A new report says that New England has been losing forestland to development at a rate of 65 acres per day. Here in Connecticut, that number is 3,700 acres a year, leaving us with only 15 percent of viable forest.
So what, you may be thinking. While we all love the beauty of the forest, people need homes and the state would benefit from more development.
But there are long-term costs.
“The conversion of forest and farm lands to permanent structures is really changing the face of the New England landscape,” said Harvard Forest Director David Foster. He added that nature supports people by providing clean water, clean air and by encouraging tourism.
Jonathan Thompson, a senior ecologist for Harvard Forest, said the loss of forestland is a bigger threat even than climate change, in part, because it more immediately threatens local ecosystems.
Here in central Connecticut, we have patches of green, many squeezed between highways, commercial areas and industrial parks. And yet, we yearn for places that offer us shade, serenity and, just maybe, an occasional glimpse of wildlife - the kind of place where our children can safely play, a place they will remember long after they’re grown.
To achieve that, our leaders have to be willing to say no to desecration of yet another green space.
That doesn’t mean saying no to industrial progress. There are plenty of sites, such as the old Stanley Works factory buildings, that can be reclaimed and added to the tax rolls - if planners put long-term benefits ahead of today’s easy buck.