Every year as new forest management plans are developed it is necessary to look carefully at a massachusetts required document called "Stewardship Issues". Each year this section has gotten more complicated and the edits take more time than the writing of a plan. This year's section is like no other as I wonder what purpose forests are going to serve in a world (on a planet) in a Star Trek society. An interesting year seems to unfolding:
Global Birthright / Unfunded Infrastructure / Source of All Life!
A Stewardship / Chapter 61 Forest Management Plan is a suggested guide. It is a tax reduction compliance document not a contract with any entity for services to be performed. It is a minimal set of insights into what may be possible on your forest. This particular section is a modified version of a State required section of your Forest Management Plan. The original is available at the DCR section of <http://mass.gov>. You can replace this copy of this section with the original State sanctioned copy at any time. The modifications to this generic document are archived on the Common Good Forestry site as they occur. Forestry and forest management only make sense in a human context since without human use none of the things that develop on forest land can be directly added to local economies or substitute for items that may have been supplied from outside. Of course, there are other outcomes just from having land remain as forest but they are generally not monetized and as such can not contribute to the retention of a particular parcel directly. It is possible for subsidies to be provided from outside for the support of owners, but these funds have a way of becoming very scarce and unreliable. Our understanding of our responsibilities for care of our selves, our forests, our communities, and the rest of life as we know it must merge to form an action plan for our personal “stewardship”.
The Spread Sheet of Management Activities included in this plan may become a general scaffold for you to build an action program from that relates specifically to this particular ownership.
The original authors of this section chose to leave out the human element and the special attributes of rural life. The changes that are found here come from a deep understanding of what has been lost in the recent past because of efforts to increase the concentration of human populations in urban areas.
There are so many changes that appear to be happening as we approach 2020, that mentioning most of them while they are “works in progress” may be a waste of time and your attention. However, as of 2017 a couple of things have surfaced that may be noteworthy:
Choice of global outcomes: We appear to be at a decision point regarding the future of humans with free will – Catherine Austin Fitts recently concluded an interview with the observation that the aggregation of wealth in the hands of a few dedicated power seekers is not an accident and it appears that their goal is the complete control of the rest of life on Earth. We, as rural resource owners, therefore have a few critical choices to make – will Earth be a slave world or a humane world where free will prevails, will human trafficking and national “culling” of human value (intelligentsia and young children) continue to be the global business model of the elite? Catherine, a past Secretary of HUD, a financial adviser and principle of the Solari Group, stated that for the near term investors of good will must set aside their concerns for their portfolio and work for the human outcome they feel drawn toward. She is an advocate for Earth based humanity and humane outcomes.
Support for positions of importance: Recent leaks about the prevalence of human trafficking by intelligence and enforcement agencies appear to have been done because they now need the support of an informed public to be able to carry out the projects that have been given to them. The apparent war being waged through the press and elsewhere is being conducted to minimize this essential support.
Safeguarding sources of accurate information: A public information site, <http://projectavalon.net> has been built for the purpose of safeguarding essential information about the human condition and opportunities to change apparent agendas that are opposed to a free will based society. Their forum and libraries are open to all. There is a special section dedicated to the life history of Wade Fraizer, <http://ahealedplanet.net/public.htm#introduction>, who makes clear the incredible, but undisclosed (publicly), abilities of the current power brokers to monitor and control any who should choose to connect with a source of “free energy”. Wade has 1200 pages of text, videos, and essays that detail the history that he and others experienced in this arena.
These three topics, Choice of global outcomes, Support for positions of importance, Safeguarding sources of accurate information, are pivotal to the stability of owners of rural property ownership and the communities of which they are part. Catherine has laid out the choice in no uncertain terms. The need for strong public support of any significant activity has been made clear by the intelligence community and comments by Wade about the ability of control groups to eliminate small projects involved with disruptive technology. Wade and others have shown that there is a possibility for our society to clean up the ravages that appear to be incinerating this planet, and that the techniques for doing this clean up already exist in secret labs or other entities, and are being vigorously suppressed.
We, as forest owners and the rest of global humanity, are at a crossroads. Things that seemed well established a few years ago are now being challenged in ways that are hard to comprehend, and our media and government is either out of touch or worse. The most constructive thing that can be said at this point is that there is a pressing need for a Planetary Code of Conduct that will apply to all residents regardless of status. This document is a snap shot of the apparent reality. As things change it will be modified and will be kept up to date on the Common Good Forestry web site. As work progresses on relevant parts of this discussion they will become part of that web site. The balance of this section has yet to be reviewed in the light of the above and may change (hopefully soon).
In 2014 the Arctic Methane Emergency Group accepted a paper, “The real budgetary emergency and the myth of 'Burnable Carbon' ”, by David Spratt. Since then the Arctic has continued to warm to the point in 2017 that Arctic winter temperatures are nearly as warm as the NEUSA and very strong storms (with atmospheric pressures usually found only in category 3 and higher hurricanes) are bringing the Arctic more warm air.
Most of these topics have been open for discussion at Common Good Forestry for many years. The urgency for immediate action seems to be so great that there is no point in wasting time worrying who has done the deeds that got us here (forget the “blame game”); we (at least those who choose to be Earth residents) are all in this together. We must remember that the planet will be fine. It is the bioshere, us and the other living things that makeup “life as we know it”, that are at risk! There is no room for error, and there is no insurance policy for our failure to do the right thing! However, there are other parts of the picture that are not being discussed in our normal media and most environmental publications. The real issue of our time is being able to figure out what is real from what is fluff that others with something to gain from a particular point of view are paying to circulate.
The best outcome from studying this section of your management plan may be that you will be able to take new information and fit it into the things you already know to be true. At the same time it is essential to listen with an open mind and when appropriate to be willing to recognize that there may be old standards that need to be reviewed.
