Ecological Assessment
Socioeconomic Assessment
Vulnerability Assessment
Programmatic Assessment
Criteria and Indicators for Sustainability
Data & Indicators

Criterion 3: Maintenance of forest ecosystem health and vitality

Health and vitality provide the essential backbone for the sustainable management of forested lands. Health is the overall condition of the forest, whereas vitality is the ability of the forest to perpetuate itself while providing genetic diversity to sustain viable populations in the future. germinating seed

Both natural and human factors affect the health and vitality of forests. Many species of trees are reliant on specific pollinators or different types of disturbances, such as fire, in order to reproduce. Foraging stress from herbivores, such as deer, can play a large role in lowering the vitality of a forest. Examples of forest insect pests impacting Maryland include gypsy moth, hemlock woolly adelgid, southern pine bark beetle, and beech scale—newly found in 2003.

Humans can also greatly damage forests by altering natural processes, including suppressing all wildfires. Humans also pollute the environment and often introduce nonnative plant or animal species. Common non-native and exotic plant species impacting Maryland’s forest ecosystems include Norway maple, tree of heaven, Japanese stilt grass, and vines like tear-thumb and Japanese honeysuckle.

It is critical to monitor healthy forests to ensure that these lands remain healthy and vital for many generations to come.

Indicator 1: Forest Fires per Year
Indicator 2: Fire Threat Potential
Indicator 3: Forest Cover
Indicator 4: Ecological Ranking of Forest Lands
Indicator 5: Green Infrastructure

Criterion 2     Criterion 4