The Forest Conservation Act of Maryland (the Act) was designed to help conserve forest cover on potential development sites. A Forest Stand Delineation (FSD, or delineation) is a catalogue of the site’s environmental features. Basically, it’s a list of all the “green stuff” (vegetation), “wet stuff” (wetlands) or “steep stuff” (terrain) that might be disturbed during construction. The elements that determine whether an area is considered “sensitive” include specimen trees (trees larger than 30 inches in diameter), champion trees (largest individual of a species in the state); streams, steep slopes, and endangered species. If these features are impacted during development, it could have a negative effect on the surrounding ecosystem.
The county in which the delineation is being performed determines how stringent the specific requirements will be. Each delineation must be prepared by a licensed forester, licensed landscape architect, or a qualified professional who meets the requirements set by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
When does a site planned for development require a FSD? In Maryland, the Act requires the FSD and/or the Forest Conservation Plan for “any activity requiring an application for a subdivision, grading permit, or sediment control permit on areas 40,000 square feet (approximately one acre) or greater.” The FSD includes a narrative describing the general site characteristics, together with a map identifying their locations. A delineation either precedes or is performed in conjunction with the initial environmental inspection and must be incorporated into the permitting/planning process. If the FSD is prepared ahead of the site planning process, time is saved by implementing the sensitive environmental areas directly into the site engineering plans.
Once the delineation is complete, a Forest Conservation Plan (FCP or conservation plan) is also developed, which describes the limits of disturbance and how the existing forest and sensitive areas will be protected during and after development.
In short, Forest Stand Delineations and Forest Conservation Plans are vital to the preservation of forest resources. This process helps protect trees and sensitive areas and promotes natural resource stewardship, while still supporting land development.
For more details about Forest Stand Delineations, please contact ECS Environmental Scientist Christina Simini.