Percent of Watershed Forested

The Indicator

Forests provide a wide variety of benefits to the citizens as well as the terrestrial ecosystems of Maryland. Forested ecosystems provide water quality protection, aquifer recharge, soil protection and replenishment, carbon dioxide absorption, and wildlife habitat. Socioeconomic benefits include those that result directly from forest products industries and recreational opportunities like hiking, hunting, fishing and camping, as well as enhanced property values and more "livable" communities.

From a water quality perspective, forests provide the most protective type of land cover, and this indicator looks at forests from that perspective—the abundance of forests in the State's watersheds. It is defined as the percent of the total land area of a watershed that is in deciduous, coniferous or mixed forest land cover types as defined by the National Land Cover Data set (NLCD).

Indicator Use

This indicator provides a regional view of which watersheds might be most important for targeting conservation efforts to support the State's forest products industries while also protecting important ecological communities. Watersheds with lower values for the percent forest indicator may be appropriate candidates for reforestation efforts, particularly where such efforts are targeted to achieve multiple ecological benefits.

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