From Engagement to Action: Supporting Woodland Owners in Decisions About Their Land
With support from the Overhills Foundation and numerous partners, NEFF…
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NEFF’s outreach staff members connect with, listen to and assist the people of New England on topics ranging from improving wildlife habitat to conserving forest land and the importance of preparing woodlands for the impacts of climate change. While our outreach activities and public events are primarily targeted and location-specific, NEFF also offers online resources to support the decisions of landowners, foresters, communities, partner organizations, policy makers and more.
The goals of NEFF’s outreach programs are to provide the latest science-based information and practical resources to the people who own, work and recreate in New England’s forests—both private and public—so they can continue to keep our woodlands healthy, resilient and productive into the future. NEFF’s outreach work helps people understand how we can sustain all of the values that forests provide for our society and natural world.
Two NEFF outreach programs—the Western Maine Habitat Restoration initiative and Forest-to-Cities Climate Challenge—have their own pages elsewhere on the site, so you’ll find just a quick overview of them here, followed by an in-depth look at NEFF’s work with the Woodlands Partnership of Northwest Massachusetts and MassConn Woods project.
Want to help wildlife thrive? NEFF is partnering with eligible Western Maine landowners to create or restore important habitat using climate-smart forestry. Participants can be reimbursed for most or all of their cost.
Help NEFF kickstart a tall wood building revolution that will mitigate climate change, address housing affordability, and more. This program increases regional support for sustainable mass timber, and everyone is welcome.
NEFF serves as Administrative Agent for the Woodlands Partnership of Northwest Massachusetts by supporting a 31-member volunteer Board in this region spanning the most-forested corner of the Commonwealth. The initiative includes towns, nonprofits, and business and academic organizations that work cooperatively with the regional planning agencies, state, and U.S. Forest Service.
The state legislature passed legislation in 2018 to establish the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership as a public body within a 21-town area of northern Berkshire and western Franklin counties. In October 2022, the Partnership Board voted to change its name in respect for Indigenous Peoples who live in the area, and because the Route 2 state highway known as the Mohawk Trail does not pass through a majority of member towns.
The Woodlands Partnership and its six Standing Committees are focused on conserving forestland while keeping it in private ownership; fostering sustainable forest management to promote forest health, resilience and carbon storage in an era of climate change; promoting natural resource-based economic development and employment including recreation, tourism and renewable wood products; and improving the fiscal stability and services of rural municipalities.
For more information about the Woodlands Partnership, email Coordinator Kate Conlin at email@example.com.
The trip focused on restoring globally important wildlife habitat using climate-smart forestry, and participants are shown here taking a break after a long morning in the woods.
For NEFF’s 30 Percent Climate Solution to succeed, we need to increase the use of Exemplary Forestry and other climate-smart forest management approaches in New England. Here are some of the ways NEFF’s outreach staff and teams are helping NEFF accomplish this goal.
NEFF embraces tried-and-true outreach efforts including group trainings, woods walks, webinars, estate planning forums and informal gatherings, and also uses effective new approaches more commonly used in other professions such as community action, social marketing, sales, journalism, and the performing arts.
The following are some of the more innovative approaches NEFF has seen yield positive results and increase forest landowner involvement: Targeted outreach to high profile community members with local credibility, cold-calling forestland owners, and storytelling. NEFF continues to try new approaches and focus on those that yield the best results.
Working closely with our partners, NEFF has begun developing training for foresters and loggers on the latest in climate-smart forest management. In 2023, NEFF also launched a separate but related partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in the Acadian Forest of Western Maine to train foresters to apply Exemplary Forestry guidelines to maximize restoring important native fish and wildlife habitat, and growing a long-term wood supply in a well-stocked forest while increasing forest resilience to pest, storms, and variable conditions.
NEFF is using Western Maine Habitat Restoration project sites as teaching tools by working with project landowners to develop informative signage on recreational trails that shows how applied Exemplary Forestry improves forest productivity, as well as fish and wildlife habitat over time. QR codes integrated into signage will add detailed information on forest practices useful in training foresters and woodland owners.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation funded a NEFF proposal to collect baseline data for measuring future changes in songbird habitat before and after forest management on three privately-owned forest sites in Western Maine. NEFF partnered with the Maine Audubon Society to recruit, train and oversee citizen science volunteers and two land trusts to host the initial study sites.
Realizing the need to better communicate with the approximately 215,000 forest owners of more than 10 acres in New England, NEFF launched an intensive learning project to improve outreach to this audience so important to conservation success.
In 2013, NEFF teamed up with American Forest Foundation and the MassConn Sustainable Forest Partnership to convene local land trusts and foresters in a 38-town, two-state region. The partners worked to fund, implement and evaluate strategies to engage woodland owners in learning about conservation and sustainable forestry.
Over a six-year period, a series of grant-funded mailing campaigns, educational workshops, walks, estate planning events and funding opportunities were implemented in this region of northeastern Connecticut and south-central Massachusetts. Outcomes included:
NEFF’s 2019 report, From Engagement to Action: Supporting Woodland Owners in Decisions About Their Land, summarizes lessons from the MassConn Woods Outreach Initiative and calls for sustained funding for this work around New England. NEFF recommends scaling up proactive outreach by regional partnerships in order to conserve important forest landscapes for wildlife habitat and to support woodland owners to sustainably manage their land amid a rapidly changing climate.
With support from the Overhills Foundation and numerous partners, NEFF…
New England Forestry Foundation worked with a team of conservation…
Resilience to climate change will be critical to keeping our forests healthy…
Check out conservation FAQs, resources for landowners and land trusts, and general resources like how to find a local land trust.
Visit this section if you’re curious about how NEFF manages its lands, or if you’re a landowner who would like to know more about working with and hiring certified foresters.