MA Heritage Landscape Inventory

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is responsible for conserving and protecting natural, cultural, and recreational resources across the Commonwealth.

The goal of DCR’s Heritage Landscape initiative is to identify and document heritage landscapes in Massachusetts that are vital to the history, character, and quality of life of communities. Heritage landscapes are the result of human interaction with the natural resources of an area, which influence the use and development of land and contain both natural and cultural resources, such as cemeteries, parks, estates, and agricultural properties.


Southeastern Massachusetts was selected as the initial recipient of these services, with the expectation of extending the program statewide. Through the pilot project, the DCR sought to increase awareness about the different types of heritage landscapes and to help participating communities plan for their preservation. Identification of threats, preservation needs, and planning solutions were central project elements.

The project involved reconnaissance and intensive surveys resulting in Massachusetts Historical Commission inventory forms for those landscapes selected. Accompanying reports included historic context narratives and a summary of all the heritage landscapes in 15 communities that were visited by the survey team with project coordinators.


After completion of the inventory, PAL designed a Citizen’s Guide to assist communities statewide with the identification, documentation, and preservation of their heritage landscapes.

Members of the project team conducted a one-day workshop for the public on how to document and preserve heritage landscapes, and developed a prototype marker program and field guide brochure to assist communities with educational efforts.

The American Planning Association awarded PAL and the Massachusetts DCR the 2004 National Planning Award for Public Education, for its work producing the Citizen’s Guide, entitled Reading the Land, Massachusetts Heritage Landscapes: A Guide to Identification and Protection.

Client Name: 
Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
Project Name: 
MA Heritage Landscape Inventory Pilot Project
Project Date: 
2000 to 2001
Project Location: 
Southeast Massachusetts