Maryland Forest Preservation Act of 2013
In April 2013, the Maryland General Assembly passed the Forest Preservation Act of 2013 (HB 706, approved by Governor Martin O’Malley on May 2, 2013 and effective October 1, 2013), which seeks to stop forest loss in the state and maintain the state’s existing 40 percent tree canopy cover by instituting a “No Net Forest Loss” policy. Instead of using regulations or maintenance requirements to prevent forest loss, the Act utilizes new and modified incentives for private landowners to conserve and preserve forestland.
To incentivize forest conservation, the Act effectively increases the number of persons eligible to receive state income tax credits given for forest management activities. To receive tax credits, landowners can apply for certification for reforestation or “timber stand improvements.” The Act expands the definition of “timber stand improvements” to include activities that improve forest health, such as invasive species control and creating or maintaining forested riparian buffers. It also increases the range of acreage of privately owned or leased forestland that is eligible for certification to receive tax credits: persons who own or lease and undertake forest management activities on 3 to 1,000 acres (previously 10 to 500) are able to apply for certification.
The Act also adds new uses for the existing Reforestation Fund to include financing of tree planting on private land (in addition to on publicly owned land, as was previously authorized) and financing for prevention of and response to forest health emergencies.
State Forests are required under the Act to achieve dual certification – by the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, both third party organizations – to be declared sustainable. The Act also requires the Department of Natural Resources to develop a statewide forest resource inventory to provide to local jurisdictions at least every 5 years, so that local jurisdictions may use it in the required comprehensive plan review process.
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
- State of Maryland
- Biodiversity and ecosystems
- Land management and conservation