Forest Stewardship

Photo of thinned loblolly forestForest and concern about our woodlands...pride in our ability to wisely manage our forests today and benefit from them tomorrow as well...recognition of the value of our forest resource.

Thousands of individual landowners can contribute to the future environmental quality and economic stability of Maryland by managing forest land according to a resource conservation plan. Ninety percent of Maryland's forest land is owned by private woodland owners. 

Photo of forest courtesy of R H WiegandForest land is one of our greatest natural resources and if taken care of, can offer long term benefits for everyone. Private landowners are encouraged to practice forest stewardship and leave the land and its resources in better condition for future generations. Managing forest resources ensures the continuation of many forest benefits including improved water quality, wildland species and habitat diversity, recreation, timber, aesthetics and air quality. A well thought out resource conservation plan helps landowners identify and recognize the value of their forest land and better predict the effects of any resource activity. Private and public forestland can be certified as sustainable, recognizing and rewarding good stewardship. Lands certified as sustainable forests are eligible for green forest products markets and emerging ecosystem services markets.

  • Forest Stewardship Landowner Questionnaire
    Completing the online Forest Stewardship Landowner Questionnaire is a good first step in beginning to successfully manage your forest toward your established goals. It is designed to assist you in thinking through your interests and the level of direct involvement you are able to provide to the stewardship of your forest land.

  • Invasive Species Education & Management
    Invasive plants and insects can be very problematic for forest landowners. From vines that take over disturbed areas, blanketing forest edges and girdling trees, to insects that defoliate and infect trees with pathogens, these invaders not only decimate the natural ecosystem but they are difficult to control and can be expensive to eradicate.
  • My Land Plan
  • If you are just getting started on your forest stewardship journey, you may consider a look at My Land Plan (provided by the American Forest Foundation), a resource for woodland owners by woodland owners to help you protect and enjoy your woods.

  • 2008 Farm Bill - Federal Assistance Programs for Landowners
    by Devin Wanner, U.S. Forest Service Northeastern Area
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides many support programs that family and individual landowners can use to conserve their working land. The programs provide expert technical advice and often include financial assistance for landowners who use specific management practices. Some programs also offer rental payments to offset income losses due to changes in land use.

    These are voluntary programs - property owners choose the program that most closely matches their management goals, such as improving wildlife habitat or restoring a wetland. The Natural Resources Conservation Service administers many of the programs, and the U.S. Forest Service and Farm Service Agency manage other programs.

    Crop, livestock, and forestry programs are included in the summary that follows, since many properties have mixed uses.

  • Maryland’s Family Forests Facing Increasing Risks
    More than 75% of Maryland’s forestlands are family-owned forests!
    Maryland’s family forests are faced with several challenges that threaten to degrade the ecological, economic, and recreational value of the land. If these valuable forestlands vanish we all lose!
       (Adobe Acrobat file 197KB) - To get the free Acrobat Reader go to
  • Forest Ownership in Maryland
    The U.S. Forest Service's National Woodland Owner Survey ( is conducted to improve our understanding of who owns the forests of the United States, why they own them, how they use them, and what they intend to do with them. This information is used by foresters, educators, and researchers to create programs, policies, and services that better meet the needs of forest owners and society. The family forest results below are a summary of the 78 owners from Maryland who participated between 2002 and 2006.

  • Forestry Assistance to Landowners
    The Forest Stewardship Plan provides the landowner with professional and technical information needed to manage and conserve forest resources. The Forest Stewardship Plan acts as a working plan and is a guide to the proper management.

  • Landowner Service Fees
    To help landowners care for their land, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Service offers a variety of technical and financial assistance programs. These programs cover establishment, protection, planning and management of forests. A brochure is available that outlines the services provided and any associated fees.

  • Cost Share Assistance
    The Farm Services Agency (USDA-FSA) and the Maryland DNR Forest Service (MDNR-FS) provide cost share assistance programs to landowners to help defray the cost of forest improvement practices.

  • Forest Conservation and Management Program
    The program is a legal agreement between the landowner and the Department of Natural Resources and is recorded in the land records of the county in which the property is located. The landowner agrees to manage their forest land according to a management plan that is prepared for the property.

  • Forest Legacy in Maryland
    The program is designed to identify and protect environmentally important forest lands through the use of perpetual conservation easements between willing sellers and willing buyers. Only private forest land in a Forest Legacy Area is eligible for the program.

  • Income Tax Modification Program
    This program allows eligible participants to deduct double the cost of reforestation and timber stand improvement practices minus any cost-share assistance received through other programs (FIP, WIP, EQIP, etc.).

  • University of Maryland Extension
    The University of Maryland Cooperative Extension provides research-based forest outreach and educational programs, publications, and assistance through extension offices found in each county and at regional research & education centers. You may find this information useful if you are a forest or farm landowner, a natural resources professional, an educator, a local or state decision maker, or an environmentally-concerned citizen.