To determine forest areas of high ecological value, a GIS-based computer model was developed that considers both the regional and local ecological significance of the forest. The regional evaluation looks at the ecological importance of large forest patches relative to other forest patches within the same physiographic region. Variables relevant at local scales help to identify conservation values at or in close proximity to a specific parcel.
The SFLA ecological assessment builds on several existing DNR landscape assessment initiatives, including:
The data that have been assembled for the ecological model were selected based on their utility in measuring ecological values important to land conservation programs. Specifically, principles of landscape ecology and conservation biology have been interpreted and represented by GIS data layers. Each data set was scored and weighted to represent the importance of that factor in assigning an overall ecological score. These scores were sorted into High, Medium, and Low rankings and mapped both statewide and for each of the 23 counties.
The ecological model gives priority or greater weight to large forest blocks, particularly:
The ecological model also favors forested corridors that:
In addition to the composite ecological model, SFLA has resulted in the creation of a variety of ecological data sets and indicators for Maryland’s forests. Examples include:
For a complete list of ecological indicators, please select Data and Indicators.