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 them together. Green Infrastructure helps support native plant and animal species while 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, pest control, and beauty, benefit our economy and environment. These natural processes create benefits known as ecosystem services. Six of these ecosystem services are shown below (but many more exist).
Hubs and Corridors
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 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 mostly undeveloped state.
Large contiguous blocks of interior forest (forest at least 300 feet from the forest edge) are an essential component of the network as they form the majority of our hubs.
Corridors are the linear features that tie hubs together and are usually located along rivers and streams.
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 the State of Maryland’s Green Infrastructure Network to include areas of local 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 Green Infrastructure Network Plan is available here, from the Department of Planning and Zoning web page.
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.
Habitat Management Plans (HMPs)
The Department of Planning and Zoning is moving forward with implementation priorities defined in the Green Infrastructure Network Plan, including developing habitat management plans for the hubs and corridors. The habitat management plans include information on existing conditions and recommendations for landowners who would like to maintain or improve the habitat on their property.
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 GreenPrint 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