If you own woodlands, the risks to you and particular forest types may be hard to grasp because the sources of risk are so prevalent and so varied. It would be one thing if these risks developed from outcomes that could be assigned to us all as unwitting victims with no apparent guilty party. However, it now appears that the sources of most of our current pollution and budgetary problems came and continue from a variety of well planned and executed initiatives to trap humanity within a well controlled and costly energy network from which there was to be no escaping. Our response to this can only be: “where there is still life there is hope.” Hopefully, you will advocate for those policies that are most relevant to you, your family and your local forest.
A Few Basic Guidelines:
Energy use should come from local sources and be as non-polluting as possible.
Carbon rich situations like forests must be healthy and function for the locality – not for global business.
Mining a renewable resource will not make it better.
Wise use involves maintenance.
Maintenance of forestland requires unfettered access by proactive practitioners!
Forests are good carbon uptake vehicles – but only when trees are healthy and growing fast.
Forests are very leaky and unreliable carbon storage organs. (This is contrary to current carbon trading.)
Carbon negative systems are possible locally.
Sustainable carbon negativity must be local.
Emerging energy systems may change the whole concept of forest importance and what is possible within forests.
This decade appears to be at least part of a turning point in this sad state of affairs. The risks to us all are so great that, even given the opportunities that will be described herein, we may not be able to stop climatic tipping points from happening (a tipping point is one from which there is no ameliorative possibility). This call for stewardship then is one of extreme urgency and to directions not normally included in the realm of forest stewardship discussions. The space herein available for the disclosure of the various parts of this problem is both insufficient and possibly inappropriate for full development of the problem and the solutions. For background information refer to the CGF Background page and other pages of interest and Project Avalon.
A Brief Summary: The storms of the early twenty-first century have established a frame of reference for the warnings of climate researchers over the past twenty plus years, this is a preview of the new “climatic uncertainty”. The 2011 flooding in Vermont and New York took out roads and covered bridges that dated back more than 150 years. The longest covered bridge in NY State, one over the Schoharie Creek, was washed away by the tremendous volume of storm water run off from hurricanes Irene and Lee. Storms, Katrina, Irene, Lee, and Sandy are just weak samples of what is to come. Less well known are the affects of the 2011 tropical storm that hovered off of Cancun, Mexico and dumped over 5 feet of rain on Guatemala and Honduras in less than a week. This same kind of phenomenon occurred in Australia recently and there are geologic records of similar flooding occurring in many places in the recent geologic past. In April of 2014 Florida received over 2 feet of rain in one day. Needless to say there are few forests or sensitive ecosystems in MA that will long withstand unchanged any increased storm intensity beyond what we have witnessed in the past decade. It is clear to those who study the effects of climate forcing that we have yet to experience anything like what we are setting up for our grand children to have to cope with in the next fifty years. Fifty years is normally a short lifetime for a timber tree in the NE USA. Projecting the results of forest management into this new environment and particularly the chances for success in any long term timber investment is folly!
In view of this reality the question for any forest owner must be:
What does “stewardship” mean to me?
What are my responsibilities, opportunities and capabilities?
What must I/we ask for (and from whom) to be able to carryout our opportunities to be proactive?
This section can only sketch the briefest of suggestions, but if your forest is important to you, it is essential that you study these issues and form a level of knowledge that is adequate for you to make decisions in light of the exposure that you, your family, and your forest may have as a result of the evolving situation!
Your Chapter 61 Forest Management Plan is a tax classification document provided to help you become more familiar with these evolving challenges and the opportunities that your forest offers you to do something that is proactive and cost effective. You may be well advised to have a more detailed Stewardship plan if you hope to (or have) engage(d) in much effort beyond just infrequent harvesting.
The Drivers of Change: Recent developments in energy generation have made clear that the current social, economic and climatic conditions are the direct result of choices made early in the 20th century that guaranteed a revenue stream to government and financial centers. Unfortunately this choice also resulted in the release of many different kinds of pollutants including CO2 that would not have happened if other available systems had prevailed. Today we are still stuck with these polluting systems. The issue of “fracking” of natural gas containing formations is driven by these same entities that seek to “mine” value of all kinds from an area and then leave, frequently after declaring bankruptcy. It is then up to the locality to clean up the mess with public or local funds. This system of exploitation must cease and other non-polluting energy sources must replace the “normal” means of powering activity. This energy economy is driven by an inappropriate economic system maintained by financial elite. Issues described below can be traced to money flow and will only change when the valuation system changes.
The stable interglacial conditions that brought our planet to the situation found in 1800s are likely to be regarded as a precious and irreplaceable asset by the occupants who are left as these changes continue. Some of these changes are outcomes which occurred as unintended consequences of past decisions. Many including the failure of rural communities and the inability of rural families to “do the right thing” for either their children or their landholdings are the direct result of a well executed business plan by those with the resources and the will to bring this about. Two papers, one by Mark Ritchie entitled “The Loss of Our Family Farms”, and the other a shorter summary from Common Dreams, are included in the supplement to this plan. These papers describe the “CED-Adaptive Program for Agriculture” successfully developed and implemented in the USA to minimize the farm population. The complete file of that program is available in the list of files at Common Good Forestry . Kline and Perkins, see references below, pickup the story of how the Chicago School of Economics teams then advocated for these programs globally. This program with modifications was used by developed nations to target rural populations everywhere with a program of social and financial engineering to move rural populations to urban centers and destabilize rural infrastructure, leaving land to be taken by outsiders (corporate farming interests) while impoverishing the local inhabitants and building a small clique of super rich.
“The Thrive Movement”, Foster and Kimberly Gamble, and others have described how the century long program of energy centralization has been carried out by the financial and industrial sectors of our economy for the benefit of those sectors. There are many other sources that describe how this process has unfolded and who was and is responsible. It may be that these powerful interests are about to lose control. It is important to be able to understand what is happening and when, and if possible to respond to the consequences in a timely manner. Especially because other entities connected with forest activity are either unaware of the problem or have been corrupted by the same agents described above.
