Health: There are a number of challenges facing our forests that could impact the way they function and the benefits they provide. These challenges include: invasive exotic plants and insects, deer pressure, and climate change. Another way to take care of your land is to gain a better understanding of these challenges and opportunities to increase your forest’s resilience to them. Visit the forest health page to learn more.
Active Approach: Of course there are ways to care for your land through active forest stewardship. All forests do not provide the same benefit. The types of trees, number of trees, age of trees, and distribution of trees are important factors in determining the benefits that your forest produces. For example the type of wildlife habitat it provides. A carefully planned timber harvest provides opportunities to increase the benefits you already receive or change the types of benefits you get from your forest by shifting the tree composition, age, number and distribution. Learn more about harvesting timber.
Help Caring for Your Land: There is help for you to care for your land. Your land provides tremendous public good in its undeveloped, natural state. In recognition of these many benefits, Massachusetts offers the Ch. 61 current use tax programs that provide landowners a lower property taxes in exchange for a commitment to maintaining their land in one of the three eligible uses: Ch. 61 (forestry), Ch. 61 A (agriculture), Ch. 61B (open space/recreation). Learn more about the Ch. 61 current use programs and use our on-line calculator to determine your taxes under the Ch. 61 programs. There are also other landowner programs that can help.
Keeping Forest as Forest: However you decide to care for your land, deciding what you will do with your land after you are gone is a critical part of for caring it. In fact, it may be the most important step you can take as a landowner – not just for your own benefit, but for the benefit of your family and your community. There are a number of conservation-based estate planning options available to you that can help you pass some or all of your land on in its undeveloped, natural state. Learn more about planning the future of your land.
Conservation in Your Backyard: There are also opportunities to practice conservation around your house. Learn more about backyard conservation. This link is thanks to the students at the Old Louisville Student Conservation Association.