Forests

Our Goal

Protect the Chesapeake watershed’s most ecologically and economically valuable forest land from conversion--headwater and riparian forests, large forest blocks, woodlots providing multiple values, and forests conducive to timber harvests.

Forests cover about 60% of the watershed, provide over $24 billion in ecological services, and provide $22 billion in forest products industry output each year. Yet, forest loss and fragmentation from development threatens up to 5.5 million acres of the most valuable forests. Science shows that streams and rivers degrade when the percent of forest cover in a sub-watershed drops below 70%. Conserving our region’s forests is key to maintaining wildlife, drinking water supplies, water quality, recreation, tourism and economic sustainability.

Where We Stand

Our mapping identifies 22,124,849 acres of important forest land for conservation, about 54% of the Chesapeake watershed. 6,925,062 acres (31%) of this forest land is already permanently conserved. We anticipate these numbers changing somewhat in the future as (a) higher resolution land cover data is put into use, and (b) we learn more about how climate change projections may affect forest lands. Note that important forest land overlaps substantially with other conservation goals, particularly for habitat and heritage.

For more information and to explore the map featured below further, please visit http://www.landscope.org/chesapeake/Priorities/Forests/