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.
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.
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.
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 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
- Anne Arundel County Greenways Master Plan
- Prince George’s County Green Infrastructure Functional Master Plan, 2005
Understanding Ecosystem Services