Strategic Forest Lands Assessment (SFLA)
The Value of Maryland’s Forests
Marylands Strategic Forest Lands Assessment (SFLA) recognizes that forests provide many ecological and socioeconomic benefits. Ecological value not only encompasses forest attributes such as biodiversity and wildlife habitat, but also includes processes that are critical to protecting our air, water and soil. From the perspective of human use, forests have tremendous aesthetic appeal, recreational use and economic value. In addition to the many natural resource based industries and activities, such as fisheries and hunting, that are associated or influenced by forested lands, the forestry and wood products industry is the fifth largest in the state. Together, forest benefits contribute to healthy, functioning ecosystems, of which humans are a part.
What are Strategic Forests?
Strategic Forests are key blocks of forest providing the optimal mix of ecological and socioeconomic values necessary to support natural resource based industries and maximize ecological benefit. SFLA uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to identify where forest conservation efforts would make the greatest contribution towards achieving a sustainable forest resource land base. To accomplish this goal, the SFLA approach seeks to assess and evaluate where multiple ecological features and processes are co-occurring. It also attempts to understand the socioeconomic variables that support and will continue to sustain forest resource-based industries. The vulnerability (threat of conversion to a non-forested use) of specific forested landscapes, especially those of high ecological integrity and/or significant economic benefit, is then determined. Finally, understanding the capabilities of Maryland’s forest conservation and restoration programs helps to provide a framework for focusing resource management actions."
Sustainability, Forest Management, Indicators, Fragmentation/Parcelization, Ecosystem Management