It is simply a statement of fact that unless the wealth concentration process and the climate weirdness are reduced or eliminated the regulations described below that are now in place to protect the various facets of your forest from you may have had no lasting affect, and that all of these “resources” may suffer extreme change or elimination.
Additional Sources of Information:
“Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” by John Perkins,
“Bioenergy in the Black” , J. Lehmann, and other books and publications
“The Shock Doctrine”, & “This Changes Everything” by Naomi Klein,
Common Good Forestry – Forest Management Tools: <http://sites.google.com/site/commongoodforestry>
The Thrive Movement, Foster and Kimberly Gamble,
The Keshe Foundation, M.T. Keshe – many alternative solutions
Fix the World Project, James Robitaille
“Blood and Oil” and other books by Michael Klare, Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts
Regulatory Complicity: Part of this planned agenda, where a few entities become dominant in global commerce, involved and continues to involve the development and implementation of confiscatory regulation of many facets of proactive (particularly rural) life; in addition to the focus of all activity on personal wealth accumulation and protection of that wealth. The Gambles, Ritchie, Klein, Klare, Hellyer and Perkins all describe how public entities that were supposed to work for, serve, and protect the local populations, have routinely been subverted for the gain of a few. In MA this may be happening through regulations that limit your ability to do needed work in your forest. It is also very likely that the energy sources described by many alternative sources may be resisted strongly by vested interests. In this decade we may be witnessing the use of the Chicago School of Economics “disaster capitalism” in several unexpected places including MA, other parts of the USA, and Ukraine. Unfortunately the story is unlikely to be told in the normal media. The effects of confiscatory regulations are just beginning to show up in the present realities. So your proactive forest related efforts may gradually be constrained in ways that may be difficult for you to understand.
When faced with confiscatory regulation – Questions to ask regulators:
What is the source of their authority / who do they work for you or someone else?
Who is going to pay the cost of these requirements?
What do you expect the real benefits are likely to be from the practice or limitation?
How permanent are the “protections” or habitat maintenance being imposed?
Who benefits from these outcomes and are they paying for them in some manner?
What is the source of information used to assign the restricition on your property?
Is there another way to accomplish the desired outcome, while letting your proactive practice proceed?
Are there other polluters that/who should be doing more to address the same issue?
You must have patience, be clear and articulate when describing how an issue affects your abilities to be proactive! Your local regulators need to hear from you at every opportunity, but they probably are unable and even unwilling to do anything about the issues. Letters to your legislators or actually formulating new legislation may be the only way to bring about change. Our lifestyles and the technologies that make them possible are the significant sources of both the climate changing agents and the number of people who can consume resources at unsustainable rates, even if it turns out that there are other causes that are adding to the problem.
Forest Opportunities, Issues and Concerns: The public download-able release of plans for free energy systems offered by Keshe, Bedini, Robitaille and others may be able to change the global economy, but it will take the efforts of all of us to make sure that what works can not be swept under the rug as it was in the past. The use of carbon negative systems and the charcoal produced provide a way to stabilize otherwise mobile carbon in rotting forest residues. Anaerobic situations need particular attention because of the potential for methane release. Climate crises may bring unpredictable conditions that will stress and disrupt even the most resilient ecosystems, these changes may visit us all in one way or another. Forests and their care offer a significant opportunity to reverse the intensity of these effects. There are many kinds of signals from the forest and individual trees that may be read by informed observers. The increasing frequency of damaging agents may necessitate nearly immediate appropriate response by anyone who has significant value or investment in a forest. At this point forests may have to be regularly maintained in order to stay healthy.
A few obvious basic facts may help:
All natural forests in places having adequate soil moisture are frequently populated (and regularly repopulated) by very large numbers of seedlings whenever the conditions for their temporary survival permit – one year old numbers of seedlings in very open areas probably average around 500,000 seedlings per acre.
Over the life of the trees that come to dominate the site most of the smaller stems die and are converted back into CO2, water and methane within 15 years of death. Periodic removal of thinned material is an important part of the energy recovery and carbon negativity process, as is the recovery and use of wood as a durable construction material.
Whenever there is an opening made in the canopy the process is repeated.
The net result is that of the 500,000 seedlings fewer than 200 stems (trees) are harvested for long term use and this may be as few as 25 to 50 per acre. So 499,900+ trees normally die from the first set of seedlings that colonized the site and most of that tonnage and much of the upper stem weight of the harvested trees is left to rot – maintaining the atmospheric CO2 level.
Slow growing trees of any size are more apt to suffer from rot, infection or infestation and thus may become part of the local CO2 release problem.
Unfortunately dying trees are frequently very wet which causes the degradation to proceed anerobically, producing methane rather than CO2 as dry rotting does. Methane is 100 times as effective a greenhouse gas as CO2 is. Recent studies have found methane levels inside wet trees to be 80,000 times the external atmospheric level.
As forests decline in health they may become a positive feedback for climate change. Thus your commitment to keeping your forest healthy and growing fast is an important part of your stewardship. Without that commitment to work the habitat your forest represents may disappear.
Further details of this topic are beyond the scope of this section and this plan to fully inform anyone of the range of issues that may develop.
The Challenges: [management financing] Forest owners are faced with challenges when doing proactive long term “normal management” because the technical and financial resources to do these things are limited or nonexistent for all but the well to do. The forestry section of the 2014 USNCA, <nca2014.globalchange.gov/>, report observes that much of the corporate forest ownership has recently come under control of investment managers who may have no interest in forest maintenance. The formation of new forest ownership vehicles to accept outside funding and retain control by people with the knowledge and interest in the health and stability of local communities and forests is a promising area of opportunity. See the Multifamily/generation Forest Trust page on the CGF site.
