Forests as Climate Solutions

Conserving Forest Land and Implementing the Latest Climate-Oriented Forest Management Practices

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It is critical to ensure that Massachusetts’ forests are conserved and managed to optimize carbon sequestration and storage, and mitigate climate harms, as part of meeting the state’s aggressive climate goals. Forests as Climate Solutions will accelerate progress toward our land conservation goals of protecting 30 percent of the Commonwealth by 2030 and 40 percent by 2050, in service of achieving net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Forests as Climate Solutions will expand existing state programs, invest in forest conservation, enhance a network of forest reserves, and develop forest management guidelines based on the latest climate science. These guidelines will apply to state lands, and the Healey-Driscoll Administration will also provide incentives for private landowners to adopt them to maximize the climate benefits of their forests. 

Climate Forestry Committee Issues Recommendations for Climate-Oriented Forest Management Guidelines

In June 2023, the Administration convened a 12-person committee of experts and engaged with stakeholders and the public to inform the development of climate-oriented management guidelines that increase carbon storage and resilience to climate change.

On January 3, 2024, the Healey-Driscoll Administration released the report of the Climate Forestry Committee:  Recommendations for Climate Oriented Forest Management Guidelines.

The committee agreed it was paramount for Massachusetts to “keep forests as forests” by supporting efforts to reduce land conversion and increasing permanent land conservation. The recommendations include enlarging forest reserves, applying practices for maintaining carbon stocks when managing actively, and implementing passive management strategies to realize older forests and increase carbon stocks.

Additional Resources

Implementation Work Plan

On June 10, 2024, the Administration announced a comprehensive work plan outlining strategies to protect and manage forest lands while prioritizing efforts to address climate change impacts.  This plan represents a significant milestone in the Forest as Climate Solutions Initiative and presents a timeline for putting key recommendations of the Climate Forestry Committee into action.

Key elements of the work plan include:

  • Increase the amount of conserved forest land
  • Expand forest reserves by adopting a goal of 10% of forested lands across all ownerships as reserves
  • Issue a list of priority projects, cutting plans, and other information critical to enhance transparency and communication about forest management goals
  • Update existing incentives, regulations, and land conservation programs to prioritize carbon sequestration and storage
  • Utilize techniques from the Climate Forestry Committee to optimize carbon management and increase resilience to climate change
  • Expand monitoring across all state owned forests
  • Develop dashboard to track metrics to provide more data on forests, designed to better inform land conservation and management goals

EEA has previously announced a $50 million investment in forest conservation, using capital and federal funding.  The administration will also pursue additional federal and other funding sources to achieve the state's conservation goals.

Additional Resources

Public Input

Throughout  the Forests as Climate Solutions process, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs has embraced diverse public input that included two live sessions prior to the report release on January 3 as well as the opportunity to comment on the report.

Public Input Opportunity #3

The third public input opportunity was a public comment period offered January 3-24, 2024. 

Written comments received:

Public Input Opportunity #2

The second public input opportunity was held on November 14, 2023, 6:30-8:30pm. All content from the meeting can be found at the following link: Public Input Session 2 Materials

Written comments on Session 2 received through December 5, 2023:

Public Input Opportunity #1

The first public input opportunity was held on September 12, 2023, 6:00-8:30pm. All content from the meeting can be found at the following link: Public Input Session 1 Materials

Written comments on Session 1 received through October 17:

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