Our Regional Focus

Massachusetts has a diversity of land covers under significant pressure from energy and housing development. These pressures are exacerbated by a desire to protect open space, including forests and farmland, and increase local food systems.

Almost 2/3rds of Massachusetts is defined as forested land. However, it is being fragmented and converted for development.

The state and many civil society groups have proposed policies, programs, and visions for sustainability and climate resilience. They range from local to regional and to state-wide initiatives.

 While there are many proactive projects, policies, and plans for sustainability and climate resilience, competing goals can reveal trade-offs and create tensions over land-uses.

The conversion of open space to solar energy systems is just one example of how goals for sustainability, adequate housing, climate change mitigation, and climate change adaptation in Massachusetts portend significant transformation of the landscape in the next decades.

Ground-mounted solar systems are contributing to a significant proportion of newly developed land: as much as one-fourth of new development on previously undeveloped land between 2012 – 2017 (6000 acres) and the current plan to meet the state’s goal of “No Net Emissions” by 2050 may require up to 60,000 acres of new ground-mounted solar.

Renewable energy; increasing carbon sequestration via increase in forestlands; ensuring food security; ensuring adequate and affordable housing; promoting vibrant local economies and healthy communities; and maintaining and enhancing ecological services – all of these will require choices about how land is used. And, they are all important goals.