Maryland's Green Infrastructure Assessment:
A Comprehensive Strategy for Land Conservation and Restoration

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Like many parts of the U.S., Maryland is urbanizing rapidly. The scattered pattern of modern low-density development consumes an excessive amount of land, fragments the landscape, displaces many native species, and disrupts ecosystem functions. Maryland's Green Infrastructure Assessment is a tool developed to help identify and prioritize those areas of greatest statewide ecological importance, as well as those at greatest risk of loss to development. It identifies large contiguous blocks of natural land (hubs), interconnected by corridors to allow animal and plant propagule dispersal and migration. Hubs and corridors were ranked within their physiographic region for a variety of ecological parameters and for development risk factors, as well as combinations of these. Prioritization was also done on a finer scale (approximately a third of an acre) for ecological importance and vulnerability to development, allowing a more detailed analysis for site prioritization within the network. Model output was reviewed by field ecologists and county planners, and compared to other habitat delineations and reserve systems. Also, human-disturbed areas (e.g., gaps) within hubs and corridors were prioritized for restoration efforts, according to the relative ecological benefits and reclamation ease. In 2001, the State of Maryland established the GreenPrint program, which earmarked funds specifically to protect land in the Green Infrastructure network, where willing sellers existed. To prioritize for this or other funding initiatives, individual parcels are evaluated for their relative conservation value, using a four-tiered combination of GIS, aerial, and field assessment. A parallel effort is being developed for restoration projects.

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2003 Maryland Department of Natural Resources

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