The Massachusetts Forest ForumThe Forest Forum is a diverse group of about 30 forest landowners, private and public foresters, timber harvesters, mill owners, land trusts and environmental organizations, including the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The Forum has met each spring and fall since 2004. The Forum was convened to “improve the viability of Massachusetts’ forests, forestry, and forest products industry by using sustainable practices.” In 2006, the Forum agreed to five goals for our forests and over 20 environmental, landowner, industry and educational organizations committed to take actions to help reach the following goals:
- Conserve the Forests of Massachusetts: Protect a sustainable base of forestland to ensure the ecological integrity of Massachusetts’ forests and support fundamental public values, uses and ecosystem services.
- Sustain the Economic Viability of our Forests: Ensure the economic viability and sustainability of working forests, the forest products industry, and local rural economies in Massachusetts.
- Strike a Balance Between Working Forests and Forest Reserves: Create a balanced, comprehensive matrix of sustainable working forests and forest reserves to ensure the ecological and economic integrity of Massachusetts forests.
- Protect the Health of our Forests: Pursue priority in-state actions to minimize the threats to forest ecosystems.
- Educate Key Groups About Forest Values: Increase the people of Massachusetts’ understanding of and connections to our forests.
The Forest Forum is committed to discussing current issues, learning to see issues from new perspectives and working to find innovative solutions that benefit our forests, forestry and the forest economy. Since 2004 the Forest Forum has made progress towards these goals. For example, in 2007 significant improvements were made to the Massachusetts Forest Tax Law that began with recommendations from the Forum. The launching of the Commonwealth Quality Program for sustainable, local wood products began with the Forum’s commitment to local forest products to reduce our environmental footprint and support local businesses. DCR’s Working Forest Initiative that has added over 120,000 acres to the Forest Stewardship and Forest Tax Law Programs began with discussions at the Forum. By committing to working together year after year, the members of the Forest Forum have made significant progress and will continue to work on these goals in the years to come.
- EEA also supports the highest standards for forest management on the state's more than two million acres of private forest land by funding forest stewardship plans for interested private landowners. Through an extensive outreach effort, DCR's Forest Stewardship Program has sent educational materials to nearly 15,000 landowners who collectively own 685,000 acres or 1/3 of the state's private forest land. Over the past three and one half years, this project has completed 760 forest stewardship plans on more than 51,000 acres of forests. Each plan is completed by a private professional forester who works closely with the landowner to meet the landowner's goals by utilizing sustainable forest management practices. Landowners commit to implement these plans and keep their land in forest cover for a 10 year period. At a cost to the state of about $17 per acre, this is an excellent tool to help conserve forest land and increase sustainable forest management.
- Links to forestry-related resources including "Amendments to Chapter 61 / 61A / 61B" and and other laws, regulations, and policies from the Department of Conservation and Recreation.