Executive Order

Executive Order  No. 618: Biodiversity Conservation in Massachusetts

Date: 09/21/2023
Issuer: Maura Healey
Mass Register: No. 1506

Table of Contents

WHEREAS, Massachusetts has nearly 3,000,000 acres of forest, 1,500 miles of coastline, 2,522 square miles of state ocean waters, a vast network of rivers, and critical wetlands including 45,000 acres of salt marsh; all of which provide habitat for a wide variety of plants, animals, and other organisms and which offer vital ecological, economic, and public health benefits to its people;

WHEREAS, these living systems filter our air; clean our water; provide food security; provide economic opportunity; regulate climate by removing carbon from the atmosphere; provide resiliency against the worsening impacts of climate change like extreme weather events, heat, sea level rise, and flooding; provide recreational opportunities; and provide a range of other ecosystem services;  

WHEREAS, conserving biodiversity, the variety and abundance of all living things and their interactions, is essential to preserve and maintain these natural systems, for the enrichment of health, well-being, and quality of life of Massachusetts’s residents;  

WHEREAS, biodiversity is threatened by factors including, but not limited to, habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species, emerging diseases, and pollution of our air, soil, oceans, and freshwater resources; 

WHEREAS, climate change is worsening these threats and creating new and ongoing threats that disrupt ecosystem services, exert stress on species and their habitats, and increase risk of species loss;

WHEREAS, these threats have created a biodiversity crisis in Massachusetts;

WHEREAS, the loss of biodiversity undermines valuable ecosystem services on which residents of Massachusetts rely;

WHEREAS, Massachusetts has taken actions that promote biodiversity conservation, including: MassWildlife’s State Wildlife Action Plan, 2015; MassWildlife’s Biodiversity Initiative; BioMap; the Natural and Working Lands conservation goals within the Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plans; the Office of Coastal Zone Management’s Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan; and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ Massachusetts State Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Plan, the Resilient Lands Initiative, the Healthy Soils Action Plan, and the Forests as Climate Solutions initiative;

WHEREAS, despite advancement of these and other efforts, more than 400 species still remain on the endangered species list and Massachusetts continues to experience the loss and degradation of critical habitats; and

WHEREAS, biodiversity conservation is a priority for the Healey-Driscoll Administration;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Maura T. Healey, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution, Part 2, c. 2, § I, Art. I, do hereby order as follows:

Section 1. To support, complement, and advance Massachusetts’s biodiversity conservation efforts, the Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game shall:

  1. conduct a comprehensive review of the existing efforts of all executive department offices and agencies to support biodiversity conservation in Massachusetts;
  2. recommend biodiversity conservation goals for 2030, 2040, and 2050 and strategies to meet those goals, including coastal and marine biodiversity conservation, to halt and reverse the loss of the variety of species and habitats of Massachusetts; and which may include policy and conservation investment targets related to land protection and connectivity, habitat and species status, anticipated shifts in distribution and abundance, and critical restoration activities; and
  3. update the Governor and Lieutenant Governor on this review and recommendations within 180 days of this Order.

Section 2.  All executive department offices and agencies shall support the Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game in this comprehensive review of biodiversity conservation goals.

Section 3.  Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed to require action inconsistent with any applicable state or federal law.

Section 4.  This Executive Order shall not be construed to create any cause of action or right to judicial review involving the compliance or noncompliance of any state agency, its officers or employees, or any other person with this Executive Order.

Section 5.  This Executive Order shall take effect immediately and shall continue in effect until amended, superseded, or revoked by subsequent Executive Order.

Help Us Improve Mass.gov  with your feedback

Please do not include personal or contact information.