Nature’s Way of Fighting Climate Change

We are now living in a world where scientists are telling us that urgent and unprecedented changes are needed if we are to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. Global average temperatures today are 1°C warmer than pre-industrial levels, and we are in the fight of our lives to avoid surpassing 1.5°C in the coming decades.

Often times, people ask “where is the technology that will save us?” When will scientists figure out how to build a magic vacuum that sucks all the excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and help us continue living our lives as we do right now?

Instead of waiting for technology and innovation to save us, we need to look at one of the most historically significant, but underrepresented solutions to climate change: trees.

Why Trees?

Trees are vital to life on our planet for many reasons. They give us oxygen, store carbon, stabilize the soil, and provide habitat for our wildlife.

When it comes to climate change, trees not only help us by absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutant particulates, they also help us build resiliency to the increasing impacts of climate change such as increased precipitation, increased temperature, and more.

Maintaining the Massachusetts Tree Canopy

According to a 2017 Harvard study, more than half of Massachusetts is covered by forest, but the state loses about 7,000 acres of forest each year to development.

Our forests and lands offset about 15 percent of the carbon emissions that we emit each year. Carbon storage is just one of the many benefits provided by the world’s forests. With the right management practices, forests filter air and water and provide a home for a diverse range of species.

In addition to our large forested areas, Massachusetts also benefits from the Greening the Gateway Cities Tree Planting Program, which aims to increase the urban tree canopy 5-10% in select neighborhoods of former industrial cities. Thus far this program has planted over 8,000 trees across 13 Gateway Cities.

Trees vs Climate Change

Trees fight climate change in many ways, from the small scale (home & community) to the big scale (national parks and other conserved land).

At Your Home

  • Trees or shrubs planted to shade air conditioners help cool a home more efficiently, using less electricity.
  • According to the US Forest Service, just three trees properly placed around a house can save up to 30% of energy use.

In Your Community

  • Neighborhoods with well-shaded streets can be up to 6-10°F cooler than neighborhoods without street trees, thus reducing the need for increased energy usage.
  • Shaded parking lots also help keep automobiles cooler, reducing emissions from fuel tanks and engines.

Across Protected Lands

  • Forests store large amounts of carbon in their leaves, stems, and other parts of the plant. According to the USDA, forests make up 90% of the natural environments in the US that absorb carbon (otherwise known as the carbon sink) and sequester approximately 10% of US CO2 emissions.
  • For each area of forest protected, the threat of deforestation and degradation is removed, leading to reduced CO2 emissions.

Be a Climate Hero: Pledge to Plant a Tree

Planting trees is a strategy that can be implemented now and offers more additional benefits than nearly any other climate change solution.

Ready to be a climate hero? Sign our pledge and commit to planting a new climate resilient tree at home, in your community, or at your school this spring or fall.

Need some tree planting guidance? Check out these planting guidelines and the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Wizard App to determine what tree best suits your needs.

loving our local outdoors in partnership with REI

UPDATE: REI Member Vote Grant

Great news! Mass Audubon received 34% of all votes in REI’s first-ever “Loving Our Local Outdoors” member vote grant in New England.

The Award

As a result, we will receive $15,500 to split between two projects.

  • On the South Coast of Massachusetts, we will build new trails at Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary to create an amazing eight-mile circuit trail that allows hikers to experience beautiful beach, grassland, and salt marsh habitat.
  • Just west of Boston, at Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in Natick, we will repair and reroute nine miles of hiking trails that have eroded due to heavy use and flooding over the years, creating an improved visitor experience.

Both projects will include ADA-accessible trail additions and enhancements, such as observation platforms and a boardwalk, so that people of all abilities can get out and enjoy nature.

Here’s How it Worked

Between March 7 and April 9, 2019, REI members who made an in-store purchase were encouraged to vote for one of three local stewardship projects—Mass Audubon, Appalachian Mountain Club, or Save the Bay—via an in-store display. Participating stores included Boston, Cranston (RI), Framingham, Hingham, and Reading.

Our sincerest thanks to our supporters and to REI members for making this happen! And to REI for supporting our mission to connect even more people with nature.  

Make the World a Greener Place

On April 22, 1970, some 20 million Americans demanded clean air and water. Since then, the Environmental Protection Agency was formed, the Clean Air & Water Act passed, and the Endangered Species Act was implemented to protect our most vulnerable wildlife.

While much has improved over the last 49 years, we are still fighting for our planet. And Mass Audubon continues to be at the forefront by:

  • Protecting 38,000 acres of land across Massachusetts
  • Fighting for strong environmental policies on Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill
  • Teaching kids and adults about the importance of protecting nature for people and wildlife
  • Providing places for everyone to get out and enjoy nature

You can help us do so much more. In honor of Earth Day, make the world a greener place with a gift to Mass Audubon.

