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Motivation

Increasing awareness of conservation needs and inspiring people to engage in conservation planning and action.

New England Landscape Futures (NELF) Explorer

Developers: 

Harvard Forest

Year released/updated: 
2019
Summary: 

The New England Landscape Futures (NELF) Explorer is a scenarios-based mapping tool which compares potential future land use outcomes in New England.

Geographic scope: 
Conservation tasks: 
Conservation phases: 
Forest conservation goals
Most suitable for: 
Products: 
Requirements: 

The online mapping tool is readily usable with minimal time, knowledge or technical requirements. Access to, and familiarity with, GIS is required to explore downloaded data.

Additional details: 

The New England Landscape Futures (NELF) Explorer is unique in incorporating social, economic and environmental perspectives on potential future land use patterns, and it is the best tool for practitioners interested in exploring these broader and more comprehensive considerations.

NELF Explorer is a scenarios-based interactive land-use mapping tool that allows users to visualize alternative future land uses over time and multiple spatial scales - including all of New England, states, watersheds, and municipalities. Users can also gain an understanding of how the different land-use scenarios, including a business-as-usual scenario called Recent Trends, would affect high priority land for conservation such as wetlands, rare species habitat, and areas of high ecological integrity. The Recent Trends scenario continues rates and patterns of land-use change that occurred between 1990 and 2010 through to the year 2060. The four other NELF scenarios were created with New Englanders from all six states concerned about the future of the land, and are conceptually based on the factors driving changes to the land that stakeholders perceived to be the most impactful and the most uncertain.

NELF Explorer was co-developed with stakeholders as a resource for municipal planning, conservation planning, resource management, and education. It complements many other tools by mapping five alternative futures for the land in New England:

  • Recent Trends: Continuing along the current path where forest cover is declining in all New England states.
  • Connected Communities: Defined by high natural resource planning and innovation and local socio-economic connectedness.
  • Yankee Cosmopolitan: Defined by high natural resource planning and innovation and global socio-economic connectedness.
  • Go It Alone: Defined by low natural resource planning and innovation and local socio-economic connectedness.
  • Growing Global: Defined by low natural resource planning and innovation and global socio-economic connectedness.


The NELF Explorer YouTube Channel includes a video tutorial introduction to NELF Explorer.

Learn more about the terms used on 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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