Forest Protection

Sustaining life on Earth depends on forests

Forest preservation is critical to our future. Protecting and expanding forests addresses both our global climate and biodiversity crises. Our ability to reach global carbon neutrality by 2050 depends on phasing out fossil fuel emissions while simultaneously harnessing the power of forests to remove massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
 
We all benefit tremendously from the ecosystem services provided by forests and trees: trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, reduce storm damage, control runoff and erosion from flooding, filter water, purify the air we breathe, and provide habitat for a vast majority of terrestrial plants and animals. Walking or living among trees enhances our physical and mental health, and replenishes our spirit. We accrue physiological benefits, including decreased blood pressure and heart rate, as well as stress reduction and lower concentrations of cortisol.
 
Just a few trees, or even a single tree, improve our surroundings. Every tree counts. Urban forests, like the Miyawaki Forest in Cambridge, no larger than a football field, maintain critical habitat for many birds, insects, and mammals. City planners are increasingly using trees to control stormwater and regulate local temperatures. By providing shade and through evapotranspiration, trees are “essentially air-conditioning systems.” Tree canopies reduce the heat island effect by moderating temperature extremes. New research confirms that “changes in maximum temperature are driving extinction, not changes in average temperature.” Heat kills people and animals. In treeless communities, on hot summer days, residents experience more respiratory problems and heat-related illness. Trees even reduce crime in some neighborhoods!

 

 

Why preserve forests?

Forests optimize carbon storage, biodiversity, and ecosystem services.

Preservation of New England forests is critically important for their value as carbon sinks. When trees are cut, CO₂ is released immediately from the trees and soil. Protecting forests not only reduces carbon dioxide emissions from logging; protecting forests simultaneously draws down carbon from the atmosphere. There is no technology yet invented that can sequester carbon from the atmosphere like forests and trees. “Intact forests also may sequester half or more of their carbon as organic soil carbon or in standing and fallen trees that eventually decay and add to soil carbon.” 

If left intact and undisturbed, “Northeast secondary forests have the potential to increase biological carbon sequestration between 2.3 and 4.2-fold.” 

Protecting forests is essential for maintaining healthy ecosystems, preventing biodiversity collapse, and slowing the climate crisis. The global scientific consensus is "that safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystems is fundamental to climate resilient development." 

 

Forest Protection Advocacy

Forest Protection Resources

2023 - 2024 Legislative Priorities for Forest Protection

 

 

Next Page: The Importance of Old Growth Forests >>

Our Mission

The Forest Protection Team works to protect, preserve, and expand forests throughout Massachusetts in order to maximize carbon sequestration, promote biodiversity, and optimize human health. We raise public awareness and advocate for public policies that promote forest protection on local and state levels. Our work is guided by a commitment to environmental and social justice. 

Learn more about our team's work.

The Forest Protection Team meets on the second Thursday of each month. Join us hereClick on an upcoming Forest Protection Team meeting date for more information.