Criterion 1: Conservation of biological diversity
Biological diversity (biodiversity) is a term used to denote variability
among living organisms, including ecosystem diversity, species diversity,
and genetic diversity. Ecosystem diversity is the variety of different
ecosystems, which are characterized by the types of plants and animals
and the physical environment found in each. Species diversity is the
number and range of different species located within a given area.
Genetic diversity refers to the range of genetic characteristics found
within a species. Biodiversity is critical for the sustainability of
forests because it enables ecosystems to respond to external influences,
to recover from disturbances, and to support important ecological processes.
Forest ecosystems are particularly important to biodiversity in Maryland,
where forests originally occupied over 90% of the land area. All components
of a given ecosystem are tied together in an intricate web, and alterations
can have dramatic impacts on the entire system. By conserving biological
diversity, forests should have the ability to function, reproduce, and