Massachusetts Grown...and Fresher!
COMMONWEALTH QUALITY SECTORS
Massachusetts Forest Cutting Practices Act (Chapter 132)
Commonwealth Quality requires that forest products must be harvested in accordance with the Massachusetts Forest Cutting Practices Act (Chapter 132). In addition, the program requires that forest/wood product manufacturers provide documentation to certify that wood used for processing was harvested in accordance with this law.
The Forest Cutting Practices Act was created to ensure harvested land remains in a condition that does not jeopardize public interest. It states that public welfare requires the rehabilitation, maintenance and protection of forestlands for the purposes of:
- Conserving water
- Preventing floods and soil erosion
- Improving the conditions for wildlife and recreation
- Protecting and improving air and water quality
- Ensuring a continuous supply of forest products for public consumption, farm use, and the wood-using industries of the Commonwealth
The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) administers Chapter 132. A forestry committee, appointed by the governor, develops cutting practices and guidelines to ensure the above objectives are met. Committee members change every one to three years. The forestry committee consists of eight members, representing:
- Forest landowners
- Primary wood-using industries
- Licensed timber harvesters
- Consulting foresters
- Environmental organizations
- Water supply agencies
- Fisheries and wildlife
- The public at large
The Forest Cutting Practices Act regulates commercial timber harvesting on both public and private forestland when a volume of 25,000 board feet or 50 cords of wood are to be cut on any one parcel of land at any one time.
Long-Term Harvesting & Land Use
Harvests done under the auspices of Commonwealth Quality must quality as “long-term” harvests. This means forester and harvester work together to achieve multiple objectives while preserving future forest conditions. The art and science of forestry is applied to protect large-diameter and/or high-value species (such as oak) that could act as a seed source for growing future trees of high quality or provide food or wildlife. As a result, a long-term harvest can ensure that the residual forest stand is not dominated by poor-quality trees and low-value species.
Commonwealth Quality program requirements also certify that harvests are not done for the purpose of converting land to a non-agriculture or non-forest land use. This extra measure of protection helps guarantee that harvested land is not commercially developed, thus preserving valuable Massachusetts landscape for agriculture, wildlife, or recreation.
Massachusetts Forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs)
Commonwealth Quality program participants must adhere to practices outlined in the “Massachusetts Forestry Best Management Practices” document, as well as program-specific best management practices (BMPs) referenced in Exhibit B. Together, these BMPs are designed to protect the environment and our natural resources while ensuring the consumer receives the highest quality product possible.
The forestry BMPs were developed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) as a means to minimize the overland speed and volume of water carrying sediment and nutrients that:
- Impact wetlands and water bodies; and
- Impact drinking water supplies; and
- Impact fish, amphibian and reptile habitat
Forestry BMPs also serve to prevent rutting and improve the looks of a timber harvest, which is important to landowners and the general public.
Many of the forestry BMPs are required by the Massachusetts Forest Cutting Practices Act (Chapter 132) that governs harvests; however, others are recommended guidelines developed by DCR.