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MassCAPS - Massachusetts Conservation Assessment & Prioritization System

MassCAPS - Massachusetts Conservation Assessment & Prioritization System
Developers: 

University of Massachusetts Amherst Extension

Year released/updated: 
December 2020
Summary: 

MassCAPS (Massachusetts Conservation Assessment & Prioritization System) calculates an Index of Ecological Integrity (IEI) based on human impacts and landscape characteristics, to highlight examples of ecosystems that are likely to maintain their natural composition, structure and function over time, in Massachusetts.

Geographic scope: 
Conservation phases: 
Forest conservation goals
Most suitable for: 
Also good for: 
Climate adaptation interests
Most suitable for: 
Also good for: 
Products: 

Municipal maps available as high-resolution PDFs, GeoTIFF file maps, Data is viewable through Massachusetts Climate Action Tool and MassEOEEA, and GIS data can be downloaded.

Requirements: 

The municipal maps are readily usable, the GeoTIFF files can be viewed in most image viewers and browsers, and the Massachusetts Climate Action Tool and Mass EOEEA viewers are simple to use. Access to, and familiarity with, GIS is required to explore downloaded data.

Additional details: 

The Conservation Assessment & Prioritization System (CAPS) is an approach to prioritizing land for conservation based on the assessment of the ecological integrity for various natural communities (e.g. forests, headwater streams). Several metrics are applied to the landscape and then integrated in weighted linear combinations to create models for predicting ecological integrity. This process results in an Index of Ecological Integrity (IEI) for each point in the landscape based on models constructed separately for each ecological community.

CAPS takes a coarse filter approach by looking at ecosystems and ecosystem integrity, without focusing on individual species. There are several versions of MassCAPS outputs, all requiring GIS capabilities. CAPS is an assessment approach that yields data (e.g. IEI) that can be used for conservation planning, but is not itself a plan. Elements of CAPS analyses have been used in BioMap2, Designing Sustainable Landscapes (DSL) and Nature’s Network, and Resilient & Connected Landscapes.

In addition to the Massachusetts CAPS assessment, UMass Amherst has produced a regional version of CAPS for the 13 northeast states as part of the Designing Sustainable Landscapes (DSL) project. MassCAPS is based on data only for Massachusetts, while DSL is based on data for 13 states, so the DSL version will be more correct near Massachusetts state borders and provides regional context—for instance regional IEI is scaled across all states in the region. MassCAPS is based on generally higher-quality data, including land cover, roofprints, traffic rates, soils, and the digital elevation model, while DSL uses data that are regionally-available, often of lower quality. MassCAPS also has several metrics not available in the DSL version: hydrologic alterations, nitrogen and phosphorus enrichment, salt marsh ditching, beach off road vehicles, beach pedestrians, coastal hardened structures, and boat traffic.

While MassCAPS does not explicitly focus on climate adaptation, areas with high IEI scores tend to be large, well-connected areas buffered from human activities, where natural processes are likely to remain intact over time. Within intact areas, natural systems are more likely to be resistant and resilient to impacts - from both humans and climate change. Areas of high IEI are likely to provide a diversity of niches and migration pathways important for maintaining biodiversity as climate change shifts species distributions over time.

 Learn more about the terms used in this tool profile from the Glossary.

Massachusetts Climate Action Tool

Massachusetts Climate Action Tool
Developers: 

University of Massachusetts Amherst, MassWildlife, Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center

Year released/updated: 
2017
Summary: 

The Massachusetts Climate Action Tool provides access to information on climate change impacts and vulnerability of species and habitats, as well as adaptation strategies and actions to help maintain healthy, resilient natural communities, with a focus on Massachusetts.

Geographic scope: 
Conservation phases: 
Forest conservation goals
Climate adaptation interests
Products: 

Web-based graphics and text, an online map viewer, and links to other tools and sources of information.

Requirements: 

Readily usable with minimal time, knowledge or technical requirements.

Additional details: 

The purpose of the Massachusetts Climate Action Tool (CAT) is to present research-based information about climate change impacts and the vulnerabilities of various fish, wildlife and habitat, and promote adaptation actions that can be taken at a local level. This information is paired with a map viewer to access online GIS data that was selected or synthesized to understand and respond to conservation challenges posed by climate change. The tool contains approximately 200 GIS layers as well as a wealth of information on climate-related stressors affecting Massachusetts, vulnerability assessments for over 60 species or groups of species, and a substantial list of adaptation actions ranging from forest management and land preservation to culvert replacement and dam removal.

