Two kids running in the snow. We all need nature—and nature needs you. Together, we can protect the wildlife and wild lands of Massachusetts for generations to come. Make a tax-deductible donation today.
Two kids running in the snow. We all need nature—and nature needs you. Together, we can protect the wildlife and wild lands of Massachusetts for generations to come. Make a tax-deductible donation today.
A lush green garden in front of a tan building with windows.
Boston Nature Center, Mattapan

Guidebook to Involvement in Your Community

This plain-language guide provides citizens with an understanding of how land-use decisions are made in Massachusetts, and how you can play a role in your own community's plans for land development and protection.

Become an active advocate by learning how to take steps toward effective action!

Download This Guide

download Shaping the Future Guidebook (2.6 MB)

What To Expect

Chapter 1: How To Be an Effective Advocate

Tips on maximizing your impact, from brushing up on land-use laws to working with local boards and organizing with other concerned citizens.

Chapter 2: Who’s Who of Local, Regional, State, Federal Management and Environmental Agencies

A guide to the government groups involved in land-use planning.  

Chapter 3: Local Land Use Planning and Conservation Strategies

Understanding how to successfully balance development with open space protection. 

Chapter 4: Zoning, Regulatory Land Use Controls, and Incentives

You get what you zone for: familiarize yourself with terminology and innovative land use tools.

Chapter 5: Land Protection

A crash course in some of the most common techniques and funding sources for preserving natural spaces.

Chapter 6: Project Review and Permitting

Before development can begin, a project must go through review and receive a permit. Find out what steps are involved and how you can participate to improve results. 

Chart of Federal, State and Local Environmental and Land Use Laws and Regulations

A short summary of each law, its legal citation (number), who administers it, and what it pertains to.