Osprey © David Ennis

What To Do This Weekend: April 20-21

Take part in an egg hunt, check for osprey, clean up a beach, go birding, search for salamanders, look for wildflowers, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Osprey © David Ennis
Osprey © David Ennis

South of Boston

Go on an Egg Hunt at Oak Knoll in Attleboro. Dye eggs with natural dyes, create a bird nest, match different eggs to the animals that laid them, meet live rabbits, and search the sanctuary for hidden eggs! (families, registration required)

Help Allens Pond in South Dartmouth conduct Osprey Nest Checks along the Westport River. Along the way, learn valuable insight into the lives of osprey. (all ages, registration required)

More in South of Boston

Cape Cod and Islands

During Bird Research in Action! at Wellfleet Bay, meet James and the rest of the bird banding team to learn about banding methods and the information gathered from this research. You will likely get to see live birds up-close and observe the banding process. (adults and children ages 8+, registration required)

Take part in an Earth Day Beach Clean Up at Felix Neck in Edgartown. Walk along our shoreline collecting trash along the way. Afterwards head on over to the after-party at Sailing Camp Park in Oak Bluffs.

More on Cape Cod and Islands

Central Massachusetts

Get to know Spring Wildflowers during one of Broad Meadow Brook’s Essential Nature classes in Worcester. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

North Shore

Go Saturday Morning Birding in the Newburyport/Plum Island are — one of the best year-round birding locations in the country. Beginners and birders of all levels are welcome. (adults)

Make a Cedar Bark Basket at Ipswich River in Topsfield. While working, discuss the harvest and preparation of materials, as well as the history behind the discovery and replication of these very old baskets. (adults, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Greater Boston

Birders and non-birders of all ages and skill levels are invited for a Morning Bird Walk at Habitat in Belmont. Look for signs of migrating species, mating behaviors, and nest building.

During Salamanders and Citizen Science at Moose Hill in Sharon, hike to a vernal pool, look for egg masses, determine if they are yellow spotted salamander or wood frog, and count how many egg masses of each type we find. (families, registration required)

Become a Neighborhood Naturalist at Boston Nature Center. Using the iNaturalist app, identify the wildlife we find and help scientists collect valuable information on species populations and distributions. (families, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

Spotted Salamander © Ryan Dorsey/Mass Audubon

Take 5: Salamander Swarm

Every year, warming spring days trigger amphibians like spotted salamanders and wood frogs to migrate en masse to vernal pools to breed on the night of the first soaking rain above 45°F—a phenomenon known as “Big Night.” This spectacular annual event is taking place all across Massachusetts.

Vernal pools are temporary, isolated ponds that form when spring rain and meltwater from ice and snow flood into woodland hollows and low meadows. These pools provide critical breeding habitat for certain amphibian and invertebrate species—since vernal pools eventually dry up, they are inaccessible and inhospitable to predatory fish.

To celebrate the return of spring and the mass migration now taking place all around us, here are five great photos of native salamanders. Note that not all salamanders migrate to and breed in vernal pools—the eastern red-backed salamander, for example, has no aquatic larval stage at all, so you’re most likely to find one under a moist, rotting log or rock while northern dusky salamanders are stream denizens and lay their eggs in flowing seeps in June or July.

Blue-spotted Salamander © Patrick Randall
Blue-spotted Salamander © Patrick Randall
Eastern Red-backed Salamander © Chris Liazos
Eastern Red-backed Salamander © Chris Liazos
Spotted Salamander © Ryan Dorsey/Mass Audubon
Spotted Salamander © Ryan Dorsey/Mass Audubon
Northern Dusky Salamander © Patrick Randall
Northern Dusky Salamander © Patrick Randall
Blue-spotted Salamander © Brendan Cramphorn
Blue-spotted Salamander © Brendan Cramphorn
Tree Swallow

What To Do This Weekend: Apr 13-14

Practice yoga, go on a nature walk, search for hawks, learn how to garden for butterflies, attend a sheep festival, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Tree Swallow

Greater Boston

Experience Yoga and Mindfulness at Habitat in Belmont. After a 45-minute slow and gentle yoga class indoors, head outside to explore the trails. (adults, registration required)

Go on a Naturalist Walk at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, exploring the sanctuary’s different habitats looking for signs of spring. (adults and children ages 12+)

Meet at Blue Hills Trailside Museum for a Woodcock Walk. Learn a little about these strange birds before venturing out in search of a male bird displaying. (adults and children ages 8+, registration required)

Enjoy a Spring Nature Walk at Boston Nature Center. Observe the beauty of spring flowers in bloom, listen to the birds as they start returning from their winter grounds, and watch for animals tracks in the fresh mud. (families, registration required)

Are you Wild about Reptiles? If so head to Broadmoor in Natick to meet some of the species of reptiles up close and take a short walk to see more reptiles in the wild.

