Rick Van de Poll
Department of Environmental Studies
This study, conducted in 1995, completed a cover type inventory, a preliminary classification of natural community types and a preliminary assessment of “ecologically significant areas” (ESA’s) in a multi-parcel study areas in north-central Massachusetts. Eighteen parcels of the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust (MGLCT) land totaling over 1500 acres were selected as the study area. The parcels were located in northeastern Franklin County and in northern Worcester County. A vegetation cover type map and a wetland type map were drafted for each parcel primarily by using various infrared aerial photographs. Transect and plot data was used to refine these maps and to characterize natural communities present on each parcel. Canopy species dominance data of 169 sample plots was collected using the Bitterlich method. In addition, natural community profile data was collected at each of the plots and was used to identify and characterize the communities. In comparing the plot data with the natural community descriptions in the literature, it appeared that at least thirteen recognized terrestrial forest community types and seven palustrine community types occurred in the study area. By using all of the data gained from the field work and the preliminary natural community classification, ten ESA’s were identified. Based on the ESA assessment, numerous land acquisition and management recommendations were oulined for MGLCT.