To: Representative Smitty Pignatelli and Senator Anne M. Gobi
Statement of Support for Massachusetts House Bill 897
To: The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture
Representative Smitty Pignatelli, Chair
Senator Anne M. Gobi, Chair
Re: H. 897, An Act Relative to Forest Protection
Dear Chairs Pignatelli and Gobi:
H. 897, sponsored by Representative Susannah Whipps, would protect all Massachusetts state conservation land as parks or reserves where forest ecosystems are guided primarily by natural processes. This bill would:
• fight climate change by reducing carbon loss — as occurs with current logging activities — and by maximizing carbon sequestration;
• preserve 11% of the state’s land base and 20% of forested lands, including large contiguous landscape blocks that are needed to maintain native biodiversity, offering safe havens for wildlife and humans alike;
• enhance public benefits such as clean air and water, recreational opportunities, and economic diversification.
This bill allows management flexibility to address public health, safety and other concerns. It would not require increased funding to implement.
Please ensure the passage of this bill.
Why is this important?
The October 7, 2018 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a dire warning: To avoid catastrophic climate change, we need to take immediate action to stabilize and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This includes the preservation of standing forests, which are essential in removing and storing atmospheric carbon.
Emerging science shows that if kept intact, forests will absorb carbon at an accelerating rate as they grow older. If they are logged, most of this carbon will be released. None of Massachusetts’ state lands have guaranteed protection from logging. This includes areas classified as “parklands” and “reserves,” which can be opened to logging with a stroke of a pen by state agencies. We are asking that the approximately 610,000 acres of state land, covering 11% of the Massachusetts land base, be protected from logging and dedicated to maximizing carbon sequestration under this moratorium.
Conservation biologists call for saving 17% to 50% of the Earth to prevent massive extinction of plant and animal species. The protection of Massachusetts’ state-owned lands from logging would be a major step toward safeguarding our state’s native biodiversity.
Harvard University Research Professor Emeritus, Dr. Edward O. Wilson — one of the world’s most prominent biologists— wrote in a February 19, 2019 letter that he backs this legislation because of his concerns about biodiversity:
“Many decades of research have convinced me and many other conservation scientists that we must save at least half of the Earth from industrial exploitation if we hope to avoid catastrophic plant and animal extinctions. A bill introduced into this Massachusetts legislative session, [H. 897], would make us the first state to give this protection to all of its public lands. I strongly support this bill, which would permanently protect 13 percent of the Massachusetts land area, reaching from the Berkshires to the Atlantic Coast.
"THIS IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT ACTION THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE CAN TAKE TO PRESERVE OUR NATURAL HERITAGE.
"As it has many times in the past, Massachusetts can provide leadership on this issue, inspiring other states across the country to take similar bold action.” [Emphasis added]
In June 2017, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker joined the United States Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 17 governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. One of the Alliance’s major objectives is to “increase carbon stored in forest ecosystems and reduce losses of already-stored carbon.”
We call on the Legislature to enact H897. Such bold leadership can inspire other states across the country to take similar action to address this vital issue.
For more information contact:
Save Massachusetts Forests