This is an online study guide for advisors and students participating in the Maryland State Envirothon competition. It is not inclusive of all content you may need to know for the state competition. Web sites provided are for reference only and may not be exactly what students are tested on.
Forests cover 2.6 million acres of Maryland, or 41 percent of the State’s land base. Maryland is a remarkable state in that it is the fifth most densely populated state with 5.3 million people, but has nearly half its land cover in forest. Most of Maryland’s development and population lies in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, leaving much of the state as rural land.
The Maryland Forest Service, an agency of the Department of Natural Resources, was founded in 1906 has been a national leader in conserving and protecting its forest land base, and is one of the oldest state forestry organizations in the United States.
Maryland has been called “America in miniature” because the state reaches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Appalachian Mountains, and is home to the Chesapeake Bay, one of the largest and most productive estuaries in the world. In fact, Maryland’s landscape features five distinct physiographic provinces, each with its own distinct forest types and ecosystems.
Today, 130,600 private individuals and enterprises own seventy-six percent of Maryland’s forestland, and public owners hold the remaining 24 percent. Over the years, however, the face of Maryland’s forestland base has changed. Threats to Maryland’s forests include suburban sprawl and forest fragmentation through increased development and subdividing of large forested tracts.
A 1999 forest inventory revealed that forestland in Maryland decreased by 79,500 acres since the previous inventory in 1986, and the number of landowners who own fewer than 10 acres of timberland increased by 62 percent from 1977 to 1989. This trend shows that like many states, more Marylanders own smaller parcels of forest.
In spite of the same challenges faced by other states, Maryland’s forests remain vibrant, diverse, and productive. Our forests provide clean air, clean water for a healthy Chesapeake Bay, and diverse wildlife habitat. Sustainable forestry insures that Maryland’s forest products industry is an economic force providing jobs and products from paper to furniture-grade hardwoods.
Because Maryland is home to 5.3 million people, forests add to the quality of life and beautify our cities, towns, and communities. To help conserve and protect our forestland base, Maryland was the first state in the country to enact a Forest Conservation Law and was the first state to start an inventory of champion trees.
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