At Mount Grace, we treat land protection as the primary defense against the issues exacerbated by climate change.
While land conservation has been identified as a leading method of mitigating climate change, we continue to lose on average 13.5 acres of land to development daily in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts according to the 2020 Mass Audubon report, Losing Ground: Nature's Value in a Changing Climate.
In the North Quabbin region, an area previously considered relatively cushioned from significant development pressure, this trend is shifting. Several factors, including the growth of industry on the route 495 corridor, has resulted in a greater threat to our region’s open spaces.
In addition to increasing the pace of land conserved, it is essential that we care for the land that has already been protected. Our land stewards strive utilize the most up-to-date and peer-reviewed best management practices to keep ecosystems functioning healthily, increase climate resilience, and promote wildlife biodiversity on the thousands of acres we tend. Whether we’re working with pollinator meadows, farm fields, old growth forests, or early successional woodlots, we design management plans that use the best tools in our toolbox of strategies.
Landscape Scale Restoration
In 2022, Mount Grace and partners in the Massachusetts Dynamic Forest Restoration Initiative (MADFRI) were awarded a Landscape Scale Restoration grant by the US Forest Service. MADFRI is a collaboration on public and private lands in north central Massachusetts and the Berkshire Highlands regions that enhances forest resilience, restores fish and wildlife habitat diversity and mitigates invasive species through forest habitat restoration, community engagement, and long-term landscape planning.
What makes MADFRI unique among restoration initiatives is the “big picture” view of Massachusetts forests as a patchwork quilt of small and large sites that can be managed in a holistic and complimentary way. The 20-acre family forest is as important to the quilt as the 2,000-acre wildlife management area down the road. Coordinating the health of forested landscapes across public and private land is essential for the overall resilience of the New England’s forests. When we knit together this strong quilt of healthy forests, wildlife is better able to migrate to different areas, invasive plants and insects are better kept in check, and humans can have a healthier relationship with the land.
MADFRI’s goal in forest habitat restoration is to identify, plan, and deliver sustainable forest management and invasive species treatments on public & private conserved land in a coordinated manner that accounts for both landscape-level conditions and property-level planning considerations.
Land protection alone is not enough for conservation of biodiversity. The rare species crisis is an integral part of the climate crisis, and in Massachusetts many of those rare species rely on open habitats and priority natural communities, many of which are themselves rare, due to land-clearing and development for other human uses. Targeted restoration provides habitat for wildlife, increases climate resilience, and provides outdoor recreational opportunities for human communities.
Biodiversity Map & Climate Resilience
Using the Biodiversity Map developed by the North Quabbin Regional Landscape Partnership (NQRLP) and funded by the Open Space Institute and the Highstead Foundation, Mount Grace can determine if a proposed project falls within a "high resilience" zone. These are areas most likely to retain their biodiversity in the face of climate change. This is one of the many attributes we track to determine the urgency of a land protection project.
Climate resilience was considered with our Leyden, Mormon Hollow, and Quabbin Heritage projects. Utilizing both the Biodiversity Map and data made available from The Nature Conservancy, we were able to secure a state landscape partnership to protect these lands.
Local Agriculture & Local Timber
Through our farm conservation program, our efforts to support Quabbin Harvest, and the Greater Quabbin Food Alliance, Mount Grace is working to ensure that we have a viable local food system. In addition to our goals of a thriving agricultural economy, and accessible healthy food for our region, we also want to have produce, meat, and dairy that is not transported thousands of miles.
Mount Grace works to support the local timber industry, so that our homes are built and heated with local products. Wood construction materials have a significantly lower carbon footprint than their steel and concrete equivalents, which is decreased even further if they can be harvested and processed in our region.