Protecting Forests & Parks

Thatcher Brook in Attleboro, MA

Mass Audubon promotes conservation of our forest resources, including old growth reserves, for wildlife habitat and public benefit and for the capture of carbon from the atmosphere in forest growth and soils.

We also helped achieve key changes in laws and regulations on biomass energy to ensure forests are managed sustainably in their roles in providing renewable energy and sequestering carbon.


Forests are a defining feature of Massachusetts, with 3 million acres of forestland comprising 60% of the state's land area.

From the Berkshires to Cape Cod, there are many different types of forests, but all provide important natural and economic values including clean air and water supplies, recreational opportunities, habitat for fish and wildlife, timber and other forest products, and community character that contributes to quality of life and property values. 

The ecosystem service value of forests is estimated at $5.2 billion annually.

Forests also play critical roles in addressing climate change, both in terms of mitigation (reducing heat-trapping air pollutants) and adaptation to unavoidable impacts already underway. Forests in Massachusetts:

  • Sequester 7% of the state’s annual carbon emissions annually (Massachusetts Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory)
  • Store 103 tons of carbon on the average acre (An Assessment of Forest Resources of Massachusetts)

Learn more about the benefits of forests in preventing and preparing for climate change. 

Most forests in Massachusetts are in a period of re-growth after intensive clearing historically. The extent of land coverage in forests peaked around 1980, and is now declining again due to conversion to development. From 2012–2017, 13.5 acres of land were developed per day on average.

How we choose to develop land today will have long-lasting impacts on our forests in the future. By valuing the natural infrastructure functions of our forests and developing in a more compact way using smart growth, we can protect our environment while producing jobs and housing.