Building on a foundation of existing conservation plans, the Massachusetts wildlife action plan provides a blueprint to fulfilling our responsibility to conserve Massachusetts’ wildlife and the places they live for future generations.

Massachusetts: Diverse Lands and Wildlife

In Massachusetts, the landscape ranges from calcium-rich valleys of western Massachusetts to the cold, acidic Worcester Plateau, and from the mountains of the Taconics and the Berkshires to the floodplains of the Connecticut River Valley. The Atlantic Ocean shapes the sandy glacial outwash plains of Cape Cod and the rest of Massachusetts’ coastal system.

The loss of habitat and the secondary impacts to wildlands and wildlife from increased water usage and pollution are the main threats addressed in the Massachusetts wildlife action plan. The primary challenge to conserving wildlife in Massachusetts is protecting enough habitat to support the species identified as being in greatest need of conservation.

Building on a Legacy of Success

Perhaps because Massachusetts is a small state with a large population where the negative impacts to wildlife populations are clearly recognized, development of the wildlife action plan was more a bringing together of existing plans though underfunded programs rather than having to start the planning process from scratch. For example, the BioMap project analyzed Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program data collected over many years to identify key wildlife habitats throughout the state. This information allows land- use planners from the most local level right on up to the broadest landscape perspective to understand why these areas are so important to the long-term conservation of declining wildlife populations.

The Ecological Restoration Program funds research that assesses the dynamics of natural communities before taking management actions to restore ecologically significant systems. The Upland Program restores and maintains early-successional habitats needed by so many declining bird and small mammal populations in New England. Taken together, these pieces and many others lay out strategies to improve our knowledge of declining species populations and create partnerships that will engage Massachusetts citizens in actions that will conserve our wildlife legacy for future generations.