New techniques of local distributed carbon negative, combined heat and power energy generation are being researched. The techniques described by several alternative sources are available by downloading from the web for free. The current implementation appears to function at farm and neighborhood scales. It is too early to tell how this will be received. The rapid adoption of either of these techniques may reduce or eliminate the release of CO2 and enhance the removal and storage of atmospheric carbon while providing local sources of carbon negative energy. These systems must actually be widely used by as many energy users and forest owners as fast as possible if they are to have a significant effect. There is very little time left for such proactive measures to be effective.
The Challenges: [communication] Massachusetts is a small urban and residential state at the edge of this continent. All MA forests are urban forests – they are almost always someone else's back yard. Both urban and new rural residents are a large population of “entitled” individuals who expect reliable community and support services. The expectations of this population for food, fiber and energy now exceed the capacity of State and local production to support them. MA imports over 95% of both food and fiber and almost all of its energy supplies. Hopefully this could change with the new technologies described above. Should outside resources become unavailable these people may have to become farmers, move or starve. It is possible that the new energy techniques may change the way farming is done and enhance farming in ways we can only dream of now? Fortunately or unfortunately the water resources of this State are less likely to become limiting than other areas of the world in the near future. Forestland is now being purchased by those with the resources as a protective measure. These citizens are for the most part disconnected from the sources of the resources they feel entitled to and are generally physically, psychically, and intellectually remote from the ecosystems that provide essential “life support” services (although they may think that they know a lot about them). These disconnections are and will be the source of significant challenges for forest owners. They will require our ability to communicate and resolve the conflicts that stem from the operational realities of owning forest. On the one hand, we have the noise, traffic, and change associated with forest maintenance. On the other, there are “needs” and wants of those who are divorced from the provision of essential ecosystem services. There is an opportunity to engage these outside interests in some form of alternative ownership arrangement that provides resources and rewards just for keeping the forestland in forest. See the Multifamily/generation Forest Trust page on the CGF site.
As population shifts occur it may be necessary for forest owners to be able to describe and try to discuss the functions of forests in new ways for others, particularly those not familiar with what happens within a forest, to grasp the enormity of the issues. The Stand Visualization System (free software) makes use of easily obtained but technically demanding forest stand data to display images of how your forest may change.
The Challenges: [infrastructure] One helpful concept is that of “INFRASTRUCTURE.” Infrastructure includes all those functions that are the basis for our Common Good – the source of all life – a “gift” to us all that must be maintained. Unfortunately, the current financial system has no way of valuing the variety of maintainable facets of our natural infrastructure. Renewable resources like forests provide maintainable functions for human life support, if done right. As we capture / “mine” more of the resources available at the surface of our planet, it becomes increasingly important that all forests be able to be maintained. In this regard forests are similar to the normal human infrastructure - hospitals, roads, and bridges. As our natural resources are converted from living or life supporting substrates for-all into profit-for-a-few, the basis of life (the presence of a stable weather pattern, absence of invasive species, clean water and air, etc.) may become so scarce or unreliable that “life as we know it” is no longer possible.
The Reality: Massachusetts still is the home to a tremendous variety of ecosystems, plant and animal species, management challenges, and opportunities. The large and well managed corporate led program to disconnect the human population from reliance on local sustainable systems and their true capacity to support human activity should be a major issue for our time. This condition has not been adequately addressed by our leaders, our media or our resource management systems. This section of your plan will provide background information about the Massachusetts forest landscape as well as some of these issues and opportunities for proactive effort that might affect and or benefit your land.
The maintenance of ALL infrastructures has not been recognized as a significant and necessary component of normal everyday life. The current USA (and increasingly all developed regions) monetary systems have no way to recognize the value of these issues and opportunities, therefore the discussions here are in the form of a basic primer with the hope that you will study the range of issues in greater detail than this plan can provide. One hint for conducting this search and the resulting conversations is that you will find many opinions, but there can only be one set of facts. It may help to highlight the facts for later use. Facts however change as new information surfaces, so it is important to keep looking for answers with an open mind. It may be hard to change opinions of others. Public information about the energy possibilities using the Tesla systems may be a case in point. There is an unhelpful bias against proactive forest manipulation in the paragraphs prepared by regulators below. While timber is the only way for normal people to create any value that can enable the recovery of carrying costs of forest ownership, regulators and the public seem to feel that forest owners must bare all of the costs with no reliable additional support, even as public water systems receive 100 times the value of the timber sold for water produced that is similar to that leaving your land. It is up to us all to change this somehow.
Where to Look and What to Look For: The Overview, Stand Descriptions and Management Practices sections of your plan will give more detailed property specific information on these subjects tailored to your management goals. Unfortunately, this plan can offer little in the way of reliable guidance on how to fund or even plan for the proactive implementation of the recommendations provided in these sections. The process of plan implementation may require intensive study of the current private, State, and Federal support offerings and may lead to extended conversations with your forestry contacts and public officials. This plan is simply a tax qualification document to assist you in retaining your land in a fully functional and ecologically enhanced, but “undeveloped” condition, by reducing the level of tax charged by the local authorities. Neither the tax reduction possible from CH61, CH61A or B, or a sale of land protection easements are likely to be sufficient to fund an effective forest management program. This plan may be a vehicle that will enhance your access to funding to do things that may be important to you. However, some of these activities may be regulated by laws and regulations put in place without ANY provisions for compensation for the value of services provided by your land or costs of compliance demanded in the regulation.
An ongoing problem is the fossil energy based short term activity of urban and rural populations, corporations and governments around the world. These resource consuming activities are placing many sustainable systems are at risk from climatic instability.
