The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) has statutory responsibility for the conservation - including protection, restoration and management - of Massachusetts' flora and fauna, and is responsible for the stewardship and management of over 150,000 fee acres of state wildlife lands. In support of this mandate and with the approval of the state Fisheries and Wildlife Board, the Division began a biodiversity initiative in July 1996 which seeks to combine management of upland habitats by the Wildlife Section with restoration of unique ecological communities by the Natural Heritage Section. The goal of this coordinated effort is to enhance and maintain the biological diversity of Massachusetts. From DFW's perspective, the term 'biodiversity' refers to the entire assemblage of plants and animals, their supporting habitats and natural communities, and the natural processes that sustain them. This effort involves the DFW Forestry Program (which manages forested portions of state wildlife lands), the Upland Habitat Management Program (which coordinates with DFW District offices to manage abandoned agricultural lands), and the Ecological Restoration Program (which manages degraded and/or altered habitats to support rare species). The Forestry and Upland Programs are components of the DFW Wildlife Section, and the Ecological Restoration Program is a component of the DFW Natural Heritage and Endangered Species (NHESP) section.
The overall goals of the DFW Forest Management Program are to:
- Identify a desired future condition of forest resources that will conserve and enhance biological diversity on DFW lands.
- Plan forest monitoring and management activities that will support the desired future condition.
A number of specific objectives support these goals:
- Evaluate impacts of landuse history and natural disturbance processes on forest habitat in Massachusetts.
- Summarize current forest resource conditions on DFW lands across the state.
- Establish forest structure and composition goals that define a desired future condition to conserve and enhance biological diversity.
- Identify active and passive management sites on DFW lands that facilitate achieving forest structure and composition goals. Active management sites support sustainable harvesting operations that provide young forest habitat, while passive management sites include forest reserves that are closed to commercial harvesting to provide biologically mature forest habitat.
- Establish biological monitoring and silvicultural prescriptions for active management sites on DFW lands that will achieve forest structure and composition goals.
- Establish biological monitoring and passive management prescriptions (e.g., invasive plant control, prescribed fire application, public recreation use) for forest reserve areas.
- Plan spatial and temporal applications of silvicultural prescriptions on active management sites.
DFW contracts with licensed timber harvesters through publicly bid timber sales to reach composition goals for young forest habitat, and works with other state agencies to establish forest reserves.