Early in 1990 Governor Schaeffer created a Task Force to assess the problems and potential of Maryland's trees and forests to promote land stewardship. One recommendation of the Task Force was creation of a forest conservation, protection and reforestation law. The Department of Natural Resources Forest Service and various partners wrote the Forest Conservation Act and Regulations.
The main purpose of the Maryland Forest Conservation Act (Natural Resources Article Section 5-1601 through 5-1613) enacted in 1991 was to minimize the loss of Maryland's forest resources during land development by making the identification and protection of forests and other sensitive areas an integral part of the site planning process. Identification of priority areas prior to development makes their retention possible. Of primary interest are areas adjacent to streams or wetlands, those on steep or erodible soils or those within or adjacent to large contiguous blocks of forest or wildlife corridors.
Although the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Service administers the FCA, it is implemented on a local level. Gaining approval of the required Forest Conservation Plan (development of more than one acre) may require long term protection of included priority areas or planting/replanting (afforestation or reforestation) a sensitive area off-site.
During the first fifteen years of implementation FCA has been responsible for the review of 199,925 acres of forest on projects scheduled for development. Of those, 120,638 acres were retained, 71,885 acres were cleared and 21,461 acres were planted with new forest. In other words, at least twice as many acres were protected or planted as were cleared.
Any activity requiring an application for a subdivision, grading permit or sediment control permit on areas 40,000 square feet (approximately 1 acre) or greater is subject to the Forest Conservation Act and will require a Forest Conservation Plan prepared by a licensed forester, licensed landscape architect, or other qualified professional UNLESS you are subject to exemptions (determined by the State FCA Coordinator or your local Forest Conservation Program Coordinator.
Forest Stand Delineations (FSD) and Forest Conservation Plans (FCP) required by the Forest Conservation Act must be prepared by a licensed forester, licensed landscape architect, or other qualified professionals.
Individuals who are not licensed foresters or licensed landscape
architects may become "Qualified Professionals" capable of conducting
forest delineations or writing conservation plans by meeting certain
educational and work-experience criteria and completing a department approved
forest conservation course. Final approval of Qualified Professional
status is determined by the state FCA coordinator upon receipt of your
Qualified Professional application and notification of your successful
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Tawes State Office Building E-1
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21401
* For Homeowners: For questions about forest conservation and forest conservation areas on private property, contact your local planning and zoning office or permits office.
580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis MD 21401
Call toll-free in *Maryland* at 1-877-620-8DNR (8367)
Out of State: 410-260-8DNR (8367)