Protection of Place:
It is becoming increasingly clear that these overarching effects can not be eliminated by a simple designation of a parcel as one that is “protected” as is suggested in many sections below. For this reason it is suggested here that the current normal “protection” of place is obsolete. Such protection must be accompanied by a range of other measures including the formation of very local supply chains that can be involved in techniques for CO2 removal and many other energy related technologies as described by the Keshe Foundation, carbon negative energy system adoption for local provision of energy, use of biochar for nutrient retention and organic compound detoxification, stabilization of forest and agricultural soils wherever possible, and eventual rebuilding of the local competence for self reliant living. The urgency of this cultural change can not be over emphasized. Climatic uncertainty is with us and must be addressed in all we do.
Biodiversity: Biological diversity is, in part, a measure of the variety of plants and animals, the communities they form, and the ecological processes (such as water and nutrient cycling) that sustain them. With the recognition that each species has value, individually and as part of its natural community, maintaining biodiversity has become an important resource management goal.
The biggest and newest threat to biodiversity is the prospect for complete annihilation of “Life as We Know It” from irreversible climate change. This problem is not mentioned in State approved literature. While forest maintenance activities may appear to have some unpredictable consequences as a threat to biodiversity in Massachusetts, such activity pales in comparison to the loss of habitat to development and effects of major stressors, including transport of imports and exports which appear to suffer no significant restriction. An emerging threat that comes from consumption or use of imports is the introduction and spread of invasive non-native plants. Non-native invasive species like European Buckthorn, Asiatic Bittersweet, and Japanese Honeysuckle spread quickly, crowding out or smothering native species and upsetting and dramatically altering ecosystem structure and function. Once established, invasive species are difficult to control and even harder to eradicate. Therefore, vigilance and early intervention are paramount. These problems are a direct result of the global economy. Local activity is essential to stop the addition and disbursement of these harmful agents.
Another factor influencing biodiversity in Massachusetts concerns the amount and distribution of forest growth stages. Wildlife biologists have recommended that, for optimal wildlife habitat on a landscape scale, 5-15% of the forest should be in the seedling stage (less than 1” in diameter). Yet we currently have no more than 2-3% early successional stage seedling forest across the state. There is also a shortage of forest with large diameter trees (greater than 20”). It is clear that the major habitat modification opportunities come from active timber management. The policies maintaining cheap carbon based energy solutions to resource supply have adversely affected all the phases of the forest industry through replacement of wood by plastic, glass, concrete and steel, outsourcing production from local to global businesses and concentrating distribution in mega stores. Recognition of all these areas as part of the natural infrastructure and creating permanent long term forest management financing systems is essential to maintaining these habitats both rural human and endangered plant and other animal habitats. See more about how you can manage your land with biodiversity in mind in the “Wildlife, Soils, and Tree Health” sections below. (Also refer to Managing Forests to Enhance Wildlife Diversity in Massachusetts, A Guide to Invasive Plants in Massachusetts.)
Rare Species: Rare species include those that are threatened (abundant in parts of its range but declining in total numbers, those of special concern (any species that has suffered a decline that could threaten the species if left unchecked), and endangered (at immediate risk of extinction and probably cannot survive without direct human intervention). Some species are threatened or endangered globally, while others are common globally but rare in Massachusetts. This program takes precedence over all other land use possibilities at this time, even though some practices could be more “protective” than the current programed initiatives. It is quite likely that unless there is a massive and effective change in energy use and production of goods locally that all of these efforts will fail. This program is unequally administered and enforced and given rapid climate change it is not likely to have any long term positive affect and may be deleterious to those activities that could have actually slowed the change. Designation of “suspected” habitat areas is done by office personnel. There is no field checking before issuing the mandated practice modifications and appeal is virtually impossible.
Of the 2,040 plant and animal species (not including insects) in Massachusetts, 424 are considered rare. About 100 of these rare species are known to occur in woodlands. Most of these are found in wooded wetlands, especially vernal pools. These temporary shallow pools dry up by late summer, but provide crucial breeding habitat for rare salamanders and a host of other unusual forest dwelling invertebrates. Although many species in Massachusetts are adapted to and thrive in recently disturbed forests, rare species are often very sensitive to any changes in their habitat
Indispensable to rare species protection is a set of maps maintained by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP) that show current and historic locations of rare species and their habitats. The maps of your property will be compared to these rare species maps and the result indicated on the upper right corner of the front page of the plan. Prior to any regulated timber harvest, if an occurrence does show on the map, the NHESP will recommend protective measures. Possible measures include restricting logging operations to frozen periods of the year, or keeping logging equipment out of sensitive areas. (No mention is made of the value or possibility of using lighter equipment to lessen damage from very heavy equipment now most common in the original document.) You might also use information from NHESP to consider implementing management activities to improve the habitat for these special species. However, this then opens your property up to even more restrictions on things you may need to do to retain the property as forest.
There are no comparable limitations on other “normal” citizen or corporate activities that contribute to the pollution of these areas or the impacts from outside development that cause additional focus on forest left within the region; nor are there means of directing payments to forest owners for maintenance efforts. The exposure of the real players in the economic “game” that caused the fossil energy dominance has yet to have had any real affect on those truly responsible for the problems. The practices described by Kline that are used by corrupt governments and their client corporations to carry out massive change in times of trouble can subvert all regulations that in normal times impede most activity. It appears that the Endangered Species Act is being used to change land use for private gain. The lack of an appropriate monetization of these habitat resources and provision of funding to compensate those “lucky” enough to be able to pay for the right to be stewards of such habitat may place intolerable burdens on forest land owners who are “suspected” of having such species present. There are problems that come with any mitigation effort. The monetization of ecosystem services may not be a panacea since it could entail another level of bureaucracy beyond the one discussed above. Alternatives might include the recognition that there are important proactive steps that each of us should be able to take as a normal part of our sovereign occupancy of the landscape. Forest owners are potentially able to have a large impact on the quality of their habitat if the appropriate funding can be developed. Finding a way to advocate for such a change in the way we value life and what is worthy of compensation may be the hardest job for anyone in this century. Failure to respond globally and locally to the impending climatic crisis will guarantee that all species requiring the current temperature range (-40 to 110 degrees F) may soon become endangered.
