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The State of Chesapeake Forests

Photo Chesapeake forest in fallChesapeake forests are crucial to maintaining the water quality of the Bay and its tributaries. They also safeguard wildlife habitat, contribute billions of dollars annually to local economies, protect public health, provide recreation opportunities, and enhance the quality of life for the watershed's 15 million residents. 

Despite these benefits, forests in the Chesapeake Bay watershed are at risk. Nationally, by 2050, more than 23 million acres of forestland across the nation may be lost to other land uses, principally development. In the Bay watershed alone, some 750,000 acres—equivalent to 20 Washington , DCs—have been developed since the 1980s. Over roughly the same time period, the Bay watershed has experienced a net loss of forestland at the rate of 100 acres each day. Chesapeake forests also lack regionally coordinated forestland conservation, restoration, and stewardship plans, making them more vulnerable to fragmentation, haphazard development, and invasive species, as well as less likely to be well managed.

To better understand and address these challenges, The Conservation Fund and the USDA Forest Service have partnered to assess and report on the state of Chesapeake forests. This first-of-its-kind report synthesizes more than a decade's worth of data from public and private sources, highlights current forest conditions, forecasts future trends, and outlines key goals and strategies necessary to conserve and restore the forests of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The report calls for a strategic, long-term approach that identifies and focuses on forests with the highest environmental, economic, and social values. Together, public and private partners can help preserve the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its residents through a concerted effort to protect its forests.

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Cover Photo State of Chesapeake Forests
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Page Contact: Keith Tackett
May 18, 2011 12:05 PM