At 62% forest cover, Massachusetts is the 8th most forested state in the nation, and the third most densely populated. More than 75% of the Commonwealth's forests are family forests, owned by private families and individuals. In fact, there are 46,000 families across the state that own more than ten acres of land. These ownerships fit together like pieces of a puzzle across the landscape.
In landscapes dominated by family forest owners, a vast array of important ecosystem services, such as clean water and carbon sequestration, are provided free of charge to the general public. In addition, family forests provide a wealth of additional public benefits: a buffer from development, a scenic backdrop for rural tourism, habitat, outdoor recreation, and a source of wood products and employment.
With so much of our forest resources in private ownership, the future of our forests largely hinge on the independent decisions of family forest owners across the state.
The average age of a family forest owner in Massachusetts is over 60 years old. In the coming years, much of our woodlands will be passing hands from one generation to the next. How these woods are passed on will have a significant impact on our future forests and the benefits they provide.
Often, landowners do not actively think about their land until a decision about it must be made. It is at these critical decision times when landowners need accurate information and contacts for professionals that can help.
When making a decision about your land, be it to manage your land or how to plan the future of it, it is important to know all of your options. Contacting a forester or a conservation professional working in your town is an excellent way to learn about your options.
Everyday, landowners make individual decisions about their woods. Since 78% of our forests are owned by private individuals and families, the collective effects of these independent decisions will determine our Commonwealth's quality of life, wildlife habitat, water quality, and community character.
Making an informed decision about your land is the most significant thing you can do to meet both your family's and community's needs!