BL Bulletin

Sensitive Species: Protecting the Environment through the Maryland Forest Conservation Act

Jul 24, 2023

Conducting species and wild plant surveys as a professional service plays a crucial role in understanding and preserving the biodiversity of our natural ecosystems. With animal and plant species regulated at both the state and federal level, it is important to determine if a project will have an impact on sensitive species through meticulous and comprehensive assessments to identify and document species and wild plants within a given area.

Seeking to balance development with preservation of forest ecosystems, The Maryland Forest Conservation Act ensures that the state’s forests continue to provide numerous ecological, economic, and recreational benefits for current and future generations by establishing guidelines and requirements for forest conservation during land development projects.

The Act stipulates that developers who intend to clear forests or carry out land development projects must submit a Forest Conservation Plan (FCP) for approval. The FCP includes strategies to reduce deforestation and mitigate the environmental impacts of the development, and stresses the importance of conserving existing forests, promoting reforestation, and maintaining the ecological functions that forests provide.

Under this Act, each county in Maryland, with the exception of Garrett and Allegany Counties, are required to adopt a local forest conservation program that aligns with statewide standards, providing a framework for implementing forest conservation measures at the local level to enable consistency throughout different jurisdictions.

The Act also establishes a Forest Conservation Fund, which collects fees from developers. These funds are then utilized for reforestation efforts and the acquisition of forested land for conservation purposes. Additionally, it encourages the use of alternative compliance options, such as purchasing forest mitigation credits, to offset the impacts of forest loss.

When planning a project within a forest, it’s imperative to have a team on your side that has the experience and expertise to conduct forest stand delineations, conservation plans, and assist in navigating the regulatory framework as it relates to the Forest Conservation Act. This is one of BL’s specialties. By developing assessments that involve specialized techniques that include habitat mapping, population sampling, and field surveys, BL collects data that provides insight into the abundance and health of the different species and wild plants that may be present within the parameters of a project. This allows our team to develop conservation strategies, environmental impact assessments, support habitat restoration projects, and effectively navigate the regulatory process.

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