If you own forested land, you are already playing an important role in protecting water quality. If you don’t currently have a forest but are interested in creating one, the environmental, personal, and economic benefits of doing so are great. Tree roots absorb water and hold soils in place, reducing the risk of local flooding and erosion. This means that less sediment and pollutants wind up in local streams and rivers. Trees provide wildlife habitat, clean the air, increase property value, lower stress and blood pressure levels, serve as economic resources (via timber and nutrient credits, for example) – plus they’re beautiful to look at. No matter what stage your forest is in, there are many organizations willing to help you manage it properly.
While some might think that the best way to protect a forest is to leave it alone, properly managing the forests on your property can have a big impact on forest health. Active management may include techniques such as prescribed burns, selective harvesting, and invasive species removal. Prescribed burns remove accumulated dead wood and debris, which could lead to an out-of-control wildfire. They also improve access and enhance the appearance of your forest, help control insects and disease, and help manage competing vegetation. Selective harvesting can remove dying or defective trees and open the canopy, stimulating the growth of new plants. It is also important to begin managing invasive species once they’re found, to prevent them from becoming established and excluding native, desirable species from your forest. The resources below will connect you to other forest owners and local forest experts, and offer training and tips on forest management.
Forests for the Bay is a partnership between the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay (who manages the program), the US Forest Service, and the Chesapeake Bay Program. It is a network of over 1,000 forest owners and a platform to learn about upcoming training and forestry workshops.
Landserver, which is part of the Forests for the Bay program, generates a free report about your woods after you have mapped your location. Information includes species composition, benefits of your woods, and local conservation programs.
Your local DCNR Service Forester will provide technical and cost-share assistance, help write a Forest Stewardship Plan, and give valuable planning and restoration advice.
A Consulting Arborist will offer knowledge on tree care, preservation, maintenance, species selection, planting, and more.