What Is the “Forests As Climate Change Solutions” Initiative?

The Healey-Driscoll Administration in Massachusetts has announced a new initiative called “Forests as Climate Solutions” to optimize carbon sequestration and address climate change in the state. The initiative aims to expand existing state programs, invest in forest conservation, establish forest reserves, and develop forest management guidelines based on the latest climate science. These guidelines will apply to state lands, and private landowners will be encouraged to adopt them to maximize the climate benefits of their forests.

Governor Maura Healey emphasized the importance of conserving forests as a natural climate solution and expressed Massachusetts’ commitment to environmental and climate action. Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll highlighted the need for collaboration with local stakeholders and municipalities to build a more resilient state and support forest-based businesses. Climate Chief Melissa Hoffer stressed that forests should be a key component of the state’s climate strategy, given their capacity to sequester carbon. Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper emphasized the crucial role of forests in carbon absorption, air purification, local wood production, and biodiversity support.

Massachusetts has set a goal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions statewide by 2050 and aims to protect 30% of the Commonwealth by 2030 and 40% by 2050. The “Forests as Climate Solutions” initiative, launched by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), will accelerate progress towards these targets. The initiative includes developing climate-oriented forestry practices, implementing new guidelines informed by the latest science, creating incentives for private landowners, establishing forest reserves, updating forest management with scientific research, supporting forestry businesses in reducing carbon emissions, promoting the use of wood from Massachusetts forests, and expanding funding for land conservation.

The initiative will involve a six-month review of current forestry practices and will pause new state timber harvesting contracts during this period. It will also provide financial assistance, grants, and technical support to enhance partners’ capacity in advancing the initiative’s goals.

You can read more about the initiative here.