This month, I’ve been thinking a lot about how land conservation planning is critical to the preservation of open space for wildlife and for outdoor recreation. Not only does conservation land protect wildlife habitat, but it creates pockets of outdoor recreational space along the rivers, mountains and coastline of Massachusetts for hiking, exploring, biking, bird watching, fishing, hunting, boating and more.
A couple of weeks ago, the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and The Nature Conservancy released a habitat map and statewide conservation strategy called BioMap2. The new land conservation blueprint plots the state’s most critical lands, waters and habitats, and creates a new science-based plan to conserve and build ecological resilience among plants and animal populations in the context of climate change for generations to come.
The photo above is of me and The Nature Conservancy's Massachusetts State Director Wayne Klockner.
Over the past four years under the leadership of Governor Patrick, the Commonwealth has protected nearly 75,000 acres of land – the equivalent of 54 acres per day. These accomplishments include the preservation of land with nearly 30,000 acres of prime farm and forest soils and protection of 14,000 acres in 10 areas of critical forested landscape habitats across Massachusetts. BioMap2 will help guide future state land conservation investments toward the most valuable and critical wildlife habitat.
Developed by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) and the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP), BioMap2 includes an interactive map that shows topography, municipal borders and critical habitat for threatened species all in one place. It’s a tool to help land trusts, state land officials and community groups guide land protection and stewardship efforts for biodiversity conservation across Massachusetts. The interactive map includes a zoom feature to allow users to view the map on a town or region level, and features designed to show or hide topographic data, open space and critical habitat.
BioMap2 includes 500 sets of data to target the habitat conservation needs of individual species, especially those that are currently rare or uncommon, as well as other noted fish and wildlife species identified in the Massachusetts Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy.
BioMap2 also outlines strategies to facilitate resistance and resilience of plant and animal populations and ecosystems subject to the effects of climate change. Recognizing that habitat transformation is particularly likely along the coast, the map identifies low-lying, intact uplands adjacent to salt marshes that would allow the migration of ecosystems up-slope in the context of rising sea level.
Find out where the 187,000 acres of Wildlife Management Areas (open space protected for biodiversity) are located across the state.
DFG and MassWildlife look forward to working with all of our conservation partners using this new mapping tool, which is designed to help protect the full breath of the Commonwealth’s natural heritage.
Learn more about BioMap2.
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