What is the Habitat Program?
Many types of wildlife rely on grassland, shrubland, and young forest habitats – all of which are declining in Massachusetts. The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s (Masswildlife) Habitat Program is working to expand these habitat types on state wildlife lands. These lands include Wildlife Management Areas, Wildlife Conservation Easements, and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
The goal of the Habitat Program is to expand areas of grassland, shrubland, and young forest habitats across Massachusetts by conducting management activities like habitat restoration, improvement, and maintenance projects. The Habitat Program is a major component of MassWildlife’s Biodiversity Initiative and combines the former Upland and Forestry Programs.
Habitat goals are set by wildlife biologists, restoration ecologists, and foresters who use data from biological monitoring and scientific literature along with recommendations from private conservation organizations. These habitat goals, which were publicized in a series of statewide public informational meetings in 2010, received broad public support and are endorsed by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board.
MassWildlife habitat management activities are carried out with these habitat goals in mind for the benefit of both game animals and rare and declining wildlife.
Habitat Goals for Wildlife Lands in Massachusetts
The habitat goals call for 20-25% of state upland (non-wetland) wildlife lands to occur as open habitats (grassland, shrubland, and young forest) with the remaining 75-80% in a full-canopy forest condition, including 10-15% in forest reserves across over 200,000 acres of state wildlife lands. These lands are jointly owned by MassWildlife and the Department of Fish and Game. (Learn more about the Land Protection Program.)
These goals respond to the on-going statewide and regional decline of young forest, shrubland, and grassland habitat and associated wildlife declines caused by human development and human alteration of natural disturbance processes like flooding and wildfires.