Forests Providing Habitat for Sensitive Species

The Indicator

Some species of both plants and animals have been identified as rare, threatened or endangered, in order to receive special protection under both State and federal law. They are the most vulnerable inhabitants of our ecosystems and thus most sensitive to human impacts. The data from which this indicator was derived were developed by the Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Heritage Division for the purpose of reviewing proposed projects for impacts to rare, threatened or endangered species and their habitats, as well as other sensitive species, like waterfowl, that are of particular interest.

The data were first collected in the field by biologists with the expertise to document and verify the presence of rare, threatened or endangered species or important biological communities in generalized areas referred to as “Ecologically Significant Areas.” Although the data set is the most complete source of information on Maryland’s defined sensitive species and significant natural communities, it does not represent an exhaustive or comprehensive inventory of those resources. It is also very generalized information. Acreage in the polygons making up these project review areas was summed by watershed and combined with forest land cover data from the National Land Cover Data set (NLCD) to create this indicator.

Indicator Use

This indicator provides a way of measuring the amount of unique and sensitive habitat in a watershed. Those interested in protecting these resources will be able to see which watersheds contain the greatest amount and focus their efforts accordingly. Watersheds having high acreages of forested sensitive species habitat may need particularly careful attention by local planners when development activities are undertaken. Similarly, forestry practices should be adopted that protect the species of concern.

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