Forest Conservation

Overview and Background

The main purpose of the Maryland Forest Conservation Act (Natural Resources Article Section 5-1601 through 5-1613) is to minimize the loss of Maryland's forest resources during land development by making the identification and protection of forests and other sensitive areas an integral part of the site planning process. Identification of priority areas prior to development makes their retention possible. Of primary interest are areas adjacent to streams or wetlands, those on steep or erodible soils or those within or adjacent to large contiguous blocks of forest or wildlife corridors. The Forest Conservation Act is administered by the Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources Forest Service. The requirements are implemented on a local level by counties and incorporated cities and towns.


The Maryland Forest Conservation Act and Section 8-3 of the Calvert County Zoning Ordinance (Forest Conservation Requirements) apply to any person, corporation, unit of County government, or public utility, that applies for a subdivision, site plan, project plan, grading permit, sediment control or vegetation removal approval on units of land (or areas) 40,000 square feet or greater.
There are several types of development projects that may be exempt from meeting the requirements for forest conservation. A Pre-Application Review and Exemption Request Form (PDF) is required to be submitted for review of Exemptions. For more information, refer to Section 8-3.02 of the Calvert County Zoning Ordinance.

General Requirements

Along with a site plan, subdivision, building permit, or grading permit application that does not meet one of the exemptions, a Forest Stand Delineation (FSD), a Forest Conservation Plan (FCP), and a Forest Conservation Worksheet (FCW) shall be submitted to the Department of Planning and Zoning for review and approval. FSDs and FCPs must be prepared by a Maryland Licensed Forester, Maryland Licensed Landscape Architect, or other Qualified Professional who has received certification from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to perform these activities.

Forest Stand Delineation (FSD):

The purpose of an FSD is to determine the most suitable and practical areas for forest conservation during the preliminary design and review stages of development. It uses a combination of resource mapping and field assessment to inventory and describe existing forest and to locate priority areas for forest retention, reforestation, or afforestation on the site. An approved FSD is a required element of an approved Forest Conservation Plan (FCP). A 'simplified' FSD is required for the review of minor subdivisions, clustered subdivisions that meet certain criteria, and some commercial site plans. Otherwise, a 'standard' FSD is required.

NOTE: Even if no trees are to be impacted, an applicant must still meet the requirements of the Forest Conservation Regulations. A simplified FSD may be prepared for non-forested sites. A Forest Conservation Worksheet is still necessary to determine the minimum requirements, and a Forest Conservation Plan must be prepared for the project.

Forest Conservation Plan (FCP):

The FCP is a planning and construction document that provides specific plans for retaining and protecting existing forested areas, particularly in priority areas, at the time of subdivision or proposed development. The FCP also includes details for planting or replanting selected areas when reforestation/afforestation is required. Most projects require a Preliminary Forest Conservation Plan and a Final Forest Conservation Plan.

Forest Conservation Worksheet (FCW):

The FCW determines the amount of forest to be retained or planted based on land use category, property size, and the total amount of existing forest on the site. The worksheet also determines how much forest can be cleared without requiring planting or mitigation (a "break-even" point). In order to complete the worksheet, the following information is needed: 1) total tract area (acres or square feet); 2) land use category and Zoning District; 3) existing forest cover; 4) amount of forest to be protected; and, if applicable, 5) area of land in agricultural protection district or FEMA floodplain.

Checklists and Forms

The following forms and checklists must be included with the plan submittal, at the time of application for a site plan, subdivision plan, sediment and erosion control plan and/or grading permit.

Pre-Application Review and Exemption Request Form                                 Forest Stand Delineation (PDF)
Forest Stand Delineation (Simplified) (PDF)                                                       Preliminary Forest Conservation Plan (PDF)
Final Forest Conservation Plan (PDF)                                                                    Forest Conservation Worksheet (PDF)
Declaration of Intent (DOI) Forms

If your project qualifies for an Exemption (refer to Section 8-3.02 for more information) then you may need to complete a Declaration of Intent form, in accordance with Section 8-3.03:
Exemption C - Commercial Forestry / Timber Harvest (PDF)                                      Exemption D - Agricultural Use Activity (PDF)
Exemption H - Residential on Ex. Lot / Linear Project (PDF)                                        Exemption J - Intra-Family Transfer (PDF)
Exemption K - Real Estate Transfer (PDF)

Forest Conservation Transferable Development Rights (FCTDRs)

After techniques for retaining existing forest on the site have been exhausted, mitigation may be required to address the minimum requirements for Forest Conservation. One option in the sequence of mitigation is the purchase of Forested TDRs from an Agricultural Preservation District (APD) with existing forestland, to be retained as forestland in perpetuity via the recordation of Forest Retention Area (FRA) on a plat, and covenants applied to the APD. Refer to Sections 8-3.04.J and 8-3.04.K of the Zoning Ordinance for more information.

If you are utilizing FCTDRs, the following documents must be submitted for review, and recorded in the Land Records. Contact the Rural Planner with the Dept. of Planning and Zoning for more information.

Conveyance of Forest Conservation Development Rights (no lien) (PDF)
Conveyance of Forest Conservation Development Rights (with lien) (PDF)
Forest Conservation TDR Covenants (PDF)
Forest Conservation TDR Allocation Statement (PDF)

Planting Plan Requirements

A Planting Plan may be required as part of the Forest Conservation Plan,  if afforestation and/or reforestation are proposed to address mitigation requirements. All plantings are required to be bonded by the applicant, prior to approval and permit issuance. Refer to Section 8-3.04 of the Zoning Ordinance, and the Maryland State Forest Conservation Technical Manual for more information and plan requirements.
Calvert County Native Plant List (PDF)                                       Chesapeake Bay Native Plant Center
Reforestation Bond form and checklist (PDF)