Montgomery County Forest Conservation Law

Montgomery County’s Forest Conservation Law, which is based on Maryland’s Forest Conservation Act, aims to protect, plant, and maintain trees and forests for the many benefits they provide to county residents.

The Forest Conservation Law applies to some property owners, government entities, and developers who need approval for a development plan, sediment control permit, or activity that could potentially harm a champion tree. Certain projects may qualify for an exemption from the requirements of preparing, submitting and implementing a Forest Conservation Plan. To find out whether the Forest Conservation Law applies to you, check out the General Decision Tree or Single Lot Decision Tree, and learn more about the different plan types.

Anyone subject to the Forest Conservation Law must meet a calculated forest retention or forest planting requirement. This requirement is met through planting or protecting forests with forest conservation easements, purchasing credits from one of the county’s forest mitigation banks, or contributing to the county’s Forest Conservation Fund.

Since the Forest Conservation Law first went into effect in 1992, the Planning Department has approved development applications that have permanently protected 9,000 acres of existing forest and 2,000 acres of planted forests within more than 3,500 forest conservation easements across Montgomery County.

If you witness a potential forest conservation easement violation, such as permanent structures, mowing, grading, paving, construction, or tree removal, you can report a violation to our inspection team.

Last Updated: April 1, 2020