Protecting twice as much land as we’re developing in Massachusetts

Mass Audubon released its new study, “Losing Ground IV” on May 18th.  As Beth Daley of the Boston Globe reported on the day of its release, the study finds: 

Through the 1990s and the early part of this decade, forests and fields were being developed – mostly into new home sites – at the rate of about 40 acres a day.  In recent years, the study shows, that number was cut nearly in half, to about 22 acres a day.

 At the same time, conservation efforts have stepped up, so that each day 43 acres of land are protected as open space, usually through legal agreements with private owners or purchases by conservation groups or the state. 

 This is good news for land conservation.  Right?  Well, it is, but . . .

As the Globe also reports, the study shows construction is intensifying in Central and Southeast Massachusetts.  Timothy W. Brennan, executive director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, as quoted in the Globe article, explains: 

We call our brand of sprawl ‘sinister sprawl’ because it is a horizontal ooze that spills out of the Pioneer and Connecticut River Valley to [eat up] the most prime agricultural lands.

 The full study is available at Mass Audubon’s website.  The study is a fairly large file (even at low resolution), but the site also provides individual chapters for download. 

In addition to the study, Mass Audubon provides an online database of various statistics for individual municipalities and regions.  The statistics include information in four categories:  land use, recent development, protection, and ecological impacts.