June 12, 2024
Annapolis, US 74 F

Anne Arundel County Launches State of the Forest Dashboard for Transparent Environmental Monitoring

County Executive Steuart Pittman has announced the launch of the State of the Forest Dashboard. This innovative new tool will help inform policy decisions and educate the public by providing a comprehensive platform for tracking and measuring Anne Arundel County’s progress toward its forestry goals. 

“Passing the strongest forest conservation legislation in the state was the right response to the alarming annual loss of our county’s forests loss when I first took office,” said County Executive Pittman. “But now we must monitor the impact. This new online tool will guide all stakeholders as we continue efforts to protect the valuable forests that remain.”

With an increasing number of state and local initiatives focused on forest retention and restoration, the new dashboard can be used by both the public and policymakers to track and measure the progress of Anne Arundel County toward its various forestry goals. This new tool is searchable, and is intended to compile datasets from across the County and consolidate them in a way that increases the transparency of forest and tree impacts in the County.

“There is a ton of interest among the public in understanding how the County is managing its forest cover and, until now, there hasn’t been a way for them to access all of that information in one place,” said Senior Environmental Policy Advisor Erik Michelsen. “This tool, which will evolve and be added to over time, helps put that information in the hands of people who care about it.”

In 2018, Anne Arundel County commissioned the Chesapeake Conservancy to undertake a study, examining changes in county forest cover evident through aerial photographs over time. The study was intended to get a handle on the nature and scale of tree loss across the jurisdiction. It showed that from 2010 to 2017, the county lost around 2,775 acres of forest, nearly 300 acres per year. 

In response to these findings, County Executive Pittman worked with the Anne Arundel County Council to unanimously pass Bill 68-19, the Forest Conservation Bill, which imposed the strongest forest protections of any county in Maryland on forest clearing for new development projects. Since its passage in 2019, there has been significant interest in evaluating its impacts and understanding the dynamics of forest gain, loss, and protection across the county.

In 2023, the County pooled data from various agencies and private partners working in the forest regulation and protection arena to create a publicly accessible, online GIS tool documenting parcel-level impacts to forests throughout Anne Arundel County. That tool is populated with development-related data back through 2017, and harvest and land protection data back as far as 1989. The tool is intended to be updated annually. 

For more information about the State of the Forest Dashboard and its features, visit here

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