Maryland's Forest Conservation Act: A Process for Urban Greenspace Protection During the Development Process
Michael F. Galvin, Becky Wilson, and Marian Honeczy
Abstract: The Maryland Forest Conservation Act (FCA) was passed in 1991 to protect the state's forest resources during development. Compliance is required for any project for which grading is required on a unit of land 40,000 ft2 (0.42 ha) or greater. Applicants must generate and submit two documents. The first, a forest stand delineation (FSD), must identify forest stands, specimen trees, and sensitive areas such as steep slopes, hydric or erodible soils, critical habitat areas, streams, and floodplains. This map is used to direct the location of the impacts away from priority areas onsite. The second, a forest conservation plan (FCP), follows a priority sequence concerning impacts to and retention of priority areas identified in the FSD. Thresholds for clearing, afforestation, and reforestation are established based on the net tract area, land-use category, existing forest cover, and proposed clearing area. Forest and tree protective measures are required for stand edges and specimen trees. Long-term protective instruments are required to ensure that the retained area will remain forested. In its first five years, FCA has been responsible for the retention of more than 22,000 ac (10,000 ha) of forest, and 120% more forest retained and planted than has been cleared for development.
Keywords: Forest conservation; greenspace protection; tree protection.