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Nature’s Network

Nature’s Network

A team of scientists facilitated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Year released/updated: 

A suite of decision support tools and datasets, including a conservation design that depicts a network of connected, intact, and resilient areas -- both lands and waters -- that are considered the best places to begin strategic conservation planning to support a sustainable future for both human and natural communities across the 13-state Northeast region.

Geographic scope: 

A reasonable amount of time is required to become familiar with the online mapping platform options. Access to, and familiarity with, GIS is required to explore downloaded data.

Conservation phases: 
Forest conservation goals
Climate adaptation interests
Most suitable for: 
  • Terrestrial and wetland cores and connectors
  • Aquatic core networks
  • Regional connectivity and marsh migration
Also good for: 
Additional details 

Nature’s Network is a collaborative effort led by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and representatives from all 13 Northeast states, using innovative modeling approaches developed by UMass Amherst and other science partners, to identify the best opportunities for conserving and connecting intact habitats and ecosystems and supporting imperiled species, to help ensure the future of fish and wildlife across the Northeast region. Nature’s Network offers a regional landscape conservation design and a suite of decision-support tools that makes available much of the state-of-the-art modeling done by the Designing Sustainable Landscapes (DSL) project at UMass Amherst. The web mapper interface presents a huge variety of customizing options, that frequent users will familiarise themselves with and use. Nature’s Network incorporates, DSL Ecological Integrity MetricsDSL-Conductance, and Resilient & Connected Landscapes. Elements of Nature’s Network include:

  • Terrestrial and Wetland Core Network: Intact, well-connected places that, if protected, will support a diversity of fish, wildlife, and plants, and the ecosystems they depend upon. Core areas are linked together by a network of connectors designed to enable the movement of animals and plants between core areas and across the landscape into the future.
  • Habitats for Imperiled Species: This contains three datasets: Habitat Importance for Imperiled Species, Core Habitat for Imperiled Species, and Habitat Condition for Imperiled Species.
  • Aquatic Core Networks: This includes three data layers: River and stream (lotic) core network, Lake and pond (lentic) core network, and Aquatic buffers.
  • Marsh Migration Zones: This dataset depicts potential salt marsh migration zones at various sea level rise scenarios from 0-6 feet. Identification of suitable uplands adjacent to tidal wetlands is based on topography, habitat type, land use, and development, and can be used for facilitating marsh migration through land protection and/or management.
  • Regional Flow: This dataset, developed by The Nature Conservancy, identifies where population movements and potential range shifts may become concentrated or where they are well dispersed, and it is possible to quantify the importance of an area by measuring how much flow passes through it, and how concentrated that flow is. The results can be used to identify important pinch points where movements are predicted to concentrate, or diffuse intact areas that allow for more random movements.

Some elements of Nature’s Network, such as the Terrestrial and Wetland Core Network, represent a regional plan for conserving wetland and terrestrial biodiversity. Other components, such as Habitats for Imperiled Species and Marsh Migration Zones, can be used as inputs for creating conservation plans at the local, state or regional scales.

The developers have compiled testimonials from Nature's Network users.

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