Forest acreage has been shrinking for decades.
Forest Inventory: The amount of forest land in Connecticut is estimated to have increased by approximately seven percent over the last decade, which may be the result of reduced development activities associated with the great recession and the recent decline in population. Connecticut’s forests contain a wide variety of tree species with over 58 species identified in 2017. In terms of number of trees, red maple is the most numerous species in Connecticut. It is estimated that 71.5 percent of the state’s forest land is privately owned, 28.1 percent is owned by state and local government, and the remainder is owned by Federal agencies and Native American tribes.
Core Forest Acres:
Earth Day Retrospective: Since 1985 Connecticut has lost over 187,000 acres of forest lands.
Estimates of core forest acres in the chart were derived by UConn’s Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR), which uses satellite imagery to identify forests that are at least 300 feet from non-forest development, such as roads, buildings and farms. Core forests provide habitat for many species of wildlife that cannot tolerate significant disturbance. Forests that are fragmented, or divided by roads and clearings, provide some forest functions but are not fully-functioning forest ecosystems. Fragmented forests are known to provide substandard or poor habitat for some species of wildlife and, in many cases, less opportunity for hunting and other types of recreation. Invasive species of plants and animals often colonize areas in the wake of activities that result in fragmented forests.
As discussed in DEEP’s Connecticut’s Forest Action Plan 2020 Update, “fragmentation and parcelization threatens large blocks of forest which can reduce their usefulness to humans and animals and make them less resilient to other threats.”
Why are forests important? Forests and other natural habitats absorb an estimated 11 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions; reduce water quality impacts associated with development, impervious surfaces, and certain agricultural practices; and provide valuable habitat. Research is showing that visiting a forest has real, quantifiable health benefits, bothmental and physical. The Council uses the presence of specific forest bird species as an indicator in identifying forest ecosystem health.
Growing forests accumulate and store carbon through the process of photosynthesis. Trees remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store it as cellulose, lignin, and other compounds. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the amount of carbon sequestered in one year by one acre of average U.S. forest is approximately 0.77 metric ton CO2.**
Technical Note: * The estimate of forest inventory in Connecticut depicted in the chart above is included to supplement the forest data that is provided by UConn’s CLEAR satellite-derived data that is available in approximately five year intervals. This is derived from the USDA Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) research, which is used to determine the extent, condition, volume, growth, and use of trees on forest land. **https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gases-equivalencies-calculator-calculations-and-references.