Kestrel Land Trust acquires 161 acres of “core area” in Pelham, Mass.

The Kestrel Land Trust and the Town of Pelham Conservation Commission have acquired a 161-acre parcel of land in Pelham, Mass., that will serve as a valuable natural asset for both people and wildlife. The Buffam Brook Community Forest, which lies within a high priority terrestrial “core area” in the Connect the Connecticut landscape conservation design, will be a publicly owned forest managed for the educational, recreational, and economic benefit of the community, thanks to collaboration with several private woodland owners.

While the project has been in the works since before the launch of Connect the Connecticut, Kestrel and partners applied the same data that underlies the landscape conservation design to make the case for acquiring the parcel. Kestrel’s Executive Director Kristin DeBoer explained that her organization used the Conservation Analysis Priority System (CAPS) developed by the Designing Sustainable Landscapes project at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to demonstrate the ecological value of the land.

CAPS offers an ecosystem-based approach for assessing the ecological integrity of lands and waters, and identifying and prioritizing land in terms of conservation value, that was central to the development of Connect the Connecticut. The CAPS process results in an Index of Ecological Integrity (IEI) for each point in the landscape based on models constructed separately for each ecological community.Connect the Connecticut applied IEI rescaled to each ecosystem type in the watershed to select the most resilient and intact systems to be included in the network of priority areas.

As such, the land in Pelham represents an area that is capable of supporting biodiversity over time because it is a resilient example of high quality habitat. As only the second public forest of its kind in Massachusetts, it also represents a unique resource for the community.

Read more about this project on the Kestrel Land Trust website.