Losing Ground — Previous Editions

Losing Ground VI cover image of wetland near road © Julie Archibald
© Julie Archibald

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In 1987, Mass Audubon's Advocacy team initiated an analysis of changes to land use patterns that took place in Massachusetts between 1981-1986. The results were then published in what would become the first edition of the Losing Ground report series. Since then, Mass Audubon has been using the most up-to-date technology and methods to analyze these changes every five years, providing conservationists, town planners, and agencies with important information for planning and advocacy. 

Over the intervening years, the Losing Ground series has resulted in increased state funding for open space conservation and a reversal of trends in open space protection and land development in Massachusetts. The conclusions of the reports have become the data of record in state administration, legislative, media, and land trust community citations.


Losing Ground: Planning for Resilience • Fifth Edition (2014)


The fifth edition of Losing Ground found that, between 2005 and 2013, the rate of land protected in Massachusetts increased to 41 acres/day while the rate of land lost to development decreased to 13 acres/day. However, the report's period of analysis included the years of the Great Recession, when development slowed dramatically. At the time of publication, new housing permit data suggested that development would start trending back up towards previous rates.

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Losing Ground: Beyond the Footprint • Fourth Edition (2009)


The fourth edition of Losing Ground showed a reversed trend of land development and conservation, with 40 acres of open space being protected every day and the loss of 20 acres, but with development impacts outside of building footprints at 80 acres a day.

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Losing Ground: At What Cost? • Third Edition (2003)


The analysis presented in the third edition of Losing Ground illustrated that, between 1985 and 1999, Massachusetts lost 40 acres of open space per day with significant accompanying changes in land use and impacts on habitat, biodiversity, and ecosystem services.

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Losing Ground: Analysis of Recent Rates and Patterns of Development & Their Effects on Open Space in Massachusetts • Second Edition (1999)


In the second edition of Losing Ground, our analysis revealed that the Commonwealth was losing 44 acres of open space per day, primarily to large-lot residential development.

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Losing Ground: The Case for Land Conservation in Massachusetts • First Edition (1987)


The first edition of Losing Ground demonstrated that over 100,000 acres of land was lost to development between 1981 and 1986.

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