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A national map of biodiversity importance: guiding conservation investment
November 18, 2019, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Speaker: Christopher Tracey
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
The biodiversity found within the United States is the foundation of our country’s economic, ecological, and cultural wellbeing. Although government agencies and land trusts have made enormous progress at conserving natural areas, to date only about 13% of our nation’s land area is formally protected. Many species and ecosystems remain poorly represented or absent entirely from existing protected areas. To guide effective future conservation investment, there is urgent need for a national map showing the regions with high concentrations of at-risk species, one that emphasizes where species with the smallest ranges, and thus the fewest options for conserving them, occur. NatureServe and its network of Natural Heritage Programs are collaborating with Esri, The Nature Conservancy, and Microsoft to produce a national map of biodiversity importance. The NatureServe network’s high-quality species occurrence data and species distribution modeling expertise allows us to map distributions of 2,250 at-risk species and determine the most important places to protect them. Beginning with existing biodiversity observation data, advanced analysis tools, and modern visualization and communication technology, we can provide defensible and inspiring guidance toward protection of the most crucial lands and waters that sustain the biological richness of our nation.