Riparian and Wetlands Areas: Riparian and wetland areas are transition areas between open water features (lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers) and the drier terrestrial ecosystems. These riparian areas are the combat zone of severe weather events that carry high volumes of water. Wetlands collect water all year, release this water slowly, and may cause much of the vegetation that develops there to be held for long periods in an undecomposed form. These large carbon stores may become significant methane sources as temperatures rise. Methane has 100x the greenhouse gas effect of CO2 and has been shown to be more prevalent than previously believed in all wetlands. More specifically, a wetland is an area that has hydric (wet) soils and a unique community of plants that are adapted to live in these wet soils. Wetlands may be adjacent to streams or ponds, or a wetland may be found isolated in an otherwise drier landscape. A riparian area is the transition zone between an open water feature and the uplands (see Figure 1). A riparian zone may contain wetlands, but also includes areas with somewhat better drained soils. It is easiest to think of riparian areas as the places where land and water meet.
The presence of water in riparian and wetland areas make these special places very important. Some of the functions and values that these areas provide are described below:
Filtration: Riparian zones capture and filter out sediment, chemicals and debris before they reach streams, rivers, lakes and drinking water supplies. This helps to keep our drinking water cleaner, and saves communities money by making the need for costly filtration much less likely. There are some new proactive measures like formation and application of biochar from local forest residues that can aid in reducing nutrient and organic compound pollution of these water ways, but there are no funding mechanisms or official recognition of such activities as the “life support” measures that they must become.
Flood control: By storing water after rainstorms, these areas reduce downstream flooding. Like a sponge, wetland and riparian areas absorb stormwater, and then release it slowly over time instead of in one flush. The
Figure 1: Example of a riparian zone.
improvement of soil permeability through biochar application can significantly reduce the rate of surficial water runoff and later soil moisture loss as water flows out of void space.
Critical wildlife habitat: Many birds and mammals need riparian and wetland areas for all or part of their life cycles. These areas provide food and water, cover, and travel corridors. They are often the most important habitat feature in Massachusetts’ forests.
Recreational opportunities: Our lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds are often focal points for recreation. We enjoy them when we boat, fish, swim, or just sit and enjoy the view.
In order to protect wetlands and riparian areas and to prevent soil erosion during timber harvesting activities, Massachusetts promotes the use of “Best Management Practices” or BMPs. In reality these measures should be entitled “Appropriate Management Practices” or AMPs since they may or should change as new lessons are learned and promoted. AMP will be used in what follows in place of the less accurate BMP term. Maintaining or reestablishing the protective vegetative layer and protecting critical areas are the two rules that underlie these common sense measures. DCR’s Massachusetts “Best” Forestry Practices Manual (available on line or at the local DCR office) details both the legally required and voluntary specifications for log landings, skid trails, water bars, buffer strips, filter strips, harvest timing, and much more.
The two Massachusetts laws that regulate timber harvesting in and around wetlands and riparian areas are the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act (CH 131), and the Forest Cutting Practices Act (CH132). Among other things, CH132 requires the filing of a cutting plan and on-site inspection of a harvest operation by a DCR Service Forester to ensure that required AMPs are being followed when a commercial harvest exceeds 25,000 board feet or 50 cords (or combination thereof). As your forest maintenance activities increase in scope it is likely that you may have to file three or more Forest Cutting Plans per decade to be legal. Such requirements could be covered within a CH 61 plan if the regulators fully understood the issues that forest owners face.
Soil and Water Quality: Forests provide a very effective natural buffer that holds soil in place and protects the purity of our water. The trees, understory vegetation, and the organic material on the forest floor reduce the impact of falling rain, and help to insure that soil may not be carried into our streams and waterways. As temperatures rise the organic matter of the forest may become much more vulnerable to rapid oxidation the only real alternative to this loss of carbon is to replace it with a stable form of carbon that can do the same things for millennia. The local production of char and its incorporation in soils of origin is a proactive step to solving a myriad of recent issues, but is unsupported by any governmental entity at this time.
To maintain a supply of clean water, forests must be kept as healthy as possible. Forests with a diverse mixture of vigorous trees of different ages and species can better cope with periodic and unpredictable stress such as insect and disease attacks or windstorms.
Timber harvesting is a function with many aspects. Careful harvesting can be practiced only by those who are aware of the source of the present conditions, the opportunities available with various levels of stand treatment and the consequences of each choice. Proactive stand treatment can improve the stability of vegetation near waterways, but only if these measures are carried out in a timely and repeated manner. Single shot attempts are bound to be less than satisfactory. While it is true that harvesting must be conducted with the utmost care to ensure that erosion is minimized and that sediment does not enter streams or wetlands, the forest and its associated wetlands are well equipped to handle accidental or incidental erosion when compared to the situation of many other modern land uses. It is easy to forget that the prehistory of this area is one that includes complete glacialtion and later massive loss of 2 miles of ice load and the development of soils and ecosystems from a base of complete disturbance. Sediment causes turbidity which degrades water quality and can harm fish and other aquatic life. As long as Acceptable Management Practices (AMPs) are implemented correctly, it is possible to undertake active forest management without harming water quality. Note that this is a major social benefit with no regular compensation to the owner for such proactive measures that may be taken.
Forest Health: Like individual organisms, forests vary in their overall health. The health of a forest is affected by many factors including weather, soil, insects, diseases, air quality, and human activity. Forest owners do not usually focus on the health of a single tree, but are concerned about catastrophic events such as insect or disease outbreaks that affect so many individual trees that the whole forest community is impacted. Yale University forest researchers have found that rotting trees have 80,000x the background methane concentration of the ambient air. It is increasingly important that forests be kept healthy and that individual trees be harvested and used effectively to store the carbon in a stable form.