Take a Sunday Saunter at Moose Hill in Sharon to experience nature through the seasons. This walk will focus on vernal pool ecology. (adults)

More in Greater Boston

North Shore

Head over to Ipswich River in Topsfield to learn how to Attract Butterflies and Hummingbirds to Your Landscape. Get info on landscaping with native plants and learn why they are necessary to sustain native insect, bird, and animal species. (adults, registration required)

Experience Spring Hawkwatching with Joppa Flats in Newburyport. Start with an indoor presentation to find out everything you need to know before heading out on a field trip to Plum Island to practice your hawk ID skills. (adults, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Central Massachusetts

Meet Finch, Monarch, Willow, and the rest of Wachusett Meadow’s flock during the Sheep and Wool Festival in Princeton. Enjoy sheep shearing demonstrations, local vendors, crafters, kid’s activities, and more.

Bring your preschooler to Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester for Story Hour. Listen to a story, go for a walk, and make a craft. (families, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Connecticut River Valley

Explore Arcadia’s unique floodplain forest during Canoeing Mill River in Easthampton and Northampton. Identify spring plants on the shore, as well as aquatic plants, look for returning songbirds, and watch for Great Blue Herons. (adults registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Cape Cod and Islands

Celebrate Spring at Wellfleet Bay during a leisurely hike to discover flowers blooming, birds returning and more as the sanctuary springs back to life. (adults registration required)

Spend the afternoon in the Chillmark Library for Chowder and Chat. Learn about Felix Neck’s citizen science programs and enjoy some chowder.

More on Cape Cod and Islands

Baltimore Oriole © Lee Millet

Take 5: Birds of the Rainbow

Spring is in the air and all of Massachusetts is eagerly awaiting the return of bright, beautiful color to the drab, grey-brown landscape of winter. In that spirit, here are five colorful birds to look for as the weather warms to make your day a little more colorful.

Scarlet Tanager © Jeff Carpenter
Scarlet Tanager © Jeff Carpenter
Baltimore Oriole © Lee Millet
Baltimore Oriole © Lee Millet
Yellow Warbler © Bernard Creswick
Yellow Warbler © Bernard Creswick
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (female) © David Pallin
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (female) © David Pallin
Indigo Bunting © Yunzhong He
Indigo Bunting © Yunzhong He
blue spotted salamander

What To Do This Weekend: April 6-7

Watch for woodcocks, explore vernal pools, learn how to bird by ear, get tips on how to garden for pollinators, go on nature hikes, attend a climate cafe, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

 Blue-spotted Salamander
 Blue-spotted Salamander

North Shore

Go Saturday Morning Birding in the Newburyport/Plum Island are — one of the best year-round birding locations in the country. Beginners and birders of all levels are welcome. (adults)

During a Vernal Pool Exploration at Ipswich River in Topsfield, walk to these special wetlands and look for wood frogs and salamanders that use these pools to reproduce. (adults, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Greater Boston

Take part in a Fiber Arts Exploration at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln. Spend the afternoon spinning, needle felting, and natural dyeing, then visit the ewes and new lambs. (adults, registration required)

Go on a Saturday Morning Hike at Moose Hill in Sharon to learn about the changing seasons, local geology, and conservation. (adults and children, registration required)

Head to Boston Nature Center for Marvelous Mud. Learn who lives in mud, how it helps the forest grow, and try your hand at some nature and art. (families)

Celebrate Big Night at Stony Brook in Norfolk by walking the lantern-lit trails to encounter costumed characters waiting to teach you about amphibians. Inside check out live specimens from vernal pools and make crafts. (adults and children, registration required)

Experience Wacky Woodcocks at Broadmoor in Natick. Watch and listen as they rocket up 300 feet, then call loudly as they zigzag during their dive back towards earth. (adults, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

South of Boston

On a Welcome Spring Nature Hike at Tidmarsh in Plymouth, observe all the sights and sounds — peepers chorusing, basking turtles, buds bursting — that come back to life with longer and warmer days after a long winter. (adults and children ages 10+, registration required)

During Timberdoodles and Tapas at North River in Marshfield taste a variety of delicacies and then witness the amazing courtship display of the male American Woodcock. (adults, registration required)

Attend a free Family Habitat Day at Oak Knoll in Attleboro to look for interesting animals, plants, and see what has visited the sanctuary. (families, registration required)

