Criterion 2: Maintenance of productive capacity of forest ecosystems
Forest ecosystems are important natural systems that provide
a wide range of goods and services to humans. Historically, one of the most
important goods they provide is timber, but they also produce many non-timber
resources as well.
These non-timber goods include game, furbearers, syrup, mushrooms, berries,
medicinal plants, vines, novelties like mistletoe, and other products.
Forests also provide many valu able ecosystem services, such as carbon
and nutrient uptake, soil conservation, water supply, recreation, and
habitat for wildlife.
able ecosystem services, such as carbon and nutrient uptake, soil conservation, water supply, recreation, and habitat for wildlife.
The ability of a forest to provide these goods and services is linked to its productive capacity. The productive capacity of a forest is a good indicator of its overall health. Declines in capacity may indicate poor forest management practices, over- harvesting, or other problems, such as acid rain, insects, or disease. These factors will negatively impact the level of goods and services provided. To manage a forest sustainably, annual forest growth (in-growth) should at least meet, or preferably exceed, the amount harvested (drain). This approach can be applied to both timber and non-timber resources. Losses in productivity can be a bellwether of systemic problems in the forest. Therefore, it is very important that the productivity of Maryland’s forests be determined, monitored, and compared with historic productivity levels to ensure that over-harvesting or other environmental problems do not arise.