M id A tlantic Real Estate Journal — Owners, Developers & Managers — Architects / Engineers — August 19 - September 15, 2022 — 7C Architects / Engineers


How to perform forest habitat value assessments Understanding New Forest Protection Regulations


ew Castle County (NCC) recently re- vised their Unified

an additional plot for every two additional acres. 2 – The second phase con- sists of conducting a field investigation to verify the preliminary FSD condi- tions , make any necessary adjustments, and to document the on-site conditions. All large eligible potential specimen trees are identified, measured, and located by GPS or survey. Sample plots are established within the forested areas and the appropriate data is collected and recorded within each forest layer. continued on page 10C

When is a Forest Habitat Value Assessment (FHVA) Needed? A Forest Habitat Value As- sessment is now required wherever a proposed distur- bance will occur within 50 feet of the Critical Root Zone or drip line of a forested area. A Forest Habitat Value Assess- ment is not required if the for- est area is less than 0.5 acres. Five Main Phases of a FHVA The Forest Habitat Val- ue Assessment for a subject property consists of five main phases:

1 – The first phase is to conduct a preliminary Forest Stand Delineation (FSD). This consists of review- ing historical aerial photos to estimate different forest cover types, potential speci- men trees, small stands and fragmented forests, and inte- rior forest areas on the subject property. The acreages of all potential forest cover types are estimated to determine the number of sample plots for data collection in the field. One sample plot is required for the first three acres plus

Development Code (UDC) forest protection regulations to expand the methods and means in determining forest cover types which include habi- tat values and protection lev- els. The previous regulations provided protection to forested areas and large trees, but fo- cused heavily on canopy cover and general definitions rather than habitat value and data collection methods. The new regulations incorporate addi- tional factors and values into the process now referred to as a “Forest Habitat Value Assess- ment.” Results are mathbased, so subjectivity is significantly reduced and results can be reproduced or verified from the field data. These new regulations may seem complicated at first with the detailed processes and data collections, but any good con- sultant that can identify plants and measure trees should be able to develop a procedure to perform Forest Habitat Value Assessments with realistic outcomes. Forest Protection Levels (FPLs) The previous regulations required protection levels for specimen trees (large trees not in a forest setting) and for young and mature forests based on zoning, and required mitigation where limits or percentages were exceeded. The new regulations retain protection and replacement standards but have replaced the “young forest” and “mature forest” designations with For- est Protection Levels (FPLs) that classify forest areas as Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 based on Total Habitat Value Points (THVPs). The new forest pro- tection regulations also include these factors: 1. Critical Natural Areas (CNAs): Sites listed in the State natural areas inven- tory (administered by DNREC Division of Parks & Recre- ation; State Office of Nature Preserves) deemed worthy of future conservation. 2. Critical Root Zones (CRZs): The protected areas around the base of a tree containing shallow roots that supply nutrients and water to the tree; typically limited to the upper 12-18 inches of soil. CRZs can be determined by physically surveying the drip

Craig Smith, PWS Landmark Science & Engineering line, or calculated by using 1.5 feet of radius for every inch of the tree DBH (diameter at breast height).

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