Mass Audubon's Losing Ground 2020 Report

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

There are many potential pathways for development and conservation across Massachusetts and the region. Decisions made today will influence the future in profound ways. —Losing Ground: Nature's Value in a Changing Climate

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Over the past 50 years, the landscape of Massachusetts has been transformed by new residential and commercial development. Eastern and southeastern Massachusetts have undergone the most change, but virtually every community in the Commonwealth has experienced rapid growth driven by economic and demographic factors.

Since 1991, Mass Audubon has been using the most up-to-date technology and methods available to analyze changes to land use patterns in Massachusetts every five years. The results are published in our Losing Ground report series, providing conservationists, town planners, and agencies with information for planning and advocacy.

The sixth edition of our report, Losing Ground: Nature's Value in a Changing Climate, focuses on the pace and patterns of land development and land protection in Massachusetts between 2012 and 2017. It comes at a time when the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly evident across the Commonwealth—and around the world—and the value of undeveloped land has become even more crucial to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing resilience in the face of growing environmental threats.

Losing Ground: Nature's Value in a Changing Climate

Sixth Edition | 2020

Losing Ground 2020 report cover (image © Julie Archibald)
© Julie Archibald

Explore the Report

  • Key Findings >
    Important findings and conclusions from the report.
  • At-a-Glance >
    An overview of the statistics about land use patterns in Massachusetts.
  • Statistics & Maps >
    Explore land protection statistics and interactive maps by Massachusetts town, county, watershed, or Regional Planning Agency (RPA).
  • Glossary >
    Information about key terms from the report.

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Previous Editions

Since the first edition was published in 1987, 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. Explore previous editions of the report >

This project was supported, in part, under the Narragansett Bay Watershed Economy project, Assistance Agreement No. SE - 00A00252 awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Mass Audubon. The Lookout Foundation also provided funding to Mass Audubon. The Narragansett Bay Watershed Economy project was conceived and partially supported by the Coastal Institute at the University of Rhode Island under the leadership of Dr. Emi Uchida. Additional project partners include the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, the URI Coastal Resources Center, the Natural Capital Project at Stanford University, and the George Perkins Marsh Institute at Clark University. The views expressed in the project are solely those of the authors. It has not been formally reviewed by EPA. Additional information is available at