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Forest Sustainability Program Background

Program Origins

Baltimore County’s Forest Sustainability Program has developed in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) – Forest Service, and other organizations including the national Roundtable on Sustainable Forests (RSF). The first phase, beginning in 1995, involved development of a Green Infrastructure methodology with the MD DNR. Green Infrastructure is a network of generally large, high function forests, wetlands, and other land for habitat and biodiversity conservation.

From this work, the County’s interest in assessing and protecting broad conservation areas, as well as its spatial analysis capabilities were brought to the attention of the U.S. Forest Service in 2001. The Forest Service was working on a project called “Linking Communities to the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators.” At the recommendation of the Forest Service, Baltimore County was selected by the Communities Committee of the Seventh American Forest Congress in 2001 to be one of three county level pilots in the U.S. to explore the application of the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators (MPCI) as a framework for forest sustainability.

The sections below briefly describe the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators and the work of the RSF. The County has adopted the RSF’s working premise that “better data leads to better dialogues, which in turn lead to better decisions.” While not necessarily a linear process, this model for forest sustainability program development and implementation is evident throughout these Forest and Trees web pages.

Montréal Process Criteria and Indicators (MPCI)

The MPCI is a leading international effort to use science based criteria and indicators to measure the ecological and economic sustainability of forests at the national level. The MPCI Working Group represents the United States and 11 other nations (Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Russian Federation, and Uruguay) that collectively comprise 60 percent of the world's forests and 90 percent of the temperate and boreal forests. Baltimore County is a national case study for the local application of the MPCI framework. Find information about the international efforts for forest sustainability through the Montréal Process.

Roundtable on Sustainable Forests (RSF)

The Roundtable is an open and inclusive process committed to the goal of sustainable forest management on public and private lands in the United States. Roundtable participants include public and private organizations and individuals committed to better decision making through shared learning and increased understanding. Baltimore County Environmental Protection and Sustainability (EPS) staff participate actively in Roundtable activities and serve as a representative of local government to help champion forest sustainability at the community level. Learn more about the Roundtable's projects and progress and the people who are helping to guide the nation's efforts for forest sustainability.

Program Documentation

Restoring Green Infrastructure: Rural Reforestation and Forest Stewardship in Baltimore County (2010) (PDF)

Baltimore County’s Rural Reforestation grant projects in 2005 to 2006 and 2008 to 2009 are profiled in a case study in The Conservation Fund’s book, A Sustainable Chesapeake: Better Models for Conservation (2010). The case study about these “turf to trees” projects is on pages 99 to 106 of the report, which can be downloaded free.

Planning the Urban Forest: Ecology, Economy, and Community Development

Baltimore County is profiled as one of 13 case studies by the American Planning Association in Planning Advisory Service (PAS) report #555, Planning the Urban Forest: Ecology, Economy, and Community Development (2009). PAS reports are distributed via subscription to planning agencies across the U.S. and are also available to the public at cost. PAS #555 can be ordered from the APA bookstore for $60. 

Baltimore County Forest Sustainability Project (2007) (PDF)

As part of an effort to engage communities of forest stakeholders at multiple scales, the national Roundtable on Sustainable Forests committed to develop a case study of Baltimore County’s forest sustainability program for its 2006 Work Plan. The case study has been used to show other local governments one example of how forest sustainability can be implemented at the local level and integrated into existing local planning and environmental programs. This project is available through The Conservation Fund’s Green Infrastructure Case Studies Series.

Forest Sustainability Indicator Tools for Communities Case Study (2003)

Baltimore County was selected by the Communities Committee of the Seventh American Forest Congress in 2001 to be one of three county level pilots in the U.S. to explore the application of the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators framework for forest sustainability. The Communities Committee is a nonprofit organization made up of a diverse group of people from across the United States who believe local participation in stewardship of natural resources is critical to both forest ecosystem health and community well being. The Committee’s 2003 Forest Sustainability Indicator Tools for Communities case study report is available for this three year project (see Baltimore County case study in Appendix D).

Annual Accomplishments

To find out more about the annual accomplishments of the Forest Management program, you can view our Annual Accomplishment Reports below.

Revised March 20, 2014

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