The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Management Forestry Program is responsible for the stewardship and management of over 310,000 acres in the Massachusetts state forest and parks system. These lands are managed using the principles of ecosystem management to meet the responsibilities and the public’s expectations under MGL Chapter 132 which states that:
the public welfare requires the rehabilitation, maintenance, and protection of forest lands for the purpose of conserving water, preventing floods and soil erosion, improving the conditions for wildlife and recreation, protecting and improving air and water quality, and providing a continuing and increasing supply of forest products for public consumption, farm use and for the wood-using industries of the commonwealth.
The Bureau administers these lands in eight management forestry districts using the principles of ecosystem management in the context of a working forest. In contrast with traditional, production-oriented resource management, ecosystem management is “…a philosophical concept for dealing with larger spatial scales; longer time frames; and in which management decisions must be socially acceptable, economically feasible and ecologically sustainable”. Rather than setting commodity-based targets, DCR defines desired conditions and develops strategies that lead to achieving them.
To achieve its mission of balancing social needs with ecosystem health, the program uses silviculture and other management tools to create a range of desired forest and non-forest conditions. These conditions and the management guidelines to achieve them are defined in the planning process . This planning process guides the programs activities and provides for the long-term stewardship of these valuable resources for this and future generations.