Like our own health, it is easier to prevent forest health problems then to cure them. This preventative approach usually involves two steps. First, it is desirable to maintain or encourage a wide diversity of tree species and age classes within the forest. This diversity makes a forest less susceptible to a single devastating health threat. Second, by thinning out weaker and less desirable trees, well-spaced healthy individual trees are assured enough water and light to thrive. These two steps may result in a forest of vigorously growing trees that is more resistant to environmental stress. Unfortunately the current forest industry in MA has been decimated by the concentration of commodity distribution in a few box store chains and the outsourcing of lumber use to places having cheaper labor costs and few if any regulation. The harvesting systems in place at this time are not suited to low volume frequent forest activity and certainly are not set up to do much conversion of material in or near the forest of origin.
Fire: Most forests in Massachusetts have been relatively resistant to catastrophic fire. As the Arctic and this region warms this pattern may change dramatically. More powerful storms may create conditions for much larger fuel loads that cannot be handled by local users of forest fuels. Historically, Native Americans commonly burned certain forests to improve hunting grounds. In modern times, fires most often result from careless human actions. The risk of an unintentional and damaging fire in your woods could increase as a result of logging activity if the slash (tree tops, branches, and debris) is not treated correctly. Adherence to the Massachusetts slash law minimizes this risk. Under the law, slash is to be removed from buffer areas near roads, boundaries, and critical areas and lopped close to the ground to speed decay. Well-maintained woods roads are always desirable to provide access should a fire occur. Of course, devastation such as the 2011 tornado in central MA creates incredible burdens for those with inaccessible forest properties.
Depending on the type of fire and the goals of the landowner, fire can also be considered as a management tool to favor certain species of plants and animals. Today the use of prescribed burning is largely restricted to the coast and islands, where it is used to maintain unique natural communities such as sandplain grasslands and pitch pine/scrub oak barrens. However, state land managers are also attempting to bring fire back to many of the fire-adapted communities found elsewhere around the state.
Wildlife Management: Enhancing the wildlife potential of a forested property is a common and important goal for many woodland owners. Sometimes actions can be taken to benefit a particular species of interest (e.g., put up Wood Duck nest boxes). In most cases, recommended management practices can benefit many species, and fall into one of three broad strategies. These are managing for diversity, protecting existing habitat, and enhancing existing habitat.
Managing for Diversity – Many species of wildlife need a variety of plant communities to meet their lifecycle requirements. In general, a property that contains a diversity of habitats may support a more varied wildlife population. A thick area of brush and young trees might provide food and cover for grouse and cedar waxwing; a mature stand of oaks provides acorns for foraging deer and turkey; while an open field provides the right food and cover for cottontail rabbits and red fox. It is often possible to create these different habitats on your property through active management. The appropriate mix of habitat types will primarily depend on the composition of the surrounding landscape and your objectives. It may be a good idea to create a brushy area where early successional habitats are rare, but the same practice may be inappropriate in the area’s last block of mature forest.
Protecting Existing Habitat – This strategy is commonly associated with managing for rare species or those species that require unique habitat features. These habitat features include vernal pools, springs and seeps, forested wetlands, rock outcrops, snags, den trees, and large blocks of unbroken forest. Some of these features are rare, and they provide the right mix of food, water, and shelter for a particular species or specialized community of wildlife. It is important to recognize their value and protect their function. This usually means not altering the feature and buffering the resource area from potential impacts.
Enhancing Existing Habitat – This strategy falls somewhere between the previous two. One way the wildlife value of a forest can be enhanced is by modifying its structure (number of canopy layers, average tree size, and density of tree stocking). Thinning out undesirable trees from around large crowned mast (nut and fruit) trees may allow these trees to grow faster and produce more food. The faster growth will also accelerate the development of a more mature forest structure, which is important for some species. (WARNING: Thinning in tall stands with poorly developed tree crowns, the foliated length of the stem, may simply stress the remaining trees because they run out of water. Nothing as easy as it seems.) Creating small gaps or forest openings generates groups of seedlings and saplings that provide an additional layer of cover, food, and perch sites.
Each of these three strategies can be applied on a single property. For example, a landowner might want to increase the habitat diversity by reclaiming an old abandoned field. Elsewhere on the property, a stand of young hardwoods might be thinned to reduce competition, while a “no cut” buffer is set up around a vernal pool or other habitat feature. The overview, stand description and management practice sections of this plan will help you understand your woodland within the context of the surrounding landscape and the potential to diversify, protect or enhance wildlife habitat, but little will be said about how to pay for such activities unless identified as a special priority with funding to cover additional costs associated with such activity.
Wood Products: The primary source of return from forest ownership has been severely crippled in recent decades. The outsourcing of most manufacturing and the NIMBY mentality of many communities have driven most forest products companies from the state. Most timber harvested is now shipped out of state or exported out of the region. Wood energy is an anathema to many residents. Harvesting as practiced normally is simply an act of “mining” of value when and where it exists. Areas of no commercial value are not touched since this would reduce the return to the owner. If managed wisely, forests can produce a periodic flow of wood products on a sustained basis, as long as there is a market for the product. Stewardship encompasses finding ways to meet your current needs while protecting the forest’s ecological integrity. In this way, you can harvest timber and generate income without compromising the opportunities of future generations. As mentioned above no other sector of our economy is conversant with such rhetoric.
Massachusetts forests grow many highly valued species (white pine, red oak, sugar maple, white ash, and black cherry) whose lumber is sold throughout the world. Other lower valued species (hemlock, birch, beech, red maple) are marketed locally or regionally, and become products like pallets, pulpwood, firewood, and lumber. These products and their associated value-added industries contribute between 200 and 300 million dollars annually to the Massachusetts economy. If there were dedicated funding for effective forest maintenance this amount could be several orders of magnitude larger. As it is a significant portion of available funds go to one time payments for “protection” of place type property restrictions. Such payments are not adequate for long term maintenance and the agencies placing these “protections” do not require such proactive treatment. By growing and selling wood products in a responsible way you are helping to our society’s demand for these goods. Harvesting from sustainably managed woodlands rather than from unmanaged or poorly managed forest – benefits the public in a multitude of ways. The sale of timber, pulpwood, and firewood also provides periodic income that you can reinvest in the property, increasing its value and helping you meet your long-term goals. Producing wood products is the only “normal” way to defray the costs of owning woodland, and while it may help private landowners keep their forestland undeveloped, it is becoming less effective as our society becomes more dependent on unsustainable systems.
