When you think of New England, you tend to imagine rolling hills, fall foliage, expansive forests and nature. But, that image is quickly becoming a figment of the past according to this new report.
CT Post reports that New England loses about 65 acres PER DAY to new land developments. Also, to make matters worse, funds used to protect these lands dwindle every year. Money used to preserve land’s been on the decline for about a decade. This goes for both state and federal land, too.
Funds used to protect New England’s natural beauty halved between 2008 and 2014. About $62 million a year goes toward land preservation. That’s slightly below 2004’s levels.
On top of that, back in the early 2000’s, regional land conservation saved an average of 333,000 acres per year. Nowadays, that number’s somewhere around 50,000 acres a year.
So, that’s the money aspect about why New England could lose its iconic forests. But, where’s the proof?
Well, Harvard Forest Director David Foster, who penned the study, relied on satellite imagery to back up his thesis. Foster said that the majority of land lost to developers happens to be along the coastline in southern New England.
For the past 150 years, New England’s been slowly reclaiming forest land, but this marks the first time that the area lost open space. Connecticut sees about 3,000 acres of forest disappear a year. Massachusetts loses about 7,000 acres while Maine gives up about 6,100 acres.
He wasn’t sure how this could affect New England’s future:
“The conversion of forest and farm lands to permanent structures is really changing the face of the New England landscape. One of the things that makes new England one of the most compelling places to live is the green space.”
The study also touched upon climate change and how a rise in developed land will harm local ecosystems. For example, wild animals like bears and coyotes happen to be common sights in cities now.
As of now, Connecticut’s effectively preserved 15 percent of its land for farm or forest use. Overall, the amount of money spent conserving land comes out to about $2.81 per person.
New Hampshire leads with 30 percent, but that amount boils down to about $1.46 a person.
Still, conservation need to be ramped up if advocates want to preserve New England’s natural beauty. The study recommended protecting 30 million acres across the six states, which amounts to about 70 percent of the region’s land area.
So, what do you think? Should there be a renewed effort to fight against developers? Do you think New England will eventually cut down all its forests because of this or is this report a scare tactic? Or, is this just a cycle this area goes through every hundred or so years?