Partnership provides conservation opportunities for forest landowners to generate ecosystem service credits
Annapolis, Md., May 31, 2013– The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is partnering with the Maryland Forest Service and the Pinchot Institute to help private landowners improve the health and productivity of their forestland through the Forestry for the Bay program.
The Forestry for the Bay partnership provides increased financial assistance for Maryland landowners to implement forest-related practices that improve air and water quality and pollinator habitat. Participants with land in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed will be eligible to receive a free assessment of their potential to generate ecosystem service credit funding.
Applications for the Forestry for the Bay program must be received by June 14, 2013. The program is run through NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and EQIP eligibility requirements for participation apply. Financial assistance is being made available through NRCS’ Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) and the Maryland’s Woodland Incentives Program.
“We believe that a thriving and sustainable forestry sector is critical to restoring the Chesapeake Bay,” said Maryland NRCS Acting State Conservationist Deena Wheby. “The unique partnership available through CCPI demonstrates that a voluntary, cooperative approach to conservation can work very successfully in Maryland.”
The practices available through the Forestry for the Bay program support the creation and management of forests and enable forest practices to be integrated into farm systems. Available practices include forest management plans, access control, riparian buffers, and forest stand improvement.
Healthy forests trap pollutants from the air and water and may generate “ecosystem service credits” in various programs including water quality trading and forest banking. Credits are a unit of conservation like pounds of nitrogen that can be sold to organizations seeking pollutant reductions.
To learn more or apply for the Forestry for the Bay program, contact your local USDA NRCS office. USDA service center locations are listed online at http://offices.usda.gov or in the phone book under Federal Government, U.S. Department of Agriculture. General program information is available on the NRCS Maryland website at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/md/home/.
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