Cultural Resources: Cultural resources are the places containing evidence of people who once lived in the area. Whether a Native American village from 1,700 years ago, or the remains of a farmstead from the 1800’s, these features all tell important and interesting stories about the landscape, and should be protected from damage or loss.
Massachusetts has a long and diverse history of human habitation and use. Native American tribes first took advantage of the natural bounty of this area over 10,000 years ago. Many of these villages were located along the coasts and rivers of the state. The interior woodlands were also used for hunting, traveling, and temporary camps. Signs of these activities are difficult to find in today’s forests. They were obscured by the dramatic landscape impacts brought by European settlers as they swept over the area in the 17th and 18th centuries.
By the middle 1800’s, more than 70% of the forests of Massachusetts had been cleared for crops and pastureland. Houses, barns, wells, fences, mills, and roads were all constructed as woodlands were converted for agricultural production. But when the Erie Canal connected the Midwest with the eastern cities, New England farms were abandoned for the more productive land in the Ohio River valley, and the landscape began to revert to forest. Many of the abandoned buildings were disassembled and moved, but the supporting stonework and other changes to the landscape can be easily seen today.
One particularly ubiquitous legacy of this period is stone walls. Most were constructed between 1810 and 1840 as stone fences (wooden fence rails had become scarce) to enclose sheep within pastures, or to exclude them from croplands and hayfields. Clues to their purpose are found in their construction. Walls that surrounded pasture areas were comprised mostly of large stones, while walls abutting former cropland accumulated many small stones as farmers cleared rocks turned up by their plows. Other cultural features to look for include cellar holes, wells, old roads and even old trash dumps.
Recreation and Aesthetic Considerations: Recreational opportunities and aesthetic quality may be the most important values for many forest landowners, and represent valid goals in and of themselves as long as the climate does not change! Removing interfering vegetation can open a vista or highlight a beautiful tree, for example. When a landowner’s goals include timber, thoughtful forest management can be used to accomplish silvicultural objectives while also reaching recreational and/or aesthetic objectives. For example, logging trails might be designed to provide a network of cross-country ski trails that lead through a variety of habitats and reveal points of interest.
If aesthetics is a concern and you are planning a timber harvest, obtain a copy of this excellent booklet: A Guide to Logging Aesthetics: Practical Tips for Loggers, Foresters & Landowners, by Geoffrey T. Jones, 1993. (Available from the Northeast Regional Agricultural Engineering Service, (607) 255-7654, for $7). Work closely with your consultant to make sure the aesthetic standards you want are included in the contract and that the logger selected to do the job executes it properly. The time you take to plan ahead of the job will reward you and your family many times over with a fuller enjoyment of your forest, now and well into the future.
Invasive Species Management: Invasive species pose immediate and long-term threats to the woodlands of MA. Defined as a non-native species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human, animal, or plant health, invasives are well-adapted to a variety of environmental conditions, out-compete more desirable native species, and often create monocultures devoid of biological diversity. The websites of the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England, www.nbii-nin.ciesin.columbia.edu/ipane, and the New England Wildflower Society, www.newfs.org are excellent sources of information regarding the identification and management of invasive plants. Some of the common invasive plants found in MA are listed below.
Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculata)
Glossy Buckthorn (Frangula alnus)
Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora)
Japanese Barberry (Berbis thunbergii)
Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica)
Autumn Olive (Eleaeagnus umbellata)
Early detection and the initiation of control methods soon after detection are critical to suppressing the spread of invasive species. Selective application of the proper herbicide is often the most effective control method. See the next section for information on the use of chemicals in forest management activities.
Pesticide Use – BE CAREFUL
Pesticides such as herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and rodenticides are used to control “pests”. A pest is any mammal, bird, invertebrate, plant, fungi, bacteria or virus deemed injurious to humans and/or other mammals, birds, plants, etc. The most common forest management use of a pesticide by woodland owners is the application of herbicide to combat invasive species. MA DCR suggests using a management system(s) that promotes the development and adoption of environmentally friendly no-chemical methods of pest management that strives to avoid the use of chemical pesticides. If chemicals are used, proper equipment and training should be utilized to minimize health and environmental risks. In Massachusetts, the application of pesticides is regulated by the MA Pesticide Control Board. For more information, contact MA Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), Pesticide Bureau at (617) 626-1776
On MA Private Lands Group Certification member properties, no chemicals listed in CHEMICAL PESTICIDES IN CERTIFIED FORESTS: INTERPRETATION OF THE FSC PRINCIPLES AND CRITERIA, Forest Stewardship Council, Revised and Approved, July 2002, may be used.
This is your Stewardship Plan. It is based on the goals that you have identified. The final success of your Stewardship Plan will be determined first, by how well you are able to identify and define your goals, and second, by the support you find and the resources you commit to implement each step. It can be helpful and enjoyable to visit other properties to sample the range of management activities and see the accomplishments of others. This may help you visualize the outcome of alternative management decisions and can either stimulate new ideas or confirm your own personal philosophies. Don’t hesitate to express your thoughts, concerns, and ideas. Keep asking questions! Please be involved and enjoy the fact that you now pay for the privilege to be the steward of a very special place. There are few examples of how to survive while trying to effectively turn your trusteeship from one where mining is the way things are done to one where maintenance for the local common good is practiced reliably.