More in South of Boston

Berkshires

Learn how to Bird by Ear at Pleasant Valley in Lenox. Get tricks to sound identification while hearing how bird sounds go hand in hand with habitat, behavior, and other clues. (adults, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

Connecticut River Valley

Find out how to Garden for Pollinators at Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton. Get ideas and tools for creating or transforming your garden into a pollinator haven. (adultes, registration required)

During Vernal Pools at Night, take a short evening walk to listen for these awesome amphibians at Arcadia’s vernal pool. (families, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Martha’s Vineyard

Attend a Climate Cafe at the Chillmark Tavern to have a conversation about oceans. Don’t forget to bring your mug! (adults and children ages 10+)

More on Cape Cod and Islands

Central Massachusetts

Get to know Spring Tree Flowers during one of Broad Meadow Brook’s Essential Nature classes in Worcester. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Katydid © April Churchill

Take 5: Fooled You!

April Fools! Nature is chock-full of animals trying to “fool” potential predators with an amazing array of evolutionary tricks.

Take, for example, the beautiful, veined, leaf-green wings of the katydid or the “eyespots” on the wings of a polyphemus moth. The Eastern Screech Owl’s camouflaged plumage can render it nearly invisible against a tree trunk while expert mimics like the unspotted looper moth or the giant swallowtail caterpillar can be indistinguishable from a brown leaf and a dollop of bird poop, respectively.

Enjoy these five photos of wildlife that can easily fool you—they’re probably a bit more pleasant than your average office prank, anyway!

Katydid © April Churchill
Katydid © April Churchill
Eastern Screech-Owl © Brad Dinerman
Eastern Screech-Owl © Brad Dinerman
Polyphemus Moth © Martha Pfeiffer
Polyphemus Moth © Martha Pfeiffer
Giant Swallowtail "Bird Poop" Caterpillar © Mass Audubon
Giant Swallowtail “Bird Poop” Caterpillar © Mass Audubon
Unspotted Looper Moth © Kristin Foresto
Unspotted Looper Moth © Kristin Foresto

What To Do This Weekend: March 30-31

Celebrate all things sheep, experience Big Night, go on a bird walk, look at the stars, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Sheep and lambs

Greater Boston

Head to Drumlin Farm in Lincoln for Woolapalooza, the annual festival about all things sheep! Meet our new lambs, watch sheep shearing demos, shop items created by local fiber artisans, and much more.

Discover the connections between Henry David Thoreau, climate change science, and Concord while attending the Stone Memorial Lecture at The Center for the Arts in Natick. (registration required)

Go on a Woodcock Walk with Blue Hills Trailside Museum in Milton. Learn about these strange birds before venturing out in search of a male bird displaying. (adults and children ages 8+, registration required)

Enjoy a Spring Bird Walk at Boston Nature Center to observe resident birds and spring migrants. Local bird enthusiasts will help find and identify birds through field marks, sounds, and behaviors. (adults, registration required)

People of all ages and skill levels can meet up at Habitat in Belmont for a Morning Bird Walk. Look for signs of migrating species, mating behaviors, and nest building.

Take part in an Evening Wildlife Prowl at Stony Brook in Norfolk. The pace will be relaxed and senses heightened as you look for creatures that come out just as the sun is setting. (families, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

North Shore

Head to Ipswich River in Topsfield for Deep Sky Astronomy to look for variable stars, binary stars, star clusters, gaseous nebulae, galaxies, and more using a large reflector telescope. (adults and children ages 10+, registration required)

Go Saturday Morning Birding in the Newburyport/Plum Island are — one of the best year-round birding locations in the country. Beginners and birders of all levels are welcome. (adults)

More on the North Shore

Central Massachusetts

Connect with the natural world in a healing, calming, grounding, and replenishing way through a guided Forest Breathing Walk at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton. (adults, registration required)

Go on a Broad Meadow Brook field trip to Bird Sachuset Point in Rhode Island. Scan the rocky coast for Horned Larks, Buffleheads, Harlequin Ducks, and more. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Connecticut River Valley

It’s Big Night at Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton. Spend an enchanted family evening celebrating the annual migration of thousands of amphibians. (registration required)

Cape Cod

Celebrate Spring at Wellfleet Bay with a leisurely, naturalist-guided hike to discover flowers blooming, birds returning and more as the sanctuary springs back to life. (adults, registration required)

More on Cape Cod and Islands

South of Boston

Help Mass Audubon’s Coastal Waterbird Team for a Coastal Waterbird Work Day in Westport by erecting fencing that is used to symbolically fence off areas where Piping Plovers and American Oystercatchers nest. (adults and children ages 12+, registration required)

More in South of Boston