Report outlines funding to conserve half of Massachusetts's land

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Nov. 17, 2006 -- Harvard Forest's "Wildlands and Woodlands" proposal to conserve roughly half of Massachusetts as protected lands has received a boost from a new report detailing seven strategies to finance the ambitious proposal.

The report emerged from an April conference of 40 conservation finance experts from across the nation, hosted by Harvard University's Center for the Environment and supported by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Those experts recommended funding forest protection through a mix of conventional financing tools, such as bonds and tax incentives, and innovative mechanisms such as payments for ecosystem services and regulatory reform to facilitate smart growth.

The new report's authors are James N. Levitt, director of the Harvard Forest's Program on Conservation Innovation, and Kathleen Fallon Lambert, president of Ecologic, an environmental consulting firm in Woodstock, Vt.

"Massachusetts is emerging as a leader in weaving back together the fragmented landscape of the Eastern U.S.," Levitt says. "As home to the nation's first public park and first private land trust, Massachusetts has a long history in conservation innovation. That tradition continues today with the application of new conservation finance tools that together have the potential to achieve landscape-scale conservation that will safeguard the economic, ecosystem services, and quality-of-life benefits of forests."

Last year's "Wildlands and Woodlands: A Vision for the Forests of Massachusetts" report, authored by Harvard scientist David Foster and colleagues, made the case for protecting 1.5 million acres of forestland above and beyond the roughly 1 million acres of existing protected land in Massachusetts. The cumulative acreage would be roughly half of Massachusetts's total area of some 5 million acres.

"The forest protection envisioned in Wildl

Contact: Steve Bradt
Harvard University

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