Forestry in Massachusetts

From carbon storage to recreation to wildlife to water – our forests do it all. Healthy forests in America are critical to public health and well-being and are part of our natural and national infrastructure, and we rely on them as much as we do our transportation network. The forests and trees of Massachusetts collectively provide cascading benefits, including clean air and water, recreation, wildlife habitat, climate resiliency, and forest products. Our forests also provide important economic benefits to local communities and employ thousands engaged in delivering these diverse services to the people of Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Facts About Massachusetts’ Forests

How much forest land do we have and who owns it? 

Forests cover nearly 3 million acres of land in Massachusetts. That’s 56% of all of Massachusetts! Of this: 

  • 64% is privately-owned by individuals, families, non-profit organizations, and businesses 

  • 36% is publicly-owned (Federal, State and Municipal) 

  • 17% is State-owned, including 9% by DCR State Forests and Parks, 3% by DCR Water Supply, and 5% by MassWildlife. 

How much wood do we use? 

We all use wood products nearly every day. Wood consumption in Massachusetts is estimated to be nearly 360 million cubic feet per year, to support the nearly 7 million residents. On average, each person uses over 50 cubic feet per year.  

Massachusetts imports nearly all its wood. Using local wood products, such as wood building supplies for example, potentially lowers our carbon footprint by keeping carbon from Massachusetts in our Commonwealth. Similarly, harvesting locally can reduce transportation emissions of wood products, and gives consumers an opportunity to see and learn about the climate-friendly best management practices that are used in Massachusetts to harvest these products.

map: Massachusetts forest types

Figure: Massachusetts Forest Types 


How much carbon do our forests store and sequester?

•    Forest ecosystems in Massachusetts currently contain carbon stocks equivalent to approximately 1.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide, or the past 15 years of statewide GHG emissions. The state’s forests have among the highest carbon stocks per acre in New England.

•    Net carbon sequestration from forest land uses is currently equivalent to just over 10% of statewide annual GHG emissions.

Carbon Storage on MassWildLife Lands

DCR Watershed Forestry, Climate Resiliency, and Carbon 

DCR Managing Our Forests for Carbon Benefits

Forestry and the State’s Economy: 

Massachusetts is one of the most-forested states in the country. Forestry and related industries support almost 38,000 jobs, $3.1 billion in labor income, $3.8 billion in value-add, and $9.2 billion in output.  Business assistance to these sectors is critical to their long-term success, and in turn, sustaining the protection and health of these valued lands.  

Forestry Across Massachusetts’ Agencies

MassWildlife: Managing Habitat for Wildlife

The Department of Fish and Game's (DFG) Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) is responsible for the conservation of freshwater fish and wildlife in the Commonwealth, including endangered plants and animals. MassWildlife restores, protects, and manages land for wildlife to thrive and for people to enjoy. Learn More about MassWildlife's Habitat Programs

Links to Proposed Forest Management Projects

DCR Water Supply Lands: Managing Forests for Drinking Water

The Department of  Conservation and Recreation's (DCR) Division of Water Supply Protection (DWSP) is responsible for protecting an unfiltered drinking water supply that serves over 3 million Massachusetts residents. Trees and forests serve as active living biofilters, capturing, and slowing storm water and removing or filtering sediments and pollutants that would otherwise wind up in our waterways and water supply reservoirs.  Learn more about how we are using our forests to protect drinking water.

DCR Forests and Parks: Stewarding Forests for the Future

The Department of Conservation and Recreation's (DCR) Public Lands Forestry Program, also known as the Management Forestry Program, is responsible for the forest stewardship and forest management operation on approximately 314,000 acres of Massachusetts State Forests, Parks and Reservations. Learn more about forestry on state parks and recreation lands.

Climate-Oriented Forestry for the Future

As we plan for the future, it is critical to ensure that Massachusetts’ forests are conserved and managed to optimize carbon sequestration and mitigate climate harms, as part of meeting the state’s aggressive climate goals. The Forests as Climate Solutions Initiative, launched in 2023, will accelerate progress toward our land conservation goals of protecting 30 percent of the Commonwealth in 2030 and 40 percent in 2050, in service of achieving net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  Through the Forests as Climate Solutions Initiative, the Healey-Driscoll Administration convened an expert committee to develop forest management guidelines based on the latest climate science, for application to state lands. In addition, the Administration is setting new forest land conservation goals and is dedicating nearly $50 million to forest conservation efforts that include advancing and expanding existing state land acquisition programs, enhancing a network of forest reserves, establishing new incentive programs to support forest landowners and forest-based businesses, and developing a new forest data dashboard with information about state forest management. 

Learn more about the specifics of Forests as Climate Solutions


Additional Forestry Programs

Commonwealth agencies manage a wide variety of programs to assist forest landowners and forest managers, help prevent and prepare for forest fires, and promote good forest stewardship.


Programs and Services for Forest Land-Owners

Grants for Forestry and Forest Fire Control

Forest Fire Control Programs

Forest Stewardship Programs

DCR Watershed Forestry Program

Help Us Improve  with your feedback

Please do not include personal or contact information.