Forest Stewardship Program

Recognizing the public benefits of good stewardship on private forest land, the Massachusetts Forest Stewardship Program (MFSP) supports and encourages private forest landowners' efforts to manage, enjoy, and care for their land using a long-term approach

If you are a woodland owner and would like to know more about your how to manage your woodland the DCR’s Forest Stewardship Program can help you. This educational non-regulatory program is designed to help landowners protect the inherent ecosystem values of their forest.

How to Get Started

With the help of a licensed consulting forester, you will develop a 10-year forest management plan, or a Forest Stewardship Plan, based on your goals for your property. This Forest Stewardship Plan documents your options and best management practices that will lead to a productive and healthy forest for the next generation. Soil and water quality, wildlife and fish habitat, timber and other wood products as well as outdoor recreation are among the many factors taken into account when developing the Forest Stewardship Plan. The plan also recommends actions that will protect or increase the environmental values of your forest while providing social or economic benefits - benefits that will extend far beyond the borders of your property!

First step is to connect with the private lands Service Forester District Map in your area to find out more about the program, eligibility, cost-share options and other benefits of having a Forest Stewardship Plan provides.  You may also request a woods walk of your property at no cost.

Second step is to fill out a Forest Stewardship Cost Share Application.

Third step is to work with a private consulting forester to define the goals  you have for your woodlands and create a Forest Stewardship Plan.

Before you meet with your consulting forester for the first time, you can read the following booklet series Caring for your Woods, developed with Northern Woodlands Magazine and the Mass Woodlands Institute.  These booklets are designed for landowners who are new to natural resource management and are interested in learning more about management plans. Each booklets provides basic information about what your Forest Stewardship Plan will look like, important forest resources and basic considerations for implementing your plan.

Caring for your Woods booklets

Caring for your Woods - a Starting Point Private Lands Forestry covers the basics of a management plan including the roll of a forester, Chapter 61 tax program and estate planning.

Caring for your Woods - Working with Nature Private Lands Forestry gives a peek into how a woodlot fits into the natural surroundings as well as potential changes from climate change and invasive species.

Caring for your Woods - A Valuable Resource Private Lands Forestry provides a basis for putting a plan into action.

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Who is eligible to participate?

Private land owners, joint land owners, groups and associations, non-profits, long term lease holders, and corporations without publicly traded stock are all eligible. Municipal governments are also encouraged to develop Stewardship Plans for their Town Forests or Conservation Commission woodlands, and may be eligible for cost-sharing.

Participating landowners may own a maximum of 1,000 acres, (or up to 5,000 acres with a special waiver).

Exceptions

Owners principally engaged in the primary processing of raw wood products are not eligible.

There is no minimum acreage, however, properties of less than 10 acres are not eligible for Forest Stewardship Plan preparation cost-sharing.

Municipalities are encouraged to contact the Stewardship Program office for information about criteria for town land eligibility.

Financial Assistance is Available

There are two different financial assistant programs available.

Forest Stewardship Planning

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Forest Stewardship Program currently has funds available to private woodland owners and municipalities for preparing new stewardship plans and upgrading existing plans for the purpose of enrolling in FSC Green Certification. Please see application link at the bottom of this page for details.

Community Forest Stewardship Implementation Grants for Municipalities

Municipalities that manage a town forest or have water supply land currently enrolled in the Forest Stewardship Program can also apply for a Community Forest Stewardship Implementation Grants. 

These 72-25 matching reimbursement grants aid communities in putting their forest stewardship into practice and connect the local citizens to all the benefits forests provide including a local source of wood products, clean water, biodiversity and wildlife habitat.

Funding for Community Forest Stewardship Implementation Grants is made possible through DCR’s Working Forest Initiative in cooperation with the Massachusetts Woodlands Institute.

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