Program Overview

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Foresters for the Birds Program is designed to help you enhance bird habitat in your woods.

This new program is a partnership between the Massachusetts Department of Conservation, the Massachusetts Audubon, and the Massachusetts Woodlands Institute.  

Together, these organizations will provide expertise, assistance and funding necessary for you to manage your woodlands for birds.


MWI COVID-19 Update:
The Massachusetts Woodlands Institute (MWI) partners with with the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation's Service Forestry Program to process cost share payments to landowners. 

MWI is a subsidiary organization to Franklin Land Trust (FLT). The FLT office is currently closed and all staff, both MWI and FLT, will be working remotely. We are working with our partners at DCR to determine systems that will allow us to continue processing landowner payments during this time.

MWI receives approved cost share forms from DCR on a rolling basis with a typical one-to two week processing time for payments. Our plan moving forward is to process cost share forms and landowner payments twice a month allowing us to continue prompt and timely reimbursements while minimizing risk to staff. There are a few factors that may slow down this process such as limited access to offices, adjusting to new systems, and incomplete landowner paperwork.

You can contact Emily Boss (MWI) at or Michael Downey (DCR) at with any questions. Updates will be made at this site as available. 

Thank you for your patience.

How it Works

A MA licensed consulting forester who has been trained and certified in conducting Bird Habitat Assessments will assess your woods for existing and potential bird habitat. During your assessment, the forester will determine what types of habitat are present on your land, and which bird species are likely utilizing the habitat. The forester will also provide forest management recommendations for you to improve or create new bird habitat.

The Foresters for the Birds program works in conjunction with the DCR Forest Stewardship Program. Landowners interested in participating in the Foresters for the Birds program must either apply for a Forest Stewardship Plan, or amend an existing Forest Stewardship Plan to include a bird habitat assessment.

The bird habitat assessment recommendations will be integrated into your broader land management goals such as improving forest health, generating income, or enhancing recreational trails. Recommendations for bird habitat improvements will then be incorporated into your Forest Stewardship Plan.


Private landowners with 10 or more wooded acres are eligible to receive funding assistance for the development of a Bird Habitat Assessment.

In order to receive funding assistance, landowners must either have an existing Forest Stewardship Management Plan, or complete an application to enroll in DCR’s Forest Stewardship Program.

Bird Habitat Assessment cost-share funds are available to landowners statewide.


How to Enroll

  1. Complete the Forest Stewardship Plan Application and IRS W-9 Form by checking the box on the right hand side of the application. Be sure to specify that you are applying for cost share funds to include a Bird Habitat Assessment.
  2. Send the completed application and W-9 to:                           
       Massachusetts Forest Stewardship Program
       MA Department of Conservation and Recreation
       355 West Boylston Street
       Clinton, MA 01519
  3. Your application will be reviewed by DCR to determine eligibility.
  4. Once your application is approved, you will work with your consulting forester with the help of Mass Audubon to develop a Forest Stewardship Plan including a Bird Habitat Assessment, for your woods. You can find foresters trained in Bird Habitat Assessments here.
  5. Your consulting forester will submit the completed Forest Stewardship Plan to DCR for approval.
  6. Once DCR approves the Forest Stewardship Plan, you will receive reimbursement from the Mass Woodlands Institute based on your cost share reimbursement rate.
  7. Landowners have 10 years to implement recommendations outlined in the Forest Stewardship Plan. DCR approval of plans must be in place before recommendations are implemented.

Cost Share Information

Cost share reimbursement rate for Bird Assessment.


Acres Owned Foresters for the Birds
  New FSP Existing FSP Existing CH 61/61A/61B
10 to 20 acres $500 $800 $1,100
21 to 50 acres $600 $1,000 $1,300
Greater than 51 acres $700 $1,200 $1,500



Acres Owned Climate + Bird Programs
  New FSP Existing FSP Existing CH 61/61A/61B
10 to 20 acres $1,500 $2,300 $3,100
21 to 50 acres $2,600 $3,500 $4,300
Greater than 51 acres $3,700 $4,700 $5,500


Why Manage for the Birds

The key to maintaining our diversity of wildlife lies in maintaining a diversity of habitats.

One of the easiest ways to evaluate the complex web that thrives in our forests is to measure the thing that relies on the complex system, but is easy to find – the birds. When we protect bird communities, we protect the systems that bring us those communities. 

Through the enhancement and protection of bird habitat, the Foresters for the Birds program will enhance habitat for all wildlife, creating healthy forest systems for generations to come.

Spread the Word

If you are a landowner who has already enrolled in the Foresters for the Birds Program, please consider hosting a woods walk to help other interested landowners learn more about this program.

Sharing your experience will not only help other landowners get involved, but will also contribute to the conservation and enhancement of bird habitat on regional level.

More Information

For Landowners

For Foresters

General Interest

For questions about the Foresters for the Birds program please contact:

Jennifer Fish
DCR Service Forester
Phone: (413) 545-5753