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Protecting a Climate Change Ally

New England Forestry Foundation staff said the aerial perspective was “incredibly valuable” to put the conservation project in perspective with the larger landscape. Photo: Jonathan Milne / LightHawk

The future is in the forests.

Forests are critical to our health and wellbeing. But forest cover across New England steadily declines each day as development and unsustainable forestry practices take a bite. More than 100,000 acres will be buzz-sawed for urban uses each year over the next three decades, reports say.

Forests conserved at the landscape level safeguard wildlife and the ecosystem, as well as human health with pure water, clean air and recreation. Forests are also a key ally in fighting the effects of climate change.

Those benefits, however, are sometimes at odds with the region’s growth and the $5 billion timber industry. Along with our partners, LightHawk is elevating the discussion in hopes of balancing a critical source of economy with an essential source of health for residents of one of America’s fastest growing megaregions.

But tapping the full potential of forests is only possible by first ensuring they remain forests, unfragmented by development. In that quest, we partnered with the New England Forestry Foundation in western Maine on a series of flights to survey 10,000 acres, to orient their staff, and educate board members.

LightHawk flights were “crucial to inspiring the board to approve these projects,” allowing NEFF staff to secure funding to place the area under conservation easement, said Charlie Reinertsen, NEFF’s communications manager.

“Walking the property, it is hard to get the full context of the landscape and the land-use history, including past harvests and existing roads or trails,” Reinertsen said. “This in-the-air view of the property was incredibly valuable because it was able to put the properties in the context of the greater landscape.”

We plan to expand our work across Western Maine in hopes of conserving even more critical forest habitat.

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