The CAT was designed for users with limited mapping capacity, and features maps that incorporate BioMap2 and the CAPS (Conservation Assessment & Prioritization System) Index of Ecological Integrity (IEI), DSL (Designing Sustainable Landscapes) Conductance, as well as other spatial data. Species profiles include spatial data showing the current geographic distribution or habitat suitability for the species and, in many cases, projections for the future habitat suitability accounting for climate change. Spatial data can be explored using a web browser, but cannot be uploaded to, or downloaded from, the spatial data viewer, which includes links to data sources and additional information.

Learn more about the terms used in this tool profile from the Glossary.

MAPPR - Mapping and Prioritizing Parcels for Resilience

MAPPR - Mapping and Prioritizing Parcels for Resilience
Developers: 

Mass Audubon

Year released/updated: 
2016
Summary: 

Mapping & Prioritizing Parcels for Resilience (MAPPR) is a decision support tool informing parcel based land conservation prioritization decisions in Massachusetts.

Geographic scope: 
Conservation phases: 
Forest conservation goals
Climate adaptation interests
Products: 
Requirements: 

Readily usable with minimal time, knowledge or technical requirements.

Additional details: 

Mapping & Prioritizing Parcels for Resilience (MAPPR) allows land conservationists to identify the parcels within an area of interest that are the highest priorities for protection based on habitat quality, climate change resilience, water resource protection, parcel size and adjacency to existing protected parcels. MAPPR uses a variety of data sources to help prioritize parcels for conservation, including BioMap2, a precursor to Resilient & Connected Landscapes, and Critical Linkages Priorities (DSL-Conductance). There are four pre-calculated models, or a user can create a customized prioritization by selecting individual factors of importance.

 Learn more about the terms used in this tool profile from the Glossary.

BioMap2

Developers: 

MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, The Nature Conservancy

Year released/updated: 
2010 (BioMap3 is in development with release scheduled for 2022)
Summary: 

BioMap2 is designed to guide strategic biodiversity conservation by focusing land protection and stewardship on the areas that are most critical for ensuring the long-term persistence of rare and other native species and their habitats, exemplary natural communities, and a diversity of ecosystems, in Massachusetts.

Geographic scope: 
Conservation phases: 
Forest conservation goals
Climate adaptation interests
Most suitable for: 
Also good for: 
Products: 

Online map viewers (on the BioMap2 website, and through MassGIS/OliverMAPPR - Mapping and Prioritizing Parcels for Resilience and Resilient MA), Town reports with a map, and GIS data via MassGIS/Oliver.

Requirements: 

The online map viewers and town reports are readily usable. Access to, and familiarity with, GIS is required to explore downloaded data.

Additional details: 

BioMap2 is a conservation plan that uses both a species-based (fine-filter) and ecosystem/landscape-based (coarse-filter) approach that takes into account known occurrences of species of conservation concern and landscape analyses of habitat value and ecological integrity. It combines MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program’s (NHESP) 30 years of rigorously documented rare species and natural community data with spatial data identifying wildlife species and habitats that were the focus of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife’s 2005 State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). BioMap2 also integrates The Nature Conservancy’s assessment of large, well-connected, and intact ecosystems and landscapes across the Commonwealth, incorporating concepts of ecosystem resilience to address anticipated climate change impacts. The landscape analyses use customized versions of CAPS (Conservation Assessment & Prioritization System) assessments to identify vernal pool cores (clusters), forest cores, wetland cores, aquatic cores, and landscape blocks.

The BioMap2 product consists of two polygon-based datasets, one for Core Habitat and another for Critical Natural (Supporting) Landscape. Core Habitat identifies key areas to ensure the long-term persistence of rare species, other Species of Conservation Concern, and exemplary natural communities and intact ecosystems. Critical Natural Landscape identifies large natural landscape blocks that are minimally impacted by development, as well as buffers around some Core Habitats, both of which enhance resilience. Although BioMap2 used many of the same data that were used to identify Priority Habitat by NHESP, the Priority Habitat maps were created for a regulatory purpose (Massachusetts Endangered Species Act), and BioMap2 is the preferred information source for conservation planning and action.

Learn more about the terms used in this tool profile from the Glossary.

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