Maryland's ecologically important, undeveloped lands–some two million acres–provide the bulk of the state's natural support system. Ecosystem services, such as cleaning the air, filtering and cooling water, storing and cycling nutrients, conserving and generating soils, pollinating crops and other plants, regulating climate, protecting areas against storm and flood damage, and maintaining hydrologic function, are all provided by existing expanses of forests, wetlands, and other natural lands. These ecologically valuable lands also provide marketable goods and services, like forest products, fish and wildlife, and recreation. They serve as vital habitat for wild species, maintain a vast genetic library, provide scenery, and contribute in many ways to the health and quality of life for Maryland residents. Keeping the network intact enhances the resilience of the State’s ecosystems to disturbances, such as storm or pest damage, maintaining their productive capacity.
DNR has mapped a network of these important lands, comprised of hubs and linking corridors, using several of the GIS data layers used to develop other indicators. Hubs contain one or more of the following:
Details of the assessment can be found in Maryland’s Green Infrastructure Assessment.
Mapping green infrastructure allows improved targeting of conservation land acquisition and works with local efforts to support more coherent planning for development. Gaps in the green infrastructure network offer opportunities for restoration actions, such as riparian reforestation and the enhancement of wetlands, that are taken under the aegis of programs designed to improve water quality and meet Chesapeake Bay Program objectives.