Green Infrastructure Network

Howard County’s Green Infra­struc­ture Net­work maps the most eco­log­i­cally valu­able forests, wet­lands, mead­ows, water­ways, and other nat­ural areas as well as the lands that con­nect these parcels together. Green Infra­struc­ture helps sup­port native plant and ani­mal species, as well as help­ing human pop­u­la­tions by clean­ing air and water resources, main­tain­ing nat­ural eco­log­i­cal processes, and con­tribut­ing to every­day quality of life.

View the Green Infra­struc­ture Inter­ac­tive Map.

Howard County Maryland Green Infrastructure Network

Ecosys­tem Ser­vices

The ser­vices pro­vided to humans by nature such as flood mit­i­ga­tion, pol­li­na­tion, aes­thet­ics, and pest con­trol have eco­nomic ben­e­fits to our soci­ety as well. The nat­ural processes that cre­ate these ben­e­fits are known as Ecosys­tem Ser­vices. Six of these ecosys­tem services, though there are many more, are shown below.

Hubs and Cor­ri­dors

Typ­i­cally, the basic build­ing blocks of a green infra­struc­ture net­work are hubs and corridors. Hubs are eco­log­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant nat­ural areas that pro­vide habi­tat for plant and ani­mal life. They may include large pro­tected areas, such as state and regional parks that are man­aged for nat­ural and recre­ational val­ues; com­mu­nity parks and nat­ural areas where nat­ural fea­tures and eco­log­i­cal processes are pro­tected and/or restored; and private wet­lands and forests that remain in a pre­dom­i­nantly open and unde­vel­oped state.

Large con­tigu­ous blocks of inte­rior for­est (for­est at least 300 feet from the for­est edge) are an essen­tial com­po­nent of the net­work. Cor­ri­dors are the lin­ear fea­tures that tie hubs together and they may include river and stream val­ley cor­ri­dors and forested upland corridors. A small sec­tion of the net­work is shown below to give an idea of how hubs and corridors fit together.

Howard County’s Green Infra­struc­ture Net­work Plan

Howard County’s Green Infra­struc­ture Net­work Plan (GI Plan) refines and expands on Maryland’s Green Infra­struc­ture net­work to include areas of coun­ty­wide eco­log­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance. The GI Plan will enable plan­ners to con­sider impor­tant nat­ural resources when prepar­ing the Gen­eral Plan, trans­porta­tion plans, water­shed plans and com­mu­nity plans; mak­ing deci­sions about zon­ing and devel­op­ment pro­pos­als; acquir­ing land for parks and pub­lic facil­i­ties; and obtain­ing agri­cul­tural, envi­ron­men­tal and other land preser­va­tion easements.

The Exec­u­tive Sum­mary from the Green Infra­struc­ture Net­work Plan is avail­able here. The full report is avail­able here on the Depart­ment of Plan­ning and Zon­ing web page.

More infor­ma­tion about the map­ping cri­te­ria for the hubs and cor­ri­dors in the Green Infrastruc­ture Net­work is avail­able in this hand­out: Green Infra­struc­ture Net­work Map­ping Criteria

The GI Plan also presents poten­tial tools to pro­tect and enhance the net­work. More informa­tion about these tools is avail­able in this hand­out: What Does the GI Net­work Mean to You?


How Can I help?

Whether you live near the Green Infra­struc­ture Net­work or not you can pro­vide ben­e­fits to the net­work by pro­mot­ing over­all plant and wildlife ben­e­fits. You can work alone in this endeavor or you can work along­side one of many groups focused on improv­ing Howard County’s envi­ron­ment.

There are many ways you can ben­e­fit the envi­ron­ment on your own prop­erty. If you’d like to learn about orga­ni­za­tions and vol­un­teer groups you can work with email Bill Mahoney or call 410−313−3833.

Con­tact Us

Please direct ques­tions and com­ments to Susan Over­street, Depart­ment of Plan­ning and Zon­ing, 410−313−4345.

More Infor­ma­tion

Mary­land Green Infra­struc­ture: The Mary­land Depart­ment of Nat­ural Resources devel­oped a Statewide Green Infrastructure Plan. In this sys­tem, Howard County hubs include the Patux­ent River and Pat­ap­sco State Parks, the Mid­dle Patux­ent Envi­ron­men­tal Area, David Force Park and the Gor­man Nat­ural Resource Area. Howard County cor­ri­dors include major stream val­leys and poten­tial over­land con­nect­ing routes.

Maryland’s Green­print

  • Maryland Green Print is a pro­gram to iden­tify Maryland’s most eco­log­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant lands and to tar­get them for preservation

The Con­ser­va­tion Fund

Local Green Infra­struc­ture Plans

Under­stand­ing Ecosys­tem Services