Forestry Stewardship

Most woodland parcels in Maryland are small, between 1 and 9 acres in size. But do these landowners know how to care for these woodlands, based on the landowner's goals for the property?

Are you a landscaper or arborist interested in expanding your suite of services to natural areas like small forests? Perhaps you manage land for an organization, work with volunteers, or are just a landowner interested in improving your property.

The Hughes Center has funded the creation of a Woodland Health Practices Handbook. Created by the Woods in Your Backyard Partnership, this handbook and an accompanying checklist focus on practices that landscapers and arborists can use that enhance natural areas, like invasive pest control, tree planting and forestry practices, trail development, wildlife habitat enhancement, and more. 

Most (85%) woodland parcels in Maryland are from 1 to 9 acres in size, a trend caused by continued parcelization of the landscape. The lack of conventional forestry assistance and a focus on amenity-based objectives requires a new approach to enhance forest health and encourage woodland stewardship.

“This project is important in many different ways for the state of Maryland. One of them is for the landowner who wants to be a good steward of their land, enhance their property, meet their objects of enjoying their property, and have wildlife,” said Agnes Kedmenecz, a principal investigator in the project. “The other important aspect of this project is for the green industry professionals. This enhances their repertoire of services they can offer to the landowner — business that they can perform in that offseason when maybe they’re looking for more work."

The handbook and specialized checklist tool help green industry professionals and others determine which enhancement practices are suitable for a given property/site. The handbook includes over 60 color photos and an overview of land management techniques. The checklist tool will help you develop land care plans based on the landowner’s objectives. 

The handbook and checklist are not just for green industry professionals. They can be used by landowners, master gardeners, master naturalists, and anyone interested in learning how to create sustainable outcomes for their property.

The Woods in Your Backyard partnership includes the University of Maryland Extension (UME), Penn State Extension, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and Virginia Dept. of Forestry. This project was led by Principal Investigator Jonathan Kays (UME) in collaboration with Agnes Kedmenecz (UME), Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay Forests Program Director Craig Highfield, and Don VanHassent with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Service.

This project was funded through the Ajax Eastman Fund for Forest Health in Maryland. This fund is named after late Hughes Center Board of Directors member Ajax Eastman, who had an abiding love of forests, was a conservationist and a leader of the nascent environmental movement in Maryland half a century ago. The Hughes Center maintains this fund to grant support to projects that further her values in protecting Maryland’s forests.

The purchase price for the Woodland Health Practices Handbook is $27 for the manual and shipping. For more information, visit

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