Back to top



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

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

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: 

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

Conservation phases: 
Forest conservation goals
Climate adaptation interests
Most suitable for: 
  • Core areas for species of conservation concern
  • Core areas for important natural communities
Also good for: 
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.