After decades of effort, the voluntary, collaborative approach to restoring the health and vitality of the Chesapeake Bay— the largest estuary in the United States—has not worked and, in fact, is failing. A diverse group of 57 senior scientists and policymakers have joined forces to save the Bay. This is our plan.

Protecting Forests and Increasing Buffers to Restore the Bay and Local Rivers

(Posted by Dawn Stoltzfus.)

With all the recent focus on the Chesapeake Bay TMDL and local WIPs, here’s something that may have flown under the radar of Marylanders following Bay restoration efforts: the Maryland Sustainable Forestry Council is developing a set of legislative proposals to achieve a “No Net Loss” of forests in Maryland, due by December 1, 2011. It seems like we could easily be losing sight of the forest for the trees!

Last week, former Maryland State Senator Gerald Winegrad testified before the Council. As Senator Winegrad notes in his testimony, “the Sustainable Forestry Council can greatly assist in efforts to restore the Bay by focusing on nonpoint source pollution as forests and wetlands are the greatest protectors of the Bay from pollutants.”

Senator Winegrad’s testimony includes two measures that are a part of the Senior Bay Scientists and Policymakers’ 25-step action plan: Adopt a No Net Loss of Forest Coverage and Require Forested Buffers along 85% of Riparian Areas, and Target Existing Funding and Amend the Forest Conservation Act (FCA) to Achieve No Net Loss and Expanded Buffers.

Not only do forests and buffers along waterways do an excellent job at reducing pollution, they also provide valuable wildlife habitat, restore fisheries, reduce flooding and improve air quality.

While the public meetings are now finished, you can let the Sustainable Forestry Council know you support these recommendations by emailing:

One Response to Protecting Forests and Increasing Buffers to Restore the Bay and Local Rivers

  1. Trees will remove and store nutrients and release them as they drop leaves, limbs and eventually die. They are great at sequestering nutrients for a long time and as they get older take up nutrients more slowly.

    Herbaceous vegetation can take up nutrients really fast but then release them much more quickly as they die and breakdown in just a year or two.

    What we need is a seriously look at the mass-balance equation that is the nutrient inputs and outputs in the Bay Watershed. Then we need a market based solution to either reduce the inputs or increase the exports out of the watershed.

    We already have “No Net Loss” of wetlands regardless of functions and values and regardless of how we define what a wetland is. If we also have “No Net Loss” of forest and why not farmland too.

    Now where do we live, work and play? The only solution will be that the public will have to accept higher density re-development “by right” unless we want to institute a “No Net Increase” in population.